[ISS] Locker Room (Our 2,5, Tab 2.4)

edited May 2016 in ISS Tsiolkovsky
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Tabitha,

You feel your body, and Bea's, lose tangibility. This pulls Bea out of her fugue, she lets out a surprised "urk", then you're both passing through the bleachers, seeing them slip by your vision. You pass through the floor, the pipes between floors, and into the locker room. The first thing you hear is a hissing sound, then you see Gen Yu, her eyes closed as she washes her hair in the showers. Bea holds in a laugh of surprise and clutches herself to you as your bodies start to take shape again.

Gen Yu will see you any moment now, and Gams is probably headed this way soon.

What do you do?
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    Oh drokk! Wrong locker room. I take Bea's hand and start running. Maybe if we leave fast enough everyone will be too surprised to do anything. Gen Yu is naked so she won't chase us (I hope) and Gams is probably close enough, same.

    That feeling, of falling through the floor. It almost felt like nothing. I'm not 100% sure I did that.
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    Tabitha,

    Let's see how well you Run Away here!
  • image

    Running Away: (Rolled: 2d6+2. Rolls: 6, 4. Total: 12)

    Marking XP: (2)
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    Tabitha,

    With Bea still over your shoulder in a fireman's carry, you scoot out of the shower before Gen Yu even opens her eyes. You do get a look at a wicked dragon tattoo that runs along her back, with the tail over her left hip, curling around her thigh. Are there any regs on tats, Tabitha? Does that dragon tattoo remind you of anything?

    You spot Gams, walking towards the shower in a towel, looking back over her shoulder, talking to the team in a loud voice about Kellek missing signs. Bea gives out a worried "urk", but you duck down a little into another room, wait for Gams to pass by, then sneak past her and out of the locker room. Bea's making noises to let her down, and you're almost in the main corridor now, walking under the bleachers to get to the exit.

    What do you do?
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    I had no idea Gen Yu was inked. Her tattoo reminds me of something I've seen in a book, full of images of mythical creatures and things. A deeper memory rises up, other locker rooms, a different dragon on a different woman. No context.

    Tattoos are banned shipwide - even adults aren't supposed to have them. The risk of contamination is too high, and I think there's some kind of association between tattoos and some off-ship thing. Nobody has explained and I haven't asked. Crime?

    It really makes me wonder where Zola got her ink, and Gen Yu as well. Did they get them before the unrest? Would that make sense?

    I could keep going with Bea on my shoulders into the main corridor, but that will look weird and she's obviously done with it. I set her down on her feet but I don't pause - we're still getting out of here and back to our pod.
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    Tabitha,

    image Bea steps back, quietly adjusting her top because it rode up while you carried her. In a hushed voice, "What did you just do, Tabitha? I mean," she points towards the ceiling in a direction generally towards the bleachers. "That trick? And, and. Well," She swallows, looking back to you. "Thanks. I mean, they would have smashed us both, you-you didn't need to do that. I'm awful like Ourania said. But-but she cut herself, too! And-and she seduced me." She moves towards the door, eager to leave.

    What do you do?
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    "I don't know. Maybe the ship owed me a favor. And I like making corps look stupid." I shrug like I'm not just as confused.

    I'm right behind her as I frown, reach out and hold the door closed. "Wait. What?" Ourania is my roommate but I can hardly imagine her seducing someone. Of course, I couldn't imagine her breaking Jace's arm or doing whatever she did to Mark, so that shows what I know about her.
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    Tabitha,

    image Sensing your interest, a way to shift the conversation, she nods, ""Yeah. I cut myself sometimes. It's weird, I know." She shrugs a little, helplessly. "But the other night, Ourania just walks right in, sits down, pulls away my, uhm, the pillow I was covering myself with. And-and she cut herself, too, then like," She swallows, looking at you curiously for a moment, gauging your interest. "Then she seduced me. Like, I get really woozy with the cutting, Tabitha. And her hands were like, on me, and then we were, uhm, doing it."
    She straightens, looks at you for a moment before adding, "I know... totally gross, right? I'm awful."
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    That's a lot to take in. Like, a lot. Why is she telling me all this? "Doing it," I repeat with no inflection. "And you..cut yourself until you're woozy."

    I mean, I enjoy pushing myself until I'm hurt, but on the court or in the hallways I earn something from it. Enough of the time, at least. Somebody else hurts me, I hurt them back or take something from them.

    Gross. It's like she's calling Ourania gross and then turning it on herself. "What do you want me to feel about this?" I let go of the doorknob. "Why was Ourania yelling?"
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    Tabitha,

    image Bea blinks when you ask how she wants you to feel about it. Her mouth hangs open for a moment as she searches for a reply, then she moves on to the question about Ourania yelling. "Oh, Olivar and Nadja, they, uhm, they made me watch a video. It showed Ourania pushing Gwen.... pushing her over the railing at the recycling plant bay. I didn't want to believe it, and so, so I asked her. And she got really mad. I mean, well, you saw it."
    Bea glances at the doorknob, the way out, which is through you. And she does nothing but wait. Too meek to push past you. She reaches down to press on her left thigh and looks down at her feet. "I didn't mean to hurt her. I was just... just scared."
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    "Olivar, who has a thing. With Jace. Who Ourania hurt." I lay it out, reach back out to the doorknob. I leave ahead of her, but I expect her to follow me.

