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Author Topic: Team Two: Supply Runners [Assault on Utopia]  (Read 3702 times)

Re: Team Two: Supply Runners [Assault on Utopia]
« Reply #15 on: October 16, 2018, 03:41:44 AM »
Tobias kept a leveled gaze atop his fellow teammates, he regarded them for a moment whilst he thoughts whirled. Dalton's silence was expected but he could note a level of relief which too somewhat eased the red-head. Mara's pledge didn't go unnoticed but a mingling of apprehension and another emotion welled inside him. Hopefully that promise can be followed through, not that he doubted her but some kind of anxiety nagged at him, perhaps it was this constant sensation of being watched or...

Jerking his fiery gaze towards the women, he expression reflected one of fear upon hearing about a black flare. How near could that be? Did that mean they had to fight it? His mouth went dry for a moment as he swallowed. Despite his newly kindled confidence an abnormal was still frightening. He learned of titans, he could likely predict those but this was a whole other game of cat and mouse. You cannot predict those colossus, they were something greater. Trying to quell his hammering heart, even his breathing started to come in slight wheezes as he made it apparent to inhale into his herbal mask deeply. In all honestly Tobi wanted to help others, despite the fear he couldn't help but agree with Mara. Those people were fighting this beast therefore he would too if need be. Squad captain Mike tasked them with this job because he felt that their level of expertise was perfect and maybe even their demeanor. 

Of course, they were the best bet... They wouldn't abandon people and he knew it. Yeah, Mike trusted them so he had to feel like he was enough as well. Hair like strands of dawn fluttered as he traced his eyes to the sky, the abyssal smog of the flare was obvious against the contrast of sky. The inky wisp of black flickered within the blazing amber of his eyes and he tightened his knuckles.

"Mara is right," he offered, voice unwavering despite the sway in his breathing. It was evident that he was suppressing the urge. Inhaling sharply he steeled his nerves whilst swiping his gaze a bit jerkily around as if the abnormal lurked upon every building. Honestly, it might be. They knew nothing of its attributes or personalty and know they intended to dive headlong towards the potential doom.

"Should we split up or keep together? Each holds a potential flaw and strength. Personally I think we can keep together and watch our weaknesses. Attack as a unit as you would put it... I mean if we have to," he added at the end in a fainter voice.
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Re: Team Two: Supply Runners [Assault on Utopia]
« Reply #16 on: October 18, 2018, 12:51:32 AM »
As Tobias spoke, Mara's eyes darted to him, and gave a sigh. Really, she didn't want to be right. Plunging into darkness, into danger, was terrifying. It made her heart hammer in her chest like somebody screaming to be released from a cage. Horror awaited them.

"Keep together," she breathed, eyes widening as she answered the question. Boom, boom, boom, went her heart. She couldn't face a Titan by herself. "Please. We... Together, we'll be able to help each other more quickly." Her desperate attempt at giving reason to her answer sounded pitiful, a meek voice escaping her mouth. They would be stronger together.

Hands shaking, she dipped into the pockets of her jackets, searching out tokens she had placed within the night before. It was a ritual, superstitious to the end. If anything happened, she needed good luck charms. The majority were hidden away beneath her mattress, but these would do. As the cold touch of stone and metal brushed her palm, she paused, gaze lingering on her teammates. They too would need luck.

"I..." she started, but failed. Her hand balled up, clutching the brooches and good luck charms within, and then extended her arm. Fingers unfolding, she revealed the collection of small trinkets. "Please. Take one," she urged them, words laced with anguish. "They're my good luck charms. We need every piece of luck with us now."

Of the nine in her palm, they were mostly nature-themed. Pieces of metal depicting a leaf, a rose, a wheat stalk, an apple. Dark stone drilled through. Three wooden creations: a sapling, another leaf, an acorn. Then, a twist of iron, like a knot of rope.
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Re: Team Two: Supply Runners [Assault on Utopia]
« Reply #17 on: January 29, 2019, 02:23:53 PM »
They'll need us.

Such simple words, softly spoken, caused Dalton's heart to sink. Mara was right, of course. They were duty-bound to help those in need, to support those battling on the frontline; it was their primary function in this chaos.  His throat tightened as he willed his resolve to remain.  Fellow cadets were counting on them, as were soldiers unknown, all of whom were risking life and limb in the defence of Utopia.  The crossed swords emblazoned over their hearts demanded the same commitment from them, to protect the defenceless civilians who populated this settlement.  Dalton mightn't have freely chosen to join the Training Corps, but he had promised himself that he would work hard and do his utmost to become the best soldier he could be.  Right now, that meant jetting in the direction of danger.

Still, he quietly hoped that Mara was right, that perhaps the Abnormal was already slain.  If not, there was small consolation in the fact that they would at least face their foe together.  This was what they had trained for, after all, and the cadet comforted himself in the sincerely held belief that the renowned Mike Zacharias wouldn't have selected them for this task if he didn't believe them capable.  Gritting his teeth together, his green eyes bright with fear and the adrenaline that flooded his blood, Dalton firmly nodded his agreement.  To speak would be to choke on his own words.

