Annie Ruska was born in the deep south, Georgia if I remember correctly, in 1969. Her mother, Alicia Ruska, had died had in childbirth, and as such, she’d been brought up by a single father.
Genevieve Saxon wasn’t the first racist rolemodel Annie had, as, up until the passing 28th Amendment, her dad, Malachi Ruska, had been a professional slave catcher. Once slavery was abolished though, Malachi was left with no job, a pregnant wife, and no education.
Despite not being a very intelligent man, Malachi was able to come up with a plan. He moved himself and his wife to the Canadian wilderness, built a cabin, and with his set of skills, namely tracking and marksmanship, he became a professional hunter.
And, once his daughter was the only person he had left in the world, he decided to train her to be a hunter as well.
“Daddy, I don’t want to shoot the beaver,” a ten year old Annie said. “It’s cute.”
A shotgun in her hands, and her father standing over, the young Annie wasn’t in an easy situation.
“Come on Peanut,” Malachi said. “We have beaver soup at least twice a month. This is where it comes from.”
“But…but…I think this is one of the beavers I made friends with when I went to the river last week.”
You may have a hard time understanding why she’d love them so much. Think about this way. She lived in the middle of nowhere, and her father would sometimes be away for as much as a week at a time. Who was she going to spend time with but the animals?
Malachi shook his head, putting his hands around her’s. “Should anything happen to me, I want you to be able to fend for yourself. Animals are food, not friends. And it’s not like it’s a scary bear or a wolf. Just a little beaver.” He put one of his fingers right on top of Annie’s trigger finger. “It’s not moving, and it hasn’t noticed us. Just pull the trigger, and we have dinner.”
The young Annie started crying.
“Can’t I just go back to shooting targets?”
Malachi shook his head.
“Come on. You’ve got to be getting bored of that. You’ve been hitting bullseyes since you were six. Now shoot before the damn thing runs away!”
Scared, but not wanting to disappoint her father, Annie closed her eyes and fired.
“Wooh!” Malachi cheered. “Right through the head!” he shouted, picking Annie up and spinning her around. “That’s my girl.”
That night, they dined on beaver soup.
“How does your first kill taste, Peanut?” Malachi asked.
“Delicious,” she lied, guzzling it down as quickly as possible so she could get it over with.
The next year, Annie developed her power.
By this point, Malachi had made her a regular part of his hunting trips. She’d killed wolverines, moose, cougars, and many other animals. And not once had she ever missed.
Her father was so proud and impressed that for her eleventh birthday, he borrowed a large chunk of change from the bank, and bought her a sniper rifle.
“A beauty, isn’t it?” Malachi asked as Annie opened the box.
A Puchinski SPD, the gun really was a work of art. With its ability to function perfectly in all weather conditions, a top speed of over 3,000 feet per second, a sleek design, and the capability of killing a man or beast from over a mile and a half away, this .50 caliber rifle was one of the deadliest guns ever created by humanity.
But to Annie, it was just a new way for her to kill the critters she cared so much about.
As a way for her to test it out, Malachi took a trek down the mountain they lived on, along with an index card. Her “reward” if she shot clean through the card? He’d start saving up for a trip to hunt big game in Africa.
While of course Annie could have simply missed on purpose, there was a small problem. Her pride. Much as she loathed killing animals, she actually was immensely proud of her impeccable aim. And she also liked the constant praise she received from Malachi.
She positioned herself atop the mountain, having decided that she’d make the shot.
“At least I’ll get to try some new food,” she said, trying to find any positive in her situation.
She loaded the Puchinski, and right before she fired, she felt a change in her body.
Unlike the rest of the Syringe Family, Annie was merely a Median. However, she could still do much more than just grow her hair out super long.
As an aside, I actually did meet a bank teller with that ability and she was actually quite pleasant.
No, Annie’s power was the ability to speak to animals.
Powers aren’t always completely fitting. I’ve met warlords who could turn into bunny rabbits, and I’ve met wannabe super heroes who could kill with a touch of their hand.
But sometimes, the right person actually does gets the right power.
“What the heck?” Annie asked herself, actually feeling her brain change.
Just then, a Mountain Cottontail, a species of rabbit, approached Annie.
“Um, who said that?” Annie asked.
“Me of course, the bunny answered. “See anyone else around?”
Most adults would probably be enormously freaked out if a rabbit started talking to them, but Annie still had her childhood innocence.
“Oh my God!” Annie squeed. “I can understand you.”
Annie dropped her rifle and ran over to hug the bunny.
“You’re…crushing me,” the bunny moaned.
“Sorry,” Annie said, letting go. “This is so cool,” she whispered.
