Title: she stands hard as a stone
Calina Shossan - April 20, 2012 04:55 AM (GMT)
Outfitttttttt <3April 4th. Dawn.
The shrine known as Ikanu Temple was a common stopping place for pilgrims and historians alike, but it was not religion that brought Calina here so early on a Wednesday morning. Even though the temple was situated in the wealthiest district and was a stomping ground for people of all backgrounds, races, and heritages, it was quite empty on this day. In fact, only one or two other people were seen milling about the place. Which made it a perfect venue for Calina to sit and watch the sun rise.
One might think it odd for the Plutonian member of the House of Ten to make it a weekly habit of hers to watch the dawning of a new day at a religious location, but it held more than beauty for the woman who had been coming here for almost a year now, before she even reached the esteemed status she'd been given. Somehow, just watching the colors fade into one another, turning yellow and pink and purple and orange, allowed her a sense of respite that was evasive in every other place. Here, in the quiet of the worshipers and the sounds of the birds chirping the coming a new day, she allowed herself one hour to sit and reflect. It was the only time she allowed herself this much; each other time she forced her mind to obey her every wish, but here, in this tranquil place so far removed from anything malignant, she allowed her mind to sail its course unhindered.
With a smile, she realized that if it were truly
removed from anything malignant, she, of all people, would be far away from there, but even so, she remained, sitting before an altar, eyes closed, feeling the sun's light warm her face as the early hours struck.
It was the only time when her arms didn't ache to reach for a knife to fight that revolting hologram that seemed to unnerve her. It was the only time when she felt free of her ever thickening self-loathing and simply was just... herself, even to her own mind. Strange though it was, this weekly meditation time, if even qualified as meditation, was therapeutic to her; it made it easier to force the thoughts away during other times of the week and sometimes, she never once had them, even here, in the light of the fresh morning, surrounded by religious fanatics.
Even so, even in this place some thoughts were forbidden. While she allowed herself to dwell on those early days since leaving Pluto or thoughts of where Lysilla was on her latest mission, all memories, ideas, and notions concerning her teenage and childhood years were locked in the cusp of her mind. They were unreachable, even to her, even now. The time when Levitra Fiona lived and walked Pluto was a time that she was not allowed to dwell on; to remember such happiness was not something she deserved after so many years of using her skills for evil, a debt that she would never be able to repay.
Her body shivered inadvertently at the thought of her former self, long dormant since the days of Pluto and everything that had transpired there. Eyes bursting open, Calina pushed those memories back to the darkest places of her mind, where they belonged. She was so much stronger than that now. She would never bow under the weight of bloated politicians or self-righteous Jovians. No matter what they were, any of them, they were an inherent enemy to the woman; she refused to see the whole lot of them in anything other than a negative light. Call her racist, but she knew her beliefs would never change. Not ever.
Just like that crazed woman raving on and on about fate. Calina desired to teach her a thing or two about fate. Teenaged girls aren't meant
to be taken from their families, their hopes, their ideals, their loves, and thrown into what can most lovingly be called a consummate hellhole. Fate did not compel those men to steal Levitra away from everything she knew and loved; the greed of the White Regime did. It was nothing more simple than that.
Raafiel Zallar - April 23, 2012 05:58 AM (GMT)
He didn't really know why he was here at all. Raafiel Zallar had no place in his life for religion – there wasn't a religion anywhere that made what his life had become alright. None of it satisfied his need for justice over his youngest sister's death – she'd gotten no religious burial, just a quick dump into a ditch after whatever bastard had raped her had beaten her to death. He knew for sure, that should he ever find the name of the man that had killed his sister, he would very quickly find himself covered in blood.
He wasn't naturally a violent person, contrary to the common conception about Jovians. He was short, compared to some, and tall compared to others, and he didn't drink nearly as much as they did. He didn't have the crude sense of humor that the rest of them, as a generalization, did. His mother had seen to that – there was no need for every comment out of one's mouth to be sexual. He also knew that even if he had been a normal Jovian – after he'd done his stint at that Plutonian factory, he wouldn't be the same as the rest of them. Jovians, as a whole, were not common in the Alliance. The military usually kept a close eye on them, hence his sister's untimely death. But by killing her, they'd created two monsters – a twin who had a fondness for crashing whatever of their technology that she could get her hands on, and a man who not only recruited more to the cause of the Alliance, but had no fear of death whatsoever.
He would have one regret, though. He had never learned her name – the beautiful Plutonian girl from the factory. He hadn't been there that long at all – but he couldn't ever get the memory of her out of his head, like a broken ghost, a fragment of a person. He hadn't been able to find her. He'd asked her, told her, demanded of her that she stay in her bunk, just a little while longer than usual – no one would have been there to force her. He hadn't ever gotten an acknowledgment from her – she'd never even looked at him. He hadn't been able to find her, afterwards.
They'd told him exactly how to rig the machince. With all of the explosives that they worked with on a daily basis, it was no problem at all. The blood of all of the broken people that had died in the explosion was on his hands, but that bitter taste in the back of his mouth was beaten back by a sense of pride that he'd helped put down one the biggest weapons factories on Pluto.
He continued walking, intending to leave the grounds of the temple, when someone caught his eye. No way.
It was as though some higher power knew that he'd been thinking of her – it was certainly her. There was something more to her now, though – she looked healthier, better. Maybe his mind was playing tricks on him, and just because he'd been thinking about her, he was mistaking another Plutonian woman for her. He'd never even learned her name. Unless she recognized his voice, which he doubted, he might never know. Nonetheless, he had to say something, right?
He walked over, slowing to a halt a few steps away from where the woman was seated. ”It's beautiful, isn't it?”
Now, this would either turn into a conversation about the sunrise, she'd give him a weird look and walk away, or maybe, just maybe, she might recognize his voice. If this was even the woman that he kept seeing in his dreams – he would almost swear on his sister's grave that it was.
