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Picking up the Remnants (Post-GM Worm/RWBY AU crossover)

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by Niiyu, Apr 29, 2019.

  1. Threadmarks: Prologue: A Stranger in a Strange Land

    Niiyu Getting out there.

    Mar 25, 2018
    Likes Received:
    Picking up the Remnants

    A post-GM Taylor is dropped into the deserts of Menagerie on Remnant. She's found just clinging to life by Kali Ochre. After being saved, she comes to in a hospital with a much too kind woman with cat features and more questions than she can get answers to.

    This is a crossover with AU elements on the RWBY side of things. Spoilers for both RWBY and Worm ahead.

    Written by me, niiyu, and co-written by crimsonkyuubi

    As for our update schedule, we will have a new chapter every Sunday at the latest. Though, depending on how much we get done during the week, we could post earlier.

    This is our first story so corrections, advice, and constructive criticism are welcome!

    While we do like the RWBY world and anime… there are some things we have issues with.

    1) Faunus can have up to two traits

    Reason: We feel Rooster Teeth was rather restricting in their rules for the Faunus. A few examples are Sienna Kahn having ears and stripes. This is explained (In a tweet) to be just tattooed on stripes. Another example is Tock, a crocodile Faunus, that has scales and sharp teeth, the teeth are explained and shown to be metal.

    Basically, we feel Rooster Teeth wanted Faunus with two traits, but due to RT’s one trait rule, they had to find ways to explain character designs with multiple traits. We believe this allows for fewer leaps in logic and also allows us to make more interesting characters.

    2) We have strung together a timeline for this AU of Remnant.
    Reason: This is due to Rooster Teeth's lack of concrete dates and sequence of events. We will be sticking to our timeline of events that we pieced together with some deliberate changes to established lore.

    3) Menagerie is not a well fleshed out place yet in the anime of RWBY canon and there will be many Original Characters.

    Reason: As stated, in Menagerie, without us contriving reasons for other named characters to be in Menagerie, our known canon character roster totals at six. Due to this, there shall be quite a few OC’s to make Menagerie feel more alive. This will change as we get to canon or depending on how well received the OC’s are.

    4) The butterfly effect is real.
    Reason: The longer this story goes on, the longer this list is likely to get with AU changes.

    Prologue: A Stranger in a Strange Land

    Kali Ochre

    “How much longer?” Bruno whines, probably dramatically flailing his arms

    Partially covering my eyes from the harsh glare of the blazing sun in the clear sky, I can’t help but be a tad bit grumpy, “Ask that again and I swear, I will tie your tail in a knot when you sleep!” I threaten, fully willing to follow through on my promise.

    He gasps, getting some chuckles from the rest, “You wouldn’t dare!” comes his high pitched affronted voice clutching his tail feathers close to his chest.

    Glancing back at my overly dramatic friend, I flash a vicious smile, “Oh yeah? Just like I wouldn’t dare,” I emphasize, throwing his word back at the flamboyant peacock Faunus, “Replacing your shampoo with glue.” I singsong back, causing Toby and Lena to burst into laughter at Bruno’s horrified face as his hands shoot to his beloved long light blue hair, the scattering of feathers in it ruffled.

    “That was you?! Y-You’re a monster Kali!” he huffs, a blush adorning his tan skin but I know he’ll bounce back, certainly not the first or last time he’ll be teased. I roll my eyes at his drama queen esque attitude.

    “If I’m such a monster th-” I freeze, hearing a faint echo, unsure of what I heard, my ears twitch atop my head as I hold out my arm to the side. Silence, dead silence now as the group stops while I look into the distance, Toby, Lena, and even Bruno are all tense, preparing.

    Across the seemingly endless white sand dunes, another sound rings out from focusing my hearing I recognize it as a gunshot. From, my ears twitch, a revolver? Has to be. But what could that mean? Grimm? No, too low caliber for Grimm, need a second opinion.

    The only one of my group with keen enough hearing is Toby, I look over my shoulder, the rest of my group now much more serious as I clench my fists, waiting for the other shoe to drop as I ask, “You hear that?” my voice sounding more like a command than a question

    He nods, his long light brown ears perked up, expression concerned, “Yeah, a gun? Out here? We would’ve heard if someone was fighting, can’t be Grimm.” he finishes, his hand unconsciously fidgeting with his holster, pulling the heavy pistol free then sliding it back in.

    Nodding, I agree, already starting to run up the nearest dune, my aura pumped into my legs with the rest following suit already, “Exactly my thoughts, let’s go, stick close and stay alert.” I order as I shoot forward.

    Climbing over dunes or around them then sliding down towards the sound, I strangely don’t hear any more shots. Usually, if someone was fighting a Grimm there would be a lot more noise. My group makes good time, making it to the top of a particularly high dune for a vantage point and as the first to get there, I try to see if I can spot anything to indicating our mystery gunshot.

    It’s when I look down, there, at the bottom of the dune in a slight valley, is a woman. She’s missing an arm, wearing what looks to be a black bodysuit with bone white armor panels and an equally white yet strange looking backpack. The woman herself lays face down in a growing pile of blood that stains the yellow sand, her long, black hair covering the back of her splayed out form.

    “Lena! Get the medkit ready, a Huntress’ been shot!” I call out over my shoulder to the rest of my group as they catch up. Wasting no time, I jump down the side, deftly controlling my descent as I slide down the sand dune, my combat boots kicking up sand in my wake.

    The Huntress’ injuries are worse, the closer I get, the gunshots I heard attributed to the bleeding holes in her head. “What the hell is this?” I whisper, looking closer at the holes while sitting down and having the woman still bleeding head rest against my chest, above her heart to slow the bleeding.

    Her armor has a certain… buglike feel, is she some kind of bug Faunus? Shaking my head, I file it away for later, if she survives.

    “Lena, the medkit! Now!” I scream, looking to the rest of my group deftly sliding down the same dune and running up to me while Lena fiddles with her bag, pulling out a spool of gauze immediately. I swipe the offered medical supplies from Lena, desperate to stem the bleeding from the head wounds. While wrapping the woman’s head in gauze, I order the blank-faced Lena to start checking for pulse and breathing, no use wasting supplies on a corpse.

    “Kali. She’s alive, but barely, I don’t even think her aura is working,” the deer Faunus calmly told me, “She has a pulse, breathing fine, but she isn’t healing, no shimmer of a broken aura either.” her words short and to the point.

    In my shock, I stop and stare at Lena for a moment before slowly looking to the woman. No aura?! That can’t be, every Huntress has Aura! That would mean she’s alive from her pure will alone. It also means she may not make it to the nearest medical center.

    My mind runs through scenario after scenario, almost all of them resulting in this strange woman’s death, 'Fuck, what do I do?! This woman is going to need aura to survive this if she’ll have even a chance of recovering to be a normal person…'

    Looking down at my hand covered in a white fingerless glove, a faint yellow shimmer running across it as I clench it into a fist and prepare myself, ’Am I really doing this? Yep… yep, I’m really doing this alright’.

    Taking a deep breath, I gauge how much aura I have left, if I’m going to do this, I need to make sure I won’t be forcing the rest with carrying two useless people. Feeling that familiar thrumming reservoir that is my aura, I flex it a bit, getting a feel for it, ‘Mostly full, good, going to need it.’

    Recalling the words all Hunter’s and Huntress’s are taught is the easy part, my voice carrying over the silent desert, “For it is in passing that we achieve immortality. Through this, we become a paragon of virtue and glory to rise above all. Infinite in distance and unbound by death, I release your soul, and by my shoulder, protect thee.” I recite the chant.

    Wasting no time, I plunge my soul into the woman, using all that I am to awaken the strength of her body so that she might survive. My own thoughts and motivations flow through my mind to keep my will strong and focused, Ghira, my team, my home, my people. All of them, all my hopes and dreams empower me as I flow my aura more and more to rescue this unknown soul, already distantly feeling sweat bead down my forehead as I close my eyes, concentrating.

    At first, there’s nothing, just… emptiness, at first I thought she died, but before I can leave, I hear a pulsing, more importantly, I feel her. I see her soul, it’s shriveled up like it’s never been used at all. Finding my center now that I have my target, I pump as much of my aura as I can, feeling a resistance, a cold and calculated resistance, one that feels so very alien.

    Growling viciously, I will not be stopped now that I’m so close, I almost attack this alien feeling, this resistance, putting pressure on it with more and more of my golden aura. It works, the resistance gives way and my held back aura surges throughout the body and soul of the woman.

    At first, there’s a spark, just a small ember, but now that it’s working, her dark grey aura greedily sucks in mine, her soul ablaze in an inferno now. Her ashen soul twirls and dances with mine, a helix is spun into being with our souls as the materials. The waltz causing her aura to continue gaining strength and potency.

    Her aura is… ruthless, harsh and with a familiar, finely honed sharpness. Her soul is like a scalpel as opposed to a blade. She is also wise beyond her time she… she has been broken, no, shattered and got right back up again, only for it to happen again and again.

    This… familiarity, why does this soul feel so much like… like…


    I distantly feel my body slumping, my heart, no, my very soul aching to help this woman. This woman… it’s like looking into a mirror, a dark mirror reflecting what I was before I met my Ghira. Our souls still intertwined, my curiosity grows viciously as I watch her soul growing larger, more potent. Reaching deeper, feeling more of her, her soul so very alone, her heart so empty, her mind filled with paranoia and distrust, she has a deep hatred for herself an-

    I feel and hear as my body screams while I’m being ripped away from her soul, my mind flooded with agonizing pins and needles being jammed into my body again and again and again!!

    Gritting my teeth, I try to compose myself, my aura now focused on healing my own body instead of hers. Body trembling, as I’m painfully punished for my curiosity, body, and soul recovering from the literal soul-deep pain.

    Breathing heavily with my eyes screwed shut, I have to check on the woman, did my curiosity kill her? I need to know…

    Diving deeper, forcing my golden aura into her body again, I’m greeted with a sight that fills me with relief, her soul isn’t gone… it’s stronger than ever, in fact, I watch as it methodically and precisely takes the last dregs of my leftover aura, acting like it wants to figure it out on its own, her soul content to use it as she sees fit.

    Relaxing, I slump back, my body twitching slightly, panting hard as the most difficult part over with, my eyes adjusting to the bright lights of the deserts of Menagerie as they open slowly, a searing headache making itself known behind my eyes.

    From my position against her, I feel her muscles relax, her body going limp as her aura shimmers to life, healing the damage desperately. All of us watch as her dark grey soul envelops the holes in her head, the bleeding slowing to a manageable pace based on the gauze not soaking up any more blood.

    Panting, I wipe the sweat off my brow from the awakening of this woman’s aura, this woman who I already feel like I know as well as I know of myself. Ignoring the questions worried questions from Lena, I take the brief moment while my aura goes to work on fixing my mistake to look down at her.

    Examining her more closely, she’s, well… her black outfit looks professionally made and skin-tight along with the armored panels being the only thing giving her any protection.

    But this is never anything someone out in a desert should be wearing, she’d overheat before she even made it back to Kuo Kuana. So how’d she get here? Looking over her face mask, the lenses are cracked, her mask and outfit torn or burnt in multiple places. Overall, a few sluggishly bleeding wounds where the outfit was ripped are now being healed by her aura.

    I can’t help but wonder, 'who are you?'


    The beeping of the machines, the stench of death and medication as well as the pale colors of the rooms always served as a grim reminder of why hospitals always made me feel uncomfortable, even more so when I was here for someone else. Hospitals are less for the living and more for the dying.

    Thankfully, Ghira had just arrived so that helped to alleviate some of the discomforts of the sterile walls.

    With my Ghira having rushed over upon hearing of what we’d found out in the Menagerie desert, I can’t help wondering what this mystery woman was doing out in the desert, especially with her attacker disappearing with no trace at all. While her equipment, outfit, and strange backpack as well as her simple weapons of a semi-automatic pistol and a combat knife. All were being kept safe at home, stored for now until we can clean and return them to her.

    Looking over her unmasked face, her pallor leads me to think her as atlesian descent, either that or she has spent much too long in that suit and mask. Her hair though, once it washed, was simply gorgeous, natural curls falling in ringlets that make me jealous of my straight hair, it would take me hours to make it look half as good. Blinking myself out of my musings, I looked once more to her face, while most of the time she would seem at peace every so often ger face would twist in a grimace as if she was in an unpleasant dream.

    My attention is drawn to Ghira and the doctor, Mont Ebon, a stoic and professional salamander Faunus with an aristocratic look about him, a sort of sunken gaze mixed with the perpetual bags under his attribute to a perpetually tired look. His short black hair peppered with the white of age, his long and equally black tail resting on the floor as he flips through some files on a clipboard, his unenthusiastic monotone not really conveying the gravity of his words.

    “The damage on her body is extensive, I suspect it may be worse than what we can detect here. The fact that she was going around with these kinds of injuries is honestly astounding to me,” Mont’s dull monotone even rising a bit, getting his disbelief across to Ghira and I about our Jane doe’s injuries.

    He continues, uncaring for our reactions, “Along with the pair of bullet wounds she also has a number of old and even a few recent bone breaks and fractures, as well as numerous scars and of course the missing arm. Between all of that and the bleeding from the head wounds I'm not sure when she may wake up and keep in mind when she wakes up she is likely to have at least some mental issues, anything from amnesia to muscle control loss to any combination of those.” Looking up from his clipboard, he looks to Ghira and I’s faces and sighs as we wait for a verdict.

    He drones out, “In my professional opinion, anyone who operates with those kinds of wounds would be hard to put down permanently.” I sigh in relief at the doctor's words and diagnosis, finding Ghira’s hand on my shoulder as he gives me a squeeze at the news, I can practically feel his big goofy grin.

    “So, for now, we just have to wait for her to wake up?” Ghira asks while glancing at the Jane Doe in question as her one good hand takes hold of the scratchy hospital blanket, in the midst of what must be a nightmare, yet, her face remains determined and unwavering.

    Mont nods, already looking over what I assume is more patient’s charts either in the hopes we’ll ignore him or he’s genuinely that busy it’s hard to tell with him.

    “Do what you need to do to keep her healthy till then Dr. Ebon, I’ll take care of the expenses, it’s the least I can do for someone Kali saved.” My lovable panther says, surprising me, the cost for her treatment had escaped me in the rush to get her aid, once again his caring heart makes me smile.

    “Thank you, so much.” I lean into his muscular and comforting size while turning my eyes back to the sleeping member in the room. With her armor and mask removed, I now know the Huntress isn't a Faunus as I first suspected, but a human emulating our kind.

    For whatever reason she would do so, I've no clue. Is she some sort of agent for Atlas, or some sort of refugee. If the former, what purpose would it serve to have her with no aura, if the later then how desperate was this poor woman, what had she seen and done to go here of all places to escape? Yes, that makes more sense, knowing atlas, she could have been escaping from some work camp or something equally appalling.

    Lovingly removing Ghiras large hand I sit beside the woman and take her hand in mine. With the cancellation of my mission and the sending out of the next rotation of hunters I’ll have plenty of free time for a bit. Gently squeezing her hand I resolve to spend time here so she won’t be alone when she wakes up as I can’t imagine what she must be going through.
    Taylor Hebert

    ... Beep...

    ...Beep. Why beep?...

    ...Beep. Stop it…


    ...Scratchy. Irritating…

    ...Warmth? Hot. Too hot…


    ...Bright lights. Black? Yellow? Hurts…

    ...Shapes and sounds loud sounds...


    ...Fur? Animal? Cat? Why cat?...


    ...Alone. No swarm…



    My head feels fuzzy, full of cotton, thoughts hard to control, though one thing I recognize is that damned beeping. The beeps wake me, but also keeps me awake, even when it’s so very hard to. Because of the annoying beeping, I stay awake, stay awake long enough to recognize shapes, voices, but there’s the one I remember above all the rest...

    Day in, day out. Someone visits, sometimes a few at a time. But also one, she, and I know it’s a she, she reads to me, tells me things, stories.

    I only sometimes understand her words, but I like it, appreciate it. Want to move, tried to after she visits.

    Still hurts, the pain doesn’t help me focus, the phantom pain from past wounds, all flaring before relaxing again.

