The sun sets at the Iron Keep military base. Rose a tall, blue eyed, blond haired young lady stands in front of Commander Reyes’ office. She straightens her red beret, adjust her black officer’s jacket. She makes sure that her black slim fit pants are properly tucked inside her knee high boots before entering.
“Take a seat, officer,” Reyes says as he points at an empty chair.
Rose takes her seat. “Sir, about the papers, I was sent.”
“I’m afraid that’s final, officer.” Reyes continues to work on his computer.
Rose bites her lower lip. “Sir, with respect my record and serv--”
“This isn’t a personal thing, officer.” Reyes stops working on his computer and looks at Rose. “These reports are being sent out across all the military branches.”
“I’ve dedicated my life to this, and now I’m just being dropped.”
“Tough times hit everyone hard. Even I’m taking a pay cut.”
“Yes, a pay cut, but you still get to keep your job!”
“Watch your tone, officer. You’re still in uniform,” Reyes says in a cold tone.
Rose clenches her fist. “So that’s it. No benefits, no pension.” Rose’s fingers twitch. “Nothing.”
“What do you want, officer? An apology? The economy crashed and the last president left us with one hell of a debt. Nothing we can do.”
“I’d expect the corps. to watch out and take care of their own.”
“Everything has limits, officer.”
Rose stands up. “Funny, your little friend in congress sure took care of you.”
Reyes slams his hand on his desk. “Watch your tone, officer!”
“Guess that little pillow talk you had with her really payed off,” Rose says as she walks out and slams the door shut. Rose takes a deep breath. “Nutzloser schwanz.”
# # #
The moon looms over the city of New Londo. Fog covers the streets as the sounds of crowded pubs fills the air. Rose arrives at her apartment. As she walks towards the kitchen she throws three open bills on the dining table along with her beret. She grabs a soda and half eaten sandwich from the fridge. She sits on the dining table and grabs her phone. She presses the button in the middle and a hologram pops. The hologram reads “Three un-heard voice message.” The first message reads “from T7 communications.” Rose presses the “play” button.
“Good day Miss Burgstein, unfortunately we currently don’t have an available spot. Given the current times we just don’t have the budget.”
The next message and it reads “from AK ashik Industries.”
“Miss Burgstein, I’m afraid you’re overqualified for the posi--”
Rose hits the stop button. She takes a sip of her soda and presses the play button.
The last message reads “from Union Aero Space Frontier.”
“Miss Burgstein, we’re sad to inform you th--”
Rose punches the phone. She finishes her meal and heads to her bedroom. She throws her officers jacket on the floor along with her boots. She lies on her bed looking at the ceiling.
# # #
The next day arrives. Rose puts on a brown jacket and heads out into town. As the day goes by she goes to multiple job interviews, but gets turned down by all of them. Noon draws near and Rose stops to eat at Guilliman’s Diner. As she eats her burger she sees a homeless man in a raggedy soldier’s jacket asking for money. Rose lowers her head and places the burger on the plate.
A waitress walks up to Rose.
“Ma’am are you done?” The waitress asks, but Rose doesn’t respond. “Um, ma’am.”
“Oh!” Rose looks at the waitress. “I’m sorry. I’m not done yet.”
“Okay.” The waitress looks out the window and sees the homeless man. “Poor guy. I really wish someone would help him.”
“Yeah,” Rose says in low pitched tone.
Rose finishes her meal and heads towards uptown. She arrives at an office building with shut windows. She sees an old man in a blue coat in front of the building hanging a sign that reads “Closed.” She runs towards the man.
“Excuse, me! Entschuldigen sie, mein herr!” Rose says.
“Beg your pardon madam, but my German is a bit rusty,” The man says as he turns and faces Rose.
“Sorry, I was just--” Rose catches her breath. “I just wanted to ask if I was late.
“Yes I had an interview today with Mr. Chapman.”
“Oh, good heavens.” The man places his right hand on the side of his head. “The messages weren’t sent out. Ma’am please take a seat here with me.” The man points at a bench.
Both Rose and the man sit together.
“Ma’am, I ‘m Mr. Chapman. Manager, or should I say, former manager for Dalton communications.”
“F-former” Rose says in a low pitched voice as her face turns pale.
“Yes. Due to the economic crash this branch has been closed down.” Mr. Chapman says as he points at the office building. “A message was supposed to have been sent to everyone that was scheduled for an interview. Though considering you’re the third person to show up. I’m guessing management didn’t bother sending the notice.”