While Marco felt the same bloom of trepidation, he did not hesitate.  Brown eyes burned with determination, a profound admiration for his comrades unfurling in his chest.  Given the choice, surely none would choose to be here, in this place at this time; yet now that their paths had led them to this disaster, all that remained was to do what was right.

“Together,” Marco echoed, surprised by the steadiness of his voice.  “We'll be stronger together.  Safer too.”  He glanced Mara's way and offered her the ghost of an encouraging smile.  If their little unit stayed close, they had the best possible chance of coming swiftly to one another's aid.  The flipside - on which Marco refused to dwell - was that their entire team was also more likely to be obliterated, if they encountered a foe far beyond their ability.  A few well-aimed swipes…

Mara took to rummaging in her pockets just then, mercifully disturbing Marco's train of thought.  Curiosity softened his expression as he watched the girl present her charms, a mismatched collection of small trinkets meant to bring good luck.

Dalton stepped closer, his movements speaking of eagerness, or perhaps desperation.  Cut from superstitious cloth, he did not doubt the power of Mara's tokens.  After a moment of consideration - hesitating only to see which charm beckoned to him above the others - he selected the rose.  Carefully he plucked it from the cradle of Mara's hand, his fingertips brushing against her palm.

“Thanks Mara,” gratitude warmed Dalton's heart and laced his words as he closed his fist around the metal flower.  The symbol of the Garrison, precisely the regiment the cadet planned to join after graduation.  Perhaps this was an omen of good fortune, of a future that was secure.  As Dalton stepped back, giving Marco and Tobias room to make their own selections, he breathed a slow and steady sigh, some of the tension bleeding out of his tall frame.  Mara had managed to bolster him in a way that words alone could not.

Marco eyed the remaining pieces, finding he favoured those carved from wood - but he did not immediately make his choice.  Instead he nodded to Tobias, encouraging the fiery-haired cadet to go next.
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Re: Team Two: Supply Runners [Assault on Utopia]
« Reply #18 on: November 12, 2019, 07:38:09 PM »
She hoped that the luck shared between her squad would do its job. That they might be able to avoid the worst of danger. To keep them protected.

Ultimately, their squad was instead split. Mara couldn't be sure when they lost their fourth squad member - was it when they first zipped over the roof to the Abnormal's location? Or when chaos sprang like a wildfire, screams around them and people shouting over one another? Perhaps when they had split, briefly as it was, to avoid the Abnormal just before it was taken down? It seemed to go by in such a blur, a rush of noise and whirr of activity, before it quietened.

And then there were three.

Swallowing her nerves, her hands still trembled as she supplied one of the surviving Garrison soldiers with gas tanks, shuddering when she caught the crimson puddle nearby in the corner of her eye. Walls... Walls, they were all going to die, weren't they? She hated the thought! Detested it! But it was there, lingering, bleeding... The Garrison soldiers left as soon as they could, barely imparting any information to her. Or, at least, she didn't make any sense of their words.

She wanted to go home.

"M-Marco," she appealed, turning to him with wide eyes. Some of the blood had gotten on her hands, and she didn't know what to do with that. Let alone anything else. She was lost for something to do, hoping only that one of them knew what to do now. It wasn't that she didn't trust Dalton to lead them. She didn't want to push more on him after all of this... Marco seemed stronger. More prepared. "Where do we go?" she breathed. They had to keep moving.

Even if it meant going to their deaths, they had to keep moving. They couldn't stop until the threat was dealt with...

Why had they been sent in?
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Re: Team Two: Supply Runners [Assault on Utopia]
« Reply #19 on: November 14, 2019, 11:08:53 PM »
It felt as though hours had passed since they had huddled around Mara’s cupped hands, choosing the charms they hoped would keep them from harm. The little wooden acorn had been nestled in Marco’s pocket as they serviced the squad of Garrison soldiers, it had been carried with him when they lost Tobias. Wherever and however that had happened. Even as they supported and replenished the supplies of the survivors, Marco desperately scanned the war-torn, ruinous landscape, looking for any sign of their comrade’s fiery red hair.

With the Abnormal felled, and their gas and blades replenished, the soldiers soon vanished, rose emblems retreating as they zipped swiftly and with seeming confidence across the rooftops. The fluid movements belied the fear Marco knew they must feel. How could anyone look upon dead comrades, on the battlefield no less, and feel anything besides abject terror and profound sorrow?
 
He dumped one of his now empty supply canisters, his attention shifting to Mara at the sound of her gentle voice falteringly shaping his name.  For a moment, the question hung in the air.  There was blood on her hands, Marco noticed, the crimson bright and garish on her pale skin.  Dalton stood a little behind her, staring with wide, green eyes.  Grime was smudged on his smooth cheeks.

Shit.

