Fragile Hearts, Feeble Minds

They say strange things happen out here in the Sand Wastes of Pandora.

They are right.

Our tale begins today with a sheriff, a youth, and a murder.

It all began on May 14th, 2133.

***

Garinest Peabody was a humble sheriff in a humble town, just a couple hundred miles off of the actual Collective itself. Of course, Collectives didn’t even begin to describe the state of the world out here. People lived out on the sand and by the sand, surviving off of whatever they could grow.

The deserts in these parts are hard and cracked, with the scent of death and decay permeating through everything you see. That’s what happens when oceans dry up and fish don’t have a place to live no longer.

You get used to the scent.

Garinest was doing a routine patrol across the wastes when he saw it.

A dead body.

He squinted in the midday sun,  trying to see past the unending daylight that graced these fragile lands.

He pulled his sandrider to a stop and came over.

And that’s when it happened.

They say strange things happen out here in the Sand Wastes.

They are right.

Garinest inspected the body. Couple of gunshot wounds. Probably the result of another crime run gone bad. But there was something different about the body.

It was fresh.

And that’s when Garinest heard the voice.

Oh geez, oh geez. Patrice is gonna be so mad at me. A fuzz found Harod  and now he’s gonna find me.

“Who’s there?” Garinest shouted, the voice sounded ethereal, in his head but not in  his head.

Oh fuck, Oh fuck. Oh fuck, don’t look at the cracks, don’t look at the cracks.

Garinest eyes traced down the cracks of the dried out dirt beneath him.  He followed a particularly big crack until he saw feet. A scared youth was hiding in one of the cracks.

They had a gun.

The exchange was over in a second.

Garinest said hey.

The gun fired three times..

Garinest died after all shots met their target in his head.

The youth pulled themself out of the cracks

The youth panicked.

Here was the sheriff of a small town. In a small village. And the body count was piling higher. They couldn’t keep doing this.

They couldn’t stop the panic.

They quickly grabbed the sheriff’s hat, shades and badge and then put them on, stripped the sheriff of his clothes and shoving them in the cracks. This area couldn’t be patrolled that often, they thought. Nobody will find them until I’m long gone, they thought.

I’ll steal the sandrider. Take it to the next city. They thought.

That’ll never work.

You’ll never get there alive.

Shut up, they thought back.

They could never tell if the thoughts they heard in their head were of the deceased, or their own. They liked to think it was of the dead, though the truth eluded them.

They grabbed the Sandrider.

They sped of into the distance.

***

“Oh a new sheriff huh? Where you from? What brings you over here to Fracture’s headquarters?”

The youth stood in their own clothes but wore the badge and hat of a dead man.

“Oh, n-nothing. Just doing a quick relocation is all.” They lied.

“And  your name was… Garinest?”

“Y-yes.” They stuttered.

“Pronouns?”

“They and them please.”

“Mhm.” strange. They don’t seem that sure of themselves.

I wonder what’s for lunch?

Man  since Director X is no longer here I might as well as just repurpose his office.

Oh boy! Cheese wheels!

The youth rubbed their head, the influx of voices giving them a slight headache.

They missed the open wastes where the only voices were ghosts.

“Well Garinest Peabody. We haven’t had a sheriff in a good amount of time so I think you’ll fit right in. Here’s your clearance card and identification badge. You only have level 1 clearance so it should just open the main gate and most of the first floor rooms. Don’t go wandering around now you hear?”

“O-of course. Is there a medbay by chance?”  the voices surged louder as he moved closer.

“Yup! You might need to get special clearance or permission, but there’s a dispensary right near the entrance if you need anything generic.

“Th-thank you.”

What a nice sheriff.

Do you think the lunchroom will have the good sushi today?

Director X hasn’t even been seen in a year. When is he going to come back. I’ve been in charge for so long.

If you can hear this, I’m in danger. I don’t know where I am and I don’t know how to get out. Please help me. It’s so dark here. I’m so scared.

The voices all blended together to create a cacophony of noise that the youth could hardly make out.

They wandered into the facility, the voices getting louder.

Oh heavens, oh mercy, if Tobio  forgot his meds this morning, I am so going to chew him out.

If you can hear this, I’m in danger. I don’t know where I am and I don’t know how to get out. Please help me. It’s so dark here. I’m so scared.

Heavens, what if Director X is dead? Do I still get paid? What if he’s just out there, not doing anything. Relaxing while I’m here busting my ass off.

The youth bumped into a dark skinned girl with blue slicked back hair and a jet black and blue arm. The two both fell to the floor.

“Oh I’m so sorry, dear mercy me, are you alright?” she had a caramel voice that was smooth on the ears and went down like candy.

“I’m f-fine. Thanks”

“Oh I haven’t seen your face round these parts before. You new here?”

The youth nodded, focusing as best as he could on the girl, “My names Effie. It’s a pleasure to meet you. And you are?”

“I’m. I’m Madi- I mean I’m Garinest the new sheriff. Yeah that’s it. Sorry, I have a killer headache right now.”

“Aren’t you a little too young to be a sheriff? Oh no matter. Let me get you to the dispensary and get you taken care of. We can’t have our agents in bad shape like this.”

The two of them headed off down a hallway, the youth limping as they did.

They went down three hallways, four turns, and then two sets of stairs. One going up, another going down.

The youth was going to need a map.

Eventually they found their way to the dispensary and Effie started talking to the front desk attendant, “Yeah, I’m thinking maybe a mild strain? Low on bad stuff, nothing recreational. They look like they need it.”

Why yes, Effie, I’ll do anything you say, since you have the most perfect hair and eyes, and  teeth and body and oh heavens. She touched me. I’m never going to wash these hands again.

Testing on subject M appears to be going fine. Subject keeps sending out thought wave signals to everyone around for some reason. Thank heavens we don’t have an empath here or someone might notice. Regardless, the battery experiments appear to be successful. This one is confirmed to have the Shard of Infinity.

I mean think about it. If he’s dead he might never come back. I might be auxiliary director for the rest of my life making this subpar salary.

“Hey, Garinest. Take this.”

Effie smiled at them holding a cup of water and a pill.  For some reason they couldn’t stop thinking about her perfect teeth.

They took the pill and downed it.

The headache didn’t go away.

The voices did.

They blinked.

“Feeling any better? I know that sometimes it can take a while, but there might be some immediate mental effects.”

“Yeah. I actually think I do. What did you give me?”

“Oh just a proper strain to get your nerves in order love. We can have a prescription written up for you shortly by the medbay professional. We here at Fracture intelligence Agency want to make sure you are taken care-”

Suddenly a small boy in a blue suit darted past them, and effie froze.

“Tobio! Is that you? Tobio you better have taken your medication this morning. TOBIO?”

Effie ran off after them, leaving the youth wondering what to do with their new found silence.

They didn’t know.

But one thing was for certain.

Madeline was sure they were going to like this place.



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