Rose’s eyes widen. “This was the last interview I had.” Her hands begin to shake. “Nobody else is hiring.”
Mr. Chapman places his left hand on Rose’s right hand. “I’m sorry, young lady. I know these are hard times and--”
“Hard times!” Rose stands up. “I served this country only to get discharged without warning or any sort of benefits!” She paces back and forth. “Everywhere I go, they tell me I’m either over qualified or that they don’t have an available spot.” Rose says as she starts crying.
Mr. Chapman stands up. “I know that feeling all too well. I also served in the military. And all I have to show for is this.” He rolls up his right sleeve and reveals a bionic arm.
“You’re a veteran?” Rose says as she wipes the tears off her face.
“I am. Just like you, they sent me out without any benefits.” Mr. Chapman pulls back down his right sleeve. “They got me on some trumped up technicality and denied me the veteran’s benefits. Breaks my heart every time I see another soldier get screwed over by those twats.”
Rose lowers her head. “You wouldn’t happen to know of any place left that might be willing to hire?”
Mr. Chapman takes a deep breath and exhales. “Sadly I don’t.” He reaches into one of his coat pockets and pulls out a small bottle of heart pills. “I’m not even sure if I can afford my next refill,” Mr. Chapman says as he takes two pills and throws the empty bottle away.
“What do you mean afford?”
“No health insurance. Please take care of yourself young lady.” Mr. Chapman walks away.
Rose looks at the closed office building. She looks further down the street and sees many shops and other office building with foreclosed signs on them.
# # #
Morning arrives. Rose sits at the dining table while she works on her computer. “I’ve got to find a way to make this money last.” Rose goes around town trying to find any place that’s hiring. She’s either turned away or keeps running into businesses that are closing down. Night time arrives and Rose goes to the Londo Bar and Grill. She sits at the bar and orders a drink. Next to her is a young man in a yellow long sleeved shirt. A dark haired young lady, with green eyes and dark skin in a bartenders outfit walks up to the young man.
“Hey, love, give me whiskey,” the young man says to the bartender.
“Whiskey? Was the day that bad?” The bartender asks as she pours the drink.
“Dreadful,” the young man says as he drinks whiskey. “We had an emergency with a patient with a heart problem.” He chugs the last of the whiskey.
Rose turns and looks at the young man.
The bartender re-fills the young man’s drink. “How bad was it?”
“We got there too late. Seems the poor bloke didn’t have his medication.” The young man drinks the whole drink in one chug.
“Was he an old man?!” Rose asks the young man.
The young man turns and looks at Rose. “Beg your pardon?”
“Was he an Oldman with a bionic right arm?”
“Yes. Oh, dear. Are you one of his relatives?”
“No, I just met him yesterday.” Rose stands up. “I’m sorry, I need go.” Rose pays the bartender and leaves.
Rose walks down the side walk. “Is this how I’ll end up? Just another abandoned soldier?” Rose thinks. She bumps into a tall man with white eyes and wearing an old officer’s coat. “Sorry, sir.”
“It’s okay, young soldier,” the man says.
“I was a bit distracted…Wait, how did you know I was a soldier?”
“The way you were walking,” the man says as he dusts of his coat. “A steady brisk pace. Almost as if you were marching.”
“Oh, I never noticed that about myself.”
The man chuckles. “Some of our mannerism become so automatic we tend to overlook them.”
“I never thought of it like that, but you’re right.”
“Say would you fancy a drink or meal? My treat.”
“No, I’m in a bit of a rush.”
“To where? If I may ask?”
“To umm.” Rose looks around. “You know, on second thought, maybe I’ll have that meal.
“Excellent. Oh and by the way my name is Dozel.”
“I’m Rose, pleasure to meet you.”
The two head to a Guilliman’s Diner. The waitress brings them their meals.
“I’ll pay for this so don’t worry.” Rose takes a sip of her soda.
“And pass up an opportunity to payback one of our own? No thanks. I’ll cover both our meals.” Dozel takes a bite out of his sandwich. “Besides I’m sure you’ll have to be worrying about far more dangerous things on your next venture,” Dozel says with his mouth still full.
“Next venture?” Rose takes a bite out of her steak.
“Yeah, I’m sure they’ll be sending you some battlefield.”
Rose lowers her head and places her fork down. “I won’t be heading out ever again.”
“Well money is tight, but at some point they’ll--”
“I was let go along with many others.”
“Wait, I remember reading this in the newspaper. So you were among the layoffs.
Dozel slams his on the table. “Bastards! This is no way to treat the enlisted.”
