Processing

12th October - Graymire -Morning

The train screeched to a halt, the hissing sound of steam filling the air. Lina opened her eyes and groaned as she remembered where she was. She could almost see the pity on old Eli's face and that I told you so look from Emma. Gods Emma, would she ever see her again? She knew the answer to that question, but was not ready to face the truth. Memories of her last trip to Graymire kept trying to worm their way back into her mind. Gods Roxy!

There came a soft sob from the girl to her right. Serenity Montclaire, she had got that much out of her. She had heard of the Montclaire family of course, who hadn't. The girl was only fourteen for gods sake, not yet a woman and the new regent had condemned her to this? The new masters of Dusk were worse animals than the old it seemed. Perhaps they were all best off out of it. Best of in the Delve? She doubted it somehow but the bitterness of the thought gave a moment of comfort.

The doors were dragged open and soldier poured in armed with stun rods. Lina sat gritting her teeth fighting the urge to lash out. She knew for certainty that if she allowed her temper to rule her down here she would not last a week.

The prisoners were dragged to their feet, and led from the carriage onto the stations where they were counted. Lina blinked at the harsh light of the lamps after so long in the dark and tried to take the opportunity to stretch her tired muscles. She looked along the line for Connor but could not see him. Where was he?

There came a sharp cry from the soldiers at the end of the line. "One missing!" there followed a flurry of activity as the soldiers recounted and entered the carriage once more. There came another shout and then silence. An officer was called over and several minutes later two soldiers emerged carrying a body between them. Lina gasped as she recognised Connor, his arms hanging down limply and blood dripping from his fingertips. He had taken his life in the dark of the carriage rather than face the Delve.

Lina found herself in her knees gasping for air. Her muscles felt like water and she wanted to puke. The soldiers dropped Connor to the ground and his head rolled to the side with glassy eyes accusing her. He had followed to help her, to keep her alive. She could hear the soldiers shouting for her to get up, but she could not move.

Serenity came to kneel at her side, she was speaking to the soldiers, begging for patience as she tried to drag Lina to her feet. One of the soldiers grabbed her other arm roughly and pulled her upwards she snarled and tried to fight him off but a stun rod to the ribs took the fight out of her. She stood there then breathing heavily as someone to the left began to cackle a harsh laughter.

Lina looked over with dead eyes to see Josiah grinning at her. He looked wild, a man driven over the edge taking delight in the cruelty he found in his own personal hell. The sight of him revived her somewhat and she curled her lip and spat towards him, which made him roar with laughter all the more. She did not look at Connor again as the soldiers marched them off to a nearby Steamwagon.

The drive was a short one and Lina took little notice of the drab buildings and their ruined occupants as they moved on through. They came to a high wire fence. She had stood by this fence once and watched her friend butchered on the inside by cruel men, and now she was going in there herself to be placed at the mercy of those same bastard murderers. The gates scraped closed behind them and the carriage came to a halt.

Once again they were filed out and placed in a line. Lina kept her head down as they shuffled forward to be processed by several officers with an Elesian overseer in that strange grey armour and breather mask. Each prisoner was brought before them and sentenced before being led away.

She watched as a familiar woman came to stand before the soldiers, her hair a mess and her dress torn and bloody. She leered down at the soldiers looking drunk. Abigail? Could it really be the innocent chit that was renting a room in the Ladys Grace? She remembered the girl playing violin..

"Murder and gods woman is this true... you slit his throat while..." The soldier was looking up at Abigail with disgust. She laughed hysterically and shifted her hands against her skirt in a way that was meant to be alluring but in this situation and in her condition came off as horrific.

"Take her away, she's a lunatic." The officer spat and Abigail was dragged off still laughing and staring at the officer with wild eyes. What had happened to her Lina wondered? It was as if something had broken her mind.

Soon they were shuffling forward again and Josiah was being processed. The men laughed as they saw their once First Citizen approaching in irons, though Lina noticed that a few of them shared nervous glances as he loomed over them. Josiah was known for being a viscous bastard and if somehow he were to get out of this, every slight and injustice would be remembered and returned. He said little as they read out his name and ordered him off to his allotted doom.

The Montclaire girl was next and her appearance caused some discussion between the Elesian officer and the other men. They spoke to her quietly and with some respect compared with the others. It would seem that someone was keeping an eye out for young serenity. Still she cried and called for her father as she was taken away towards the main compound.

Then it was Linas turn and she stumbled forward towards the officers and waited to hear what they would say.

"Lina Kalgorian?" One of them asked.

"Yes and there seems to be some mistake." Lina blurted out.

The officer laughed and glanced up towards the Elesian. "You are here by special request miss Kalgorian." he went on.

"I dont understand?" The Elesian stepped forward at this and backhanded her accross the mouth. She stumbled back and glared as the Elesian reached up to remove the mask that covered a woman's face. Dark eyes and a strong nose. She smiled.

"We found your little performance on the landing platform quite entertaining." she said in her clipped accent, "Load master Gereen was executed following your departure."

"Wha...I?" Lina began but the Elesian cut her off.

"You threatened to eject vital supplied into the Maelstrom, you made demands and held back the rightful property of the Elesian order to see them carried out."

"I embarrassed you." Lina spat, "This is bullshit."

The Elesian simply smiled and reattached her breather.

"Process her!" She ordered.

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