    When she hesitates, I look back. I want to tell her Gwen thinks it was the corps but I think Bea isn't in control of the stomm that comes out of her mouth. Of course I don't think Ourania did it, beyond the pedigree of the data. "I can't work that out for you. Or tell you that trusting people more. Is the answer."

    Some of the kids clearing out bump into me; I don't soften my shoulder against them. I get looked at like I'm an asshole.
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    Tabitha,

    image Bea follows with a nod of her head. "Sure, sure. Right. Ollie's sneaky, and Nadja's got her own thing going, I know. But like... it was super convincing. Do you like, trust Ourania though? She was watching me cutting before she came in on me. It's not like she likes me, okay? I-I'm not stupid. I guess maybe you two..." She pauses, not finishing the sentence. "It doesn't matter. I owe you for that thing. Need me to do your homework or something?"
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    I lean in towards her as she decides not to finish her sentence. She's stupid. I keep moving down the hall. "We aren't doing it. But I think Ourania at least. Gives a stomm, if I fall down for no reason. She backed me up when I was in Iso."

    Bea doesn't need to do my homework, either. "I like homework." Maybe. It's quiet. "Could you see what kind of equipment failures. We've had in our pod lately? Going back six months."

    Do I trust Ourania? I don't think it's a fair question - I think everyone in our pod is someone who can be forced to do anything to anyone else. But I know the difference between that and someone who will do it because they feel like it. At least, I think I do.
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    Tabitha,

    image Bea's a little surprised by your refusal, like she thinks maybe you need help with your homework. "Equipment failures? What do you mean, like everything? Aiden tracks that stuff, I can just ask him. But like, what are you looking for? It'll help me figure out patterns and... and stuff."
    You know the class is returning to their pod now, and the corridors from Pod Eight to Pod Sixteen are getting more dangerous, Tabitha. You need to get out of here.

    What do you do?
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    "Figure out patterns yourself." I start to outpace her, she can speed up or not. "That's why it's a favor."

    Then I break into a run, partly so Bea can't argue with me, partly to get back to my room before I'm stopped by some other pod's corporal. Oh my god I could have a warm shower in my room. Message Zola on my Navi. Lay down on my bed.
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    Tabitha,

    Bea doesn't try to keep up, you hear a bit of a whine from her but you're already running. You make it to your room without incident. Ourania isn't there. The shower? It's incredible. Maybe the best one you've ever had.

    You're laying on your bed when there's a tone at the door. It's Zola.

    What do you do?
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    I hop up out of bed - I was almost but not quite napping, you know? It was nice, but I'm excited to see Zola.

    I open the door, pull Zola in, and close it right behind her. I'm dressed in a tank top and some slouchy sweatpants.

    "Hey. Sorry I missed you at the showers. Corps wanted to. Stomp on me."
  • edited May 2016
    image Zola's dressed in a pair of work overalls, but there's no shirt underneath (that must be itchy). Her hair's in a wild tangle of dreds with a few flyaways that seem chaotic but exactly where she wanted them to be. She's wearing a pair of nice earrings, have to be from her family, you've never seen them on her. "Forgiven. I had to shower anyways. Had Gams stink on me."She slips her hands to your hips, standing close, "Did that scrawny girl hurt you, Tabs? You really nailed her."


    What do you do?
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    I take in Zola's latest look. She really tries when it comes to her appearance, it's zeng. One of my hands finds the small of her back, under the intersection of those shoulder straps. "I'll be fine. You played such a good game. I missed you."

    I get a close look at her earrings before drawing Zola tightly to me. I shift my head, wanting a kiss.
  • image She lets you pull her in, not resisting in the slightest. For once, you're pulling her, you're calling for a kiss, and she gives in. It's soft, a teasing of lips and tongue, a little playful. Her hands circle you, Tabitha, and she starts moving you towards the bed. "You missed me? Good. Always miss me when I'm gone. Always." She breaks away for a moment to ask, "Hey... when do you have to go back?" Then she's pushing you again to your bed, eager to be with you.

    What do you do?
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    I fall back into the bed, pulling Zola with me. "I don't. I'm off on time served."

    I work the little clasps at the top corners of the front of Zola's overalls. Easy. Is the rest of this thing going to be annoying? Buttons on both sides of her hips? Hm.

    I'm enjoying the feel of Zola's weight on me, warm and substantial.
  • edited May 2016
    image "Really?" Zola says with interest as she slips a hand under your sweats. "You're back? That's zeng. Really zeng." Her buttons are tricky, the ones on the side are tightly fitted to the small holes. Zola snickers as you work at it. She whispers in your ear. "I bet Ourania will be back soon. Do you care if she walks in on us?"

    What do you do?
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    A soft moan escapes me as Zola's hand slides along my skin. "Yeah, I'm back." I could force these buttons off but Zola values her clothes. She snickers at me and I nip playfully at her in response.

