Punky’s Post-Apocalyptic Adventure

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The following is the original April 1, 2014 release of Punky’s Post-Apocalyptic Adventure, a novella by Natalie Neumann. Natalie does not recommend that you try to read the original work due to its low quality, structural issues, and grammatical errors. Instead, she encourages you to read the summary included in Volume 09 of The Saga of Vincent Dawn and the development history described in Volume 05: Punky’s Post-Apocalyptic Adventure of Natalie Rambles About The Saga of Vincent Dawn to better understand the content of this novella.

Part I: Silhouette of Ruin

2016, July sixth. A day that began and ended like no other. Where the old world fell into ruins, leaving not a single soul unaffected by what happened in something that people took to calling the Melding. Me? I got a pretty good deal I guess. I was a bum, down on my luck and sleeping in a makeshift little house under a bridge. My voice was shot, and face looked like it’d been hit with a bucket of hammers. Back then, I went by Grimes. Guess I still do today, now that I’m a living ball of sentient gas that’s been floating around the world, unbeknownst to anybody, well, except for you. But this is not my story, this is the tale of two who helped reshape the world from gravel into a gemstone. This is the story of a man named Yuccot Kikansky, and a girl by the name of Punky, as per your request.

I don’t quite recall the day, let alone the month. Not like even I was able to keep track of anything more than the season of fall, and the year of 2033. The location? Well, it wasn’t quite a city, but it did have a more modern twist than most back in its prime, with tall buildings and a steady stream of visitors. Useta go by the name of Funke, Colorado. And after that, it useta be something of a shithole. Yet, I’d seen worse in my days. Homes were destroyed, buildings fell onto the streets, streets ripped open, geography twisted and morphed to create these funky spiral pillars every couple of blocks. Hell, there was a river of this nasty green liquid that caused horrible rashes going through Maple street. All of which just sorta happened right before my eyes as people changed into things that sure as hell weren’t people, skies turned piss yellow, and rocks fell from a hole in the sky.

Oh, but I’m getting distracted. Yuccot had been staying at one of the few in-tact buildings in Funke, one I remember being some sorta convenience store that was really picky with what they tossed. He boarded up the door, threw up a rope to climb up to the second floor, and went out every day to pick around for anything of use inside of the garbage that remained. People like him were more of a 2020 sort of thing, scavengers who went from town to town with a crowbar in one hand, and rifle slung over their shoulder, going after anything ferrell in their way and trying to not get some wackadoo disease that gave them utters. But that’s before loads of peeps made themselves little communities. Rebuild houses, try and grow some non-toxic potatoes, and if you were able to some animals that wouldn’t give you internal bleeding if you ate them, you’d be set for what little life you had left. Maybe be able to start a new one.

Naturally, I couldn’t ask the man, who was traveling by himself and seldom even spoke. Oh? His appearance? Well, Yuccot wouldn’t survive this long if not for some beneficial mutations. He had two different hands, the right one old, but strong, the other more young, yet expectedly hardened. With scrapes and cuts on both coated up with what looked to be gloves sewn together or covered with the cleanest gaws he could find. He kept bundled up in a leather jacket and some really thick jeans with shoes that were worn as shit, but didn’t have any holes in them, surprisingly.

His face was something else though. He looked to be crossed between a man and lobster, eight to twenty percent, but he still looked kinda shady with his head mostly bald aside from some patches of thick dirty blonde hair due to how so much of it was covered with a pinkish shell. It was mostly bits like that on his stone face. Though, he hardly looked old, just withered by going through the expected bad shit that comes with living on the road for over a decade. Boy’s just lucky he now had a hard shell on the outside to match the one inside. And seeing as how he was a seven foot tall sonuvagun, I’d say he’d need it

But I reckon that you had an idea what the boy looked like, what you wanna know is why he’s important. One afternoon, as Yuccot was sitting on a room, staring at the turquoise sky as the indigo clouds brushed on by, something of a common event for him as he liked to watch the red sunset and stars pierce through the sky as it grows into something closer to violet and eventually jet black. Night had just come, and Yuccot moved his head as he saw something in the sky. It was a sparkle for sure, but the placement and shade sure didn’t look like any star I’ve ever seen. It grew larger as he stared at it, a shape forming as he saw what looked like a meteor fly right into Funke. Yuccot quickly hid behind an air conditioner on the roof he was laying on as the object pierced the earth with a loud clash and circular gust of wind.

Yuccot reached into his patched backpack, grabbing his rifle that stuck out of it like a sore thumb. Never was much of a gun expert back in my day, but that sure looked like it was for hunting, and probably older than Yuccot himself. He peered over the roof and into the block sized crater that came from a rock the side of a Sedan. I could see beads of sweat pop from wherever this boy still had pores, as he kept pretty cool considering the boom he just felt, not that he could hit shit with his shaky grip. He spent a few minutes like that, looking at the flames that sprung up as the dust began pouring in his direction. He then made the bold decision to climb down the building and investigate just what caused this ruckus.

He made his way to the space rock real careful-like, course I wouldn’t expect anything else from some guy who looked like he’d been through two wars. It took him about three minutes to get across the hundred or so meters to the rock, where he grabbed the crowbar from the side of his backpack, and gave the rock a light tap. Nothing. Harder tap? Squat. A prim and proper swing? Well, that’s what the boy eventually did, breaking the rock with far more ease than one would expect from something that was strong enough to come from space. As it let out a funky nuclear orange goo from the hole Yuccot made, the rock seemed to deflate as if it were getting its juices squeezed out. Yuccot sniffed and poked the goo, which did not seem to set off any alarms as he just stood there, allowing for his boots to be drenched in the thick liquid.  

His waiting paid off though, as in the shrivelled goo covered exterior of the rock, there lied something that nobody in their right mind should’ve expected. A young lass curled up in a ball, her body clothed only by something with the properties of semen. I mean that too, as she was balder than a baby and didn’t even seem to have eyebrows or eyelashes either. Just a naked space babe whose very existence made Yuccot’s face get all kinds of fucked up.

The girl’s ethnicity was a bit harder to put my finger on than Yuccot’s obvious European origins. As she looked to be Blasian or some shit, but not exactly, as if she were more of a grab bag of traits that were thrown into a goldarn melting pod to make a brown gal. Either way, she was borderline underweight from what I could tell, due to her below average assets and well above average height of a good six feet. Though, don’t go thinking she was all that sexy, ‘cos that dame was missing her right tit. Yuccot didn’t seem to pay that much mind though, because this girl was rather unique because she wasn’t part anything. Back then, it was a one in a couple thousand chance to see somebody who wasn’t like Yuccot and mixed with something like a Lobster. Hell, there were tribes of cat people and dog people, and fish people, and these ugly ass cultist bird people who called themselves Angels. But that’s irrelevant right now.

Yuccot poked the girl with the a dull part of his crowbar while trying to tell her to get up. However, if somebody slept through crashing into a planet, they’d be out for quite a while and the girl was no exception. Yuccot realized this and brought the naked woman with him to his little rooftop, which was an awkward ordeal, believe me, it’s just not that good unless ya could actually see him tie a wet girl against his back with some twine he had in his back pocket. Though, he was nice enough to put her on the least filthy blanket he had, as he mostly just stared at her for a couple minutes, stopping to pull out a duct tape covered plastic bag full of wild berries that were thankfully a good four times bigger than they useta be back before the Melding, and were among the few that wouldn’t make your head inflate like an overripe tomato.

He ate what I guess one may call a meal, and then continued to just look at the girl’s naked body. I can’t very well say what he was thinking, but in most every case I’ve seen, there were two options to finding some meat like the girl’s. First, they would take her prisoner, secondly they would eat her, and thirdly they would just fuck the shit out of her and throw her behind a sturdy door afterwards. But Yuccot kept to his old fashioned ways, and only went so far as to try and masturbate to her. Shortly after he finished and put his pants on, he heard the girl grumble behind him.

Yuccot reached for his rifle, stumbling a bit as he went back to pointing it at the girl, who merely slowly stood up, looked around what she could see of Funke, and eventually starred at Yuccot. She seemed unphased by the man’s gun, instead asking in a very slurred voice, “Where am I?” Yuccot didn’t say anything at first as the girl seemed to still be taking everything around her in when she was one twitchy finger away from getting her brains scattered across this roof. “What… what happened to… everything?” the girl asked, rubbing her violet eyes as the golden moonlight was apparently too bright for her. “I’m the one with the gun, so I ask the questions. Let’s start with something simple. Who the hell are you?” Yuccot snapped back at her, sounding as if he’d been doing, or at least practicing this scenario a hundred times.  

“I… I am.. You can call me… erm, just a minute… Yeah, I got nothing” the girl responded before a giggle, much to Yuccot’s surprise. “So, you’re pulling that amnesia card? You must be as trapped in the past as can be. Though, in all fairness, you could be some sort of space bound child then sent before the Melding, and just don’t know shit.” Yuccot said, lowering his guard a hair as the girl was blissfully unaware she had her tit and vagina uncovered. “Space bound child?” was all the girl mustered, as she cocked her head to Yuccot. “Well then, care to explain that meteor you came crashing through, the one filled with this honey garbage that smelled like piss?”

“…I think I might know what you’re talking about. I… I do remember being in space. It was really freaking cold up there!” the girl smiled as she mentioned the temperature. How she could be so casual about it was certainly something that popped into Yuccot’s mind as he seemed to trust her even less based on his grip. “So.. what are you? You’re a Pure Human… from space… who doesn’t remember her name? Are some punks about to rush up behind me and steal all my junk or something?” The girl only responded with one of the most ancillary comments she could’ve made. “Punks… Punk-e… Punky, I like the sound of that. Hello there, the name’s Punky!”

‘Punky’ was taking this opportunity to talk to nobody, and practice saying what she thought sounded like a mighty keen name. Though, this made Yuccot even more unnerving, as he smacked her with the butt of his rifle. “Look, I came to this shithole to get away from your kind, I don’t know what your big plan is, but I don’t have any reservations at shooting an Pure Human, so I’d recommend you take what you can get and leave with your life.” Punky merely responded with puffy cheeks and saying the phrase, “I don’t mean to be mean, but you’re the one being a poop.”

Yuccot then lowered his weapon and let out a sigh before reaching into his backpack to pull out another blanket he then threw at Punky. “Cover yourself up, and tell me just what in god’s name you were doing in space.” Punky began wearing the blanket as a skirt before continuing on with the conversation, much to Yuccot’s confusion about this girl. “Well, the funny thing about that is that is how my memories begin on the moon. That adorable golden smooth sphere was the second thing I ever saw after looking down upon the flavor filled jaw breaker that is Earth, such a pretty little thing. But, naturally I had little air, and I needed to get back to Earth fast. I’m pretty sure it took me a long, long, long, super long time to get everything ready, but I eventually managed to make a spaceship that was the rock I came here on. Then I went to bed, and then… I woke up to you Mr. Nephropidae, and decided that I’d call myself Punky… Das Ende!”

“How did you make a spaceship?” Yuccot chose as one of the many questions he could ask. “I just put my hands and body against the Moon, and I eventually made a hole in it from all the Moon I used to make myself a spaceship.” Yuccot was silent for a moment, processing the girl’s chipper face as he placed his hand over his own. “Can you show me what you mean?” he asked, looking irritated by Punky. “Sure thing, Mr. Nephropidae!” Punky then slammed her hands onto the roof of the building, and within a matter of seconds, she pulled a spoon out with one of her hands, having morphed some of the concrete beneath her into metal.  

Yuccot naturally saw this as nothing more than a load of horseshit at first, but as Punky began to use the stone to create a sandwich that she promptly shoved into her mouth, the boy’s jaw was smack dab on the floor. “How the- what are you- but then that means…. What the fuck?” Yuccot yammered as Punky enjoyed herself a type of snack that I haven’t seen in goldarn years. Which she stopped eating three bites in to ask Yuccot, “What, do you want one Mr. Nephropidae? Just tell me what sort you want, since I’m guessing you’re not big on honey and jalapeno grilled cheese sammies.”

Yuccot continued to express his confusion before saying, “Just… make whatever is easiest for you, I guess.” As he was likely wondering what the hell type of sandwich she just ate, I sure as hell know I was. She placed her food on the blanket she had been laying on, not that it was much cleaner than the roof, and began to alter a chunk of the roof into a sandwich on crustless white bread with turkey, strawberry jam, and corn flakes. She handed this concoction to Yuccot, who looked at it as if Punky was pulling his leg through her somehow innocent smile. He did give it a bite as Punky resumed munching on hers, which resulted in him slowly chewing on it, holding the sandwich away to look at it really closely once more, and then gobbling it down fast enough to stop at about the same time as Punky.  

There was silence between the two before Punky felt up her bald head, and managed to specularly grow into a… pixie cut? I hadn’t see a girl with properly did hair for over a decade, so forgive me if I got that wrong. Hell, Yuccot would agree with me as the boy just shook his head full of questions in response, before saying one last thing to Punky. “Y’know, we should probably get some sleep. Just… don’t run off before me.” With that he wrapped himself up in a blanket stained by god knows what, as Punky nodded and did the same, her yammering stopping when she whispered, “G’night Mr. Nephropidae.” Much to Yuccot’s visual irritation.

Part II: Rondo of Gore

Yuccot woke at dawn, packing what little he had into his backpack, and about to shove Punky awake as he made note of a delightful grin on the girl’s face. She literally hopped out of her blanket and jumped onto Yuccot, shoving her single breast into the man’s face. Yuccot pulled the girl off of him and took a few seconds to view her now completely naked body once more. “Look Punky, could you… make yourself some clothes? Something that would be good for forests, I guess.” 

Punky responded by crouching down and using the roof beneath her feet to assemble a black T-shirt, a thick brown jacket with pouches and buttons up the ass, some laced brown hiking boots that I believe were a bit elevated, and some cargo pants. She placed these on pretty quickly, but if you happened to be paying attention, you’d notice that I didn’t mention any underwear. Yuccot made note of this about as soon as she was done stretching in an outfit that seemed to fit her like a glove. “Um.. you sure you have everything you need?” he said while rubbing the back of his messy dirty blonde hair. “Yep, I should be just dandy, unless you want me to make you some clothes. In which case, I’d like to get about an hour to recharge for that, Real Booting isn’t as easy as I remember it being, and I don’t want to start the day all tired and stuff.”