    Arm and head hurt the most.

    So tired.


    Eyes fluttering open, I’m greeted with the two fluorescent lights on the ceiling, no, I’m seeing double.

    Sucking in a breath through my teeth, the back of my eyes already throbbing as I squeeze them shut, it’s at this point, my head makes itself known again, the steady rhythmic pulse of pain never letting me forget.

    A sense of familiarity at the scene passes over me, a name jostles free from my pounding brain, Bakuda.

    My eyes hesitantly peek open as my mind is still in jumbles, my thoughts distant and echoey, but what’s constantly bat around in my skull accompanied by a fresh agony is my last moments, or, what I thought were my last moments.

    Contessa. A speech, one I barely understood but I know I stand by my answers, I could have been better, should have been better, the sacrifices weren’t worth it, at some point they became too much. Then, some parting words, then two sharp pains, a sensation of falling, and I wake up here.

    I wince, my dark thoughts not kind on my headache so I try to relax…

    Wait… I’m still alive?! I’m… in pain? Real pain? My movement slows till I freeze.

    Slowly, ever so slowly, I clench my fists as my eyes stay shut, feeling the uncomfortable rough texture of the blanket, like a bad Christmas sweater.

    I… never realized how much I’d truly lost, even my senses were deadened by the end. But now everything isn’t so very dull, I can feel the sticky humid air clinging to my lungs with every inhale. I can feel when my toes wiggle, making the end of my white blanket shift.

    Trying to move my arms, I’m greeted with a new spike of pain at my stump. My reflex punished, I try to move my good arm, to lift it up. It takes so much of my very little energy just to lift it a few inches, exhaustion warning me not to.

    Taking the hint, I let my good arm fall, relaxing as my thoughts drift, eyes opening once again, slower this time, they feel dry and crusty. How long have I been here… where am I anyway? Am I on Bet? I’m not restrained to the bed so it’s unlikely.

    I go to use my power, to feel for anything at all but I hesitate… what if Contessa just restored my Sanity somehow? More terrifyingly, what if I don’t have powers, to begin with?

    Closing my eyes and steeling myself, I prepare for the worst, I feel for a connection, for the invisible range I’m used to. What’s strange is that I can feel a range, that one exists but I don’t know how long or short it is as well as nothing is coming under my control. Not even the two flies that are buzzing around the room that I remember hearing.

    While it’s a massive relief that I don’t seem to be taking control of anyone, the fact I don’t even have my original power is… concerning.

    Deciding to give up on my mystery new power, I open my eyes, blinking sluggishly, and eventually, the double vision subsides, allowing me to see the room I’ve been in. The bright lights and pale walls not doing me any favors in terms of my head. But I do see a window to my left, the curtains were drawn so little light gets in.

    Hearing a gasp, I struggle to turn my head as I recognize the voice, I can finally put a face to the voice. She is a petite woman, likely five or six inches shorter than me, well groomed and well dressed in a floral print yellow sundress that highlights her golden eyes and the gold earrings… in her black cat ears that rest atop her head amid long black hair?

    Regaining what little focus I can, I see that she has food with her, likely for her own meal. The thought of food sadly summons my hunger as my stomach decides to make itself known. Fighting down the embarrassment and frustration, I manage to rasp out, “Who are you?” My voice sounding pathetic and thin before I break into a coughing fit. The cat-woman rushes over and holds a cup of water to my lips and I greedily drink before realizing what I'm doing and stop.

    “Its fine, its only water,” she says before taking a sip of it herself to show her honesty. A small genuine smile appearing on her lips as she then holds the cup to my lips again to give me more, I drink some more, less desperate this time, my eyes locked on the woman as she talks, looking for anything untrustworthy in her words.

    Her voice is soft, treating me too much like a skittish and wounded animal for my liking, “My name is Kali Ochre, and before you ask, you are in the medical center in Kuo Kuana on Menagerie. My team and I found you wounded in the desert and brought you to safety.” Kuo Kuana? Menagerie? The town name sounds Hawaiian, but most of the islands are sunk or unlivable and I haven't heard of any place called Menagerie, especially not in Hawaii. One question though sticks in my scrambled brain, “Ears?” I manage to get out again, glancing at the appendages in question.

    She blinks, a bit confused at first before recognition comes to her features, “Hmm? Oh! Mont did say you may wake up with memory issues. Well, to answer your question, I was born with them!” The woman states happily, while really not answering my question, just creating more as I look down to my lap, deep in thought.

    The only way she could be born with those is if someone like nilbog arranged for people to start being born with animal features, not only does the question of why comes up, but this place looks much to put together to be Ellisburg. Not to mention Kali seems too genuine to be a creation of his. Which leaves me with a sneaking suspicion, one I can hopefully get answered as soon as possible.

    Clearing my throat to test it, I swallow the lump in my throat and return to looking to Kali, remembering her mention of me having memory issues, I ask, “Do you have a map I can look at? I can't quite remember where menagerie is.” smiling, the woman pulled out a hand-sized black and gold rectangle with curved corners.

    She then grabs both sides of the rectangle and pulls it open, revealing a light blue translucent interface and begins tapping it a few times before taking a seat beside me and sliding it into my lap. She then eagerly shows me a map on what I assume is tinkertech that looks like nothing I can remember of my Bet. Kali reaches over and I have to suppress the instinct to attack her, instead, I lean back and out of the way quickly but she doesn’t seem to notice as she points to the bottom right of the map, to a landmass that looks like a fish, “Menagerie is here.” She tells me.

    She pulls back and I’m free to examine the map on my own, I freeze, all the landmasses are different, there’s even a landmass that looks like a dragon about to take flight. Glancing at Kali, I almost half expect her to scream ‘gotcha!’ then pull up the real map. But all she does is patiently wait while I examine it. Looking back, I just stare at the different land masses, maybe it’s time to face facts. I’m likely on another world, far from Bet with no way back...

    I… I’m not sure how to take this. On the one hand, I may be as far away from home as possible, while on the other hand, do I… have anything to go back to on Bet? Even if I somehow got back without doormaker, what would I have to come back to exactly? Scores of people fearing the monster Khepri, many, rightfully, wanting her dead and gone, the great enslaver gone forever.

    My fist clenches, my vision briefly growing cloud before I grit my teeth briefly, just wanting to let go and cry for once in my life but… I don’t feel I deserve it-

    “Are you alright miss? Oh, do you remember your name by chance?” Kali breaks me from my musings on my situation. Oh, my name, come to think of it what is-

    “Taylor, my name is Taylor.”​
    Last edited: May 5, 2019
    Serukas, Cattongue, KingMako and 23 others like this.
  2. Threadmarks: Chapter One: Rituals and Demons

    Niiyu Getting out there.

    Mar 25, 2018
    Likes Received:
    Chapter One: Rituals and Demons

    Taylor Hebert
    The days pass in much the same way now that I’m semi-coherent and can stay awake for hours at a time. Kali never stopped showing up to spend time with me, always appearing at exactly noon with lunch in hand. But, while eating her meal that usually involved fish of some kind, we’d settled into some strange semblance of a daily ritual. One which mostly included her asking me questions and her telling me about her day and her boyfriend, Ghira.

    Kali licks her lips, getting the last bits of her tuna sandwich while I savor my own simple ham and turkey sandwich. She perks up, thinking of the first question of the day, “Did you like school?”

    It’s funny, years ago I would have shut down at that question, maybe even snapped at the person asking, now? Now I can almost laugh at my old school bullies, that feeling like a lifetime ago.

    I make a slight show of thinking about it, I take a bite of my sandwich, chewing slowly as Kali is practically on the edge of the wooden chair next to my bedside in anticipation to my answer. I purposefully make her wait, her pouty expression utterly adorab-

    Did I really just think that?! Sure, she’s nice and kind, but did I really let my guard down so easily? Did I learn nothing from the Undersiders?

    Suddenly, I don’t feel so hungry anymore, my expression stays unchanged but I swallow what will be my last bite for today and mumble to the excitable woman, “It wasn’t my favorite place to be.”

    “I can understand that.” she started looking down at her lap for a second, “school was a place of issues for me as well, as you could probably understand.” I didn't, but I nodded slightly anyway.

    It would continue from there, she’d ask question after question in the hopes it would help me remember while I gave her answers filled with half-truths. Each day, the guilts eats away at me, lying to such a kind and genuine person…

    That’s something I don’t know if I can ever be now, I don’t know if I know how to be that anymore.

    Oblivious to my thoughts, another question pops into Kali’s mind as I place the majority of my now unappetizing sandwich on a paper plate waiting on my lap, “What’s the best thing to ever happen to you? It’s okay if you can’t answer, it’s just that it might help you remember.” I freeze, my blood running cold.

    The... best thing in my life? My mind can’t process the question at first, wondering if I heard that right, the words rattling in my skull but holding no meaning, no comprehension. When it finally clicks, my face darkens if only for a brief moment.

    What does it say about my life that I have to think about it? So many regrets, compromises, mistakes, and lines crossed that I can’t think of-

    Oh… of course, the answers obvious. My team, the few I called my friends. The Undersiders.

    Unbidden, my eyes very nearly tear up, forcing me to keep a stony face in front of Kali. So badly, so very badly I feel like crying, like letting myself crumble as my mind supplies all the good times mixed with in with the bad, all the memories I had of them… and now they're all lost to me...

    Squeezing my eyes shut and clenching my fists under the blanket till I can really feel the pain, it helps me refocus. I-I can’t let myself, no, I can’t allow myself the luxury. Mourning comes later. When I’m alone and when I can pick myself back up.

    Forcing my expression to smooth, I try to play it off as me thinking deeply on it, “Sorry, I thought I remembered something there, but all I got was my friends. My friends were the best thing in my life.” I tell her, yet more half-truths, but a necessary one in this case.

    She seems to accept this, and as if reading my mind, she stops asking questions, pulling out her black and gold tinkertech, a ‘scroll’ she called it, to fiddle with it while I lay down, this time, my exhaustion not just physical.

    It was just after our little ritual that the doctor walks in during a lull in meaningless small talk, I’d forgotten his name but his long black tail and tired features were all too recognizable as he saunters in, clipboard at his side as he closes the door behind him.

    “Ah, Mont! How are you today?” Kali asks him casually, a small mischievous smile on her face, the reason alluding me.

    With a sigh, he gives her a look, his eyebrows pinched and eyes narrowed while his mouth tilts down into a frown, “Ms. Ochre, do not call me by my first name. I will inform the staff to restrict your entry.” the doctors calmly snaps back, making me glance at Kali, who now has a full blown smirk on her lips.

    “You know I’d just sneak in anyway~!” she singsongs, pleased with herself as Dr. Mont’s eyes narrow more.

    In his dull monotone, he makes a put upon sigh, conceding the silent battle, leaving me wondering if there’s some history there as he continues, turning his exhausted grey eyes to me, “Ms. Taylor. It’s time to check on your head wound.”

    I nod, agreeing. I watch as Mont strides over, his long black tail dragging behind him till he reaches my bedside, his hand reaching over my vision as I turn my head so he can get at the tape holding the bandages still. He takes his time, slowly unwinding the layers of bandages around my head till for the first time I can remember since waking up, I can feel the slight weight being lifted from my head.

    “Turn your head,” he commands more than asks, but I do so anyway, despite not liking being ordered around so rudely.

    His cold right-hand slides along my forehead, moving the hair away from the two wounds I know are there. He takes his time examining them, then abruptly drops his hand away while making a noncommittal grunt.

    He reaches into the bottom pocket of his white lab coat and takes out a pen, clicking it then scribbling a note on his clipboard while more mumbling to himself than me, “Looks like your aura has done quite well with healing the wounds, soon I won’t have to keep you here for them. With your head in better condition, I’m scheduling you for x-rays to check on how your aura is healing your older injuries.” he drones, leaving me with yet more questions.

    What. What is aura? Are they referring to the meds they used on me by that term? Or something else? I'll have to find out later, preferable from the nearest library as I'd rather not get Kali suspicious from the extreme lack of common knowledge, even for a supposed amnesiac.

    He goes to leave, before spinning around on a heel as if remembering something, “Ah, Ms.Taylor, we need to talk of physical therapy and the eventuality of where you will be staying once released, I won’t have you coming back from off the streets.” He explains, is that… is that his version of concern?

    Regardless, that is something to consider. I didn’t think of it much but as Heinlein wrote, I'm now a ‘Stranger in a strange land.’ it must be the meds, they’re getting me to make literary references now. I suppose I’ll have to make my place in this new world, as hard or easy as it may be.

    “Oh it's no problem, Ghira and I will be taking her in for now.” Oh, that's nice of Kali- wait what did she just say?!

    As fast as I can without causing the now dull pain behind my eyes to erupt into a searing one, my gaze snaps to Kali, protest on my lips. What I didn’t expect is her sharp glare, her kind golden eyes now hard but still ablaze with passion in a failed attempt to intimidate, the intent clear as day without any words, she won’t hear any argument.

    I could argue, I could shoot down her frankly silly attempt at intimidating me, but, on the other hand… what have I got to lose? Do I really want to rely on people again so soon? The short answer is no.

    The long answer is that I don’t want to be forced to steal, to commit more crimes and add them to the list, but relying on her and this Ghira’s kindness is a bitter pill to swallow.

    'For now,' I sigh, telling myself, for now, 'I’ll let them help me.' My mind made up, I look away, conceding defeat to her, making her perk up visibly, giving me a wide, satisfied smile, the glare melting away just as quickly as it came.

    I made her happy. So why does it still hurt so much then?

    The doctor nods, already looking away and writing on his clipboard, “Very well, I’ll be back to discuss physical therapy Ms. Taylor.” he drawls, already on his way out the room.

    When the simple wooden door clicks shut, the room is enveloped in a long uncomfortable silence, me looking down to my lap while Kali sits in her chair and takes a sip of water judging by the noise.

    I-I don’t know what to say, is there anything I can really say?

    “T-Thank you.” a voice sounding vulnerable and shaky, I wince, realizing it was mine. I want to take back my words as soon as they slipped from my lips.

    Despite me desperately wanting to take back my words, Kali is visibly ecstatic, even her ears are perked up and twitching in her joy “You are very welcome Taylor! I'm just happy we can help you. When I get home tonight, I'll have Ghira help me start prepping a room for you.”

    While I appreciate the offer, there’s something so very… off about her offer, it’s too, well, it’s too nice, it’s too much too fast. No one is this altruistic to a stranger, not to mention one they saved the life of.

    I can feel a part of me, one that wants so badly to believe her, to think this is all genuine. But a larger part, the winning part of me just can’t help being suspicious of this cat woman's motives. What does she want from me, an amnesiac stranger she just so conveniently found? It’s not like Contessa didn’t plan all of this to happen, this has her bullshit power all over it. So why her?

    My voice raspy with disuse, I try to question her, “Wai-” but instead of stopping, she excitedly claps her hands, “Oh it’ll be great! I'll have your room set up and we can talk more often! You will also be able to have some of my cooking and not this horrible hospital cooking, oh not to mention the room will be a much better color and it won't stink of medicine.” she begins.

    Turning to smile at me, she continues, rambling before I can stop her about how she is going to set up the room and how it will be so much better than the hospital. She isn’t done yet though, “But, most importantly, it will be good for you to be around a more positive environment.”

    Wait, what did she mean by that?

    “Hospitals are good for physical healing, but they leave much to be desired in helping someone's mentality. Having a home and friends are good ways to do that when meds aren’t needed.” She says, her words going so fast I can barely keep up.

    “Kali, I-” I try to step into this thus far one-sided conversation when she just keeps going on “-ot to mention we’ll get you a nice color for your room, maybe a good futon as the hospital beds are mediocre at best-”

    Why won’t she stop?! Why the hell is she so stuck on taking care of me, of having me stay with her? She has to gain something from this, maybe isolating me, making sure I can’t rely on anyone but her and this Ghira person. She has to know who I am, that I’m giving her nothing but meaningless answers, why else would she do all this?

    My mind boiling over with theories and doubt, I want her to stop, for this whole situation to make some damn sense, but I can never come up with a plausible answer for why she cares about me, why she wants to put so much effort into me as she rambles on, more talking to herself than me.