    I take in a slow breath and back off into the mattress after she mentions Ourania. "Hmmm, yeah I do. She pulled to have the Commandant. Investigate Haladay. That's why I'm back and he's out." I push Zola halfway up. "I should be a good roommate."
  • image Zola sits up, a little disappointed at your answer, but not pushing it like you might expect. "Haladay's out? Drokking good. Hated that lizard." She scoots back onto the far side of the bed, but turns to face you, sitting on one leg. "What was iso like? I've never been in, except for that demo Malcolm did on us when we started classes."

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    I rest my hands on top of her thighs for a moment, then ease up into my own seated position. "He could have killed Jace. Iso was. Worth it."

    With one hand I push my pillow up behind my back and lean on the wall. "Just like I told Pax. It's just you, and your own head. You can't move. You start to feel crazy. I think if my eyes had been closed. Maybe I would have hallucinated?" I frown softly. I want to tell Zola about Gwen.
  • image "You're good to our team, Tabs. They don't know how much you do for them. I do, though." Zola compliments you, then scoots over nearer to you, sliding so her head's in your lap and she's looking up at you. "You aren't crazy, babe. You're back. We're going to be unstoppable now. So..." The right side of her mouth curls up in a grin, "Did you dream and hallucinate about me?"
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    When Zola's settled, I stroke the side of her face idly. I'm not sure what she's talking about. I just try to play good speedball, show up to practice, put in the effort.

    "I'm not crazy." I agree with Zola, comfortably. Something about the way she asks about herself makes me want to talk about Gwen less. I cover that with a matching grin and tell her, "Maybe a little bit."
  • image That gets a delighted giggle from Zola. she reaches a hand up to gently rub the back of your head affectionately. After a quiet moment, she sparks a question like she just thought of it, "Do you want to be exclusive? Like, together? I mean, you're already mine, but I'm open to reciprocating."
    She pulls you down for a lingering kiss, then waits for an answer.
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    I like it when she rubs the back of my head. I like my short, soft-bristle hair, too. I keep it this way because it's easy to do myself.

    I brace myself on an elbow, over her, kissing her at this interesting angle. So this is what it meant when I told her I loved her but she didn't say it back? I'd like it. Feeling important to someone.

    Something strange about it coming around now, though. "I'd like you to be mine. Does this mean you've been. With someone else?" Maybe while I was in Iso. I wonder who it would be.
  • image Zola titters lightly, her eyes crinkling as she laughs, a mix of delight and mirth. She looks up into your eyes, asking, "Be careful what you ask, Tabitha. You might get answers. Are you sure you want to know the answer to that question? What does it matter anyway if I did, right? I'm telling you now that I'll be yours. That's what you want, right?"

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    "I don't know what it matters." I confess before I think to stop myself. I watch Zola's eyes, thinking, trying to make comparisons. Ones that make sense. "That is what I want. I want to know you. Care about me." I think she does.

    "Tell me anyway. I'm curious. Then tell me you love me."
  • edited May 2016
    image She spends a few moments rubbing the back of your head. She knows you like it. Zola looks in your eyes for a moment, hesitating for the first time in a long while. "Sometimes Pax goes down on me. Stress relief and stomm. I don't return the favor. Like I said, she's just a waste." She says it with all the care she normally gives towards her roommate. Then she pulls gently on your neck for you to kiss her. "I love you, Tabitha. I'm all yours now."
    What do you do?
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    That..doesn't seem normal. But maybe it is? Zola didn't want to tell me. Stomm, how many in my pod have this kind of connection? Why is Pax a waste for doing this with Zola but I'm not? Was she Zola's?

    But she says she loves me and the questions slow down enough to ease the feeling in my chest. I follow her pull and kiss her. She's all mine, if that's possible.

    I'm not all mine. It doesn't make sense. I want to run and get closer at the same time.
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    Tabitha,

    Zola spends her string to put the condition Zola's pet on you.

    image Zola kisses you, then sits up, moving off the bed in a casual manner. "Good. That's settled. Listen, I am going to get some food at the cafeteria, then rest for a bit. If Pax leaves, which she always does, I'll send you a message. Will you come over? I'll need some stress relief then. Probably." She heads for your door.

    What do you do?
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    I kiss her back, needfully. Right now she chooses to leave? I sigh. It's probably for the best. "Let me know, and I'll be there."

    After a pause, I wet my lips and experiment. "Babe."
  • image She pauses at the door when you call her "babe", turns and smirks. "Good. See you soon." For a moment, Zola holds your eyes, then she opens the door and heads out, leaving you alone.

    In a warm bed, after a nice shower. Ourania hasn't returned from the speedball match.

    What do you do?
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    It sounds ridiculous but I'm pretty exhausted. I grab my navi and lounge on the bed, wondering where Ourania is and if she's okay. I feel like I should be happy about what just happened, but I'm unsatisfied. Nobody I can really talk to about it, either. Probably. If I find someone I'll just look stupid.

    I doze a little, catch up on feeds. I have so many school messages waiting for me.