Yuccot opened his mouth, shut it, pondered for a moment, and then let out a single word, “Explain.” Punky did just that. “Well, I made that spaceship and stuff, I remembered in my sleep that I was sent into space for something I forget, and eventually crashed onto the moon after my spaceship broke apart, leaving me floating in the great empty, though the moon apparently picked me up, and from there, I was able to, very slowly, make another spaceship from the moon. And I did it all through this neato Real Boot thingie I sorta always knew about! Funky, dontcha think?“

“…What about your missing… breast?” Yuccot asked, taking her fantasy as reality. “I dunno, I just sorta had it, probably Real Booted it into Oxygen. Though I don’t really feel like bringing it back. I guess the same thing could be said about down there, even though it was sorta cute.” “What was cute?” Yuccot asked, dropping the rope ladder down from the roof. “For whatever reason I had this retractable penis, can’t really remember what its purpose was, just that the orange stuff I was covered in came from it. I think it had something to do with being this goo that I could produce to help cool my nerves and use for stuff and things, but it’s one fuzzy mind based kitty-cat.”  

Both Yuccot and Punky had climbed down the rope ladder after she either spun one hell of a yarn or recounted one of the queerest existences I’ve ever heard of, which Yuccot redirected the subject from as soon as possible. “So, I figured I should fill you in on what you missed when you were in… space. Do you, I dunno, remember anything about this place?” Punky paused for a moment as Yuccot began walking to the northeast, heading for a somewhat in-tact road that went through the woods. The choice of a fool, but I’ll get back to that. “I remember bits and chunks of the world aside from being a tasty looking jaw breaker in the sky that got bigger and dirtier the closer I looked at it. Except I don’t seem to recall any of these funky spirals, the wacky sky, and all of the debris… that wasn’t my ship’s fault, was it?”

“No, Punky. Things were like this for… almost as long as I can remember. I lost track of the number of years for Christ’s sake. But it was back in 2016, when the world was prosperous, the future was bright, but everybody was too much of a selfish sonuvabitch to realized how much of a blessing it was to have a computer in your pocket. It’s a goddamn shame if you ask me, but I feel like I’ve been saying that for decades.” Yuccot explained soberly as he walked around trash, glass, and pits of goo that once made a little girl become a flying squid… Not even joking with that last one, she was set on fire by the sun last time I checked on her.  

“And what exactly made everything such a poo typhoon?” Punky asked, crossing her arms behind her head. “I, and most people I’ve met call it the Melding. July fifth, 2016, the sky opened up to the most vile rainbow I’ve ever seen. I was training at a military camp at the time, and, well, I had to fight these… things that were popping out from nowhere. Men made of mud, snakes that turned men into demons, these little things that looked like stuffed animals but had this uncanny ability to persuade men into killing their own. That’s what really got to us aside from the armies of fucking dinosaurs, the ability for these monsters to get inside of our heads. In due time, we all somehow became like them. Hell, I’m half lobster, as you’ve clearly noticed with your little ‘Mr. Nephropidae’ nickname, which I’d appreciate if you’d stop calling me, Punky.”

“And just what made you into a Lobster-man, what’s-yer-face?” Punky said as the two made their way out of the town proper. “It was something in the air, in the food, maybe I pricked myself with something I shouldn’t have. It was a long time ago, so I’d be damned if I remembered just what made me into who I am today. I just know that this is who I am, and that is Yuccot, Yuccot Kikansky. Not like my mutations are anything that odd nowadays, you’re the oddball being a Pure Human and everything. And before you ask, it means unchanged or something like that, you’re kind is about as common as an albino nowadays.”

They stayed quiet for a while, Punky taking all of this in as she contorted her face before asking her next question. “Where are we going?” Yuccot took a deep breath as he figured out what he would tell this lass. “We are going to a place where I think that somebody like you, who can make something out of nothing with this… Real Booting power of yours will be very useful. It goes by the name of V-City. It’s the closest thing to the world before shit hit the fan when the Melding happened. Tall buildings, plenty of food, honest to god electricity, hell they even have computers… or so some wanderers told me. Never been there myself, as there are these turrets that keep out ‘pests’ like me. The bodies are left around V-City, and act as a warning sign for any desperate man or woman who tries to ascend those fifty feet tall walls. All I’ve seen was V-Tower, one hundred stories that pierce the sky and emit this unignorable red light through the night sky.”

“Sounds keen, big bean, but why would they let me in if everybody dies when they try?” Punky asked as she was looking at the not too altered trees around her, keeping their basic color, and only growing odd bulbous fruits filled with toxins on the sides, which the girl thankfully did not poke. “Can you make a glass of water?” Yuccot asked, pausing in the middle of the abandoned road. Punky nodded before taking a chunk of asphalt and morphing its shape into that of a glass, with another part being turned into a liquid that further changed into what at least looked to be water. Yuccot smelled it, took a sip, and then chugged the glass before letting out a satisfied breath or relief. “Man, haven’t had clean water water that good in… I don’t know how long, probably a couple months. If something as simple as that wouldn’t earn you a place in V-City, nothing would.”

Punky responded with a bit of a blush, as if the girl were trying to be humble with her god-like powers. “Water is pretty easy, it’s just two hydrogens mixed with one oxygen, far easier than making these fancy-dancy clothes.” “Well, you should probably make some water for yourself, don’t you think?” Punky pondered his words, but responded with a “Nah, I should be good for a couple hours, maybe days.” Yuccot then looked over the very lean girl with confusion, letting the one word question of “How?” escape from his lips. “Simple, I just don’t need much in terms of water or food. The sandwich before was more because of taste, that and I haven’t eaten in forevers.”

Yuccot continued to walk, keeping a cool head as he let the questions roll on in with answers that seemed to grow more and more bizarre. “Are you an alien?” Was the next one he viewed as worth asking, to which Punky had a very simple response of “Nope.” “Then how are you able to do all of this, were you just blessed by the Melding and turned into a demigod? What’s next, immortality?” Punky then responded with another single word answer, “Yeppers!” Yuccot then pulled out his crowbar from the side of his backpack, and stood as if he were about to bash Punky’s face in.

“My definition of possible is one that’s always changing nowadays, but if you expect me to buy this without any proof, then you’re dumber than you act, and you’re acting like a fucking retard!” Yuccot said, as Punky looked a bit baffled. “Look, I’m pretty sure that my immortality is sorta crappy right now, but if you want an example…” Punky then grabbed a rock from the side of the road, converting it into a pocket knife, which she then used to slash the palm of her hand. Blood naturally spilled in the expected shade of red, but it only lasted a couple of seconds of drippings before Punky wiped away the drying blood that had stained her hand, and shoving it into Yuccot’s face. “See, the wound is all healed!” Punky said as the wound seemed to vanish in front of Yuccot, with the dry blood going so far as to clear itself up.

“I just didn’t expect something as… amazing as this.” Yuccot said as he grabbed Punky’s hand, examining it for any sort of scar, only to find nothing. “Yeah, it’s really nifty, but I can’t do it so well as I think I was able to in the long, long ago. Something probably having to do with my space adventures.” “So, if this is only a fraction of your, I guess, true power, what could you do at your full potential?” Yuccot asked, most likely making small talk, because trust me when I say V-City was a very long ways away. “Well, I did make that spaceship, and I’m pretty sure there was a time I made a nuclear bomb. Except it doesn’t feel like I actually was the one to do it. It’s weird how my brain is organized, probably due to how it was in a vacuum or something like that.”

“…Does the name Abigale Quinlan mean anything to you?” Yuccot asked, slowing down his pace as his brow lowered and hands clenched up. “Sounds familiar, was she a friend of yours?” Punky chipperly asked as her answer. Yuccot then punched Punky right in her jaw, sending her down to the ground. “Agh! You jerk!” Punky shouted after quickly getting up, though not quick enough for Yuccot to reach for his rifle and aim right for Punky’s head and move a few feet away from her. “New Year’s Eve 2014, the day when the world was delighted to know its greatest threat was eliminated. Over fifty-two million confirmed kills, quadrillions in damages, and the woman who murdered my father! Like fuck I’d forget the bitch who did that!” Yuccot erupted, his finger just a twitch away from lodging a bullet in the girl’s brain.

“Wazzat?” Was all Punky could muster as she cocked her head, either pulling the best goldarn lie I’ve ever seen, or being the most childishly baffled I’d seen in a very long time. “You conjured clothes from nothing, hair onto your head, and came from fucking space! There is room for error, but I couldn’t fit a dust mite in there! You are Abigale Quinlan, and that is more than enough justification for… for…” Yuccot paused, gear in his head turning in a less rash way, as if he realized he just made a dead baby joke to a gal who just had a miscarriage. “Why haven’t you killed me then?” Yuccot mustered as his aim lowered, noticing how Punky’s bright violet eyes were unaltered as she calmly stayed on the ground.

“It’s not like I could even kill you anyhow, one touch and you could turn me into a pile of sentient meat, you sick fuck. So just be real, humor me, and then go ahead, kill me, use me, I know my thirty-some-odd years are at an end.” Now, this might seem freaky as all hell if you know jack about pre-Melding history, but there was this chick who, when you look at her, is Punky’s twin, I mean, everything but the missing tit is an exact match ‘Cept this Abigale Quinlan did all the shit that Yuccot mouthed off at, including nearly kill the last President of America… twice. Not too much is known about her actions, just that she was an immortal… creature, able to turn air into a fucking jet if she so pleased, at least that’s what science guys said when they examined footage of her. Hell, if Punky really was her, she’d probably have up and killed Yuccot when their eyes locked. Not like bullets ever did much but incapacitate her for a bit from what I heard.

Oh, but it was clear as day that Punky was not this Abigale Quinlan when she walked up to Yuccot as he was sitting down on the shattered road, talking about the ways he could die, and gave the boy a great big hug, saying with a great deal of genuineness, “I’m not gonna ever hurt you, Mister Kikansky.” Yuccot then teared up a bit, clearly an emotional wreck as Punky just gave him a sisterly smile. It was kinda a beautiful moment, not that those ever last long nowadays.

Part III: Beast of the Moon

I’ll do ya a favor and skip ahead an hour after the two’s embrace. They both continued walking along the ravaged road, chatting about this and that, namely getting some answers. “So… You think this is some sort of Dissociative Amnesia?” Yuccot asked, partway through the conversation, but I feel this is a suitable beginning. “Yeppers,” Punky gleefully answered. “I can barely remember whatever you’re talking about, so I’m sure as sugar is sweet. Though my memories are not super clear, probably something having to do with me Real Booting up my mind into something else, not sure why I chose to do that instead of my other boob, but I might’ve just not wanted to be a stinky bumhole no more like you’re saying I useta be.  

“‘Sides, it’s in the past, and I’m sure people have forgotten after… how many years didja say it was?” “Since Abigale Quinlan died? Hell, I’m guessing about twenty. Kinda hard to keep track though, as not all of us can make shelter out of their own shit.” Yuccot remarked, a bit bitter about the girl’s ability, though I’d be lying if I said I didn’t see where the boy was coming from, in fact, I’d probably have tried to enslave the foolish girl.

“I toldja, I can’t use my Real Booting too much, I think it had something due to micro-animals on me dying in space.” Punky replied, fiddling with her hands as she had made herself some fingerless leather gloves sometime in the past five minutes. “…Micro-animals?” Yuccot mumbled under his breath, just loud enough for Punky to hear. “Yeah, memory facts are dripping back, and apparently my Real Booting is due to some sort of micro-organism that is ingrained into my cells. My gut says they’re indestructible, but I am not so sure about that.”

“And does that gut tell us how you can get these germs back?” Yuccot asked, continuing his trek. “They’re not germs, first of all, and second of all… no, not yet. Though I’m sure some nice people in that V-City can help me out with that.” Punky said, being a pretty ignorant little cherub, not knowing how much trouble people went through in order to get into that mysterious V-City. Well, its mysterious to them, since this sure as hell ain’t my story. If it was I certainly would’ve handled the next event differently. You see, the two had already gotten about two miles into the forest at this point, and things have gotten real shady real fast. Normally that’d mean jack squat, but I consider this place to be an exception. You see, I’ve seen very few people make it through here unscathed, and Punky and Yuccot sure as hell weren’t in that minority.

In the trees, bushes, and behind the rocks that were all around them, there were these creatures who like to go by Homo Canis in the same way humans go by Homo Sapiens. Though they’re pretty universally called Nytekin. If I had only a couple seconds to explain just what the blazes they were, I’d say wolf-men and wolf-women, just minus all that malarkey about a full moon and every looking human again. I never got too good of a look at them, but all I needed to know is that whatever they found never came back.  

Their ambush lasted only about ten seconds, if that. Two from each side, each going for their respective prey. Punky’s arms and legs were grabbed before she knew it, while Yuccot seemed to struggle a lot more, reaching for his pack, but these things weighed a good two-hundred-fifty pounds and were nine goldarn feet tall. Boy didn’t have a chance in hell of overpowering them before he got a elbow jammed into his gut, knee jammed in their back, and a good hard slug to the face.

Slinging the unconscious Yuccot and Punky over their backs, the four Homo Canises went back into the trees, leaping when they could and dashing at all other times. Their lean athletic bodies were a prime example of what one could achieve under pressure, but at the same time, they were the spitting image of health despite being the byproduct of some wackadoo breed of dog I never heard of before, and a couple of kids on a camping trip. Well, those were their parents, these little pups were the result of a combination of rape and kidnapping that resulted in an infant Homo Canis bursting out of the bellies of some poor, poor women.

It took the grey beasts about twenty minutes before they made it to what I call the mystic woods. Something that was just another tiny forest lodged in between a few mountains, but flourished into something of a land where nature is king, and everything is not only strong, but far larger and more colorful than it used to be. WIth trees that stood a good hundred feet high in the sky, neon colored fruit the size of basket balls, and a ton of flowers covering the ground. Most of them either toxic or holding Buzzers, which are basically wasps that blend into their environment like a chameleon, and also took their size while they were at it. Not that the Nytekins didn’t know how to kick those motherfuckers down to the ground, squishing their guts out and sometimes grabbing their venomous stings for makeshift venom filled daggers.

A few of them tried to stalk the Nytekins, but they were pelted by stones thrown by the two who weren’t carrying our protagonists. The rocks certainly didn’t kill these softball sized bugs, they just made them drop to the ground and twitch. Normally they blend in with the ground until they’re able to heal themselves, or another Buzzer comes and eat their parts. I’d be damned if I didn’t say it was kinda messed up, but it’s pretty mild after seeing a mother do that to her child because the kid was part pig.

Only a few of them had to be dealt with before the Nytekins all jumped about ten feet into the air, grabbing onto a rope ladder that led up into what one could call a tree house. Though, based on the repurposed lumber, several trees worth of sticks, what had to be a literal truckload of rope holding it all together, and a hundred trees it was spread across. So, calling it a tree house would be an insult. In there were large holes carved in these trees, honest to goodness furniture either crafted or brought in from some wreckage, and enough fixings to make this seem like a small, but prosperous community. Hell, there were a dozen of so other Nytekins sitting around reading tattered books, playing cards, sharpening spears, or just whittling a little statue. Remove how their thick grey hides, glowing red eyes, and sharp claws made them look like monsters, and I’d say this was one of the best looking places I’ve seen in my time as a gas cloud.

