Reformation

Discussion in 'The World Stage' started by Clarenthia, May 11, 2019.

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  1. Clarenthia

    Clarenthia Well-Known Member

    Joined:
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    Jurzidentia
    Janesville
    the State of Duncannon

    STANLEY

    The car ride was deafeningly silent. They had passed the stop-and-go traffic of Fort Duncannon and found themselves cruising at 65 miles per hour along T81 – his dad dares not cross the speed threshold. At the very least, the horns, sirens, and hustle of Duncannon’s streets gave some sort of white noise you could pay attention to, but now it was nothing.

    “Can I put the window down, get some air?”

    There was no answer. Stanley looked over to his dad, who did not do the same. His sunglasses hid his eyes, but his cheeks were a puffy red. His lip quivered from time to time, but other than that the only motion that came was the occasional, slight shift of the steering wheel to match the road. Stanley shrugged and hit the button to send the window down. The scream of the air broke the silence.

    “Stop,” his dad broke the silence even further, hitting his own button to bring the window up. He pressed another, surely locking the windows.

    Stanley looked over at his father, who’s gaze remained unchanged. He got a word though, he’d take that.

    “Okay,” Stanley shrugged and leaned back in his seat.

    His head gradually rolled right to stare at the outside as it zipped by. The cookie cutter mansions of the suburbs only varied by different color shutters or the occasional playground. One even had a tree house, but it looked like the kids had long since moved out. The suburbs are horrifying. Stanley turned again and looked at his father, who unsurprisingly still hadn’t showed any signs of life. He unbuckled the seatbelt, letting it zip back and smack against the car door. He leaned even further back in the car.

    “Ping, Ping, Ping,” the alarm sounded. “Ping, Ping Ping,” it went off again after a few seconds. “Ping Pin—”

    “Stanley!” His dad shouted.

    “What!?” he yelled back.

    “Put your seat belt on, now!” his dad commanded and not from any paternal instinct to protect his offspring.

    “Why?” Stanley pouted, folding his arms.

    “That’s enough!” his father yelled “Put it on now!”

    No, that’s a conversation. It wasn’t pleasant, but it was an exchange of words – and that was enough.

    “Dammit, Stanley,” his father mumbled under his breath, wiping under his eyes, lifting his sunglasses just enough to see that his eyes were wet and bloodshot.

    His father rarely swore. “It’s a man of small composition who resorts to that sort of talk,” he would tell him over and over “and we aren’t small men.” In fact, Stanley remembered the first time he cursed in front of his little brother after accidentally stepping on GUSPs that he had let laying around.

    “Norvel, I am sorry you that you saw that,” he said to the kid, while taking a knee and placing a hand on his shoulder. Certainly, the kid wouldn’t have thought anything of the incident had it not been for the spectacle. “That’s not how a man acts, and I’ll do better.”

    “Okay daddy,” the boy replies and waddles off. But his dad felt proud, nodded in self-affirmation and walked into the kitchen. Parenting well done.

    Now, while his dad rarely swore, he never cried. This made an uncomfortable feeling unbearable. Stanley hadn’t realized how long he’d been looking at his father, but he turned and faced the road ahead. The cookie cutter mansions had turned to trees, they were close now.

    “I’m sorry, dad,” he said.

    “It’s a bit late for that,” his dad’s voice was vitriol, but pained.

    “I’m sorry.”

    No answer.

    “Take exit 22A, East 90 to Hannover, Janesville,” the GPS cut through the silence like a hot knife in butter. They’d left the suburbs at this point. Seventeen years of life and Stanley hadn’t even heard of Hannover. Janesville, though, that’s a place you knew. Janesville was where you went to become less. Knowing that this time Janesville wasn’t on the way to his destination, but in fact where he was going made him nauseous.

    He didn’t notice or care about the world outside him at this point. He was staring at his hands, clasped on his lap. His fingers were turning white and his palms were moist. His heart was beating vigorously and he was hoping a heart attack would take him right then and there. He looked up at the road at just the right time to see it:

    “STATE OF DUNCANNON DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS: JANESVILLE – Next Right”

    The car turned right. After a few seconds of woods, the compound finally emerged. It was an uninspired building. Brick from base to roof, with small glass windows placed symmetrically apart. The car pulled up to the parking lot and into a space. His dad turned the keys back toward him and the engine putted to a silence. His dad sighed.

    “Let’s go,” he said, getting out of the car.