“You know what else would be cool?” the bunny asked sweetly. “If you used that gun to kill the son of a bitch down there.”
Annie was shocked by the cute animal’s language.
“That’s my Daddy,” Annie said. “I can’t shoot him.”
“But think about it,” the rabbit said, hopping onto Annie’s lap. “We just want to go about our lives, and he kills us. We all know you’ve always cared about us. If that’s true…please protect us.”
If you’ve ever seen a movie or a cartoon where an animal appears to be obscenely cute, get that image out of your head. According to Annie, this bunny’s voice and face were the most adorable things ever to grace the Earth.
“I won’t kill my Daddy,” Annie declared. “But I will protect you.”
Annie repositioned herself, saw Malachi through the rifle’s scope, and shot.
She hit her mark with perfect accuracy, the bullet traveling straight through her dad’s knee. Malachi fell over, and Annie burst into tears.
“I can’t believe I just did that,” she said.
“It had to be done,” the bunny said as a bunch of other animals approached. “You just saved all of us.”
With no nearby healers, Malachi would almost certainly lose his ability to walk. And not being able to do so, he’d no longer be able to do the only thing he was good at. Annie had effectively just destroyed her loving father’s life.
But looking around at the rabbits, badgers, beavers, fox, and other animals, she knew she’d done the right thing.
However, she also knew that she could never bare to face Malachi again.
So, taking her present with her, she ran off into the woods with her animal friends.
Annie went on to spend the next several years living amongst the animals. She didn’t become feral at all though. Being able to speak with them, she learned that most animals were a lot smarter than humans gave them credit for.
She was their protector. When anyone who may endanger them came, she’d deal with them with her rifle. And when she needed ammo, she’d sneak back into her old home, where an abundance of ammo was stored.
And in return for her service, the animals brought her some of the food they scavenged for.
One day, as she was hopping through the trees, something she happened to take great joy in, she spotted a grizzly bear approaching what appeared to be a terrified poacher who’d dropped his gun.
Hopping down onto the ground, she asked, “What’s going on here?”
“Shit kid!” the man screamed. “Are you retarded or something?! That thing’s gonna kill us.”
The bear roared angrily, but Annie was unphased.
“Yeah, could you please not do that?” Annie asked politely.
“This human tried to kill me,” the bear answered in a deep, manly voice.
“No one deserves to die,” she countered. “When animals kill people, you become no better than them.”
“This girl is nuts,” the poacher said to himself.
“Can’t you just break his arms or something?”
“What?!” the poacher shouted. “No! Shut up brat!”
“Look, I don’t think we’ve met. I’m Annie,” she introduced herself, putting out a hand.
“Konfo,” the bear replied, putting one of his front paws on top of her hand. “I’ve heard about you. You’re the reason men like him make it into the woods so rarely.”
“I do what I can. Sorry I didn’t spot this one.”
“Don’t worry about it.” Konfo smiled. “For you, and only you, I will spare him.”
“Fuck this shit,” the poacher said. “Thanks for the distraction girl!” he shouted as he got up and began to run off. “Hope you survive.”
The poacher, of course, had only heard Konfo growling. He had no idea that he’d actually been talking with Annie.
“You should go get him,” Annie said cheerfully.
Konfo nodded, and in a matter of seconds, he had caught up to the poacher and crushed his arms beneath his weight. For those unaware, the average male grizzly bear weighs approximately 600 pounds.
Howling in immense pain, the poacher got up shortly after Konfo stepped off of his arms and ran away.
“Thanks for not killing him,” Annie said.
“For defending me, and the rest of this forest’s inhabitants, it was the least I could do.”
“Sooooo, you wanna hang out?”
Annie and Konfo didn’t do anything too exciting when they spent time together. Usually, they’d just lay back, tell jokes, Konfo seemed to not be able to tell jokes about anything but berries. Occasionally, Annie would go scavenging with Konfo, and other time, Konfo would go scouting for poachers with Annie.
It had taken awhile, but with a good friend, a purpose, a healthy supply of food, and not having to kill anyone, Annie had become happy.
However, one day, when she was 14, all of that was challenged, and another era of her life came to a close.
It was the summer, so Annie, who’d stopped being able to wear the clothes she ran away with some time ago, was wearing a bra and skirt made out of leaves, and had her sniper rifles strapped to her back.
Annie was riding atop Konfo, making their way back towards Konfo’s cave, returning from the other side of the woods.
“So the fox said to his friend,” Konfo continued, about to conclude a joke. “That’s not my sister. That’s a berry bush!”
Annie giggled, somehow finding all of Konfo’s berry based humor hilarious.
