"… I need to find something for dinner tonight; something special…"
"… I gotta tell her before it’s too late…"
"… Damn cold, the weather is just shit…"
"… I need a fucking cup of hot coffee right now…"
"… I’m hungry. I need to find something to eat before I pass out…"
The hum in his head was something he was used to long ago. Some voices intertwined with others, dissolving in this infinite pit of collective consciousness. Other voices were as loud as real ones, confusing him at times. He couldn’t tell why there was a difference but he suspected it was connected with a power of people’s will. Sometimes he would meet people who mirrored back the same hum and they would just look at each other while passing by. But that happened extremely rare. No wonder they dug him out of his grave.
"Hey baby, looking for a few extra dollars? Maybe I can help you out."
He didn’t need to turn his head in the direction of the voice to know what was going on a few feet away. People were so predictable and so hollow. Some asshole wanted a 10 bucks blowjob and Mantis wondered if he was desperate or stupid enough to ask a homeless girl for that. Okay, that was enough to make him want to throw up, although he admitted the situation was pretty funny to witness. The girl seemed to be in need for money and despite she was disgusted with the idea she had no choice but to accept the offer. 10 bucks for a fucking blowjob, that guy certainly felt “generous”. In Mantis’ mind there was no equal sum to justify the man’s offer. Anyone who couldn’t control their basic urges were animals and didn’t deserve to be treated like humans, but unfortunately that could be said about majority of this planet’s population. If he could he would cleanse the world from this cancer because it was generating countless moral and ethic problems - a metastasis degrading the society and its greatest accomplishments without an end to see. Should he interfere and teach this idiot a lesson? For once, he finally asked himself a question instead of taking actions directly.
"…by realizing your motivations you alter your mind. Subconscious into conscious, that’s how thought becomes reality…"
Not that it changed his mind much. In fact it had the opposite effect - he stood up and followed the two around the building, already sensing the brewing conflict. That douchebag was wrong in so many ways he wanted to crack his head open and stuff it with basic morals. His morals would be more correct, however Mantis wasn’t ready to realize it yet. A tickling sense has settled in his chest but it wasn’t as heavy and as burning as before. It felt different this time, more conscious.
- You can’t fix yourself by breaking someone else.
- Sure. But I’m gonna enjoy the fuck out of it.
- … That’s what they thought too.
When he found them the man has already cornered the girl, forcing himself on her.
'So she changed her mind, huh.'
"…you’re gonna take it and you’re gonna like it. Unless you wanna see me get real mad."
While they were busy talking the agent has sneaked behind the man’s back and hit his head from above so it bounced off the door in front of him and broke his nose.
'What's wrong with just “no”? Not manly enough to accept it?'
Before the guy attempted any resistance Mantis grabbed him by the backside of the collar and smashed his head against the metal door again.
'You broke my nose you asshole!'
He let the bastard to turn around and easily dodged a few punches by disoriented man, anticipating the movements by scanning his brain before he delivered a dirty strike between the legs, leaving his unlucky opponent stretching on the snow in pain.
'You fuckers! If it's about money then take it! I don't have much anyway…'
'I've noticed. 10 bucks isn't a great deal to tolerate pathetic scum like yourself', he kicked the lying man in the stomach to keep him down. 'Let's say, you were provided a different kind of service, free of charge. Because that's what you deserve.' He stepped on his neck and rolled the helpless man over to stare him in the eyes with impervious look while the other suffocated gurgling and gasping for air, trying to shake the leg off. It probably was the most satisfying thing Mantis did for years.
The whole walk around to the back of the alley had been a long, slow walk of shame. But if she could get those ten dollars they could get something hot to eat. Jodie’s gloved hands rubbed at the sleeves of her arms, trying to use the friction of the fabric against her skin to help warm her a little. It didnt do any good when it came to long-term, but she had to try something. Either that or have Aiden help her steal from an atm or something.
But once they’d gotten there… and Jodie reluctantly lowered herself to her knees. The disgust that collected inside her came to a boiling point, rising to where she couldnt stomach it. There was no way she could go through with something like this. Yes she was desperate, but she didnt want to be that desperate. Protests came to her lips, and Jodie drew herself back to her feet. But the change of heart was not accepted so willingly from this ‘generous’ man. He had her pinned soon enough, fingers digging into her shoulders with his tight grip.
She’d been about to call for Aiden’s help when the unexpected happened.
Jodie hadn’t been aware that anyone had been paying attention to their exchange of words out front the shop. It was the only explanation as to where this individual came across their ‘hidden engagement’ here in the alley, out of sight from the other, few, pedestrians on the streets. But the man attacking her wasn’t the only one surprised when this odd stranger cut in and bashed the man’s face against the metal door not just once, but twice.
"Jesus Christ-!" the brunette gasped, taking a few surprised steps to the side, keeping her back against the wall. Whoever this guy was, he seemed to harbor a lot of anger for people akin to the man he now had lying in the snow. But the concerning part of that was the fact that this guy seemed so disgusted and bitter towards the man that he was willing to choke the life out of him by crushing his throat under boot.
"Hey, stop!" She shouted, trembling breaths tricking from her mouth in a white mist. "Cut it out, you’ll kill him!" Jodie protested vocally, yes, but that didnt mean she wouldn’t cut in on her own. Almost on impulse she stepped forward, hands outstretching to shove the potential murderer off his victim of the hour.