    Stanley got out of the car and looked in front of him. The entrance of the building had a concrete awning that read the same as the sign on the road leading up. The cold late autumn air hit his face, making his hands and feet feel even colder. All the trees and foliage had since withered to branches, save for a small plot of grass with a flagpole. The Duncanner and Commonwealth Flags fluttered above. Stanley rubbed his fingers along the car door, looking down at the ground before gently closing the door.

    “I’m glad your mother isn’t here to see this…to see you,” his dad said, putting his hands in his pockets and walking toward the door.

    That hurt.
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2019
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  2. Clarenthia

    Clarenthia Well-Known Member

    Joined:
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    Jurzidentia
    Janesville
    The State of Duncannon

    STANLEY

    The inside of Janesville was as cold and uncomfortable as the autumn air outside. Iridescent lights hummed on the tile ceiling which had a brown spot in the corner. From the white walls, to the pale green flooring the room had no apparent interest in appearing welcoming. Green leather chairs, some with cracks right along the seams lined the walls and half-dead plotted plants sat in the corner.

    There was a receptionist ahead who sat behind a glass wall. She was clamoring away at her keyboard while the sliding glass doors closed behind Stanley. He turned back to look out, at the evergreen forest across from the lot. It would be the last time he saw it as a normal citizen for quite some time. Stanley’s dad took the lead and walked straight to the receptionist’s desk.

    “Alan Northam,” he said to the receptionist “I am here for...onboarding.”

    The receptionist slid a glass window and handed the man a clipboard with some documents.

    “Thank you, Mr. Northam,” she said “Please fill those out and return it here.” Alan nodded.

    Sitting in the waiting room was an even more horrific experience than the car ride here. The Cookie cutter mansions, as mirrored as they were, still were something to look at. Here, there was nothing – it was just waiting. It was as if every minute had been stretched to an hour. Stanley hadn’t even made the attempt to speak to his father. Given the circumstances, the silence was welcomed.

    A woman entered the building, her gaze turned to Alan who quickly looked away. Without skipping a beat, she refocused to the receptionist and walked up – her heals clacking against the tile floor. Stanley couldn’t make out what she was saying, but the conversation was brief and she took a chair opposite them. She made eye contact and cracked a forced smile, Stanley returned the gesture – but his father refused.

    Finally, the wooden door next to the receptionist flung open and a Blue Coat stepped out. The Blue Coat stood with perfect attention and his brown hat clasped at his side. There was not a hair out of place, a speck of dirt to be seen, or a wrinkle to crease the man’s uniform.

    “Stanley Northam,” he called with authority “Mr. Northam.”

    The two rose and followed the officer back. The back of the office was just as cold and depressing as the waiting room. There were a number of framed photos dotting the hallways, mostly of the countryside, and the occasional logo of the Janesville Department painted along. They came to a door with a gold name plate: “Dr. Oswald Cochran, Director of Processing” It read. The Blue coat knocked, but almost instantaneously the door opened. “Come in!” a voice called.

    The office was small and a large window gave a view of the forests outside. There was a Commonwealth flag in the corner, which stood next to a fish tank – of all things. Dr. Cochran motioned for the two to sit down at the chairs opposite his desk.

    Cochran was a small man, his pale white skin contrasted against his freckles that dominated his face and down his arms. He was a short, but exceptionally lean man. He had a perfect combover of red hair. He had thick, dark rim glasses that were harsh against his face, which was one of those that were vague enough you couldn’t tell if he was 25 or 45. On his left arm was – what appeared to be a Zwicke Pioneer Watch, but there was something off about it.

    “Stanley, Mr. Northam, I am happy to meet you both. I can only imagine that today is stressful, but allow me to stress,” he paused for an ill-timed pun “to you how good an opportunity it is that we have here.”

    “Thank you, Dr. Cochran,” Alan said “I know we weren’t very accommodating schedule wise, work was difficult – even with the circumstances.”

    Dr. Cochran nodded in an affirming tone “Please, Mr. Northam, call me Oswald. Now, Stanley, can I call you Stan?”

    Stanley shrugged, Oswald let out a slight “mm” and jotted that down. His pen didn’t leave his hand when he looked back up at the group.

    “Now Stan,” he said “I don’t want you to think about what’s about to happen here as an ending, but rather a new chapter in your own story. Your own journey. Now some of us may not like where the story is going but I often find that through hardships and challenges the story emerges in the later portions as being exceptionally better, wouldn’t you agree?”

    “I would,” Alan nodded – Oswald smiled.

