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Nick Waller

November 29th- Morning



"AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!" Jolted upright from his sleep, drenched in a cold sweat and panting for breath, Nick let out a shaky sigh as his hand grabbed his chest. His fist balled over his heart as he fought to regain control of his breathing, taking in the scene around him. His dorm room. Not that fucked-up plane he kept dreaming about, not the war-torn ground he had just collided into at what had to be terminal velocity.

Just that fucking nightmare again. Frankly, this was better than the fire one. And hey, something different this time happened. He had no idea what that guy meant by what he said, or more accurately what he was trying to tell himself. Such a verbose way of getting a message across, couldn't his subconscious hit him with the cliff notes or something? Scoffing, Nick sat up and shook his head, trying to rid himself of the last vestiges of that nightmare that clung to him. He certainly wasn't about to get back to sleep, not with that shot of adrenaline waking him up...

Thirty minutes before his alarm. Oh joy, because he wasn't already pushing it with how little sleep he got anyway. Well, he wasn't going back to sleep, that was for sure. Grabbing his phone and turning off the alarm, he grabbed his clothes and made his way to the shower.

As he showered, Nick couldn't keep his mind wandering back to that man. The 'Velvet Room', he called the cockpit. And was he making a pun when he called it a plane that existed between realities? What a hack, his own subconscious resorting to puns to get his attention on...some problem. Probably something to do with all the unresolved trauma, but what? The constant feelings of inadequacy? The -

Shaking his head before he went down that fucking rabbit hole this early in the morning, Nick tried to get back on track as the water flowed over him. Yeah, no shit his situation wasn't enviable, no shit he was thrown to the wolves. Though to be fair, he threw himself to the wolves by basically running away from home and taking what savings his parents had so generously kept for him. And then not answering any of their phone calls for three years. Two and a half, really, since the last time either of them even bothered was back around Memorial Day. Damn, not even a phone call for Thanksgiving, they really did give up on convincing him to talk to them, huh?

Well, that was what Nick wanted, so why was he complaining? Oh, right, that whole "Mommy and Daddy never loved you" complex. Eh, who cares?

So yeah, life is Hell, nobody is gonna coddle you, you're not a kid, you have responsibilities, blah blah blah. All shit he already knew. What pissed him off though, was the notion that there was something to win beyond survival. "Bullshit. There is no winning this crap. You just fucking get through the days."

And 'Whether you face reality is up to you' Oh fuck off, he was facing reality for years. He'd seen reality. He'd seen how fucked up this world really was, the shit it would do if it could get away with it. So, no, mister subconscious, he didn't need to awaken. If anything, he needed to go back to sleep.

But just like that freaky game with the eyes, there was no going back to sleep once you awoke to the Nightmare. There was no blue pill to take to forget the horrors of the Matrix, because this wasn't the god damned Matrix.

This was life. And every. Single. Day. Was a new hell.




Forcing on a more neutral face as he stepped out of the dorm, Nick mentally catalogued which classes he needed to go to again, just to be sure he remembered and didn't walk into the wrong room again. It wasn't that embarrassing in the grand scheme of things, sure, but it was a pain in the ass to run halfway across campus in like five minutes to not be late.

Convinced that he'd gotten it all down, Nick made his way over to his first class of the day.

And then he tripped over his own damn foot.

Pushing his arms out on the way down, Nick landed hard on his elbows and forearms, but managed to keep himself from landing face-first on the ground. Sighing, he was about to push himself up when he felt a hand on his shoulder.

"Hey man, you alright?"