    There's a point where I hit a wall; one second this is fine to be doing and the next I'm thoroughly sick of it. I sit up and huff with frustration at nothing. I reach under my bed and pull out the small trunk I inherited from Ioanna. Not a good time to try and ditch it again.

    I open it up and paw around inside. I remember this trunk being a pell-mell of things but it's all tidy and sorted right now.
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    Tabitha,

    Your hands end up pulling out a pair of glasses. These glasses:
    Ioanna-shades

    When you put them on, they don't charge up, just display in the lower right HUD that the battery is out, an e-ink pixel display.
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    Ioanna wore glasses? No she didn't. I put them on and take them off to compare how I see. I look at myself in the mirror with them. Weird. They go on the charge pad where my Navi rests when it's out of juice.
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    Tabitha,

    The charge pad gives a soft warning tone, the one for "square-peg-round-hole". These glasses don't charge on a standard pad.

    What do you do?
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    Maybe I'll find the charger deeper in the trunk. I keep looking. If I can't find it, I'll ask about it later. Maybe Ashlee would know.

    I pause at some drokking Speedball trophy. I don't recognize it, it's a little small but it looks expensive.

    Someday I'll know who keeps dumping this on me. I don't know if I'll do anything but yell at them.
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    Tabitha,

    The trophy reads "Sector MVP". That's it.

    There's something new in here. A small envelop addressed to "Clone of Ioanna".

    What do you do?
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    I hold the trophy in both hands, applying pressure and wondering if I can break it. Can't quite bring myself to do it, but then I'm distracted.

    With a frown, I reach in to get the envelope. I put it under my nose and sniff at it. Hold it up to the light and look through it.
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    Tabitha,

    This message is confidential. Revelation of contents to
    other children will result in severe service access removals.
    You will record a reading of the attached letter into your
    Navi and send to A Lee.
    Tone should be neutral to pleasant.
    Audio and video capture required.
    Eye contact with the camera preferred.
    Lighting at 50% or greater.
    Compliance will result in meal quality upgrade for
    two weeks after message is received.


    The letter is handwritten, in a script that you recognize as Ioanna's. It is a very steamy letter to her lover. The name has been redacted with black ink, but the gender pronoun is female.

    What do you do?
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    I read the impersonal printed note. Not only is there a punishment, there's a reward. No identifying marks as usual. A Lee. It's got to be a pseudonym.

    Two weeks of good meals. It's a signal to some people. But, good meals! Nobody will know what I did to get them.

    I switch to looking at Ioanna's handwritten letter..funny story, our writing is not alike at all. Not in the inking of letters onto paper, at least. This letter is..damn. How can I read this out loud, let alone to someone I don't know? What in the hell is neutral to pleasant about this?

    Like before, I re-read the letter, but I don't rehearse this time. If Ourania comes back..stomm. I can try a new recording.
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    It's a bit weird, reading this letter aloud. Why don't you Hold Steady to get this perfectly right, Tabitha?
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    Rolling Cold:(Rolled: 2d6-1. Rolls: 2, 4. Total: 5)

    Marking XP: (4 - 3rd XP was from Better Than Nothing)
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    Clone of Ioanna,

    The words, Tabitha. They feel so real. As you say them, you feel a swell of emotion, the stir of passion and love. Dana Larsen was Ioanna's lover. You remember writing this. You feel a deep connection to Dana, through Ioanna. You can smell her hair, see the crinkle of her eyes when she smiles.

    Memories of Ioanna, feeling things so strongly, things you can barely comprehend. What she had with Dana, it's powerful. Not uncertain. Not marred with selfishness or petty. Affection and devotion. Love. Real love. A love you don't have.

    Take the condition Smitten with Mark's mom. (and yes, this is a new scene)
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    I end the recording in a rush, unable to stand the idea of some stranger watching me go through these feelings a second longer, even in ignorance. I'll send it later.

    Dana. I want her here, right now, in my arms. Telling me she loves me and meaning it, quietly understanding me. Not making power plays with me. Oh god, that's what it feels like and I miss her so badly. Dana! I don't know how to come back to you.

    No! I can't feel this way! That was Ioanna and not me!

    I collapse into bed, crying and muffling the sounds with my pillow. I've got enough presence of mind to face the wall.

    Marking 5th XP, buying +1 to Dark.
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    Tabitha,

    You're not sure how long you've been lying there in your bed. There's a chime at the door, followed by Bea's voice, "Uhm. Hello? Can I come in?"

    What do you do?
  • edited May 2016
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    Was I asleep? I have a headache. I leverage myself out of bed and slap the door button to let it slide open while I turn right for the bathroom to wash my face, which feels sticky and sore. I douse my head in the sink while I'm at it. I expect Bea to walk in, even if I'm not giving her anything to go on right now.

    "What's new, Bea?"