    “Now there are many things,” Oswald spread his arms out “So many things that lead to these bad decisions we make. It’s important to know our past mistakes don’t need to define us and, in the Commonwealth, they never have. You have been sentenced to reformation and that’s why we’re here.”

    The Doctor pulled out a large binder and slapped it onto the table. He opened it to the first page, which had Stanley’s picture paperclipped to a copy of the court filings. Oswald took the time to scan the document, his finger sliding down from the top to the bottom. He left out various hums as he read.

    “Yeah, this is certainly a pattern of misbehavior,” Oswald needlessly confirmed “But this isn’t symbolic of your capacity for parenting, Mr. Northam. I need you to know that. Sometimes kids make bad decisions and sometimes they make truly bad decisions, but that doesn’t make them any less valuable, just slightly needier.”

    “Thank you,” Alan was moderately confused.

    Oswald continued to scan through the documents, flipping pages and nodding as he read. Finally, he left out a “oh, delightful!”

    “Excuse me?” Alan asked.

    “The assignment,” Oswald exclaimed, flipping the binder so that both Alan and Stanley could read “Harrowgate!”

    Stanley’s heart sank, even Alan looked concerned. Harrowgate had its reputation. Stanley remained motionless in his seat as the conversation between his father and Dr. Cochran diluted into nothing but murmurs. He couldn’t think, he couldn’t feel, he could only just sit there.

    “Stan, Stan?” Oswald finally caught his attention “We lost ya there for a bit, but don’t you worry—we’ll find you. Did you hear what your father and I spoke about? Harrowgate, is where your first assignment will be.”

    “Of course, it is,” Stanley muttered back, Oswald tilted his head “When don’t you send kids to Harrowgate? How much did they pay?”

    “Well now Stan,” Oswald wasted no time in responding “Do you think maybe its that attitude of disrespect that got you in this seat in the first place? I understand things are stressful, but there’s gonna be no place for disrespect moving forward. Harrwogate will do you well, but you gotta let it. Are you going to let it, Stan?”

    Stanley stared at Oswald, he had a grin on him that one couldn’t forget. He had never felt more uncomfortable than he did right in this moment. He couldn’t bare the sight, but he knew his father was looking at him too. Stanley looked down at his lap, sighed and looked back at Oswald.

    “Yeah,” he near whispered “I’ll give it a go.”

    “That’s great news,” Oswald leaned back in his chair “I mean it’s a court order, so the choice isn’t yours, but the willingness to go through with the treatment given, that’s a good step and already puts you on the path to righteousness. This is an important step, so important. There’s a bit of paperwork to discuss, things to go over, but it’s all fairly straight forward and simple. Would you all like anything before we continue, water, a soda?”

    Neither answered, and Oswald nodded with the smile that hadn’t left his face from the moment they stepped into the office. He started talking again, but Stanley couldn’t focus on any of the words. He turned his gaze to the window, at the Evergreens as they met the dull gray sky.
     
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  3. Clarenthia

    Clarenthia Well-Known Member

    Joined:
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    Jurzidentia
    City of Chatham
    The State of Deppegrave

    GADERIAN

    Cough, Cough Nyle covered his mouth as the smoke slipped through his fingers.

    “Dude shut up,” Gaderian hit him on the shoulder.

    The glow of the television was the only thing creating any light in the room – save for a blue and green lava lamp sitting on top of a bookshelf next to a window. The cheap plastic blinds slapped against the window with each gust of the autumn wind.

    “Can you close the window?” Irwyn asked.

    “Why?” Nyle sputtered through his coughing.

    “It’s fucking cold!”

    “Shut up!” Gaderian yelled “It’s getting good!”

    The three boys turned their attention back to the television. It was the final scene of the movie The Last Child of the Sun – a classic political drama detailing the actions of Serena Calderón during the days leading to the Aurarian Revolution. Caedmon Hartwell played Alejandro III, the fourteen-year-old “King for a Day.” Odelyna Burbidge played Serena. Neither looked particularly like the sun-kissed Aurarians, but heavy makeup did a fine job of covering it.

    “Raise your chin, your Grace,” Serena, a rope around her neck, said to the whimpering boy King as the executioner took his place “You’re the King of Auraria.”

    The lever pulled, the boy fell, the rope tightened, and the sound of the snap was eerily distinct and real. The executioner came forward to Serena, who stood firm, her gaze matching his.

    “At least you die a Queen,” the Executioner taunted “The last of your kind.”

    “There will always be a Calderón,” were Serena Calderón’s famous last words. The lever was pulled, the woman fell, the rope tightened, and the sound of the snap was the last quip before the end credits began playing.