    If only she understood what I did, what I became, she wouldn’t care near as much…

    I feel a hysterical laugh bubbling up in my throat at the thought, a small, irrational part of me wants to tell her everything, to give her the context she deserves and horrify her till she either wants to kill me or leave in terror at who she didn’t let die.

    What’s worse is that I can’t tell if this is a reward or a punishment, one courtesy of Contessa. Is still being alive her telling me to atone in some way, to try again in a new world? Or was death too good for me, that I have to live with my decisions and everything I gave up or lost along the way…?

    I feel trapped, my thoughts not helping as I want to do something, anything so badly. But I can’t, I have no idea about this world, no information, nothing to go on besides relying on Kali and what tidbits I can get from her. Not to mention I don’t even know if I can walk properly, being wheelchaired to and from the bathroom as I felt just so tired till now.

    Frustration mounting at my helplessness, I lay down, turning my back to her and pull the irritating blanket over me, just wanting to be done with this one-sided conversation, “If it’s alright with you, I’m tired now.” my raspy voice croaks out, the last part was yet another lie, one to add onto the pile I’ve already told her.

    She stops abruptly mid-sentence at my words and movement, I don’t see her expression but I assume it’s hurt, only compounding my bitter mood.

    She still sounds so kind and gentle as she responds, “Oh, alright Taylor, sleep well!”

    I hear some rustling then the by now familiar sound of her opening her black purse, likely to pull out a book. So much for her leaving.

    The ensuing uncomfortable silence finally gives me time to think and plan how I’ll survive this seemingly new world I find myself and get my head in order. Heh, survival… that’s what it comes down to, doesn’t it? Me surviving...

    Not liking where that thought leads, I focus on a plan, something I can do. I need to do something and soon, this hospital stay is maddening, making me restless and fidgety. Regardless of how long Mont tells me I’ll need physical therapy for, I can simply exercise until I can get away from any of Kali’s plans, I just can’t trust her.

    What I need most right now is time, time to get better, time to figure out my place in this new world, and time to plan out each of my moves.

    Our uneasy quiet is interrupted by the return of the doctor, a wheelchair in tow.

    His tired voice shatters the silence, “If you’re feeling up for it Ms. Taylor, I’d like those x-rays now.”

    Nodding my assent, I turn to the black cat in the room, “You can stay.” I see her expression flash into something unreadable before she schools her features expertly and agrees, “I’ll be here then”

    With that settled, the part salamander doctor goes to bring the wheelchair around and help me into it. I shake my head, eager to try and get on my feet since I got here and was coherent enough to function normally.

    Pulling the covers away from me, I swing my legs onto the side of the bed as I sit up and without preamble, shift my weight so I slide off the bed and onto my bare feet, the cold linoleum making me shiver, but I can stay perfectly fine so that’s a small success.

    Ignoring Kali’s slight cheering, I roll my eyes and try to take a step forward. I end up stumbling hard, requiring Mont to catch my arm as I nearly faceplant into the tile.

    Looking down at my feet while being silently propped up by Mont, I’m more than confused, I’ve never moved that fast, it’s like my foot moved at least three times faster than my body’s ever moved!

    Did I trigger again?

    Did Contessa really change my power that much somehow?

    The worst part is that I couldn’t put it past her bullshit power.

    It doesn’t matter, what matters if I triggered with a new power I simply need to adapt, just like I always do.

    Dr. Mont is surprisingly patient with me, contradictory to his attitude prior, he’s holding me up as I take step after step. My limbs feeling fine and certainly not shaking, but what’s frustrating is my lack of understanding with how fast my body moves now. A small step forward results in my foot shooting at least a step or two in the same direction while a large step nearly sends me and Dr. Mont to the ground.

    It’s slow going, but after lots of trial and error, I can mostly walk without my face meeting the tile by constantly overcorrecting my footing. Putting my foot forward and simultaneously pulling it back so the result is a semi-normal step.

    Being guided through the halls, doing my strange double step, my concentration is broken when Dr. Mont speaks up in his usual monotone, “It's good that Kali agreed to take you. We already have a housing issue here and as I said, I don’t want to see one of my patients out on the streets. Especially one with your injuries.” he says and I don't respond so he doesn't continue, simply stating his opinion.

    Arriving in the x-ray room through the labeled metal blue door, I’m guided to a blue foam table and told to lay there as still as possible while Dr. Mont goes to hand off some papers and instructions to the technicians behind the concrete wall with a small viewing window.

    I do as instructed, laying down and letting the x-ray people do their jobs, sighing and simply allowing my body to relax and go limp, letting my guard down for the first time ever since I woke up in this hospital, the first time I’ve ever really been away from Kali for longer than a few minutes…

    Have I really only been with and seen Kali all this time? The answer is yes, without her there, I’d be alone here. While I appreciate her company, I can’t help but feel like she’s hiding something, she knows too much about me already even though that’s impossible.

    A stray thought of if she’s a cape flutters into my mind and I discard it just as quickly, if she was a cape, she wouldn’t have unmasked me, right?

    It could be that capes exist in this world but there are no unwritten rules… no cops and robbers…

    At the thought, all the feelings I’d ignored earlier, all the wave of memories come rushing back, practically drowning me.

    A few tears slip my control.

    A part of me relishes the release.

    Lisa… fuck, if only you were here, you’d already have a plan, already know Kali’s motives. I… didn’t realize how much I’d come to rely on you. I miss you already.

    Aisha, heh, she’d love a new world to see, probably see it as a new stomping ground, the little brat… I’m going to miss her.

    I don’t know if Rachel would love this place or hate it, wonder if she saw me as the monster in the end?

    Alec would have some quip, some dumb snarky remark about the situation like he always did, I should have got to know him more...

    And Brian would be so damn supportive, acting like the big brother he is, being something to ground me when I have so much to do. It hurts more than it should.

    And now? Now I’m not sure I’ll ever see those who are still alive again, ever see the rest of the what was left of the Undersiders by the end. I… I don’t know if they’re even alive. Did I use them like puppets? Maybe even use them to block me from getting hurt? Was I that much of a monster?

    Heh, I don’t need you for that one, Lisa, I already know I was.
    Last edited: May 5, 2019
  3. Xjado

    Xjado I trust you know where the happy button is?

    Nov 20, 2017
    Likes Received:
    Huh, watched, good quality writing and I am interested to see where it goes. (shame the SFW side seems to be mostly dead though)
  4. IsaacTheAutobot1229

    IsaacTheAutobot1229 Know what you're doing yet?

    Mar 30, 2018
    Likes Received:
    This is a good start, I can't wait to see where it goes. It feels like Kali getting maternal or she is helping Taylor from being like her past self as a White Fang
  5. Bad Habits

    Bad Habits Devil's Advocate

    May 6, 2016
    Likes Received:
    Actually isn't it canon that Ghira was the one to form the White Fang? It's likely that Kali was simply an angry young Faunus who was either lashing out at the non-Faunus or considering it very seriously before she met Ghira.
    Wolfsroses59 likes this.
  6. ctayl

    ctayl Not too sore, are you?

    Feb 3, 2018
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    From what we gathered in our research of RT's spotty at best lore, Ghira did found this version of the White fang, as there seems to be two, one from the faunus revolution and one later. As for kali she has an interesting past in here.
  7. Bad Habits

    Bad Habits Devil's Advocate

    May 6, 2016
    Likes Received:

    Huh? I thought there was only one White Fang. The one Ghira founded as a peaceful protest group/collective bargaining unit that gradually became more and more violent and radicalized until he stepped down and Sienna Khan took over and it went full terrorist. When did they introduce one from the...Faunus Revolution you called it? And when was the Faunus Revolution? I seem to recall Menagerie being "given" to the Faunus as "thanks" for the part they played in the Great War.
  8. ctayl

    ctayl Not too sore, are you?

    Feb 3, 2018
    Likes Received:
    So as it turns out they didnt like being all rounded up and put on menagerie after the great war which caused the faunus war or the faunus right revolution. during that war the White fang is founded and abandoned afterwords cause nothing changed. Then it seems Ghira picks up the name again.

    Here is a link to the wiki page on it:

    The hardest part of this story was getting lore and timelines in order. Niiyu my co author was treated to me damn near pulling my hair out cause of it. But we did learn a lot about the lore.

    Edit: also toooooootally forgot i have a different username on this site, Hi Im crimsonkyuubi, the co-author of this story.
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2019
    Luckenzio and Bad Habits like this.
  9. Threadmarks: Chapter Two: Differing Viewpoints

    Niiyu Getting out there.

    Mar 25, 2018
    Likes Received:
    Kali Ochre

    I smile and quietly cheer for when Taylor finally leaves her bed by her own power, while she has left before, I certainly don’t count when she was helped to the bathroom in a wheelchair. I know she’s ignoring me, it’s clear she’s concentrating, but it’s nice for her to know someone is there for you, even if it’s white noise.

    When Mont and Taylor finally leave and the door clicks shut, I allow my smile to droop into a frown, her expression weighing heavily on my mind. The image of her large sapphire eyes turning dull, faraway, and looking so very fragile while I was rambling… it broke my heart.

    Sadly, I can’t know what she was thinking of, what part of her past she was remembering. Instead, I’d hoped she would at least felt comfortable listening to me talk. Unfortunately, that seemed to have backfired and she shut herself off after having enough...

    Most of all, I despised that look, It was a look I saw in the mirror after Dad died. The look of someone that thinks they have nothing more to lose, that nothing can replace what you’ve lost.

    I know it all too well...

    With a sigh, I focus on the now, on Taylor, not the past. To be entirely honest, I can admit, I should have seen this coming, should have noticed the signs of her getting more and more distant. Sadly, in my excitement to see her healed, I was slightly blinded to how she felt about all this.

    As Ghira would say, “All that means is that you’ll have to try harder next time!”, the big goof and his optimism.

    Shaking my head with a small chuckle, I wonder if something other than this drab room will help, maybe give me a new perspective?

    Turning my chair to look out the window of Taylor’s hospital room, I look out and over the clear-skied horizon. Seeing countless palm trees and homes spotted as far as the eye can see while Faunus are on the streets, going about their day. Leaning on a small table I’d set up near the window, I rest my chin in my palm, a sad sigh escapes my lips.

    Even this scenic view can’t help my heavy heart. I can’t help but think back over the past few days with Taylor, of the woman I saved, so distrustful of the world and those in it, wanting to ignore and hoping everyone goes away. It’s depressing to see someone else like this, one without any saving grace like my panther was for me…

    Wait, that’s it!

    My ears perking up, I quickly go over to my black cloth purse, digging around and pulling out my black and gold scroll I take it back to my chair and scroll through my contact till I come across the one I’m looking for, ‘Plushy Panther’, then with a giggle I tap the call icon.

    A simple picture of my handsome Ghira shows up in the middle of my scroll, the little call icon flashing as it rings throughout the small hospital room twice before I hear his lovely scratchy but deep timbre clearly, “Kali! Was just thinking about calling to ask about your day, nothing bad I hope?”

    With a small smile on my face, at his concern, I admit, “My day could be better if I’m being honest, but nothing bad for sure. You’ve been busy lately, how’s the ‘Future Chieftain of Menagerie’, doing,” I say in a deeper, more grandiose voice, making him give a hearty chuckle, “Save any fair maidens and slay any beasts?”

    I get a few more chuckles out of him, he then decides to be silly with me, announcing seriously, “Why yes! I slew the grand paperwork dragon, devourer of time and joy! I have sadly not rescued any fair maidens, though I suppose I could find a very special one for dinner, once my work here with the militia is done.” he says, musing aloud like he’s narrating some grand adventure.

    A happy giggle escapes my lips, my panther doing his best to hear me laugh and cheer me up, he’s so sweet.

    “That maiden might take you up on your offer, you never know!” I say cheekily.

    But before I can continue, he senses my soured mood and his deep voice saddens a bit, I can just imagine his bushy eyebrow furrowing as he asks, “But, I’m really sorry to hear that your day didn’t go the best dear, mind telling me what’s on your mind?”

    I nod, even though he can’t see me, “It’s, well…” I sigh a bit, “It’s Taylor. I might have messed up a tad and possibly overwhelmed her.”

    He hums, a deep rumbling sound, “You could try giving her some space, love. She’s recovering from being shot in the head, Taylor isn’t at her best by far, not to mention whoever did it to her is still out there.” he says, giving his opinion.

    I nod, then realizing he can’t see that, I agree with him, “You’re right,” I make a small frustrated groaning noise, ”But all I want to do is help her, she needs my help Ghira!” I exclaim, a tad desperate.

    Confusion and concern laced in his voice, he asks, “I understand feeling responsible for her Kali, but this is going beyond that, why do you care so much about Taylor?”

    At his, fairly reasonable question, my usually happy voice turns deadly serious, “Ghira,” I sigh sadly, shaking my head, “You don’t understand, s-she’s like me, from when we first met… but somehow she’s worse love.” by the end I’m whispering, my heartache nearly audible.

    I swallow, holding back my tears, trying to get him to truly understand how much this means to me.

    Initially, he’s stunned, speechless even. I allow him the time to process it, waiting patiently till he can organize his thoughts, but once he does, his words cut right to the heart of the matter, “How do you know this? If she was like you were after your father was killed, then she wouldn’t have told you her life story for certain.”

    Breathing deeply, mainly to calm myself, but also to not think about memories I’d rather forget even if I have moved past them, they will never leave me…

    The fear, grief, and horror of Daddy’s murder…

    Racist monsters that felt my revenge…

    My first kill, I tried to walk away...

    Failing Mistral, having to run from my home...

    All replaying against my will, making a shiver go down my spine.

    I inhaled shakily, my breathing turning shallow against my will. Thankfully, I hear the voice of my loveable panther. His words are deep and gentle sweet nothings, promises of safety, that everything will be alright, that he loves me. He continues till I get myself back under control and he waits patiently for when I feel ready.

    When I feel up to talking again I whisper softly, my love for him only grew as I smile, “Thank you, Ghira, I love you.”

    His response comes with me envisioning his goofy grin at my words, “Anytime Kali, I love you too. I understand this might be hard for you if she really is how you used to be.” he says, emphasizing what he wants to remind me of.

    Hugging myself in an attempt at comfort, I start with a question, “Have you ever unlocked someone’s aura, Ghira?”

    “No, I haven’t had the need to, but I assume it’s the cause of why you feel so invested?” my boyfriend asks gently, respectful of me feeling a little bit vulnerable right now.

    Nodding, I confirm his suspicion, “You’re correct, for once,” I tease lightly with a small smile, unable to help it and I get an incredulous scoff in return for my troubles.

    Getting comfortable in the wooden chair, I explain further, “Well, you see, it’s a very… intimate thing to do. Your aura and soul goes into the person and you empower their soul with yours till it is strong enough to generate its own aura.” I pause, wondering if he has any questions, but when there’s silence, I continue.

    “However, unless the person getting their aura unlocked is unconscious, you can both see the very nature of the person, their soul, and everything they are. However, they see you in return. What I saw of Taylor’s soul… it broke my heart to see, Ghira.” I tell him, closing my eyes as I remember it, seeing her dark grey soul and feeling how much pain it was in...

    “She’s so very alone, scarred, distrustful, not to mention hates herself so deeply that all I could see was a dark mirror of just a few years ago. I need to help her Ghira. No one should live like that.” I finish passionately, letting him work through the information I’ve given him, taking a moment for him to understand how important this means to me.

    Thankfully, this is my plushy panther I’m talking to and his response is both understanding and wary, “I can understand why this is so important to you, Kali. But, knowing you, there’s more?”

    Now that I’m feeling better emotionally and the stage is set, I decide now is the best time to ask so I just go for it, “Can she live with us when out of the hospital?”

    My question is met with silence, dead silence. Normally, I’d be nervous, but if I know him, and I’d like to think I do, he’s currently leaning back in his chair, arms crossed and a far off look to his eyes while deep in thought.


    Ghira Belladonna

    Leaning back in my office chair, my mind is thinking about what my dear Kali just told me. Though I know I’ll likely end up agreeing with her, it still amazes me to see the positive changes that she’s gone through over the last few years, being so kind and caring for almost everyone now.