    I wash the cup Ourania and I keep in the bathroom and fill it, to have something to drink.
  • edited May 2016
    image Bea hovers near the entrance to your room, looking nervously about, "Hi Tabitha. Is... Ourania isn't here yet?" She steps inside, the door sliding shut behind her. She hasn't changed clothes. You notice her eyes are red and puffy, and the left thigh of her slacks clings to her. "Is she... is she alright? It's been like forever."
    She pulls her Navi out and expands it, turning it around to show you a detailed list. "So. These eighty five items are the equipment fails in the last six months. Item, time of report, failure description, ticket number, status of ticket, who opened it, pictures if available, and... well, that's everything. Most of the stomm is still broken, bee tee dubs."
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    Good, if my voice still sounds raw and terrible I guess Bea didn't catch it. I sip some water and hover near Bea. "No, but I did. Expect her back by now." That's kind of worrying. I can't imagine she had the same problem with the Corps that I did..

    Leaning towards her Navi, I take another sip and scan over the equipment failures list, scroll it with a finger. Most of it still broken. Welcome to the ISS Tsiolkovsky. "Surprising no-one. Wish I could fix things. It would be nice to have. More equipment that worked."

    I reformat the list a couple times, from chronological order, then alpha by person who opened the repair ticket, then alpha by item. Bea hasn't 'cooked' any of this data, but I'm not really annoyed because this is a lot of data. And a nice distraction.

    Of the items actually repaired, I wonder what they were, and who repaired them.
  • image Bea hovers near, watching you read her Navi. "I... I can fix some stuff. Authority always sticks me on compiling, data analysis, running reports. Boring as hell, but at least I don't get grimy during un-school. Aiden's handy, too, but more with like fine-work. They don't.... they don't want stuff to work, Tabitha. The broken stuff gives everyone something to hate."
    "Have you... tried reaching Ourania on her Navi?" she asks quietly.
  • edited May 2016
    image

    "Something that represents them. I think it's more. That we're disposable. Authority doesn't want to spend resources on us." I swap Bea's Navi to her message app and send a copy of this file to myself.

    "Oh. That's a good idea." I guess I would have thought of it if I were..you know..thinking of it, instead of Dana and how deep and good that love felt. I get what I ask for when I'm curious. I collect my own Navi and type out a quick message to Ourania. I could drop onto the bed but standing feels good right now.

    Ourania, are you alright? I expected you back at the dorm sooner.
    Let me know if you need me.
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    Tabitha,

    Bea spends a few minutes chatting about the broken items and disposable kids, but it's mostly maudlin stuff. She's biding time, either waiting for a thank you or maybe Ourania.

    Ourania,

    When you come into your room, Tabitha's there, looking over her Navi. Bea's near her. They both look up and see you. Bea shrinks a little, but doesn't leave.

    What do you do?
  • image

    I finally get an in-app ping from Ourania while I'm poring over the repair information. "Oh. She's co-"

    I'm interrupted by Ourania arriving. The Navi server must have hit a slow patch. "Oh, hey." I might be cleaned up enough for Bea to ignore me, but I don't know about Ourania. My side of the room is a little messy, too, suddenly I'm conscious of that.

    I wonder if I should go.
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    I stop in the door, gut still roiling from my last encounter with Larsen. My lips compress in annoyance that Bea is in here even as I feel a twinge somewhere. I give my roommate a tight smile.

    "Hey." I return her greeting. Then my eyes shift to Bea again, I can almost feel them ice over. "Am I interrupting?"

    Don't let Bea be here for me.

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    "Hm? Bea is helping me with. Some research." I shake my head. "You're not interrupting."

    "Thank you, Bea. This is going to make some things. Clearer for me, I hope." She can take her thank you and leave, or screw some guts together and apologize to Ourania. I give Bea space to make her choice in, moving some things around, replacing the bathroom cup after draining it. I put the glasses on top of my dresser, still at a loss for how to charge them.
  • image Bea notices you leave the small space the three of you had, Tabitha. She looks at your feet Ourania. After a moment of hesitation, she closes her Navi. Her right foot turns to point at the door, but she doesn't go. "I... Gwen was my best friend. We'd known each other since, uhm, since before. It was stupid. I'm stupid. In my head, I was like letting you know they had this stomm on you. And then it just got messed up when it came out and I... I" She swallows. "I knew you didn't really like me. So, uhm, now we know."
    She lets out a breath, then walks towards the door.
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    I lean forward slightly and press my palm into my face, muffling the words against my hand. "Bea, apologies don't sound like that." Even I know that. Nobody will be able to convince me I'm the stupidest person in class after this.
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    I nod when Tabitha says I’m not interrupting and drops the hint on Bea to leave. I move past to my bed, like Bea is no concern of mine. I’ve just stripped off my shirt and thrown it on the bed when she starts to talk.

    I half turn toward her, crossing my arms and fiddling with Dad’s ring on my right hand and listen.

    I hear Tab mutter something and I see Bea start to leave out of the corner of my eye.

    “Don’t presume to know what I like or don’t like. You don’t know. Clearly.” I say. “So you have your reasons. It just got messed up. It’s all so drokking understandable. Good for you.”

    I put my hands on my hips, standing there in my bra and staring her down.

    “That’s it then?”

