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Registered: 11-2015
Posts: 65
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This Human Heart


The crack of a gunshot was heard, and the vehicle jolted to the side. The sound of automatic gunfire tore through the alleyway, and rounds bounced off of the armored vehicle. Cracks began to spiderweb on the windshield as brass drummed off of it. The driver turned the wheel to the side in a fruitless attempt to retain control of the vehicle. A deafening crash was heard as the vehicle met the side of a brick building.

"Miss Shalmer, please. What do you see in the image?"

Ava looked up at the professionally-dressed man sitting across from her. She shifted in the leather seat, her eyes focusing on the blots of ink on the paper. She cleared her throat, coming back to reality.

"A flash. I see a flash."

The man nodded, and lowered the cards. Ava pulled on the collar of her shirt, letting out a sigh. The room was a metallic grey, devoid of all emotion. Beneath her was reflective black tile, which was covered in all manner of things. To her left were large windows, showing the city of Gotham in all of its sinful glory. She turned back to look at the balding man as he held up the next card.

"Now, what do you see?"

She stared at the card, studying the ink blots on it. As she stared, the pattern slowly appeared and changed. It took a familiar shape, and Ava went silent.

Glass rained down into the front of the SUV as the windshield broke. Ava raised her arms to cover her face, only to hear gunfire from all sides. She fumbled for the handle, only to feel the door give way. She was pulled from the van.

"Boss! Shalmer! Get the !@#$ up! There's a-"

Ava looked up in time to see the man's last moments of life. A stream of crimson flew from his neck as a crack rang out, and the soldier collapsed. Her eyes went wide, but her survival instinct soon kicked in. Ava took up the dead soldier's rifle and began returning fire. In the distance, the rebel forces regrouped. The smell of gunpowder and blood filled the air as the two forces exchanged rounds.

"Miss Shalmer..."

Ava blinked again, shaking her head. She looked at the man, then her gaze fell to the card. A sigh escaped from her lungs as she saw the image.

"I... I see... people, running. And an explosion."

The man nodded at Ava's response. He set the cards aside and looked at her.

"Now... Miss Shalmer, I'm going to say a few words. I want you to say the first things that come to mind."

Ava nodded, leaning forward in her seat. She took a deep breath, trying to relax.

"Dog."
"Cat."

"Bird."
"Fly."

"Body."
"Broken."

Ava subconsciously rubbed her left arm as the answer she gave sank in. She let out a sigh, then looked at the therapist.

"Human."
"Threat."

"Target."
"Hit."

"Home."
"Gotham."

"Hero."
"Lie."

The world around her continued erupting in gunfire. She watched as two rounds from her rifle pierced the vest of the enemy. He fell to the ground, shivering and shaking. Ava kept her sight on him in case he reached for his weapon, but he reached for something else. His hand was held out, grasping for help that would never come. She then saw the pool of rainwater he fell in turn a deep crimson, and the man's hand fell. A wave of uneasiness washed over her, and all went silent. Not even the zip of rounds flying past disturbed her moment of revelation as she stared at the corpse she had made.

"Ava! We have to move!"

The therapist looked down at his notepad and scribbled down his thoughts. Ava rubbed her arm again, crossing her human leg over the cybernetic twin. She looked out at the rain-covered city, thinking back to her time in Metropolis.

"Miss Shalmer?"

Ava looked back over at the therapist with a curious look.

"Yes?"

"Miss Shalmer, I believe you are experiencing post-traumatic stress syndrome. The warning signs are all here. The sleepless nights, the... negative thoughts, it is all very worrying. Especially with everything that your history shows you have been through. The time overseas, your multiple injuries... even your time with the Tribunals makes me question how severe it is."

"I... I can't have that."

Ava looked at the doctor, and shook her head.

"No, no. I can't have PTSD. Just... look at me!"

She held out the robotic arm, turning it over. All went silent in the room, the patter of rain on glass becoming deafening. The therapist looked at her as she showed off her limb, and slowly shook his head.

"Your limbs may be robotic, Miss Shalmer, but your mind is still human. As humans, we are not made for situations like this. Explosions, blows to the head, stressful situations... they all take a toll on us. You have been in and out of combat since you were eighteen, Miss Shalmer. Your mind has not had a break from this. You have not had the time to sit, take a breather, and rest."

"I wasn't made to rest! I... I was made to..."

Ava went silent as her mind raced. She closed her eyes, her memories washing over her once more. She found herself in a field of green, with the sound of crashing waves in the distance. Behind her, she heard an electric cart pull up.

"Hey, ladies! Try not to get us kicked out of here, it's my favorite course!"

Ava glanced over her shoulder and saw Drake in his hideous polo shirt, sitting in the golf cart. Beside her, Kara and Kia took pictures together on their phones. Ava took a deep breath, living the moment of peace once more, every moment feeling like an eternity of happiness.

".. Miss Shalmer, is everything alright?"

Ava opened her eyes, blinking away tears. The memories of the golf course slipped away from her mind, and her gaze settled on the therapist once more.

"Yes, I'm... well, I guess I'm not fine, am I?"

"Ava..."

Ava lowered her gaze to the tiled floor. At that moment, she felt everything wash over her. Every moment behind a firearm, every fight in Metropolis. She felt the heat from the car bomb, and the pain that coursed through her body. Deep within her, the cyborg felt something break. Regret filled her, and she felt a wave of grief pull her under. Tears began to roll down her cheeks, and she looked up at the therapist.

"... how do I get this fixed?"

"You come back here, Miss Shalmer. I will work with you, as will others. There are support groups for others that are suffering from similar issues."

Ava pondered this for a moment, interlocking her fingers in front of her face. She rested her forehead against her hands, letting out a long sigh. Only a few months ago, she was a hero. A face that crime had quickly learned to fear.

She had walked with giants, with legends that would never be forgotten. Now, all she could think of was how she had tossed it all away. Instead of using what had happened to her to better the world, she fell back into the abyss that Kara and Kia had pulled her from. She glanced out into the city of Gotham, watching as the rainwater beaded and rolled down the windowpane.

"... when do I start?"

---


"At the moment of the kill, they are never more alive." -Widowmaker
Nov/15/2016, 1:52 am Link to this post Email Ava1995   PM Ava1995 Blog
 


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