    Shaking my head fondly, I remember when Kali used to be so very angry and alone in the world. She would have never been so patient and kind with this Taylor woman, heh, she’d have likely told Taylor, “It’s not all bad, you’re still alive at least.” and that would have been the end of it.

    Still, there are a few questions and things I need to make clear before I agree, “Don't you think this is all moving a bit too fast for her? Is this really the best thing for her dear?” I ask, making sure she isn’t forcing Taylor down this when it’s unnecessary, but, If it’s one thing that Kali has it is a brilliant eye for, it’s just what to do.

    “She needs to be around good people Ghira, people that will actually grow to care for her and help her as you did me,” Kali says with melancholy in her voice that I’ve become intimately familiar with over the last three years, she always sounds like that when she thinks of her days as a harder person.

    “I want to give her the chance she deserves, the same chance I was given.” she finishes, a passion and conviction to her voice that I know means she won’t be budging unless I can give a very good reason. However, while I really couldn't disagree with her that this woman deserves a chance, I still wouldn’t risk my home and love on a stranger without meeting them for myself.

    With that in mind, I give my verdict, “You win, kitten,” upon hearing the start of celebration on her end, I quickly continue, “But,” she stops, probably worried about what I’ll say, “I'll allow her to stay with us, on one condition; I have to meet her first and I’m not budging on that.” I finish and the exclamation of joy on the other side of the line lets me know that my love was happy with my answer.

    A smile grows on my face as I envision her perked up ears, her body practically vibrating at her seat in joy. With how invested Kali is in this Taylor woman, it will certainly be interesting meeting her.

    Though, I might as well prepare myself a bit if Taylor really is similar to how Kali used to be, my smile shrinking a bit to a small content one as I just enjoy some time talking with my kitten, “Could you tell me how her recovery is though? Will she need something special for her recovery outside the hospital?”

    She takes a moment, likely to calm herself but her tone is more than chipper, “No, I don’t believe so dear. Her aura should take care of stabilizing her, she will have to have physical therapy before she can be released. I believe she will need to come back occasionally to measure her progress but she can exercise with you and me if need be. Oh! We’ll need to get a bed, some furniture, and clean up the guest room for sure!”

    A most certainly not amused grin creeps its way onto my face at the practically golden opportunity to make light of some past habits of my girlfriend, “Sounds great, though, make sure it’s the guest bedroom without a window, Kali. If she’s anything like you, she might like to, what did you call it again? ‘Going on a walk.’ I believe.” I tease her, making her freeze her in her tracks.

    Her mock huff comes across the scroll and I need have to suppress a slip of slight laughter, especially at her indignant response, “O-Only because you kept cuddling me in my sleep!”

    My grin only widens as I toss back, “Uh huh, but who stole the covers I wonder? It’s almost like you wanted me to.”

    There's a light gasp and the slight hint of a giggle to it, “It’s not my fault what I do in my sleep, Ghira, end of story.”

    I can’t take it anymore as a small bit of laughter escapes me. My resistance crumbles and I end up giving a nice hearty belly laugh while I hear Kali doing the same, just in her adorable, almost refined manner.

    As we’re both winding down after a good laugh, I sadly spot the small pile of forms, paperwork, and all manner of things I need to approve or deny. The prospect of the work dampens my mood somewhat as I treasure every moment with my girlfriend.

    With a put upon sigh, I know I need to say goodbye for today, at least until I go home in a few hours, “Sadly, duty calls, I have some more work I need to do before I can call it a day, Kali.”

    She responds immediately, “Don’t worry, do your best and,” she giggles some more, “Slay the dreaded paperwork dragon for me!”

    With her cheery send-off, I bid my sunshine goodbye, hanging up by closing my black and white scroll then placing it aside on my desk.

    Interlacing my fingers, I push them out, getting some satisfying snaps and pops, taking in a deep breath and preparing myself to work, I look over my desk.

    My time leading the small militia of Kuo Kuana has left my desk worn but decently organized. Reaching over to the small stack of papers to my left, I grab the first few and start leafing through them.

    As the leader of the militia, the papers that hit my desk usually spell out one of two things, either that we are relatively safe but need more security or that there isn’t enough room for my people.

    While security can be, in theory, solved by hiring more guards and training men and women better, the issue of space is a constant concern.

    It weighs heavily on my heart every time I organize a team to scout out the vast, uninhabitable deserts of Menagerie and send it off to the Chieftain for approval. We scout for just the slimmest chance there’s an oasis somewhere on our continent, somewhere we can have more space to live.

    But, when one or more don’t make it back… I can’t help but feel I lost yet another person I felt I knew. My job requiring me to review the sometimes extensive profiles and documents associated with various Faunus, as well as human Hunters and Huntresses. It’s hard to not at least feel responsible for these men and women when their lives are in my hands.

    Sure, the Chieftain has final approval, but it's me organizing the teams, it’s me that could miss a past issue someone had with another member or their teamwork could be off. If I made that mistake then all could be wiped out by a ground dweller, death stalker, king taijitu, or any other nasty Grimm of the desert.

    Growling, I slam my closed fist onto my reinforced desk, making it creak and groan but stay standing.

    I need to calm down, ruminating on the few failures I’ve had can’t help the fallen.

    Taking in a deep breath, my eye catches that I knocked over the most important item on my desk, I reach out and lift up the framed picture from just a few years ago.

    It depicts Kali and me, dressed up in our old Hunter clothes, we were just about to go on her big mission, Kali wielding ebb and flow while I had my fists and claws. A wide happy grin on my face while Kali has a much more reserved smile on hers. Everything changed after that year-long mission, Kali finally felt free to be who she wanted and I finally had the love of my life, unburdened in my arms.

    The days have been really good to us since, my job as leader of the militia more than supporting us both. Not to mention, since taking my position I’ve been hearing whispers and inquiries of interest about me replacing the current Chieftain when she decides to step down.

    I can’t help but chuckle, Kali and the others always did joke about me becoming, “King of Menagerie”, saying that my semblance shows I can carry the weight of responsibility.

    While I have my reservations, If she thinks I can be trusted to lead our people, then I can see why she trusts me and her to help this girl.

    Oh brothers, help me to deal with the woman that has found her way into my life.

    Shaking my head fondly, I pick up the next few papers sitting on my desk and get to work.

    Taylor Hebert

    I feel… drained coming out of the x-rays, and being slowly led back by Dr. Mont, not only do I think the technician saw me crying, but the fact that I did cry is… unsettling.

    It’s unsettling because my control slipped enough to cry. Most importantly, what does it say about me that I don’t remember the last time I cried? Was it maybe when Brian didn’t come back? I… can’t remember. If I did, I-I forgot it in the fight against Scion, wrote it off as just another thing I’d lost...

    Shivering, even in the hot and slightly humid weather of Menagerie, I take a few deep breaths trying to center myself, trying to center myself. I’m much too emotional, it’s almost overwhelming, it must be my brain recovering, maybe even this ‘aura’ Dr. Mont talked about.

    Whatever it is, I need to get myself under control, while I don’t think there are capes here, so no outright fights that I’ll stumble into. However, these, “Hunter’s and Huntresses”, that I have heard Kali talking about that go out into the deserts of Menagerie sound like they all have some kind of power if they’re fighting what she called Grimm.

    She didn’t give a concrete description, but they sounded more like dangerous wildlife than a group of people.

    Yet more questions to add to the pile.

    Letting out a light sigh, I can’t help but think I’m a bit too paranoid, jumping at shadows when a well of information in the form of a joyful cat woman practically lives in my room.

    It boils down to one question though, should I give her a chance?

    It’s a question I haven’t touched till recently, one I’m not sure the answer of. As far as I can tell, she seems genuine in her want to help me, that’s not too hard to accept. But the fact that she seems to constantly give me these small sad knowing looks when she thinks I don’t notice is the strangest part.

    She’s like Lisa in that way, an air of ‘I know something that you don’t’ to her that puts me on edge. What’s worse was something that took about a week for me to piece together. Whenever she’s around there’s a sense of vague familiarity like she’s a friend from years ago but you can’t quite put a finger on where.

    It’s not a master effect, I went through most of the actually useful M/S protocols I picked up as my time as Weaver. If it is a master effect, it’s so subtle and weak that it’s practically nonexistent, but yet, it’s still there.

    All told, I need to get my head on straight, to be able to get up and do something and soon. That I know will help me, maybe more than a stay at the hospital will ever do.

    It’s then that Dr. Mont gently pokes my right arm, getting my attention as his one-note voice drones out, “Ms. Taylor, we’re at your room.”

    I nod, but inside I’m more frustrated with myself, I’m getting lost in thought too often, not observing my surroundings. Without a swarm to see through, I honestly didn’t realize how much I’d come to rely on the many different perspectives, the many eyes and ears. Something this new power doesn’t help with sadly.

    Dr. Mont opens the door and leads me inside just as Kali seems to be just wrapping up something, collapsing her black and gold scroll then storing it in her purse.

    Her smile is practically radiant and her cat ears twitch slightly in her joy, almost making me feel depressed by comparison. She hops out of her chair, making it skid back a bit, “Mont! Taylor! How’d it go?”

    I give her a short and curt, “Went fine.”

    Dr. Mont sighs heavily, probably feeling drained just like me at being around the ball of sunshine and kittens. He explains as he helps me to my hospital bed, all the while sounding so very bored, “I’ll tell you when the x-rays are developed.” he finishes and I scootch onto the edge of the bed, my long legs hanging over the edge.

    With his job done, he puts his hands in his lab coat pockets then gives a small glare to Kali, likely at whatever expression she has on her face behind me and goes to leave, not reacting as Kali calls after him, “Thank you so much, Mont!”

    He grunts and closes the door a little louder than he needed to.

    Pulling my legs up and onto the bed, I move back to the pillows at the head of the bed and Kali takes the opportunity to talk some more, “So, Taylor, I want to tell you before I forget that Ghira is coming tomorrow to see you!” she says, her joy practically radiating off her.

    Oh, Kali’s mysterious boyfriend is coming, but if he’s anything like she is...

    How fun for me...


    Authors Note:

    To clarify, in this story, there will be three main points of view (maybe four when Blake is born). Taylor, Kali, and Ghira. Sometimes, depending on what we want to show, the chapter will swap between all three or just two. But, some chapters will be only one of the three points of view, again, depending on what we want to show.

    Also, CrimsonKyuubi and I have made up different origins and backstory for Ghira as well as Kali. This is mainly because next to nothing is revealed about them so they might be slightly different from canon rwby.

    As for story pacing, we felt it is a decent idea to explain some things and set expectations.

    We have plans to spend a while developing the relationship between Taylor, Kali, and Ghira. Only time skipping a year or two in story once their relationship is established and can do more action oriented content. These first dozen or two chapters will be focused on character interactions.

    Also! Some rewrites on the prologue and chapter one!
  10. kaazmiz

    kaazmiz Waiting for an Issekai Adventure

    Aug 9, 2015
    Likes Received:
    This is definitely interesting, so lets see what trouble Taylor gets in here.
  11. ScarletFlames

    ScarletFlames Making the rounds.

    Nov 4, 2018
    Likes Received:
    Why do I get the feeling that Taylor is somehow connected to the Grimm (her range exists but empty cuz no grimm in it?)? Sorta like Salem but not really? Could the Two Brother be Warrior and Thinker somehow? This is just me rambling incoherently without any real evidence.

    Definitely hoping for more.
    Last edited: May 10, 2019
  12. Threadmarks: Chapter Three: The First Step

    Niiyu Getting out there.

    Mar 25, 2018
    Likes Received:
    Taylor Hebert

    It was after Kali left for the day, the orange and golden light of the setting sun was shining through the curtains that I decided to just get some rest. Mainly to skip the rest of this exhausting day.

    Rolling over to my side while pulling the annoying hospital blanket around me. Closing my eyes, I drift to sleep, relaxing and attempting to clear my mind...

    Instead, I lay there, trying to get to sleep for what feels like hours. My mind always thinking, jumping from thought to thought.

    Does Kali hate water?

    What type of feature does Kali’s boyfriend have?

    Why shouldn’t I give Kali a chance?

    Is the library here all scrolls?

    I don’t think I can handle another Kali?

    Why am I upset that I’m alive?

    Over and over again, my mind refuses to quit. That last thought I refuse to touch, for now, there's too much to unpack behind it.

    Eventually, I roll over onto my back, frustrated with my overactive mind and open my eyes only to see my room has been completely swallowed by darkness.

    Forsaking sleep, for now, I sit up and rest my arm in my lap with a sigh. Running my hand through my hair yields some stubborn knots that I’ll need to comb out. An idle thought of if I should get my haircut flies through my mind and is dismissed just as quickly. It’s… all I have left of home besides my memories.

    Clenching my fist, I find I’m getting genuinely angry at myself. What is wrong with me?! I was never this reminiscent, not even when I needed an anchor as Khepri, so why now?!

    If only I had my swa-

    My fist goes slack and I just stare at my lap, shocked it was so simple. It makes so much sense. From the time I discovered that I could shunt my emotions into my swarm, had I really been relying on it to that extent?

    No, I don’t think I had, all I did was push the emotions I didn’t want to deal with…

    Oh. Fuck.

    Sighing heavily, I fall back onto the bed with a soft thump, my arm resting above my head as my mind is abuzz with what this means. Did I do things I normally wouldn’t have done if I wasn’t deadening my emotions? Gone further than I should have?

    What does it say about me that I functioned better because I felt less, cared less?

    That I never dealt with anything.

    Now, without a swarm… I have to deal with it all, every regret, every mistake, every person I hurt or killed along the way.

    There’s no swarm, so no more pushing it off till later.

    I feel laughter bubbling up in my throat, a broken, sad laugh. Ruthlessly suppressing it, I squeeze my eyes shut, ignoring the hot tears that run down my cheeks.

    The funny part is that for all my strength, even after realizing what I put aside all the time… I want my swarm back.

    The next morning, after I eventually got to sleep later in the night has me glaring at an overeager and chipper Kali.

    While I understand that logically, she had no way of knowing I had some trouble sleeping last night. I’ll still hold her accountable for waking me up via bursting through my door, a loud greeting on her lips.

    I’m nursing the rather nice coffee she brought both of us, but even her bribe doesn’t lessen my glare. The worst bit is that she seems to outright enjoy my reaction.

    Rolling my eyes while taking another sip of the bitter and creamy drink, she sees fit to grace me with her announcement for the day that I know is coming, “So! Are you ready to meet Ghira today?!”

    Instead of a response, I take another sip of my coffee. But when I see her ears droop at my lack of reaction, I sigh and ask conversationally, “Do I have an option?”

    The wide smile I see on her face clearly says that no, I don’t have an option. But her words are different, “Of course you do, Taylor!”

    Rolling my eyes again, I let out a huff of a laugh, giving my opinion of that.

    With a slight sigh, Kali continues while moving to sit down next to me on the bed, “You don’t have to be nervous Taylor.” I don’t move over. It might be petty, but I’m feeling more than a little grumpy this morning.

    Though, what’s slightly surprising is when Kali meets my eyes as I’m about to take another sip of my half-empty coffee. Her smile falls into a more thoughtful and serious expression, one I haven’t thought she honestly wasn’t capable of yet here it is, “Ghira is a good man, Taylor. He only has the best intentions for others and he also has experience dealing with complicated people like us.” she finishes and I freeze.

    “What do you mean, ‘like us’?” I demand, disbelief and confusion coloring my voice.

    ‘Complicated’ is not what I’d call Kali. She’s annoyingly chipper, full of energy, and caring. However, she hasn’t shown much evidence of being much more complex than that. Sure, there’s the knowing looks and the sense of familiarity that I suppose I could count as ‘complex’ about her. But If I’m being honest with myself, envisioning the matronly woman in front of me as anything but a woman in love with life and her man is fairly difficult for me.

    She gives me another infuriatingly understanding look as she nods slightly, “I know. It’s hard to believe, but just a few years ago, I was a not a very happy person.” she tells me and I quirk an eyebrow, wondering where she’s going with this.

    “It was only because of Ghira that I was able to be the happy woman that I longed to be.” The catwoman states, her smile slowly returning. But when she sees my unamused look, her smile falls once more.