  • image Bea swallows hard when you come back coldly, like she expected something else? She moves to the door, turning slightly, looking back. Her eyes scan your chest, your exposed stomach, then up to your face. She looks lost for a moment. "That's uhm..." She fidgets, then steps so the door opens. "That's... it?" She steps partially into the corridor, slowly like maybe she thinks there's supposed to be more.

    There isn't, so she turns to step out, letting the door slide closed again, leaving you alone with Tabitha.
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    I let out a long sigh. At least things aren't so cluttered, and that damn letter is back in the trunk. "Sorry about that. I didn't think she would." I lose the words entirely and make a confused gesture at the door.

    I don't make a fuss about Ourania being in her bra, it's normal..but after being left hung to dry by Zola and the letter, it's more distracting than usual. I try to get back to my Navi. "The shower is all yours."
  • edited May 2016
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    I shrug, feeling sort of beaten down and with pressure in my head and chest. All the stomm today...

    "Thanks." The shower suggestion is a good one so I kick off shoes and pants, dropping the latter haphazardly on my bed. I reach to unhook my bra and feel it give in a weird way and unexpectedly. Frowning, I slip it off my shoulders. I see the clasp is broken.

    There's a pulse of hot rage in me and I fling it across the room. "Oh, drokking void take it!" I try to take a breath that turns into a wretched sob. I put my hands to my face, cover my mouth as a second sob forces it's way out and I feel the hot tears on my fingers. . I half turn and collapse to a seat on my bed trying to get a grip and losing.
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    "Ah!" The bra whips past me and I startle, dropping my Navi. It bounces onto the floor. My feet follow it.

    "Ourania?" I cross the room. "Are you hurt?" I've never seen her like this before, but it feels like the time she had hurt Jace. This is still unsettling for me, but I think I'm not as unprepared for it as I was then. I kneel next to her, looking up at her on her bed, trying to catch her eyes. "Ourania, I'm sorry. What's wrong? What can I do?"
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    I can just imagine the Commandant’s disappointment at me not being able to control myself. I can see that look in her eye. Like she would say to Dad, emotions are energy and like all energy on this ship, they should be put to a useful purpose instead of wasted.

    But I just… I can’t get a grip. I am trying but it keeps slipping away. I’ve crossed the event horizon of a black hole. I take deep breath only to have it break into more sobs, more heat on my face. The world seems to pulse with it. The frustration of it, the anger at my own incompetance melts into the emotional slurry too.

    Tabitha appears next to me. I shake my head on response to her questions. “N-no.” I push out weakly, gaining a momentary upper hand, my throat thick. “It’s… I’m f-fine.” The last word dissolves into more tears.

    Void, I drokking hate not having any control.

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    I can't stay afraid of Ourania when she's like this. I settle on the bed next to her and put my arms around her shoulders. She smells nice, but also so tense.

    Other people might be scared of Ourania because of who her mother is. I know the Commandant has either ordered or approved access restrictions on me before..and she's bound to do it again. It won't have much to do with Ourania's say-so. She's a child like me.

    I'm scared of her in her own right. I want my steady, sardonic roommate back. I wish I had Ioanna's experience to draw on, and tell me what to do. Is this the right thing? Am I making Ourania feel better or worse, or can I even? I smooth her hair like I might have liked earlier. I'm not fully done feeling pitiful, myself.

    "It's..it's okay. Shh." I watch her hands and keep myself from focusing on her body. Something about that would be unfair. Cruel?
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    Tabitha,

    You know, all this wondering about what Ioanna might do in this situation (WWID?) , the worry about the right thing... it almost feels like maybe you're Gazing into the Abyss? Are you?
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    Rolling to Gaze: (Rolled: 2d6+2. Rolls: 3, 3. Total: 8)
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    Choosing detail and clarity, taking Drained.
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    Tabitha,

    IoannaHeader
    For a moment, you see her, the person you were meant to be if the process hadn't failed. Ioanna. Standing in the room by the bed, kneeling down beside you, near Ourania. She looks at you, then Ourania. "She's just like her mother. Strong, always strong. Until she isn't. She needs you to be strong right now, not hesitant. Take her into your arms, hold her and let her cry it out. She might try to sleep with you. How you handle that's up to you. As long as you don't make her feel wrong for trying, it will work out either way."

    Take +1 Forward with Ourania if you follow Ioanna's advice.
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    My demeanor firms up. I don't stare at Ioanna or particularly avoid looking, either. I settle more comfortably into holding Ourania.

    I kind of expected Ioanna to hate me like I hate her.

    "It's okay, let it go."

    And I do.

    Or I will again later.
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    I feel Tabitha's arms about my back, her hand stroke my hair and it... I don't know. For a moment there seems to still be some hesitation, the touch tentative, fearful, afraid but pitying. It goads the storm inside me. I'm almost ready to pull away, get to the bathroom, get away. They don't want me. I don't want them either.

    But then her arms become strong, and her voice sure and the part of me that wants to flee is overcome by the part of me that wants something solid, some anchor to hold onto. So I turn in toward her, huddle inside her arms, my cheek against her sternum, some distant part of me noting her heart beat, and finally let go of any attempt at control. The great confused lump of emotion washes through me, and I let it.