    “Wow,” Gaderian exclaimed, sitting up in his bed.

    “Fictionals,” Irywn scoffed.

    “What do you think she meant? There will always be a Calderón. Was it a warning that oppression and tyranny are a force with many faces? Like they’ve traded one tyrant for three thousand? I mean, the 1820s were a decade of blood for Auraria,” Gaderian was rambling.

    “Why would Serena call the Calderons oppressors and then say that there will be more?” Nyle asked.

    “Calderón,” Irwyn corrected the pronunciation, Nyle scoffed “Serena is saying that there is another Calderón. Barely off his mother’s breast at the time, but the family survived. Serena was a smart, plotting woman. She knew what was coming so she said her child brother away. She, like all of us, know that royals always come back. Soon enough, he’d spread some other woman’s legs and then more Calderones would bother the fledging Republic.”

    “You don’t believe that do you?” Gaderian was skeptical.

    “Of course, I do,” Irywn stood proudly “They’re like bed bugs. You leave one alive, in a week’s time your home is infested.”

    “No one has seen a Calderón,” Gaderian argued.

    “You don’t see bedbugs either, and by the time you do – it’s far too late,” Irwyn walked to the window, slamming it closed – startling a half asleep Nyle “Why are your summers so cold?”

    “It’s not summer, my dude,” Nyle replied.

    “Right,” Irywn nodded “Gade – wanna smoke?”

    “Sure,” Gaderian got up and slipped his gray sweater with “CHATHAM UNIVERSITY” sprawled across the chest and its ornate seal beneath. Owls were the symbol of Chatham, as they are an animal associated with knowledge from the Ancient Pelasgians. He moved over to slip on his brown slippers and grabbed the room’s keycard.

    “You going to get back okay?” Irywn asked Nyle. He gave a thumbs-up. Irywn nodded and followed Gaderian.

    Irwyn and Gaderian had been roommates since January. Both in their first year, but the similarities stopped there. Gaderian was a legacy student, Irwyn was part of an exchange program with Franklin University in Beautancus. He was Cussian through and through. Tall, broad, confident, yet suave – his green eyes against his gold hair could seduce any woman…or man. Gaderian was shorter with shaggy dark hair and clothes that even in the smallest size were slightly too big. Whatever confidence Irwyn had, Gaderian did not.

    “Have you ever been to Auraria?” Irwyn asked, his voice echoing in the stairwell.

    “Yes,” Gaderian replied “A few years back my family went, Palencia.”

    “Did you take part in the ‘simpler pleasures of life’?” Irwyn smiling throwing open the door and meeting the cold Clarenthian air.

    “We didn’t visit that part,” Gaderian chuckled.

    “I hear all parts of Auraria are that part” Irwyn lit his cigarette and offered his box of matches to Gaderian.

    The two boys walked along a path that went down the shore. Chatham was located along the banks of Hydenstane Lake – named for the family that laid the rail all the way from Fort Duncannon in the east to Thunder’s Bay in the west. The Lake was large enough that small waves crested along its shores. The lights of City of Chatham danced across the surface of the lake, which seemed especially viscous in the cold air.

    “I want to visit the Auridorm Islands,” Irwyn laughed “I hear if you can’t get your cock wet there, then you can’t anywhere. That’s good news for you!”

    Gaderian laughed in a sarcastic manner and shoved at Irwyn – but the man didn’t flinch.

    “I do love those people,” Irwyn puffed on his cigarette “But they’re so queer – and not in the way they take pride in. This is a country that once controlled as much land as Great Engellex. Their Kings fancied themselves the Children of the Sun and be tied with Gods. Now, they’re a country that does nothing more but drink and fuck and get their asses kicked by any country willing to put up a fight.”

    “Drinking and fucking doesn’t sound so bad,” Gaderian shrugged.

    “Not a bit,” Irwyn agreed “But their way of life exists because no one yet has found reason otherwise. Look at it, a Pohjanmaan frigate forces the country to bend over and allow the Anti-State to fuck them. The Serenien turned their back and then the Aurarians cried and begged for peace. Now, the Pohjanmaans run free reign over the Long Sea and the Aurarians pretend they never had any ambitions on it. Serena Calderón never would have allowed it. Their culture exists on the benevolence of their neighbors. It’s the same as us. Clarenthia, maybe, even more so. The Implarian and the Thaumantic are no longer the world’s greatest defenses and there is no doubt that a clash is coming.”