Calina Shossan - April 29, 2012 06:34 AM (GMT)
It was still just cool enough that her extra clothing wouldn't draw attention to her, but Calina felt as if eyes were studying her anyway. She watched as the birds flew overhead, chirping in the coming of the morning with the sort of happiness she could only watch, never hoping, or daring to hope, to attain for herself. Nonetheless, this distraction was only useful for a few seconds as the feeling that she was being watched, studied, started at rudely - whichever you'd like to call it - surfaced again. Her eyes darted away from the other visitors, resting on the floor in front of her. If they wanted to stare, so be it. Her dark skin was cause enough for that - Plutonians rarely traveled outside of their home planet; seeing one here, in the daylight, must have been akin to seeing a strange exotic animal at the zoo. Naturally, it would give them cause to stare.
Nevertheless, she refused to stop blaming them for it.
Glancing at her watch, she bit back a curse, realizing that she had nearly exhausted her free time. As a member of the House of Ten, she had many responsibilities, not all of them pertaining to weapons development. Some of them required sitting in a room with the other members and discussing plans for the Alliance, a task she abhorred, but it was a necessary one, and she didn't fail to see the clever working of their leader in this. It built trust among the members and lessened racist tendencies; it forced you to realize that the other members were just as human as you were, even if that, too, was a fact you tried to forget often. And so her head rose as she prepared to leave the rising sun and beautiful view that calmed her thoughts so.
”It's beautiful, isn't it?”
The sound of the voice was as tantalizingly familiar as it was foreign; for a moment, she sat there, listening, but it was as if the words made no sense to her.
At once, a flurry of repressed memories tugged at her senses, demanding the attention she so frequently denied them. Her eyes shut tight against the vision, willing it away. Such memories had no place here in the beauty of the morning light. Nonetheless, she straightened as if scalded.
How many times had the sound of that voice haunted the furthest corners of her dreams? It was an unattainable goal, one she hadn't even realized she'd made until the moment the sound of the voice, so different and yet so very much the same, entered her ears and made the thought of the House of Ten meeting nothing short of forgotten.
At once, the girl whirled around, demanding to know who could mimic such a voice; surely it wasn't the same man. Not the one who had...
The thought faded as her eyes took in the sight of a very tall man standing not feet from her, staring at her expectantly. The sight of him ignited such a sense of repulsion and - dare she admit it - fear that the blanch was too strong to repress. She jerked backward, standing up in a hasty fashion, feeling incredibly short. Plutonian though she may have been, the malnourishment of her crucial developmental years had left her at least a foot shorter than intended, and it was because of this alone that Calina felt so very, very weak.
Only a few moments had passed, yet it seemed an eternity had gone by during her reaction. She breathed deeply, forcing herself to focus, relax. Nonetheless, her blood raced as it rebelled against her intention. She was running on pure adrenaline now, thrust into fight-or-flight mode without a second's warning. And while the skeleton of a creature in the factory may have been driven to flee when presented with danger, the hardened and trained Calina did the opposite.
There were so many weapons on her person that the decision to grab one never consciously entered her head; she simply pulled a sharp blade from the inside of her sleeve and held it aloft, but even if her eyes were not her hands, it was easy to take note of the tremor hidden within. She knew why she was so terrified, but that didn't lessen the emotion any; instead, she continued to be painfully aware of how the man had such a familiar voice and had proven to be so utterly...
Even in her mind she couldn't say the words. It hurt simply looking at him.
Raafiel Zallar - May 15, 2012 06:24 AM (GMT)
He had to admit, this was not the reaction he'd been hoping for. Maybe confusion, even laughter – but for her to jump up like something had burned her and hold a knife out, he swallowed hard, hesitating. Maybe he shouldn't have said anything. The odds of this being his Plutonian (whenever he had started thinking about the woman from the factory in the possessive, he didn't know) woman, the one that had haunted the back of his mind at many points in the time since then... They were slim. And judging by her reaction, this woman was not fond of being interrupted.
Hesitating again, he finally really looked at her. It was her. That face – still haunted, but the same face. Haunted in a different way, but the same in feature. And she was afraid.
What could possibly have made her respond like this? If he had any idea, he would gladly have ripped out the spine of the offender, but at the same time, he was pretty sure that the offender was himself, so that would not have been the most... attractive plan of action. Upon seeing the knife, he had raised one arm defensivley – he was fairly certain that he could ward off one knife, but if she had multiples, he wasn't positive. Too much time spent in a place like that could easily crack someone's mind, he knew.
He swallowed again, slowly lowering his arm. ”I'm not going to hurt you. I just had to know if it was you.” He said, careful not to move too quickly. Time in the military had taught him about the expression on her face. Extreme reactions could make people do insane things.
Calina Shossan - May 15, 2012 07:01 AM (GMT)
Even though the very thought was repulsive to her, she searched her memories for any sign of the man who had whispered in her ear so long ago, spinning a faint desire of hope in her deadened heart, lighting a fire that would never go out again. But, alas, she realized she had never once peered at his face. He had been nothing more than a disembodied voice, whispering dangerous, forbidden thoughts into her ear as she stared blankly at her machine.
A shiver crept up her spine as if someone had dropped an ice cube down her shirt. It was difficult, pulling herself out of the wave that threatened to break the dam she'd built, to keep herself from reliving those memories when she was so cold and so defenseless and so... terrified.
But that hadn't been her. That was Levitra. No, she was Calina Shossan, Plutonian member of the House of Ten, and no one could take that from her. Even if she died, the title would remain with her, even when they passed it down to the next Plutonian who was set to take her place. She would still be her.
She had been reborn from Levitra's ashes, and she would never call upon that form again. They were two different people. Levitra was dead; Calina survived.
He raised his arm, slowly, in response to the knife in her hand. Nonetheless, she shrank back as if he had raised it in an attacking measure, putting her own hands before her face in a defensive move. The tremors were becoming more noticeable now. What was wrong with her?
”I'm not going to hurt you. I just had to know if it was you.”