    I'm not sure how long it takes before I'm just a tired, sniffling mess, being held together; my head is achy and hollowed-out feeling, in a drawn out, somewhat sticky misery. But... I'm lighter. Now the heart beat, the warmth of the body and the arms around me, her scent, they seem to be the whole world. I can feel the real world, cold and antiseptic, pushing at the edges though, seeping in.

    "Sorry." I say to that heart under my ear. My voice soft and scratchy.
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    "I don't mind." I say quietly. I feel tired..Ourania looks tired..bearing up under the kind of strain we're put through is so much work. I can tell I almost drokked that all up, I felt her pull against me and tense towards leaving. "Sorry I was. Stupid."

    It felt so different and complex, holding Ourania through all of that. So many expressions in sadness that can't be taught or spoken. Words fail. She fits so close in my arms. Comfortable. Still sad. That's how I feel. Not nearly as confusing as before.

    I relax and shift, not letting go, just giving Ourania space to come up if she needs to. I wonder if she's cold. I'm full of questions but I feel like Ourania should say something first. When my gut says to be quiet, I listen.
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    “No, you weren’t.” I say, firmly, even if my volume is still low. “You’re not.”

    With the shift of weight, at first, I’m afraid she wants me to let go. I wouldn’t blame her. But her hold doesn’t slacken really, nor do I get the sense that she’s rushing me, but it raises my awareness of her body, of my body, of how naked I am, of where we touch. It raises a new uncertainty in me, among other things.

    I still don’t want to let go.

    I probably should.

    I like the warmth, the scent and the feel of her. I like it a lot.

    But now I’m waiting for it to get weird. Or I’m worried that it is weird. And…drokk it that’s making it weird.

    I sigh and sit up. Not pulling completely away, but not cradled against her anymore and already missing it. I quash a sudden attack of modesty too. It’s not as if she hasn’t seen me plenty of times, and I don’t want to appear uncomfortable. I look at her, notice her eyes are a bit swollen. Crying while I was? I can’t remember. I didn’t feel it, but then I didn’t feel anything distinct for a while.

    “I don’t really know why…” I shrug making a vague guesture meant to indicate my lapse. “They just started early today, you know? And I saw my Mother, and Pris and…” I shake my head a little, my hand fidgiting with the ring again.

    “Anyway, uh, thanks for… for this.” I look up at her agian. “You won’t tell anyone?” I kind of regret the question as soon as I say it.

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    I listen and nod at Ourania's words. I let her do what she's ready to do; in time that's sitting up. Our legs are still pressed against each other, I'm still leaning towards her slightly. The skin on my arms is cooling. It's interesting to watch her transform right back into my usual Ourania. She shifts and I raise my glance to her shoulder.

    That ring is new, I notice. Or, it's new to me. It looks worn.

    "What would I tell them?" I ask her blankly. Not letting that stand on its own for too long, I want to change the subject. "Pris is still alive? Do you want to. Talk about it?" It's a hopeful topic, I'm actually eager to hear a little bit more.
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    I look at her a moment. I'm not sure if that's a "I won't tell them anything" statement or that she's really uncertain what she would say that I wouldn't want her to. She's not dumb, but some nuances seem to escape her sometimes. She asks about Pris before I can make up my mind. "Uhm... Yeah, she is. I mean she's still in a coma, but I guess she woke up. Asked for me to come see her. The doctors said she's improving and who knows if that's true, but they had to put her under again, just not her mind. So I got to use the interface to visit her. She's pretty lonley I think." I meet Tabitha's eyes again. "Kind of like Iso, I guess. She wanted you to come see her too, when you can. I mean the interface is weird," I make a face, thinking of that voice claiming to be Gwen and Pris being naked. "but she could use the company...."

    I trail off and glance down at my hands again. I consider confessing to Tabitha that it's my fault that Pris is is in there to start with, but who would think I was anything less than awful for doing that? Tabitha is like the only person in the whole pod who I even like right now. I can't have her hate me too, even if I deserve it.

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    I can't hold Ourania's gaze when she mentions Iso, I have to look to the side. They can't leave her in there like they leave people in Iso. I look back quickly though, when she mentions that Pris wanted me to visit. "Right, I should. But not right now." I don't want to leave Ourania right now.

    "What's weird about the interface?" After that face she made, I have to ask.
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    “Uh…” I shift a tad awkwardly. I think I should tell her about the naked thing, in case it was Pris doing it unconsciously, just so she’s prepared. But then what does that mean if she doesn’t see the same thing? On top of that, it brings my mind to my own almost nudity. Again.

    Ah well.

    “Well…” I can heat in my face. “When I saw her she was uh… She was naked.” Yes, just like I am now, isn’t that funny? I shrug. “It didn’t seem like she knew. I wasn’t sure if it was something she was doing or, uh, something else, like a glitch or something.” The only other thing it could have been is my own desire. The perception parameters have to come from somewhere.

    Keep talking. Don’t focus on it.

    “And… Well after what Bea said, I, uh, I kept hearing a voice talking to me. Uh… Gwen’s voice.”