    “I don’t think that’s true,” Gaderian puffed on his cigarette “The Treaty Lands have been at peace for as long as we have because the affairs of the world are not our own. We answer the call of our brethren, but I see no reason for the Treatyfolk to die for another’s war.”

    Irwyn grunted in a way that Gaderian couldn’t really tell how he took the comment.

    “I suppose the Clarenthians and the Aurarians share that trait then,” Irwyn said after a moment’s silence.

    “What’s that?”

    “A reliance on the strong to protect them,” Irwyn laughed, flexing his arm to show a muscle bigger than Gaderian’s neck.

    “Well,” Gaderian shrugged “Why should any of the Treatyfolk give their lives when there are so many simple Cussians giddy for the opportunity?”

    “You little bitch”

    The two laughed.
     
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  4. Clarenthia

    Clarenthia Well-Known Member

    Joined:
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    Jurzidentia
    City of Chatham
    The State of Deppegrave

    GADERIAN

    Irwyn shoved the wooden doors with such might, smacking the bells to the ceiling as the cold night air surrounded them. The clangs and bangs of the bar were replaced with the calm night interrupted only by the laughter of three boys who had had far too much to drink. Irwyn charged forward. “You forgot your coat dude!” Gaderian called out. “Fuck it!” Irwyn shot back, arms extended as he strutted ahead.

    “I can’t handle these sidewalks man,” Nyle bounced back and forth as he could barely walk on the uneven to downright hilly brick sidewalks.

    “If they were just even it would be so much better,” Gaderian shared a similar struggle.

    “Treatyfolk,” Irwyn called “tonight we’re all Cussian, come now to the next bar we go.”

    “It’s 2:30AM,” Nyle answered.

    “Night’s early in Beautancus,” Irwyn shouted.

    “Depends how far East of West you are,” Gaderian chimed, Irwyn nodded in his direction.

    “Wait why?” Nyle didn’t understand.

    The trio continued forging their path home, or at least that’s what Gaderian hoped. None of it looked particularly familiar and he had hoped someone knew where they were going. As they continued, Gaderian was getting quieter. His cheerfulness was replaced by the strange feeling of a lump in his throat and it felt like the world couldn’t keep up with the bobbing of his head – he had a strange attention to that now. He was breathing heavier and heavier as he kept going.

    “Guys,” he mumbled – Irwyn and Nyle continued talking over one another which ended up just sounding like unintelligible screams.

    “Guys,” Gaderian stammered again, coming to a complete stop.

    “Yo Gade, you okay buddy?” Nyle turned, cigarette lit. Irwyn stopped and turned around a few paces ahead.

    “I don’t feel good,” Gaderian held his forehead and started wobbling.

    “Oh I’ve seen this before,” Nyle chuckled and strolled over to Gaderian “It’s all good my dude, let nature take its course, you’ll feel so much—”

    With the ferocity of an erupting volcano, a fiery black liquid was heaved out of Gaderian’s mouth. It sprayed several feet in front of him like a plume of smoke from a fire, only it didn’t carry that pleasant odor. Gaderian stood there, swaying back and forth, strings of saliva hanging from his mouth and a ghostly expression over his face.

    “Nice my dude, how ya feeling—”

    Before Nyle could finish, Gaderian lurched forward and the same black bile spewed forth once again, but in a much smaller contamination zone that sadly did include his brand-new shoes – which didn’t come cheap.

    “Oh guess not,” Nyle patted Gaderian on his back as the third lurch came “That’s okay buddy, let it all out. Ain’t doing you any good inside.”

    Irwyn went to the hedges lining the sidewalk and undid his pants, his own cigarette now lit. He didn’t comment on the biological exorcism taking place a few feet away. Nyle looked over at Irwyn to laugh, but that’s when it happened. The darkness of night suddenly became illuminated in a flashing red and blue. Two hits of the siren and the boys knew what was about to happen.

    “Fuck let’s go!” Irwyn shouted, grabbing Nyle by the arm and flinging him with all his fury. The two boys stormed off despite the shouts of the officers while Gaderian remained lurched over, moaning in a weird combination of pain and relief.

    “Some friends, kid,” the Officer cuffed Gaderian.

    “What?” he said – and that was the last he could remember.

    Hours had passed and Gaderian was still slumped in the chair outside the Office of the Dean for Student Affairs in Chatham. Thankfully, the world had stopped spinning but everything still ached. However, none of the physical pain matched the sheer embarrassment. He was ordered to report straight to the Dean’s Office once he was released from the Hospital, given no time at all to stop at his dorm to change. His clothes still carried the stains of his sin. The only sounds in the room were the receptionist loudly tapping away at her keyboard and the methodical tick of the grandfather clock counting what seemed like a infinite number of seconds.