“I was an officer, Lieutenant to be specific,” Rose says in a low pitched voice.
“So even officers are left out to dry. Meanwhile fat senators don’t skip a single meal, typical”
“Tell you what. How about instead of covering this meal I offer you something else?” Dozel starts twirling the straw from his drink.
“Unless it’s a job, I don’t think there’s much you can--” Rose sees two feint flames at both ends of Dozel’s straw. “Is that some sort of hologram?”
“Well my dear.” Dozel straitens the straw. As the flames engulf the straw and a blue rose emerges. “You tell me?” Dozel gives the flower to Rose.
Rose touches the petals. “Wait, it’s humid as if it were alive.” She smiths the flower. This sent it’s not artificial.” She looks at Dozel. “Who are you?”
“A man of many talents,” Dozel says with a smirk. “I’ve aided many. Sadly some buckle and breakdown into an insane mess. Sometimes they just throw themselves off a bridge.”
A bead of sweat runs down Rose’s forehead. “What type of aid are you offering?”
“Three months. For three months I guarantee you will not go hungry or thirsty.” Dozel finishes eating the last of his sandwich. “On top of that money won’t be an issue. If you make it through you can keep a very hefty amount of money.”
“What’s the catch? You want me to be you’re maid or a body guard.”
Dozel takes a sip of his soda. “No, that’s not even a catch my dear. That’s like telling a senator to retire in exchange for dirty pictures not being made public.” Dozel drinks the last of his soda and lets out a burp. “I mean sure he’s not in office, but he still has all his money and reputation is intact. Know what I mean?” Dozel raises his eyebrow and smirks.
“Then what do you--” Rose covers her chest as her face turns red. “I’m not that type of lady!”
Dozel points to Rose “And I’m not that type of man. The catch is that by say a month and a half, maybe earlier you’ll be shall we say heavy metal. Just be sure to stay sane.”
“Okay mister klugscheiber, can you be less cryptic?” Rose points a Dozel.
“Know where’s the fun that? Of course you can always just walk away. After all I did promise to pay for this dinner.”
Rose gets up she takes one step forward and stops. She remembers all the failed job applications and closed stores in town. She turns and looks at Dozel. “Three months, right?”
Dozel raises both his hands. “No more. No less.”
“And what do you get out of it?”
“A good laugh if they go insane.” Dozel snaps his fingers. “Or the entertainment of watching them struggle.”
“Fine, we have a deal?” Rose extends her right hand.
Dozel shakes hands with Rose. A small jolt of lightning runs through Rose’s arm.
“Ouch! Why you.” Rose glares at Dozel.
“Don’t worry about finding me. I’ll be there when the time is up regardless of where you are.”
“Really and how will you?--” Rose rubs her hand, but when she looks up she sees that Dozel is gone.
The waitress walks by. And gives Rose a receipt. “Thanks for stopping by.”
Rose sees that the food has already been paid for.
# # #
The next day arrives and Rose is browsing through her computer. Her eyes widen. “This number can’t be right. I don’t remember having this amount of money.” Rose leans back in her chair. She grabs her coat and goes out.
She walks through town with a smile on her face. As she turns the corner she sees a homeless man in a raggedy soldier’s jacket. Rose walks to the man, pulls out her wallet and give him a stack of 100 dollar bills. “Here, soldiers should always watch out for each other.”
The homeless man takes the money as he begins to cry.
Rose goes around town looking for homeless soldiers and gives them money. As the day goes by Rose visits the Londo Bar and Grill. She orders a stack of baby back ribs with soda.
The bartender looks at Rose. “Did something happen?”
Rose looks at the bartender while she eats a rib. Why do you ask?
“I remember you from yesterday. You were a bit distraught.”
“Yes, I was going through some troubles and hearing about what happened to Mr. Chapman hit a soft side.” Rose finishes eating the rib. “But thankfully I’ve manage to find some fortune in my life.”
“At least someone is in a good spot.”
“Wait how are you holding up?”
“So far jus managing and--”. The bartender sees a patron with his hand raised. “Hold that thought just let me take care of this.” She goes to tend to the patron.
Rose finishes eating her ribs and pays for her meal. She walks towards the bartender. “Would you like some help?”
The bartender chuckles. “I’m good, besides I’d hate to see you work and not get paid.”
“Well I’m covered for the time, so there’s nothing wrong with helping others.”
“You’re an odd one miss umm--”
“Rose. Rose Burgstein, at your service.”