The boy from Jinae rarely swore, either aloud or within the confines of his own mind, but in this moment there came a crushing realisation – they were both looking at him as though he had the answers, as though he was fit to lead.  For one desperate, brief instance, he wished that Jean or Axel was with them.  Someone bold who could be trusted with making weighty decisions such as these, though Jean would surely try to rebut that notion. That boy just couldn’t see how clever and capable he was.

Marco licked his lips, finding they were dry, his throat tight with thirst and fear.  The odds of survival were not in their favour, and he struggled to make peace with the likelihood of dying in Utopia, a district far from home.  But they weren’t dead yet.  Steeling his spine, Marco cast his eyes around, drinking in their surroundings.  Several streets over, a Titan that stood head and shoulders above the houses lumbered past, leisurely heading towards the inner gate.  However hard the offensive teams worked, there would be monsters slipping through their net.  Somewhere a fire was burning, smoke acrid and bitter, Marco tasted its foulness when he sucked in a deep breath.  He exhaled slowly and was steady once more. Whatever their odds, he believed in their small, fractured squad.

“Marco…”  Dalton whined softly, snapping the freckled cadet out of his introspection.  Apparently, he allowed the silence to stretch too long. 

“We go where we’re needed,” Marco repeated their earlier sentiments.  At his words, Dalton seemed to sag, fearful yet willing to do as duty dictated.  That was all any of them could do.  Marco turned his kind brown eyes – if one looked closely enough, they would see his dark irises were flecked with honeycomb-coloured gold – towards the outer gate.  “The offensive teams are pushing forwards…” He didn’t suppose his teammates would demand to know his logic, but he wanted to share it all the same.  Maybe he was missing something.  If he was, Mara or Dalton would surely set him straight.  “We have to follow, we have to stay close enough that they don’t have far to travel to refuel.  They can’t afford the gas or the time it takes to fall back.”  Marco grazed his bottom lip with his teeth, uneasy about the prospect of following the Garrison soldiers into the hellscape.  Even the periphery was too close for comfort.  “We’ll need to be careful, and avoid engaging in combat if at all possible.”

Turning his attention back to his squadmates, Marco’s expression softened.  He supposed he looked just as doe-eyed with fear as they did.  In anticipation of an impending departure, he readjusted his grip on his blades, the handles familiar and reassuringly solid against his palms.  “How does that sound?”
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Re: Team Two: Supply Runners [Assault on Utopia]
« Reply #20 on: December 10, 2019, 12:14:33 AM »
Tobi was gone, either dead or missing. Right now, those felt like one and the same to Dalton. After all, how could anyone hope to survive on the battlefield alone? His thoughts were full of their fiery-haired squadmate as he supplied the Garrison unit almost mechanically, following the procedure drilled into them during training. To be too present was to be overridden by fear.

The soldiers' crimson roses were like splotches of blood, reminding Dalton of the immense price that had to be paid if they hoped to save Utopia, and of all he hoped to achieve. To serve on the Walls, to defend humanity, to put his life to good use. It was not the path he had chosen, nor one he had wanted, but it was what fate had decided.

Then they were alone again, the experienced soldiers leaving them behind as they blazed back into the heat of battle. For one brief, bright moment, Dalton wished with absolute ferocity that they would stay. This catastrophe was too immense for them, the weight of responsibility too heavy on their young shoulders.

Mara's voice brought him back to the present, drawing his green gaze to Marco. From what he had seen over the past three years, Marco was ambitious, aiming for the Military Police, and he excelled academically. More than that, he was nice. Trustworthy. Relief painted itself on Dalton's features, glad of their capable comrade. Let Marco lead, let him be the one to guide them.

Except the silence stretched, with Marco wordlessly scanning their surroundings. The moment went on so long that Dalton wondered if the freckled boy hadn't heard them, or if he simply had no guidance to offer. A flicker of concern darted over his face. He knew and trusted Mara - they could always form a plan together, if required - but by nature of his ambition, Marco seemed the better fit.

"Marco…" Dalton whined softly, and suddenly those warm, brown eyes were on him. If the cadet from Jinae was hesitant to lead, it was not apparent in the steadiness of his voice, nor in the familiar cadence of his voice. The plan was sensible but devastating to Dalton. Truthfully, he didn't want to follow the offensive squads. He didn't want to get any closer to the gaping gate where Titans poured in. What he wanted was to go home to his family's tavern, where the bar top was kept polished by the sleeves of their patrons' coats, and a fire was kept forever burning in the hearth, no matter the season. 

There was a tentativeness to Marco, as he asked for their thoughts. A pregnant pause, and Dalton found himself following Mara's lead, nodding his agreement. "Whatever you th-think," he murmured reluctantly, knowing that he had no other plan to counter with. "It's… our duty."

A nod from Marco, who adjusted his backpack's straps before drawing his blades. "We'll go rooftop to rooftop," he instructed calmly, his gaze flitting between his two comrades. "That way we'll be able to conserve gas and limit the amount of time we're in the air." It would also be safer, Dalton knew, even if Marco didn't say so aloud. "We stay together, okay?"