    Gaderian closed his eyes and after a few seconds a loud “mhmph” jerked him awake – the receptionist giving him one hell of a stare. He sighed and sluggishly lifted himself back to an upright position. The receptionist rose and walked to the printer, scoffing at Gaderian as she passed him by.

    Bitch,” he thought to himself.

    The door to the office opened and outstepped a portly man in a well-tailored suit. He had round glasses and very little hair atop his head that was still hopelessly combed over.

    “Sir Gaderian,” he said “Please step in.”

    When Gaderian stood, he realized he was far from in the clear from the night before. Immediately feeling nauseous, he put every bit of energy he had in suppressing that feeling. “Not here” he thought “I literally can’t.” When he walked into the room, his mother sat with a napkin in her lap. Clearly, she had been tearing up and the sight of it made Gaderian’s heart sink to his stomach.

    “How are you feeling?” his mother asked.

    “Better,” Gaderian shrugged and his mom smiled to that. At this point, Gaderian realized that the trooper that arrested him stood in the corner of the room. The Dean limped his way back to his desk and sat down, lifting several documents and reviewing them.

    “Sir Gaderian,” he took off his glasses “the fact is this is the third time disciplinary action had been required for you. You know our rule – three strikes, there are no more. I am afraid I have no choice but to expel you from the University.”

    “No please!” his mother interrupted “Is there anything else we can do? Anything at all? Gaderian will do it, he’s good for it – I promise. It’s that brutish Cussian, that’s the problem. Please, allow my son one more chance.”

    The Dean remained unchanged as his mother begged and pleaded. His eyes looked back down at his documents and he shrugged “There is one alternative, I suppose.”

    “Please, anything,” his mother continued.

    “The Criminal Justice Department here in Chatham runs a program with the Derokesley Board of Corrections and Rehabilitation,” the Dean stated, flipping through pages “It’s for students who are showing a particularly disruptive pattern of behavior. The long and short of it is one week in the Human Commodity System so that the offender can see the sort of life they are heading toward. It’s most unpleasant, but in my experience, it has had some measured success.”

    “He’ll do it!” his mother perked up “He’ll do it, we can begin at once.”

    “Very well,” the Dean leaned back in his chair “One week. However, this is the last, there is no alternative. Fail us again and your time at Chatham comes to end. How dreadful it will be to be expelled from Chatham University.”

    “I won’t fail, Dean,” Gaderian confirmed.

    “Good,” the Dean turned to his mother “You will of course be responsible for all expenses incurred during the program. Sir Gaderian is to report to Harrowgate in two days’ time. Good day to you both.”

    They were dismissed.
     
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  5. Clarenthia

    Clarenthia Well-Known Member

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    Echo Hill Lumber Mill
    The State of Nonestica

    STANLEY

    As the sorter rolled back into place, Stanley dutifully jumped to the platform and guided the log into position. As he and the other capita duty let go, the log slowly rolled outward again.

    “No good!” the capital duty standing on the sorter shouted, forcing the other two to jump back into action.

    “Stanley,” the capital duty called “Jump in the middle and push.”

    Stanley looked up at Harold, literally as he had a solid foot over Stanley’s height. Harold was an older man who was seventeen years into his sentence at Echo Hill Lumber Mill, a subsidiary of Hydenstane Industries. He was more than twice Stanley’s age and his body reflected the years of strain that Echo Hill had put on him.

    “Stanley!” Harold called, snapping him out of his stare “Just stay there, I’ll do it.”

    Harold jumped in between the logs and with a mighty shove he near singlehandedly lodged it into the sorter. The capital duty on the platform lifted the clamp and slammed it into the side of the log. It didn’t budge at a kick, and the capital duty raised his thumb. Harold triumphantly clapped his hands and moved out from the middle. Another pulled a lever and off the sorter went, toward the saw. It was hard for Stanley to distinguish the buzzing, it came from all directions with varying pitches relative to their distance.

    Stanley’s shirt and jeans were firmly hugging against his skin, drenched in his own sweat and absorbing the water in Nonestica’s humid air. The cool autumn breeze of the Stem certainly did not find its way this far north. No one could be quite sure if it was the fine particles of saw dust mixing into the air or how heavy it was from the humidity, but breathing was a chore – even more so after nine hours of exposure.

