Dissociation

Tales from days past, from days of Paragon City go here. This is a reminder of where we've been.

Dissociation

Postby Static Bolter » Mon Apr 29, 2013 9:05 pm

Originally posted by the Androgyne: November 18th, 2009

The whole excursion had been a mistake. E didn't belong in the city anymore, not as the Androgyne. E had just gotten greedy: first running into the 'Cips in Cimerora, then encountering Ron and the Misfits in Atlas Park when e'd only intended to lurk around unseen, get a sense of what the city knew about Brenning's escape. (As mad as it sounded e wasn't sure e could trust the Kings Arrow to do it.) With Arachnos striking at the heart of the city though, occupying the PPD and Longbow enough that e could contribute as emself, e'd gotten caught up in the moment. A brief chance to catch up, see action again and be emself for a moment with a friend -- because simply being near him and the others in disguise wasn't enough anymore. Not after having a chance for the first time in ages to compare it to the real thing again. Definitely not since Jess had resurfaced.

E'd held emself back as long as e could but mere days later there e was, standing on a roof in Brickstown, watching her apartment, waiting. Usually when e passed through Brickstown, all e could see was the prison, eir eyes drawn to its dominating silhouette wherever e was in the zone as the knowledge of the eighteen months e'd lost there, asleep, neutralized, tickled around the edges of eir brain. This time it never crossed eir mind. E knew what e was there for, or had thought e did -- to apologize, to say goodbye. Seeing her in person, speaking to her, face to face, close enough to touch and, too briefly, to kiss: it threw em off-balance. Despite months of trying to work out how to explain emself, e wasn't ready for it, and he took advantage. Nudged at the edges of eir thoughts, pushed things around, made em slip and say more than e needed to.

Crossing paths with Yuki in the War Zone on eir way back here, again the urge to see a friend took over, but it had not gone as well. Whereas Jess had urged em to stop running and come back, vowed that the Reciprocators could find some way to unravel the snarl of legal complications e'd created for emself with eir choice to flee, Yuki seemed to regard em almost with reproach. E'd had to bite back the urge to answer her reproval of eir abandonment of the Reciprocators with the truth, and for the most part e had -- but again, he pushed em to say too much.

The Androgyne tore off eir tattered, hooded trenchcoat as e stepped out of thin air at the base of the empty freight elevator shaft that was the main access to Diamond Station, the home of Parts Unknown. E stalked through the dank corridors of the power station and slammed through one of the bathroom doors off the lunchroom that had been crudely converted into a teleportation center by the facility's new inhabitants. E flung the coat over one of the sinks and stopped at its neighbor to splash water over eir face, washing away the tears still stinging on eir cheeks.

E glared into the mirror, too emotionally exhausted to muster the baleful green glow, staring coldly into eir own grey eyes in the weak lighting of the station's barely powered lights for the first time in...months, e realized. The shine was an affectation e had adopted as a reminder, a warning -- e had a reputation to rebuild if the law was going to regard em as a significant and independent threat, and the glow had been an easy way to remind people just who e was and what e was capable of.

It, along with the perfectly smooth scalp left behind by the radioactive incineration of eir hair, also gave Ani Hess a new face -- a bolder, more alien face leagues removed from the well-groomed plainness of Nathan Crowne. As Ani stared into eir own eyes as if they were a stranger's, it sank in for em. They were.

Just like Nathan's wig and beard, or the Kings Arrow's cowl, the eerie new countenance of the Androgyne had become just another mask Ani Hess wore. Everything e'd done seemingly in the interest of self-preservation was leading to just the opposite. E was losing emself. Crey had taken so much already with their maneuverings against the Reciprocators, and now what little e had left was slipping through eir fingers.

"Along with your sanity," came the chilling rasp from behind em. Eir eyes slid tiredly to glance behind em in the mirror, knowing what they would find. The Kings Arrow stood on the other side of the bathroom in front of one of the stalls, his glare boring a hole in the back of Ani's head, his presence enough mockery that he really hadn't needed to speak. Ani gritted eir teeth, knowing he wasn't done either.

"This is the ladies' room." Ani was done denying that e was losing eir mind. At least if e played along, e thought, e could seek answers from emself. "What are you doing?"

"Just what you think." As the last time they'd spoken, there was no trace of movement behind Arrow's mask.

"Why? What does any of this matter to you?"

"Everything to me. Reason I'm here."

"I'm the reason you're here. You're only here so we -- so I can help the Reciprocators, and it's over for them, it's done. I don't need you for what's left."

"Not here for you. Here for them. Done your part. Walk away."

Ani let eir head drop, staring down into the metal sink as drops of cold sweat fell from eir brow and trickled down the drain. "You know I can't just...leave things this way. Bolty's back, Brenning's out of the picture, but there's nothing that sticks to Crey. Look how close she came to undoing everything, you think she's going to stop there? The Reciprocators...they can't stop her from trying this again. I can. I have to."

The footsteps were soundless, but e felt Arrow move closer nevertheless. His hand clamped Ani's shoulder. "Don't want to. Both know it. Made me to be the hero you couldn't. Made me better than you. To do what you can't." The rasp came within inches of eir ear. "If you can't stop yourself--"

Ani stood up straight, shrugged away the hand and turned to look Arrow in the eyes, the green shine returning with eir anger. "You think you can? You're not even REAL! I can end you any time I want. Hell, so could you." Ani flinched with realization, tilted eir head and began to smile. "...or could you? If it's so important to you, why haven't you? You out me and...you're over."

Arrow's eyes hardened behind the mask. "Same goes. Keep going back. Keep putting on this mask. Much as you want revenge--"

"I want justice."

"--can't bring yourself to leave. Not until you have to. Think you're in control, you decide who lives, who dies? Not anymore. Can't reveal the truth anymore than you can, but can still keep this from happening. Can still stop you -- nothing you can do to stop me."

Ani's smile returned. "...You sure?" Eir thoughts raced, and as quickly as they did e shielded them as best e could using the understanding of psychic intrusions e'd developed in eir frequent duels with the Rikti's most powerful Mesmerists. There was no more room for error. Arrow would pounce at the next sign of weakness to try to undermine em if e didn't wall him off, and it was functionally no different -- an alien presence in eir mind. He was right, Ani wasn't done with him yet, and every time e put on the mask he got stronger. Arrow was everything that was good in em, and that could only hold em back -- e couldn't be a hero for what e meant to accomplish.

Ani placed a finger against Arrow's chest, and shoved. Even with the mask Ani could see his face contort in anger, but now the barrage of condemnation buffeted uselessly against eir crude but for the moment effective mental defenses, and he quickly faded from sight.

E knew e wouldn't have long. E'd had the site of eir attack chosen, but e'd been waiting for circumstances to align in eir favor -- losing control of emself like this, e didn't have the luxury of waiting anymore. E was going to have to make it happen, and happen fast. E grabbed eir trenchcoat off the sink and headed for the door, making a brief mental checklist.

Tell Dervish and Silver to have their people ready.

Find Brenning.

Kill Kings Arrow.
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Static Bolter
 
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