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Status Quo - Chapter 78

Written by: Paullell

 ‘Just remember, no matter what I say.  I’m trying to make him think I’m broken.   I love you.  Anything he may make me say or do isn’t real.’ The words comfort Daray as she drifts off to sleep, despite their ominous implications. But as she sinks deeper into unconsciousness, her mind takes those same words and twists them around one another.

 

‘Trying to make him think… Remember… I’m broken… He may make me say or do…’ Her mind spins around the words in great orbits, tightening with each pass, ‘think… remember… broken… make me…’

 

In a flash of colors and swirl of lights, she breaks through a wall of fog into a serene plain covered with soft, lush grass, and an occasional wild flower. Blue skies fill the horizon and arch beautifully overhead, with a few, wispy clouds drifting lazily here and there in the bright, yellow sunshine. She laughs with delight and spins around, arms spread wide, to enjoy the sunshine and warm sun until the words come back, like a heavy bass string being plucked in the back of her mind, ‘think… remember… broken… make me…’

 

She stops short, looking around for the source of the words. Seeing a feminine figure  atop a nearby rise in the scenery, she squeals in delight. Having Lana join her in a wonderful place such as this is a dream come true, and she charges the figure, laughing off the voice that is still buzzing in her mind, ‘think, remember, broken, make me…’

 

As she approaches the figure, the feminine curves begin to resolve into a thin, athletic young man with dark hair and green eyes. He looks vaguely familiar, as if she’s seen him somewhere before, but she cant’t quite figure out where, or why she can’t remember.

 

“I’m sorry. I thought you were someone else…” She smiles at him, turning to go back to her frolicking until Lana can come join her. ‘think’

 

“She’s lying to you.”

 

“What?” She turns to look at him again, brushing a lock of her long hair behind an ear so she can see him more clearly. ‘remember’

 

“She wants you to forget.” He says.

 

“Who? Forget what?” ‘broken’

 

“You know who. She wants you to forget yourself. Forget who you used to be. Who you really are.”

 

“Why would she do that?” ‘make me’

 

“She wants you for herself. But she took you from me. Stole you away. Snatched you up for herself. We were happy together once. Do you remember?” 

 

‘remember’ She narrows her eyes at him. Unsure why she still can’t remember him. “I don’t think…” ‘think’ she stops abruptly, eyeing him. “Who are you?”

 

“You know who I am. We were happy once. We knew who we were, and what we were. Now she has you confused. Keeps you on edge. Tells you not to remember.” 

 

‘remember’ She shudders as a flood of erotic imagery flood her mind for an instant, and are gone again just as suddenly. But they don’t go leaving her unaffected. Her whole body heats up. “Why would she do that?”

 

“Why indeed?”

 

‘think’ She suddenly remembers a feeling of fullness. A feeling of absolute, unbridled, raw emotion. “I don’t… Who…” She staggers back from him, trying to push off another flood of images. trying to control her body, but the heat keeps rising within her.

 

“She wants to make sure the damage isn’t mended, so you can’t remember the truth.”

 

‘remember’ “The truth? What damage?” ‘broken’

 

“Yes, the truth. You know what it is…”

 

‘remember’ The flood of images comes again, but this time she is able to slow it down long enough to see a few frames. Her on her back, legs spread. Him between her legs, filling her up, physically and emotionally. Passion beyond measure shared between them. “We… You and I… We were…” ‘think’

 

“Yes. And she would stand between us. She took you. Damaged your memories, and now works to keep them at bay.” 

 

‘remember’ She shakes her head, suddenly dizzy. The ground lurches up around her and she stumbles to keep her balance. “She wouldn’t…” ‘think’ But then, she did keep saying she didn’t have to look into her past. It could easily be a way to keep her from digging without seeming like the badguy. ‘remember’

 

“Just take my hand, I’ll make everything better,” he reaches out to her, offering a point of stability in the suddenly violent landscape. She almost can’t help but reach out to anchor herself against the heaving ground, its grassy surface suddenly slick and full of motion.

 

‘broken… remember’

 

As their fingers are just about to touch, the whole world  shakes violently. 

 

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She sits up out of bed with a scream, hair matted with sweat and panting as if she’d just run a marathon, “Ohmygod!”

 

SEAN’s voice is coming over the internal speakers, announcing their arrival at Luna and their decoupling from the Kestrel. He might be saying something about private vs public hangers, but she doesn't really hear him, looking down instead at the sheets which have been thoroughly shredded by her claws while she slept. But she doesn’t remember a thing about her dreams, or why she would be jarred wake in such a fright.