She swallowed, still not dropping the blade, but she eased out of her defensive position, standing before him with great unease. The voice whispered to such hidden parts of her, forcing memories forward in a tidal wave as she tried to do all she could to hold them back. But his words, so hurried and rushed, whispered to her from a time when she knew nothing beyond the sight of her machine and the haunting memories of her guard, resurfaced.
She stared at him with sudden recognition and fear. Her mouth opened and closed several times, but she wasn't sure how she felt about this. She wasn't sure if she wanted this. She'd long been living under the assumption that he'd died in the bombing. The Mercurians said there were only a few survivors...
But... but why had he chosen Levitra?
Her eyes took him in blankly for several minutes as she bit her lip in confusion. And then, quite suddenly, she swung her hand back and socked him in the jaw.
"Why?" she asked, her voice breaking. She stared at him with such questions bursting forth. All at once, she felt as if she were no more than the teenager in the factory, a scared little mouse, emotionless to the very core.
Raafiel Zallar - May 18, 2012 07:43 AM (GMT)
Neither of them seemed to speak for a very long time - she was just staring at him, and he couldn't draw his eyes away from her either. She was the same, yes, but she was also different. He really couldn't place it. It looked, in his mind, rather like the change that had been present in his sister before and after she'd gotten involved in the Alliance. The same organization that he was involved with now. He hardly noticed she'd moved until he was staggering backward, the blow to his jaw coming as a total surprise. He reached up and rubbed his mouth, certain that he tasted blood. But that was what happened when a Plutonian socked you, he supposed. At least she hadn't used the knife. As he stood back up to his full height, he remained that distance he had staggered away from her, her one word catching his attention.
Why on Jupiter was she asking why? Why what?
There were a million whys that could have corresponded to their situation. Why had he been at that factory? Why had he blown it up? Why had he tried to warn her? Why had he not found her afterwards? Why was he here? Why had he spoken to her?
He swallowed almost nervously, once again relieved that she had lowered the knife. He could guess which why she was asking, but he didn't dare - the wrong words, the wrong tone... He had the feeling that he might have broken something in this woman. She looked so peaceful before, and now, she was like some terrified animal, looking for an escape. Perhaps he had brought back unpleasant memories - for the first time, he considered the fact that she may have moved past the experiences on Pluto. Maybe she lived here permenantly, maybe she was happily married. If she was at the temple, maybe she had adopted a religion. There was no telling what he'd dregged back up, brought back to the forefront of his mind.
He crossed his arms slowly, staring for what may have been a second too long as he debated on what to tell her. Finally, he sighed. "I'm sorry, but I don't know what you're asking me. Why what?" He kept his tone soft, for some reason unable to get frustrated, where as per normal individuals, asking what from them he considered stupid questions would have been enough for him to scoff and walk away. But her, though, she was a whole different can of worms. "My name is Raafiel Zallar." He wouldn't ask for an introduction - if she wanted him to know, than she would tell him. And hopefully not hit him again. He really didn't want to have to deal with the Feet today.
Calina Shossan - May 18, 2012 08:52 PM (GMT)
For a long moment, she looked from his quickly swelling jaw back to her hand then back again, as if she wasn't quite sure what she had done. She wasn't really. For all that she fought people in the Alliance, citizens outside of it were a different beast. She'd never once struck a single one, unless, of course, they happened to be paid by the White Regime.
Idly, she wondered if he was one of those people, if there was some way she could justify her strange behavior to herself.
She was frozen. Even if her behavior puzzled her, nothing could keep the fear from swelling within her stomach. Rationally, she knew there was nothing to be afraid of. She'd killed men before, and she wasn't sure if killing this man would be any different, even if it was in self-defense. Irrationally, however, the fear seemed to grow and grow and grow, reminding her of a time when Levitra had been nothing but fear, when the smallest noise would send a shiver up her spine and the touch of another, even the gentlest touch, would cause her to sob the night away.
But no, it did not do to dwell on meaningless memories, Calina told herself. She blinked several times, trying to free herself from the fear and the blinding recollections, but it was incredibly difficult. This man, the way he spoke, the things he said, who he was... It was simply too much for her.
"I'm sorry, but I don't know what you're asking me. Why what?"
Why what? Why what? How could he not know?
Calina stared up at him like a drowning woman, her eyes filled with the depth of her confusion and fear. She wanted to turn from him, to run away, to forget this entire event, but her feet were frozen to the ground. A feeling of anger and perhaps even frustration swelled within her, but it did nothing to quell the fear. If she were being rational at all, she might have wondered how she was able to feel so much at the mere sight of this Jovian (how she shivered even to think the word, but she forced herself), after so many years of numbness.
"Why... everything." The words slipped from her mouth unbidden, but once they had been uttered, they were irrevocable. It seemed that every logical bone in her body had dissipated; she was now running on emotion alone, and she didn't like it much at all.
Abruptly, she looked away. She couldn't admit it. She wouldn't admit it. The water in her eyes weren't tears. They were allergies or something. But they weren't tears.
Who was she fooling, though? Certainly not herself.
Raafiel Zallar - May 23, 2012 04:21 AM (GMT)
Well, he could certainly add this to the list of situations he had never planned on being in. Tortured to death by the Regime, certainly. Facing a woman who he'd been positive was dead, being asked questions that he couldn't possibly know about, being slugged by that same woman... Wasn't something that had been on the top of his list. Of course, these days, he was never sure about the orders he would get from HQ in the mornings, so he wasn't ever sure about any of it.
So it had been her intention to ask everything. He glanced around, seeing no one within listening distance (and a good thing, too, or someone might have called the Feet over her hitting him, despite the fact that he had most certainly had worse back on Jupiter and even since he'd come here – he lived in Treq, after all) but still, he didn't dare start with the whole 'I am a member of the Alliance,' speech in broad daylight. He sighed, grimacing, then rocked back and forth on his heels. ”I will tell you everything, but I can't do it here. It's not... safe.”
