A Rose By Any Other Name




((First post! Be gentle... I was inspired by some of the writers here to finally rattle out one of the stories floating around in my head about Wild Rose. Maybe some of you have met her... Hopefully the encounter was pleasant and debt-free.))


The woman looked up, blinking owlishly into light that seemed harsh after the gloomy dusk of a small, stone-walled containment cell. Resulting shadows played across the odd fiber of her clothing, a standard issue orange jumpsuit that clashed garishly with her flesh. It was clear, even from the doorway, that something was terribly different about that flesh. Whorls of red mingled with the gray undertone of her skin, sharp and strikingly feral. Veridian eyes squinted, sizing up the prisoner’s visitor, and one long fingered hand swept back a fall of green hair. There was no malice in her stare, rather a striking sense of indignation.

“My lawyer, Sarah McLey… I presume?”

With a sigh, mentally reminding herself not to be shocked by anything this creature would say or do, the attorney nodded and sat primly on the edge of a folding chair placed by the looming guard. With shaking hands she unlatched her briefcase and removed a compact audio recorder, a sealed envelope, and a legal pad and pen.

“That is correct,” her voice sounded much more sturdy than she felt, and the young woman smiled inwardly. “Now, we had you listed as Jane Doe, as your DNA is not on record and no documents of identification were found at the time of your arrest. Now that you’re awake would you like to fill us in on the blanks?”

Gradually the creature unfolded, moving with a grace and self-confidence that belied her squalid surroundings. The guard outside tensed, one hand moving towards the call button at her side that would summon the three heroes currently pulling volunteer duty at the station.

“No need, Officer Dent. My legs are cramped.” A forgiving smile spread across the ashen crescents of the prisoner’s lips as she offered the scowling guard a smile. Once again her attention shifted to the young attorney, relief concealed behind a cold mask. Thankfully this public defender was young, fresh to the scene, and harbored no iron-ground hatred for the miscreants of the world.

“You wish my name?”

“That, and an explanation. I wish to know what you were doing in the presence of a Thorn Wielder, and anything else of relevance. If I’m defending you in court we have to work together, understand?”

“Be at ease, Miss McLey, I wish you no harm. What if my words incriminate me, though? How will you defend me then?” One green brow raised, and the prisoner’s eyes centered on her attorney. Staring into them the young lawyer nearly became lost, easily envisioning herself surrounded by lush forests and verdant vegetation. Sarah’s jaws flexed, teeth clenching as she hauled herself from the reverie.

“I won’t. I’ll plead off and watch as you burn.”

The prisoner winced, put off by the mention of fire. “Such words. Very well… Officer Dent, fetch the young lady a blanket or cushion to sit on. This is a long story…”

The beefy cop obeyed, now more curious than angry with her charge, and the prisoner moved to settle onto the thin, stained mattress that served as a bed, long legs crossing with infinite grace despite her shockingly orange dress.

This story begins before the alien war, when I was young and… human…

Since childhood I have been obsessed with the fantastic. The world shown only in literature, of elves and satyrs, magic and godly might. My mother was poor, my father absent. We made due, and after years of penniless work we managed to stabilize our life. At this time we moved to Colorado, purchased our first house, and prepared to settle into blue collar society. She was a healer, working with science and drugs, and imparted to me a fondness for life and a need to help.

When I was a young woman I met a man. He cared for me, and I for him, and in two years time we were married. His job took him to Rhode Island, and in my twenty-first year I finished crossing the country. In the car behind me were my books, carefully packed in boxes, and the few so-called artifacts I had managed to collect during the years.

We made our home in Baumtown, purchasing a moderately priced house in a surprisingly complacent neighborhood. After much cajoling my husband agreed to have a greenhouse added to the southern flank, and it is there that I spent much of my time, nose deep in books or half buried in wild roses. The flowers don’t grow around here, you see, and required special attention and atmosphere.

I cared for my plants like children, and I believe this was what initially caused my husband and I to drift. He spent more time at work or simply away from the house, and I woke with roses on my mind. Years passed this way, and we grew more and more distant. I took to venturing out to the various small arcane bookshops located in or around Paragon City, fancying myself quite the adept little dabbler.

Musing over these old, dusty tomes of forgotten lore I often began to doze, dreaming in my mind’s eye that my beloved flowers could speak, clarifying obscure passages and denouncing fallacies, and I wept when they passed into the “Long Winter” as they called it. The sight of their withering leaves broke my heart.