Though, I’m getting off track here. Punky and Yuccot were carried over to the other side of this community and had their arms and legs tied with the ever common rope, with the ends connecting among the mess of branches that were interwoven between the Nytekin base. They were dangling what had to be fifty feet over the ground, and positions so they could either look up to the Nytekins, standing on a sort of platform that looked to be made of an old billboard. Or possibly stare down at a pit of murky sludge that lies below, a pool of cess that gave anybody enough burns to send them on a slow and painful death, especially in a place like this. One of the Nytekins who wasn’t carrying the two stayed while the other three left, serving as a guard as it, or to be more precise she, took a hunk of wood out of the tree and began to claw at it.

She continued this act for what had to be three hours, as I left to check up on a few other tales I could tell, but now’s sure as hell not the time for them. Yuccot was the first one to grumble himself aware as he squinted his eyes open and let out a pretty damn gross sounding hack. The guard Homo Canis covered his mouth right after he let out his first cough, slightly piercing his cheeks with her sharp claws. Yuccot was in shock at first, but self loathing soon followed as he banged his head in shame, not resisting the hand after the initial reaction. As such, the Nytekin let out a whistle.

It was midday at this time, so one would assume that huge-ass wolf people would be easy to track, but within thirty seconds, about twenty of them sprung from all directions, all of them moving onto the billboard to stare at their prey. Yuccot kept his mouth sealed, or at least didn’t make a sound, but Punky just so happened to still be asleep as the final Homo Canis came into the scene. She was something of an anomaly compared to the tall grey creatures she surrounded herself with, namely how she was just under six feet tall, had brown fur, and looked to be more human than wolf, as opposed to the more fifty-fifty split those around her had. But what was odder than anything was how she didn’t have her private parts flopping about like the hung like a horse men around her. Instead, she wore this dress, well, more of a gown really. Big and poofy below the waist, and with a corset amping up her tits. It was an utterly impractical pink tattered bit of cloth, but she seemed to take pride in it and be looked at by her mates with nothing but respect.

“So, this is what you’ve bought for me today?” The dame said, cocking her hips and flaunting her almost aristocratic British accent. “A Man merged with shellfish and a… Oh, I see now. You managed to find a Pure Breed. Have any of you men taken her as your mate?” “No, Nyte Queen,” said the Nytekin who sat as a guard dog for the part three hours. “My pack and I overheard their conversation as they entered our territory. We believe that this Pure Breed has… a very unique mutation.” “If you would not mind to explain this mutation.” Remarked the Nyte Queen, being a bit of a bitch after her underling paused for just over a second. …Fuck, I just made a pun, didn’t I?

“This Pure Breed can bend matter into whatever she desires.” The Nytekin replied very unconvincingly. “And what of the man, my dear? Is there any reason for him to not be… disposed of?” When pondering a response, the Nytekin was distracted by a great big yawn from Punky. And by big I mean one that went on for the better half of a minute as the Nytekin watched he awaken, smacking her gums and stretching as best she could around the ropes before fluttering her eyes open to ass the crowd before her. A move that she ever so gracefully finished by letting out a very audible fart.

Punky chuckled in response to her bowel movements, and murmured an apology before looking over to a Yuccot who was shaking his head in disbelief. “You are lucky you have a very useful ability,” The Nyte Queen said as she reached her arm over to Punky, rubbing the girl’s chin while just barely keeping her feet on the platform. “What power are you talking about?” Punky asked, looking at the wolf-woman in confusion. “Oh, so you lack the ability to reshape the world around you? A pity, I suppose we shall just use you for impregnation. It has been a good while since we had a new cub enter the Nytekin family?” The Nyte Queen said coyly, though Punky seemed fairly oblivious.  

“Punky, let me handle this.” Yuccot whispered to her, hiding his fear like an oasis in the desert. “Of course, there must be a reason why this ‘Punky’ allows a commoner like you to follow her. Tell me, crustacean, why should I let you live?” The Nyte Queen said while almost kissing Yuccot on the cheek, as if she were trying to seduce him. “I’ve never done you any wrong, for starters.” Yuccot said very bluntly, as if he was avoiding any fearful thoughts, a move likely hardened by experience. “I also would be unable to harm you even if I were let free, so I fail to see how this would cover your tracks, so to speak. I mean, the most you can get from me is my backpack, assuming you haven’t changed your stance on eating humans.”

The Nyte Queen snorted at his reason. “Suppose we let you free as a bird, then what of Punky? She is quite the asset to have, a pure breed who survived this long has got to be worth far more than a mere satchel of supplies.” Yuccot took a moment to choose his next move, but it was short enough for him to get the next word in. “Punky is… dangerous. She might have been playing cute when your goons were looking at her, but trust me, this girl could send this entire place up in flames like that.” Yuccot’s yarn made the Nyte Queen scoff before looking and Punky. “So, what do you think she is going to do with guards threatening to kill her at a moment’s notice? Or is she also immortal?”

Yuccot snickered before letting out the most coy “Yes” I’ve ever heard. “Nytekin, grab Punky, and demonstrate her immortality for me by… tearing off one of her feet.” The Nyte Queen ordered, calling Yuccot’s bluff in a move anybody listening to me knows is gonna get her ass in a vice. Punky was torn down from her ropes by a random Nytekin’s claws and tossed on the floor, where she promptly entered a fetal position. Yuccot barked a single word at Punky before the Nyte Queen could remove her smirk. “Attack!” Yuccot got lucky right then and there, as Punky then Real Booted some of the wood beneath her, creating a softball sized explosive that had a red button on it with a little skull on it. In all the noise one bit stood out to me, where I do believe that the last words of the Nyte Queen were, “Fuck me.”

What resulted was a barrage of fire that consumed the tree the Nytekin and Punky were standing next to. Leaving behind nothing but smoke that blinded all it coated, shrapnel jammed into the bodies of Nytekin, and the moans of torment as the few remaining Nytekin awaited death. That is aside from Yuccot, who was pushed back by the explosion. His body drenched in fur, guts, and bones, and positioning being more than lucky as he was freed from his ropey prison, still hanging onto the knot that held his left leg.

He hoisted his body up onto one of the platforms around the tree as he watched the fire spread, taking with it many Nytekin who were wallowing in the flames, in some cases even spreading it as they let out shrieks of torment only to be silenced by their life’s end. It was a sight to behold, but Yuccot likely didn’t get this far be stopping to smell the daisies, as he reached into his untouched backpack, pulling out his rifle once again. The boy had eight bullets in his gun, three were used to kill just as many Nytekin, two were used to send a pair straight down to the ground with a bullet in their knees, while the rest up and missed. A cynic would say he was aiming sloppily, but considering how the Nytekin try to dodge bullets like they’re dodging balls, I’d say he did pretty damn stupendously.

“That can’t be all of them… I’ve got seven more rounds… I’m fucked.” Yuccot whispered to himself as he tried to reach into his backpack for a crappy little wooden box with some dirty bullets for him to shove into his rifle. The boy kept his eyes wide open as he carefully reloaded his rifle, as if he knew that an ambush would happen at any second and he’d have his throat cut before he could pull the trigger. At least, before he saw something that sure as hell shocked the both of us. As the smoke began to fade, there was a glob of goo around where Punky detonated her bomb, and this goo grew almost absurdly quickly. Going from something the size of a doll to that of a full grown woman. And wouldn’t you know it, the features on the goo woman came in, revealing a nude Punky.  

Yuccot’s eyes shined as he looked at this miracle, only to grow more dim as he realized Punky was clearly exhausted and was surrounded by fire. She had little time before she would either fall to the forest or be burnt up and die once more. So Punky aimed for one of the stray ropes that held her not too long ago, jumped, and swung her way over to another tree that was just starting to be set ablaze. She used the very tree to get herself a… machete, sword, really long knife? All I know is that it was as tall as her leg and looked extra sharp. Taking this in one hand, and dashing onto another dangling rope for one more swing, she began hopping across the inflamed setting stabbing and slashing the two injured Nytekin Yuccot left. Only to then throw her weapon into a Nytekin who was creeping up behind Yuccot, killing it in one blow, and then swinging over to her ally.

Taking this event into consideration, it’s easy to see why Yuccot said to Punky what he did. “The fuck are you thinking, how, why, I- You turned live men into meat… Never mind, but… thanks… thanks a fucking lot.” After lunging at Punky in something of a hug, he then went back to watching for movement now that he had a living weapon by his side. It did not last long though, as they were jumped on by a Nytekin who lept on the two as it was bleeding out, as if it were trying to take the two down with her. What happened from there was some clever acrobatics I personally couldn’t keep track of, just that the Nytekin fell first, then Punky, then Yuccot.

Part IV: Strife of Sorrow

Yuccot was the first to lift himself up, only to see a massive inferno that was devouring dozens upon dozens of trees, with smoke so thick one could not see the sky. As he was getting over a fifty foot fall and looking for a way out of this death trap, he glanced over to where he impacted, seeing a knocked out Punky sitting in a demolished Nytekin corpse. Yuccot quickly grabbed the girl, shaking and slapping her in hopes that she would wake up, which she did smoothly as her eyes flickered open. That was until she realized just how close to being burned alive she was, with the flames drawing closer as she stared at them, naturally causing her, and Yuccot of course, to flee from the scene far enough to breathe comfortably.

Unfortunately for Yuccot, there was still a Nytekin wandering about who pounced on him the moment he stopped to take a breath. Needless to say the boy was startled, not having his rifle ready, let alone his crowbar. But he proved himself once again by fending off the absolutely vicious beast the otherwise proud Nytekin transformed into, but he only had a matter of seconds before the creature would sink its teeth into Yuccot. Yet Punky provided and managed to convert the ground into a loaded handgun, which she shot despite showing visible pain at the act of real booting a weapon, managing to nail the Nytekin right in its mutated brain. She promptly fell onto the ground as Yuccot pushed the corpse off of his body, still a little shaken up. “Punky, you think that’s all of them?” he said panting after every few syllables. Punky however, only answered with a very meek, “Yeah.”

Yuccot then turned to her, looking into her very concerned as he asked the pivotal question, “What’s wrong?” Punky responded by falling face first into the hole she made seconds ago. “I told you how I could only Real Boot so much? I think I did more than that. Never try and make a gun in two seconds, it will take a lot out of you.” Yuccot then murmured a barrage of swears before he let out a very shaky, “Are- Are you gonna be okay?” Punky responded with a smile and nod. “Yeah, I just need you to take me into that bad place after I do this. You’ll need to carry me there.” Punky then slowly stood up, with Yuccot proceeding to place her naked body in his hands.

Yuccot’s face was absolutely priceless as he followed Punky’s orders, slowly bringing her towards a massive glowing beacon of death for reasons I doubt he could comprehend. Still, he did keep his word, leaving the girl right in front of the fire, where she proceeded to be placed on the ground, and then real boot a coffin sized hole of it away. That’s not the only thing she real booted though, as in the hole she lied there, devoid of arms and legs. Both of which were red flags for Yuccot, but Punky just grinned as she clearly had a plan, and that plan was to make it rain through a cloud she managed to make. I’m not too sure as to the how, but I do know that the water doused the flames into receding.

The trees that once held the base of the Nytekin were about as well put together as the Nytekin themselves, nothing but ash. Yuccot carefully picked up Punky and made his way back to the wreckage at a very slow pace, probably making sure he wasn’t going to get jumped on again by the Nytekin, even though I can safely say that there weren’t any live ones for a good mile. “We’re here, Punky.” Yuccot said as he looked into her half closed violet eyes. “Go… left.” Punky let out in a brief bit of energy before she returned to looking like a quadriplegic amputee’s corpse. Yuccot did just that, walking very slowly before Punky let out a very quiet moan. “Look… ashes.” Those two words were enough for Yuccot to carefully lay the girl on the ground as he began frantically digging through the remains. He did not find much aside from a leather pouch, one that was the size of a human skull and had marble sized chunks of violet rock that was almost the exact same color as Punky’s eyes.

It didn’t take much brains to see this as the item Punky requested, so Yuccot did what any non-idiot would and brought the crystals to Punky. She let out a pure, but subtle smile as she let out one more word, “touch”. Yuccot then placed one of these gems on Punky’s body. The reaction was, well, a burst of this bright violet light that resulted in the rock vanishing, and both of Punky’s limbs returning following the burst of light. The girl immediately latched onto the rest of the bag, stealing it from Yuccot’s hands, and clenched them all, resulting in another light show.

Standing tall, possessing an extra three inches of hair, and clothed in a skin-tight jumpsuit that kept the violet color scheme going with long jet black hair down past her shoulders, Punky looked to be more sprightly than ever as she had a thirty pound blade slung over her shoulder like it was a stick. The smirk on her face quickly became a grin that only then morphed into a barrage of laughter as Yuccot was just shaking in disbelief. “Punky… what was… what the hell was that?” Yuccot asked, fumbling over his words. “You mean from how I went a bit crazy with the ba-bomb, or how I just became 340% more badical thanks to a couple of rocks?” She said while stabbing her sword to the ground and rolling her neck and shoulders.

“Both… I guess.” Yuccot replied, still a little stunned. “With the bomb, it was the best way to do a little bit of crowd control, even though I had to do some super duper math in my noggin about explosion radiuses. If ya didn’t care for it, prolly should’ve told me something more detailed than attack, because a boom boom was the first thing to pop in my noggin.” Punky said, making light of her destruction of an entire subspecies. “I meant that I wanted you to stick up one of the Nytekin with a knife, not kill them all!” Yuccot shouted while flailing about. “Oh, I guess I was just going by instinct or something, and murder is just a sorta easy route for me. After all, I apparently useta be the ‘Greatest Terrorist in History’ or some pooper doodles like that.”

“Yeah, you were. But that doesn’t mean you should commit what technically qualifies as Genocide.” Yuccot said, still criticizing the girl’s messy results. “Nah, none of them made it out. I just sorta know that from going on that little rampage. Maybe I just got super heightened mega-animal senses.” Punky said as she seemed disinterested in her own past actions. “Yes, senses that made you… summon a cloud of rain by sacrificing your limbs and a grave’s worth of dirt. Before rolling around in these shiny rocks that did… Are they magical healing stones or something.”

“First and foremost, Mister Kikansky, I didn’t summon anything, I just managed to fill up an existing rain cloud with what it needed to pour out this fire… dunno where you got those facts from. Second-ish, I was pretty out of it when I had to do all of that, so I guess I had to give up my limbs. Probably something having to do with my own batteries. Which neatly gives way to answer the third, I felt really good feelings from these rocks, and they seemed to not just recharge my bats, but make them even better. So I decided to give myself a comfy outfit, and some more hair, ‘cos it feels neat on my head.” Answered Punky in one of her more drawn out answers.

