Reforging the Soul

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Reforging the Soul

Post by Machine Man on Thu Aug 24, 2017 7:01 pm

I sat on my porch, a cup of coffee in my hands, watching the sun begin its ascent into our cloudless sky. The hot drink didn't comfort me as much as it used to, but the act itself was extremely therapeutic, given my new career. Being a Zombie meant having a whole new set of responsibilities, including, but not limited to, busting up Hollows whenever they come around. Instinctively I checked my phone, just to make sure I hadn't missed a call or a message. I was positive that I hadn't, but I was a little paranoid after my accident. It didn't seem to bother anyone else, so I didn't worry much about it.

I did, however, get a better idea of the time, so after a few more minutes of sitting in silence, I went back into my apartment and started to clean up for the day. I showered, dressed, and did my hair... made myself look presentable, then got in the car and made my way to work like any other Breather would. No one knew what I was, of course, for that was a secret that was vital to keep. Even then I couldn't imagine the fear that would grip the world if they knew that Zombies were real.

That morning I had a meeting with my Adviser, which is just another way to say doctor. Zombies were different from the Living, so we needed someone who could take care of us that would have a heart attack when they discovered that our hearts didn't beat. Our Advisers were also responsible for missions, usually taking out Hollows, like I mentioned before. Sometimes we'd be sent after a rogue Zombie, but most of us stuck pretty close together, at least in small groups. Our numbers were few and scattered; causing an international shit-storm was the fast way to extinction that I could possibly think of.

"Good morning, Deacon." My Adviser, a young woman named Elizabeth, greeted me when I walked through the door. She was expecting me.

"Hey Liz. What's new?"

"Nothing much."

I couldn't help but grin ever so slightly, no matter how hard I tried not to curl the corners of my lips. "Liar." Elizabeth sighed heavily, placing her hand on her forehead.

"Do you know how annoying it is that I can't lie to you? I mean not that I would make a habit of it, but every now and then would be nice. I broke up with Halo yesterday."

As I laid down on the exam table and prepared to be poked by several long needles, I looked up at the young blond with sympathetic eyes. "That's never easy. But if what I know of him is true, and I know it is, you're better off without him." Just because I was dead, doesn't mean I had to be cold and unfeeling. Plus the small talk helped pass the time. Maybe she continued to tell me about the breakup because she wanted me to offer to take her out, but since my accident, I hadn't really been interested in anyone. It's hard to want to date when you don't even have a pulse.

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Re: Reforging the Soul

Post by Danry on Thu Aug 24, 2017 10:48 pm

I felt the wind through my hair as I weaved through traffic on my motorcycle. I was going to be late for an appointment - my first appointment - with my new Advisor if the traffic didn't let up. It was dangerous, sure, but while I had been alive I was an adrenaline junkie, and it had carried over to my death. Unfortunately I wouldn't have needed a new Advisor if I had just been a little faster, but Jess had died because I didn't get to her in time. It would haunt me, probably for the rest of my undead life, but I didn't let it slow me down. I couldn't. Never again.

Making it to the building a few minutes before my appointment, I hopped off my bike, and walked in. I bounced up to the receptionist desk and smiled. Not a lot of Breathers knew about what I was, and that was fine, I didn't mind. I wasn't going to tell them; I didn't want a knife in my back.

"Hi, I have an appointment. My name is Mag."

The receptionist looked up at me and handed me a clipboard with some papers and told me to take a seat. The doctor would be with me shortly, she was with a patient. I did as asked, and as I filled out the paperwork, I wondered if this new one would be anything like Jess. It took a whike but she had warmed up to me, so to speak, we were able to have normal conversations while she worked.

That Hollow shouldn't have been there. Someone hadn't done their job, and a life was lost. Not a vengeful person I wouldn't go after the Zombie responsible for their Hollows escape, but if found out who it was, I would beat the hell out of them for my grief. Jess wasn't going to come back like I had. She was far too damaged, too mutilated, there was nothing left of her.

Sighing deeply I filled out my paperwork and waited. I hoped it was over soon, I had a job to get to.

