MacKenna Zielinski

Spare Me Over Another Year

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Somewhere in Ireland


She stared at herself in the glass.  Most people when they looked into the glass did it for vanity reasons or to look into the store to see something.  She did it to remember...or try to.


She had been trying to put a name to the face she saw there looking back at her and couldn't.


She had to be someone.  She couldn't have just spawned forth days ago was it days?  How did she even know that?  Ugh it was maddening and hurt her to even try puzzling things out.  Her head wanted to split open just from trying and her eyes immediately started to dart to and fro like a crack head looking for a score.  She looked the part to, her clothes were stolen from racks, sizes ignored.  She didn't look like she had bathed in days, possibly weeks.  She was thinner than she probably should have and her face was sunken and her eyes had bruising from a long time without sleep.


She thought her hair was brown.  It always seemed dirty though so it was hard to tell.  The eyes always caught her though.  They were a pretty dark green...though, sometimes if she struggled against the pain in her skull she thought she remembered green eyes but they weren't hers.  They were a different kind of green and sometimes they were hazel...


Ugh...that hurt...she was better off not remembering.


She saw a man in a suit walking briskly and felt her spine tighten.  She watched him in the glass, hands bunching into fists when he looked her direction.  His lip curled but he moved on with his nose up as if she was disgusting.


She wasn't safe here.  Something told her that.  She couldn't have stated how or why she knew that but she wasn't safe here.  They would hunt her down and she'd be taken away again.


Like...she had been?


Doing her best to ignore the splitting headache in her skull she turned away from the glass and moved along, pulling the hood of the sweatshirt she had on over her head against the slight cold of Ireland.  She hadn't started here, she had started somewhere else with more mountains.  She remembered fearing that her bare feet would turn blue before she found a town and stole some boots that had been left outside covered in mud.  They still didn't fit on her feet and she had no socks but it was better than nothing.


She needed to get out of here though.  She couldn't think of why but she needed to leave.  She needed...a boat?


She couldn't remember if she ever crossed the sea before but it sounded better than staying where she was.  Where she was made her afraid, and going across the sea made her want to sigh in relief.  So she would go across...


Uh...if she could find a boat.


She wandered the harbor, looking here and there.  The smell of gas and engines calming even if the smell of it mixed with the sea and salt was strange.  Laborers and dock workers ran about to their duties as she walked among them trying to think of how to convince someone to let her on the ship.  She wasn't going to be able to sneak on likely and couldn't stay hidden for so long a trip.


With little recourse she started asking, going from ship to ship to talk to people about perhaps working her way across.  She didn't like the sight she probably displayed but she had little choice in the matter.


The monsters were coming, and she needed to get out of here before they arrived or they would turn her into one of them.

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He sat in the captain’s chair, boot up on the rest and the other on the floor… comfortable in his relaxed slouch.  Elbow was nonchalantly on the armrest, every now and then pulling the long pipe from his teeth errantly.  He was watching the harbor from his slip, comings, goings, setting everything to memory.  Galway was dangerous, more so every day. He was a regular, shipping all sorts of fun things back and forth.  They knew his face. 


But he had to keep a staggered schedule.  A pattern only those that knew his dealings could follow.  Otherwise, he was just a regular looking to trade for whatever he could gather up enough of to make a trip.


Nobody had come this time, and it concerned him.  He couldn’t stay much longer.  Outworlders aside, the hooded eyes had been watching someone for the last half hour, working closer and closer to his boat.  Unsure exactly what her goal was.  Worse for wear, wandering as if she wanted something but not interacting with anyone enough to give him a clue of what she was searching for… ready to jump in after her if she found her way off the end of the dock.


The closer she got... she was asking for passage somewhere, or asking for him by name. Then again, she could just be asking for money.


It was a risk.


A ferry bound Outworlder out of sorts could jeopardize his entire operation.  Someone so damaged that they talked along the way… what did his father always tell him, the needs of many and all that.  It was something he didn’t find always applicable in this world.  His had been brutal, unforgiving.  Earth too, was just that, yet different.  People kept sticking fingers in light sockets to help each other even after they knew it hurt like hell.  It was something with humans that he’d never been able to quite understand, the self-sacrifice, and he’d come to respect it and even practice it on occasion.


This, he wasn’t sure, still… eyes flicked to the horizon and the setting sun.  He had to leave or he would miss his window.