“So, after you were weakened by being in space, you found these… rocks that brought you back to… the woman who killed fifty-two soldiers who had her surrounded… Oh no.” Yuccot said as he backed away, fearing the reality of the situation, which Punky then shattered. “Nopes, not gonna be a poo-face like smelly old Abi-Q. Just going to be able to pull an apple out of thin air like so!” To which Punky did just that, and turned air into a big green apple that laid plumply in her hand. At least until she sunk her teeth into it.

“…I keep on telling myself that I shouldn’t be surprised by you, but you are the most… unique person I’ve ever seen in my life.” Yuccot said in the midst of placing himself up against a tree. “Oh, derp!” Punky said as she slapped her forehead. “You haven’t eaten in forever. Here, take this.” Punky then managed to turn another chunk of dirt into something of worth, namely a metal lunchbox that jingled with the sounds of substinance, and a couple pieces of metal. Especially impressive considering she made it within five seconds

Carefully opening the latches on the unpainted box that I’d guess to be made of tin, Yuccot was greeted by three sandwiches, an apple, two palm sized chocolate chip cookies, a ton of scattered military grade bullets for his rifle, and a note from Punky. It read, written in cursive of all things, “Thanks for being a friend, Mr. Bunky-hand!” Yuccot couldn’t help but laugh at this while Punky’s face was red after giving what had to be his first gift in years. It went on for a good while, likely due to how few things were worth giving a chuckle towards back then, and one had to savor every precious moment like that.

“Punky,” Yuccot began as his hand moved over to the girl’s scalp, which didn’t work all that well due to how he only had an inch and a half on her. “Even if you didn’t have your powers or anything like that, you’re still one of the most wonderful people I’ve met in a decade. I mean, I find it hard to believe that I, or rather, what I want to say is that I was going to se-” “See the world with me, explore the regions of this charred planet and make it the landscape for the mightiest adventure man has ever known?” Punky said very enthusiastically. “…That’s not qu-” Yuccot began before the sound of firearms grabbed his attention.

Punky merely looked around like a deer in response, eyes scattering around the remains of the forest, as the smoke still hindered anybody’s vision. Not that it took long for a red dot to appear on her and Yuccot’s bodies. “Punky, play along, and don’t many any sudden movements.” Yuccot whispered into her ear as he held his hands up, dropping his lunch box just carefully enough so it didn’t spill everything. To which Punky did the same while giving him a firm nod. Probably the best option for the boy, seeing as how I doubt he could take many bullets, even with his thick exoskeletony skin.

“Identify your name and purpose!” Shouted a very stern sounding woman, her voice amplified by what had to be a megaphone. “My name is Yuccot. I am a wanderer who happened to get into more trouble with the Nytekin than he expected. And this is… Lara, she is my travelling companion.” Yuccot explained, though I could hardly guess why he thought keeping Punky’s name a secret would help, not like she’s been seen by more than… one living person. “So, we have you to blame for the death of the Nytekin?”

Yuccot didn’t look to have any clue who these people were, so the boy just went with the only feeling he could trust and told the truth. “It was more of an accident than anything, but yes, it is because of our actions that the Nytekin are no more.” There was a moment of silence as Yuccot was sweating in anticipation, which I didn’t even think was possible for the lobster-boy. Yet, the dots disappeared from their bodies, and Punky shot Yuccot a grin as he took a sigh of relief.  

The gunmen and gunwomen then popped out from behind the torched and untouched bits of nature around the forest, numbering ten in total, eleven when a woman burst out of the trees. The primary ten were in what looked like repurposed Swat gear, certainly not the first time I’ve ever seen that, but these guys were taking it to the next level when they had the word, ‘Zill’ on their backs and had some of the best guns I’ve seen in a while. Everyone’s weapon was unique to a certain degree, even if it was just a killer mod, and they all handled them like they have been doing this for years. 

Though the woman from the treetops was the most distinct looking. With a kicker of a handgun on her side, and megaphone in hand, she looked to be less able for combat than the others. Though her toned figure, stern glare, and certain… elegance to her appearance made her look like a twenty-something blue eyed blonde aristocrat if she was stranded on an island for a year, or spent one with a personal trainer. With the former being more plausible as the wore a line based scar on the left side of her face. She certainly looked short in comparison to Yuccot though, with her five foot three inches making her look like a child in comparison. As for her mutation? Her neck has reptile-like skin, while her eyes were big and bulbous, while the rest of her body was covered in body armor thick enough to stop a bullet, but limber enough to do some acrobatics, which is how she dropped down twenty feet with relative ease as she jumped between branches that crumbled in her wake.

Walking up to the two with a scowl, she examined Yuccot before taking a long hard look at Punky. She stumbled backwards in response, breathing heavily as the ten around her all looked at Punky, some getting jittery, and others staying stoic. As far as I could see past the masks anyhow. “Quinlan… you’re alive?” The woman said, sounding far less intimidating, and a bit more aristocratic in her tone. Almost like she had an English accent or something. Punky then responded with a shrug, disobeying Yuccot’s orders. “Fellas, I’m not Abigale Quinlan, I just happen to have been her, but then I guess I went and got better. I dunno why Yuccot called me Laura, ‘cos from now on the name’s Punky!” Silence follower her announcement.

The woman was the one to break this quiet, as she stood up, and began pacing back towards Punky. “Last time I met you, I was reduced to a glob of flesh, lying with my men, their blood on my hands. You are the reason why I am what I am today, and now you’re acting like a Jay? I’d have you killed if I knew it would do anything. But shooting you into space didn’t do jack fucking shit, so you’ve returned to take this shithole and make it your own. Great, just fucking goddamn shit sucking great.” Punky’s response of, “Do I know you?” speaks for itself.

“You don’t remember when we captured you for the first time? Do you remember how you were the greatest threat to this world? The one who is responsible for how I’m not only a woman, but now part reptile?” The woman continued to calmly ask Punky as she seemed more confused as to why this woman was getting mad at her. “Look lady, I don’t remember much of Abi-Q, but she was a jerk, so why should I-” Punky was then interrupted by a punch to the face from the woman. “I am Dick Kikansky, and I’m going to… I’m going to…” The woman by the name of Dick then paused as her plan for revenge had no part two, only to be interrupted by Yuccot turning his head at Dick and saying, “Dad?”

Dick then turned her head at Yuccot, and examined his face, spinning her mental wheels as she pondered if this older looking man could be their son. Turns out, she thought just that. “Son… I thought you died on the first day… I thought you were just some schmuck, but… you’re alive.” Dick said as she embraced her supposed son in a hug, leaving everybody confused, and one of the masked guards to ask a muffled, “Erm, sir, is everything alright?”  

Dick’s response was to nod as she shouted through her megaphone once more, her voice sounding notably more gruff through it. “Vinny, Steticks, you two look through the remains. Everyone else, head back to base, we’ve got two… guests to interrogate.” The armored men and women did just that, as the newly formed group of eleven walked through the forest with Dick, Yuccot, and Punky all in the middle, and looking confused to varying degrees. “Yuccot and… Punky, I have more than a few questions for the two of you. You two might have heard of the Duke of Zill, well that’s me. I’ll fill you in in due time, but for now you should just call me Reb, throw in sir if you don’t want to get hassled by the guards.” Dick, or should I suppose Reb said as they made their way out of the forest, and into a large concrete building with four towers facing north, east, west, and south, each holding a sniper, and lathered in barbed wire. It was the closest thing to a fortress around for miles, and was now the home of Punky and Yuccot.

Part V: Order of Zil

Let’s skip ahead about an hour. Punky and Yuccot got themselves shoved into a metal cube in a concrete can, without any interaction since some faceless joe tied their hands together with those little zip ties that cops started using back before the Melding. Though they were at least given crappy little chairs and a stained to hell table to look at. To pass the time, Yuccot had been telling Punky about the Zill, and it sure as hell is easier to repeat their words than come up with some myself. “I guess their proper origins begin back in… 2014.” Yuccot began. “That’s when Abigale Quinlan went and made herself known to the world, though I’m not sure if you recall just what happened back then… do you?” Punky merely shook her head, eyes very quickly implying she wanted Yuccot to continue with his story.

“The entire thing was sensationalized, with this confession letter by Quinlan announcing how she murdered half of Mexico and sent a school, my goddamn high school as a matter of fact, down the drain by letting out a gas bomb that killed hundreds of students and dozens of faculty members. I knew the kid who she, I dunno, persuaded into killing himself for her cause. All of this bullshit and fear ignited the creation of civil defense group. It was called Civil Protection, and I decided to turn my life around and join it. Helping defend my fellow men and actually do something with my life. Of course, that wasn’t until after I heard that my father had died. They said he went Missing In Action, but for him to turn up as that… I don’t even know how that works.”

“What does this have to do with Zill?” Punky said, raising her hand, or rather hands due to the cuffs, like she was asking the teacher a question. “Well, Civil Protection supposedly disbanded after Abigale Quinlan was… dealt with. But, there were still a lot of people, like me, who began training for nothing short of war. This created a boom of defense contracts, and militaries for hire, but none of them really got going until, well, until the world turned into what it is today. The Shield of Zill was among the most notorious of these group to survive through the Melding, and they eventually decided to just shorten it to Zill, spread across the country, and began attempting to bring back some degree of order. But I saw one of their bases in Ohio a while back and things sure as hell weren’t pretty.”

“What about these… thirty-ish people? Are they good?” Punky said as she lifted her legs to the crappy table in the middle of a mostly empty room lit by the setting sun. “Well, I once killed a man who was my friend at one time over a bag of beans, so I’m not much of a paragon myself. These guys though? Considering we likely helped them out in the long run, I’m guessing we won’t be sold into slavery. Especially when one of us is a demigod.” Yuccot was then interrupted by a loud slam from the crappily attached door into this shoebox of a room, as Reb Kikansky walked on in.

“Yuccot, should I tell you the good news or the bad news first?” She asked with conviction, as she let her curly blonde hair down from the bun she had placed it in. “If I recall correctly, I never in my life asked for the good news first, so why the hell would I change my tune now?” Yuccot said, acting cocky, but something about the way he sounded near the end implied that he regretted even bringing that old factoid up. “Bad news is that Abigale Quinlan needs to stay dead as far as anybody else in Zill aside from the Gamma Sect, meaning everybody in this fort. Also, you two are going to need to become members if you don’t want things to get complicated.”

Punky and Yuccot exchanged glances before Reb continued. “Good news is that you’ve got me on your side. And that I’m going to trust you for the time being, Punky.” “So… are we soldiers or something?” Punky asked much to Reb’s irritation. “You are combat ready members of an organization that has the goal of civilizing the remains of the North America. Even if that does mean engaging in larger scale battles that can last for weeks, if not months, and will likely result in many, many deaths. So yes Punky, you are now a soldier for Zill. Though somebody thought we should have some degree of class, so you’re technically a Knight of Zill. Congratulations.”

“Now that we have that out of the way, I feel as if I need to explain my appearance to my son. Though, feel free to listen in.” Reb coldly said to Punky as she pulled up a chair for herself. “So… after Abigale Quinlan left every part of me on the floor and mixed up in a pile of intestines this and that branch of whatever the fuck decided to preserve what parts of me they could, possibly examine the effects Quinlan had on my mind. Plans shifted over the period of a year, and the first thing I remember after blinding rage and gallons of blood is waking up in the body of a nine-year-old girl.” Yuccot’s face after that line was just priceless, one of the most genuine looks of disbelief I’ve ever seen.  

“Yes, son. I didn’t understand their reasoning much when they claimed I would now work as an undercover agent who would pose as this doll of a little girl. But everything that happened over that year or so before the Melding hit me right in the middle of an infiltration mission, haven’t said very much of that to anybody, and I frankly want to forget what I do remember.” Reb then took out what looked like a Cigarette, something I haven’t seen in years, with a lighter soon following. She took a long draw after lighting it up before exhaling up at the ceiling. This somehow left Yuccot looking more baffled than before.

“Even after you were… placed in the body of a little girl, and living through an apocalypse, you still smoke? I can’t believe you were even able to find these things!” Yuccot said as he talked with his hands as best he could with them tied up. Reb let out a sigh and a smile. “Look, Yuccot, I gave that stuff up a long, long time ago. This here? This is what is known as a Sigma. A little something an agent got when he tried to sneak into the outer wall of V-City. I was the first one to try them out, and I made it clear that these little sticks of bliss were mine and mine alone. Imagine if you will, a massage over the pleasure center of your brain while having the rest of it kick into the best kind of overdrive. The best part, I can’t see any negative effects.”

“That sounds neat, may I please try one?” Punky asked, raising her hand as she apparently managed to loosen her cuffs. This caught Reb off guard, but still quickly retorted with a firm “No”. Followed by a look of surprise over the girl’s freed hand before murmuring something about Real Booting. “Which, my dear Punky, is what I would like to talk to you about.” Reb continued after her mumbling. “Tell me, what exactly you can do with your… gift.” Punky licked her lips before giving her answer. “I can take dirt and make it into anything you want. Even things I don’t remember encountering in my life,. My brain’s full of schematics and the know how on how I can twist and shift myself objects right down to the atomic level. I just ain’t sure of how much of that I can do. Still don’t think that crystal brought my powers even close to Abi-Q’s”

“…What do you mean by crystal?” Reb said after she waited for Punky to finish. “I found these glowing violet gemstones in the wreckage of those wolf-people’s base and just sorta knew that it was filled with goodness that helped bring my limbs back.” Punky explained, clearly putting her own chipper spin on reciting reality. “You know what, Punky, I do believe that we have some of those crystals. And I may be able to convince other sect of Zill to send me some of theirs. If you use that power to give us what we want, what we need.” “And what do you want?” Punky said rather… eccentrically. “Bullets, clean water, food, maybe you could even make us some materials for a more fortified base, because all it would take is one good bomb to bring this piece of shit down… I probably shouldn’t have said that to somebody who could make that a very real scenario.”

“Why would I do that, though?” Punky said as she played with her fairly newly elongated hair. “Punky, I don’t think my- erm, Reb is trying to show some distrust in you, I mean, no more than they would have with anybody else with your kind of power.” Yuccot said, entering the conversation again. “No Mister Kikansky, I mean why would I want to make your mommy-dad go boom? None of you wanted to hurt me, at least without reason. I only went crazy on those Night-lynnes because they wanted to hurt me and Yuccot. And you said I should attack them for this, and I made a bomb because of it. Though I probably went a little cray in that zay near the end. Not that I think either of you liked them all that much.”

“Liked them? You really are dim. If we liked them, you wouldn’t be alive to- well, scratch that, taking your very… simple logic into consideration, I’m guessing we would be the ones who’d be reduced to jack shit.” Reb said with a smile as she smoked her Sigma, eventually clenching it in her gloved hands and dropping the remains on the floor. “So, now that everything is sorted out, are we free to… be Knights of Zill, or just learn what that means?” Yuccot asked, directing Reb’s attention to his contained hands. Reb took out a knife from a compartment on her suit to cut her son free and opened the door. “Might as well get you two started, hell of a lot of use you’re doing in here.”