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Re: Reforging the Soul

Post by Machine Man on Sat Aug 26, 2017 11:49 am

"Well you're the picture of death, Deacon." Elizabeth winked playfully at me, throwing more of her horrible humor in my direction as usual. It was a quality I had always appreciated in the doctor. Not only was she comfortable with working with a Zombie, but she was comfortable enough to actual enjoy the interaction. She wasn't like other Breathers. Never once did she show any sign of fear with me. She never shied away from me, never flinched once. As far as the living was concerned, she was a gold star on their record.

"Thanks, Liz. Got any assignments for me?" I started to redress myself, then prepared to go home or to start my next contract. I paused, however, feeling the presence of another Zombie in the office. While that wasn't necessarily abnormal, it was an aura signature I didn't recognize, and I had damn good memory.

Liz, seeing my hesitation, didn't need psychic powers to know why I stopped. "Actually yes. My next appointment is with another Zombie. Her name is Mag. You two will be working together for a little while so she can adjust to her new surroundings. Hope that's okay."

I'd had worked with others in the past, so having a partner wasn't really new. But I had heard her name in passing before, and knew that she had a different advisor. "What's happening that we need another advisor and Zombie? Must be a big assignment."

"Just a Zombie. Her advisor is dead. Killed by a Hollow."

"Oh," I replied. If I had a working heart, it would have stopped beating for a moment. "Well i'll stick around then so we can be formally introduced."

Liz smiled and walked me out of the exam room. When we reached the waiting room, she called out Mag's name, summoning her to the back area with a genuine smile on her face.

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Re: Reforging the Soul

Post by Danry on Sat Aug 26, 2017 3:29 pm

Hearing my name, I stood and smiled, taking my paperwork with me. I knew the only important things on it were my name and address and phone number, but it was more of a formality for the Breathers. They didn't need my insurance information, the facility that made me what I was took care of all of that.

I walked to the back room with the doctor and her previous Zombie appointment. I had known there was another in there when I entered the building, but I didn't know who it was, and, if I was being honest, I didn't really need to know. My spirit and demeanor wasn't necessarily common among my species so they often chose not to associate with me. It wasn't something that bothered me too badly, it was their loss not mine. Even still I was polite, and even though they knew my name I would do the customary thing and introduce myself.

"I am Mag Dubois, it is a pleasure to meet you." I didn't know these people too well so I did not offer my hand to shake. Once I knew we were out of any Breathers earshot, however, I continued talking. "I know you already know most of my history, but I like to introduce myself to.. Kind if break the ice. A while ago I drowned. I was bungee jumping and my cord snapped, the equipment was heavy and dragged me down. It took a lot of therapy after I woke up, but I am now not afraid of any type of water. Anymore." I added.

"Now that thats done," I shifted on my feet, unsure of what to do, "its been a while since I've had a new Advisor, so I'm not entirely sure what to do here."

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Re: Reforging the Soul

Post by Machine Man on Mon Aug 28, 2017 6:27 pm

Elizabeth smiled courteously to her new ward, her eyes scrunching ever so slightly as she did. Unlike other Breathers, Liz was completely comfortable being around Zombies. Even from the very beginning, she was open to the concept and very quick to befriend others of my kind. "Mag, it's nice to meet you. I'm Liz. Thank you for coming this morning. I know it's been hard since we lost Jess. She was a good adviser, and a good friend. I grieve for her."

It was clear that Liz shared a connection with the deceased adviser. I saw her just after the attack, and she was not the same Elizabeth. Whatever they were to each other, they were tight. The doctor turned on her heels and lead us back toward the exam room, walking slowly to give us time to speak.

"Mag, this is your new partner, Deacon. He's been my patient for several months now, and I will honestly tell you that I couldn't be happier with the pairing. From what I understand of the both of you, I believe you'll work together very well." Again, Liz did not lie. I didn't really know if she just gave up on it or if she was just always genuine. Either way, I appreciated the honesty.

I stuck my hand out, a small smile on my face. "Welcome to the party, Mag. I'm sorry about Jess, too, but i'm looking forward to working with you." As we neared the exam room, I paused my steps, unwilling to make anyone uncomfortable on the first day. "I'm sure you don't want me inside while you have your physical, so i'll let you two have at it. But if you aren't doing anything afterwards, maybe we can go upstairs and get a bite to eat? Get to know each other a little?"

