Chapter 9:

Aftermath part 4

Aftershock


Kyoka didn't sleep that night, couldn’t sleep, she sat on her bed writing in her songbook. Recording her feelings and thoughts from the day into a rough poem. She loved poetry, the act of expressing abstract emotions through her pencil felt natural. Like singing, it was more than an outlet, It was part of her, a secret one, but part of her nonetheless. This was something she did to process her thoughts and decompress at the end of each day. It helped her to manage the stress of life, and process all those thoughts and emotions that otherwise threatened to consume her.Bookmark here

The poem took shape on its own. Flowing from that well of conflicting emotions. Jax’s sudden disappearance and her search for him. He’d been so different from the boy she remembered all those years back. He’d been on edge, and in his eyes she had seen a pain so deep she wondered how she had ever not seen it. Bookmark here

She had met Jax only because her parents worked as low district physicians and Jax had a nasty habit of getting himself hurt quite consistently in the early years of him moving there. She later learned that his frequent injuries came from practicing with his powers. She found out because by pure chance one day she saw him attempting to scale a wall with his abilities. Awestruck she’d watched him scramble up the side of a building, and fall off it repeatedly. Each time picking himself back up and trying again until she yelled at him to stop. Bookmark here

That had started a long and frustrating relationship where Jax somehow managed to be incredibly intelligent and the largest idiot she’d ever met. He found such creative ways to use his abilities, and always came back from one of his escapades grinning like an idiot and sporting a new bruise or four. That Jax from was the one she knew, the reckless idiot who built small gadgets, jumped up walls, and spray painted government buildings because he knew he could get away. But the Jax from tonight was someone else entirely. That, more than anything, was what had scared her.Bookmark here

She smacked her face with both hands, focusing on the sting to reign in her spiraling thoughts. Of course she didn’t know everything about Jax, no one knew everything about another person. What she needed to focus on was helping him get back to the Jax she knew. Whatever was going on with him, it went deeper than his normal problems with the city government. He had been so ready to pop that just seeing an architect was enough to make him lose control of his powers. Bookmark here

She’d never heard him talk about his mother’s death. She had asked before but he never wanted to talk about it. Until tonight the anniversary had just been a week when he was a little gloomy, not violent. Not like this. She put her journal down and hugged her knees. Rocking on the bed while she thought. How could she help him? Could she help him? And what about the station? She didn’t want to think about how the city would react but she knew something had to be done. They wouldn’t just let the matter slide without some kind of retaliation. Someone was going to get put to sleep, deep down she knew that was the only end.Bookmark here

Disturbed kyoka stood and walked to the small kitchen, she pulled out a cup and went to fill it with water. That’s when the sirens started wailing outside. Shocked, she dropped the cup and covered her ears. The noise was piercing, like a needled being driven through her temple. She cried out against the noise, crouching behind the sink. A moment later the sound blessedly lowered a bit. Though still near deafening the alarms weren’t as sharp now. She rushed over to the window that overlooked the street. Outside a large number of figures in black and gray filled the space between. Several of the large dream transports were parked on either end of the block forming a makeshift wall that penned in the residents. Bookmark here

Dreamers wearing servators uniforms and full face masks were forcing their way into buildings and dragging people out of their homes toward the transports. Several actual servators oversaw the madness, and sentries floated around blaring sirens. Kyoka watched in horror as one man charged out of an apartment building and tackled one of the dreamers who was towing a woman behind it. Nearby servators dragged the man off with some effort, then one of them drew a baton and struck him. There was a bright flash from the baton and the man went limp. Then they took him too. Bookmark here

While she watched in slack jawed horror Kyoka’s parents came out of their bedroom with their hands over their ears. They rushed over, her mother pulling Kyoka back from the window just as a sentry floated in front of it. The little drone stared in through the window for a moment before rising up, scanning through another apartment. Kyoka knew what was happening, but she had never imagined this was going to happen.Bookmark here