The three moseyed on out of that sun drenched can, Reb leading the way through the rather dirty looking base she ran. Whatever her destination, Reb was halted by one of the fellas who I presume to have been with her, but can’t be one-hundred percent sure. Though this man? He was something special. He was this tall, beefy, and downright huge guy, even considering he was wearing some damn thick armor. All of which is normal, except for how this guy had the head of a black horse. I’ve seen some wackadoo hybrids in my time, but everything else about this guy except for his head was totally normal, a pure breed if I may use these fellas’ vernacular.

He sounded like the most stereotypical tough black man from any given… thing back before the Melding, not even any sort of filter that one would expect seeing as how his mouth had to be totally different. This seemed to catch Reb off guard when the big guy began talking to Reb. “So, you’re gonna keep these two around, then?” Reb turned to her two escorts, but as she was about to say a word, Punky was already running toward the horse headed man. “Holy cow, or should I say horse? Wait, no, that doesn’t work. But you? I could say the very same thing, as nobody can talk with a horse’s mouth like that. Unless your voice box was specifically altered to do just that, but I was never too great at vocal chords, or maybe that memory will come back as the number of time increases. Anywho, why do you have a horse’s head, Sir Horseman?”

I can’t blame the horse headed man for his next course of action, as he uttered a very simple, but effective “The fuck is this?” Punky tilted her head, only to have Reb take her by the shoulder, and shove her away. “Punky, don’t… do whatever the hell that was.” Reb said as she gave Yuccot a look to keep an eye on Punky as she went up to the horse guy. “Look Dale, I didn’t know that would happen, but you’ve got to trust me on-” Reb explained before she was cut off by a far louder shout. “Reb, I owe you my ass just a couple more times than you own me yours. And this is what you are doing? I told you those Sigmas would fuck with your head!”

“Dale… remember Abigale Quinlan?” Reb asked as Dale’s horse eyes flapped wide open. “You can’t be… if this is some kinda joke, I ought to smash your goddamn-” “Dale, trust me, she is docile. Would Abigale Quinlan do… that?” “I don’t know, I wasn’t the one who was nearly killed by her.” “Look, either she is with us or against us, and trust me, if she wanted us dead, she could probably just brainwash us into being her slaves.” Dale then took a deep horse-like breath that ended in him flapping his gums. “Reb… just don’t fuck things up for us like you did when you took in that baby.” “How the hell was I supposed to know they shoved a bomb up her ass?”

Their little discussion was a bit too low key for Yuccot and Punky, at least I think for Punky, to hear. So Yuccot was the one to prevent this from becoming a too elongated rant. “Um… Reb, didn’t you want to take us somewhere?” Reb jumped at the opportunity as Dale turned around very slowly before making his way to another part of the base. “Sorry about that, I may be the Duke here, Grand Duke in fact, but Fürsts and Marquises still have a say when I bring in a former terrorist as a Knight. Not made much better when she acts like a fucking loon.” Punky shot a sad face and looked down at her feet in response.

After another walk through a couple of closed doors, Reb finally opened one and grabbed Punky by the shoulder to the best of her ability, seeing as how Punky towered over her. The room was a very big one with one distinguishing characteristic that topped all others, the ceiling seemed to have fallen in on itself. “Told you this place isn’t very sound, this happened a couple months ago, and there was jack that could be done about it. We replaced the ceiling with some sheet metal, but need you, Punky, to clear away this rubble. As for what we want, bullets, food, and water. Three simple things, but focus on food that will last us a while.” Punky’s question in response was potent. “What if I get tired, and what ratio do you want these things in?”

“Well, Punky, if you get tired find me across the hall, I’m going to have a little chat with my son here. As for the ratio… Do whatever the hell you want, just make all three in the end.” With that, Red shut the door behind Punky as she just shrugged and went into the concrete, beginning to build a five gallon water jug. Though I can’t be in two places at once, so I left her to her devices, and moved on over to Reb and Yuccot. Sitting in a room with degraded lumpy reclining chairs that sure as sugar don’t recline no more. “Let’s start with your story, Yuccot. What turned the fat little shitwad of a son I had into a fine young man who teams up with a former genocidal maniac?”

Yuccot very quickly responded to this, but the later half of the question more than the former. “Dad, I… It feels weird to call anybody that now, even if it really is you. Erm, I saw a pure breed crash from space, I took her in, and she made food for me out of rubble from a roof I was sleeping on. I originally wanted to see if I could give her away for a place in one of those mountain communities, but then I was upset that she was Aigale Quinlan, except she really was not, and she was very nice on top of that, it’s been a weird… day.” “Son, I’m sorry, didn’t mean to bring that up, but… when somebody nearly kills you twice, you never forget their face. I lost my fucking body thanks to her, so hearing she has amnesia- Y’know what? I didn’t want to talk about this again. Go back to… 2014.”

He began with the story he told Punky mere minutes ago, but adding a couple more details. “Except, seeing the corpses around me when Oransen high got flooded with gas from this kid, Jad Spencer, I felt like I needed to stop being a happy-go-lucky asshole and start helping people. That, and I wanted to follow you, dad. I mean, your squad is responsible for disbanding over a dozen terrorist organizations for fuck’s sake. Even if I couldn’t live up to that, I felt I should at least make something out of my life. And then the Melding happened, and I’m sure you heard thousands of stories about what happened on that day.” “Pfft, tell me about it. I was stationed in Germany during the Melding with some of the men you see here. ‘Fore you ask how I got back here, it involves a whale with wings, so nobody ever believes me. It’s not like the whale used them to fly, it just skid across the water as it sang itself to death when it reached Canada. Melody was lovely and sure as shit stuck with me all these years.”

“That- that is pretty crazy, but have you heard about the group of crustacean elitists who were in Southern Maine?” Yuccot asked, clearly involved in this conversation. “Not that I can recall, but I’ve never in my life gotten to go to New England back in the day or even in my travels before landing in this crapsack.” “Well, they were these people who, like me, were part lobster, crab, crawfish, that sort of thing. Except they thought they, and there were about three-hundred of them, were the dominant species of the world. As such they kidnapped anybody who came by this little town they set up, and ate them.” “Oh boy, one of those groups, eh? I know of a group of these ugly as shit bird people who did something just like that. Actually joined with the Delta Sect to take them down a few years ago. But, one member was an idiot and let one of the bird people grab his grenades. He had a crate of twelve and their talons could pull the pins.”

This sort of thing continued for about an hour where Reb also brought out Yuccot’s confiscated lunchbox to enjoy a little meal with his son. As for Punky? She came into the room panting as they were in the middle of a story about chameleon ninjas, with 25 gallons of water, a massive pile of canned food and crackers, and a couple thousand bullets just behind her. But, this is where I feel the need to jump forward a bit in time. As Punky and Yuccot spent the better part of a month with the Gamma Sect, learning about the team, practicing combat, and Punky accidentally setting a cabin on fire by trying to make smores. But that’s not the story you wanted me to tell, is it Ma’am? Oh no, We’ve still got one more day I’m sure you’re dying to know.

Part VI: City of Shadows

I believe that the best point to pick up at is when Punky was pressing her feet against the grass about five weeks since the Zill captured and recruited her. Her hair had grown significantly, and was dropping over her face as if she couldn’t get herself a headband made, and was wearing nothing but a loose tank top and some jeans. And I do mean nothing but. She let out a big shout and bam, the ground beneath her rapidly morphed into a big wooden box of bullets and guns. And by big, I mean it could be hold three coffins. This massive shift in power since we last checked in was followed by Punky’s fist pumping up into the air and a great big “wahoo” bursting from her lungs. “Impressive as always, Punky. But, as I should’ve expected by now, you seem to have overlooked one significant detail.” Reb said from a couple feet away from Punky flaunting around an ungodly expensive looking assault rifle like it was nothing. “Sorry Mrs. Kikansky, I keep on doing that, don’t I? How can I undo my oopsie?”

“Well, Punky, did you think about what we would do with even more excess ammo? Because we were good for years after the first one-hundred thousand or so rounds.” Reb said very demeaningly to the girl, though trust me when I say this gal called Punky a retard on an hourly basis at one point. “She does have a Point, Punky.” Yuccot said, walking closer to the girl. The boy was now clad in some of the fanciest armor I’ve ever seen in my life, helmet included. While his old hunting rifle got itself replaced by a decked out submachine gun, and a handgun that managed to send a hole through a tree with a trunk five feet wide. “But unless we are shipping things out to the other Sects of Zill, all we can really do is stockpile. I mean, we have well over a year’s worth of food, enough water to last us just as long, and do I even need to mention what she did to the base?”

Yuccot then pointed at what Punky dubbed, “The Super Duper Gamma Base EX Omicron Zeta Megamix!!!” It was about twice the size of the already roomy clump of concrete that stood there a month ago, but now it was fully rebuilt, covered in a “super metal alloy”, went a hundred feet underground, and even had fully decorated interior complete with a full kitchen. There was a water tower and underground reservoir, a solar panel and wind turbine for electricity, something I used to be lucky to see every hundred miles, and a huge tank of gasoline which Punky justified by claiming she’d try to remember how to make cars. The only blemish on this spectacle was the ridiculous name Punky inscribed to the base by inscribing it right onto the base itself. With inscription meaning she taped some cardboard on the base and wrote it out with crayon.

“Speaking of which, you got any more Punk Rocks for me today? Or are all of them gone for now?” Punky asked, with Punk Rocks being her little pet name for the gems she’d been absorbing for the past couple of weeks now. Reb decided to answer her question in her usual tone. “Punky, we managed to find… there were three with the Nytekin, seven in our storage, you found twenty, and the Zill had twenty-two in storage at other bases we could contact. So we got fifty-two ‘Punk Rocks’ for you. Hell, nothing’s even made you pass out aside from having Yuccot slice your head off with that sword you made for him.”  

“Not that I really like doing that, Punky.” Yuccot said as he pulled out the thin one handed blade he replaced his crowbar with. “I mean, I love this blade you made for me. It’s as light as a machete, but cuts through rocks like they’re nothing. Still not sure what you used to make it” Yuccot added, swinging his new toy around. “I don’t think I toldja, because I can’t remember the name, just the schematics and all that jazz. Can’t say my Punk Rocks have helped much with getting the noggin a’flowing, so I guess I’m just stuck with knowing how to build a tank… do you want a tank Missus Kikansky?” “First off, I told you a thousand times by now to call me Reb. You finally stopped calling Yuccot a lobster-man, the least you can do is offer me the same damn courtesy. Secondly, no, Nobody here needs an armored vehicle. It’s enough we had an extra electric car up in Indiana and Minnesota, we don’t need a vehicle for war. I mean, who would we use it against? ”

Punky waited approximately two seconds before responding with, “V-City?” “Punky, didn’t Reb tell you about the last team the Zill sent into V-City?” Yuccot immediately responded. “They were infected with a disease that turned them into a plant. They kill everything that comes close to the city, there is a ring of corpses surrounding it. Entering it would be a suicide mis- Oh don’t tell me that…” Reb stepped in to try and not screw the pooch on Yuccots argument before he could try and recover it. “Besides, V-City is about two hundred miles away, we can’t afford to send a car- well, you can handle the car, be we would need an army in order to take that place down. Even if you could rile up every member of Zill in the tri state area, you would just be endangering their lives in- you’re thinking of going in alone, aren’t you?”

“Well, I don’t mean to be the stinky stench of reason on this lovely day, but wasn’t Abigale Quinlan able to break through government defenses with juicy ease?” Punky asked, trying to seem as cute as possible, like a child begging for a new toy. “And you think you’re as powerful as Abigale Quinlan? I’m not even sure you would be willing to kill any of the guards in your way, and she didn’t leave a single survivor in that entire goldarn base.” “Well, you’ve got me by the gonzales with that, but I also think I could beat Abi-Q in a fair fight, no problem. Assuming she would actually play fair, though would she not just stab me in the back, but I’m pretty sure that was not such a bad thing when considering how I’d barely bleed from it at this point. ‘Cos Imma super Punky at this point!”

Yuccot and Reb still gave her a very stern look despite her argument, so Punky let out a sigh before demonstrating her abilities. She jumped fifty feet in the air and while ascending, she managed to Real Boot the air into a revolver, actually, make that five, five revolvers that she threw up into the air. She quickly began juggling them as she seemed to be floating in the air, when in reality she was just descending at an inch per second. In that time, she managed to fire each revolver a total of six times, with their destination being the same area of dirt, and each bullet’s positioning being significant as the result was Punky’s name written in cursive. She gracefully fell down right in front of her name and took a little bow.

“Punky… I don’t… I don’t even know what to say.” Yuccot stated after picking up his jaw from her performance. “You can do just about anything. Even if Reb and I were somehow able to forbid you from going to V-City, you would probably make your way there by yourself. So you know what? We’re going to V-City, you and me.” Reb facially expressed her disapproval in the idea, but at the same time, she let her lips seal her position with, “Fine, I’m not going to stop you, but I can’t save your ass like I did with the muck people. Not that you likely even needed my help with them.” Reb then walked off, heading to the base in a slightly faster walk than she normally did.

“Dad, wait!” Yuccot said as he moved his tush right behind Reb’s. “Look, I’m… I’m sorry about this. If it were up to me, I’d stay here for the rest of my life. I mean, sure, I’m not that big on fighting, but every other place I tried settling at collapsed, and… I really like you and the guys.” “But you must go out with Punky, because she saved your bacon, and could use some protection, is that it?” Reb snarkily said as he didn’t turn to look him in the eye. “Look, I’ve lost a lot, and thought you were dead for twenty years. If you die, I’ll be upset that you’re gone, but that’s it. It’s not that I don’t care about you or Punky, just that… I pretty much gave up on things getting good, let alone staying that way. So go ahead Yuccot, go on what you yourself dubbed a suicide mission. If she can fully heal a bullet wound within seconds, she can probably piece you back together after you get blown into smithereens.”

Yuccot stopped following Reb as she went through the door, walking back out to Punky, who was pressing her body against the ground. “So, you’re pressing yourself against the Earth, meaning you’re trying to do something big, right?” Punky merely nodded as best she could with her face halfway buried in grass. Then she managed to turn that grass and the ground below into an aerobatic biplane. A term I only know due to what she announced it as after the two seconds it took for her to Real Boot it together. “Woo-hoo! Aerobatic Biplane is ready to pierce the ever empty mother sky! …Well, barren except for those snake birds, but I made sure to lace it with the thing the jerks can’t stand… onion juice! Downside is that the plane is kinda stinky now.”