“Emma Swan. I’ve got to keep tending to this, but I hope I see soon.” Emma walks away carrying a pile of plates.
# # #
The weeks go by as Rose enjoys her time. Every day she goes and helps homeless veterans she runs into. Visiting Londo Bar and Grill becomes routine. One day rose walks in and sees Emma near and hugs her.
“Nice to see you.” Emma says.
“I was in the area and I’d thought I’d stop by,” Rose says.
The two walk and sit at a table.
“Wait here, I had feeling you’d show up so got something ready.” Emma goes to the kitchen and comes out with a plate of ribs.
Rose smiles. “Wunderbar! You remembered.”
“Well it’s the one thing you always eat here.” Emma places the plate on the table.
“That’s true I--” As Rose takes one bite she pulls the rib away.
“Is something wrong? Don’t tell me they’re undercooked?”
“No, it’s just. I suddenly don’t feel hungry.”
“That’s impossible you always eat the whole plate. Are you feeling okay?”
“I-I think so.” Rose hand starts shaking.
Emma grabs Rose’s hand. Her eyes widen. “You feel cold.”
“But I feel fine.”
“No your hand is ice cold. Maybe you should go see a doctor.”
Rose stands up. “Don’t be silly. It’s just one of those--”
“I’m not gonna hear it.” Emma stand up and points at Rose. “I know you like to soldier through things. But please take care of yourself.”
Rose puts her hands behind her back. “Fine, fine I’ll go tomorrow.”
The two hug. Rose leaves and Emma goes back to work.
# # #
Rose arrives at the doctor’s office and proceed with the checkup.
“So you said your hunger just disappeared, right?” the doctor asks.
“Yes and this morning I didn’t feel any.” Rose says.
“Well in just a sec the last of the scans will finish and--” Scan results print out and the doctor checks them. “Oh, I’m so sorry. You must still be adapting to it.”
“Adapting to what?”
The doctor types on his key board and a hologram with the scan results appear. “The bionic implant. You did say you were a soldier, right?”
Rose stares in horror as the hologram reveals a bionic implant where her stomach used to be. She walks back until she hits the wall.
“Ma’am? Miss Burgstein please calm down. I’ve had many patients that--”
“I have to go! Here’s the money.” Rose pays the doctor and storms out.
At her apartment Rose sits on her couch hugging her knees. She looks at the calendar on her phone and realizes a month and half has past. “You’ll be shall we say heavy metal” echoes in Rose’s mind.
# # #
The next day arrives. As rose leaves her bedroom and walks towards her kitchen she sees Dozel holding a plate of ribs.
“Hello there,” Dozel says while eating a rib. “You know, for leftovers these aint half bad.”
Rose rushes towards him and grabs him by the collar. “What did you do to me?!”
“Hey, I did give you a heads up.”
Rose pins Dozel against the wall and lifts him up. “You think this is all a game?!”
“In a way, yes.” Dazel fades away.
Rose looks around. “How did you? Just what are you?”
“A man of many faces looking to kill his boredom,” Dozel says as his voice echoes throughout the room. “Try and keep a strong grip on your sanity. If you break down and loose it, well at least I’ll have some spare parts.”
Rose’s eyes widen as sweat runs down her forehead.
# # #
As the weeks go by Rose becomes paler. Her skin starts to harden. She begins to wear gloves to hide the claw like hands she has. One Day she bumps into Emma on the side walk.
“Rose! There you are!” Emma jumps into Rose’s arms. “I’ve been so worried and--” Emma steps back and looks at Rose.
Rose looks away.
“Why do you feel so stiff?”
Rose forces a smile. “I’ve been umm, working out a bit. My arms are a bit tougher now. The pony tail you have is really nice, it suits you.” A tear runs down Rose’s face.
“Rose, what’s going with you?”
“Nothing.” Rose raises the coat collar.
“Rose, please, whatever it is I can--”
“It’s nothing!” Rose says in a metallic voice.
Emma takes two steps back. Her eyes widen as she puts both her hands on her mouth.
Rose begins to cry and runs away from Emma.
“Wait!” Emma chases after Rose. She loses track of Rose as she turns the corner. “Please, please let me help you.”
Rose lays in her bed crying all night. “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.” After a point the tears dry up and Rose realizes she can’t cry anymore. Her eyes now have a blue glow. Rose runs into the bathroom and looks in a mirror. Her eyes are mechanical.
