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Name: Kaia Juniper Hawkins
Age at death: 22 | Actual age: 25
Face Claim: Alisha Wainwright
Fierce | Practical | Driven
Stubborn | Defensive | Blunt
**Trigger warning: Violent death**
Rufus and Eliza Hawkins were the high school sweethearts you hear about in stories, but actually don’t really ever know personally. The couple were inseparable throughout their time in school, Rufus carrying Eliza’s books to all their classes while her arm looped in his. It wasn’t a surprise at all when the young man proposed to her after graduation, despite how young the two were. Their parents were happy for them, but insisted they at least wait till after college before tying the knot.
As expected, they both had no intention of not going to the same school and were elated to learn they had gotten into Duke University. Rufus was on a scholarship for basketball, studying in general business, while Eliza took up her studies in Education to become a teacher. Some assumed the young adults would begin to drift; college always testing the limits of people’s relationships. However, the two remained strong throughout and graduated with their eyes on the future.
It wasn’t long after that the two were living together with big dreams for the future. Eliza quickly found work as a teacher in a middle school while Rufus finally landed in an accounting agency some months later. Being around children was Eliza’s calling in life and she was eager to start a family despite Rufus wanting to wait till they moved into a bigger home and out of the small apartment they currently rented. It seemed that the fates were on Eliza’s side this time because during the beginning phases of planning their wedding, she learned she was pregnant.
Family and friends rallied around the two newlyweds. Their support was everything they could’ve dreamed of as their parents helped to put a down payment on a small house in a great neighborhood with a white picket fence and all. They seemed to be living the American dream and there wasn’t a better time to come into the world then when little Kaia Juniper did.
Kaia was a fiery child. She wanted to learn about absolutely everything around her and wanted to be a part of anything she could. It was hard to keep up with her, her parents would say, but that was also not a bad thing. The Hawkins’ encouraged her learning and trying new things until the little girl found all that really piqued her interest.
It didn’t take much to see Kaia was exceptional at dance. From an early age she was excelling in ballet and tap dance, and even though she didn’t necessarily like the limelight, she enjoyed the story choreography presented to her and how she could display that to the audience. For some time it seemed like the hobby that she would carry through into her teen years and into adulthood until a day she met up with her cousin.
It was a day she should’ve been at dance school, but the studio had been closed for repairs. Kaia had agreed to meet up with her cousin at his dojang afterwards, but since she had an hour to kill, the teen decided to head over early. Peering through the large window, her eyes immediately found her cousin as they began their stretching. That was something Kaia was familiar with as a dancer. She sat down next to some of the other parents watching their children and pulled out her schoolwork, thinking she would be able to get a head start on her assignment, but once the class started, that was rather impossible.
She glanced up every so often to see the students carefully mimicking their master before forcing herself to concentrate on her work as she frantically tapped her pen against her notebook. It was rather futile. Her attention was solely on the classroom now and Kaia found herself rather mesmerized by it all. Needless to say, she was begging her cousin to find a way to get her into the class too.
Taekwondo came easily to Kaia as breathing. From the years of practice in ballet, the two were rather similar in ways. The ability to have complete control over your body and mind was important in both. Her legs stretched to further heights than most around her as she performed her spinning kicks with ease. She wasn’t sure if the universe had put her on the path to ballet first to prepare her for taekwondo, but Kaia knew this was her newest passion.
Her master would say to the Hawkins’ that she was gifted and that still felt cheap to the skill she exuded. She practiced day in and day out when she wasn’t in school and received her first few belts within a few short years. Kaia traveled to national championships and brought home many medals that sat along the bookcases which held her dancing trophies, soon outnumbering even those. High school seemed like a blur during this time, but her studies were deemed most important by her parents and she wanted to always make them proud.
She was more than a little excited to be attending Duke like her parents. College felt like a whole other world when she was away from her sleepy hometown. She struggled a bit with finding a balance between her social life which she’d never really had much of at home while making sure she stayed on track to obtain her psychology degree. It didn’t help that to ease the amount of money her parents had to pay for tuition, Kaia had decided to work as a bartender to make ends meet.
It was a busy Saturday night at her job and the college kids had packed the pub to max. Kaia was at least making good tips to make up for the pounding headache that she was sporting from the chaos. The basketball team had won the championship and being that Duke was a huge sports team, greater than some of the national teams, all of North Carolina was partying. She was thankful that her boss let her go early, being that she had a very important test in the morning; one she had been waiting for for a long time.
This test wasn’t for school, but to finally achieve the highest belt in taekwondo. Knowing the proper moves wasn’t good enough. Someone needed complete control of their mind too and despite her partying and straying from the path she should’ve been on in school, Kaia had been getting back on the straight and narrow.
As she pulled the keys from her purse, Kaia paused at the sudden crashing noise she heard in her apartment. Her roommate Liza was probably drunk again and stumbling about after the news of the championship, no doubt getting wasted at the nearby frat house whose music she could hear from the dorm. Kaia shook her head and opened the door, never expecting what was to come.
