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4 yrs ago
If you want to RP with me, in a group or 1x1, you can always hit me up. Love xx


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In Avalia 2 mos ago Forum: Casual Roleplay

Time: 10:00 am
Location: Port Vanarosa, Ship
Interactions: @Helo Nym | @Potter Tigerlily | @Infinite Cosmos Tesoro
Mentions: @tae Lizzie | @alivefalling Barboda

Action in inventory:
gain of 10 amas (posting within 72h)
loss of 205 amas (given to Lizzie, previous post)
gain of one pathfinder coin (strange gift, previous post)

As everyone went their respective ways aboard the ship, leaving her and Nym alone, Éliane was too deep in thought to start a conversation. In her lap, beneath the table, her fingers played with the heavy pathfinder coin the stranger had provided her with. It wasn't so much the coin that held her attention though. It was the stranger. Éliane knew the old woman might have been nothing else but a little senile and had mistaken her for someone else or had some other reality cloud her mind to make her think giving Éliane the coin had such a grave impact. Or maybe she hadn't thought anything at all and had gone with the swift winds of her mind without further intentions. However, she still couldn't shake it. It made her feel... something. Unease? A little, yeah, certainly. But also curiosity. And the heaviness on her shoulders and the strange grip around her inner organs suggested she gave some belief to the woman's words. "You are IT!", she had said. And it was most likely she had not known what that meant herself. So why did Éliane feel like it had meant anything at all? Why did she feel it was important. Silly, young heart, she scolded herself. Looking for meaningful adventures where there are none.

But there was something else bothering her mind. Had she made the right decision coming aboard this ship? Agreeing to Lizzie's rules? It had taken her a little by surprise how strict and cruel the woman could appear. A healthy reminder that I do not know her. As much as my heart yearns and quakes, still, to find her protected and well - which she undoubtedly can provide for herself with uttermost success -, it still longs for the connection it felt the first time we met. And that had been not much more than an hour or so ago! Lizzie had no doubt found her crew and ship fast. What a turn of events. Being chased by light elves - whyever did they do that? - to a captain of a full crew with a fully stocked ship in about an hour. Impressive.

And with Barboda on board, it seemed they were already well provided with a skilled cook. A skill that Éliane found to soften the hard edges of her brain surrounding her doubts about this man. Of course, a good meal didn't mean he'd cause them no harm. But he had shown respect to not only Lizzie but the whole crew by going out of his way with this matter. She would not let her mind ease up yet but it was a start.

As her mind ran a mile an hour and again and again in circles, always coming back to the old woman, to her decisions, to Lizzie's attitude - especially the change in it that she had witnessed -, she repeated the five rules of the ship again and again.

1. Equality in decisions
2. Fairness considering their loot
3. Maintaining one's weapons
4. No causing harm by accident, intention or disserting during a battle
5. Peacekeeping aboard the ship - no weapons shall be raised against one another

The rules were more than justified. Éliane didn't see anything wrong with them. The things that irked her were the punishments. Of course on a pirate ship, there would be punishments. She might have been naive, but not that naive. However, the idea of whips and execution didn't sit too right with her. That's how it goes when you enter a new world. You learn their rules, their customs. And you adapt to them as much as your own person allows it. All of them had agreed to those terms. Not one of them would be thrown into a situation where they would be treated unfairly by their captain. They had agreed to the punishments should they break the rules. As tough and terrible as Lizzie seemed and acted - and Éliane had seen the world, she knew that Lizzie would see through with it if it meant to keep face, to keep her position, to provide fairness -, she still trusted that Lizzie would judge fairly. And of course, the crew had a say in everything. Different approaches to justice are not morally wrong just because they are different. On a ship like this, where people live close together and must trust one another with their lives, strict rules about breaking such trust or endangering the crew are necessary.