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    Naked? Pris? "Oh. Ah.." I try to cool off my cheeks with my hands and lean back, reminded of Ourania's state of undress. When I was interfacing in Iso, I was awake, more or less. In my own body. Looking through my eyes, mostly. It's probably not exactly a glitch. I'm shuffling the deck on how I'll explain this out loud to Ourania when the mentions she heard Gwen.

    "Gwen.." I lean forward again, watching Ourania's eyes, bracing myself on my hands. "Did you see her?"
  • edited May 2016

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    My stomach does an odd flip at her look. I furrow my brow slightly and lean in toward her too, bringing our faces close, lowering my voice like it’s a secret. I had written Gwen’s voice off as an interface thing, just wishful thinking on my part. But Tab just had a bunch of time in the iso interface.

    “No. Did you? She said she couldn’t see me either, but that she would find me. Something about you being easier because you were doubled.”

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    I feel the warmth from Ourania's face..it's impossible to really search her eyes this close-up. There's something about the closeness we have here, and the closeness we had before..and just her mentioning Gwen feels like..permission. I'm eager to tell her.

    "She couldn't?" I pause to think. "The Iso interface is different. It leaves you aware. Of your body. You're looking out with your own eyes. I don't.." I lick my lips, uncertain. "..I mean, I didn't know. That's how Gwen found me."

    "I saw Gwen. She was so desperately. Lonely."
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    “Stomm,” I breathe, glancing at the walls as if I might see through them, torn between elation and horror, “she might have been in there all these months. We… We have to find a way to get her out of there, or at least talk to her.”

    Do the adults know? If not, what would they do if they did?

    My eyes meet Tabitha’s again and the charge between us seems to grow as my eyes drift over the smooth contour of her face resting on her lips before going back to her eyes.

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    Tabitha,

    Whether you intended it or not (or maybe Ioanna did?), you are probably Turning Ourania On. Let's see how that goes!
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    Turning On; (Rolled: 2d6-1. Rolls: 6, 4. Total: 9)
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    With all our intimacy, I think you should take the string.

  • edited June 2016
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    Ourania and Tabitha,

    There's a definite charge right now, between you, obvious and intense. Tabitha, your face flushes slightly. Ourania, your nostrils flare with the scent of Tabitha, your closest friend, so warm and accepting, so close here in this one private place.

    Suddenly, Tabitha's Navi hops on the floor. Rises up to stand on one end, then falls over. Lands with a thunk. Of course, it won't break, these things are incredibly strong. But yeah, that was weird.

    What do you do?
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    I startle back and up onto my feet, like someone threw the navi in here. I look around, in fact, for someone who might have done that. A corp?

    No more of the faint, static tickle of being so close to Ourania. I miss it.

    Still, we were just talking about her..she was looking for Ourania. "Gwen?"
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    Ourania and Tabitha,

    Not a sound, other than the ever-present hum of the ship's turbine power system. And the grav plates. And the lights.

    Tabitha's Navi stands up again, on the narrow end. Falls to its back, and opens up. The display powers on.

    I am here
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    I had already started to lean, eyelids fluttering shut before the thump. She startles up and away and I jerk back in confusion and the beginnings of hurt.

    It isn’t until Tabitha says Gwen’s name that I sharpen and stand myself looking around. The Navi flips screen up, and answers Tabitha.

    I let out a breath and move to the Navi, kneeling on the deck next to it, almost afraid to touch it.

    “Void, Gwen, it’s really you? Can… Can you see us?”

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    The Navi flashes with static for a moment, then letters slowly appear
    its me i can feel u but not c u
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    I freeze in place, watching the Navi, then looking to Ourania crouched next to the Navi - maybe we're not seeing the same thing. But we are, definitely.

    "How could you see us?" I ask. Gwen said she watched people, but there were gaps. I look up..maybe it's cameras? Our room doesn't have any, probably a perk Ourania gets from her mother.
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    The reply comes slowly, as if each letter is a struggle
    I don't no I c u othr plcs wre r u

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    “We’re in our room.” I swallow hard. “Void, Gwen, I’m glad you’re alive.”

    Okay, not alive… exactly. You know what I mean.

    I look up at Tabitha. “Maybe the corridor?”

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    I nod, there's almost always corridor cameras, kept working as a matter of course. I move for the door, but. Ourania is basically naked. She needs a chance to redress or duck away from the door.
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    I understand the look. I stand go to my bed and pull my pants and shirt back on. Turn around when I'm done.
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    Since I'm already there, I open the door and look around. "Oh. My Navi, grab it." I gesture at the device, propped as it is.

    I step through and stay alert for any cold patches of air..maybe Gwen is close and I can't see her. If I find one I'll stay near it. I stay near the walls, touch them as though their texture will point me to Gwen. I listen for movement in the hall and glance up at the cameras, looking for..I don't know.
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    Ourania and Tabitha,

    You step into the hallway, hoping to see Gwen. You hear a couple students running in a corridor nearby, but the sound is retreating. Bea's door is wide open. The light inside is off.

    What do you do?
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    Heightened Senses; (Rolled: 2d6+2. Rolls: 4, 1. Total: 7)
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