NO I'M NOT ALRIGHT YOU FUCKING PIECE OF SHIT GET YOUR GOD DAMN HAND OFF ME BEFORE I RIP IT OFF AND SHOVE IT DOWN YOUR FUCKING THROAT YOU MOTHERFUCKING-

Pushing up, abruptly, and quickly standing, Nick brushed his arm off and gave a friendly smile to the stranger who'd tried to help him. "Yeah, I'm fine. Thanks man"

"Ah, no problem dude." The other boy said, raising a hand as a goodbye as he walked off. Nick watched him go, his neck twitching for a moment, before sighing. God dammit, didn't need that today. As the usual sense of wrongness and filth and DIRTINESS that came with being touched like that flowed across his skin like the sweat he'd woken up covered in, Nick shook his head and started walking to his classroom again.

Today was gonna be a long fucking day.
Geralt of Rivia

The Maw- The Depths

Lvl 7 (72/70) -> Lvl 8 (73/70)

Word Count: 383 words


Damn, this thing was making a mess. His distraction worked, but it didn't actually buy them much more than a few seconds as the monster swallowed the bottle whole with seemingly no problem. A small part of him was hoping it would hurt the creature, but he knew he couldn't rely on an unknown like that. Geralt was already moving, getting ready to distract it again, when it locked on to Princess Peach and slammed into her as she attempted to climb to safety. The fencing having some give to it saved her life, but that creature was still searching for them, and Bella's quick thinking was all that stood between Peach and an early grave.

Quickly, though, Mirage sprang into action, now freed from having to control that metal golem-like creature that was once Carl. Nodding at the Legend, Geralt kept his movements slow, decades of experience in hunting monsters allowing him to move near-silently, especially compared to the others, panicked, tired, and relatively unused to stealth as they were.

Mirage's idea was a good, simple one: get that thing to charge the fence again and break through, plummeting to the depths below and hopefully landing with a fatal splat.

As Rika grabbed the controls of the crane, Geralt looked back to Mirage and shrugged. That might certainly do the same job. He couldn't really afford to stay and "chat", so to speak, though, so Geralt continued making his way towards the exit of the Command Center. The fewer people around to make noise and mess with their plans, after all, the better.

While Sakura was taking care of Princess Peach, dragging her out, Geralt paused and watched. He could go and help, but adding more people risked adding even more noise. It would also ease the burden on Sakura, letting her focus more on keeping quiet. Geralt turned back to Mirage, gesturing to the pair, and started moving over to them while pointing between the Legend and the monster stalking them all.

He'd have to hope Mirage understood his meaning again, as he grabbed one of Peach's arms and gave a tiny smile to Sakura. We've got this, he thought. Between the crane making noise, Mirage's dart gun, and two people dragging the Princess out, this could work.
Geralt of Rivia

The Maw- The Depths

Lvl 7 (71/70) -> Lvl 8 (72/70)

Word Count: 547 words


Scrambling up the ladder after his attack against the mutated Moreau, Geralt didn't look back even as he heard the crashing of the scaffolding that crushed the fish-man and dealt some serious damage. He heard Bowser's plan to try and lure the monster back up towards them, and without any weapons or way to attack now that he'd done his part, Geralt both wanted to be out of the way of their plan, and out of the line of fire. Even in his grown body he'd be hard-pressed to take a hit from that monstrosity. Maybe with the Harbor Demon Spirit he could go toe to toe with that thing, but even then it wasn't a sure thing. As a child? No way, he was getting out of there.

Quickly running back to the Command Center, Geralt nodded as he looked over the others. Sakura and Rika were discussing possibly using other items that Moreau had left behind against him, and Geralt thought it might be a viable plan were it not for the risk of him attacking. If they could find a way to remove the risk of being eaten in a single gulp, he'd be more than happy to join in. But right now, he wasn't keen on putting himself in harm's way more than necessary.

Bowser's predicament proved him right to a degree. Moreau came right up under the Koopa King, nearly taking a bite out of the turtle monster man, and the resulting shockwave catching Geralt off guard, causing him to pause as his eyes widened. "I am very glad that I'm not down there." He groaned. That was, frankly, terrifying to witness. That amount of power reminded him of a Fiend or a Leshen. And those would tear a child to pieces in seconds if they got the chance.