 

She hauls herself out of the bed, still panting, and pads out into the common room in time to see the airlock door slide closed. Her skinsuit crawls across her body into something appropriate for public viewing as she turns to look back at the bedroom. She has a sudden feeling of distrust when she catches a glimpse of Lana, but she can;t explain why that might happen. She’s always trusted her, hasn’t she?

 

She sits down at the little table with a meal of rations and waits for their day to begin as she chews on something labeled as ‘banana and beef’, and eyes the door to the bedroom, a whirlwind of thoughts swirling through her mind.

 

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Lana is jarred awake by Daray’s scream.  She rolls and tries to reach for her but she is already up and out of the bed before Lana’s hand can make contact.  Lana grunts and rolls over, not quite ready to get up for the day, but SEAN’s announcement about the decoupling makes her realize how close to their destination they are.  Lana reluctantly rolls out of bed noticing that Daray has already left the room.  She hurries to dress herself, choosing the feminine yellow sundress due to her lack of anything really sexy.  It has been altered to accommodate her tail so all she has to do is pull it through the appropriate hole.  Afterwards she runs a brush through her hair and then makes her way to the kitchen.  The expression on Daray’s face worries her and her stomach is already twisted in knots with the knowledge of what she has to do today.

 

“Good morning, Tesoro.  Is everything alright?  I heard you scream.”  Lana walks over to where Daray is sitting and leans in to give her a kiss on the cheek.

 

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Daray nods toward Lana, “I guess I had a bad dream. I don’t remember.” ‘remember’ The word echoes through her head. What was she supposed to remember?

 

The kiss is accepted, although she doesn’t lean into it, or try to make anything more out of it, which she normally wold be very likely to do. Her hair is disheveled and her face is a wreck, but the skinsuit, as always, makes the rest of her look immaculate, if a little shiny.

 

“So, are you ready? When were you thinking of making the call?” ‘broken’ The word resonates within her, causing her to narrow her eyes slightly at Lana’s form as she moves around the room, preparing for her day.

 

A sudden impulse has her add, “so, if I wanted to investigate my past… You’d be okay with that?” ‘make me’ She looks at Lana, knowing what she is going to say even before she says it.

 

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Lana is a bit off put by the lack of response to her kiss but she shakes her unease off and makes her way over to the kitchen grabbing her own meal rations and begins to consume them.  “I was going to get off the ship and make the call from a public terminal.  Hopefully that will delay his looking into how I got on world and keep this ship and you out of his knowledge.  April, any chance you can do some hacking and have me listed on a recent passenger flight?”

 

Lana blinks in surprise at the sudden change in topic.  She finishes chewing her current bite and then reaches out to take Daray’s hand with all of her empathy focused on her lover.  “I want you to be happy.  If learning what April was forced to erase from your memories will make you happy I support it.  As I have said before.  I love you.  Past or no past… sullen or happy.  I’ll back up whatever decision you make.”

 

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‘make me’ She offers Lana a subtle nod of understanding. the saccharine response was exactly what she’d expected. She was trying to keep complacency as the norm by not applying pressure one way or the other. The illusion that she wanted Daray to stay wrapped up in was crumbling apart. “Okay. I just wanted to make sure,” she responds as she crunches away on some other disgusting bit of freeze-dried food.

 

There is no response from APRIL, and after a moment, Daray shrugs non-committally, “she must be doing some research or something. I haven’t heard from her for a bit.” ‘remember’ How had she done it? How had she made her feel so strongly about her? She was a woman after all, it was only natural for her to be with a man. Her body shuddered as she imagined a silhouetted, male form, filling her up and making her scream out in pleasure. “Maybe SEAN can handle it?” She tried to work through the flushing of her skin, but with so little of it exposed, it was difficult to hide.

 

The Kitsune moves gracefully through Tranquility’s air-space, gliding to a stop on a semi-private pad off to the side of the spaceport where it is quickly linked to a series of umbilicals, and a pair of walkways that seal up against the hull to allow passengers and cargo to be moved on and off the ship. Within moments, the engines are cycled down and the ship is at rest on the surface of the moon, the huge dome of Tranquility visible through the wide, smooth viewport on the front of the bridge.

 

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Lana takes a steadying breath, she is having trouble reading Daray’s emotional aura.  She is willing to pass off the trouble as her own nerves from the upcoming mission, but Daray’s next response focus’s her attention.  “That’s unusual for April, usually she let’s us know when she is going to be unavailable.  SEAN?”

 

After a moment SEAN replies.  “Lana, I have spent some time with APRIL this past week and I believe I have duplicated the manner in which she would have created the flight entry that you requested.  It now lists your arrival on flight 2621A as having arrived fifteen minutes ago.”

 

“Thank you SEAN.  You and APRIL have been spending quite a bit of time together.  Are you aware of her current investigation?”