“So, may I guess your plan, or do you doubt my ability to follow your train of thought?” Yuccot said, trying to sound as nonchalant as possible. “Go ahead, while I try to remember how to make a proper pilot hat.” Punky said as she did just that. “You are under the assumption that V-City has massive walls so the only way to get in is through the sky. That, or you could’ve made a machine to drill your way in, but I’m assuming this was easier to make.” “You are a faster hedgehog than I thought, but no cigar for you, Mister. I plan on dropping down through the sky while setting the plane to explode in midair using a very mighty bomb I placed inside of it, which will lessen the debris by loads and loads. Afterwards, I will use a thick thick plush cushion that will lessen our impact, with doctor Punkington fixing any broken bones ASAP. It shall be the wildest night in my life of… thirty-seven days!”

Punky then donned herself some WWI aviator goggles, helmet included, threw some to Yuccot, and was in the biplane before he could even get them on. Take-off ensued as she managed to not only get the plane running while on mildly damp grass, but barely missed some tall pine trees on her way into the bluegreen sky, and through the low hanging navy clouds. I could hear the girl’s joy through the clicking of the motor, which served as my way to find her as she went on something of a tear through the sky with her aileron rolls and loops that made Yuccot scream like a little girl. She did eventually stop after the boy grew very nauseous, only to continue heading north for a couple hours. The chit-chat that ensued as the two were sitting side by side was mostly incidental bits about the other members of Zill they met, and Punky constantly asking for directions when Yuccot sure as hell didn’t know much more about V-City’s location than she did.

Yet, as the skies were darkening to their lovely violet, and the clouds seeped into being indigo balls of fluff in the sky only altered by a barrage of stars, Punky and Yuccot made note of something that was a dead giveaway if I’ve ever seen one. As spotlights, honest to goodness spotlights, were piercing the sky as Punky flew her way over a pass of mountains to see the place she’d been looking for about six hours at this point. V-City. Punky then shouted with glee as she hugged Yuccot until he began to hack.

From the outset, there were corpses, and I mean a lot of them. They acted as a ring around a massive circular wall with a radius of 500 or so meters. The wall stool tall into the sky, as it was a good sixty feet tall, with towers along every couple dozen yards to hold these massive turrets that frantically moved their barrels, as if that was how they made sure very few things got passed the ring, let alone to the wall. Oh, but the interior is where things get good. With tall buildings that were drenched in bright lights, on the streets, buildings, and especially inside of them, as many, many windows of this place were bustling with a rainbow of lights. With the architecture resembling something out of one of those classic science fiction books with smooth corners and slick metallic surfaces. And the people donned in the most impractical assortment of dresses and expensive looking formal wear as they were walking into the many buildings that scattered the place. With citizens of all ages, ethnicities, but surprisingly not a single noticeable mutation out of what had to be a few thousand people. Many of whom were enjoying one of those Sigmas that Reb whipped out during her interrogation, while others were eating what looked to be food from another planet. 

Oh, but V-city was a name given to it for a good reason, as the center of the city housed this gigantic tower that went about half a mile into the sky, with the top containing a very prominent and glowing structure that looked like a V if I’ve ever seen one. Nevertheless, It was all sorts of amazing as both Punky and Yuccot seemed to agree with me as they stared down at the city, Punky just barely avoiding a nosedive as she tried to get the best view of this neon painted supposed utopia. That’s when the turrets began to rotate even more than they had been, and now aiming upwards when the two were not paying attention. They did not realize they were screwed until a bullet pierced through the plane’s body… twice. The two then very rapidly made their way to the door out of the plane, with the two of them both getting a few bullets lodged into their bodies.

Now falling through the sky, the turrets were still preoccupied with destroying the aircraft, which exploded shortly after they two leapt out of it. The loud and fiery bang acted as a call to action for Punky, as she reached under her tank top to pull what looked like a pillow with a cord attached to it. She promptly pulled it, deploying something the size of a bounce house and likely a few dozen times more durable while also looking three times as soft. It finished deploying right before slamming onto the ground, where it then bursted into a mess of cotton, wool, and feathers that polluted the fairly empty park they landed in.

As the two began bringing themselves up from the bushes they found themselves in, Punky naturally pulled the bullets out of her. Well, it was more like the bullets pushed themselves out, before she began cleaning and healing Yuccot’s wounds. As this was going on, dozens and dozens of people began to gather around these fallen fools. Though it took the two a while to notice. “Has anybody ever said you are insane?” Yuccot asked, half jokingly as he examined his mostly healed bullet wounds. “Well, your pappy did a few times, but that’s hardly a- oh snappers.” Punky said, realizing how much attention she drew partway through. “Er… sorry citizens of V-City didn’t mean to- ” Punky said, this time directed to the crowd around her, and the interruption coming from a circular hole that very quickly popped from out of the ground.

The hole sent the two of them down a dark tube-like structure before closing up on the surface. They were swirling about the ground, being carried through it as if there were hyperactive super-worms covering every surface, before eventually reaching a conclusion when they were thrown into a jail cell through the ceiling, Punky falling on top of Yuccot, who finally let out a pain filled scream. “Heh, sorry about that Yuccot, are you alright?” Punky asked while getting off her friend and trying to be the light in the caverns of misery. “I was shot in the foot, fell out of a plane, and then send down a hole before landing in a jail cell. Other than that, this day has been just wonderful, though.” Yuccot sarcastically replied as she pressed himself off of the cold dirt flooring, looking further through the very empty and far too large room he found himself in. 

They were in a cold, dark, and made mostly out of very thick dirt and iron impounded into the dirt with light acting as a sort of blessing as it came from stones scattered over the place that gave everything a yellow hue, depicting about ten cells along all four walls on this room. With the most interesting aspect being three figures near the center of the room, all of whom made their way closer to our heroes.

“It’s rare to have any form of attack on my city, but two in one day? I thought you said this little operation of yours only involved you two whelps.” A woman’s voice said, one that was eerily familiar, but at the same time very notably different. “I don’t know them, neither of us do!” A man’s voice shouted, only to be followed by the sound of a chain being yanked. “Everytime you lie just means that you’re going to lose more of yourself before being erased. So introduce me to your fellow vermin.” The woman doused in darkness said as she appeared to toss over two people, a man and a woman, bound together due to a very thick neck based chain. The two were slammed against the bars separating them from Yuccot and Punky.

Both of them were donned in tattered rags that acted as makeshift bandages for an assortment of wounds, cuts, infections, and what looked like broken limbs spread. Though if I had to say something nice about them, they sure as hell looked like two fit pure breeds. The man was Asian, had a mullet of dirty black hair, and a body that looked to once be very tall and strong, but was now weak and hunched over, even slightly shaking as if he was freezing. But his brown eyes still had a fighting spirit in them, which is worth as much as motsey is when getting tortured.

As for the woman, she was in a far worse shape. Her left leg broken, right one torn off, and mouth sealed by stitches. Her eyes had that of a dead woman, but her pale darker skin certainly made that seem to not be the case, but she wasn’t too far from it. She held her head up to look at the two from behind the bars, using her other hand to push her mangled mess of hair out of the way. It was a disgusting sight that Punky almost instantly reacted to, as she managed to disintegrate way the bars that sealed her, and dashed towards the figure who she assumed to be holding these two captive. The figure snapped her fingers, causing Punky’s head to pop open.

Before her body even had the opportunity to fall to the ground, the figure snapped once more. Punky’s left arm was severed. Third time, she lost her right leg. Fourth time, she lost her left leg. And so on, and so on until the figure ceased their snapping and just began firing a gun that briefly illuminated herself with each bullet that pierced Punky’s reassembling corpse. The form the figure took was on par with it’s voice, but I doubt any could see who it was until she began walking towards Punky’s body. The entire scene left the three noncombatants backed up against a wall, Yuccot reaching for his weapon, and firing his submachine gun at the assailant. The bullets merely fell to the floor, assembling a nice little pile of thirty rounds in front of the figure, who was finally visible to Yuccot, as she began to stamp Punky’s reassembling face in with boots coated with spikes that spontaneously burst out of their leather.

The woman had an unusually tall stature, one at about six feet, three inches tall. A head with very carefully maintained short hair, a very modest set of assets, and an ethnicity that seemed like a grab bag of others that somehow resulted in brown skin and blue-grey eyes. All donned in a very formal looking black and white three piece suit. If this description sounds familiar then it should, as this woman, aside from some minor facial details and a bit of a height boost, looked exactly like Punky.

Part VII: Judgement

The thoughts roaring around Yuccot’s mind as he saw the spitting image of Punky assaulting Punky, I cannot say. But he did eventually share them with the outside world. “Pu-Punky?” he stammered to the doppelganger, who chose to stop her mashing a few moments after the word slipped from his mouth. “What is this?” Punky’s doppelganger asked as Punky had put up no resistance to her assault, and was only now getting back together. “No shields, no weapons, no strategy? I’ll admit that I had nearly forgotten about you, but here you are… Abigale Quinlan, was it?” Punky had reformed her body as her doppelganger talked, and her reaction was not unexpected. She punched her look-a-like right in her face, though the reaction was probably not what she anticipated.

“You call that a punch, Wheatley?” The doppelganger asked before she grabbed Punky’s face and began to set her body on fire, almost instantly and powerfully throwing her down into the ground afterwards, creating a deep hole that quickly filled up with smoke from Punky’s flaming body. Yuccot reached for the blade he slung over his shoulder, but the woman with a mouth sewn shut grabbed his leg before he was even all that close to the conflict. “Let him pass, Maxxie. I wish to have a few words with him. After all, he I could squeeze answers out of.” Punky’s Doppelganger then walked over to Yuccot, examining him very carefully, and then wincing in disgust.

“What interest does Quinlan have with abominations such as you?” she asked Yuccot as she grabbed him by the collar. “Look, I- I think there is a misunderstanding. She’s not actually Abigale Quinlan, she’s um, she-.” Yuccot stammered before his assaulter lightly tossed him to the ground. “You are one of many things. An awful liar, an idiot, a distraction, or-” Her accusations were interrupted by the hole she shoved Punky in being filled back up as Punky moved the Earth around her, shooting herself into the air, where she Real Booted herself a handgun, and threatened the woman interrogating her ally. “Leave him out of this you- you- you monster!”

“Monster… Do you even know the meaning of that word? Say what you will about my life, but I do not hold a candle to- hold that thought. You care for this man?” The doppelganger asked a confused Punky, who nodded in response. “Who… are you?” “My name’s Punky. I would’ve said that, except you… didn’t seem like you’d wanna talk. …Yuccot, did I do something wrong?” Punky explained before looking at her friend for guidance, a gesture that made her doppelganger let out an uproar of laughter.  

“I… No. No fucking way this can be true! I thought it was bad enough to be cursed with my niece’s face for the rest of my days, but you? A child with the same abilities and guise as my niece… tell me, you abomination, what is your relationship to this… woman?” The woman had effectively confused everybody in this room from the looks of things, as Punky had began to make her way to the two chained prisoners while her look-a-like was flipping out. “Punky is… a girl I found who fell from the sky. But she’s your niece, and you are who… might I ask?” Yuccot said as he realized that not only could this woman kill him in a second, but she was also a loon.

“My name is Lou. But I go by many names. Order, God, Master, The Protector, the list goes on. As for who I am? Let me in on your story first… assuming this is not just some elaborate trap you filth have been trying for years. I believed those two urchins over there to be responsible for- Oh, I’ll get to that in due time. Go on with your tale of this Punky, young man.” Lou demanded for Yuccot as Punky and the two prisoners sat in off to the side. Yuccot went into not too much detail about his adventures, but more than enough for me to skip to Lou’s reaction.

“So, you are pulling the amnesia card, are you?” Lou questioned Yuccot after her explanation. “Well, you barely wear yourself the same way you did when we- or I should say, Abigale Quinlan and I met thirty years ago, which is a story I feel I should tell, but only so far as it concerns you.” Lou said before Real Booting herself a chair and having a sit as she delivered her tale. “There once was a world that greatly deviated from the one of old. One filled with monsters, anarchy, and mystical powers. I was something of a medium between that world and Earth, and my career was shut short of my planned retirement by a… person who manipulated the powers within the other world and took my niece and stole her body in lieu of her own, which was supposedly transformed into an unusable state. This person is the one you knew as Abigale Quinlan”

“This person sent me into the realm whose inhabitants I killed thousands upon thousands of over my life, and what followed was a decade of hell. A decade where I was constantly making my way through a massive world and trying to live in a unique ecosystem. Somehow, I made it through, mostly due to a group of monsters that viewed me as a sort of god. They also bestowed upon to me powers, powers similar to those of Abigale Quinlan’s. With one very real similarity, that my body would be lost. The difference was one I was unaware of, that my body would be recreated in a form that held a ‘special’ place in my mind, and though I realize my image of her was skewered over the years, I became my niece in regards to my body.”

“Once being a man, a man getting on in the years, I was happy to regain my youth, but seeing her face, hearing her voice in place of my own… it was maddening. I couldn’t stop it and began to break everything I saw, wanting to remove the world I was placed in with my newfound power. I did just that, and it doomed the planet Earth. The walls between the worlds were sealed by Abigale Quinlan for what I’d assume to be an eternity. I broke them and over twelve years of excess foulness came crawling into the world at once, so much that, well, the worlds collided. Meaning I was the one responsible for the event known as the Melding.”

“I spent many a year in shame over my actions, trying to bring order to the world, fend off the wild mutations that came about. Yet I was unfamiliar with my powers, and my outburst appeared to have drained them. Since then I had found these violet crystals that acted as sustenance for a race of rock based beings in the other world, and they have granted me greater strength than I have ever known. Based on my encounter with you, Punky, I’d say you were familiar with them. But what I did with them, after I gathered over a hundred, a mere seventh of my current amount, I built a city based on preserving the old Earth that I had destroyed. I wanted it to be perfect, a utopia, a place that would grow and become the benchmark for civilization anew.” Lou said, clearly stopping her long winded speech only for a new voice to jump on in.

“Yeah, and a fuck lotta good that did!” A brash female voice echoed through the room. The speaker was the girl whose mouth was stitched together, a fate avoided as Punky saw fit to heal her wounds and give her a thick robe to wear, slippers included, when Lou was telling the four her life story. “Maxxie, stop, we already-” Shouted the man she was chained up with her, who was in a very similarly healed state as Maxxie. “Oh no, Zoe Xing, let the girl speak her mind. It’s not like I sealed her mouth for a reason.” Lou said coldly as she walked closer to Maxxie. “You promised a return to the past, the rebirth of civilization, and to create a perfect society where people can live in peace. Instead you ban people from your city, build turrets that prevent anyone else from entering, and never leave the safety of your tower.” Maxxie said, clearly very upset about how Lou had been running things.

“What good is a city when its people are in danger?” Lou barked in response. “Many grew feral following the downfall of civilization, unable to return to normal, knowing what the world outside was. They were violent and while I can do many things, I cannot bring back the dead. At least, not without mental impairments. I had to defend the city after I had found all the good ones I could, with their numbers sadly diminishing as time goes on. Not that my judgement was worthwhile, as I was foolish enough to let the two of you in. Two blemishes that I wanted to treat very slowly and very carefully.”