I waited for a moment for her reply, then turned and exited the clinic. I'd never had a partner before that day, so I was looking forward to the experience.

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Re: Reforging the Soul

Post by Danry on Tue Aug 29, 2017 10:37 am

"Sounds good. See you on the other side, Deacon." I entered the exam room with Liz, preparing myself to get poked and prodded.  "I grieve for her, too." I spoke to my new Advisor once the door closed. I knew a little about Liz from Jess, they seemed to have a great friendship, sometimes I envied it. But I knew that the loss of someone close to you created a deep scar that never fully healed. "She was fond of you, and spoke of you often. I am sorry for your loss."

My words were genuine, though my tone was a little flat. I missed her. Not wanting that to dampen my experience with my new Advisor, I smiled and as my physical began we got into better conversation. Being who I was it wasn't hard to get her to open up to me, and by the end of my exam we had already made plans to get together outside of work.

"Just let me know what time you want to meet up on Friday. We'll go for drinks and don't forget: no boys. Just us girls, yeah?" I winked at her and smiled as I shrugged my jacket back on. It was now time to find... Deacon. Yes, that was his name. He was to be my partner. Hopefully he was more compotent than the ass that got Jess killed. Taking a deep breath I headed out of the exam room, and followed my own inner Zombie detector to find him. It wasn't too hard.

"Hey, ready to grab that bite?"

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Re: Reforging the Soul

Post by Machine Man on Wed Aug 30, 2017 3:13 am

I had spent most of my time in the waiting room on my phone, reading up on the latest unexplained phenomenon happening all over the state. It wasn't hard to imagine that, eventually, we would be overrun by nerds and conspiracy theorists eager to catch a photo of something they would never actually see. It was sad, but that was the truth of it. We were told to keep ourselves in lone, and cautioned not to make everything worse by blabbing about Afterlife. So we hid as much as possible by blending in, doing the things that the Breathers did, like going to the doctor Nd messing around on a cellphone.

When I heard Mac's voice, I quickly tucked my phone into my pocket and started toward her. "Sure," I said, trying not to sound like I was starving. "If we are going to be partners though, you can call me Deek. Deacon always sounded preachy to me." I figured that my new partner 's conversation with Liz was likely a morose one, so I tried to do what I could to lighten the mood long enough to reach our designated eatery, where we could speak about whatever we wanted.

"So what are you getting? Everything is good, I hear."

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Re: Reforging the Soul

Post by Danry on Sat Sep 09, 2017 8:37 pm

"I'm not a picky eater these days." I walked with him and smiled, hands in my pockets. Being dead didn't really change much about me, thankfully. The only thing that really changed, that I noticed, was my appetite. I didnt really have one. Around Breathers I was able to eat like I always had, but it tasted like ash in my mouth. I forced myself through the motions until I could do, and eat, as I pleased.

Most Zombies didn't like their new jobs, killing Hollows and all that, but I did. I found it thrilling. Though, that was probably due to my adrenaline junkie attitude.

"Honestly, I try not to think too hard about it. What about you, Deek? Anything you favor over the rest?" I opened the door to the eatery and, I know its odd, but it felt like a weight was lifted from me and I could breathe easier. Which was silly because I didn't technically need to breathe. I guess it was just the freedom to really just be able to talk about what I was without fear of mass hysteria and getting a bullet to the head. If they would get through my skull, that is.

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Re: Reforging the Soul

Post by Machine Man on Tue Sep 12, 2017 7:15 pm

"I'm not really picky either, but i've always been a carnivore, so i'm good with just about anything." We entered the cafeteria through a pair of two-way doors. Inside were others like us, Zombies that ate and drank together without that awkward feeling that something was wrong with the person that spoke to you. The air smelled of food, appetizing fragrances that would make any zombie's stomach grumble and growl.

I wasn't sure how much time Mag spent in the company of her own kind, but she didn't seem to have any trouble adjusting, at least as far as I could tell. I had heard that she was a tough nut, capable of bouncing back from just about anything. I, on the other hand, felt a certain degree of apprehension in larger crowds, something I had taken with me when I passed through the Veil.