 

There is another long pause.  “Pardon me Lana.  I am running slowly.  There appears to be a memory buffer that is overrun that I am attempting to sort out.  My last communication with APRIL was last night before you went to sleep.”

 

Lana shakes her head with concern.  “Since she is not communicating right now will you be able to relay my signal so that Daray and Riana can communicate with me after I have been picked up?  Also, are you aware of what April was working on last?”

 

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Daray continues to munch on her rations as Lana speaks with SEAN, apparently not very interested in the conversation, despite the oddness of APRIL’s absence. She continues to flush as random thoughts wash through her imagination. Images of her and the strange, shadowed figure in various positions and states of erotic congress. The whole time, she just kind of stares blankly at Lana as she moves around, attending to her morning business and talking with SEAN.

 

SEAN, for his part, has very little else to report. He has no idea what APRIL was working on before she stopped communicating, but he thinks it was related to the monitoring of Turin’s property. Maybe even trying to find a way to hack into his private sub-space domain.

 

Their conversation is interrupted by a communication from Riana, saying that she and Melissa have landed and are closing up the Kestrel and heading to the penthouse to meet Daray and make arrangements for the rest of their plan.

 

Daray just shudders at some private thought, then looks up at Lana with slightly bleary eyes, “we should probably get this plan moving.” Her tone is flat, but tinged with what could best be described as post-coital indifference. Her hands have left her food on the table and disappeared beneath the surface of the metal plain, her legs pressed together tightly as she speaks.

 

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Lana notices Daray’s flushes and her wiggling, but arousal seems an unlikely symptom for the situation they find themselves in.  So despite years of trusting her instincts she pushes the most likely emotion that she thinks she is reading aside and assumes that Daray may be getting sick.  

 

“Thanks, Riana, we are heading out now…”  In a moment of sneakiness, mostly because she is worried that Daray will brush aside her concerns and not take care of herself,  instead of just speaking to Daray she continues to broadcast so that Riana can hear her next words.  “Daray?  Are you feeling alright?  You haven’t finished your food and you look flushed.”

 

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Daray looks at Lana, a feeling of minor annoyance flushing through her. ‘think, remember, broken’ Her eyes narrow slightly and she seems to be holding back something she might rather be saying. “Yeah. I’m fine. We’d better get going though, I need to… get a workout in… been cooped up too long in here.”

 

She stands up, grabs her baston, and heads for the hatch without a second thought, letting Lana catch up.

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Lana just stands and gapes at Daray.  She apparently has forgotten that the plan does not include her... Lana... going back to the penthouse.  She needs to get herself caught.  She waits for the portal to close and then speaks to SEAN.  “SEAN, send a private communication to Riana.  Tell her Daray is acting strangely and April has been out of communication for more than 12 hours, which is not like her.”  Lana then heads out the portal herself.  If Daray looks in her direction she waves goodbye.  If she has already disappeared she fights off tears and makes her way out of the space station.  Nearby on the main walk she sees a free terminal that she walks over to.  She presses the call button and sees the very nice figure of a young operator pop up on the screen.

 

“Yes may I help you?

 

“I’d like to place a collect call to Turin Glasnost’s residence.  Would you let them know that Lana Maxalis is calling?”

 

“One moment please.”

 

Lana waits, her emotions twisting nervously, for whoever might answer.

 

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SEAN takes a moment to respond, still having trouble with his memory problem, that he has passed the message along, then bids Lana goodbye, and good luck ( a curious human colloquialism), and seals the hatch behind her a she exits the Kitsune.

 

She steps through the hatch in time to see Daray at the ned of the causeway. When she waves, Daray offers a curt nod in response, then disappears around the corner without any other signs of affection.

 

The line remains quiet for mere seconds before Turin’s image appears on the display, a smug look on his face as he eyes Lana. “Hello,” he says in a flat tone. “What do you want?”

 

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Lana lets her emotional turmoil show in her eyes.  This cold greeting is not exactly what she had expected.  On the other hand, she had also expected to be jerked around by lesser employees before finally being connected with him.   She takes a deep breath and then launches into her explanation.  “I want to come back to you.  Please.  I can’t do this anymore.  I finally got Daray healed… and then some man named Xavier came with solders.  He told her everything was my fault and that operatives who were compromised by emotions were no good to him.  She… She agreed with him, says she had stopped loving me anyways, I was just a good lay.  Then another girl came… she said I had a father that wanted me… so I went to him… and he had been taken by my other relatives that want me and my mother dead.”

 

Lana raises her hand to touch the ring around her throat.  “It hurts too much out here.  I keep thinking of what it was like with you.  The only reason I resisted was for Daray… and she doesn’t want me… if you let me come back you could take away the pain couldn’t you?   Please.  I’ll do anything to stop this and just feel at peace again.  You don’t even need to love me back.”  Lana looks at him with her eyes wide and real tears flowing down her cheeks as she begs him.