Dalton nodded tremulously, and tried to return Marco's small smile. His attention shifted to Mara, acutely aware of the loss of Tobi in this moment, but taking solace in the company of a girl he trusted and liked. This was still a solid squad, comprised of kind people with good intentions. They would do their duty.

With the metal rose in his pocket - a little piece of good fortune - Dalton followed Marco and Mara into the air. They crossed several streets, darting across rooftops on foot. Content to follow, Dalton's focus was on the cadets a little ahead of him. The air was still and baking hot, perspiration sticking his shirt to his back, his harness pinching at his limbs. Another gap opened up ahead, Marco firing his hooks and crossing with ease, Mara following in his wake. The precious few seconds between them would prove fateful for the third member of their squad.

It had been hidden behind the peak of the end terrace, and was drawn to the sounds of their ODM gear. Dalton's green eyes widened with dawning horror, scarcely able to process what was happening as that monstrously large hand came down on his wire. The resulting lurch sent his heart into his mouth as he fell, the cobblestone street approaching with dizzying, disarming speed.
Logged


Re: Team Two: Supply Runners [Assault on Utopia]
« Reply #21 on: December 16, 2019, 07:48:27 PM »
Marco's reigning silence terrified her more than the titans. He was their best hope at some leadership, and as much as she wished they didn't have to be here at all, she knew they had to. Marco's earlier words stuck firm with her. We're needed. They had to make sure the other soldiers didn't struggle too much. Without supplies, they'd be killed, slaughtered, ripped to pieces because they couldn't get out of the way. She didn't want to think about that, but it was true.

And there came Marco's words, the ones that confirmed it, that soothed her anxious mind and showed that they did have a plan. That they could stick together. She nodded, glancing quick to Dalton, who nodded after her. The three of them together had to do whatever it took to ensure their duty was gone. Not one of them was expendable. Every second they delayed, people would die - that's what Axel would say. It was a poor squad, the three of them. It wasn't against the others, there was nothing wrong with them. But they didn't quite have enough strength to persevere. Marco was the strongest of all the trio, but he couldn't do everything either. She had to help him, as much as possible, and Dalton needed support too.

"We stay together," she echoed Marco. We're needed. We stay together. He was full of all the advice that would keep them alive, that would help them fight past their fear to do their duty. More than anyone else across the entirety of humanity, she trusted him.

The luck that weighed her jacket pocket warmed her, and knowing that the boys had one each too assured her of their safety. If fortune was on their side, they'd do well. It wouldn't be easy, but it wouldn't be terrible either. The other squads, the offensive squads, they would struggle... the medics too, she expected, who had to see such bloodshed. While they saw some, it would be so much worse for all the rest. If anything, their duty was the easiest.

So why did it feel so hard?

She followed Marco. Her movements quick and light, at least for her, determination all contained in those charms, pushing her to keep focused on their appointed leader. No one else was better suited for this job and she was sure of that. She was so sure of it all, every bit of it, every thought--

It was chance, not good luck, that drove her to look back at Dalton. They were, after all, sticking together, and she wanted to assure him, if he seemed to need it. Her cry was high, her panic in the scream. Too late to warn him, as the titan's hand snatched at his wire. "MARCO!" she shrieked. Calling for his help, more than anything, for all that mattered was that they save Dalton. She couldn't do that on her own, and her hesitance in acting - as she realised in that split second - was full of fear.

Her body already twisted, she kicked in too much gas to rush towards Dalton, as he fell. Being small and light as she was, it made her quick, reaching out to tackle the tall cadet, seeking only in breaking his fall. It was all she could do. So she did; he crashed, but she was with him, her instinct to protect his head more than anything, tears beading at her eyes.

The titan didn't enter her thoughts until she was already weeping, vision blurred, trousers scuffed, dirtied, bloodied by the friction against the cobbles. She heard its great steps, the thunder they made on the ground, but she didn't see it as it edged around the corner, attracted to them by no sense that she could make, not even in lessons. It was horrid, the peachy figure that shadowed them, its arms reaching out. One foot dragged along the road, and as she blinked away her tears she saw a twisted limb sticking between the toes.

"D-Dalton," she croaked. "We've got to move... can you still use your hooks?" She edged away, trying to help move Dalton back if he'd let her, though the difference in body between them made it somewhat awkward at best, difficult at worst.

Part of her hoped Marco hadn't heard her, that he'd continue on, that he'd find another squad and help them. She couldn't abandon Dalton, she wouldn't, and they could... maybe they could get out. Escape through a crack, hide away in a house, far back enough to slip through a window and flee. They could find Marco later, the three of them safe. She wasn't sure she could help both of them. Axel would. He'd do anything.