    She continues solemnly, “I’ve seen my share of action, made my share of regrets, and plenty of mistakes. I know I can relate to who I think you are. That’s why, when I ask you to trust Ghira and I to help you, know that I say that with the experience of taking a risk when it came to accepting help too.” she finishes, gently putting her soft but callous hand on top of mine.

    I was stunned, no response to what she said other than a shocked stare. This happy, caring, and all around loving woman was trying to relate to me?!

    “How could you know…?” I choke out without thinking, not believing what I’d heard. I’d tortured people, killed people, I’d used them as tools and threw them away without a second thought. In the end, I had to be fucking executed to stop myself from becoming exactly what I’d killed!

    It’s only when Kali squeezes my hand that I realize I’d been trembling… with… with… what? I-I don’t know, it’s a confusing cocktail of emotions.

    Anger? Sadness? Hope? Regret?

    I’m unsure and I’m not sure I want to know which.

    Gently taking my coffee cup out of my shaking hand, she then continues while my body tenses, so many emotions bubbling up it’s hard to know what I’m feeling but I hear her voice. Her soft, kind voice, “I won’t explain everything, not until Ghira gets here. It’s still… hard to talk about myself and those times. Please, be patient and I promise, I’ll show you that you’re not alone in your hardship.”

    Finally feeling more under control from focusing on her words, I wrench my hand away from hers as if it burned me, “Fine. I’ll wait.” I state harshly, ignoring the small feeling in my gut that’s too damn hopeful of not being alone in this.

    We don’t talk for hours afterward, blanketing the room with an awkward, choking silence.

    Mercifully, it comes time for Kali to get Ghira. Indicated by a high pitched ping sound coming from her scroll.

    She shoots out of her wooden chair, happily telling me, “Wait right here!” as if I would magically disappear before she got back.

    When she opens the plain hospital door minutes later, she’s turned around and looking behind her while giggling at something.

    She guides who I assume to be her boyfriend in by the hand.

    I had many expectations for Kali’s boyfriend, a handsome business suit wearing big shot, a skinny ball of sunshine and rainbows, a house husband who stays home all day, or maybe a man that’s the epitome of average.

    But what walks in has me in awe- no, stunned definitely stunned. Ghira is so far removed from what I expected that I blink just to be sure my mind isn’t playing tricks on me…

    Where I expected a height around Kali's, if a bit taller, I instead have a mountain of a man that towers over even my taller than average stature. His features handsome but hard and rugged, complete with a bright smile. His midnight black medium length hair pulled back with the rest hanging around his shoulder. While his plain black t-shirt is practically painted onto his biceps and body, revealing he probably keeps himself in shape judging from all his muscles…

    Muscles that a younger me would probably be blushing and fawning over, at least privately…

    Focus, Taylor! Less thinking about his muscles and more the conversation at hand!

    Blinking and focusing, I look up to meet his yellow eyes as he gives me that damn handsome smile, “So, you must be Taylor, Kali has told me so much about you, well, everything she knows that is.” Ghira tells me, his voice a hint scratchy but still deep and rumbling to go with the rest of him, his smile turning more into a little amused smirk, he continues, “It’s a pleasure to meet you, introductions are in order. My name is Ghira Belladonna, I’m the head of this cities militia and the lover of my precious Kali.”

    I can see why he’s in command, he certainly looks the part, not to mention I imagine getting chewed out by him of all people must be a terrifying prospect for most.

    My gaze switching to a very smug Kali has me thinking my reaction wasn’t as well hidden as I’d have liked, “It’s nice to meet you, Ghira.” I say in a clipped tone, finally in control of myself after having been surprised so thoroughly.

    Wanting to get this over with, I voice some of my suspicions on why he’s here, “I assume you’re here to ask me something and not just for a meeting?” I ask, likely not wrong but better to not dance around it.

    If anything, he looks even more amused for some reason as he closes the door behind him, “Indeed I do, Taylor.” he admits and I nod, it’s rather understandable, I wouldn’t want a stranger in my home either.

    “Despite my kitten’s insistence, I do need to know more about you before I let you live with us,” he says, only confirming my thoughts. Though, it is refreshing to see him having a seemingly good head on his shoulders. He wasn’t just going along with Kali’s wishes and isn’t vilifying me so that’s a start.

    Kali picks up after this, lightly smacking his hard chest in mock indignation, “I didn’t insist anything. Don’t paint me as that impulsive dear.”

    Ghira gives a low chuckle, the sound rumbling through the room, “Yes, well, Taylor seems rather eager to get this over with so I wonder if she actually agreed to this instead of just allowing it?” he asks his girlfriend.

    Her response is a glare aimed at him, diminished by the slight blush painting her face.

    While Kali grumbles huffily to herself, I see her go and grab the two simple wooden chairs she prepared for his arrival and places them both next to each other to my right.

    With a sigh, I get myself comfortable as they both banter a bit before taking their seats, Ghira’s creaking slightly as he sits down.

    Once seated, Kali seems to be willing to leave the speaking to her boyfriend as he begins again while leaning forward, one arm lying across his lap, “Now, please don’t think this is an interrogation. If you wish to say no, you can and I won’t hold it against you, understand?” Ghira says, starting off diplomatically and in contrast to Kali in nearly every way.

    Nodding my understanding, I prepare myself as he asks his first question, “First off, I’d like to know if your memories have come back at all? I assume some have based on what Kali has told me?”

    Meeting his yellow, non-judgemental, eyes and otherwise unreadable expression, I decide to give a bit more of the truth, “Yes, more than a few have. I remember most of my life, at least vaguely, but it’s stripped of context. Places and things everyone should know about were lost I’m afraid. Though, still, no idea why I was in that desert.” I finish, the series of partial lies and truths seeming to satisfy both of them as Kali smiles and Ghira gives a nod of understanding.

    “Well, that answers a few of the questions I’d had,” Ghira admits, chuckling a bit.

    I don’t react, letting him speak as I have nothing else to say.

    When he does continue, his previously laughing demeanor is gone, “I assume you have no idea what a Huntress is then?”

    Curious over what he mentioned and in the hopes of him revealing it I answer truthfully but plainly, “No.”

    He nods at my answer expectantly, “Why were you wearing armor if I may ask?” he asks and I keep my face and body not only relaxed but neutral as I answer, “I don’t remember.”

    “I see,” he says, musing more to himself than me and Kali.

    He thinks in silence for a handful of moments, “Have you ever worked with a team?” Unbidden, memories are dredged up, both good and bad. I push them off, throwing them into a growing list of things to deal with in the future.

    I attempt to maintain my emotionless expression but I know more shown through then I wanted when I see Ghira’s eyes spark in interest, especially as I answer, “Yes. At one point. We… split up a while ago.”

    Following up on that apparent interest, Ghira fires off his next question, “Do you remember who attacked you, anything that might help find them?” his voice is clearly concerned, either about me being shot or a killer loose in his city, it’s hard to tell.

    But I expected this question, honestly surprised Kali hadn’t asked it as I’d elected to tell the truth about this, no matter how confusing, “I don’t know what she was to me.” I answer plainly as if stating the obvious, and truthfully I didn't know what Contessa was to me. An ally of convenience maybe? I'm still not sure if shooting me simply served just another path she was on.

    Kali actually follows up, concern etched on her face, “But why would she try to execute you?” she asks me, on the edge of her seat.

    “I… don’t really remember but I’m sure she had her reasons,” I answer vaguely, knowing it makes me look a bit suspicious. They certainly don’t need to know that she did it to keep me from becoming a true monster…

    Ghira’s features turn curious, “You trusted a woman… to execute you?” he asks in apparent interest.

    Sighing, I simply nod, “I don’t remember what her reasons were but I know I trusted her to do what was right.”

    Kali gasps, horror clearly visible while Ghira is stony-faced, “Are you suicidal?” he asks, not only blunt but saying it as if it’s a simple benign question. Kali lightly slaps the side of Ghira in shock at the question’s tactlessness.

    My body tenses momentarily but I force myself to relax, “No. I’m not suicidal.” I say with more vehemence than I intended, looking straight into his hard yellow eyes. Cursing my lack of a swarm for giving away my reaction, his question caught me off guard.

    It’s… not that I want to die… Contessa chose to spare me for a reason, there has to be a reason she spared me and left me here.

    I just need to find it.

    My fist clenches slightly under the hospital blanket.

    I’m not suicidal. I just deserved to die for what I’d done.

    But for some reason, Contessa decided I shouldn’t.

    Ghira leans forward on his chair, a certain intensity to him that makes even me a bit uneasy. His shift in mood causes me to sit up straighter, waiting for his question, “How do you feel about this?” The intensity never leaving his expression.

    I blink, genuinely confused and thrown off guard once again, I blurt out, “Excuse me?”

    He smirks yet is still just as serious as before, “How do you feel about all this? Kali, me, your situation, and this little question and answer session?” he explains succinctly.

    Relaxing slightly, I… actually have to think on that, even though thinking seems to be all I’m doing lately.

    Looking down at my lap briefly in thought, I’m… conflicted. Like parts of me are warring and in constant turmoil but I can’t catch a breath.

    It’s always something. Even when I’m not doing anything, there’s always some memory, some new revelation I’m just now making about myself. Not to mention the existence of my polar opposite, Kali.

    She’s so… wholesome, so open and honest that even the suspicious parts of her I’m almost willing to overlook for fuck sake! She… truly cares about me. No matter how hard a time I have wrapping my head around the why, I know it’s the truth. So why is it so damn hard to just accept that?

    One of the things I know I want is right in front of me… yet I’m afraid. Afraid of feeling so vulnerable again so soon after everything was so recently ripped from me once more.

    Instead of telling them everything bouncing around in my head like I want to, instead, I’m stuck between wanting to smile or cry.

    “It’s… complicated. I thought I knew. But now, now I’m not so sure.” Is what finally escapes my suddenly dry mouth, the most truthful answer I’ve given since waking up here. I look into Ghira’s hard yellow eyes, then glance to Kali’s gold concerned ones.

    Ghira leans back in his chair, making the wood creak from his sheer weight, his arms crossed as he digests my answer, his features softening as he ponders on what I assume is his verdict.

    Looking to his girlfriend briefly, I follow his gaze to see her cat ears flat against her head, fidgeting slightly in her chair while a sad expression rests on her face.

    He nods definitively then looks back to me and I’ll admit, his nod and eyes have a sort of familiar weight to them. Like a leader deciding the fate of a subordinate. Something I’m more than familiar with.

    The war that is my emotions flares up when Ghira leans forward, placing his elbows on both his knees, his eyes boring into mine. It doesn’t intimidate me, but it does make me pay attention. Mostly out of respect for how he’s treating me in this situation.

    His deep yet scratchy voice stating plainly, “You are a cold woman, one full of paranoia, someone desperate for control.” I involuntarily wince at such a blunt truth as well as upset how much I gave away without knowing.

    “I know you’re deliberately hiding things, things you wish to keep buried. However,” I look at him suspiciously, especially when his lips twitch into a smile, “I believe you have a good reason and they shall be revealed in time. You may have flaws, but they are nothing that would keep me from welcoming you into our home for the foreseeable future.” he finishes amid Kali nearly bursting into a happy dance, doing an abrupt reversal of her previous mood and I’ll admit, I have to fight off the formation of a small smile at her antics.

    Ghira is not celebrating though. He’s evidently not finished as he raises his voice over his girlfriend's premature celebration, making her freeze in place, “To be crystal clear, Taylor.” he starts, deep voice more neutral, “I trust you and wish to help you, make no mistake about that. But my generousness only goes so far. If you wish to stay with us, I expect you to do your part to help Menagerie. Are we clear?”

    I nod, “Crystal.”

    He nods back, tone teasing now, “Good. While you likely felt… ahem, pressured, into living with us,” he gets smacked lightly on the shoulder by a blushing Kali for his trouble, “I will leave the decision to you, despite my kittens' wishes. But before you decide, let Kali fill in some blanks for you on why she cares so much.” he finally finishes.

    She has come out of her frozen state and has retaken her seat by now upon seeing where the conversation was headed. I look to the catwoman in question, she’s clearly apologetic, asking forgiveness with terribly good puppy dog eyes.

    Expertly ignoring her sad display, I turn my attention to Ghira’s offer. Because that’s what it is, an offer. At first, I was set to go along with Kali’s wishes, the path of least resistance.

    Now I have to ask myself if I want to go along with them. The significance of this is not lost on me, Ghira wants to know he’ll have a willing guest, someone who isn’t guilted into staying.

    Do I have much of a choice though?

    I wouldn’t like to have to steal and become a criminal here, but it is an option. I could tell them both to leave me alone, to never see me again in fact. I’m pretty certain they’d listen.

    Yet I hesitate… I want to be alone, to figure out this new world and get my head on straight in peace, don’t I?

    Sighing internally, I think I already know the answer. But if I follow through on the hard way remains to be seen, I’m still promised an explanation from Kali.

    Still ignoring Kali’s eyes begging for forgiveness, I tell them my decision for now, “I’ll hear Kali out first, then decide.”

    Giving up on her failing technique, Kali then takes a deep breath, as if preparing herself for something big. I patiently wait as her hand coming to intertwine with Ghira’s much larger one. She turns to her boyfriend, they then have a silent conversation conveyed through looks until Ghira nods, “I think you should.” he finally tells her and she seems to agree.

    Hand still held in Ghira’s, Kali’s eyes take on a duller gold hue, “Taylor,” Kali begins, visibly struggling with the words for a moment before she seems to find them, “I know how it seems to you. Please, trust me when I say that I’m intimately aware of just how alone you feel you are…” she pauses, gauging my reaction, her expression sorrowful but serious.

    I… honestly don’t know how to feel about this, all I can do is maintain my indifferent expression, giving nothing away. While I realize a part of me wants to trust her, a very small, hopeful part of me. One that exists despite the shit I’ve gone through. That doesn’t change the fact that without my swarm I’m… uncertain I can keep my distance forever.

    Something has to give.

    Seeing the reaction she either expected or wanted, Kali continues, her shoulders slumping slightly and she looks much more… tired, almost exhausted as she talks, “Just… listen to what I have to say Taylor, that’s all I ask. Can you promise me you’ll do that?”

    I watch as Ghira wraps his large arm around the shoulders of the much smaller Kali. I’m more than surprised, this is a side of Kali I never anticipated, it seemed too far off the range of possibility but here she is, evidently about to tell me why she and I are alike…

    While I doubt she can relate wholly with my life… I’ll genuinely listen, I’ll even give her a small chance.

    “I promise.” I state plainly, keeping emotion from my voice.

    It’s a bit surreal, I almost expect her to suddenly become her usual chipper and smiling self. Instead what I get is a solemn nod, the look of someone with a heavy heart, something I’m sadly familiar with…

    She begins while her boyfriend is silently comforting her as best he can, her voice slightly dull and flat, “My Father and I used to live in Mistral, another major continent, he was a uniquely clever inventor. H-he made weaponry that seamlessly integrated dust for semblance use.” she swallows, takes a deep breath then continues, “He was very successful, too successful. I can explain later but the society of Mistral is… difficult for the successful.”

    Dust? Semblance? Mistral? Sighing internally, I silently elect to directly ask Kali later, forget the library, I’m a little irritated about my lack of common information.

    Before Kali begins again, I see her expression darken, her eyes turning steely and I can almost already believe she can maybe relate to me.

    I don’t comment though, only letting her talk as she seems a little lost in memories, “Our lives were plagued with assassination attempts… both on me and my Father. Those of the upper class of Mistral did not appreciate either his race or his success. My Father's enemies paid off the lower class, the thugs, thieves, and mercenaries as well as my classmates, even my friends to attempt to kill us both.” She admits, her fists balled up and white-knuckled in her lap, her body shaking slightly in emotion that I can’t hope to decipher.

    She seems to nearly tremble but she takes a few moments to calm herself, slightly leaning into Ghira’s arm around her shoulders. Patiently waiting for the end of her story, feeling I know where this is going.