    The young man stepped back, out of the way of the mountain of logs. His clothing pulled and tugged at his skin, and nether regions, as the sweat ensured it clung in the most uncomfortable of ways. He lifted his arm up to wipe the sweat from his forehead only to find that it was just as wet but now added a delightful mix of dirt and blood which quickly found its way draining down over Stanley’s eyes.

    He looked down at his arms to see that his gloves were punctured, forearms were in tiny cuts and the stinging pain of splinters, diverse in size, pultruding from his arms and hands. Wherever they missed, blisters were found.

    “Here,” Harold called, throwing the boy a towel “Keep your wits about you, we’re not done here yet.” Naturally, he only watched as the towel floated by and hit the ground.

    “Do you have water?” Stanley mumbled, in such a muddled tone that no one could comprehend him.

    “Pick up the towel, boy,” the lever operator yelled in between laps at the log.

    Stanley turned around to see the towel and stepped forward to lean. With no notice and little consciousness, the lean turned into a complete fall. He noticed in the periphery of his vision that a black speckled cloud came that was slowly encompassing the entirety of his vision. He didn’t remember hitting the ground.

    He did remember, though, the slap that brought him back. Standing above him was Harold, his bushy mustache swayed back and forth as he grinded his teeth in anger.

    “Get up!” he yelled “Don’t draw such attention to yourself, boy.”

    One quick heave and Stanley was back on his feet. Harold held him in place as he came back to his senses, handing him the towel. It was covered in dirt, but at least it was dry.

    “Are you alright?” He called to Stanley, who nodded “Good. Khuno, take him to the table saw, he can’t stand here he’ll cause problems.”

    “Fuck that,” Khuno dismissed “I’ve been working the sorter all day.”

    “And you’ll work it again, damn you!” Harold yelled back. Khuno stared at him and with a huff, he returned to the sorting machine. “Go, all you gotta do is push the plank back to the guy running it through the saw. It’s easy, just don’t fuck it up.”

    “Okay,” Stanley mumbled, nodding “Okay.”

    The boy was then spun by Harold and pushed in the right direction. He wasn’t entirely confident he knew where he was going, but his feet were moving. Before long he arrived at the table saws and a man approached him.

    “Uturuncu,” he named himself “Here, all you gotta do is hold the plank against the leveler and push. The rollers and saw will grab it and take it in. Easy.”

    “Harold said I was supposed to go to the other side,” Stanley gave a weak protest.

    “No,” Uturuncu replied “This is easier, trust me.”

    Stanley nodded as Uturuncu left his post to walk to the other side. Stanley walked over and grabbed his first plank. So long as you had a good balance, the weight wasn’t overbearing. Certainly, they were lighter than the logs. He carried the plank and plopped it down against the leveler on the table saw.

    “Now push!” Uturuncu yelled, and Stanley pushed. Instantly the saw grabbed it and moved it forward. Uturuncu guided the plank out and pushed it back for Stanley to realign, easy. As a rhythm got going the job got easier. At this point Stanley was running purely on instinct, with little thought or consciousness attending to anything around him. That was, until, a sharp burning sensation against the side of his torso brought him back. He had accidentally leaned against the rough side of the plank and as the saw grab it, it had violently lurched the jagged edge against his flesh. The shock of pain caused Stanley to lose his balance, slipping forward. As if the Kamachina Spirits of Malevolencies had conspired, the rollers grabbed Stanley’s extended arm and sent it straight to the saw.

    Blood splattered outward, followed by the screams of the capital duties around him. Uturuncu kicked the emergency shut off, which set an alarm, but before Stanley could even assess what had happened – the black speckled cloud crept back up into his vision as he felt the planet’s gravity bringing him back to the ground.
     
  6. Auraria

    Auraria Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2012
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    1,091
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Capital:
    Solis
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    Jurzidentia
  7. Clarenthia

    Clarenthia Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 4, 2010
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    1,075
    Capital:
    Palmerton
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    Jurzidentia
    Harrowgate General Hospital
    State of Nonestica

    STANLEY
    As consciousness slowly came back to Stanley, he found himself awoken by the pungent smell of hospital disinfectant invading his senses. The room was silent aside from the steady beeping coming from the machines he was affixed to, confirming that at the very least he was alive. When Stanley opened his eyes, the blue and white color scheme of the hospital slowly cleared out of blur and into view.

    “How long has it been?” he thought to himself, head turning toward a table next to his bed. No flowers, no card – a reminder of his new-found isolation. Turning his head back to the ceiling, he lifted his hand to his face. His entire right hand was wrapped in gauze – he couldn’t move it. The sight of the repair reminded him of the damage done. It wasn’t long then until the pain came. His hand pulsated where the blade had made contact. It was an odd burning sensation and Stanley winced as the pulsations continued.