He was speaking softly enough that it wouldn't attract attention from anyone else, but at the same time, she would still be able to hear him with ease. He rubbed his jaw again, then ran his hand through his hair, sighing. It was certainly not the most intelligent thing he had ever done, telling this woman that he would tell her all of his hows and whys. But at the same time, he knew that he would probably tell her anything she asked, just because of who she was and the history they shared, no matter how fractured it seemed to be to her. He looked up at her again, then swallowed. Her eyes were watering... Oh, Jupiter, was she crying? He really couldn't handle that. And she had a knife, so he didn't want to step closer – just because she'd put it up for the time being didn't mean that she didn't still have another one hidden somewhere else that she could kill him with. He literally bit his lip – something he didn't do often, but he was flabbergasted. What the hell was he supposed to do in this situation?
Calina Shossan - June 2, 2012 07:43 AM (GMT)
Hurriedly, she blinked the water out of her eyes. That's what they were - water. Not tears. Not anything remotely close to tears.
She was Calina Shossan, the strong Plutonian member of the House of Ten, a title that could never be stolen from her. She would always be remembered as such. That girl in the factory, the girl that this man obviously knew, was not her. She was a strong human being, and she did not resort to tears when the world threatened to explode.
”I will tell you everything, but I can't do it here. It's not... safe.”
The words snapped Calina into action, thank goodness. This, this thing she would deal with later. It was something she would pore over, most likely, add to her internal list of things that were her doing, but now, she needed to act like the Alliance member she was. She was doing them a disservice for acting so, punching a man and then asking him about things that were not common knowledge to the general public. She allowed her training to overtake her, fueling her into action. For now, they needed to go. Being here, so close to the bluebloods of society, was not safe. They needed to go somewhere the Alliance could shield them.
"That makes perfect sense," she said, her voice robot like, as she nodded. At once, she turned on her heel, walking in a rapid pace toward the road. She knew where to go. It was up to him if he wanted to keep up.
There was a building she knew of, in the richer district of town. Well, knew of wasn't the right word. Being an assassin and member of the House of Ten did make for lucrative business. She had created the building, cleverly disguised as storage facility for the rich (some Kejonians even used the facility) that was an out of the way escape for the Alliance. Plutonians were most welcome there; they, along with the Lunarians, received most of the racism rampant in the Alliancce, and of course Calina would play favorites with her own race. She knew their dark webs better than anyone.
Once they arrived, she entered through the door, nodded to the Plutonaian secretary, and led this strange man upstairs to the secret hatch. She pushed many of the tiles on the backsplash pattern on the wall in a specific order, and soon stairs came down from the ceiling. She climbed them first, waited for him to follow, and then brought the stairs up behind them.
They had entered a room the size of the length of the building. It had cots, sinks, nonperishable food - pretty much anything that could last a person a few days.
She had forgotten, though, why she avoided the place too much. It was too Plutonian for her tastes, and she suddenly remembered why. Hanging on the wall to the right was a memorial shelf. It was covered with candles, all in large purple bowls of varying shades, none currently lit. It was one of her earliest memories, lighting the candles and thinking of her fallen loved ones. When she'd first had this place erected, she had lit five candles - each for her immediate family members she now knew absolutely nothing about. Her hands started trembling once again, and she was quite unsure what she would do. She had so long been used to avoiding this place that she'd forgotten all about her oath to remember her family each night.
Now there was something else she'd gotten wrong.
Raafiel Zallar - June 22, 2012 05:06 AM (GMT)
What was it about this woman that made him so indecisive? He was known as one of their best recruiters because he made those hard decisions. The fact that his own life had no value to him and that he was the least likely of the recruiters to spill under torture, his uppers liked him. He didn't like to socialize with them often... His face was one of the ones that would be scoured for in the Eye's records, if anything came to a bad end. And anyone that was seen with him would probably be in trouble, if they were identifiable. He knew for a fact that the new Venusian House member was somehow related to the Martian house member, so he didn't dare interact with either of them beyond his orders. Or any of their people, for that matter, because that was just too damn dangerous.
He followed her without another word, nodding. She apparently had somewhere in mind that they could talk - he'd have to be careful. One never knew when unwanted ears were listening. As she led him to the storage warehouse, he couldn't help but raise an eyebrow as he looked around, slightly confused. He'd had to come here once, hide out for a few days after he'd had to kill a double-agent in their midst. If there was something that the Alliance hated as much as the White Regime, it was people that stabbed them in the back. Venusian bloke had had it coming, certainly, but all the same, he'd had to kill him, and the Eye had been on the hunt for him. He hadn't exactly been the most welcomed person there, but he had never expected to be.
He followed her once more, suddenly realizing (how could he have been such an idiot) that she must have been dragged into all of his mess when the factory had blown. Maybe that was the why - why did you get me involved in all this. But could it really be so much worse than that factory? Sure, there was something different about her, but at least she wasn't that broken creature that he had tried so desperately to save from the factory. She led him into the top of the building, the same place that he'd stayed. He could still identify the bed.
"You're in the Alliance as well." It wasn't a question so much as a statement of the obvious. "But you weren't then. I was the only infiltrator. So after?" He was quick with his questions, knowing that he was about to have to spill what he had done and why. "I couldn't just leave you there to die." He was rushing his words. He sighed, suddenly overwhelmed, and cursed under his breath in Jovian.
Calina Shossan - June 22, 2012 08:35 PM (GMT)
She crossed over to the nearest bed and sat down on the edge, feeling as small and uneducated as a child. For a moment, she simply sat there and stared at the floor, before turning her gaze up again at the Jovian. The Jovian who had done so many things... Spoken to Levitra, caused her not to go completely insane during days spent in mental agony. The Jovian who was a member of the same race that had come onto her planet, held her fellows against their will, and then tortured them mercilessly... It felt as if he were forcing her to question everything she knew and held as absolute fact, simply for being who he was.
For a moment, Calina sat there on the bed, arms crossed, as she mulled over his words. He couldn't just leave Levitra there to die, apparently. But what about the rest of her countrymen? What about his countrymen? What made him decide that Levitra, of everyone there, was worth saving and no one else what?