    I’m not disappointed in the least as she finishes recollecting herself, “When my Father died, when their attempts were finally successful…” her expression turns haunted, lost in memory before she pulls herself out, “While I learned early in life to be distrustful, to be distant towards others. When Daddy died…” she trails off, head lowering while her expression turns flat, her voice like reciting from a script, ”I became a different person. I grew cold, harsh, and cruel. I found the people who ordered the assassinations and I... hurt them back.” she states plainly but her darkened expression tells the real story.

    Normally, I’d be suspicious of the truth to this story, wondering if this was just to garner sympathy from me. But this is not normal, not by any means for Kali at any rate for her to lie so brazenly. Though… if she could so thoroughly hide this side of herself from me, I maybe can’t trust her word so blindly.

    My paranoia screams to not trust her, to declare her story only a ploy to get me to empathize with her. That I had no idea she was anything but a matronly catwoman with her heart on her sleeves until she revealed otherwise. It wants me to analyze her and her boyfriend, to not be caught off guard like this ever again!

    Angrily, I stomp down on my paranoia, thinking this through instead. I’d let my paranoia run rampant, unaware of how intense it had been due to the lack of a swarm.

    Forcefully calming myself, I breathe deeper, it helps.

    Focusing on Kali, all I can see is an honest catwoman, someone who genuinely wants to help me.

    What I can’t ignore is that I really do feel sympathy for her and her story. I mean, fuck, if I wasn’t sure her reactions were too real, too raw to be fake, I’d have thought she could see parts of my life. Her life is tailor-made to tug at my heartstrings.

    Swallowing the lump in my throat, I wonder if maybe… just maybe, she actually can understand me…

    The emotions churning inside of me at the very thought that happy, wholesome, and loving Kali could have once been even remotely similar to me is unbelievable.

    Yet I still have one last question to revisit. Knowing what I know now, do I stay with them or not?

    For now and until I know this new world, the answer is yes.

    It’s the best way to get information about the world I find myself in.

    Ultimately, however… I don’t know if I want to commit to being a criminal yet, at least until I’ve found my place here.

    I’m broken from my musing by Kali’s impatient and nearly desperate question, “Will you stay, Taylor?” she asks and when my eyes move to meet hers, I have to immediately look away, the hopeful and sympathetic expression on her face.

    Despite my thoughts, it’s not so simple. When I go to open my mouth to actually tell them, it opens and closes, a torrent of emotions twist inside me. From the coiling negativity in my gut to the miniscule hope that I’m finding harder and harder to ignore.

    I still need to actually say the words however, so I take one final breath before looking back at the patient Ghira and the hopeful Kali, “I’ll stay with you both.”

    That hope grows in my chest as Kali outright leaps from her chair with a cry of joy and has to visibly hold herself back from hugging me. Meanwhile, Ghira gives a wide approving smile and that small warmth grows slightly.

    It’s the hope that I could one day be… happy just like her.

    It terrifies me.
    Last edited: May 12, 2019
  13. Bobbot

    Bobbot Making the rounds.

    Jan 26, 2018
    Likes Received:
    I don't know why but I ship Kail and Ghira with Taylor.
  14. EntropyEnginear

    EntropyEnginear I trust you know where the happy button is?

    Mar 20, 2016
    Likes Received:
    I too for some reason find lots of things pointing towards a love triangle between Kali, Ghira, and Taylor. Now Ruby and Yang won’t be the only ones with interesting family situation.
  15. Niiyu

    Niiyu Getting out there.

    Mar 25, 2018
    Likes Received:
    That's part of what spawned the story in the first place. So maybe you'll get your wish~
  16. kaazmiz

    kaazmiz Waiting for an Issekai Adventure

    Aug 9, 2015
    Likes Received:
    Kali is still not out with the most important part, about soul shenanigans... and how Taylor... barely dodged the bullet she didn't dodge?
    Wolfsroses59 likes this.
  17. Bobbot

    Bobbot Making the rounds.

    Jan 26, 2018
    Likes Received:
    Wait does Taylor have any Faunes traits
  18. Niiyu

    Niiyu Getting out there.

    Mar 25, 2018
    Likes Received:
    No. She's not a Faunus.
    Wolfsroses59 likes this.
  19. Niiyu

    Niiyu Getting out there.

    Mar 25, 2018
    Likes Received:
    Hey all. Due to personal life and work stuff dragging both me AND CrimsonKyuubi down we won't have the chapter up till tomorrow, unfortunately.
    Will post tomorrow. I'm so sorry all. We will do better next week.
    Luckenzio and kaazmiz like this.
  20. Threadmarks: Chapter Four: Things Unsaid

    Niiyu Getting out there.

    Mar 25, 2018
    Likes Received:
    Taylor Hebert

    From after my meeting with Ghira and Kali, the days all seem to blur together.

    Wake up, get ready for the day, the daily ritual with Kali and sometimes Ghira, then capping off the day with physical therapy.

    They weren’t really interesting days, no matter how much I secretly wished something interesting would happen. It’s driving me up the wall, only the physical therapy helps calm my fraying nerves.

    My physical therapist is a portly opossum Faunus, as they’re called here, who adores telling stories about her life and encouraging me as I do the required exercises.

    Now able to walk mostly on my own, I enter the large physical therapy room, seeing the classing steel bars in the middle for handholds, some exercise machines, and tables for the more cognitive activities.

    Turning my head to the right, I see a rather simple but organized desk with the main physical therapist on duty, Flora Silvers. Her short but slightly large body toiling away at a holographic computer while awaiting her next patient.

    The ears of the opossum Faunus perk up as I close the door. Looking up with a wide smile, she greets me while tucking some of her short light gray hair behind her human ear, “Taylor! It’s fantastic to see you again! It’s your final day with us too, congratulations!! Wooo! Time sure flies, doesn’t it?” I give her a fake but small smile instead of a real response. While she’s kind and obviously enjoys her job, I… don’t really want to get close to her with such a temporary arrangement.

    Flora stands up from behind her desk, flipping through some papers on a clipboard, obviously skimming it. Meanwhile, I walk to silently meet her at the side of the room where the medium sized grey colored table is set up, already knowing the routine by now.

    Taking my seat in the simple red chair, I see her nod approvingly and sits down in the blue chair opposite me. “Looks like the normal regimen for you today Taylor. Though this is more a formality due to just how well you’re recovering!” she finishes, looking to me with a wide toothy grin, her dimpled cheeks, and bright blue eyes clear signs of her joy.

    All I can manage is a slightly more genuine but still small smile, my face feeling… awkward having to curl my lips upward. Yet another thing I don’t like to think about too much, as well as the implications.

    Once everything is settled, Flora is much more professional but no less warm as we do various mental exercises.

    Things such as drawing a picture as well as I could after only seeing it briefly, various finger patterns, and finally some simple memory games. They were testing my short term memory to see if I had complications.

    Flora always called me a cheater teasingly since I could do all of them flawlessly since day one.

    I’ve come to realize that while my actual power wasn’t connected to anything, I could still multitask extremely well. There is a limit I’ve found, however. During one session with Flora, I discovered that I could keep track of roughly two to three dozen separate objects, past that I couldn’t remember their specific location or color accurately once asked.

    I still haven’t figured out if my original power is still there, just dormant somehow. It could also be the result of all those years training my brain to multitask. Regardless of which is true, what I need to figure out most is my now inert former power. As I’m still fairly certain I triggered again with a new powerset, even though I can still feel I have a range.

    Until I know for sure, this new powerset is all I have to work with to defend myself. Thankfully, physical exercises have been immensely revealing.

    While Flora preps for the physical exercise portion, I look down at my hand in thought. This new power, it’s only something I come to realize existed due to the therapy.

    Turns out, my first experience with walking was only the tip of the iceberg, over the past two and a half weeks I’ve been noticing things about myself. The hardest part was noticing in the first place as this power is rather subtle apart from the advanced healing. I’m a bit stronger than I remember, my body feels less tired and more energetic, but the biggest was that my senses have never been sharper.

    It’s like a film has been removed from all my senses. Once I realized it, it was like rediscovering the world around me for the first time. I came to know Kali from the smell of cat and vanilla from just outside my door, I was hyper-aware of what things felt like, hell, even food tasted better or worse.

    “Taylor? Ready for the rest?” I let my hand drop to my side, my train of thought derailed by the patiently waiting Flora.

    I nod, stepping forward to begin the last day of my stay here.

    If I have anything to say about it, it will be the last for a long time.

    After signing some paperwork, I’m finally stepping past the plain glass door of the hospital entrance and letting it swing behind me. I wince, the sun beating down on me without remorse.

    I’m definitely not used to the muggy and heavy air that comes with humidity, it feels like I’m struggling just to breathe. Brockton did not have weather like this.

    Just another thing to adapt to. The weather working as a stark reminder of my situation, how far from home I really am.

    I hadn’t actually left the hospital yet, but as I raise my good arm to shield my eyes from the midday sun, I sorta wish I’d gotten used to this earlier.

    With my thick black hair likely not helping in this heat, I’ve taken to putting in in a tight ponytail. The worst part is I can already feel like my borrowed dark red tank top clinging to me

    With the glare of the sun out of the way, I can see Kali across the road paved with sand waving her arms at me and beckoning me closer. An exasperated sigh on my lips, I walk calmly over to Kali, slipping past some Faunus going about their day. As I get closer her excitement is nearly, keyword nearly, infectious.

    Looking her over, today she’s wearing a golden colored bikini top, the cloth straps traveling upward across her chest to meet behind her neck. A black and gold light jacket tied around her hips, mostly covering some white shorts.

    Visibly resisting the urge to hug me, she instead settles for leaning back and forth on the balls of her feet, “Ready to go home with me?!”

    Oh, she makes it too easy. I can’t resist it, “What am I, a stray cat?” I droll casually, keeping my face neutral.

    Kali, stops, her smile and body seemingly suspended in time as she processes my words. I have to ruthlessly suppress a satisfied smirk upon seeing the normally unflappable Kali stunned into silence.

    She then leans forward, her smile turning into a concerned frown as she mock whispers in disbelief, “Did… did you just make a joke?! Are you okay Taylor??”

    Slightly hurt by her tone, I can’t say she’s wrong. I’m not exactly the joking type, especially with recent events.

    But, even I am allowed my moments of whimsy.

    I shrug, “It was too easy, honestly.” Is all I have to say.

    She splutters then gives an incredulous laugh as her wide smile makes its way back to her lips, “Taylor! You never told me you could make jokes! Good ones, at that!”

    Rolling my eyes at her antics, I try to get us moving, “I have my moments. Now, lead the way?” The sooner I can get to their home, the sooner I can prepare, get my feet under me, finally be able to actually do something.

    This seems to get Kali motivated, likely sensing my impatience, “Right! Just follow me and we’ll be there in no time!” She says cheerily, walking off and down the sand road to the left.

    The walk itself is completed, thankfully, with blissful silence from the catwoman. The only noise being the bustle and goings on of Menagerie and it’s citizens.

    Now that I’m finally free to take in Menagerie for the first time since arriving. It’s… exactly what I expected based on my hospital room.

    If I’m honest, I don’t know what else I was expecting. The feel of the place is very tropical, no doubt about that. The countless palm trees, weather, and roads paved with sand all lend themselves to that. The lush, green grass laced between homes and on the edges of the roads.

    While the buildings have a certain eastern flare to them. All the homes are rather short and in various colors of brown with different style roofs being the main distinction between buildings. Almost all of them are on a raised platform or foundation, creating a rather unique aesthetic so far removed from the tall buildings and urban sprawl of home. As if to drive the point home, the entire city looks like it just sprang up from a jungle. The multiple palm trees spaced between almost every home.

    Walking along normally now instead of my strange two-step system, thank you, Flora. I also manage to get a better look at the people here, there were Faunus and humans of every shape, size, and color. With the Faunus having a lot of variety in their animal-like traits, even if it was fairly easy to pick out which type of Faunus they were. Strangely, the populace had either one trait or two that were tied to their respective animal, never any more than that.

    Noticing Kali begin to slow down and stop, I assume we’ve arrived.

    At the corner of the road sat what I assume is their home. It’s quaint, though it doesn’t stand out too much from the other fairly similar houses, I suppose it’s theirs.

    The house itself is a decent size, bigger than most of the houses I’ve seen, but not huge by any measure. It’s painted a light, almost pale brown and raised slightly above the ground on a wooden foundation painted the same color. What makes it stand out the most, however, is the porch with steps leading up to it that snakes around the front and down the left side asymmetrically. There is a dark wood circular table and some chairs with cushions on the porch.

    Kali sighs happily, turning around and bringing her hands together in a single clap, “Well, this is it, our home.” Her smile is brighter than ever, practically radiant.

    As if summoned by his girlfriend's voice, the white door opens and Ghira walks out onto the porch to lean onto the banister, a grin on his face, “Come on in, time for the ten lien tour.”

    He’s wearing some plain black cargo shorts and a light purple shirt laying unbuttoned, his abs and pecs on full display along with a patch of coarse, black fur in the center of his chest. His piece said, he turns to go back inside.

    Going up the steps behind Kali and Ghira, stepping onto the porch and entering into their home.

    Inside is sadly only cooler by virtue of the sun not being able to follow. Apart from the temperature, the house is… cozy. The decent sized living room decorated liberally with photos of who I assume are family and friends, various knick-knacks and various plants scattered about.

    All of it feels so… lived in. It makes me feel like I’m an intruder, not a guest. Like I came into their quiet life unannounced and I don’t belong here. The human equivalent of “What is wrong with this picture?”.

    The furniture in the room is simple, a peach-colored couch with a few wooden smaller chairs for guests. It seems to be mostly placed wherever, no real rhyme or reason, just places to sit and talk around a small, glass coffee table.

    All in all, I’d say it looks like a beach or vacation home that simply became more permanent.

    Kali starts giving the rundown of the house while Ghira stands next to her, arms crossed casually, “So, here’s the living room,” she points to the left, “Behind that wall is the kitchen, feel free to take what you need, Ghira already eats for multiple people!” she giggles when Ghira gives her a shrug, as if to say, ‘It is what it is’.

    The giddy catwoman continues, “The bathroom is down the hallway connected to the kitchen, can’t miss it,” she then steps over to the hallway to my right, beckoning me to come along with a smile, “I’ll show you your bedroom!”

    Mentally preparing myself for whatever decorations or things Kali has put in my room… maybe the bed’s covered in stuffed animals. Wait… are stuffed animals offensive to Faunus?

    Dismissing the thought as unimportant, I follow her down the hallway, along the peach-colored walls I see two doors to the left, all identically brown with brass knobs.

    Kali reaches over and pushes open the first door, “Here’s your room Taylor, ours is the door at the far end.” she explains as she opens the door to what’s to be my room…

    Only to be met with a room with forest green walls, a simple adult-sized bed with light blue sheets, a large, brown box atop the bed and a dresser nestled in the corner and a slightly ajar window.

    Looking to Kali, the question must be clear on my face as she rubs the back of her neck sheepishly, admitting, “I… held myself back decorating your room, figured you wouldn’t like my style anyway so I left it spartan. Oh, your stuff, minus the gun, of course, is sitting on your bed. But now you can personalize it as you please!” I’m… actually, a bit touched with her consideration. I mostly expected an abomination of a room that I wouldn’t be able to change without seeming too rude.

    Or maybe that’s just the pessimism kicking in?

    I’m brought out of my musings by Kali grinning mischievously at me and before I can ask, she winks, “Now, don't worry, there is a bathroom between your room and ours, so you shouldn't hear us when we have… alone time,” she sing songs.

    I pause, unsure if I really just heard that right… do I want to know about their sex life? The answer is no, a definitive no. The worst part is that I can’t tell if she’s kidding or not. ‘Just move on Taylor, that’s the best idea when Kali is involved. ‘

    A deep laugh sounds from behind me, indicating Ghira’s amusement, “Don’t worry Taylor, she’s just kidding…” he pauses as I look over my shoulder at him, his grin only widening, “We won’t keep you awake… much.” he and Kali laugh and giggle respectively while I am left with no clue how to act.

    Though I do feel my lips twitching in slight amusement.

    His teasing done, Ghira casually asks, “Now that the tour is done, would you like to join us for lunch, Taylor?” While I could eat, I mainly wish to spend some time by myself here, just… be alone for a bit.