# # #
The weeks continue to pass by. Rose’s skin is now metal. Her hair is synthetic and pale. Her face now with a metal nose and two sharp fangs on her lower jaw. Rose lays on her couch wrapped in a blanket. She grabs her phone and sees messages from Emma asking how she is. She presses one icon on the phone screen which brings up a picture of both her and Emma. Rose puts on a hooded coat and gloves. She wraps her face in bandages before going out.
At Londo Bar and Grill, Emma is cleaning up and helping to close for the night. Emma Grabs her scarf and heads out. As she walks down the sidewalk notices two guys following her. One with a baseball cap and the other with a brown jacket. She turns the corner, and tries to lose them by heading through a closed down gas station. As she’s about to make it across she gets cut off by a tall man in a black jacket holding a gun on his right hand. The other two men that where following her catch up.
“Money, now!” The man in the jacket says as he cocks the gun.
Emma slowly takes of her purse.
The man with the baseball cap walks up behind her walks up and takes the purse. The other pulls out a knife.
“Hey, we got the money. There’s no need for that.” the guy in the cap says.
“No witnesses right, boss,” The man in the brow jacket says.
The man holding the gun nods.
The man in the brown jacket grabs Emma’s arm and slams her against the wall.
“If you value your lives, you’ll leave her alone,” Rose says as she walks towards the trio.
“Hey, lady, you mind repeating that?!” The man with the gun says as he turns around and points the gun at Rose. “I have a hard time understanding robot!”
Rose’s eyes glow as she continues to walk towards them.
The man shoots Rose, but the bullet bounces of her. “What the fuck?” He says in a low pitched voice.
Rose runs at the man. The man fires repeatedly to no effect. Rose Grabs the man’s right arm and crushes it. Before the man can let out a scream, Rose punches through his sternum and twist her arm while it’s still inside the man’s chest. She turns and looks at the other two.
The man with the knife charges at Rose and slashes at her. He tears one of Rose’s sleeves revealing her metal arm. The man drops his knife and sees the bandages on Rose’s face fall off. “What the hell are you?”
Rose grabs him by the neck and snaps his neck with a single twist of her wrist.
The other man drops Emma’s purse and runs away screaming.
Emma looks at rose with a pale look on her face. “Rose, is that you?”
Rose lowers her head and looks away.
Emma walks up and places her hands on Rose’s face. Their eyes lock and Emma starts crying as she leans on Rose.
Rose hugs Emma. “I’m sorry, es tut mir leid.”
“My apartment is nearby so just come with me, okay.”
Emma Brings Rose to her apartment. They both sit at the couch and Rose explains everything to her.
“Why go so far? If it was money problems I could’ve helped you.” Emma says.
“This was before I met you.”
Emma stand up and paces in place. “Still I, I could’ve. I--”
Rose grabs Emma’s hand and Emma looks at Rose. “I’ve caused you enough trouble.”
“You’re not leaving!” Emma grabs Rose’s face and kisses her on the forehead. “If you need to wait this out you can stay here. Take my bed and I’ll take the couch.” Emma wipes the tears off her face. “Okay!”
Rose’s eyes emit a warm glow as she smile. “Unverstande.”
The hours go by. Emma wakes up to a sound coming from her kitchen. Emma walks up and sees Dozel in a suit and tie coming out of the Kitchen with a burger in his hand.
Dozel looks at Emma. “Oh, don’t mind me.” Dozel takes a bite out of the burger. “Late night snacks are the best aren’t they?”
Emma stands dumbfounded.
“Say you wouldn’t happen to be in need of something would you?” Dozel asks as he winks at Emma.
“Rose!” Emma says.
Rose runs out. In the blink of an eye she grabs Dozel by the neck and pins him against the wall. “Touch her and I’ll break you! You verdammtes arschloch!”
“And here I was about to keep my end of the deal” Dozel says while struggling to breathe.
Rose’s eyes widen and she lets go of Dozel.
Dozel fall to the ground and clears his throat. “Well, yet another volatile second visit.” Dozel dust off his suit. “Though at least you didn’t impale me like the last guy. But a deals a deal.” Dozel extends his right arm. “You made it through the three months and you didn’t go insane or die, or worse.”
Rose points at Dozel. “How do I know that you--”
“I’m a man of my word, and your little ordeal did kill my boredom.” Dozel grabs Rose’s hand and send a shock through her arm.
“Ouch!” Rose clenches in pain. “You swine!” Rose looks up, but Dozel has vanished.
“Rose! You’re, you’re you again!” Emma says.
Rose looks at her hands and then touches her face. All the metal is gone.
Emma walks up and hugs Rose.
Rose smiles and begins crying as she lifts Emma.