Her breath shuddered and her heart squeezed hard as the titan's head snapped to the side, too quick to be normal. That its attention had been caught by something else could only be bad. Not for them... but Marco. Run away, Marco, get away, she urged him.
Logged


Re: Team Two: Supply Runners [Assault on Utopia]
« Reply #22 on: December 19, 2019, 02:57:15 PM »
(TRIGGER WARNING: Character death.  Descriptive character death.  I’m sorry.)

A body slammed into his before he hit the cobblestones, helping to break his fall and keeping his skull from splitting.  Together Dalton and Mara skidded and tumbled, the paving tearing at their uniforms, grazing their palms, scuffing their boots.  Over the bloom of pain, and over the burgeoning, overwhelming fear, Dalton felt immense gratitude to the brave, kind girl, intensely relieved that he wasn’t alone in this fight.  Every word Mara had ever said, about being a team and sticking together, was proved true and sincere in that moment.  She was quick to recover too, edging them back, the boy from Trost scrambling with her.  A warm wind blew through the street, stirring up grit and dirt, dust catching prettily in the sunlight.  Even as they shuffled and limped away, the shadow of the Titan fell on them. It was breathtakingly cold in the shade.  Somewhere above, Marco was shouting instructions, his normally calm and steady voice tight with fear.

“I-I think…” Dalton began quietly, hoarsely, thunderstruck by the behemoth that towered over them.  Beyond the sting of scratches and ache of blooming bruises, his leg throbbed, ligaments wrenched and torn.  To him, his leg felt broken, and the possibility of escape – as meagre as it was – faded fast.  Reflexively, he had clutched a fistful of Mara’s jacket, as though physically anchoring himself to her was enough to save him.  Now, deliberately, and after a moment’s hesitation, he released her from his grasp.  “No.  You have t-to go, Mara – ”

A tile slid from the roof above them, shattering on the cobblestones.  A supply backpack followed, having been slipped from Marco’s shoulders and abandoned to roll down the roof’s pitch.  The possibility of survival ignited once more, though it was threatened when the Titan’s head snapped in the freckled cadet’s direction.  Its movements were rapid, inhuman.  It was an Abnormal“MARCO, BE CAREFUL!”  Dalton managed to shout, his normally faltering voice steadied by urgency.

Teeth like tombstones were too many and too large for that oversized mouth, their paleness revealed by the Titan’s unnatural grin.  It stretched hideously across the behemoth’s features, and widened all the more as its attention returned to the two battered figures on the street below.  With movements swift and sudden, like a viper’s strike, it snatched at the retreating pair, its disproportionately long limb easily covering the growing distance.  Thick fingers closed around Dalton, trapping his arms to his sides, and almost taking Mara with him.  Tendrils of saliva stretched between its jaws, the stink of rot filling the summer air as that nightmarish mouth yawned open with endless, insatiable hunger.  Staring in horror into that terrible abyss, Dalton screamed in desperation and fear, until wires cut across his field of vision, between him and that monstrous face.

Marco.

The cadet’s hasty relief gave way to confusion, the intrusion stirred some form of agitation in the monster. Its predatory eyes darted sideways in its skull, no doubt focusing on the interloper, and its grip tightened, as though refusing to be deprived of its prize.  Unknowingly, Dalton drew his final breath, one that tasted of smoke and dry heat. Pressure grew, the Titan’s eager fingers squeezing tight. Bones that had been built in his mother’s womb creaked with the strain, more a terrible feeling than a sound, one that resonated throughout his frame. Death, somehow, came as a surprise, arriving quickly as it did. Until his last moment, he was sure that Mara would save him again, and was comforted by the knowledge that Marco was coming to their rescue. It couldn’t end here, not like this, not when he was so young, there was still so much to do, and he never said goodbye –

Ribs fractured first, a series of pops and cracks that came so rapidly that their sounds all but blended into one hellish snap. Splintered bones caved inwards, piercing organs and tearing through soft tissue, the boy’s frantic heart now pumping adrenaline-slick blood into his chest cavity. Pain radiated bright and hot, searing his broken, shattered body, while blood trickled from his nose and poured out past his lips, the taste vile and coppery on his tongue.

A dying mind flared and sparked, offering Dalton a series of disjointed mental images and fragmented memories. A pair of tiny leather shoes hung from a hook, bought for him the day he took his first steps, and worn by every sibling that followed. Axel’s grey eyes, shining blue in the Trost sunshine. Garrison Roses emblazoned on a flag that rippled in the wind. His mother standing at their kitchen sink, her back to him, singing quietly as she worked. Ghosts in the dark, conjured by the frightful tales told by Sebastian and Kaien. Falkenrath bread, fresh and soft and slightly sweet. An open book in his hand, his little brothers and sisters drowsing in the quiet warmth of their shared bedroom. A winter sky, painted with colours, the shape and weight of Mara in his arms. Cinnamon and woodsmoke. 

Mara.

Had she escaped?

The pain faded to a low thrum, too immense to be processed.  Dalton’s vision greyed, pupils dilating, black consuming green. And then there was Marco, his jaw set tight, brown eyes blazing with fury as he sliced clean through the Titan’s wrist, freeing his comrade from its grasp.  But he came too late.