Her breathing turned ragged, a loud, harrowing sound that echoed the noises it had made during those long days in front of the machine when Levitra had no voice. It was a scary resemblance, and for a second, Calina's eyes widened, darting around, making sure that she was here, in her Plutonian safe haven, far away from the planet itself.
"I'm Calina Shossan," she said, watching him carefully. Surely he would recognize the name, connect it at once that she was the Plutonian member of the House of Ten. If he didn't... then maybe she was right to doubt him. But she wasn't sure if she was even doing that right now. She wasn't sure of anything really at the moment. His very existence, his very race, it was all forcing her to question everything... and she wasn't sure she liked it.
When he mumbled something in that dirty language, the language she had heard a million times but was grateful she never understood, something inside her snapped. Her cheeks turned red with the inflamed passion, and it was all she could do to keep it reined in.
"And how was Levitra any different?" she demanded at once, frowning, her voice low with her anger. "How was she any different from the hundreds of other Plutonians there? You left them all to die." But then, so had she. However, Calina kept silent at this; instead, her eyes traced his face carefully, searching for anything that might convince her of duplicity or falsehoods on his end.
Suddenly, she stood up, pressing her face into his. "And how are you any different? What makes you so different from the rest of the heathens that make up your race?" she spat angrily. Her fists clenched and unclenched again, wondering if it would be terrible if she did actually put a knife in him.
The problem was, she wasn't sure what she wanted more - for him to prove her tightly held beliefs about the Jovian race, or for him to refute them.
Raafiel Zallar - June 28, 2012 04:31 AM (GMT)
There was something different about her - like something had changed. She was still there - she still looked the same, yes, and there was still that something in her eyes whenever she'd actually make eye contact with him... She was, after all, still that girl from the factory. Or, wait, was she? Maybe she could have been a sister. He was having such a hard time with this entire concept. He'd thought for certain that she was dead, that everything he'd tried to do for her to keep her alive had been for naught. Could this still be that same woman?
This was all taking him back to then, in his head. That god awful factory, all of those broken people. They'd told him not to get involved with them, that there was no saving what the Regime had already broken. They weren't toys that could be pieced back together, he'd been told. He was to go, do his work, and let them all rest peacefully in whatever afterlife they believed in. But at the same time, he knew when he saw her there that he couldn't. She was hardly more than a child then, and she looked even more broken than the rest of them had. The others, really, they had been at least responsive enough that he'd known they were human. They'd glared at him, they'd questioned him, he'd avoided them. They would have had the opportunity to make him fear for her life. But her, sitting there at that machine, seemingly empty... There was something about her that he just couldn't abandon.
Wait, Calina Shossan?! He'd heard that name. He usually worked hard to avoid knowing the names of the House, just for security's sake, but he knew that one. She was infamous - dangerous. That would certainly explain the knife. But... he was still processing that when she started the string of questions that made his brain reel more.
Levitra? So, wait, this wasn't his girl from the factory? But she knew so much about it, knew... "I was told to let them go peacefully, because there was no fixing things that had been so badly broken - I was told that they'd never be whole again." His voice was low. "What did you expect me to do, Ms. Shossan? I was under orders from the House of Ten to blow that factory up along with all of those inside. I had to leave them. And why did I save..." He trailed off, still not sure about who this was in comparison to the girl that he'd tried to save. "Her. You? I don't know anymore. Because in the back of my mind, I didn't believe them. That none of those people could have been saved. I complete my orders, ma'am - I always have. But something about Levitra was different," He stressed the name, "... Maybe I thought that she could be fixed. Never whole, but maybe repaired."
He sighed, never having moved from his standing position. Realizing this, he sat down on the floor a ways away from her, not feeling like dealing with the potential knife at his throat if he made a wrong move too close to her. "And why am I different, you ask... Because the White Regime has this way of making everything seem so real. And then, when you find out that it's not, they'll take everything and anything from you to keep you quiet. I'm one of those, Ms. Shossan, that wouldn't have been saved from that factory. I'm one who won't be whole again." He ignored the shot about Jovians. It wasn't a conversation he wanted to have, one about them never knowing the reality of what was happening until it was far too late.
Calina Shossan - June 28, 2012 02:55 PM (GMT)
She wondered whether she should just leave. This obviously was getting them absolutely nowhere. Calina frowned as she backed away from him, returning to her sitting position on the bed. She had more important things to attend to, House of Ten-level things. Things that were so much more important than whether or not she should listen to this man who no longer had anything to do with her.
Even so, he was obviously confused by her use of Levitra in the third person. It was true, though. She and Levitra were different people. Levitra had been weak, hopeful, broken, driven, and had a value for human life that was destroyed in the factory. Those Lunarian and Jovian men, they had taken every inch of her, destroyed her down to the barest hints of life. Calina was so different. She was strong, she was powerful, she had a thirst for vengeance that Levitra had never known or ever been capable of.
His confusion, while understandable, was not her problem. Let him be confused. She didn't owe him anything.
Well, nothing more than a swift blade to the gut if he had too much in common with the number of Jovians she'd come across in her life.
There was something in the way he spoke of Levitra, of the others in the factory, that annoyed her. As if they were objects or machines - not living, breathing human beings with lives and families on Pluto. As if they had no background or things keeping them tethered to life. It bothered her. It was as if she, too, even now lacked a human spirit. Maybe it was true. At any rate, it mattered little.
She crossed her arms defiantly as he backed away from her, obviously trying to mention something that might connect them, as if they were cut from the same cloth. But Calina knew better. She had seen the way Levitra and the rest of her countrymen had appeared to the Jovians in that facility - subhuman. The same way Martians were treated across the galaxy. And it was then that Calina realized what it was in this man's words that bothered her - it was too much like how the Jovians had treated the Plutonians all those years ago. And the way this man said it, as if it were true, as if it somehow made it okay, made her see red.
She carried all of them with her, even now. Each person she'd seen die who had begged for his or her life, until the very end, they walked with her, existed in each of the weapons she designed. She couldn't possibly ignore their presence in her life. They haunted her daily life like wraiths, constant memories of the factory and Levitra, and all that she had given up to become who she was.