Foot hit the floor and he tapped the pipe on the carved stone tray before resting it there and pulling on a long sleeved shirt.  He wasn’t immortal, and ropes left burns even to the most experienced.  Gloves on, he slid down the ladder to the deck and lowered the gangplank in the growing darkness.  His boat was starting to light up like a beacon, fiddling with his gloves until she came close, then held out a hand without a word to takes hers and welcome her aboard.

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All she was told was no and constantly there was looks of distrust.  Had she done something wrong?  That was a bad thing, it always hurt when she did something wrong.  Sometimes physical, sometimes mental, it always hurt and drove her to just before losing sanity.


No, no she was allowed to make mistakes.  She didn't have the cage and shackles anymore... er...did she?


She shook her head and rubbed at it, trying to relieve the pain there as she moved away from yet another refusal.  She was running out of people to ask.  What was she going to do if she found none?


As if in answer to her concern a gangplank hit the ground in front of her and made her jump and cower from the noise like someone was about to pummel her.  Instead she was left blinking up at a very tall man messing with his gloves.  She inched forward cautiously like an animal unused to helping hands until he extended a hand to her.


She started to reach but pulled back, still afraid.  "I don't have any money," she said, looking apologetic.  Her brain telling her no one did something for nothing anymore.  "I can work though," she added hoping that would help.


The faint smell of tobacco drifted across her nose.  At first she wrinkled it and snorted but it tugged faintly in her mind.  A faint memory of an old man with a pipe in his mouth and words rolling like the irish voices around her.  It had her seeming to stare through the sailor and leave her head tilted like she was hearing something that wasn't there, which was close to the truth.


"Mackie com'ere.  Grandpa's got something fun to show you."


He put something together...with plastic pipes?  They went out in the alley behind the house and it made a loud booming noise that made her cover her ears as she grinned from watching a potato fly down the street.  He'd laughed and then ran with her when the potato met a passing car.  The shriek of tires and metal crunching causing them to look at each other and bolt for the garage.  


The memory made her sad, and made her smile.  The sailor smelled like tobacco...


With little else to go on she took his hand and got the rest of the way on the ship.  It was better than staying here.  If there was some other price to be paid she would figure it out.


Besides, the hair on the back of her neck was wanting to stand up and that was not a good thing...ever.

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The jump was met with indifference.  He’d seen everything, all manner of conditions as they fought their way to his promise of passage.  Injured, emaciated, it was as if the whole world was against them and he couldn’t figure out why.  Why would it be anybody’s concern what world they were from?  They were here, they contributed to a world that had come apart, and were helping to rebuild  The same old prejudices it seemed… he was as guilty of that on his own world as any.  The difference was what they had done, not who they were.


Countenance was unmoving as she explained she had nothing.


“I don’t need a thing.”


Hand was insistent.


“I'm here to get you where you need to go.  I travel to New York, make two stops for fuel.  If you’d like to work while on the boat, that’s up to you., but I have food, extra clothes, everything you need.  From there, I make other ferry trips if you need to travel further.”


As soon as she was on, the gangplank was raised and locked into place.


“Head below deck, there’s food.  We need to hit open water as soon as possible.  The first hour is crucial to make sure nobody is following.”


He worked quickly on the moor lines, securing them before pulling himself up to the bridge to start the engine.


“Name’s Calder.  If you need anything, let me know.”


With that the engine fired up, and they were moving.  He didn't babysit his passengers... the last thing they needed on their travel to freedom was someone breathing down their neck.  Sun was setting, and they would soon be in the vastness of darkness in the middle of the ocean where very few dared to go.

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Desta's eyes narrowed at the little ship in the water as it started pulling away.  The target was getting away, even worse it was courtesy of some damn do-gooder.  Here she thought Ireland was suspicious of outsiders of all kinds, not just the veiled kind.


"We'll catch up with her in New York," Javier stated taking the missed chance philosophically as always.


Matts bounced on his feet like a kid in the proverbial candy store looking at Desta with a grin.  "I can snatch her.    Be to fast for anyone to catch me."


"With this many people around?  More likely you'll injure yourself or others."


"Enough," Desta stated in annoyance.  "Mattox be ready."  She started to focus her energies as Javier made a sound of protest.


"Desta you can't be serious.  She's-"


"She sticks out like a sore thumb in Europe.  If she reaches New York or God forbid gets down to Vanguard territory we're more likely to lose her amid the homeless populations.  Mattox should keep the lot busy and I will pull the boat back to the pier and keep it there.  Sailors still operate on times do they not?"


Javier looked like he wanted to argue but in the end he nodded.  Delta looked to the boy and Mattox gave a grin and a thumbs up as he got down in a runner's crouch.  Around them people looked curious but many cleared the way, not about to risk whatever weirdness was about to go down.