Dalton exhaled, his final breath escaping as a gory mist, flecks of blood painting over freckles. His last emotion was one of misplaced gratitude, a sense that he had somehow been saved by Mara and Marco both. The cadet was vaguely aware of the sensation of falling, the fingers of the Titan unfurling like the petals of a springtime flower.  All that Dalton was slipped through the cracks, his light fading into that endless dark, dead by the time he struck the cobblestones.  Lying on his back, unseeing eyes stared skywards. Reflected in that newly-dead gaze was the Titan’s remaining hand as it swooped upwards, intent on scooping the boy from Jinae into its maw.

The price for failed heroics was death. « Last Edit: December 19, 2019, 04:43:52 PM by Dalton Lightbody »
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Re: Team Two: Supply Runners [Assault on Utopia]
« Reply #23 on: December 23, 2019, 08:51:12 PM »
[ content warning: character death & gore ]

She couldn't hear Marco, couldn't make sense of anything. Even the aches in her body from the impact seemed non-existent, unimportant, never given. The only thing that mattered was that looming titan and the need to protect Dalton, however she could. They had to get out, and as he answered, her stomach sank. She wasn't strong enough to carry him, and the idea of abandoning him was - no, she wouldn't. And yet she couldn't answer, couldn't voice anything, because the titan...

The titan was an abnormal... They weren't prepared for this. No soldier was, but not cadets! How... how could... Marco...

Flecks of tears blurred her vision quick, despite her attempt to shake them. The horrid titan, features thankfully concealed by that veil of upset, grew closer. Claustrophobically near, and then it moved. So quick and so vicious that she screamed, expecting to be taken, unable to do anything. Frozen. And yet, though she felt the large fingers skim her, it failed to do more than snag at her jacket. Its focus on Dalton.

Dalton.

The scream she gave silenced as his fear pierced all her hearing. Blindly scrambling at the cobbles, she fought to check her gear, to see if anything had been damaged. Marco couldn't fight it alone, there might not be anyone around, she had to fight her fear and help, to do anything, they had to save Dalton and they had to work together. His terror swarmed hers, giving way to a resolve buried deep within that helped her squeeze out those tears. There was no time. They had to act now. Something clicked and the wires felt right and as she looked, as she gazed up on that beast, she
was too late.

A flood of blood couldn't have been more poignant. It couldn't have brought about the same wave of mourning that shuddered through her body as she saw that crumpled body. Even as Marco made his attack, she knew. Crimson beading and trickling down that hand, the one that had missed her, that she'd been so fortunate to miss but too slow to stop... and Dalton... Dalton was gone.

She didn't need to see his body hit the floor.

Nor did she want to.

The grief pulsated through her as she took up her controller grips, brown eyes swarmed by desperation, as she saw the intent. Marco would be the next victim if she didn't do anything. As much as she wished she could run, to scramble away like so many, to find her family and weep to them all that had happened and all that would happen in that time... she didn't.

She remembered Axel's lesson on how to place her hooks. To fire them at the titan's shoulder, to pull her straight at it but - make sure you twist your body and lean to the side. The hook snagged flesh and she pulled in, mouth as dry as the sand had been just last month, on the edge of the Great Lake. It was a world away as she flew up, as much gas as she could give to charge onwards. Because training was over, it was going to be one way or another, and it didn't matter what happened to her.

Marco was going to do great things. He didn't matter more than Dalton but he had to live. They hadn't managed to save Dalton, but she had a chance. She had to take it.

"Marco - run! Find others!" Her last words came as she crashed into the boy, pushing him out of the path, slamming into the giant's palm. There was nothing hefty about the fingers around her, and yet she couldn't wiggle, couldn't escape, couldn't breathe. A weight of strength pressing her chest. The hook in its shoulder strained, then loosened as it plucked out of skin in an unseen small plume of steam.

Bracing herself for the same fate, Mara squeezed her eyes shut against the fear, panic overtaking. She couldn't hear anything. Just the thudding of her own blood, drumming in her ears as fierce as the pummelling of fists in practice. The darkness of her closed eyes was the night when she'd huddle down, exhausted from training, wishing she were home. The pinching fingers crushing her were the bruises taken from the aptitude test. It wasn't real. Just a nightmare.

Can you see your home?

I don't see my home. We live a few streets from the outer gate though.

She didn't want to go home yet. Graduation wasn't long away, she wanted to prove she'd learned a lot from Squad Leaders Brzenska and Dietrich. Then she could go home, with roses emblazoned on her jacket and the pride of a soldier to accompany it. Her mother would greet her with a warm smile and the homely scent of her cooking, her father would gift her a new trinket to sit upon her jacket.

I hope we never have to see one.

I’d imagine seeing a Titan in real life, most people are going to either think how can they can escape from it, or how they’re going to kill it.

I wish they'd just all vanish...