Once my tray was full, I selected a table furthest away from the bulk of the crowd and waited for Mag to take her seat. I watched her while I waited, noting the way she moved, the way she navigated her way around the room and around the other zombies. I watched what she selected to eat and drink, how she held her tray, how she arranged her edible items. I watched her face for social queues, making no attempt to hide my studious gaze even as she approached.

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Re: Reforging the Soul

Post by Danry on Tue Sep 12, 2017 8:49 pm

I spotted Deacon sitting a bit away from everyone else and secretly I appreciated him for it. As I walked, it seemed as though the others avoided me. It was something I was used to, and didn't really pay much attention to. As an adrenaline seeker, the others on Team Z found that I called too much attention to myself. 'What if you get hurt?' I would be asked. 'How are you going to explain your injuries?'

It wasn't rocket science. If I got hurt I could literally play dead. They'd call Liz, my new Advisor, my 'doctor', and she would see to me, miraculously save my life, I'd be under the radar for a while, then return in the appropriate amount of time required for healing. The others over thought it too much. If my 'injuries' were too severe for my 'revival' to be believable I would be relocated, it was as simple as that. Not like I had anyone to mourn or bury me, I'd already died once so I didn't get what the big deal was.

"True to your word, you are quite the carnivore. But aren't we all?" I grinned as I sat down, in a position where I could see the whole room. I had no one at my back. "Socially studying me, eh? I have keen eyes Deek. What have you learned about me in this short a time?" I was genuinely curious, and it reflected in my tone. I didn't mind that he watched me, tried to figure me out. I would have been put off if he hadn't. I, too, was gauging him just as he was me.

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Re: Reforging the Soul

Post by Machine Man on Thu Sep 14, 2017 5:56 pm

"Busted," I said with a bit of a chuckle. She was a sharp one, I gave her that without objection. I was glad to hear that she wasn't offended; i'd met others that were very secretive, and I found that it was more difficult working with those kinds of Zombies instead of the ones that allowed you to read them. Of course Mag was letting me read her. She wouldn't be easily fooled.

"You're smart. A bit guarded. You feel like an oddball among everyone else. You don't waste time very often. The way you move suggests that you took care of yourself in life. You definitely didn't die for lack of trying." I sat back in my chair, my eyes locked on the girl sitting at my table.

"You're determine and sharp-minded. You prefer smaller groups of company, though I bet you're pretty comfortable just being by yourself. Am I in the ballpark?" Liz had always commented on my obsession with 'scanning' people when I met them. Whether I was right or wrong, I felt this overwhelming urge to learn everything about them, down to the finest detail. I watched the way she ate, and the way she drank. I could feel every movement through the table, could see every bit of expended energy. I just couldn't help it.

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Re: Reforging the Soul

Post by Danry on Thu Sep 14, 2017 8:56 pm

I laughed and nodded quite impressed with Deacons assesment of me. "You are not wrong. The only thing I wonder is if you've figured out why. I am quite an oddball, especially in this group, they don't take to me very well." I observed him openly, not taking the care to hide my studious gaze. He had to know I studied him just as hard.

"I think I'll quite like working with you." I commented after a moment, enjoying my meal. I hadn't realized how hungry I had been until we got inside the eatery; since Jess had died, in the process of moving and getting my paperwork filed and sorted, I didn't have time to eat. As a member of Team Z I didn't have to eat as often as a human, though going too long could result in my changing permanently into a Hollow. I didn't want that.

"If you dont know I think you'll find out soon enough." Pulling out my phone, I unlocked it and extended it across the table. "Enter your digits, yeah? I should have my partners number, just in case."

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Re: Reforging the Soul

Post by Machine Man on Mon Sep 18, 2017 6:49 pm

Pleased that my assessment was accurate, I started to eat and drink, feeling more comfortable in Mag's company as time went on. She was quite interesting, and though I had pegged several of her qualities, there were still plenty more to discover. "Why is a lot harder than the other W's. Everyone's why is slightly different, though they're all basically the same in the end." I left the point to linger in the air above our table. I wanted to give her something to think about rather than just bashing her in the head with my opinions like some crazed psychopathic philosopher.