Some signal passed and Mattox took off at a run.  The sound of wind displacing from his movements causing loose paper and clothes to snap about.  Desta focused her energy and with motions of her hands parted gravity to increase Mattox's ability.  Finally the boy reached the end of the pier, level with the ship before he gave a whoop and jumped easily, clearing the rail and landing on the deck no worse for wear.


Delta immediately dropped that spell and worked on the next, it would take time to pull the ship to a stop but she had enough.  So long as she could see the ship she could hold it.


Mack had heard the strange whooshing noise and looked back at the pier.  Her face going bone white under the dirt and grime.  As the blond kid landed on the ship she shrunk away from him, small noises of distress in her throat that she did her best to swallow.  She didn't know the kid himself but she could guess who he was and what he was here for.  


"'ello chaps," he stated in a poor attempt as an irish accent while looking about, completely unconcerned about the ruckus he caused.  "No worries, no need to freak out I'm just gonna grab what I need and go, remain at your posts."  In a blink he was in front of Mack and grabbed one of her arms.


The grabbing of her arm had Mack making a louder noise of distress and pulling away.  Even as she pulled one arm away though he had a grip on her other one.  


"Now, now, you really don't want to start a fight do-"


Before he could finish his sentence Mack stomped hard on his foot before jerking her knee up to connect with his chin.  Mattox was forced to let her go a moment and she darted around trying to put something between her and the speedster.  Nothing presented itself immediately except Calder who she darted behind easily with a whimper hoping the big guy might keep the kid at bay.  Some part of her was angry to be doing it, she should be kicking the kid's tail but another part of Mack was already trying to give up, saying there was nothing she could do but surrender.  Giving into her fate meant it would hurt less when they dragged her away, fighting only made it hurt more.


The kid stood for a minute and wiped at the blood from biting his lip.  A glare leveled at Mack before he looked to Calder.  "She's got a bit of an attitude about things."

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It was an odd feeling, first peppering his skin and then pulling breath from his body.  He’d felt it before, someone was manipulating the mana pool.  He didn’t quite understand what exactly the mystical thing was that drove this world’s sorcery.  For his people, it was innate, a part of them like breathing.  Some were stronger than others as it was normal to be unique in one’s own right.  To have his ripped away… even years later he was still disoriented.  He tried to focus on the magnetic pull, with Outworlder hate he couldn’t just ask how it was done and how he could tap into it- so moments like this were coveted.  Of course, there was immediate danger; it was secondary at the moment.  If he could just… How could they tap it and he couldn’t, how could they have an incredible power and he left with something he could not control?


He didn’t miss the run, before feet had hit the deck he was sliding down the rails to the deck.


A speedster.  Words were ignored, eyes at a narrowed state, sliding back to the dock.  The edges of his vision were flickering so brightly.  He could see it!  Why couldn’t he tap into it?!


"Now, now, you really don't want to start a fight do-"


Blink followed the woman’s sudden assault on the invader, and he was now in the middle of the mess being manipulated from the dock that most definitely wasn’t a good thing.  Mana… glittering at the edges of his vision.  It was hot, drying.  It was hurting his eyes…


"She's got a bit of an attitude about things."


Eyes moved from the dock to the speedster, heels of his hands pressing his temples briefly before a snarl and flicker of muscle pushed his palms downward toward the deck.  Water thrummed around the boat, bouncing and peppering like an invisible hailstorm.  The crackling lights on the edges of his vision disappeared, and his boat shuddered, moving forward faster than the engines were set.  A tug of war, and he refused to lose.


The man wasn’t fast enough to walk on water, he’d needed help to get to the boat.




“Hold on to something,” he said quietly to Mack, eyes still on the man.


His speed, was blinding as well.  Trained.  Rehearsed a thousand times.  It was evident immediately he was a fighter, first instinct to kill, but it wouldn’t give the dock crew a reason to leave them alone.  Instead, a wind knocking kick struck the speedster square in the chest and flipped him off the starboard into the water.  He could have left it at that, but a surviving swimmer wasn’t an urgency and his boat and passenger would still be the focus of ire.  Rope wound around his forearm and a knife pulled, he dove in after and under, yanking the guy down into the dark water.  Not to the bottom like he wanted to, only deep enough that he couldn’t get his head above water, slamming the knife through a clutch of clothing to pin him underwater to the pier before the slack of the rope ran out.  Fist tightened to hold on as the rope snapped taught, pulling the boatman away from the drowning speedster into the darkness.  So fast.  He was dangerously fast in the water.