Shaking his head, Geralt turned quickly and frowned at the second loud noise that rang out, this one from above them. Whether that was from one of the machines or something else, it didn't sound good, and he found himself entering a ready stance and moving to put himself between the others and that noise. Child body or not, he still had the mind of a man with decades of combat experience. His eyes followed the noise as it moved around, and he frowned when it ceased. He didn't trust that they were safe just yet.

Moments later, his cynicism was proven right as a horrifically deformed humanoid monster appeared, shambling towards them. Rika panicked, shrieked in surprise, and grabbed the cube-shaped object that they'd been talking about and tossed it at the creature as it struggled to stand.

Geralt, for his part, looked around desperately. This thing didn't have any visible eyes, so it was possible that it relied on sound to locate its prey. If he could get something to distract it, he might be able to lure it away from the others. His eyes caught onto the bottles in Moreau's little workshop, and he ran to grab one. Picking the one that looked like it would stink the least, he snagged it and waited for a moment when the thing looked distracted to toss it away from the rest of the group and hopefully draw its attention away.
IIIITTT LIIIIVVEEEESSSS

Ohaidere

Definitely didn't spend like an hour already working on my character sheet for this, no sir.
Geralt of Rivia

The Maw- The Depths

Lvl 7 (70/70) -> Lvl 8 (71/70)

Word Count: 271 words


As the others moved to enact their plans, Geralt half-jogged, half-ran back to the catwalks section, stopping at the bottom of the ladder and getting a good, if somewhat distant, view of the pool of water that the mutated Moreau was now wallowing about in. Nadia and the Ace Cadet were doing a hell of a job distracting the guy away from the folks who had gone underwater, but Geralt had another idea in mind.

While the two Seekers above were moving back towards where he was coming from, Geralt watched Link pull what a borderline suicidal move in actively trying to get the giant fish monster to attack him. He figured the little hero knew his own limits well enough to be able to get away in time, but a helping hand couldn't hurt, right?

No, no, don't answer that question.

Letting out a slow breath, Geralt repositioned the nail in his hand and took a throwing stance, as if he were planning to throw a javelin. It felt almost natural for the nail, which was a bit odd, but there was a lot going on here that was odd, so the Witcher child went with it.

Careful to take a spot where the others wouldn't run into his line of fire, Geralt waited for the mutated fish-man-monster to show itself, launching the nail at its back when he did so.

He didn't take much time to see if it worked, instead turning tail and running to safety before getting gobbled himself. Hopefully he'd bought a little more time for the folks below.

It would have to be enough.
Geralt of Rivia

The Maw- The Depths

Lvl 7 (69/70) -> Lvl 8 (70/70)

Word Count: 420 words


To say Geralt was happy that Sakura seemed to at least be...less upset, would be an understatement. He wasn't ecstatic, or thrilled, but he was still rather pleased. It was a small mercy in this messed up scenario they'd found themselves in. And he'd learned early on to take those and hold onto them with all he had, because that was all he was gonna get.

Everything Sakura said only confirmed for Geralt that she really was a kind soul. Not necessarily pure, not quite wholly innocent, not if the strength she brought to bear was any indication, but kind. Kinder than most, perhaps kinder than was wise at some points, but kind nonetheless. And that kindness had done them some good. It was what inspired Geralt to friend heart that giant bird instead of killing it, and while that only lasted a short while, it allowed him to intervene against the Harbor Demon and hopefully save lives.

Sakura's description of the copies as real, living people made Geralt pause. He hadn't wanted to think about it, but he figured he probably sounded the same when he told villagers off for trying to kill a Troll that was killing their livestock or hurting their people. Just because they didn't understand, or didn't want to understand, didn't make the point any less true, or meaningful.