I took her phone carefully in my hands, after it was offered, and called my phone from hers. After a couple of rings, I handed her back her device. "There, now we have each other's numbers. I think we're going to do great things together." I smiled, then reached into my pocket again as it alerted me of an incoming text message. Flipping through screens and scrolling through text, my expression faded.

"Might want to eat quick. Transport will be here in twenty minutes. Hollow activity up the canyon."

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Re: Reforging the Soul

Post by Danry on Tue Oct 03, 2017 11:08 pm

"Oh, how exciting." I smiled as I finished up my meal. "Our first day together is going splendidly." I was alright with that, though things were moving a bit fast as well. I had only just met the guy, I was hoping we could go on a few more dates before I had to break out the Hollow. Oh, well. It is what it is.

Once I finished, I shoved my phone in my pocket and stretched. No use to have cramped muscles when beating a rampant zombie to hell. Although... I glanced at my new partner tilting my head as I looked at him. Never having worked in a team type setting I wondered which of us would "Hollow-Out" to take care of the one in the canyon. Flip a coin? Maybe go by who died first? Who had more experience, perhaps. Eh, whatever. I wasn't too worried about it, it wasn't like I wanted to show off or prove myself. I didn't have to. I knew my body and my limits, despite my deadness.

"Shall we go wait, then?" I took my empty tray to the bin, pushing my hands into my pockets. Again I seemed to be avoided, not only physically, but no one would look me in the eye either. It was odd. I hadn't been to the area before, and while we knew each other to some extent, I hadnt had any contact with any of them. Was my reputation, and aura that offputting? Maybe I'd check with Liz when we got back to see if any of my levels were off or weird.

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Re: Reforging the Soul

Post by Machine Man on Mon Oct 09, 2017 1:20 pm

I quickly finished off my plate and took care of my mess, then escorted my new partner out of chow town and headed for the garage. If I had blood flow, it would have been coursing through my veins. I did, however, feel a wide variety of emotions, ranging from exhilaration to anxiety. Going into this fight with someone I barely knew presented a long list of potential issues, none of which could be handled before the first shot was fired. I'd have to just go with the flow and hope I do not scare her away or get her killed.

We hung a left, then followed the last hallway to the garage. As soon as I pushed through the door, a hatch on the opposite end of the room slid upward, letting the sunlight pour in. Wafts of nature filled the space, immediately overriding the distinct odor of grease and metal. They did vehicle maintenance there, but the rain covered it up nicely.

"God I love that smell," I say, pausing a moment to inhale deeply. The fragrance of fog was almost spiritual to me, taking me back to a time before I was dead, to my youth when life was simple and lacking in gray area. Maybe that nostalgia would be enough for me to suppress my Hollow form while my new partner acclimated herself to my presence, though I couldn't imagine it would actually work.

"There's the truck. Ready?"

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Re: Reforging the Soul

Post by Danry on Tue Oct 10, 2017 9:18 pm

Inside the garage I inhaled deeply, the smells of nature and man mixing well. Grease and machinery versus mother nature. It was a pleasant mix, although I had to lean a bit towards nature. There was just something about that fresh, clean smell that made me feel alive again.

"Sweetie, I was born ready." I gave Deacon a lopsided grin as if to try and lighten the obvious tension. I could have guessed what he was worried about and wondered if he felt the same aversion to me as everyone else. If so he was doing a swell job at hiding it, though I could underatand his apprehension. "Might as well get on with it, eh? I bet you have better things planned for your afternoon."

Approaching the truck, I rolled my shoulders and cracked my knuckles, the smile falling from my lips. I was a reckless type, adrenaline junkie, yes, but I took my job very seriously. I think especially after Jess died. I also knew that I cpuld push my limits when it came to getting the job, and protecting the ones fortunate enough to never know this side of their world. Luckily, the canyon wasn't too populated so the risk of hurting someone if I had to resort to my Hollow was lessened and I could stretch my wings, so to speak.

"Do we have a plan, or..?"