Her father, a man of medium build with dark hair and brown eyes, ran to the door and pushed the couch in front of it. They didn’t own much large furniture that could work as a barricade. He then ushered Kyoka and her mother into the parents room, closing the door behind them and got to work shoving the bed against the door. Bookmark here

“Whats going on?” her Mother asked, her eyes wide and fearful. The sirens were still loud, but they could hear each other better now.Bookmark here

“I don’t know” Her father said, running and hand through his hair. “They haven’t purged a district since years before we came here. It makes no sense, they’ve always limited things like this to maintain calm.”Bookmark here

Kyoka didn’t say anything, she just leaned into her mother while the woman clung to her. Making comforting motions she suspected were as much for her mother’s benefit as they were for her. She wanted to say that the shock of it all had left her numb. Rather than numbness she felt cold. Goosebumps ran along her arms and she pulled into herself, shivering. What had he done? Bookmark here

“We’ll be okay right?” Her mother asked, “Why would they come for us?”Bookmark here

Her father didn’t answer, he just leaned his back against the door. And closed his eyes. The sirens masked any sound coming from outside, though Kyoka thought she could hear screaming in the background. The sirens eventually lowered further, no longer drawing out the sounds from the street. There was some loud protesting and shouts but the screaming Kyoka had thought she heard wasn’t there. She dared to hope that the servators would pass by her family. They’d be fine, definitely some nightmares from this but they’d keep their lives. That was all that mattered.Bookmark here

Suddenly the hair on Kyoka’s neck stood up. She looked around the room, searching for… something. She felt eyes, she didn’t know how but she could feel them. Someone was watching her, staring at her so plainly that it felt like she should be able to see them. Bookmark here

Her mother noticed her looking around, “Kyoka? What's wrong?” Bookmark here

“You don’t feel that?” She responded, voice trembling. Bookmark here

Her mother hugged her tighter, “its going to be okay, we’ll get through this I promise.” Bookmark here

Her mother only made promises she could keep. Simply hearing the word promise was almost enough to calm her, but that heavy, almost omnipresent gaze didn’t go away. Her body tensed instinctively like she was going to run. But run where? The room had no other exits and the only thing outside was an army of dreamers intent on dragging her to join them.Bookmark here

The thought of the dreamers, with their faceless uniforms and the large black spiders plugged into their heads did little to help her anxiety. Something was wrong, she didn’t know how or why she knew that but she did. The longer she sat still the more she felt the weight of that gaze. It was so beyond her, so big, it was like being shrunken and crushed at the same time. Tears began to fall from her eyes, her mother saw this and started stroking her hair. Saying things to try and calm her down. Kyoka could barely hear her mother’s words. She could only feel that overwhelming presence, it drowned out every other sensation. The tears were not because of what was outside, but because of that thing. Bookmark here

It was all around her, yet somehow it grew closer each passing second. It was coming for her, and she didn’t have anywhere to run. Didn’t even know how she could run. It was almost a relief when the door was vaporized, disappearing in a bright flash of light, leaving behind a cloud of smoke. The dreamers forced their way in, knocking the bed and her father aside. Her relief at a potential escape turned to despair. She didn’t know how or why but somehow she could sense that thing present in the two figures who had just forced their way into the room. When they came she knew they had come for her. Bookmark here

She screamed and fought, but the unfeeling hands of the dreamers dragged her away from her parents and out the door of their apartment. Being so close to the source of that terrible gaze was horrifying. Like being dangled over the edge of a large black pit. She continued to struggle as they pulled her down the stairs and out onto the street. All around her she saw other people being pulled towards the transports at either end of the block. Like they were being fed to large black monsters. The dreamers towed her along, not flinching at any of her attempts to break free. The two dragged her up to one of the nearest transports open doors and tried to force her inside. As soon as they let go of her arms to shove her in, she managed to pull away. Running back towards her home. Home was safe, if she just could get back there.Bookmark here

A hand yanked her backwards and she spun, seeing the Servator’s face right before his stun baton hit her head. She was thankful at last that the last thing she remembered was a person, and not just the grip of that inhuman thing. Bookmark here

Aftershock


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