But something she said made Geralt chuckle. 'Trapped in a body he doesn't want, eh?' Funny she should say that to one of the few people here in such a situation. Between himself and Frog, he knew who had it worse, but Lambert certainly wouldn't want him talking down just what they'd gone through to become what they were. Shaking his head, he spoke up, answering her question. "It's in the little things. The sunrise over the Skellige Islands. The way the coins rattle after a game of Gwent. Slipping into a warm bed at the end of a successful hunt." A small smile crossed his features at that, but Sakura was hyping herself back up, and Geralt nodded. She was tougher than she gave herself credit for, that he could easily tell.

Standing up with her, Geralt didn't pay her conversation with the copy of Mirage (the second Mirage?) much mind, instead focusing on the giant mutated monster that had appeared and was trying to eat their allies. Because of course they had to be right, and that guy either transformed horribly, or brought back a friend.

What a wonderful day they were having!
Geralt of Rivia

The Maw- The Depths

Lvl 7 (68/70) -> Lvl 7 (69/70)

Word Count: 699 words


To say Geralt was concerned and confused about the most recent turn of events was an understatement. Even Nadia's explanation of what the conveyor was didn't really help much. It was like a moving carpet used to transport objects, like some kind of extremely limited cart stuck on a single road, forever, in one direction.

That was about as close as he was gonna get to understanding it without really stopping to think on it, which was a luxury he didn't have at the moment.

Sakura's impending breakdown was, to him, probably the most important thing to deal with now. She wasn't going along with the others, and that meant the two of them could afford to sit and talk for a minute. Trusting the others to handle the....diving...suit....thing, he walked over to where Sakura had sat down and started having an existential crisis.

"Hey." He simply said, holding an arm out to offer a hug. "I...already mentioned I'm not good at this. But you look like you could use a friend. Not a pep talk, or a rousing speech, just...somebody who understands. I'm here for ya, k-Sakura. I'm not going anywhere. It's okay." Geralt thought back on some of the more...memorable people whose lives he'd ended.

Holy shit, that was a depressing line of thought to go down.

Shaking his head to physically clear away those musings, he sighed. "It's...not easy. Ever. Even now. I still think back to the first. A bandit on the side of the road, threatening a man and his daughter with his gang of pals. Her reaction was a lot like yours after I cut him down." He left out the...less pleasant implications of why he was threatening them, hoping Sakura wouldn't pick up on the omission. "All over me. And then passed out. Less than heroic start to my career, if I may say so." He shook his head again, this time with a hint of amusement.

"I'm telling you this because I want you to understand that you're not weak. There is a strength in compassion where others are callous. There's power in empathy and love that hate and anger can't match. It's what made me fight a war for Ciri. Not anger at the Wild Hunt for taking her. My love for her. My desire to see her free and happy to live the life she wants to. That's what drives me. They say a man with nothing to lose is scary, but a man with everything to lose can be just as terrifying."

Nodding, Geralt sighed once more. "You're not weak because you care Sakura. The rest of us are just...jaded, and maybe broken, and definitely tired. You don't have to be like that." He was exaggerating, of course, but the point was the same. They'd all been fighting for their lives for so long that things stopped phasing them like this. He was sure they'd all seen or come close to death enough times that it just felt normal for them, unlike the Street Fighter girl. She'd likely never forget this experience down here in the Maw, and Geralt was well aware of that.

"So remember Carl, and remember that when everybody else wanted to kill off that big guy in the water, you went out there and stopped them. Us. Despite what happened with that giant shark, you still put yourself out there and helped, because you have a strength that some of us have given up on. Sure, I'll let monsters go here and there, but I've never backed down from killing them if it felt necessary. And maybe it wasn't always. Maybe if I were calmer, maybe if I were less prone to drawing silver, there'd be a few more people, a few more monsters around."

Maybe if I were more like you, was left unsaid, but he hoped it came across.

This girl didn't deserve this shit, and for everything he said about love being stronger than hate, he was going to plunge his sword so far down Galeem's throat the fucker would be spewing bits and pieces of silver for what little bits of life he had left.
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