It wasn't going. As much as she tried to block it out, as her stomach lurched, it was still there. She didn't know how much time passed - there were only seconds, but she couldn't have known, couldn't have been focused enough to count - but it wasn't going. She should have gotten help. They should have tried to find Tobi, or kept with the soldiers, the ones who knew what they were doing.

You're allowed to make mistakes. That's what makes you human.

The bite lasted only a second for her. Great teeth bearing down, crunching skull and shoulder together. There was only pain, blood-red and unstoppable, before it went away. She didn't experience the grinding teeth that split her bones and swallowed them without issue, nor the way its stomach splashed and bubbled as the chunk of her body entered its insides. The body that fell from the Abnormal's hand and slumped across the cobbles bled messily upon the ground.

Her good luck charms speckled the puddle around her.
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Re: Team Two: Supply Runners [Assault on Utopia]
« Reply #24 on: December 28, 2019, 12:59:16 AM »
Content Warning: Descriptions of grievous injury, death and trauma.

It was Mara's voice, shrill with fear and panic, that pulled Marco's attention. Wind rippled through his dark hair as he turned his head, in time to watch his comrades tumble painfully across the street below, skidding to a halt close to the feet of an approaching Titan. It loomed and leered over the huddled pair, having emerged from the shadows between rows of houses, where it had been hidden from the meticulous scan of Marco's eyes.

Alarm tightened his chest, his reaction immediate and reflexive. The freckled cadet landed and bolted back across the rooftop, calling to his squadmates, yelling for them to move away. Tiles loosened beneath his footfall, one sliding free to shatter somewhere below. Even as he ran, Marco slipped the bulky supply backpack from his broad shoulders. It slid down the roof's pitch and disappeared over the edge. In that moment, it wasn't important, and their mission was no longer a priority. All that mattered was saving Mara and Dalton. The commotion drew the Titan's attention, its head snapping in Marco's direction, the wide grin no less disturbing for being unfeeling.

"MARCO, BE CAREFUL!"

With unnaturally rapid reflexes, the Titan lunged and snatched up the boy from Trost, its grasping fingers a punishment for the warning that had escaped his lips. Dalton's scream pierced the relative stillness, chilling Marco's blood even as he leapt into the air, fired his hooks, and squeezed his gas triggers so hard that his fingers ached. In later days, weeks - months - he would fixate on this handful of frantic, panicked moments. Had he done everything within his power? Had he been as swift as possible?

Impossibly large eyes flicked in Marco's direction, swivelling to reveal an unsettling amount of sclera, the monstrosity not deigning to turn its head. Whether out of instinct, spite or spasm, its only response was to tighten its grip on the cadet clutched in its hand. Even as he took aim and swung his blades, Marco was aware of the crimson tide pouring out of Dalton, splattering onto the street below. Grief and horror churned in his gut as he sliced through the Titan's wrist, freeing his dying comrade, and he was painted with blood as Dalton's last breath escaped his punctured, deflated lungs.

The Titan's mouth had fallen open, wide and abyssal, its intact hand sweeping upwards, a cold shadow passing over Marco. With a distant shiver of fear, his honey-brown eyes widened in realisation. There was no time to recall his hooks, no time to change course, and he could not move any faster. This was his end. And through the fear Marco felt a sense of peace, knowing that there were worse deaths to be had than this. He had failed, but his intentions had been golden, and there was still a chance for Mara, if she used this moment to make her escape.

Please let it be quick.

But Mara had other plans. She barrelled into him with such sudden and surprising force that she stole the breath from Marco's lungs. Her purposeful, self-sacrificing trajectory allowed her to take his place in the Titan's wide, hungry hand.

"Marco - run! Find others!"

His wires continued to hum and reel in, his landing on the distant rooftop unplanned and therefore clumsy. He turned on his heel, eyes wide, Mara like a bird trapped in the Titan's hand, a bundle of fragile bones and a frantic heartbeat. Firing his hooks in haste, Marco charged into battle once more. This time he would be fast. Mara meant so much, and mattered to so many. Just as Dalton had. If he could save her, keep her from dying for him, that would be enough. Marco's gaze locked on the distracted Titan's neck. His hands were clammy, but his grip on the blades' handles was sure.

"MARA!" Marco's broke on her name, tears swelling in his eyes as those hideous teeth bit down, sinking into her skull, her chest, a terrible and fatal bite. Blood fell first like red petals, then as a torrent, mingling with Dalton's congealing pool. Marco's strike thrust too deep, his blades breaking as they carved through the Titan's nape, felling the behemoth even as it claimed the life of a girl who was sunshine to all that knew her.

She had died for him.

The earth rumbled as their foe was vanquished and, with the shuddering vibrations, one of Marco's anchors came loose. He heard it in the same moment as he felt the now lopsided pull. Freed of tension, the wire cracked through the air, the sound reverberating and warbling, the extended hooks glinting menacingly in the light. Marco just had time to squeeze the trigger to retract the deadly barbs and turn his face away, flinching at the inevitable impact. His last impression was of two bloody roses blooming on the street below, of the broken bodies of his comrades, before the anchor struck him on the temple with a jarring, metallic sound.

