11 July 109 PA
“I will hear no more talk about it, daughter.” Baron MacArawyn said stalwartly to his his young daughter. “I have spoken!”
“But Da’!” Complained the young she psy-stalker fiercely staring down her father with her intense aqua green eyes. “I don’t want to go! I’ll have to leave all me friends. I won’t do it.”
“Enough, Benna! I said, I have spoken!”
Tears welled up in the 9 year-old-girl’s eyes, bringing a soft shimmer to the dark ocular insets against her stark pale face characteristic of all psi-stalker. Though most would say Beneficence MacArawyn was way too mild-mannered to ever be a threat, those tear-filled green eyes were her father’s bane.
“Daughter! I-I-I…” the baron, once a great bounty-hunter renown for his ruthlessness, looked about to be beaten.
“No! I have already made arrangements.” He reaffirmed. “Here is the letter. Take it to Castle Refuge to a dwarf named Keegan O’Malley. His father and I were good friends. He will care for you. This will be the beginning of a great journey.”
“Okay, fine Da’.” She conceded.
“You leave for Castle Rock Junction in the morning, Benna. All will be okay.” He could see her jaw start to quiver and she began to sniffle. Benna quickly wiped her tears and turned away from her father so he could not to see her emotions.
“Yes, Father…” her breathing shuddered as she walked dignified back to her room.
The rest of that evening Benna packed her gear just as she learned from her father. She didn’t know why her father was sending her away. He knew she didn’t like the family business. Sure she had an incredible skill at shooting, being able to shoot the wings off of a Glyptonian Dragonfly at 50 paces. But she really didn’t like all that violence. She thought that maybe her father believed this journey would break her of these pacifist behaviors. After all, Rifts Earth was a ruthless place. “It takes a ruthless, near-criminal to survive.” At least that what Baron Fairghen MacArawn always said. Beneficence didn’t believe this. The rifts had torn this is world apart, in more ways than one.
She paused before she placed her two techno-wizard sidearms, Clarent and Dyrnwyn into her pack. Both were named for great swords of peace and goodness in Arthurian legend. She thought about her father’s words. What this world needed most was an opportunity to heal. It needed good people in the world who cared. Benna would show her father this was true—even if it killed her.
Castle Rock was a large growing city thriving from the fallout. It had the biggest open bazaar Benna had ever seen. The market stretched on for several miles. She had overheard someone saying that the shops on the surface were not even half of all the total shops. Well over 70% of the shops were located in the two levels beneath ground level. The deepest shops in the Dark Zone, were way too dangerous for a 9 year-old girl to ever be venturing off to see alone. Benna had no desire to do this, she valued life more than curiosity.
A few necklace and jewelry shops caught Benna’s eye along the way to Junction Station. But they did not have a single thing in her favorite color, purple. Disappointing. She continued without spending the stack of credits her father had given her. She arrived at Castle Rock Junction Station around noon. The station was brim full of people. Many were destitute refugees.
Looking a bit lost and wonder struck from the vast amounts of people, Benna became overwhelmed and confused. Panic began to well up in her. She didn’t know what to do next. A kindly old woman recognized Benna’s plight and fear.
“Hello, young lady.” The woman said with a warm voice. “Are you lost?”
“Yes.” Benna replied. “I’m trying to get to Castle Refuge, but I am all turned around.”
“Well, you’re in luck! My people are heading there, too.” The woman revealed.
“Great!” Benna said in her rich Scottish accent. “I’m Benna, pleased to meet you.”
“You as well. I’m Erin.”
Benna took the woman’s hand and was kindly escorted to the ticket counter. On the way, they talked about the many adventures Erin had gone on, and the many creatures she had seen and saved. Benna was excited to hear all of Erin’s stories.
The boarding platform of the ley-train was constructed of a sleek metal alloy. This allowed it to withstand the constant moving energy oscillating from the ley-line. Docked at the platform was the ley-train. It too was plated with a hyper-shiny alloy not too different from that of a Glitter Boy armor, or as Benna and her father liked to call them, Bonny Boomers. The train had three engines pulling at least a hundred or more freight cars. Each engine had 6 massive sail-like psychokinetic reticulum stretching out on either side as if they were alloy wings. These reticulum harnessed the flow of raw enegy from the ley-line and turned it into kinetic thrust. The train hovered on a repulsor rail that stretched on for miles to the East over the flat plains.
They boarded the train together. Benna felt a bit nauseated standing so close to the ley-line. She felt better being with Erin, though. Benna admired Ms. Erin’s stories of courage and resilience. The girl’s fears about going to a new place and leaving home began to soften. Benna became excited for the adventures she would have.
The rest of the three day train ride on the ley line was pretty uneventful. The last day, Benna was feeling her hunger building. As a psi-stalker, she constantly had to live with a hidden hunger. But not just any hunger. She knew she must feed off the life energy of beings with supernatural abilities or natures. For this reason many wizards and powerful beings feared or disdained psi-stalker like her. Many of her kind were bred and raised by the Coalition States as hunters for their skills and constant thirst. Those no longer part of the Coalition were hunted down themselves, and branded as criminals. Erin understood this about the young psi-stalker girl. She had aided a full family of psi-stalkers several months back to escape the grip of the Coalition in Chi-Town. Erin could see Benna struggling to concentrate due to her hunger rising. Although, Benna could absorb the raw energy exuding all around her emanating from the powerful crackling blue ley line pushing the heavy train forward. Nonetheless, it did not satisfy as much as the living energies she had been fed by her father from his quarries.
“I’m a bit hungry, Ms. Erin, ma’am.” Benna expressed mild-mannerly. “I was wondering if you might have any Junkura worms, or possibly even some malgus squibs. I’ll even settle for a few hummucular tomb grubs.”
Erin smiled at her thoughtfully.
“Ah, child.” Erin empathized. "I am afraid we don’t have any of those here on the train.
“Benna, what you may need is to pull energy off of a stronger being on this train.”
“Goodness, no! Ms. Erin, I could never do that. It just wouldn’t be right. It’s like your story you told me of the kelpie who you found in the fishermen’s nets. You taught it that men would always hate it if it kept dragging their friends down to their deaths. He had to learn to feed on what the sea provided him. You taught him that if he let in to his hate and anger, the sea, his home would be polluted by that anger and vengeance. He learned to give more and take less. You said he became a great warrior in protecting the sea. I want to be like the kelpie in your story, Ms. Erin.”
Erin’s eyes teared up with compassion and admiration for the young psi-stalker. She was moved by the girl’s big heart and care for the life of others.
“I suppose you’re right, my darling. I suppose you’re right.”