“You think we are zits? That’s a laugh coming from somebody like you… Lou.” Zoe Xing said as he joined Maxxie in this debate. “We wished to open the doors so that the joys of this city could be shared across the world. You have the ability to craft food from dirt, water from air, and return rubble into buildings. The tower you viewed the world through was built in a day! Maxxie and I smuggled out food to those outside the wall, and you decided to start killing any that came within two hundred meters of it. Banishing us for our ‘disobedience’.” “Bah!” Lou shouted at the two. “You act like I never took guidance from the people, never listened to what they were saying!” “We know that you were listening… Lou, you had microphones everywhere for a reason.” Maxxie claimed rather spitefully.

“I have a question if the loud noise can stop now!” Punky said, bursting into the conversation as her and Yuccot were merely observing the three. Oh, and the girl was raising her hand and bouncing up and down like she needed to tinkle. “What is it you want… Do you have a half baked complaint about my city? I assembled a place in which no man, woman, or child needs to do anything but be kind to one another. No work, no responsibility aside from cleaning their homes, and not a single worry.” Lou said, viciously defending her position. “Nope, I just have a question. Were you ever a leader before this? Because I don’t think you were the best choice then.”

“I…” Lou began as she contorted her face and made half finished gestures. “I have not lead much in my life before this city. I was among the more solitary people in the world, relying on several people I met in my youth to help me in my profession, which I unfortunately had to keep a secret to all around me. The only exceptions dying in some regard. So no… Punky, I suppose I had not possessed much experience before crafting V-City. Though, when you can control the world around you with so much as a thought, why should there be any challenge with that?” “Did you have many real friends in life, Lou? Because it sure as hell doesn’t sound like you were the type to have any.” Maxxie inquired as Lou formed a scowl.

“I had seen little of them over my later years, even before then it was more of… an agreement to provide me with materials to keep these gates secure. As not a soul around me could witness what lied beyond this world and live to tell the tale. Even if it took the beasts decades to kill try and kill me.” Lou explained to the group, confident in her every word, though Zoe was very potent with his criticism. “You’re a fucking moron!” Lou was taken aback by such a simple phrase.  

“You…” Lou said under her breath while practically snorting with rage over such a juvenile threat. She reached for the two, clenching their faces with her hands, piercing her ring and index fingers into their eye sockets as her pinky and thumb pressed through their cheeks, with her palm sealing away their screams. She was about to yell at the two tortured individuals, but then Punky pulled a shotgun out of the ground and blasted Lou’s goddamn face in. It only served to make her more angry though, as she then reformed her head and proceeded to yank off the heads of Maxxie and Zoe . It was a vile act, but Lou appeared to be more frustrated with Punky than anything as she attempted to grab her, only to have Yuccot come in from the side and give Lou a mighty punch in her jaw, knocking out one of her teeth with it.

“You insolent little shit! Do you even realize what I… I…” Lou began before her attention was drawn to a very peculiar aspect of Yuccot’s hands. I mentioned before how the boy had different hands, and this apparently fascinated Lou as she was captivated by the right one. The grizzled old paw that Yuccot used regularly, and just so happened to punch some teeth out with. “Where did you get that?” Lou bursted out as Punky was ready to blow her head off again as she leaned in closer with her shotgun. “Get what?” yuccot asked as Lou was very vague with her words. “Your hand, the right one. It’s… it’s mine. I almost forgot about him, it’s been so long. Where did you find it?” Lou stammered as if she just found the holy grail.

“I had it ever since I became a… an abomination as you called it. Why? You want it back?” Yuccot said, clearly forming a plan in his noggin. “I know what you’re thinking, I am far too familiar with trickery. You want to hold it for ransom as I give the two of you… what is it you want?” Lou said as she walked closer to Yuccot. “I want the world you destroyed.” was his response. With that, Punky shot at Lou five times, causing her body limped over, apparently not having set up an invisible shield like she did when Yuccot pulled out his weapon. Punky then grabbed what remained of Lou’s body and… here’s the thing I don’t think she noticed when she touched Lou, the girl’s hands began to glow the same violet in her eyes and let off of the Punk Rocks she’s so fond of. Point is that the girl tossed Lou into the air, leaving an explosive on her, and then grabbing Yuccot before beginning to Real Boot the dirt beneath her into air while still covering her tracks. Resulting in an underground tunnel that would get them the hell out of V-City as Lou was putting herself back together.

As a plan of escape, I heard of worse, as she was running super hard through the makeshift caverns, though she had about a mile to go until she could make it out of the city, assuming that was her plan. I couldn’t honestly say, as it didn’t take too long for Lou to follow suit and make her own way through the dirt. Details got a little hazy as I sure as sugar couldn’t see anything, but eventually the two collided, ending up right where they began in the dingy little prison. Lou had managed to pin Punky against the ground, but Punky had gotten ahold of Lou’s face. However, both were paralyzed as Lou and Punky both noticed how Punky’s hands were glowing violet. Yuccot, meanwhile, was in the corner vomiting his lunch from earlier in the day.

“…Where did you get this?” Lou asked as she looked down on a confused Punky. “Where did I get what?” “You naked twit, what kind of sick joke are you playing? This is the reason why I kill those who oppose me, why I…” Lou then snapped her fingers in an attempt to blow Punky’s head off, though the girl apparently figured out Lou’s force field trick, as the explosion popped right in front of her face. Lou jumped off of her nonetheless, and made her way to Yuccot as the smoke from the explosion left Punky fumbling around for a second too long. With a gun to the boy’s head, Lou was ready right before Punky could act, even though Lou was panting as she stared at Punky, pondering her next words.

“I should have know that those ‘Punk Rocks’ of yours were more than just a little morsel of power.” Lou spouted as she breathed heavily. “Does this have to do with the glowing, because I don’t know anything about that, I just grabbed you and purple started pouring out.” Punky replied, her hands off to her sides, though she was gesturing profusely. “Come now, don’t you feel more power seeping through your veins? As I can certainly feel mine having diminished.” Lou shouted back. “Regardless, one more step and your little friend here is going to die. You wouldn’t like that, would you? You simple little girl.”

“No… I wouldn’t” Punky said very depressingly. “For fuck’s sake Punky, let me-” Yuccot began to shout before Lou covered her mouth, or to be more precise, melded skin over it. The sight was alarming to Punky, so she gestured forward unconsciously. “What did I say about steps, you little shit? Actually, I’ll make this more formal.” Lou let out before she placed her hands on Yuccot’s neck, sending shivers down his spine, and tossing him to the ground, revealing some sort of machine implanted into the back of his neck. It actually wrapped around his neck, forming a very thick and crudely implanted collar that pierced his skin.  

“I was never good with machines, but I know how to make bombs, and with a simple thought, I can make your friend… well, I’ll leave the messy details up to your imagination.” Lou stated as she donned a very unconvincing nervous grin, as if she had won the battle. Though, upon looking at Punky, I would say she was right. The girl was devastated by this as she stared at the altered Yuccot, possessing no mouth, but a need to scream, with death allegedly a mere thought away. Punky responded by getting down on her knees and speaking very softly to Lou. “You win. Just… please don’t hurt Yuccot. Don’t hurt anyone else you.. you… bitch!” It was the first time I ever heard the girl swear, and as if that wasn’t enough to show how much a wreck she was in, her first tears soon followed.

Part VII: Encore to the End

Since her submission, Punky had been placed in what Lou described as a ‘special cage’. This cage was far more advance than the iron bars in cold hard dirt, as it had cameras, heat sensitive lasers all around it, and even a weight sensor in case Punky “tried anything creative”. It was a very soulless existence she led by herself in a dungeon with nobody to keep her company but the corpses of Zoe Xing and Maxxie Flare. With the only thing keeping her in here being how she did not want Yuccot to up and die if she made any sudden movements. Though, she could hardly confirm his mortality as she had not seen him, or Lou for that matter, in a week. In fact, the girl has been quiet for a good five days now. Not a soul in sight, and not a thing to do other than watch flesh decay.  

As for Lou? She was up at the top of the tower, keeping Yuccot behind a one-way soundproof wall she created as an expansion to her very ritzy abode. A library of books, copious amounts of expensive looking alcohol, fine furniture, and a lovely view of V-city and the world just outside of its walls, including the ring of bodies. She spent most of her days looking out at the world, occasionally bringing up a wall of screens that showed her the city through security cameras depicting citizens enjoying every pleasantry they could ever dream of. Christ, they even had goddamn televisions and computers in their homes. I hadn’t even thought of using either of those in a good decade.

But between looking at her captive soul as Yuccot toyed around with a bin of wooden blocks and whatever dish Lou attempted to make, quite well if Yuccot’s expression was any indication, Lou looked longingly at Punky, locked in her cage, as pleasant as she could be, and obeying her orders. Yet, as a week passed, she eventually decided to go down an elevator, viewing her city as she eventually sept into the underground chamber she threw Punky into. She looked almost prestigious in her finely made navy suit with matching hat included. A stark contrast to her look-a-like who was as naked as she was the day Yuccot found her.

In her hands, Lou conjured up a simple pile of clothing that she threw through the bars and lasers that held Punky in her prison, eventually falling flat on the pressure plate. Punky was immediately horrified, the first expression I’ve seen in days aside from sorrow, though Lou quickly addressed that. “Relax, I am the one who controls whether Yuccot lives or dies remember? Besides, removing a reason to keep you trapped in there would be the dumbest thing I’ve ever done with my life. Though, I have been thinking about my decisions lately. What got me where I am today. Why I do what I do. How I could do it better, and how I can make up for having this idea. This idea of creating an ideal world from the remains of the old, and fucking it up in every goddamn way.”

“You probably remember the whole idea of capitalism, the freedoms granted to many while others with infinitely less suffer? I just made one huge concentration of that I… Hold on.” Lou paused in the midst of her self deprecating rant to turn the ground beneath her into a bottle of brandy and a glass cup to pour it into, which she promptly did, pouring a proper cup of the stuff and gulping half of it down. “I was so fucking preoccupied with perfecting this world into something great, that I viewed everything outside of it as worthless. There are only about a hundred million humans left in the world, I goddamn checked. But no, only a fraction of a single percent of them mean anything to me. And they aren’t people I even know, they don’t even acknowledge my existence any more, they don’t even seem to remember the outside world since I silenced the turrets on the wall. It’s just disgusting, that’s what it is!”

“Um… Miss Lou?” Punky humbly asked after dressing herself in the clothes Lou tossed at her. “Is there a point to telling me all of this?” “You know what Punky? There sure as shit is something important to you, not even because you absorbed most of my freakin violet crystal energy, leaving me as this… shell of who I was. While you… you went out and inverted- hang on.” Lou said, stopping once more, this time to toss the glass on the ground, shattering it, and taking a very lengthy chug from the bottle. It was the kind that would leave many men knocked off their feet for a couple hours, with a hell of a hangover when they got up. “You switched our strength… pretty much. While you are still the most idiotic, dimwitted, ignorant, childish, altruistic, and fucking nice girl who ever had my niece’s face. And she was the best thing for a very dear part of my life… that one fucking month I got to fight with her before I lost her, like I lost every other goddamn thing in my shitty life. Fuck my ass!”

“I killed a group, an entire species so that they could lather me in these little maggots that got insanely tiny, and are now all over my skin, crawling in my every cell, able to manipulate the air around me when they get frisky enough, constantly bringing me back to an eternal reminder of how much I fucked my life up. I never wanted this, I never wanted any of this shit, I just wanted to help at a logging mill, but no, I had to be the good samaritan and get some suits for my father… I haven’t seen him since I was… barely over being a child, hardly even in my twenties for Christ’s sake.” “Lou… if you want to tell me something, then you could have those little.. maggots? I actually did remember them a bit more, and I think they’re called Tardigrada Immortalis, but Abigale Quinlan-”

Punky was cut off by the drunkard who went off into another tie-raid, after emptying even more of the bottle. “Don’t get me started on Wheatley, that kid was my best friend, we were right as rain, but then he had to dive into another world, and supposedly die. Hell, he’s the reason I lost my wife, the only person I cared about before I met my niece. Oh but her, but Raiyne, she was turned into a goddamn monster. I’m just glad that, in the end, she became the most innocent little thing that… I surrender to.” “…Huh?” Was Punky’s reaction, along with my own. “You are the least tainted thing I’ve seen in this world, a little funny considering just what you are in the end. But you, Punky, should have everything I have. I think that you can finally do it, finally give this old man something he’s been running from for far too long, a goddamn grave. So fucking do it Punky, take all my energy, all of my tardis granada of immortality out of me and… make it fucking fast.”

With that, Lou shoved herself onto Punky, breaking through the bars by reducing them into dust, and embracing her in a hug accompanied by a barrage of tears. Punky was left confused, but began to rub Lou on the back, a move that resulted in even more of the purple glow that happened last time the two clashed physically. The difference? Well, I think that’s where you should finish telling this tale, your majesty.

Part IX: Bloodlines

Thank you Mister Grimes, but please, call me Raiyne. Anyways, what happened when Punky and Lou collided is a very… interesting experience for me to describe, as it was my first memory. Who I was, what I was, and where I was were all questions floating in my brain, or should I say mind, as I was not sure if I even had anything I could call a body. In fact, I’m pretty sure this happened in my mind, or at least what became my mind. All I knew was that I could hear voices, all of which sounded like they were from the same person, but each donning a different tone and personality.

“So, I guess she’s finally ready to take control.” A calming voice spoke out to me. “Yeah, because you loiters couldn’t just let me get back what you gave to me, Raiyne!” Shouted a very crass and angry voice, yelling at the comment made by the first one. “I… I was never really comfortable with this… anything about being- Damnit, what I’m trying to say is-” A very shy and unconfident voice murmured out from what sounded like a corner, before getting cut off by another. “What Jad’s trying to get across is that the new girl’s super duper confused about all of this weird stuff going on, so we should probably tell her who the fart we are!” A very childish sounding voice bursted out, brimming with energy.

“Punky, let’s handle this in chronological order, state our names, and then our stories.” The calming voice returned, though it was enough for me to try and interject, not that I saw any response from the group of voices. “My name is Raiyne.” Said the calming voice. “I go by Abigale Quinlan, though I wouldn’t be surprised if even you happen to hate me.” The crass voice said spitefully. “I… like to be called Jad.” The shy one said in the expected manner. “Just Punky will be… I can’t think of a rhyme with Punky aside from funky, though I suppose that kinda works.” Pondered the childish one. “And, as you apparently never met me, the name’s Lou.” Stated a new, serious sounding voice.