"Jesus Christ, people, stop showing me food! I’m fucking starving!"
ooc; whoa check that shit out I actually got off my ass and did replies. I mean I only had two but I did them!
"It’s alright." He shrugged, looking at his fingers as he made small loops with his thumbs. "It happened a long time ago. It’s not as delicate a subject as it was back then. And it doesn’t push me like it used to, so." He shrugged. "And I was the one who decided to share. I thought it’d be ok to break the ice." He laughed, though it was somewhat nervous. "Never was good at being social."
That was a charged question. Two years ago, he’d let out a flat ‘no’. But now? He went back to twiddling his thumbs and hummed to himself, thinking. “It’s not that I don’t believe that there isn’t any sort of activity that might be paranormal. But. You study and you search and you try to find just one time when someone was genuinely… special. After seven years, I’ve yet to find anyone who can prove me that I’m-” Not alone. He wanted to say, but he stopped. He shrugged and smiled. “Not wrong. So, until I find proof I’ll have to keep saying no.”
"No, huh? Well everyone’s got their own views. I’m a believer, though. Just to get that out there. I dont think there’s anyway I couldnt believe. I’ve seen and… well, I’ve been through qutie a few things that would turn any person’s denial around. But just saying it isnt quite the same as seeing it, right?" He might regret saying he didnt believe, though. Aiden was riled and wanting to mess with this guy simply because he stated he didnt believe. He was right there, after all. Right there, and this guy didnt believe he was.
He was asking for it.
Dont hurt him, Aiden. He seems nice.
No promises, but Aiden would start things simple, see what he could mess with in this place before making it all too obvious that this guy’s ‘no’ needed to be a ‘yes’ and pronto. Aiden’s first attack was on the monitor screens. Namely messing with anything’s display that had a screen. Whether it was distorting the image of what was presently on, or turning on something that was previously off.
The cold penetrated through fabric of his trench coat wrapping around him like the devil’s snake. Embrace of death, that’s all he could compare it to. It was wet and sticky, becoming the second skin. He remembered worse experiences in his life but this body would disagree, easily getting out of control in wrong moments. He needed time to get used to it. The man clenched his teeth, or maybe it was out of anger. He hated being outside - too many people, too much chaos, everything was too loud. Loud and dull. He rarely payed attention to their faces as they all looked the same to him. It all was just a background, random interference that still caused him migraines but it was necessary. After all he had to adapt like a normal human being and live his life between the missions.
Normal human being.
He almost chuckled at the thought. He was more like an angry lab rat only in more spacious and expensive cage. Put your finger in it and he’d bite it hard. It was his personal space, even if it didn’t really belong to him.
He pulled on his old-fashioned fedora tighter as his ears started to freeze. It wasn’t just a flashy accessory - the hatband was made out of a special material to reduce his EMP activity in cases when wearing the gasmask wasn’t possible, protecting him from overloading with information in crowded places.
But despite all discomfort it created this lifeless season was his favorite. The snow was making everything quiter, as if welcoming others to join in its sleep. He could just sit and watch it falling for hours, contemplating and forgetting about the world around in these rare moments. But that was before he died on Shadow Moses amidst freezing blizzard.
He finally seated himself on a bench in the middle of the street trying to concentrate and avoid shivering. Maybe it would be a better idea to go outside for food in the evening with less people around but now it was too late to complain. His gaze focused on the melting snowflakes on his leather gloves even if it didn’t help him much to get distracted.
If Jodie said the cold didnt bother her she’d be lying. However, walking in it enough and she couldnt quite feel her feel all that well anymore. Nose and cheeks were stained with a faint red hue from the nip of the cold. She was quite a mess these days, really. Her clothes were stained with God knows what. Patches of dirt dimmed the coloring of both the cloth she donned and what little skin showed between them. To think she was the only miserable person out in the cold would be a lie, but to compare herself to normal people would be a joke.
None of that mattered at the moment, though. Not the cold, not the dirt, nor the oil that matted and dimmed the color of her hair. What mattered was the painful growling of her stomach. There was a demand for food, and Jodie had to help get the money they needed for something hot to eat. Five bucks…that was all they needed, according to Stan. It shouldnt be too hard, right? She could manage that if she found the right opportunity.
"Hey baby, looking for a few extra dollars? Maybe I can help you out."
Speaking of opportunity…
Jodie had almost passed him by, but by the second sentence she paused, looking back at the owner of the voice that had called out to her. She almost wanted to yell at him - but that was just for standing out there like the cold was nothing. He’d probably only popped out a second ago from the building he leaned on. He was clean in appearance, but only in a manner of saying his clothes were washed and he didnt smell like the back side of a dumpster. However, he did have ‘creep’ lingering in the background of his voice.
"You…wanna help me?" Jodie couldnt keep the words from passing her lips. It was an offer for help, and offer for money. Money was desperately needed, and she might not come across another chance at this point. But as he went on about doing favors for one another, a weight began to form in the pit of her stomach. She had a feeling this offer might head in that direction. Asking for that kind of ‘service’, and for only ten bucks at that. The brunette pulled her arms tighter around herself, shivering against the cold wind that brushed against her coat. The chilled fingers of winter grabbing hold and slowly seeping into her bones.
"Ten bucks?" she asked, reluctance in her words. But ten bucks was more than enough for them to get some food, right? Still in the midst of a mental argument with herself over the idea of doing something like this, she quietly answered with an acceptance of the offer, the slight nod of her head coupled with the single word.