Liza was half on the couch and half off, blood pooling from her side. Her eyes were wide open and staring up at her from her upside down position completely lifeless. A man she didn’t know stood above her that turned at the sound of Kaia coming inside, his eyes seeming to glow an unnatural white. Kaia immediately turned to leave, but he was too fast, slamming the door shut and shoving her against it. The man was impossibly strong. His breath wreaked of alcohol and he pushed his forearm against her throat, lifting Kaia into the air.
It was instinct and years of training then that had taken over. Kaia wrapped her legs around the man’s head, shifting her weight and pulling his forearm forward into an armbar. He slammed her again against the door causing a blinding pain to run up her back, but Kaia wasn’t going to let go. She had been in plenty of scuffles before, though it was always to help break up one of the disorderlies at her job. Never in her wildest dreams did she think she would need to use her skills to have to save her life.
The assailant began to crumble as he struggled for air, Kaia not believing that he was even able to keep standing for so long. The man suddenly moved for the knife he had in his pocket and stabbed Kaia in the thigh. She screamed out in pain and immediately fell to the ground. He lunged for her again, but Kaia swept his legs out from under him and called out for help, hoping that by some miracle, one of her neighbors in the dorm might be in their rooms and not out partying like the rest of the campus.
Kaia scrambled to her feet as she slipped in Liza’s blood, nearly falling into the coffee table. She limped to the door, but the man was on her again. Kaia found the adrenaline to kick the man in the chest backwards, but stumbled back herself as the wound from her leg seemed to pour. Her mind didn’t want to accept it, but she knew he had hit an artery. Her vision was becoming hazy then and as her hand reached the doorknob and pulled the door open to get to the hallway, she felt his grip wrap into her hair and yank her backwards.
He threw her onto the floor and raised the knife to stab her. Kaia blocked the blow, holding his wrist with her hands, but he was so unbelievably strong. She attempted to bring her knee between them to give some separation, but he reached down with his free hand and squeezed her injured thigh. Kaia screamed out and lost her grip on his wrist, seeing the knife go down into her chest.
Kaia gasped awake. It was so dark she thought perhaps she’d fallen asleep in her bedroom without even remembering doing so. The ground was hard and cold, however, and she knew this was not her apartment. She stood and looked around, but nothing was familiar because there was in fact nothing there. A psychotic break? Her studies in school began to fly through her mind trying to find some rational explanation, but this was all seeming so real to her.
Kaia took her first step and began to walk the darkness. She called out to the empty not getting a response until a shrill shriek came from behind her. Spinning around in a defensive stance, she prepared herself for some kind of attack and though she couldn’t see exactly what it was coming for her, the thing that had made that most horrible noise seemed darker than the blackness around her.
A sudden brightness broke through and made her recoil from the power behind the light. The creature made another noise as if it were in extreme pain and bounded away. Kaia looked at the man who had suddenly appeared from head to toe with no recognition of who he was and why he would be inside her head if this were indeed some kind of psychotic episode. She didn’t know if there would be any point in asking since this was her mind and all, but Kaia questioned who he was.
Lucien, he called himself, and he said he was an Aurazin. The man began to explain to Kaia in as much care as he could, that she had in fact died quite violently, finding herself in this emptiness called the void. The events that she remembered in the last memories she had began to trickle back in and soon Kaia realized he was in fact telling the truth, despite her normal need for practicality.
A few years after her death and Kaia had become very close to Lucien. She was constantly working in the void with him, bringing lost souls from that hell into the veil. He had always been impressed that she didn’t run from the voidling that attempted to consume her soul that day, but stood her ground, ready to fight. It didn’t surprise him in the least that she quickly decided to become a shepherd and Lucien’s right hand, letting her take lead of the other shepherds while he began giving missions over all the Aurazin.
Her new appointment was coming soon and she wanted to make Luke comfortable with his decision in making her the new lead point. She had been with a couple of the other shepherds in the void, hunting the voidlings which seemed to be growing in number over the last few months. They were weary of the long day’s hunt, but knew it was vital work in order to save as many souls as they possibly could.
As Kaia moved cautiously through the darkness with the others flanked at her sides, a sudden explosion ripped through void. She went tumbling to the ground, but it was only momentarily as she felt herself being pulled through the vacuum of the portal which appeared out of nowhere. Kaia called out to the others, but they too were being dragged against their will and went falling through the gaping hole.
The Aurazin stood shakily from their fall onto Earth and looked around at the unfamiliar territory. Kaia hadn’t been back since her death, Lucien saying it was dangerous for newly deceased Aurazin to begin work on Earth for fear of their former lives getting in the way of their duty. She quickly called out to the veil for some kind of guidance, but got nothing in return. Were they the only ones who had fallen? What was happening in the veil? With no other options, Kaia made the call for them to head to the Eternal City in hopes of finding help among the Ailwards and suddenly knowing exactly why Luke discouraged the recently dead from being on Earth so soon.