Pain was immediate and white-hot, the damage instant, catastrophic and irreversible. His skull fractured with the impact and the world greyed out, the light dying in Marco's right eye. Even if he hadn't choked on the air in his throat, on the agony, there was no time to scream. Unable to control his landing, Marco collided with the edge of the rooftop, hands scrambling blindly and ineffectively for purchase, the toes of his scuffed boots scraping against the building's dusty façade. There was nobody to help him - everyone was dead - and so he fell. Inexplicably, his mind was full of the reassurances the cadets were given when first introduced to the ODM obstacle courses. That falling was part of the learning process, that the thick blankets of sand spread beneath the various platforms and pillars would keep them safe. That it wouldn't hurt.

It won't hurt.

The one remaining wire was burrowed into a brick hewn from crumbly sandstone. It bore Marco's weight long enough to slow his descent before it too came loose with a metallic whine. The boy from Jinae spilled across the cobblestones, grazing the hard angles of his body, and came to a rest facedown in the street, breathing in dust and grit. There was a ringing in his ears, his mind crackling with static as he hovered on the cusp of unconsciousness. He couldn't say how long he lay like this, his body battered and grazed, stinging and aching all at once. Nearby, the fallen Titan steamed and disintegrated, its demise conjuring no sense of victory or triumph. After a time, Marco stirred enough to roll painfully onto his back. The sky above was blue, tinged with smoke, streaked by flare signals. It was flat, lacking depth, a living painting. Pretty and terrible all at once.

Tears fell from the corners of Marco's haemorrhaging eyes. His thoughts were indistinct but he had the sense of overwhelming disappointment. The trust of his companions' had been entirely misplaced. Parents, instructors, cadets, friends - everyone - expected more from him, because he was sensible and hard-working, because he suffered the burden of responsibility so quietly. But being an old soul did not change the fact that he was only eighteen years old and unblooded. It did not change the fact that his best had not been close to enough.

Choking on a sob, Marco unsteadily peeled himself off the hard ground, a persistent throb in his head hinting at the insidious bleed spreading beneath his skull. His daze ebbed and flowed, moments of lucidity puncturing a growing haze. His uneven gaze landed first on Mara.

Mara.

She was dead, of that there could be no doubt. From where he stood Marco could see the grotesque bite out of her young body. Her glistening innards shifted wetly, sliding out of her carcass, while blood ran along the spaces between cobbles in lurid red rivers. Mara had been alive mere minutes before, her ruinous remains a stark and unkind reminder of the brevity and cruelty of life, like a flower trampled carelessly underfoot. No matter how pretty or kind or brave, they were all just flesh and bone. It should have been me, it should have been me, it should have been me - That thought echoed incessantly and vehemently in Marco mind, who in his shock was unable to process the immensity of Mara's sacrifice. Like the sun, it burned too bright and hot to be looked at closely.

Dalton, however, was moving, a jerk of a limb interrupting fragmented thoughts. Marco staggered towards him, desperation chasing away all reason, relief a short-lived balm. He knelt hastily at the fallen boy's side and immediately realised his mistake. Dalton's glassy green eyes gave him away, his pupils blown wide and unfocused, staring skyward. Crimson ran from his nose, ears and mouth, painting his chin and speckling his cheeks. Every streak and splotch was already tacky and drying in the summer heat. He was dead, Marco was sure, the movements nothing more than spasms. Still the freckled cadet reached out a hand, resting it on the dead boy's caved chest, rasping his name quietly. He immediately regretted the contact, for beneath the thin layers of fabric Dalton felt broken and wrong, his spine crushed and ribs jagged. Marco stumbled backwards, but lingered until the tremors and shudders passed, lest some sliver of awareness remained in that still-warm, shattered body.

At last, Dalton stilled, the air stinking of viscera and smoke and piss. Marco sat back on his heels, bemused when he realised blood was pattering softly on the dusty ground. Frowning, he looked up, half-expecting to find the blood-smeared maw of a Titan looming over him. But there was nothing. Confused, adrift in the fog of his wounded mind, he gingerly touched his head, near his temple, curious fingertips coming away slick. Unbeknownst to Marco, blood ran from a deep gash near his hairline, streaking around the eye that had died in its socket, clinging to and clotting in dark lashes, painting over his familiar freckles and staining his white shirt. Marco's bewildered frown deepened.

Find others.

His heartbeat resonated in his fractured skull, sparking overwrought nerves, his whole body thrumming. At last obeying Mara's final instruction, Marco heaved himself up onto his feet and began to walk. Unsteadily, aimlessly, with the heel of his hand pressed to the wound at his temple. The forgotten controller grips bounced and dragged behind him, clinking almost cheerfully against the cobblestones. « Last Edit: December 28, 2019, 10:00:21 AM by Marco Bott »
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