    I politely decline, “Thank you, Ghira, but I’d just like to rest a bit… the walk took a bit out of me if that’s alright.”

    He waves off any possible offense he could have taken, “Don’t worry in the slightest, Taylor. We’ll likely have some leftovers if you want some later.” he finishes with a smile.

    Looking back to Kali, she seems to be a tad upset, based on her pout, that I’m not joining them for lunch. She quickly bounces back, however, smiling once more, “I’ll leave you to it, Taylor. Though, I still think you need to eat something today.” she gently chides before walking past me as Ghira simply nods, evidently understanding my desire for solitude.

    Actually entering the room given to me, I first shut the door, wishing I still had my swarm and bugs so I could listen in on Kali and Ghira.

    With a sigh, I decided to busy myself with unpacking the only possessions I actually retained upon entering this world.

    Flipping open the cardboard box, I look inside and sure enough, my suit sits there, its cracked lenses and rips practically mocking me…

    What I’d become, what I’d lost, with my powers the way they are now being the most recent. I’ve come to realize that without my swarm… I’m not nearly as effective as I used to be. No swarm clones, no intimidation, no information, nothing.

    Without that, I’m just… Taylor Hebert.

    But is that okay? Pulling out the suit and holding it up by the shoulder till it unfolds, draping down and into the box, I stare at the torn and scorched costume. Taking in a deep breath, I genuinely wonder, should I be anything but? Do I know how to do anything else? For the longest time, all my life has been is problem after problem to be solved.

    Do I want to be done with it all? To try and live a new life, one without constant life or death situations, without fear that everything I have could be gone the next day.

    It sounds… impossible.

    Could that be what Contessa wanted? For me to have a second chance here, to try and redo my life…?

    Why does the thought scare me so much?

    Gritting my teeth and clenching my fist around my former costume, I just want everything to be easy, to not be a fucking guessing game in this world. But, just as quickly as my anger spiked, it fades, my shoulders deflating.

    Maybe it’s too early to think about this, at least not before I know much more about this world.

    With a heavy sigh, I lay the full body costume onto the light blue sheets then look back into the box.

    Finding pepper spray, my combat knife, and… a scroll?

    Curious, I see a note attached so I reach down to pick the scroll and note combo up. The small yellow pick of torn paper is taped to the scroll and has a very legible yet fancy writing style, with many flourishes.

    Dear, Taylor.

    We got you an older model scroll, your very own! The password is 4321.
    I’m sure you have many questions due to your slight amnesia. So, we linked this to the local library, for all your informational needs as I know you aren’t the talkative type!

    If you have any questions, feel free to ask us any questions you can think of!

    <3 <3 <3 Love, Kali and Ghira! <3 <3 <3

    That’s… very considerate of them. Almost makes me feel rather bad about being so rude earlier well, almost. I’m still not entirely over how Kali mostly forced me into staying with them, even if it was in my best interest.

    Taking off the note, I situate myself on the bedspread, the blue and white scroll laid on the bed. Opening it just as I’ve seen Kali do many times before, I’m greeted with a holographic interface between the edges of the device.

    The screen is empty apart from a little square with a phone icon reading ‘contacts’ and another one with the symbol of a book on it reading ‘Library’.

    Tapping on the library square, I’m greeted with a search bar in the middle of a white background asking me what I’d like to search for.

    I type in the first topic that comes to mind, ‘Hunters/Huntresses’.

    I’m greeted with many books, some nonfiction, some fiction based on the subtitles.

    I can’t help but to actually crack a grin… I feel at home.

    The hours pass as I ignore my rebellious stomach, the link to the library proving invaluable as I’m able to read books, articles, and informational text on every topic I could think of and more.

    Grimm, hunters, nations, Faunus, mecha-shift, dust, and finally… aura…

    That one had me double checking to make sure I read it correctly. That an aura is an expression of one's soul, which was already hard to believe.

    But, in order for someone’s aura to be unlocked, they either need to do it themselves, which is apparently very rare. Or have someone else awaken it for them, that the process is very intimate, where it’s reported those unlocking the aura can know the personality and or personal details about each other.

    I doubt I unlocked my aura, so who else but Kali… it all makes sense now. The knowing looks, the feelings of familiarity, the insistence that we’re alike…

    Kali saw my life. She saw what made… me.

    And she never told me.

    I quickly realize I’m trembling slightly, my body a coiled spring wound so tightly. Oddly? I feel a sense of… betrayal. Sure I’m not close to Kali, I didn’t trust her either, but yet, I still feel so betrayed. That she never told me…

    Attempting to take a deep, calming breath, I just… I need to move, to go somewhere, I don’t care where just… away from here for a while.


    Kali Ochre

    With a plate in my hands, a few sandwiches on it that Taylor liked, I knock on Taylor’s door, “Taylor? Would you like something for dinner?” I ask, starting to worry about her. It’s already dark outside, long past dinner time. Yet, she never came out of her room for lunch or dinner…

    A concerned frown on my face, I knock again, “Taylor? You asleep…?”

    No response.

    My worries and nerves mounting, I test the door only to find its unlocked. Slowly pushing open the door, I start to see her bed. It’s empty.

    Throwing open the door, I see my worst fears coming true. Taylor’s stuff is out and on her bed but the window is wide open and no sign of Taylor.

    Eyes going wide, I run over and place the plate on her bed. My breaths coming rapid and panicked, I lean my head out the open window, screaming, “TAYLOR?!"
  21. Bobbot

    Bobbot Making the rounds.

    Jan 26, 2018
    Likes Received:
    Yeah I saw this happening Taylor needs control, that's why she triggered master power even if she doesn't have her power she still need that control, I hope Taylor comes back, I love this story and I really want to know what butterflies come from this.
    Wolfsroses59 and ScarletFlames like this.
  22. kaazmiz

    kaazmiz Waiting for an Issekai Adventure

    Aug 9, 2015
    Likes Received:
    The stray cat wen't for a walk.
    Wolfsroses59 likes this.
  23. MacrossRides

    MacrossRides Know what you're doing yet?

    May 10, 2019
    Likes Received:
    Well, from her reaction it seems that Taylor is probably going to come back by herself. Unfortunately Kali is going full Mom mode and is freaking out. not sure what she's going to do. Can't wait for the next chapter.
    Wolfsroses59, Niiyu and Silvercrystal like this.
  24. Threadmarks: Interlude: ???

    Niiyu Getting out there.

    Mar 25, 2018
    Likes Received:
    Wait. Protect. Hunt. Hide.

    Wait. Protect mine. Hunt smells. Hide.

    Protect territory. Found good smells. Ȩ̷͈͉̠̯̳̲̒̄̎̈́͒̕a̵͉̪͚͌́͗́̑̉̾̑́͌͒̚

    T̶̛̯̗̠͎̘͚͂͒̏̋̍̎͛̋͠Ȟ̸̜̑͂̄̀̂̈́̀͛͝I̸̢͎̮͖͂̊̽̿͆͠Ş̶͉͕͉̰̺̫̲̹̠̪͖̼̠͗̈̿̍͒͑̂̆̋̀̕͘͜͝͝ ̷̛̯͖̪̪̰͕̉̓̀̓͘̕͝ͅÓ̷̯̮̭̳͈́̀̽͜͝N̴̢͉̝̺̦͎̥̱͖̣̖̙̩̄͑̆̒͗̏̂͛́̒̈́͌̕͜E̸̠̞̬̰̊̇͌̍̄͋̀͐́̒͘ ̵͙̠̫̻͍͍̩̝͕̻͔͍͇͍̜͑͑͒̌͐̽̇̓̂̐͒̋̍͘͠H̷̼̘̃̈́̊̈́̅͊̈́̓̈̕U̵͈̺̳͙͍̖̲̤͓͎̩͍̤̻̻̘̒̈́̔̊̈́͝R̴̛̥͇̦̮̩̹̥͙͖͚͇͂̈́̔̇̈̂̄T̵̢̧̧͉̟̦̝͖̫̘̺̟̰͚̫̗̈́̊̈̓͋̓̋͋̉̐̍̓͌̒́̈́̚̕͜.̸̪͇̼̝̮̪̹͐̊̀͋̈́̇̽̅͗̔̇̄̈́̉́͗̾ ̴̨̛̼̪͇͚̤̭̽̈́͂́͋̾̕͝͠T̶̢̛̤̤̝̥̳̯͗́̿͂̾͒͒̍̀͊͠H̸̢͇͇̻͍̻̦̱͕͚̣̉͐̐̓͐͑͝Ì̸̟̘͔̾S̴̢̛̜̘̭̩̉̍̄͆̇̊͆̒̂̌̆͐͆̃̔͐͛ ̶̧̹͍͕̘͖͙̳̯͖̱̗͋͊͑͌̄̿͒͌͌̓̕͝O̵̡̜̱̺͈̳̳̊̄ͅͅN̸͉̻̖̥̭̥͙͌̽̈́̓̔͜Ẻ̶̢̧̦̭̺͉̼̠̯͈̫̼̱͍͛͂̑̃͜ͅ ̶̢̛̛͚͍͇̘̘̭̩͓̹͎̘̪̮̦̐̾͑̊͆͑͊͘P̶̨͕̦̫͈̭͌̈͝Ä̴̢̢̢̛̲̰̮͔̬̘̦͓͚̙̮̮̇̈́̀̚̚ͅİ̵̯̄̄̅̽̄͋̓͐̍̈͂̅͝͝N̷̡̻͚̼̗̹̙̆̇͗̌́͊̕͜͝͝.̴̢̢̛̱̭̗̺̣̹̈́̐̄̆̽̀͒͛͗̐͗͗͌͘͝ ̶̻̳̖͕̯̦́̽̉̐̀͝H̵͔̹̹̦̭̫̼̭͌͋͌̃́̌́͆̄̀̏̇͠Ę̵̢̧̺̪̞̯̦͚̗̟̣̗̜̣̃̿̐́̄͐́͌̊̆̈͆̇̅̅͆̕̕L̶̡̙̞̜̗̄̂̊͑̈̇̓̉͒̈̽̓͛̆͝͝͝͠Ṗ̷̡̧̡̛̰̰̣̺̼̥͌̿͑̔͐̈́̽̀̉̑̐̋̕͜͜͠͠ ̶̢͈̻̱̩̖͓̜̄̓̂̒̃̈́͒̈́̃͂̇̚̚͘T̶̢̤̤̜̻͇͋̑̓̊̊̈Ḣ̴̨̧̺̙͖̞͎Ī̵̻̟̟̥̋̑̐̂̔̕͘S̷̡̛̲̣͈͓̯͇̯͗̊̍̐̅̏̽͆̀̿̓̒̈́͝ͅ ̵̡̭̫̦̣̟̗̞̠̑͝Ò̵̧̨̗͓͙̲͚̘̪̮͈̰̼̤̣̭͗́̒͐̑͗̌̈́̑̀͌̈́̂͘N̷͕̋͒͌̃̏̽̎͊͋̎̕Ȩ̶̗̲̺̳̠̯͋̀͂̇͌̐̂̐̃̃̈̎͝.̶̻̥͓̱̝̝͍̪͈̰̲̊̀̂̃̽̿͘͠

    A̵͉͇̦̮̫͎͕̞͗̆̾̆̌̈́͘͝Ẅ̴̥̼̻̱̜̲͎̣̉A̵̛̠̳͙̝̰̘̫̻̎̒̅̐́̓̏̿͗̇͂͒͠Y̶̞͓̪̬̤̬͙͕̩̱͍̏̈́̄͐̍́̔̾̚͝.̶͎̞͆̈̒̒̏͂̊̈̐̀̕ ̸̡̡̮̥̙̲̓͂̀́G̶̦̬͎̥̼̓̌̅͒̈́̋͂̏̀̚Ơ̴̗̻̱͇̟̿͒̒̉̏̀̌͑̕͜O̴͍̺͖̰̼̘̮̺̤̙̫̦̯͇̊̉̉̒̓̃͒̚̚̕D̸̡̛͍͔͈̤͚̥̟̼̥̬̈́́̚ ̶̧̖̖̩̫̜̈́̓̏̏̿̃̔̊͗̀̈́͠͝ͅS̶̡̗̟̠͈̗̘̫̻̭͓̮͒̅̂M̶̛͚̮̏́͗̾́̀̾̕Ē̸̡̺̗̠̮͕͙͖̇͐͋̑͋͛̇̆́́́̕Ĺ̶̯̗̮͕̰̱̰͔͍̼̬̖L̶̼͉͚̮̤͚͈̈́̋̃̿̅̃́͗ͅS̶̨̧̟̩̯̦̘͔̦̤̒͜.̵̛̣̹̉̓̅̇̀̏̇̂ ̷̢̧̪̠͉̦̫̯͚͎̲̱͈̇̈́̅́̚͜͝͝F̴̹͔͙͔̱̭̳̗͉̜̮̭̊̐̋̔̃̕͘Ị̶͉͇̗͎̲̖̪̥͙̬͓̻̋̆̏͐̍̅̾͌̏͊̄͒̕N̷̨̝̤̬̏̈D̷͖̫̭͌̅̒̈́̂̀̄̽͠ ̴̡͙͚͓̹͈͖̜̟͙̈́̄̾́̑̀̐̽̕̕̕̚͠͝S̴͔̯͍̮͓̻̱̬̰͔͇̬̾̌͠ͅĄ̷̣͍̞͉̟̩̘̻̠̠̙͗ͅF̷̛̠̍̽̌̍͒͠͝Ę̸̢̟̯̬̪̤̭̥̠͕͛̆͗.̵̢͈̳̇̑̏͒͋̀̅̎͗̀̕ ̷̘̦͓̙̠̘̈͒̊̉̾̑̈̓̂̽̕ͅŔ̴̭̹͖͌́͆U̴̢̬͕̜̝̬̲̳̪̫̼͙̿̌͋̊̋̎͛̌̊́̿̕͝N̵̢̬̠̠̦̥͔͍͉̠̞͔̫̤̑͐̐͒̀̄̆.̸̬̭͇̖̀̈́̕͘ ̶͓̣͔̞̫̈́̄́̾͜


    Q̶̱̳̎́̽̍̽͠ueȩ̶̹̯̮͈͛͆̽͝n. C̵̻͛̈oḿ̴̗̪̯́̍͑͒͌̆͘ḿ̸̨͔̺͓̗̓͋̀̏͜ͅand.

    The dark is friend. The dark hides this one. Hide from the good smells.

    They try… yes! They try try try! Find this one they not. Kill this one they not.

    This one smart. This one know.

    This one sleep now. This one wait.

    Wait for Q̶̱̳̎́̽̍̽͠ueȩ̶̹̯̮͈͛͆̽͝n.
  25. Niiyu

    Niiyu Getting out there.

    Mar 25, 2018
    Likes Received:
    We will hopefully get the next real chapter tomorrow. So expect that! DISCUSS!
  26. Threadmarks: Chapter Five: A long Time Coming

    Niiyu Getting out there.

    Mar 25, 2018
    Likes Received:
    Kali Ochre

    Pulling my head back from the open window, my heart hammering in my chest, I go to scream again. I stop when I hear Ghira storming down the hall, turning around in time, I see my panther in the doorway, his wide yellow eyes looking over the room in a panic.

    “Kali? What’s wrong?!” Ghira asks, his voice slightly higher pitch a testament to his surprise.

    I feel tears coming to my eyes, “I-It’s Taylor! She’s gone, Ghira!” I explain, my voice strained as I gesture to the distinct lack of Taylor in her room.

    Looking over my shoulder, I see Ghira relax then sigh before turning to me with a slight smile, “She will be back.”

    “How would you know?!” I counter, a pleading to my voice at his statement.

    He chuckles, gesturing to the open box and the various things being strewn about on Taylor’s bed, a certain smugness to his voice, “Her stuff is still here, for one thing, for another, I seem to recall another woman who pulled something like this in the past.” he sing songs back.

    Despite my panic and pounding heart, I feel a blush spreading across my face. Feeling like I need to defend myself, I grumble, “T-That’s not the point! I-I had my reasons, okay, you know this?!”