Soon I came to realize that my husband must be having an affair. I was surprised to learn that I did not mind. He could have his women, as long as I had my greenhouse, and my books. I spent more time away from home, and one day met another man.

Him I did not love, nor care for beyond the need for knowledge that he could give me. He was cloaked and cowled, a not uncommon occurrence in the mystical shops I frequented, but his eyes pulsed with a sluggish green light that set my teeth on edge. After several weeks of meeting in clandestine locations and discussing our mystical works he took me to a place beneath the city, and there I met his coven. They called themselves the Circle of Thorns, a name which no doubt reeks of evil and decay to your mind. Most were old, moderately wealthy fellows with a need for flair. Few realized what their funds were truly used for, and I doubt that many would have cared.

I befriended them, but could not stomach the dark rituals they performed. The creatures that were raised by some of the more adept in the Circle set my mind reeling and I often had to leave their presence, pleading ‘feminine illness.’

Several more years passed this way, with few events worthy of note. My plants became more conversant, the Circle extended its yearly offer of acceptance to the ranks (Which I politely declined), and my husband grew still more distant.

Thinking back, I do not believe there was anything spectacular about the day the world fell down. I remember my husband came to me then, in the greenhouse, which he had not done for many years. I was distracted, and could not understand his words for the warnings in my head, the sickened dread that dripped from every green leaf and red petal in the room. He spoke at length, becoming increasingly vehement with each passing moment. I believe he struck me down, or I swooned, and as I fell his words became alien jibberish, sounds that no human throat could create. As I fell I looked to the sky, distorted through the glass roof, into a million red stars.

I lay there stunned, watching as the stars exploded, and bloody light fell like tears, dropping devastation on my home. The glass shattered, and the flowers and I screamed as one.

Thus began my Long Winter. When I emerged I was as you see me now, no longer a woman. All that remained of my home was the fractured remnants of a few walls, and goblets of melted glass stuck to everything. A single wild rose had managed to spring from the wreckage and I knelt down, bemused.

Flee, it said to me, in the manner that foliage speaks, all images and feeling. Flee, and live. With that the rose curled, not in death but as though it were night, and shrank back to the earth.

I do not know the specifics of those events, but I have come to believe a few things. My husband was a Rikti spy, a fact I may have realized had we been closer. He made an ideal candidate. Suffused for years with my light magical work, my flowers had become what I always envisioned… my children. Perhaps it was the energies sent down by the Rikti technology, or merely the strength of will, but we exchanged several things that night. They took from me intelligence, memory, and freedom. In exchange I was given life and strength, and the power to see my ends met.

Who I was, the name I was born with, these things do not matter, nor could I tell you if my existence depended on it for my memory is image and shadow. That woman no longer exists. Now I am changed, a creature of both man and earth. I am the Wild Rose.

Forgive me, but I must go. Someone is in pain…

As the Rose’s voice faded the other two women gradually regained their sense of awareness. During the telling of the story the cell was replaced by Rose’s memories, hazy piecemeal images of the past and emotions that coursed through their minds. It was as if they had lived those days of idle study and died on that horrible night, when the world fell down.

Each still shaking as the memory of death swept through their souls, their skin prickling as though sliced with shards of glass, both guard and lawyer experienced a moment of fear as they realized their charge was gone. They burst from the doorway at the end of the hall, frantically searching, but the woman was nowhere to be seen. The room was dark, and muttered curses could be heard from several police and office workers as they struggled through the gloom. Only a thread of blue offered relief from the blackness, tendrils of gleaming electricity spiraling over the dead fluorescents lining the ceiling.



((Had to pass out last night, too tired to write. Here's the last of this bit. I hope you've enjoyed the read!))

Several blocks away, kneeling in the grease and grime of a dim alley, a girl cried. Only yards away from the lighted and busy street, this shadowed alcove was part of a different world entirely, run by street gangs and villains as powerful as any of the brightly dressed heroes patrolling nearby. A boy’s head was cradled in her arms as his unconscious form lay lax in the refuse of the underworld. Taunts and jeers echoed and faded, accompanied by whoops and catcalls of the misguided youths that had pummeled him moments before.

Light broke the gloom, a phosphorescent whiteness that flashed, momentarily chasing back the shadows. Whimpering, the girl closed her arms over her brother’s body and leaned forward as if to shield him from whatever new terror would be visited on their lives. Her shirt was torn and fell down one shoulder, revealing the bruised and battered skin beneath, fresh purple fading into old and half-healed yellow.