"How dare you," Calina spat. She was so angry, she could hardly see straight. She bolted up to a standing position. "How dare you. They were not things. They were not animals. They were human beings. And to say that they were..." Her voice cut itself off. She couldn't possibly describe the amount of anger flowing through her veins like poison. She wanted to kill this person with her bare hands.
Raafiel Zallar - July 11, 2012 03:17 AM (GMT)
What was she, thick in the head? Was she totally oblivious to the emotion in his voice, to the fact that he hadn’t ever thought of them as objects, but had completed his orders as he was commanded. That was the role of a true Jovian solider – to follow one’s orders until there were no more orders to follow. At least, that was what one did at his rank. Without his orders, he was nothing but a man scrambling with things he didn’t understand to try to make some old sore better. His sisters deserved better than he himself could give them, even though one of them was still alive. They deserved someone that could get things done, that could make her life (and the other’s afterlife) easier.
”How dare I what?” He shook his head, scowling. ”Do you think I don’t know that? Do you think I enjoy knowing that all of those people are dead because of what I did? Well, latest news on the Wire, Ms. Shossan, I don’t. I caused the deaths of all of those people, and I regret it, but by doing that, I put an end to the largest weapons factory under the control of the White Regime.” It was infuriating – she was making him out to be some sort of monster. He’d done what he was ordered. He’d stopped the production quota of that factory for almost two years before the factory had been rebuilt. He still heard it – the sounds of the explosion, the screams of those who hadn’t died quickly. It was miserable and it made him feel like filth, to know that all of those people (he didn’t give a damn what his supervisors said, he thought that they could have been saved) were dead by his actions. Of course, for the said of anonymity, it was stupid to think that they all could have been saved. To save millions, he’d been responsible for the deaths of others. He didn’t even know how many. He growled out a sigh, unable to get out anymore words as he ran a hand through his hair, making it messier than it already was.
Calina Shossan - July 11, 2012 04:04 AM (GMT)
She was staring at him murderously. How nice would it be to take one of the various knives hidden on her person and show him how things were treated, especially broken things. Her eyes flashed. She was sure he would find the experience entirely educational, right down to when the life left his eyes.
In fact, Calina hadn't realized that she was unthinkingly tapping one of the blades hidden on her thigh. Even her subconscious was after this man's death.
And then he asked her - bitingly, it seemed - if she honestly thought he enjoyed killing people. It rather took her aback. But then, those next words, those were what caused her to stop. To make her eyes go wide. To force her blood to cool.
"I put an end to the largest weapons factory under the control of the White Regime."
Had it really been the largest? She blinked, sinking down into a sitting position once more, almost completely dead inside. If it had been the largest, how many weapons had they made? Had she made? How many people had she contributed to killing? And by the same token...
Once more, Calina glanced at this man - Raafiel, he'd said his name was - and wondered how she could possibly separate someone she considered actively killing from people she'd helped be killed? Someone who had actually tried to save Levitra's life, who had seen something within her that he desired to be saved?
She felt so small. Why was she so confused now? Moments ago, her blood had been coursing with the poison of her anger, demanding his head. And now... now she was staring at him like some lost little puppy? How could this be? Why... why was he making her react so? She didn't like these feelings he was drudging up after so long being ignored, and she wasn't sure how to view him, either. How could she possibly view anyone like this?
Perhaps they were cut from the same cloth. The thought made her shiver, but it was entirely possible. They were Alliance members. People didn't join the Alliance because the government had done wonderful things with them, just as how people didn't support the White Regime if their families were dead at their feet.
Slowly, Calina stood up and moved toward him. She sank down on the ground beside him, far enough away so that he couldn't touch her unless it was entirely intentional, and stared at him for a long time as if she were trying to figure him out. There was something unusually strange about him, but she didn't really know what it was, and she wondered if she should give him the time of the day. Even if he was a Jovian.
"Levitra was a skilled clockmaker," she said simply. "I make weapons now." A shiver crept up her spine, and idly, Calina wondered why she was offering such a piece of herself to him, a piece no one else had any right to. But then, she supposed, if he smashed it in her face, she had enough blades to rectify the damage.
"I shouldn't have said that." She shrugged. Wasn't quite an apology, but oh, well. He would only get one if she had accidentally stabbed him.
Raafiel Zallar - July 11, 2012 07:13 AM (GMT)
She was looking at him with such absolute rage that he was nearly sure that a fight was going to break out. Sure, he could probably hold his own for a little while, but from what he knew of the House, the members weren’t exactly pushovers. She could probably kill him quickly and painfully before he was even off of the floor. And then, her expression changed so quickly that he wasn’t sure that she wasn’t going to try to kill him. All traces of emotion besides perhaps shock fell from her face, and he was reminded of that ghostly girl in the factory, that emotionless glaze that had taken over her face. But before he could stare for too long, she had shifted again, and was now looking at him with far less rage.
Maybe she understood. Maybe he hadn’t been clear enough, maybe she’d gotten it from context later. He hated being who he was. But if it saved lives, if it kept his sister’s memory alive, if it was enough, then he’d do it. Admittedly, he was far less into the actual ‘search and destroy’ missions now, more into recruiting and passing propaganda. Far more dangerous, certainly – then again, what was life without a little spice? As he watched, she got up from her seat on the bed and made her way over to him, sitting beside him. Far enough away that he’d probably be able to tell if she was about to kill him, but closer than she had been before. He just watched her for a moment, taking in her words and thinking them over. She was Levitra – he was nearly positive of that, but at the same time, she was Calina.
That made sense, though with what he knew of that factory. They took skilled individuals and put them to work with false promises of eventual freedom. If Levitra had been a clockmaker of worth, of course they would have noticed her, especially at such an age. There was no telling the time that the woman had been inside that place, but considering that most of the others had been middle aged and spent years at their craft, while Calina – Levitra – had been younger than most of the rest of them. He wouldn’t press her for details – he knew all too well how that would go. He simply nodded his head, shoulders relaxing from where they had been tensed, ready for her to pounce.