    “Whatever you say, Kitten. Just relax ok? Taylor will come back, she likely just needed some air and didn't want to deal with us.” My panther teases me calmly, much to my frustration.

    Growling slightly, I snap back, “How do you know?? I… I didn’t come back for days sometimes! Who knows what could happen to her!”

    Ghira sighs, stepping forward and before I can protest, his strong arms wrap around me, pressing me into his furry chest. I squirm and protest but I know it’s useless, especially as I feel his deep rumbling voice, “She’ll come back. I promise. Please, calm down.” I relax involuntarily as he gently begins to scratch the spot behind my top left ear, making me melt against him and purr in bliss.

    He continues, his expert teasing of that damned spot making me listen, “Besides, could you have stopped her if she wanted to leave? I’ll answer that for you, it’s no. She is not a prisoner, nor your child, she’s an adult who needs time.” He scratches the spot a few more times before continuing, “We need to extend a bit of trust to her like we are asking her to do for us. So lets just give her a bit of time, okay love?”

    I can’t shake it… this feeling I have. It’s a horrible feeling that squeezes my heart as I voice it, shakily, “I just… I feel like I did something wrong…”

    Taylor Hebert

    My walk around Menagerie has been, well not content, but calming at the very least. The mostly empty streets and much cooler temperature helping immensely to calm the confusing mix of emotions swirling inside me.

    With a sigh, I stuff my hands in my shorts pockets, looking up into the clear night sk-

    Huh, the moon is shattered…

    The moon is shattered…

    The fucking moon is shattered

    At first, I think I’m seeing things. I blink a few times, yet, the image remains. Roughly half of this worlds moon is destroyed, the chunks seemingly floating in space without care.

    This world is… strange.

    Low to high-level brute, mover, and thinker powers that you don’t need to trigger to get.

    A specific power called a semblance.

    A literal race of soulless, negativity driven creatures that want to kill both races.

    A profession to kill said, creatures.

    Weapons that are both bladed and a firearm.

    Now, their moon is broken.

    If I wasn’t seeing this for myself, I would have thought this world was a book with a mix of high fantasy and slight sci-fi elements. Idly, I wonder if there could be literal magic here? If there was… it wouldn’t be the near the weirdest thing I’ve seen or heard.

    Wonder if that says more about my life or the world I came from?

    Dismissing the thought for now, I continue on, the strangeness of this new world just yet another thing I’ll need to get used to.

    As I walk on, my mind inevitably drifts back to Ghira and especially Kali…

    Now that I’ve cleared my head a little, it’s much easier to think objectively. Without my swarm, I’ll need to constantly second guess myself. Making sure I’m not being controlled by my emotions or my paranoia.

    While I genuinely don’t think Kali withheld that information for malicious reasons. I still need to know what she saw.

    But most importantly is why.

    The worst part, the part that causes a hollow gnawing pit in my stomach is that she knew me, she knew my life. She saw the monster I’d become to kill a monster, yet she still helped me…

    It makes so little sense...

    With yet another sigh, I digress. Ultimately… I know I could theorize and try to puzzle out Kali’s motive for hours on end. But there’s no point when Kali has all the answers. I need to know how much of my life she knows, how much she saw, and why she helped me anyway before I do anything else.

    Taking a deep breath of the cool yet humid air then exhaling, I stop. Nodding to myself, I’m firm in my resolve to not run from this, at least not yet, not when there’s so much still unanswered.

    Turning around to backtrack the distance of my walk, I easily find Kali and Ghira’s home again, the same house on the corner of two sand paved streets. Approaching from the back, I sigh in slight relief when I notice the lights are out. They must have gone to bed

    I crush the twinge of pain in my heart at the thought they didn’t look for me, dismissing it as idiotic. Upon getting closer to the window I left, it’s fairly easy, especially with my new aura to jump just high enough to grab the edge, then hauling myself up and over.

    Sitting on the windowsill, my long legs just barely touching the carpet, I hop down and on instinct alone listen for breathing or movement. Mainly wondering if they really did go to bed.

    As I listen, all I can hear is silence apart from the slight sounds of the wind outside and the slightest sound of insect wings in the humid weather.

    Relaxing, I look around the room, the light of the pale and broken moon illuminating most of the room through the window reveals no sign of my things being moved in my absence.

    Did they think I’d come back? Or perhaps they’re taking a wait and see approach...

    Regardless, they-

    My stomach rumbles, making its anger known at the lack of food I’ve had today.

    Gnawing on my bottom lip in thought, I suppose the happenings of the day had left me hungrier than I thought. Well, Kali and Ghira did give me permission to raid the kitchen if I wanted, so I might as well eat something small.

    Taking a moment to slowly open my door, I peek my head out, looking up and down the dark hallway, my eyes only mostly adjusted to the darkness.

    With the coast clear, I walk quietly to the kitchen, resolved to talk to Kali in the morning after we are both rested. The future conversation is one best handled with calm heads. We could likely talk in peace once Ghira goes to work or request some privacy if he doesn't work on… whatever day it is. Note to self, look at a calendar and figure out how days and years work here.

    Shaking myself from my idle thoughts, I spot a basket of apples and claim the biggest one for myself. Taking a nice big bite out of it, I savor the sweet yet slightly bitter taste, my new heightened senses allowing me to enjoy it much more before turning to return to my room.

    As I leave the kitchen, I appreciate the silence and stillness of this new world. There was no constant hustle and bustle that made up the grey noise of my old world. I could even hear crickets chirping in a natural way that, while it made me once again miss my swarm, also filled me with a strange sense of calm.

    I’m just passing the living room when I find my gaze trapped by a pair of bright, amber eyes staring at me from the corner of my sight.

    A cold chill shoots down my spine. Heart racing and adrenaline flowing through my veins on instinct alone as my head snaps to the pair of eyes staring at me in the darkness. How did I miss her…? Can you suppress your presence with aura?

    As the moon revealed itself, from behind some clouds, it shines through the sliding glass doors in the back of the living room. The new light revealed more of Kali, showing her clearly concerned features.

    She speaks casually, her voice a bit too calm, “You know, with how little you have eaten today, an apple won’t be enough for you. You should have grabbed more from the kitchen.” The expression on her face a mix of disappointment and a jungle predator.

    I’m not sure which I find more daunting.

    Snapping out of my shock, I try to calm my pounding heart. Trying to loosen my tense body now that I know she isn’t an enemy, I purposefully ignore her comment, needing to get away from this conversation.

    I’m tired, hungry, and I just got calm, not to mention Ghira could wake up if this gets heated.

    “I’m going to go to bed,” I say quickly, tone neutral as I go to leave.

    “I can and will stop you if you try, Taylor.” her casual threat tinged with genuine hurt freezes me in my tracks.

    She takes my stopping as a sign to continue, “Good. You’re not escaping my sight until you tell me what’s wrong. Why you decided it was a good idea to scare not only me but Ghira by hopping out the window for a late night stroll?”

    Taking a few deep breaths, I bury the urge to snap at her and get myself under control. I’m evidently not as over it as I thought. I do not want to do this now. I feel trapped, cornered.

    “I just wanted some fresh air,” I respond coolly, hoping she gives up.

    When I don’t immediately hear anything back, I look into her near glowing eyes, seeing her expression. Gone is the smile and the laughs, in its place is a cold, serious and almost haunted look to her.

    She stands up from the couch in the living room, she crosses her arms, scoffing lightly, “Right… as if I didn’t do that when I was like you.” she says skeptically.

    Gritting my teeth, I clench my fist around the apple, making it creak slightly in strain.

    “Stop. Stop saying that.” The words slip from my lips, voicing my thoughts. Unable to take all of it anymore. The familiarity I have around Kali, the comments of being like her, the kindness and generosity towards me. It’s all too much and it makes no fucking sense!

    Evidently, I didn’t hide my anger and frustration well as Kali’s taken aback as she splutters, “Stop what, Taylor?”

    ‘Get it together. I can use this, calm down.’ I repeat a few times, the maelstrom of betrayal, anger, and sadness flaring once again.

    I feel a wave of cool serenity wash over me as I focus on using this to my advantage. I overreact a bit, raising my voice a bit as I bait her, “Stop comparing me to you! You know nothing about me!” I say, snarling out the word nothing.

    Kali raises her voice in turn, voice sounding hurt and a little desperate, taking the bait, “I know enough! I know how you’ve lived a life of pain and hardship, that your very soul is in anguish! That you were too much like m-”

    I cut her off, my suspicions all but confirmed, hissing, “So you did see my life!”

    Kali seems initially confused by my words as I gauge her reaction. I see her pale in the shallow moonlight, realization coming to her too late.

    She steps forward, a hand outstretched to do something unknown as she whispers on the verge of tears, “Taylor… I’m so sorry. I… I didn’t think it was important, I should have told you sooner…”

    Back straight, I glare down at her, voice cold as ice, “Yes. Yes, you should have. We’ll talk in the morning, this isn’t done.” I go to walk past her, done with this until later.

    I hear a faint whooshing sound and my chest collides with what felt like a concrete wall. Looking down, I see the slightest shimmer of gold in the moonlight around Kali’s outstretched arm coated in what I assume is her aura.

    Following her arm blocking me, I look to her face, this is… new from her. She was so fast… is this what aura can do?

    She really would have stopped me, no matter what…

    I see Kali’s head hung, her ears flat against her head and her midnight black hair covering her expression from view.

    What I hear is her soft, heartbroken whispers, “Taylor… I messed up. I’m sure right now you feel betrayed, angry, and even upset. But please, listen to me. I’ll tell you everything I know about you. Listening to me is all I ask…” she tapers off, swallowing back something, her nerves, her own anger, I can’t tell.

    “If you still wish to leave afterward, to hate me? Then you can, Ghira or I won’t stop you. You have my word.” She begs, no, pleads with me.

    Biting the inside of my cheek, I take stock of how I’m feeling. Can I talk to her right now? Will I be too emotionally unstable?

    While this is what I wanted… it’s entirely on Kali’s terms. It’s far from ideal circumstances as well.

    But the clawing mix of dread and anticipation inside me yearns for me to go through with it, damn the lack of control.

    I’m inclined to agree with it…

    She waits patiently for my response, I give it with no small amount of reluctance, “Alright, Kali. I’ll listen.”

    Kali lets out an immense sigh of relief, her shoulders drooping and ears perking up as she looks at me, a small hopeful smile on her face, “Thank you, Taylor.”

    Nodding, carefully regulating my tone and expression, I ask, “Should we sit somewhere?”

    She nods slowly then silently gestures to follow. She leads me to the medium-sized, round wooden table in the kitchen. She turns on the light fixture above us, making both of us wince at the sudden brightness assaulting our eyes.

    Kali winces, looking sheepish, “Sorry about that...”

    My dilating eyes are not amused, not one bit but she takes a seat.

    Taking the exact opposite chair, I can see her more clearly in the bright light. She looks… solemn, beaten and so very tired.

    It’s… an unnatural look to her.

    She begins, the sheer sincerity and remorse in her eyes send a lance of pain through my heart, “Where would you like to begin, Taylor?”

    Chewing over the thought, I figure it’s best to just take the plunge and damn the consequences. Besides, I need to know what I’m working with, “All of it. How much of my life do you know? What did you see when unlocking my aura?” I ask, keeping everything about me neutral to mask my apprehension.

    Kali sighs heavily as if remembering a heavy burden, “Taylor, I saw nothing of your life. I know some do when unlocking someone’s aura. But all I saw… was your soul.”

    Paradoxically, I feel myself relaxing at the idea that she saw nothing of my life. But also a sinking feeling at the knowledge she saw something I never knew existed.

    Committed now, curiosity mainly drives me to ask the slightly fidgeting Kali, “What did you see then?”

    She takes a long, deep breath before speaking next, her eyes looking far away and distant as she recalls, “It was… like nothing I’d ever seen before, Taylor. It was shriveled up, like a deprived and wilting flower. It was dark grey. But, when I tried to help you by infusing your aura I met resistance. Something cold, calculating, and alien.” She says, shivering at the memory.

    I’m glad she’s lost in remembrance so she doesn’t see me tense and my blood running cold in my veins. She’s talking about my passenger… it survived. With my new knowledge on semblances, I thought my range was exactly that. But it could truly still be my passenger at work.

    She continues, uncaring of my reaction, “Your soul was… so ruthless, harsh, and precise. Like a sharp scalpel,” Kali then slumps in her chair, shaking her head as she delivers the next part, “I know you’ve been… broken, no, shattered again and again. Only to reforge yourself no matter how many times it occurs.” She finishes, the distant quality to her eyes fading as she looks imploringly at me, waiting for my reaction.

    With my arms crossed, I blink, unsure if I should be offended, terrified, or calmed by her… more than accurate assessment despite not having any of the contexts.

    She licks her lips nervously, saying more, “I… uh… sorta know how much you despise yourself as well… when I tried to get more information your soul fought back, it was a terrible pain that I deserved…” she trails off, seeing my cold and stony expression.

    That’s… not the best thing for her to know. But I don’t despise myself… sure, I was a monster who killed, tortured, puppeted, intimidated, terrified… okay, she may have a slight point there…

    I feel… both immensely relieved and vulnerable. While she didn’t see my life specifically, now she’s very likely curious about just why I overrated, even if it was on purpose.

    Kali evidently takes my silence not so well, fidgeting more till she can’t take it and blurts out, “You can do the same to me!”

    Blinking in confusion, my gaze snaps to her worried golden eyes, “Excuse me?”

    She sighs heavily, “If you’d like to see my soul through aura as I saw yours… I’ll let you happily. But,” she blushes, “It’s a very… intimate thing to do…” She trails off, embarrassed.

    I’m genuinely taken aback by her offer. Not only because it seemingly came out of the blue but… I’m terrified of what I’d find.

    Would it truly be a kindred spirit?

    Would it be all lies?

    Or would it be a genuine overflowing of love and kindness for everyone?

    I… don’t think I’m ready for that answer, hell, I don’t want to hurt myself or her doing this without proper control over my aura.

    With that in mind, I answer the nervous catwoman, “Not now… maybe later.”

    She perks up at this, her usual smiling and happy self reappearing, “Sure, Taylor! You can ask me anytime.”

    The excitable catwoman seems to remember something, something that makes her deflate again, looking like a small child afraid of rejection, her voice soft, “Are we… okay?”

    Feeling honesty is the best action here, I say as much, “I don’t know, are we? While I will likely get over this, I… don’t know if I can trust you, even now.”

    Kali seems undeterred, if anything, she seems galvanized, “Then I’ll get you to trust me, someday, Tay. I promise!”

    Just as I’m about to tell her not to call me that, Emma used to, she’s spoiled the nickname. We’re both interrupted by a sudden deep chuckle.

    At the sudden sound we both turned to see Ghira standing there, leaning against the wall connecting the kitchen and the living room, watching with a slight smile on his face, “Well, this is progress, and look, nothing’s broken and I'm not knocked on my ass. I call this a win-win!”

    Author’s note:

    Go check out the interlude! I know it’s short but it has lovely foreshadowing and discussion abound!

    Also, we will be, from now on, posting on EITHER Sunday OR Monday as it gives us more wiggle room as well as makes us feel less bad we can’t get it done Sunday. Due to life and work.

    Thank you all and enjoy!
    Last edited: May 29, 2019
  27. Haphazard

    Haphazard Getting sticky.

    Sep 15, 2015
    Likes Received:
    Oh dear, this can only end in pain.
  28. kaazmiz

    kaazmiz Waiting for an Issekai Adventure

    Aug 9, 2015
    Likes Received:
    This ended up less...crazy? Emotionally life changing?
    Guess its going to be a really slow slog of a mental recovery for Taylor.
  29. MacrossRides

    MacrossRides Know what you're doing yet?

    May 10, 2019
    Likes Received:
    Kali you almost flubbed that several times. Just barreling through isn't the way with Taylor. I see this as very good practice for when Blake goes through her rebellious faze.
  30. Warscar5697

    Warscar5697 Getting some practice in, huh?

    May 11, 2019
    Likes Received:
    I can see it now.
    In walks Taylor, calmly "I can promise you're going to do it either way"
    AirBreather and Ajlove like this.