The cards were their’s now.  Chase after them, or save their drowning friend.  They’d better run.


It was straining, but his swimming helped, pulling himself back onto the boat that was still moving forward and practically launching himself  to the bridge; vaulting over the railing and cutting the wheel hard to port, pushing the shift lever forward.  There was an inlet within a half mile, the turn had to be sharp, dangerously close to the cement slab breakwall and they would disappear behind the rubble of the lighthouse.  Lights were snapped off to help as they went straight into the darkness and away from the twilight.


He was silent, water still running in rivulets down his neck and clothes.


They were going to have to hunker down and wait until trying to cross again to New York.  On one hand, he was annoyed, strangely excited on the other.  It was a challenge, it was a fight, and he was a fighter.  What had happened when the boat broke free from whatever was encapsulating it?  That, he had no idea- but a lot of hope. 

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She couldn't see or feel the mana being manipulated but she had good survival instincts and one didn't need fancy senses to know there was going to be a fight.  She felt guilty for bringing trouble but knew she would rather die then be dragged off by Speedy Gonzalez and his pals.


Something kept sparking in her head, like she'd been in this situation before.  Her skull felt like someone was taking a hammer to it and she gave a small pathetic whine as she pressed her palms to her temples in a vain attempt to stop the agony.  


The water that bounced around flashed and for a minute her mind told her it wasn't water but metal.  Someone throwing metal?  No they hadn't thrown it exactly, they did something...not unlike Calder with his hands.


She flinched as Calder told her to hang onto something, her mind trapped for the moment between reality and nightmare.  For a minute she remembered stone and fire bearing down to smite her out of existence.  Willpower was the only thing that kept her from curling into a ball and just letting the boat toss her.  Instead she purposely grabbed onto something that didn't seem to be moving and hugged it to try and keep herself in the present while she closed her eyes against demons in her head.


Mattox on the other hand didn't seem to notice the sudden rocking of the ship.  He figured it was Desta on pulling the ship back and paid it little mind beyond watching his footing some.  The what he assumed Captain of this tugboat here kept eying him angrily.


Mattox had to sigh at that.  Why couldn't people learn to just mind their own business these days?


Unfortunately the younger man's posturing cost him.  He was about to whip around the guy and grab the girl, his feet taking him forward two steps to do so except he ran right into the kick the Captain had launched.  He could feel bone strain to stay in one piece against the sudden force he accidentally helped along with his burst of forward momentum.  The speedster hit the deck and the rocking boat pitched him into the water with a yelp that was quickly drowned out from water.  He popped up quick enough, kicking legs were not much different from pumping ones in a run after all.  


Something however grabbed his leg and yanked him back down.  Matrox tried to kick but while he could kick quickly he wasn't the best with hitting the mark.  He found himself blinking in puzzlement as the Captain of the ship went shooting off.  Mattox could only glare before studying his situation for a moment.  He pulled on the knife but it was deep.  It left him angry to lose clothing (specially when the water was freezing) but he wasn't about to let some peon get the better of him.  He started kicking, his legs blurring for a moment before  clothe ripped and he pulled away to surface and take in much needed lungfuls of air.


Meanwhile, on the pier, Desta worked to maintain her focus on the ship and keep it still at least.  She was slowly losing ground but she was not about to give up just because it was a bit of a struggle.  "Get her in the water," she ground out through her teeth, managing to keep her focus barely.


Javier didn't question.  He got to the end of the pier so he could get a better look.  They were perhaps at the very range of his abilities but he could still see the woman hunched and clinging to the ship.


The mentalist took a breathe and closed his eyes before focusing hard on the brunette woman.  It was always easier to manipulate when they were closer but this was not beyond his abilities.  


In this case at least, getting into the woman's head was easy.  She had been so worked over that he could walk into her skull as easily as he did into his hotel room.  Then it was a matter of just whispering the right things into mind, the right preprogrammed commands.


It was like flipping a switch.  The woman's mind retreated and as she opened her eyes they were heavily dilated, as if she was on something.  She stood up and started shuffling towards the nearest edge of the boat.  One might have thought her sleep walking, or one of the undead were it not the occasional twitches that said otherwise.


Matrox looked up to see his companions and turned in the water with a smile that might have done a shark proud.  The peon had gotten the drop on him but that wasn't going to happen twice surely.  He started kicking his way back out towards the boat that was slow but surely trying to escape the harbor.

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