”Nor should I have lost my temper just now.” He continued looking at her, puzzling over all the things that he couldn’t understand and the absolute change that had just gone over her. ”I don’t really do things like the factory any more, either. I mainly do recruiting and propaganda now.” He had never been a man of many words, but this was harder than usual. ”I’m sorry.” He didn’t know what he was apologizing for – not his behavior, because she’d frankly deserved his shortness, but something else. Maybe what she’d experienced in life or something, because no person deserved that – it was one of the reasons that he was still fighting for this cause.
Calina Shossan - July 11, 2012 08:17 AM (GMT)
It felt awkward, sitting so close to him, his voice entering her ear from the side. For a moment, she was hit with a mental image: Levitra sitting at her machine, her hands in between the bars, the sound of his promises entering her ears, lighting the smallest of fires within her own heart that she chose to ignore.
Calina wrapped her hands around her knees, lost in the thought of that time. It was so easy, sometimes, thinking of Levitra's time there, as if her mind was flowing back into that era. Sometimes, her nightmares centered in the area, with the Jovians, and what they would say and do, and she would wake up wondering if this was all a dream, and she would wake up back in the factory next time she went to sleep. As if she could never escape.
At any rate, if he tried anything, she was more than ready. She didn't become a House of Ten member for nothing, and she wasn't about to trust a Jovian... even a Jovian who tried to save her life. (Okay, maybe she did trust him. A little. But she wasn't going to admit it.)
She nodded once in silence to his announcement at his change in positions. It made sense. They didn't really like to get in the habit of making the same people pull the same types of stunts repeatedly. Would make them get a little predictable, and they needed the element of surprise to give them an edge. When he apologized, she simply shrugged as if there were nothing to apologize for. She was a loose cannon after all, or so other people had told her. Which was why she was mostly in weapons development and not on assassination trips... especially when those trips involved Jupiter.
"Would you like to start again? I promise not to try and stab you this time... if you don't make any sudden movements." She shrugged. It was the most she could offer. She had no idea what her reflexes were capable of, after all.
After a moment, she turned to look at him again. "I work in weaponry." Was it just her, or did her tone sound bitter, pained? She shrugged. Calina supposed she could describe her job with a bit more than absolute self-loathing, but she really couldn't. She didn't like what she was doing... Not at all. Not that she'd admit this to him. She'd given enough information of herself to him, thank you, and would give no more. "Sometimes I assassinate people as well... Came very close to getting a top-notch Lunarian in March," she said idly, shrugging. Naturally, Calina didn't mention that she'd run into Rikker Jalkan of all people and had no plans of running into him in the future.
"He was the one who put Levitra in there," she said blankly, not quite realizing what she said until she said it. Loose cannon indeed.
Raafiel Zallar - July 12, 2012 08:36 AM (GMT)
This was by far one of the strangest situations he could ever remember being in. He really didn’t have a damn clue what was going on anymore – was she Levitra, or was she Calina? And was she pissed at him for saving her life, or was she pissed at him for being Jovian, or was she pissed at him for simply being alive? Was she even pissed anymore? Honestly, he really didn’t have a clue. Best he could figure, as long as he was still alive, he was in good shape, right?
”Yeah, that’d be… great. I’m not exactly a very spontaneous person, so that shouldn’t be too hard.” He offered a grin. A truce, was it? He could deal with starting again. And hopefully she wouldn’t just off him if he moved too quickly for her liking. He listened to what she had to say in silence, nodding. It was strange, that he could sit in a floor in some room (which was ridiculously cold, but he wasn’t about to ask a bunch of Plutonians to turn up the heat) with a woman that he wasn’t sure he knew anything about, talking about killing people. Killing important people. It was also still strange to him that he was an active part of an anti-government organization. One of the things that his father had always preached was loyalty above all else. So by being where he was, who he was, simply by talking to this woman, he was going against everything that he’d ever learned or been raised by.
Talking about what she did sounded like it hurt her. Why did she do it, then? She was made of solid mystery, it seemed. Her last comment was as unexpected as it could possibly have been. He was pretty sure that he was very slowly getting the picture with this. Calina was Levitra, but they were two different people. Calina was the strong woman that had become one of his leaders, while Levitra was the woman behind that mask, that personality. There was probably a term for it (if he was even right at all – he’d only taken two psychology classes, back on Jupiter) that he’d simply just forgotten. Taking a risk, he asked, ”How long was she there?”
Calina Shossan - July 13, 2012 03:23 AM (GMT)
So he wasn't spontaneous? If that were true, it would prove to be a relief. Surprises were no more than hurdles to careful planning, fodder for complete disasters. It was always good to have predictable, capable people under one's command. Even if Calina herself didn't quite... foot that bill.
She supposed she did earn her title as the loose cannon in more ways than one. After all, she was (openly) racist towards Jovians, unwilling to place her faith in people who hadn't proven their worth, and was willing to sacrifice nearly everything for her ultimate goal of revenge. How she ever wound up on the House of Ten was probably a shock to a good deal of the Alliance, if they were daft enough to know her name as well as her personality traits. But then, she was probably as infamous as she was powerful in the Alliance's ranks, which was not necessarily a good mixture to possess. However, they didn't hire Calina to perform her tasks for her ability to follow orders.
And then his question entered her ears, and Calina straightened suddenly as if she'd been scalded. She wanted to shout at him for asking such a question, tell him that if anything was most certainly not his business, it was that, but the words died in her throat. Because in that instant, she realized that even she wasn't specifically sure how long Levitra had been in captivity. It had always been a vague sort of period for her, one that she specifically tried to erase from her memories, only to pore over it to a great extent later. How long had Levitra been there?
Calina thought hard, suddenly wanting to know the truth herself. She had been aged at... eighteen or so when the Mercurians found her. Perhaps older, but it was difficult to ascertain what month specifically in which she had been born. Levitra's last memory before the factory was lying in the snow, watching the beautiful, natural design it created as it met the earth. Everything had been so much bigger in proportion to her then...
