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 Imprisonment By Any Other Name, [LINA BEAN GET IN HERES]
Francesca Bishop
 Posted: Sep 14 2014, 02:35 PM
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It was a dismal place, though she had known worse by that point. The scratches on the wall had increased in number over time, and there were even a few small pieces freed from the masonry here and there. The lighting was dim enough to conceal some of the spots of blood scattered about, but Franny could smell the filth. More importantly, she could feel it. It was on her hands now. She could feel the crust of it at the corners of her lips. Her chin was still red where she had rubbed and scratched to 'clean' herself, but she was still rubbing her hands together in an almost useless attempt to get the brownish mess off of her.

Her mother would have been mortified by the unsanitary nature of it all. After having been gone from home for however long- she had lost track of time a while ago- the thought occurred to her less often now, but it still came to mind.

Then there was the look of her hair, the pallor of her cheeks . . .

She was seated in the back of her room- or cell, really- curled up in a corner as she typically was.

Though she was largely oblivious to the events of the day, it was night now. Her own screams- now forgotten- had signaled the proper end of a meal that had begun at a reasonable dinner hour for her. There was a telling but hardly recognizable carcass in the far corner. Far beyond the walls there was a world outside being cleansed by rain. Only fragments of the entire situation occupied her mind. For the most part, she was hyper-focused on the feeling between her hands as she rubbed them together over and over again.

She couldn't have said how many times this same series of events had played out.

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Maria Ricci
 Posted: Sep 27 2014, 10:31 AM
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There was the sound of a hinge, old and screechy, and more light was brought through by the opening of a door. Through it, came a young woman with long dark hair and wearing clothes that were best suited for a man: breeches and a loose shirt.

Maria Ricci looked tired, but there was a spark in her eye still.

"Francesca?" she asked, approaching the bars of the cell.
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Francesca Bishop
 Posted: Sep 27 2014, 10:44 AM
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"What do you want?"

Her voice was small and quiet but dripping with irritation. In any other setting it may simply have seemed like the sound of a young woman expressing exasperation to her parents. In this place, there was something considerably more dismal about the sound and the scene.

She didn't move from her place in the corner.

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Maria Ricci
 Posted: Sep 27 2014, 11:26 AM
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Maria looked at her lamely, wincing as if slapped at first, but regaining some of her composure as she moved to hold the bars in her hands. She may have been steadying herself.

"I came to see how you were doing. Would you like... would you like me to draw up a bath for you?"

The girl was filthy. Maria could smell her from here.
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Francesca Bishop
 Posted: Sep 27 2014, 12:25 PM
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"Is the monster allowed to bathe now?" Fran asked in response, picking at the mess underneath her nails.

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Maria Ricci
 Posted: Sep 27 2014, 12:31 PM
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Maria sighed.

"You're not a monster, Francesca. But you do have power that you cannot wield and is hurting others. I thought you understood that."
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Francesca Bishop
 Posted: Sep 27 2014, 12:48 PM
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"Not a monster-- just someone you ought to lock up in a cell to rot. Maybe toss a baby animal in now and then. That's what I understand."

She didn't sound particularly impressed with that alternative to being viewed as a monster.

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Maria Ricci
 Posted: Sep 27 2014, 01:12 PM
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"Would you rather we let you loose and soon, maybe not today, or tomorrow, or even this year, but soon, you wake up with your mother or sister's blood under your fingernails instead?" Maria asked, her knuckles turning white as she gripped the bars tighter.
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Francesca Bishop
 Posted: Sep 27 2014, 02:03 PM
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"I was doing just fine with that before you people came along. Now my family just thinks I'm dead or something. . ."

She didn't know how long she had been away from them, but she could see her mother in her mind. She was quite certain she knew what it was like at home. Her mother was cooking non-stop, occasionally breaking things, insisting everything was fine even though no one had asked. Her father was just quiet, reserved. . .

It all seemed very depressing to Fran, even while she sat locked in a cell. It was better not to think about home.

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Maria Ricci
 Posted: Sep 28 2014, 08:09 AM
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Maria shook her head, electing to show disappointment in lieu of what she really felt: anger. Rage, more accurately. "You already killed dozens of innocents, if not more."
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Francesca Bishop
 Posted: Sep 28 2014, 08:33 AM
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Fran's hands dropped to her lap. She curled further into the corner, pressing her cheek to the wall beside her.

"Your pal, Dom, has probably killed a few people, too," she noted.

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Maria Ricci
 Posted: Sep 28 2014, 10:49 AM
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"This is not about Dom, or me, or anyone else. This is about you and your other. You didn't ask to be born with this, but it is your burden and your responsibility."
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Francesca Bishop
 Posted: Sep 28 2014, 11:11 AM
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"Do you honestly think I need to be reminded of that?" Franny snapped.

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Maria Ricci
 Posted: Sep 28 2014, 11:15 AM
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"I'm sorry, I thought you got a little bit lost between self-denial and that shirking-of-blame thing you were doing going on about Dom," Maria replied in mocking innocence. "Dom, who, might I add, is the biggest reason you're not dead."
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Francesca Bishop
 Posted: Sep 28 2014, 11:34 AM
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"So, what-- You want to kill me? Why even take me away from the NVPD then? It doesn't make sense."

Her eyes were fixed on the scratched in the wall in front of her.

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Maria Ricci
 Posted: Sep 28 2014, 11:42 AM
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Maria shook her head grimly.

"Would you rather have that than being in a cage?"

She would.
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Francesca Bishop
 Posted: Sep 28 2014, 11:43 AM
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"Does what I want matter to you at all?" she asked in return.