The Rose, her arrival somewhat marred by the bright orange jumpsuit she still wore, stepped from the light as it began to fade, and looked upon the scene with pity. Unaware that her scrapes and bruises were already beginning to heal with the Rose’s proximity, the girl looked up with reddened eyes, misery giving the look of a caged animal.

“No, dear. He will be well.” Strange and unmentionable fluid spread a stain across the knee of her jumpsuit as she knelt down to the ground beside the two siblings and reached out, curling two fingers beneath the girl’s chin. With the touch all pains faded from the waif, and beneath the grime and ruined clothing she became as any other, free from harm and hurt.

“Believe in me, and he will walk out of here alive.” Rose was hard put not to reveal her fear for the boy, and the feeling of despair that washed through her. Part of it was taken directly from the children, barely past puberty and yet already privy to some of the world’s worst truths. Her empathy would not let her enter so near subjects such as these without flooding her mind with their pain and anger. Some of that despair was her own, however, the lack of faith in herself, the chastising for not being able to do more.

If I were stronger, I would have stopped the thugs before it went this far. A twitch threatened to form at the corner of her mouth and, with an incredible surge of self-control, she shoved the emotions of herself and the children from the forefront of her mind. Not now. If you fall into self-pity this boy will die.

“You… You must be my conduit. He trusts you. Keep hold of him, and have faith,” Rose offered a small, tremulous smile to the wide-eyed girl, and gathered her focus. First inward, then down she went, rooting her psyche to the powers of the world. One hand fell to the boy’s midsection, where most of the damage was done, and through her altered perception she located his injuries.

Now the difficult part. With the use of her empathy Rose grounded herself on the boy, using his sister’s conscious mind to retrieve fractions of his personality, to mold and shape him into a whole being that she could commune with. It was very similar to the ritual used by the Thorns to summon their beasts, but instead of piecing together a fiend she would repair a living creature. There! She thought, as she fixated on his mind, shrunken from the pain and resting in blessed unconsciousness. Ignoring the flood of mental energy that always accompanied such a union, she moved on to his body. Heal, she told it, and then showed it how, allowing her own store of energy to flood into the boy, to facilitate the immense amount of power it would take to repair damage in such a short time. Normally the human body will spend days, sometimes even months or years, to fix its wounds, unable to provide the kind of raw power it takes the knit flesh instantaneously. With Rose providing most of that power the child could beat entropy, and do in seconds what should have taken months of hospitalization and constant care.

Beneath her hand was the gratifying result, the feel of ruptured organs and shattered ribs developing healthy cells at a swift pace, repairing the damage that the muggers had caused.

Rose slumped back, contact broken with both siblings as the boy uttered a soft sigh and fell into a much healthier sleep.

“He will dream for a while, but he is mended.” The Rose was winded after such exertion, her own stores of energy not replenished fully since the raid the previous night. With impeccable timing and as if in reminder to her supposed incarceration, four armed policemen rounded the corner with shouts, a tall and stately man in their wake. They didn’t need his urging to know that the escaped prisoner was in sight, and their shouts became angry as guns were raised, flashlights leveled on the trio.

“Move away from the children, ma’am!” The wild look in the man’s eyes betrayed his fear that the empath was up to no good, likely corrupting young souls to take back to her thorn wielding masters.

The young girl, still coping with the shock of so many events in so short a time, looked up at the black, glaring Cyclops muzzles of four drawn weapons and uttered a short, hysterical shriek. She watched in helpless terror as two police lifted the dazed Rose between them and escorted her staggering form back towards the armored vehicle down the street.

The last two cops and their magic wielding guide approached the brother and sister, weapons holstered and harsh looks fading into gentle concern.

“Did she hurt you?”
“What did she do to him?”
“Ma’am we’re going to need a statement from you, are you up to it?”

Flooded with questions, the girl simply nodded blindly, and lowered her head to look with relief on the peacefully slumbering form of her brother. Recognizing shock, the two were escorted to a different vehicle, a simple patrol sedan, and driven back to the station to await social services.

Several days later, after the brother and sister had given their statements and Rose was recuperated from her little jaunt outside the station, she once again sat with her lawyer and a detective that worked closely with the departments Paranormal Investigations Team. The team was located in a basement floor, many of the rooms kept gloomy due to the light-sensitive items kept inside. This had all earned them the unfortunate acronym “PIT.”

