Dead Man Walking Pt. 1

- October 12th, Sprawl, Plague Compound Exterior, Late Morning -

The car crossed over some jagged cement shaking the interior half to death. Stella kept her eyes glued on the plague compound scroll detailing what she was tasked with doing, one hand gripping the door with anxiety.

It was a cesspool, the pit. Where the dirty and diseased were thrown in to suffer and die out as the easiest solution. The most unfair bit to her was how anyone with the slightest of symptoms was immediately deemed unclean and cast in without further question. So many in Dusk had already perished there. Too many wrongly so. The idea of entering that place at all felt eerie, even if she had protection in the form of people and gear. She was dressed from head to toe in a long sleeved jumpsuit with the neck reaching all the way up to her jaw, the boots climbing up her legs. Her fingers were covered with rubber gloves with a tight bun atop her head. Every inch of her body was protected except for her ears, and even then, what could that do? They'd been very clear of the proper protective dress needed to prevent any illness for the Councilor. A thick mask with two air filters would be strapped around her mouth and a panel of glass to protect her eyes, which was instructed to be put on before they entered the compound. But for the time being, it sat beside her on the seat with an intimidating aura. That was the only thing between her and death.

Upon hearing the commotion she looked up and brushed a pesky stray hair out of her vision. She sat in awe for a moment at what unfolded in front of her and before she knew it, the door was thrown open and she had two feet planted on the ground.
But the situation's severity hadn't hit her just yet. In a matter of a few milliseconds, it all rang a bell. A sudden, riveting bell as she examined the subject.

"Stop!" Stella's voice boomed over the silent streets. Her heart thundered inside of her chest and the world seemed to slow like it did when she was drunk. However, even sober she still could not decide if everything happening right there was the reality. Was it who she'd thought it was, and how could it be him? He was presumably dead, a corpse in the Plague Pit. It was unlikely, but the profile seemed to fit better than it should've.
The only thing off was the leg; Edward wouldn't have been able to run because of his limp and the constant pain he'd felt. But the shoulders, the height, the hair... it was all him. She would be the one to know.

"By order of the Council I ask you to release him. He is no threat to me. A friend if I may," the Councilor managed to keep her voice just steady enough in the overwhelming reality.

The mass of soldiers turned to face her and their captains mouth worked for a moment like a drowning fish struggling to find the right words. The Tin Man relaxed its grip slightly in anticipation of new orders but it did not let go.

Edward, who had been so focused upon reaching Stella had not seen the danger he was walking into, released a sudden burst of laughter. A strange sound from his lips and particularly considering his current predicament. He twisted in the Tin Mans grip to catch the eye of the patrol captain.

“You do not want to anger her Captain. You wouldn’t like her when she’s angry.”

Stella gave him a flat look and shook her head. “A joke?” she asked.

He managed a half shrug and weak smile in response. To his recollection their companionship had begun with unexpected humour so why not renew it in the same fashion.

“Let him down.” The Captain ordered and the Tin Man slowly lowered Edward to the ground at which point three of the Dusk born soldiers rushed in to help him to his feet. He could hear the whispers of “Inquisitor” and “Spider” amongst some of the men who had recognized him. More than a few were backing away into the crowd to become less “memorable,” he smiled grimly at that and marked their faces. It was always good to know where to find smart men.

Stella looked on as Edward was brought to his feet once more. Her blood was boiling, not in anger, not because of anything specific, but because for once in what felt like a long while, she'd wanted to smile. "Mr. Hanton is my guest and will be placed under the immediate protection of yours truly," she spoke to the head Elesian soldier, turning to the mechan again that still loomed close by.

"Now if you'll excuse this misunderstanding, I ask you to let him continue on with his business as is." When the soldiers stepped back, she failed to wait any longer for a response and motioned Edward over with her hand.

Edward stepped forward wondering if Stella would notice the lack of his limp, the straightness of his back. His hands were shaking. Gods was he nervous? He tried to smile but the effort faltered. Something cold and wet brushed his cheek and he swiped it away. Another cold damp brush against his upraised hand and he stared down to see the snow flake melting away even as it landed only to be followed by several more of its twins. He looked up in wonder as the snow began to fall in earnest white flakes falling around them.

The soldiers stirred in wonder and the Elesians amongst them were aghast. Below the Maelstrom snow was rare, above the Maelstrom it was impossible. Stella looked around wide eyed and held out her hands to catch the falling flakes. It was finally happening, something she had only heard of in a few stories. And she was alive to see it. It was cold, but it was beautiful. For just a moment, everything was perfectly still.

But of course it had to end.

Stella turned to her driver after the moment of silence. "Take another five around the block," her eyes fell back to Edward with a sudden, stunned pause. By God did he look tired, exhausted even. She would know, it's what the mirror told her every day since she was sworn in. Uneven areas of scruff had begun to grow around his jaw as if he hadn't paid attention to his appearance for weeks... had he? Did she pay that little attention to him? What in the hell was happening to everything?

"We have a lot to talk about." She opened the car door and nodded for his entry, all the while with an expressionless tone and trembling hands. Maybe it was the snow's doing or perhaps seeing a dead man walking was to blame. But by God did she want to hug that dead man and hit him at the same time. Question after question raced through her head and they were very unforgiving of the headache that followed.

They really did have a lot to talk about and she was afraid five minutes wouldn't do the trick.

(JP with Hob)

< Prev : The Mine Next > : A Rowdy Wonkey Donkey