The realization came that she didn't quite know. It had been years, yes. Time that stretched on and on and on until it melded together in one continuous spectrum without dates. But anything specific escaped her. It was all a wispy web, dancing just outside her grasp, slipping through her fingers like a sliver of light.
How long had it been since she'd seen Levitra's parents, her siblings, her family? Calina wasn't sure at all.
For a moment, she was overcome with a strong, strange desire to touch him in some way, to feel the flowing of blood and the warmth of a hand beneath hers, proof that for once, she was not entirely alone. Calina was entirely shocked by this turn of events in her own mind. Where had that come from? Not only was he male, but he was also Jovian, two strikes in her book of sins that he could never expunge.
She shook her head. She was making no sense, none whatsoever, not even to herself. For such a lowly member of the Alliance in comparison to herself, Raaf was certainly pretty able at setting her head at a spin.
"I'm... not sure," she said quietly, her head turned away from him. She had no idea what her expression was at the moment, and she didn't think he should have any more access to that knowledge than herself. After she was better able to control it, she turned back to him, face flattened into a firm, businesslike expression. Nonetheless, her hands shook slightly, giving away what her face would not.
Suddenly, the desire became too much. She reached out and grasped his hand tightly, the simple gesture betraying all that was going through her head and so much, all that she should have said but could not find the words for. It was a strange part of Calina, this desire for touch, a hidden part that she was not sure knew or cared to know.
Raafiel Zallar - July 16, 2012 06:25 AM (GMT)
Watching her was like nothing he’d ever experienced – though it was an improvement over the state she’d been in the last time he’d seen her, this was… he couldn’t even place what this was. She moved quickly, like a cornered animal, but at the same time, she had the reflex and look of a predator. Her reaction to his question was quick and he was pretty sure that he was going to get yelled at again… Then if fell from her face and was replaced with something else, something that he couldn’t place and wasn’t sure that he wanted to.
Her response, a moment later, was enough to knit his brows. So she’d been there for long enough that it didn’t really matter to her and that was probably a long time. She was turned away from him – he allowed himself a grimace for causing her further discomfort while she was facing the other direction, wanting to smack himself in the back of the head. She turned back to him with the most peculiar expression on her face… As though none of what had transpired in that room had happened at all, as though they hadn’t met, didn’t have a history.
Then, suddenly (as all her emotions and moods and movements seemed to be), she was touching him. Just his hand, but it was a tight grip. His gaze went quickly from her to their hands, then back to her, confusion knitted onto his face again. No, he most certainly did not understand. Not even in the slightest. But if she felt the need for this contact, there had to be a reason for it. He wouldn’t question that. He very slowly moved his thumb so that it was on top of part of her hand, though he didn’t do anything else. ”Are you alright?” His voice was quiet, inquisitive. He wanted to know more about her, wanted to ask her everything that came to his mind, but this was by far the most complicated mental puzzle that he’d ever seen. Every time he thought that he had her figured, she shifted and a new color was exposed, and he lost his place in his figuring and had to start over. Maybe that was what was so interesting to him.
Calina Shossan - July 17, 2012 07:18 AM (GMT)
She grasped his hand as a drowning woman might grasp for air. It was somehow refreshing, and at the same time unnerving, to feel the warmth of another hand beneath hers. Other than the people she sparred with and the people she murdered, Calina never touched others. She did not usually like the feeling of skin on skin contact unless it came with the slowing of the other person's blood as the result of her knife. Sometimes she watched as the life left their eyes, as the last beg for mercy died in their throats, but more often she liked to feel the slowing of the heart rate in their wrists and their necks. The unnerving part of this instant was that she knew that the feeling of Raaf's own pulse of life would not die down, not unless he said or did something incredibly stupid and she killed him. Which by now was proving more and more unlikely.
Then he very slowly and deliberately rested his thumb on the top of her hand as if he feared a sudden strike from her end. She knew she was an assassin in her off-hours, but was she really so frightening to a Jovian such as he? The thought confused her.
The action on his part made her wary for any more, nonetheless. She was careful to watch his every breath as if it might signal some sort of attack on his end. Calina may have known very little about the Jovian culture and way of life, but what she did know that they - the men, especially - were entirely depraved individuals, the whole lot of them. Nevertheless, knowing that did not mean the feeling of inherent trust that swirled within her at the sound of this man's voice was in any way dissipated - which only left her more confused. What was true and what wasn't? Was he just different from his kind, or was she losing whatever she had remaining of her marbles?
When asked if she was all right, however, Calina abruptly removed her hand from within his and settled the pair of her own within her lap. She turned to look at him blankly, as if the question made no sense. "Of course," she replied, shrugging. "Why wouldn't I be?"
What kind of answer was he looking for, anyway? Did he really expect the truth - something that Calina could hardly admit to herself? She sighed, a quiet sound that was audible nonetheless as she wondered what he wanted from her, and more importantly, what she wanted from him. If it was nothing, she would have turned around and marched away as soon as they'd met one another, but instead, she had led him up here, to her Plutonian safe haven. She obviously desired something from him, but she wasn't sure at the moment what that was exactly.
The seconds ticked by. The meeting with the other House of Ten members was probably almost over by now, and she knew she'd be in trouble for skipping, but at the moment, the thought couldn't be further from Calina's mind. All of her thoughts danced around Raaf and her and their history together and what it meant for the pair of them now. Did he expect something out of her after that? Did she expect something from him? She knew she had least a million questions for him, but somehow they seemed ill-timed. What else could she say?
"What made you decide to speak to her?" She wasn't quite asking why Raaf had tried to save Levitra, but rather why he had ever spoken to her in the first place. Levitra had been such a ghost, living within the cobwebs of her mind and memories of torturous moments at the hands of her Jovian guard, as if, even though at that time he was dead, he might rise again and make her do such terrible, nauseating things again...
Calina shook her head. It was a nightmare, one that still haunted her on occasion, but nothing more than a lost memory. It had no weight on her now.