The Rose no longer wore her jumpsuit, having been moved into the detention area centered in the Pit and properly filed under her only known alias, The Wild Rose. By now it was widely known throughout the station that spending time near the Rose facilitated healing, and any number of people, from beat cops to office interns, had come to visit and converse with her under various false pretenses, returning home with cured colds, healed cuts and mended sprains.

“The DA dropped the charges, Rose. Apparently there was no evidence to connect you to the Circle of Thorns other than your presence, and that is circumstantial. Normally we’d be able to release you but we have enough unknowns wandering the city as it is. Mr. Murry is here because we need you filed properly. The city tries to keep every supernatural under tabs… for surveillance reasons. I’m sure you understand.” Sarah McLey’s pen tapped against the yellow legal pad she had with her. A few notes were scribbled in the margins but the majority of the top page was covered in doodles.

“In other words,” piped in Murry, an unfortunately ugly man with a moon-shaped, pockmarked face. Despite his appearance he oozed a feeling of quiet competence, and Rose nearly wilted at the feeling of deep-lying sadness and loneliness she felt emanating from his psyche. “We need proof that you exist.”

Rose lifted her brows, mouth curling into the tiniest of smiles at that statement. Murry cursed inwardly as he felt the heat of a blush creep up his neck and face.

“I know how it sounds… You have no birth certificate, no fingerprints, and no name. We have to make these things for you. The mayor has also generously offered to provide housing for the city’s heroes. Once we get those bases covered you’ll be free to go. We’ve set up a contact in MAGI for you, you don’t have to go looking for cases but if you need anything or we have to find you that’s how it will be done. Do you er… Are you partial to any names? The guys upstairs are sticklers for each hero having an alias. I think looking up codenames insults them for some reason.”

As they stood, gathering various possessions and preparing for a long day of tedious paperwork, far from the normal flash and glory of a hero’s life, Rose thought over his question. She was pleased by his reference to her as a hero, although it seemed a bit premature.

“I think, Mr. Murry, that I should like to be called Eliza Daye. I heard it in a song once and it seems fitting.”

((Eliza Daye is from a song "The Wild Rose" by Nick Cave, feat. Kylie Minogue, for the curious))



((Out of curiosity, are you posting this looking for interactive RP or just to introduce your character? No sarcasm involved, just honest curiosity.))



(( It's just a story, with an origin. I guess it's an introduction. I'd like to be involved in the RP both on the server and on the boards, so it seemed a bit of an introduction was in order. Plus I've got all these stories swirling around in my head and I needed some place to get them out ))



Dont Every stop writing. That is all I have to say.




((Thank you Straude! I'm such an introvert, it really makes me all warm and gooey to hear a compliment. Unless you meant, "Don't stop writing, cause you seriously need the practice" lol. ))



((No good writer ever stops learning, Rose, so even he had meant it that way it's still not an insult. hehehe

It's been an entertaining read. If you want to RP with Balthasar and/or his alter ego let me know. I'd be glad to get involved with intelligent, creative roleplay, which you obviously are capable of. =)



((Any time And you're right, getting better is part of the fun of writing. I consider it the mark of success for someone empathize with a character... Heck I almost cried when Tas went back in the War of Souls))



((My name in game (on Virtue) is "Balt Michaels" since "Balthasar" was taken. Rose may eventually learn his alter ego, but right now he's still trying to keep it under wraps.))



Excellent story! Bravo, Wild Rose. Bravo.



Wonderful. Absolutely marvelous.

I KNEW my instincts about you were correct Eliza!



Wow. I was riveted to this. I had to run some errands during the afternoon, and as soon as I returned home, I started reading again where I'd left off. What a great origin! And so well written! (And a Nick Cave fan to boot. As soon as I read 'Eliza Daye', I broke into a grin. I've also seen a hero running around the streets of Paragon who calls himself the 'Red Right Hand'.)
Please, keep writing and posting. I'm looking forward to reading more about the Wild Rose!



*blushes* If you guys keep commenting like this my head's going to get as fat as Sly's!



Well hope I don't push you over the edge but excellent job! A very entertaining, well done, and original background. *claps*



*blushes* If you guys keep commenting like this my head's going to get as fat as Sly's!

[/ QUOTE ]

Don't worry, Eliza. That's not possible.



Yeah, you've seen that photo of him in the suit, haven't you?



wow.... just wow that story is great. mine sucks compaired to it. SO descriptive and vivid. keep writing ill enjoy hearing about The Wild Rose.