NPC: Mother of All
Date: June 7, 2010
Mark delirious with fever, has a hallucination that hits a little close to home and opens his eyes to some truths.
"What Is True"
Mark's Fevered Mind
It's a typical day at Lane Industries. Marcus Lane III is sitting in on a board meeting. There is nothing fun about being stuck in a large conference room full of people old enough to remember watching men walk on the moon. His brother, Robert, in typical fashion has found a way out of this torture. Begging off for some important date, and since Mark doesn't have a special someone, he gets the joy of joining his dad.
His thoughts drift to places he's been and places he'd like to go, while the words spoken by his father drone on, sounding much like those adults in Peanuts cartoon — Wah wah wahwah – probably something about where the company stocks are at or the newest contract.
Eyes are on the windows and the world outside, like a school boy yearning to get out of school, Mark starts to feel drowsy. He really hates the board meeting.
His eyes droop, as sleep threatens to take him and then slowly close. They quickly open again, hoping that his dad didn't see. His view is obscured by a figure, it makes him jump a bit, eyes widening in surprise. Standing in front of the window is an old woman, her skin leathery and reddish brown, showing great age along with slightly cloudy eyes. Her midnight dark hair cut short for the bright yellow bird feathers decorating her ears. Her skin is decorated with stripes and dots, their meanings mysterious. Many necklaces loop around her thin neck covering a bare chest and her waist is wrapped in red fabric looking like a badly made skirt.
“<Is this who you are, young one?>” Mark knows this strange woman is speaking in a different language, but he can somehow understand her words.
She shuffles long the conference table, her shoulders hunched with her age – or the weight of all those beaded necklaces – looking at each person in turn. Coming to stop next to Mark's father, her thin lips, press tight together, but only long enough to ask, “<Is this the real you?>” After making a full circuit she steps close to Mark and leans over to look him in the eye. She hmms softly, hands moving to press palms to each side of his face making him look at her. Her eyes slightly misty with age move back and forth as she seems to look into him. “<No…>” She says softly, her head shaking and hands drop away. “<This is not you.>”
He feels something tighten around his neck, a sudden heavy weight, it has him reaching up to find out what it is. His fingers encounter a cool metal band encircling his throat. Standing quickly he moves to look at his reflection in the window, it's a collar… he has seen these. It looked like the collars they had found in the Lane Industries vaults. It makes a chilly ball of fear settle into his stomach.
“<You make yourself a slave to the life you were born in, but it is not truly you.>” Her words are firmly spoken and certain, her reflecting standing just behind and to the right of his.
Turning to say something to the woman, Mark finds the meeting is still going on, his father still droning on, as if his behavior is nothing alarming. “Who are you?” He asks the old woman, brows furrowing as he turns his attention to her.
“<They call me 'The Mother of All' and I am your judge.>” She offers with no real emotion showing in her features, but her voice is gentle. “<Your life hangs by a frayed thread, young one.>” Her eyes drop to his stomach, forcing him to look as well. Instead of his dress shirt and slacks, he stands bare-chested, in ragged pants. It's the gunshot wound in his stomach that catches his attention, blood trails down from it to be soaked up by the fabric of his pants. He can't help but touch the blood, fingers smearing it across his abs, brows lifting.
When the adventurer, looks back up at the Mother, she continues, “<The spirits do not give their blessing lightly. Before they are willing to give a part of their life force to you, they have to judge the real you.>” Turning slightly, her hand gives a large sweep of the room they are in, it trembles slightly with age. “<This… is not who you are.>”
The world around them starts to fade into shades of gray, like an old silent film. From the ground a think fog starts to rise, engulfing them both. However, the collar is still hangs heavy around his neck.
“<You are more then the son of a tyrant.>” The Mother's voice surrounds him as the mist does. Faces swirl around him, people familiar to Mark, his eyes follow them. Many are faces that he's seen in files… people that his father and the government and plan to make into weapons. “<What your father has done, is not your burden.>” The mist continues to swirl quickly, as if he stand in the middle of a tornado, but no wind tugs at his clothing. “<You seem to paint yourself with the same brush, but it is a false picture.>”
Steping out of the mist to stand before him, her hands folded before her, the Mother tilts her chin up in defiance, “<The people around you see the real you, even as you refuse too.>” The face of Cody…. moves by slowly, followed by Micah… Dr Rays jovial features as well.
As those faces fade, columns of mist rise from the floor to become familiar figures, all of them are members of the Amazon crew… even that groping meerkat. As they form, features becoming more defined, he is asked, “<Why have you continued on, young one?>”
Pulling his attention away from the mist, Mark's gaze shifts to the old woman. Her head tilts a bit to one side as her tiny feet shuffles her closer to the much taller man, she has to tilt her head back slowly to look up at him. “<Why do you fight so hard to get these people to safety, even as your own flesh and blood has sent bad men to kill you?>” She glances to the figures on each side of them, “<Why not just leave them and flee for your own life?>”
To each side of the old woman, Mark's father and brother appear, their expressions are one of disgust, as if something about Mark disappoints them. “<It is what your family would do.>” They slowly fade into the mist again as the old woman finally falls silent.
Mark's hand slowly reaches out to touch the figure of Jo, his fingers passing right through her, brows furrow. Looking to the other side Cody stands there, his repeats the action with the same result. AS his hands slowly lower, he gives her an honest look, “Because it is the right thing to do.
“Most of them are special, people my father would give anything to have. They deserve to live like anyone else….” Mark trails off, before looking at the little old woman, “Just like you. I can not allow it to happen.” He glances over at the misty figure of Cody, it's a brief glance. “I'd die to keep them safe.”