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Re: Reforging the Soul

Post by Machine Man on Wed Oct 11, 2017 1:11 pm

"Sweetie? Asking about my plans? My dear Mag, are you about to ask me on a date?" I winked playfully as I climbed into the truck, moving all the way to the front of the vehicle, next to the cabin, and sitting myself down in a bucket seat. I started to strap myself in, watching Mag carefully as she followed me in, loosening her muscles as she did so. "I never make plans for after the fight. Who knows what could happen out there? Life is full of surprises, after all. Maybe you'll even see something new out there."

I was a whore for foreshadowing, so having the opportunity to use it was not something I would pass up, voluntarily or involuntarily. The truck sputtered to life and started to roll away from the hanger, with only a driver and a passenger in the front and the two Zombies in the back. It wasn't far from our current location, but just long enough to need to avoid awkward silence.

"The mouth of the canyon isn't far from here, then it's a bit of a hike to the intercept point. It's a two-person operation with long range support available on request, though i'd prefer not to use them. The plan is simple. I'm going to lure it away from the road and into a narrow pass here..." I pointed to a point on a topographical map I had pulled up on my tablet. "It ends in a dead end, so if we can get it there, we minimize damage and casualties. I'll be the bait. Once we're in place, you come up either from behind or above and flank it. Any questions?"

I felt a little like an officer in the military when I spoke about battle plans, but I didn't mind. I was good at what I did because I was always thinking. I didn't let panic or fear cloud my thoughts. When I got on task, I was on task until it was over.

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Re: Reforging the Soul

Post by Danry on Wed Oct 18, 2017 10:07 pm

"No sir." I grinned, leaning back in my seat. Deacon was quite the man to let take a lead on missions. I almost wanted to crack a joke, but decided against it. I'd save it for our next date. Hopefully we had a next one.

I took the map and reviewed it, internally plotting which paths I would take, and how I would ambush the Hollow. I analyzed the map, committing it to memory, planning out not one, but two backups just in case I needed to alter my plan last minute. I opted out of telling my partner what I planned on doing. I already knew which direction he would be coming from so I made sure that no matter which side I decided to come from, he wouldn't be put in harms way where I was concerned.

I also determined whether or not I would change to my Hollow form. It heavily depended on the situation but I was prepared in either case. I had pretty good control over myself and was quite adaptive. It helped that one of my main undead skills was the ability to camouflage myself to my surroundings. It made it difficult for anyone to find me if they didn't already know where to look. I kept that from my partner as well. You dont give away all your secrets on the first date after all. That would make any others after that boring.

Deapite the situation I tried to think of it as lightly as possible, dealing with probable outcomes in a positive manner. I wasn't in tbe business of what ifs and unknowns. No sense worrying about something that might not happen. If you worry, you'll only suffer twice.

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Re: Reforging the Soul

Post by Machine Man on Tue Oct 24, 2017 2:04 pm

"Alright. Move out." Again I found some degree of pleasure in taking a more militaristic approach to the mission, and I really didn't mind taking the lead. I never really considered myself a leader in the past, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't like having that little bit of power. But that wasn't the time nor the place to be mounting up for a power trip. It was time to get serious. We had a job to do, a job that I took very seriously.

As I raced toward my designated location, I wondered what I would with this Hollow, and whether or not I should reveal my true nature. On the one hand, keeping it concealed seemed to be the more prudent course of action. I didn't know Mag very well just yet, so knowing how she would react to my Hollow form was a large unknown. I figured I would try not to use it if i didn't have to, then worry about it later if it was necessary.

Once I arrived, I didn't have to wait long. I felt the familiar chill of death closing in around me, my aura acting like a beacon for the Hollow. I treated myself like a lighthouse, pulsing my energy rhythmically to attract the beast, and every step it took brought a colder and colder sensation.

When it finally came into view, I kept myself loose but ready, not in the least intimidated by its presence. The creature seemed to be made out of darkness itself. Roughly double my size, it left pools of black as its footprints. Even when it wasn't looking at me, I could feel its eyes staring through me, peering into my soul. Clawed appendages thrust forward, aiming for my chest, but I dodged them easily, narrowly.

A few more swipes came in, but each one did about as well as the first, always coming close but never actually touching me. I could feel the beasts anger in my bones, its agitated screeching growing louder and more piercing with each passing moment. I finally took off into a sprint, making sure it followed me into the designated location in the canyon. I could only hope that Mag was ready.

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