“You see, your mind is something of a… cluster at this point.” Raiyne began, acting as a leader of this band of voices. “Instead of fighting for control, having one dominate while the others continuously fought, like one of us desired, we came to an agreement that all of us shall be receded in the back of a new mind, your mind. What are we? Different lives your body lived, the many minds behind the same face that has remained the same for… what was it now, thirty years? We all want to live on in some form, but it is up to you in your clean, untainted mind to determine which past lives if it were, you want to have an influence over your own. We have all agreed to make an honest presentation to you, with you being the one who decides whether or not the pros of this life outweigh the cons.”

In retrospect, it would’ve been normal to be confused by this very abstract idea, but I did not respond or feel the need to, I just waited a little bit until one of the voices, Punky as it seemed, began giving me a little speech. “Hiya, Next Girl! Already tolja my name, and I am and I am the most recent habitant of the body you shall assume control of. Downside, I was also in it for the least amount of time, not even two months if ya gotta know the details, which you kinda sorta do need to know, educated decision and all that keen stuff. For the best thing about me, I would probably regurgitate what my friends told me, and say that I’m an innocent soul whose super happy and energetic. Well, they didn’t like saying that to my face, probably because they’re down in the dumps all the time. What with the whole apocalypse thing that Abigale got started… she’ll bring it up in her jam session.”

“As for where I’m a bit of a stinker, I think I’m suppose to turn that back into a positive, to which I throw the factoid of how I sometimes go a bit crazy when people are massive jerk holes, with murder being a response once, though they were probably going to bite my legs off and try to use me as a slave… Is that okay? Well, it was before I got my powers back, and was also helping out my bestest friend Yuccot Kikansky. He’s half-man, half-crab, and is pretty crabby if I may be a bit of a punner. Oh, and I should add that I’m not the crunchiest nor the juiciest apple in the bunch, as my brain is pretty scattery, though I blame my brain getting damaged when I was born in space… or at least I think that was me.” Punky said before her voice drifted away, saying something about street smarts as she went mute, only to have her voice replaced by another.

“Hello there… guess I’m not sure what I should call you. I’m Lou, the only one of your… selves to not really be part of you, per say, I just happened to merge with you, or rather Punky, and now I guess I still have a chance to go on. I like to get the bad traits out of the way first, so here it goes. I was responsible for ruling a bastion of humanity, and screwed it up beyond belief. I was upset to the point where the best thing I could do was get drunk enough to ask for my mistakes to be forgiven, or at least prevent them from being made again. Yet, at the same time, you’ll have plenty of mistakes to learn from, that is, assuming you think I’m worth existing as a part of you.”

“You see, I am, or perhaps I should be saying was, a very stubborn man, and an even more stubborn young woman after a far too long story of events happened, which should hardly act as an incentive to let me live on through you, as I’m just a fuck-up of an old man who somehow managed to get enough book smarts and raw power to build a city with their own two hands.” Lou explained before not so much drifting away as much as vanishing, his voice coming to a halt as if he were upset with himself over the speech, though his argument was not all that convincing. Not that I could say much better about the next voice to pop into my head.

“..Okay, gotta be confident, life is on the line, everyth- Oh, I’m already talking to you, well, erm, my name is Jad, Jad Spencer if you want my full name. To this day, I’m not entirely sure as to how I ended up in the body that you will be taking up. I was just a teenager, a teenage male, who was thrown into your body for reasons I still don’t really understand. I was confused, scared, but ultimately… messed everything up. You see, I was recognized as the world’s greatest terrorist, for actions I did not do, but the sad thing is that I did things as bad as them. I’m not entirely sure why, but if I had to explain them… I’d just be blaming somebody else, when really I should have known better deep down than to kill for fun. I like to think I made the right decision, though, as I stopped myself from, y’know, sending the world into ruin. But with all of this apocalypse talk, I think I just delayed it in the end.”

“Anyhow, I need to tell you what’s good about me… I was always terrible at doing these, so… I try to be agreeable, I’ve lived a pretty decent life, though the less said about some of my family the better, had good friends, but really am not that unique or important to your existence. Hell, my existence is on the line and I can’t even come up with a good argument beyond how I’m not a bad person, or at least I don’t think so. I’ll just stop embarrassing myself and let you talk to Abigale Quinlan… that fucking bastard!” Jad fumbled out before his voice ceased communication, as number four came bursting into my… mind, as I don’t believe I even had ears.

“Hey there, Next Girl. So, I’m not going to hide what I did and give you the straight facts. I, Abigale Quinlan was the best goldarn terrorist this world has ever seen. I was the first one to have the powers that you will obtain, though mine were quite, and by quite I mean a fuckton, lot weaker. I got them through crude means, killing, betraying, having a species accept me as their god just so I could live on to become someone who, and I’ll freely admit it, is evil. I know what you’re thinking, assuming you’re not just some retarded void of nothingness listening in, but yes, I reached the point in life where I came to the conclusion that the best thing I could do with godlike powers and immortality was use the world as my own plaything. Because, well, this world was shit to me so why the hell should I not be an even bigger dick in response?”

“So, why should you choose me? Well, power is the big one, joy in destruction is another, and a vast array of knowledge over so many little things in the world certainly doesn’t hurt. That Lou guy built a city? Pfft, I ran a country for a year before deciding that shit was boring and televised a suicide by the person they thought was leading their country. I’ve seen all the shit there is in the world, or at least the one that existed before a little friend from my past happened to break all of reality. Bang up job, Lou. So yeah, choose me or forever regret who you, Next Girl, could’ve been. Later!” Said the very, well, unusual is debatable given the line-up of voices that were speaking to me, with the final one being the most normal.

“Hello there, my name is Raiyne Underwood.” Began the most calm of the five. “I’m this body’s original owner, and I can hardly say much about me is extraordinary. I was born in the small town of Rainy Woods where I lived a very peaceful life until my uncle, Lou, who you’ve heard already, told me about something that pretty much began this crazy ride I, well, my body has been having after I was tricked into giving it up. I can’t name a specific reason for why I chose to give up my life, but I can safely say that everything that could go wrong, did indeed go wrong. At least without having the world end. So, why should I be chosen? Well, I am considered to be reasonably intelligent, have combat experience, though not the likes you will be capable of, and not as much as most of the other voices you’ve heard. I consider myself to be familiar with a wide variety of literature, and am viewed as a responsible young woman… make that was.”

“As for the negatives? I can not think of many without diving into specific examples, and do not wish to go on for too long. But the fact I never had powers that you would have does lead to the possibility I may abuse it. A bad situation can make even the most righteous man bend his morals and beliefs, and I view myself to be no different.” With that, she was gone, and I was left to ponder these strange voices, and wonder which ones I truly did wish to become part of me. Yet, the question as to who I was at this point is a very valid one, shame it never did seem to cross my mind, as I made my decisions fairly quickly, as I unconsciously spoke in the same voice I’d been hearing, yet devoid of any form of humanity.

“Punky, you are a fool when it comes out much of the world.” I said, speaking the impressions I had of all of the speakers I heard before. “Ever the optimist, however, you hold much hope in a world that many have dismissed as doomed. It may be foolish to be held by a normal person, but with your powers, you are a beacon of idealism that I would be happy to become a building block of my self. Lou, you have lead a hard life that eventually ended in you being given more might than you ever knew what to do with. Claiming to be an old man, I can infer that you have a long and winding past that could serve as a series of mistakes I may learn from. However, you are also an incredibly stubborn individual, though I believe that will be counteracted by others I wish to meld with, as well as you.”

Looking back at what I said to Lou, I am more than a little curious if I would feel the same way about him given the new details I learned about her, not that I can remove her from my mind. “Jad, your persuasion was something of a failure, which you yourself admitted. Your lack of confidence and fear are traits one would look down upon, as well as a corruption you’re briefly spoke about. Yet, much like the failures of Lou, I feel there is something vital to be learned from your actions, while the alteration of a human given great power is something I feel would be valuable given what I know of the world, and how I am in some way I am unaware of, above it.”

“However, I can not feel confidence in choosing all of these building blocks to form my self, as you, Abigale, are openly an awful person. You are fascinating, do not get me wrong, but with great power, you used the world as a toy, openly bragging about being a terrorist. If I had to have one of you erased, I would not hesitate in letting you go. As for you, Raiyne… You are the welcome sense of order I wish to have in my mind, in order to prevent anything from going wrong with what will become my self in the future. You admit to cracking under pressure, but the manner in which you explained it makes you not only seem to be something of a perfectionist, but also very determined in making things right. So, if the four of you may continue your process, I would be more than happy to become… whoever I am.” Those were the last words I said before I awoke for the first time. My identity well formed in my head, as well as the knowledge accumulated from four lifetimes of varying length. With this knowledge in my mind and power coursing through my body to forge planets and suns from asteroids, I knew who exactly I would be.

I would like to apologize if I came off a bit schmaltzy near the end, Grimes, but that is indeed how I felt after that… experience which brought forth my existence. I would just like to thank you for giving me as much help as you could in regards to who I was before becoming Raiyne the second, Lady Raiyne, the Life-Giving Raiyne, and so forth. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a city to address, and a long standing project to launch. I’m sorry I couldn’t arrange a more convenient time but I… am nearly late!

Part X: Tranquility of Dissonance

Okay, Raiyne, this is not your first speech by any means, you know these people really well, or at least as well as you can memorize 252,037 names and face in what has to be an extraordinarily efficient brain… because it is. You wrote this last night when everyone else was sleeping, got to have a nice chat about your past where you stored it in audio files that you can then do what you will with in the future. For now, it’s time to read. Just go out to the little balcony, look into the camera, and go off of the paper you memorize. Public speaking is… something you really aren’t that good with when it is practically being televised, because you had to fill your city with your little Audiovisual screens… yeah, they are kinda a pain in the butt to Real Boot, aren’t they? Hell, it’s enough to decide just how well I should do my hair, dress, and what level my proportions should be at. Now I know why people used to put on make-up before going on camera, it’s kind of terrifying if you’re the center of attention and look like trash to somebody.

Five seconds, time to go, ready, set, speak! “Citizens of V2-City, or as many of you prefer to call it, V2. I am hear to announce the first of what I hope will be many more anniversaries of this fine settlement. It has been a time of astronomical progress since I took over where my predecessor, the woman some of you knew as Lou, sent this city into its dark hour. But now, the light has been brought, and there are more newcomers than I could have ever anticipated. For joining this city and upholding its simple laws, I have a simple message to tell you all. Thank you. Thank you so much for keeping a prosperous environment that greatly contrasted the world many of you called home of nearly two decades.”

“I have transformed this city by expanding its reach, removing its walls, and growing even more involved in its construction, with the scale eventually growing so large that I had to introduce a very novel little tool for you all, the Raiyne-maker, allowing for you to reinvent whatever you wish into something else. I am aware that some of you are upset over the limitations provided, as many of you are prohibited from having weapons, but as we have gone.. 92 days without a fatality, I believe the results speak for themselves.”

“Many of you have also criticized my guardian bots that patrol the streets and interactions between citizens. Many of you believe that these machines are my way of controlling, manipulating, or spying on you all. I have not been especially clear, in part due to my extremely busy schedule, but I can safely say that these devices only exist for your protection. I have done little to nothing with any recorded footage I have acquired, and merely use it for the sake of referencing certain events, none of which include the expression of a violent or harmful idea.”

“However, I can still say this has gone immensely better than expected, and that I believe it is indeed time for V2 to take the next step into becoming the bastion for a world torn and mutated by a menace long since gone. I have helped those who wished to be helped, while allowing themselves to be altered physically. I do, however, wish to expand the region in which I am helping people, by sending V2 across the world in a move that will answer the questions about strange marks and the recent quarantine. I shall be sending this city into the sky!”

I actually felt a little bit sick after trying to stay charismatic during that speech. If I had eaten something in the past week, I would’ve probably had to fight myself to keep it down. I really should’ve had the pause where I directed the cameras to show the outskirts of V2 to highlight the city detaching itself somewhere before I reached the four hundred word mark. But hey, the past is the past, and all you can do about it is learn from it. I didn’t include a paragraph about how I stumbled upon the technology to make this city fly, because I certainly did not come up with it. Instead, I had to raid some old government harddrives when I went on a cross-country adventure during my first month of… life, where I managed to find some schematics for creating something that can best be described as anti-gravity. From there, it was just this constant side project where I decided how I could get it to work on the scale of a city. Good news is that I managed to get it to work with a city seventy times the size of the one I was launching as high as the tower that stood in the center of the city.

Anyhow, the people were freaking out in a good way. Joyful over how they were being slowly lifted into the air by the ground beneath them, out to be more precise, the massive engines that let out a bit louder than I expected humming noise across the city. I had planned to work on a soundproof barrier, but I am a very busy woman.

“Citizens, I am happy to announce that V2 will be heading south for the upcoming winter. It will be a series of stops made wherever I can pinpoint large groups of people. Convincing many of them will undoubtedly be difficult, so I must ask for your cooperation with the acceptance of even more new citizens. Your land shall not be taken, and I will still try to make time for each and every one of you. I hope you enjoy the scenery as the city will make its slow voyage to the land previously known as Texas. As for me, I’ve got a school to set up. Good night citizens of V2, I love you all!”

Okay, it was not properly night when I launched, more late afternoon, and even then night is less appropriate than evening if it is after sunset. But now I had three minutes to finish up another mental log as my meeting will undoubtedly be delayed by a few minutes. It’s weird to be in charge of so many people who are in charge of even more people who manage even more. In the end, everything goes through me, but I barely have time to sit down and talk to people who are struggling to deal with adapting to this new world, instead I had to give other people that skill so they can do it while, well, living life, enjoying company, and maybe being creative as I try to work in entertainment. Whoever said rebuilding society was easy really didn’t know what they were talking about… assuming that is an actual thing somebody said.

Though, in addition to neigh unlimited power, I did have a helper by the name of Yuccot Kikansky who spoke into my earpiece. “Hey, Raiyne, the meeting is starting in thirty seconds, and you should probably be the first one to get in here. I wanted you start taking a few more breaks, but you’re just a natural workaholic, aren’t cha?” I smirked before making my way down through the floors , floating my way down while making little trap doors on my way down, turning them back to normal after sifting through them. “I guess you could say that, but you’ve been my secr- sorry, personal assistant for two months, figured you’d get the hang of things by now. In fact, go and take the night off, sure that there’s some party going on and I’d like some second hand stories when taking care of some filing later tonight.” Yuccot’s response? His favorite way to end any conversation with me, “Sure thing boss.” Guy knew I didn’t like it, but guess that made him use it all the more.

I actually owe him quite a lot, not just for helping me get where I am in that I now exist, but for being there when I needed to figure out what I’d do with this great power. I’m just glad that I decided to devote my unlimited life on helping the world be rebuilt from nothing. It’s been a long road to get here, but after a good thirty years, I think that a teenage girl from the middle of nowhere just might’ve been the most important person in history. Though I’d hardly say the most heroic.

Das Ende

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