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#551 Edited by Rosso (5404 posts) - - Show Bio

@ashley_knightfall:

Her heart fluttered as Dr. Knightfall's voice reached her ears, and her lips curled into an involuntary smile, faint, but real. That voice was the first taste of anything even remotely resembling genuine warmth and concern for months. Still, June was unable to meet the doctor's eyes.

How many patients had Ashley seen missing the entirety of their faces? How many flayed while they still lived, possessing only just enough constitution to survive until they could be brought in to die on one of her tables? Spite jumped in her heart. So too did relief, and something else. You could've been like them, something whispered in her ear. You still could, said another. Those men were his victims, and no more; yet somehow, as reminders of him, the mutilated bodies themselves felt like all-seeing eyes keeping watch over her. She pulled into herself, wrapping her arms around her body as she proceeded along. Normally observant eyes made only sweeping looks around the facility. Never direct, never at anyone or anything. Always gazing through. Never making contact with anyone else's, her eyes never veered above the height of anyone's neck.

After what she'd been through at the temple even stale coffee would've been as good as a gardenia's fragrance. But even inside Knightfall's office, all she could smell was the pungent blood wafting in through the walls and from her clothes. Pulling the thick frames from her face, June pretended to clear her glasses, prompted by some newfound meekness as well as a desire to buy time while she searched for an excuse. "U-um, sorry I was gone, Dr. Knightfall," she stammered, retreating even further into herself as she felt Ashley's eyes comb over her body. "School field trip." Far beneath even her worst lie, previously. "But I'm ready to get back to work."

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#552 Posted by Ashley_Knightfall (972 posts) - - Show Bio

@rosso:

She looked as if she was suffering from malnutrition the way her clothes were hanging off her body. Her sunken eyes showed she was dehydrated. “A field trip?” The Knightfall repeated as her brow arched. She leaned back on her desk, looking upon her apprentice. “I don’t believe you.” She wanted to say. “I know you were with him.” she wanted to say. “Where is he?” She wanted to demand. But instead, she nod her head, and forced herself to give a small smile. “Well, I’m glad you made it back safe. Tell me, where did you go? What did you do? I’m sure you’re full of stories from your adventures to…?” She waited for June to answer the question.

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#553 Posted by Rosso (5404 posts) - - Show Bio

@ashley_knightfall:

Shit! She searched the doctor's face. Suspicious? Or just too good-natured? Madripoor and Japan both came to mind but both had been sites of high-profile incidents and—Wait, she reminded herself. Dr. Knightfall already knows the truth. This is all just bullshit. I'm slipping. It couldn't keep happening. She couldn't allow herself to forget any of the multiple levels to their game; her life might very well depend on it.

So then, a test, at the very least. "Japan," Juniper said, looking the doctor right in the eyes. "We studied societal and cultural differences, particularly with regards to metahumans and the culture of 'super heroes.' Iconography...The reciprocal impacts they have on society and culture, and that the society and culture have on future manifestations. Very different from here."

Tossing a glance over her shoulder toward the doorway, she quickly changed the subject. "But it seems like even here is not the same as it was before. Those people...their injuries...like nothing I'd seen before." Another lie. She'd seen more than her fair share at that Godforsaken temple. Up close. Watched the process itself, and the aftermath of the torment on their minds, slowly driven mad before her in an attempt to drive her mad...Madder."And so many of them...Do you have any idea what's caused this? Some kind of criminal trying to send a message, maybe? Will I be dealing with any of those?"