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Maria Ricci
 Posted: Sep 28 2014, 12:37 PM
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"It does," the woman seriously said. "It makes all the difference in the world."
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Francesca Bishop
 Posted: Sep 28 2014, 12:48 PM
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Franny pulled her knees to her chest, her arms wrapped firmly around her legs. "Well I don't want to be locked up in here, and I want to be able to survive without having to eat people, so what are you going to do about that?"

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Maria Ricci
 Posted: Sep 28 2014, 12:50 PM
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"Try and help you, obviously," Maria said, and for the first time she smiled. "But, first, a bath. What do you say?"
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Francesca Bishop
 Posted: Sep 28 2014, 01:22 PM
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"I wouldn't hate it," Franny grumbled, shrugging a shoulder.

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Maria Ricci
 Posted: Sep 28 2014, 02:37 PM
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"Okay."

With that, Maria turned on the sturdy heel of her boot and went right back up the stairs.

Later, she returned with a group of others, some carrying a small tub, one, white-haired, white-skinned and almost red-eyed, carrying a bundle in her arms. In their tail came a dark-skinned woman with so much hair it stuck out in a sphere around her head, parting aside to make room for her face but not much more.

The door of the cell was opened and the tub laid out. While two of the women left, the others went to clear the floor of the cage.
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Francesca Bishop
 Posted: Sep 28 2014, 02:50 PM
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Franny hadn't moved while she waited, and she remained where she had been seated when her space was invaded. Her shoulders hunched, and her eyes closed. Though far from friendly, she was well-behaved in comparison to what some may have reasonably imagined.

The fingernails of one of her hands scratched repeatedly at the skin upon one of her knees.


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Maria Ricci
 Posted: Sep 28 2014, 03:00 PM
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Soon after, the two that had gone returned with a large container. They placed it near the tub, then retreated again. Maria watched them all at work, while also watching Franny. The dark-skinned woman was at her side, also watching.

A few minutes later, the two women that had brought in the container brought another one - a bigger bucket. They laid out on the ground and then proceeded to draw the bath.
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Francesca Bishop
 Posted: Sep 28 2014, 03:11 PM
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Fran rolled a shoulder back as the bath was being drawn, but otherwise she stayed put.

"Do I get the privilege of bathing privately, or are you going to stand watch the whole time?"

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Maria Ricci
 Posted: Sep 28 2014, 03:17 PM
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It was Maria who spoke. "Not at all. In fact, we're going."

The others were already filing out.

"Shout if you need anything," Maria added.
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Francesca Bishop
 Posted: Sep 28 2014, 03:51 PM
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Fran looked cautiously toward the bath but said nothing. Her gaze skittered across the floor, and her peripheral vision confirmed what her heightened sense of hearing was already telling her; The watchdog was leaving. Yet she didn't hurry to get to her feet. Instead she waited for the sound of the closing door and a few of the footsteps that followed.

Then she pressed a hand to the wall beside her, while the other pressed against the floor. She was slow to rise, her legs somewhat unsteady beneath her, but once she was up on her feet it was easy. The steam from the bath was calling to her, and she was eager to go to it.

Without bothering to undress or to ease herself in, she stepped directly into the bath and let the burn seep through the mess on her legs to touch her skin. Only as she began to lower herself into the tub did she pull the dress and underclothes she had been wearing over her head and toss them off into her preferred corner.

Once again she rubbed her hands together and began picking at her nails, though this time the water allowed her to wash away the grime that had seemed to have permanently stained her skin before.

In time, she made her way through the tangled monstrosity that was her hair. A while after that, the water had cooled, and her fingertips had wrinkled, but she remained seated in the tub, curled as she had been in the corner of the cell. The smooth black of her hair draped over her shoulders and down her back, and her chin rested upon an arm laid across her knees.

If she had been calm at all since finding herself in this place, it was at that moment.

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Maria Ricci
 Posted: Oct 11 2014, 05:18 AM
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"Maria, what you ask of me is great."

"I know, I know. But we have to try. If we don't, we're no better than the damn Ronkers or all other ignorant bastards in the world."

"Is this you speaking to me so, or are you merely reciting the words of another?"

Maria smiled and looked away.

"They're the right words, Si. And I stand by them."

"You try. One day these words will not come so easily to you, but, for now, I will do as Dominic asks. He knows the burden I bear and would not ask unless he deemed it the only way."

"Thank you."

"My dear, I have done nothing yet."

***


Maria and the dark-skinned woman reentered the place deep beneath the earth some time later, with the ghoulishly-white girl in their wake.
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Francesca Bishop
 Posted: Oct 11 2014, 07:33 AM
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There was nothing more than a girl to be found there. She was small, thin, and quiet. Her body sat perched upon the edge of the cool tub of water. A towel-cloth was wrapped about her shoulders, and the bottom half of her legs remained submerged. Each foot glided back and forth through the water, liquid slipping through her toes and over clean skin. Her hair existed as a smooth, black plane over her back.

Her eyes were closed until she took one short breath then a deeper one through her nose. Tired eyes looked to the door, and she hugged the fabric around her shoulders more tightly.

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Maria Ricci
 Posted: Oct 11 2014, 05:53 PM
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Maria opened the cage door again and stepped in, followed by the dark skinned woman and Corinne, the albino girl.

"Thought that would give you time to get reasonably pruney," she explained. Corinne had picked up the bundle they'd brought earlier and placed it carefully next to the tub. "We've got some fresh clothes for you. I think I got your size right..."
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