    “At least it’s still attached,” a man said, entering the room “Well...most of it anyway.”

    “Most of it?” Stanley asked.

    “The way your hand hit the blade nearly cut half the thing off. We couldn’t save the pinky or ring finger, but hell I’d say you’re lucky if the suicide attempt wasn’t so poor,” the man continued.

    “Suicide?” Stanley was confused.

    “Yes,” the man replied – not understanding the confusion “Lunging at a table saw is certainly one way to do it, not the most creative I’ve seen, but a way.”

    “I didn’t try to commit suicide,” Stanley protested.

    “Uh-huh,” the man replied, taking a pen out from his coat and flipped through the pages of his clipboard “Suicide is a…known behavior found in people whose psychological profile matches yours. They should have made better note of the tendency but can’t change the past. Thankfully, we caught it, saved you, and gave you your third chance at life.”

    “Third? What does that mean?” Stanley argued “I didn’t try to kill myself.”

    “Third. The first was the chance your mother and father gave you, which you rejected. The second was entry into the Human Commodity System to provide you with the skills necessary to achieve in a land where abundance can be gained through hard work and you rejected that too. This is now your third chance to make something of yourself,” the man’s expression had a coldness that didn’t sit well with Stanley “While the HCS provided an escape from your prior life, you’ll find that the HCS is less flexible.”

    “It was an accident,” Stanley mumbled “It was an accident.”

    “So, you’re telling me you just fell then,” the man scoffed “You just fell right into a table saw?”

    “Who even are you?” Stanley’s tone changed and caught a raised eyebrow from the man.

    “My name is Dr. Jacob Marston, Mr. Northam,” Dr. Marston answered him “You’re at Harrowgate General Hospital being treated for what is either a pathetic attempt on your life or a dreadful lack of diligence…not sure which is worse.”

    Stanley’s eyebrows curled at the man, but he looked away while he continued speaking – his voice fading into the background becoming hardly distinguishable from the beeping of the machines. There was a curtain cutting the hospital room in half and Stanley could see the light from a window on the other end. He couldn’t hear anything from the outside world, it was just a silent blur constantly being distorted at the smallest inching of the curtain.

    “Can I have more medication?” Stanley’s head turned and interrupted the Doctor mid-sentence.

    “Excuse you?” Dr. Marston asked.

    “Pain meds,” Stanley raised his arm to show the bandaged husk of a hand.

    “Oh,” the Doctor smirked “I have to be honest with you kid, there’s no Eiffellander drugs strong enough to make that go away. We don’t want to risk addiction to something as tedious as opioids. An addicted capital duty is even less useful than a crippled one.”

    “Fuck you,” Stanley scoffed at him, turning his head away.

    “Ah well, that sort of behavior checks out with the profile,” the Doctor jotted something down on the clipboard “It’s no wonder you’re here. Worry not though, the HCS hasn’t failed you yet. Even with a mangled, half-useless hand, we can find something for you to do. Your need for rehabilitation hasn’t waned and neither have our spirits to deliver it.”

    “Are you a government doctor?” Stanley asked, not looking at Marston.

    “Look at me if you’re going to speak to me, capital duty,” he demanded – Stanley turned and repeated the question “I am a medical professional employed by the Nonestica Division of the BuBSA.”

    “That explains why you’re shit,” Stanley said.

    The Doctor put his clipboard and stared at Stanley.

    “Nonestica is such a fucking shit hole, if you were a doctor half your worth you’d be in a private hospital,” Stanley told the man.

    “Hmm,” Marston mumbled “Okay. Well, Capital Duty, after completing your assessments I’ve decided that your injury is not life threatening, but we should probably keep you here for a few days to ensure the hand heals properly. If it doesn’t set well, it’ll cause problems. Now, I am obligated to inform you…every day that you spend in our facility without a life-threatening injury will be added to your sentence.”

    The Doctor rose and walked to the door, preparing to leave.

    “I’m not convinced it wasn’t a suicide attempt,” he said “I have to label it as such and there will be repercussions for that behavior, extra monitoring. You are lucky enough to be born in the Treaty Lands…where criminality is treated as a disease that needs redress. Instead of locking you into some disgusting concrete cage to rot away your use, we have given you a new chance. Take this time to understand the lesson, you’re here to be rehabilitated because you owe a debt to society. You will repay it.”
     
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