“Alright, I’ve got one,” Annie said. “Why did the human cross the road?”
“I dunno,” Konfo answered. “Why?”
“Who knows? Humans are weird.”
Konfo burst out laughing, much louder than Annie had a moment ago.
Just then, Annie spotted something.
“Konfo, quiet down and look.”
He listened, and what they both saw was a woman in fancy clothes, along with a white man and an Indian woman in costumes, and a large group of men dressed in all black, and armed with assault rifles.
As you may have guessed, this party was made up of my mom, Peter, Pryah, and a team of mercenaries.
“Listen up,” Mom said. “According to my scouts, there’s a small fortune’s worth of anti-Demigod metal to be mined from inside that cave. I don’t want any trouble when my men come to harvest it. Kill anything inside that moves.”
“My friends!” Konfo growled. “We must stop them.”
Konfo started charging towards the group of killers, but Annie stopped him.
“Hold on,” she said. “There’s too many of them. One of them will definitely shoot you.”
“We have to do something.”
“I know,” she replied. “And I’ve got an idea.”
Moving quickly, Annie successfully hopped off of Konfo and climbed up a tree before Mom’s men went inside the cave.
She removed her sniper rifle from her back, and figuring she only had time to shoot and not aim, she closed her eyes and let her instincts kick in, shooting all of the mercenaries through their kneecaps in rapid succession, sending them all to the ground, writhing in agony.
“Get down!” Peter shouted as Genevieve and Pryah ducked.
“Konfo!” Annie shouted, almost out of ammo. “Sick him!”
Roaring, Konfo charged at Peter.
“Okay,” a freaked out Peter said. “When did bears learn to use guns?!”
Of course, what with him being a Demigod, Konfo was no match for Peter, the latter lazily uppercutting him in the jaw.
Konfo was severely injured, but it could have been much worse. If Peter hadn’t already been using his power to make sections of the air around Mom and Pryah as dense as steel, he may have just used the air to slice Konfo in half.
Though personally, I like to think that he’d have only done something like that with his sunglasses on.
“Konfo!” Annie shouted in horror.
Pryah stared up, seemingly staring straight into Annie’s eyes.
“Shooter spotted,” Pryah said, falling over unconscious.
No, I didn’t write that incorrectly.
Annie wanted to shoot Peter for what he’d just done, but she knew she had to conserve ammo, get away, and come back with help.
She hopped out of the tree she was in, but she didn’t get very far. Pryah brought her down to the ground with a few quick moves, and began strangling her.
“You have 10 seconds to explain yourself,” Pryah said.
Now may be a good time to explain Pryah’s power. She could make herself fall asleep on a whim, and by doing so, an astral projection was created. This projection was invisible, intangible when it wanted to be, super strong, super fast, and could fly. And it had no time limit. The projection could last for as long as Pryah wanted it too, and she only awoke when the projection re-entered the body.
“The bears in that cave are my friends!” Annie shouted at the disembodied voice. “I couldn’t let you hurt them!”
“I don’t know what circumstances have led you to calling animals friends,” Pryah said. “But there is no excuse for getting in the way of Syringe.”
Pryah was about to finish Annie off, when someone intervened.
“Stop!” Mom ordered, approaching the two.
Pryah listened obediently and returned to her body.
“Stand,” Mom said.
Annie, her gun out of reach after getting taken to the ground by Pryah, had no choice but to listen.
“Animals aren’t something to be written off,” Annie said. “They’re just as smart as humans. Smarter even!”
Mom put her white gloved hand around Annie’s chin.
“And what makes you believe that?”
“I can talk to them!” Annie screamed. “That bear your man over there just punched? He’s my best friend.”
“I see,” Mom said, removing her hand and beginning to circle Annie. “And you mean to tell me that in less than two seconds, you, alone, were able to perfectly aim and disable seven of my men?”
Mom did the same, but smiling.
“Skilled. Young. Full of potential. Powered.”
Mom continued to flash her toothy grin, but stared directly into Annie’s eyes.
“What’s your name?” she asked.
“Annie Ruska,” a scared Annie answered.
“Well, Annie Ruska,” Mom said. “How would you like a job?”
After some discussion, an agreement was reached.
Annie would join the Syringe Family, 75% of her salary going to animal preservation societies, and in exchange, the forest she’d spent so long defending would be turned into a nature preserve, the residents of it never having to worry about humans again.
Mom was even nice enough to let Konfo come live on The Holy Saxon, finding his friendship with Annie cute. He sort of became a part of the family himself.
Most likely because of how they first met though, Konfo never did grow to like Peter. Watching him get mad at my big brother was always kind of funny.