 

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Turin listens patiently to her tirade, the smug look on his face turning into a twisted smirk as she carries on. When she finally finishes, tears streaming down her face, he smiles and leans a little closer. “Beg me,” he says flatly. “Down on your knees, right there. Beg me to take you back. Show me how much you want the pain of your miserable little life to come to an end.”

 

As he waits for her response, a familiar, but unexpected burst of static fires off in Lana’s ear for an instant, then is gone again.

 

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Lana flinches at the sudden static and bows her head, pretending that she is flinching away from Turin instead.  She sinks to her knees, uncaring of the stares she is receiving from the people passing around her.  She wraps her embarrassment and worry around her and sobs like a broken woman before finally looking back to Turin’s face.  “Please… Please forgive me... please take me back.  In whatever capacity you want.  I’ve made so many mistakes.  I know I don’t deserve a second chance.  But I’ve learned my lesson.  I was wrong.  Has anyone else been willing to say that to you?  To apologize and want to come back?  Please tell me that count’s for something.  I don’t care if you want to leave me in a room on bread and water if only you’ll let me be around you so I can feel peace again.  Please.”

 

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By the time she finishes, there is a hefty crowd of people standing around, or rushing quickly past, and Turin is openly grinning at her. “You’ve changed a lot since the last time we met. You used to be so willful, and headstrong. Now your just some dumb, used up cow. The fact that you just, so easily, fell to your knees and begged me to take you back, means that what I wanted in you to begin with is gone now. I’ll tell you what I’ll do for you Lana,” he grins from ear to ear. “I’ll let you keep my collar and cuffs, as a gift from me to the prideful whore you used to be. But I don’t want you any more. I’ve found a new toy to amuse myself with, and her mind is already soft enough for me to have my way with her. Not to mention the fact that she’ll save me a fortune in clothing.”

 

He chuckles a moment, then his face turns serious and he looks down at her, kneeling in the corridor with onlookers surrounding their conversation. “You hurt me deeply Lana, and lied to me as well. Now I will punish you for that pain. I’ve taken everything you love, and will pervert it all to my whims. And I will never accept you back into my life. You will wear my collar for the rest of your days, knowing that everything you hold dear in this world belongs to me! Now, fuck off!”

 

He screams the last words, his face turning red and lines appearing at his temples as the blood rushes to his brain in obvious anger. Then the display winks out and leaves Lana alone with a hundred strangers in the spaceport concourse. 

 

Another burst of static, followed by a few rapid beeps fills her ear, and then ceases again, mere seconds after the conversation stops.

 

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Lana’s face clears in an instant once Turin breaks the connection.  She looks around at the people staring and chuckles at the varying levels of distress, worry, or amusement she sees around her.  “Shows over folks, sorry to have disturbed your day.”  

 

She then turns and breaks into a run at full speed, dodging and weaving in-between people, trying to get away from here as soon as possible.  She is smarter than she has given herself credit for and the pieces fall into place; Daray’s behavior this morning, the lack of contact with April, save him a fortune in clothing.  The only thing that doesn’t make sense is that if he knew this was coming he would have realized that she was not the broken woman she was portraying herself as.  Then again he might still know that and just wanted to belittle her.  As she turns a corner she makes a subtle shift to her coloring, darkening her hair and tail, at the next turn she switches her skin tone from white to normal human peach.  Then at the third turn removes the blue from her hair completely so it is now a jet black.  Now, except for her yellow dress, she looks almost nothing like the woman that had created such a ruckus.  She slows to a normal pace, braids her hair quickly and then steps out of the most recent alley, rejoining the rest of the pedestrians

 

“Mayday Riana and Melissa, change of plans… Did Daray ever show up at the penthouse?  April was that you’re static?”

 

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The crowd breaks up slowly, and a few of them even applaud Lana awkwardly before moving on, a low murmur suffusing the area. By the time she is clear of the spaceport and out onto the street, braiding her hair as she walks, there is no sign of anyone from that area, or anywhere else, watching her, especially after her quick change in appearance.

 

She knows her way to the penthouse from here, less than fifteen minutes walk away, and she isn’t even out of breath after her dead run, owing to her new genetic enhancements.

 

“She’s not here, that we can find. We just stepped in, but there’s no sign that she’s been here at all,” Riana responds.

 

“You didn’t loose your girlfriend in the spaceport again, did you Lana?” Melissa jokes over the comm.

 

When she asks for APRIL, there is another brief shot of static, followed by a series of rapid beeps, then silence again.


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