Her head tilts down slowly in understanding. “<I know what your father wants, The Plant Talker has told me.>” Her head tilts to one side, then the other, and her hand reaches out to rest against his chest, fingers splayed out, his fluttering heart vibrates his chest underneath her palm. “<What is in here — I can see it. You care about and protect the blessed. You are the Guardian. A shield against what your family would and has done. Even though you do not have the spirits blessing of power, you do not let it stop you from doing what is right.>”
Marks brows tick upward suddenly, his eyes dropping away. “They are my family tho'. I love my father. I always have, despite this, but I loathe the man just as much.” Fingers lift to rub across his forehead, clearly stressed but what he is saying to her. “He… he didn't always use to be this way.”
The mists start changing, showing memories of a time when his father did show him some affection to a younger Mark. Images of Father and son watching TV, sitting and reading a children's book. A teenage Mark receiving keys to his first car, a brand new one at that.
The expression on the eldest Lane boy's face is sadness and regret, while his eyes follow the memories. Longing for those time, but those memories fade back into the mist again. “He may have never liked what I did as a hobby, but there was a time I actually felt he cared. How can I fight my own father?” Those last words whispered. “I feel like I am betraying them… and my mom… she'll be destroyed by it.”
“<In life there are many trials, Guardian.>” The look the Mother gives him is a pitying one, her hand moves from his chest to touch his cheek, like a mother would comfort a son. Her words while rough with age, are softly spoken. “<The spirits have their reasons, and it is not our place to question their choices. There will always be pain before there can be peace.>”
Her trembling hand lowers to touch the collar around his neck, “<You must shed the bindings you have set upon yourself. Until then… you will not truly see who you are.>” Her hand drops away and the Mother steps back. “<You must chose between the Son.>” Her head turns to one side, hand lifting to one side, the mist seems to rise with it. As the form solidifies, Mark finds himself looking at a twin, dressed in a business suit, cell phone to his ear.
“<Or the you that which you know is true.>” Her head turns to the other side, another scruffier version of him springs to lift from the thick fog. This version of himself is dressed in jeans, a khaki shirt, a leather jacket over that. His feet are clad in well worn, hiking boots rather then patent leather shoes, a pack on his back, and a rifle in his hands.
Blue eyes drift from one figure to the other, his shoulders slowly sink, “That's harder then it sounds.” Mark says, despair weighing on him, eyes closing briefly as his head turns away. “What you're asking me is not an easy choice.”
“<Life is never easy.>” The old woman says softly. Stepping forward, the old lady's hand reaches out to pat his chest gently, before resting it there. “<Follow this and it will show you the way. Already, you have started to. If you had not, you would not have ended up here.>” She smiles at him, her teeth uncharacteristically white, it's a knowing one.
“I've been trying to do what is right. I want to do what's right. To protect them. To stop my dad.” Sighing with frustration, Mark steps away from her, turning away slightly, his eyes search the mist, but he doesn't really know what he's looking for within the swirling depths. “I don't plan to let him win this. Too many lives could be destroyed. Children enslaved.” The adventurer looks torn still though, but his words ring true.
The Mother of All tilts her head to one side as if listening to something. Whatever she hears the old woman looks satisfied, a short firm nod is given. “<Your feet are on the right path, but you have a long journey ahead of you, before you will will shed your bonds.>” Her hand grips his arm and gently tugs at him to get him to face her again.
Smiling gently, almost with pride tilting up her chin, her hands lift slowly, fingers pressing to his temples. Her misted eyes catch his and hold them, Mark can't seem to look away. “<The spirits smile upon you, Guardian. Do not not make them regret their gift.>” As she finished speaking those words, warmth floods through the adventurer, pain he didn't even know he was feeling fades slowly, making him breath a soft sigh of relief.
When the warmth fades away, Mark feels hollow and yet whole at the same time. The Mother pulls her hands come away and she backs up, mist slowly starts to curl around her feet like white snakes, slowly slithering up her leg. Her voice fills the void around him.
“<The road before you will be dangerous and full of trials, but there are those that will stand by you and help you… Find them…>” The mist circles around her until she is completely consumed, then the mists sinks away, while the world around him fades to black and Mark Scotts sinks into sleep.
Suddenly, his eyes snap open again, but this time in the darkness of a hut, the thatched roof arches above him, misty with smoke. Tiny points of light, penetrating the thick thatch, tells him it is daytime outside, even though the interior is very dark. His tongue rolls around inside of his mouth, a rather nasty and bitter taste makes him grimace with a wrinkle of his nose.
Mark's head turns slowly to find the old woman from his dream sitting beside him, looking tired, but rather content… even pleased. The Mother gives him a smile, but doesn't say a word, only leaning forward so she can touch his arm. Glancing at his arm, when he feels the sting, he finds a thick band of black – had to be two inches thick at least – running around the muscle of his upper arm, above and below it, dots run around his arm. When she touches it, what he had hoped was paint doesn't smear… No, clearly it's a tattoo.
He glances at her and she gives him a knowing smile, leaving him no explanation of why it was done, and he'll probably never get it. The Mother's hand moves next to touch his stomach, to draw his attention to it. Obediently, he looks… Mark sits up suddenly, fingers brushing over what is left of the gunshot. Only a thick scar remains of the gaping hole, when he slides his hand around to his back, he can feel another scar there.
Eyes slowly lift to the old woman, Mark's expression is one of complete and total awe. For her part, The Mother of All just gives him a soft amused smile, it's probably not the first time she's seen that look.
It's a surreal moment, as realizes he is really in the presence of a powerful individual… a healer. No wonder his father wants her.
Well… he won't get her.
This much the eldest son of Lane vows silently.