But what a change in tone... Éliane couldn't stop thinking about how the Lizzie she had met had talked to her, had made her swoon. And how the Lizzie now was talking to the crew. Establishing her position, of course. Establishing that she was not one to be fucked with. Éliane could understand that. She just hoped Lizzie would find it in her to open her heart to the crew and, if a safe option, possibly to her.

Another - albeit slighter - concern of hers was Tigerlily. The woman seemed very focused on prince Helio. It was not unusual for Tigerlily to find special interest in certain special people. But Éliane could not let go of the feeling that there was something she didn't know. Not that she needed to. Tigerlily was more than equipped to take care of herself and didn't need anybody knowing her business. But she hoped that Lily knew she was a safe place to come to should her heart desire some emotional support. On her travels, she had met many people and most of them had not been open with their feelings. In a world like this, emotions were handicaps. And yet, Éliane refused to let this world harden her. Not yet. Not anytime soon if she could help it. After 512 years of life, you've seen some things.

Her thoughts were interrupted by the sound of Tigerlily's voice. Only now, as she returned her attention to the outside world, did she realize she had not touched the meal yet. A soft smile crept onto her face at the sight of the woman. Really gotta stop all the depressive thinking, I'm gonna knock my own brain out. She shoved the coin into her backpack and began to eat small portions of different options, keeping it vegetarian for now.

As Lily changed her clothes with the little show of hers, Éliane couldn't help but smile to herself. Typical Lily, was it not? But the blue-haired devil was right. It was damn hot, the summer was really beating down on them. And although Éliane had had her swim of the day - and her clothes were still damp from it as it had been only about an hour ago -, her face lit up when Nym offered her to join them. Her lips curled into a mischievous half smile. "Funny you should ask. My morals seem to have taken a little... dip. Must be too hot for me to think straight."

She shoveled some more food down her throat as she already began to lift herself off her seat. With a soft motion, she pulled the damp clothes off of her body and revealed her undergarments. "My swim this morning ended quite... spicy. I guess cooling down a little is appropriate." Her eyes landed on Nym's. "I would greatly enjoy seeing you dip into the waters." She had seen a lot but she had never seen a shark-demi human in the sea. Frankly, he was a nice sight to look at in any place but the waters were part of his nature. She almost envied him for that. "In any way, if we don't go for a swim I should really get changed into dry clothes."

In that moment Éliane's attention flew to the entrance through which Barboda and Lizzie had disappeared down into the ship. A man had walked into the room. Éliane was certain he had not been part of the crew when the crew had boarded the ship. So he must have been down there before they had come aboard. Immediately, her brain connected his appearance with Barboda. Barboda had been the first on the ship, he must have known. Maybe even brought him on. She wasn't sure what to make of this new information. She recognized the man as a light elf, that much was clear. With a soft smile, Éliane greeted the stranger. "We were just about to go for a swim. I'm assuming you've met the captain?" Éliane couldn't even be bothered that this man met her with barely any clothes on. Being rid of the damp fabric on her skin was such a release.

Rhiannon listened to her wife patiently and let her gaze linger on the many features of her face. It slowly dawned on her that she could still lose her wife. Yes, one catastrophe was past them. But there were many other dangers. No one could tell what the time travel had done to them. Were they fine on a molecular level? Were their cells slowly disintegrating? Would their mind fail them at some point due to the sheer force of bending space and time and pushing their bodies through that process? The effects of their machine were fully unknown. It could very well be that they were dying right this minute.

Rhia pushed the thought away. She could not deal with such an emotionally heavy topic at the moment.

"I appreciate your apology. We're a team. That's all I want from you, Lisa. Honesty, respect, inclusion." She didn't feel like any more words were left in her about this unhappy incident. Lisa had made a mistake. But they were alive and somewhere entirely else, likely sometime entirely else. They had just survived the sabotage that probably killed the entire staff working in that facility.

"Not to be a downer but if the time machine is gone... How do we get home? It took us half a lifetime to get the first one to work. With our modern technology and all the money we could've dreamt of. Just... something to keep in mind maybe." Of course, there was nothing they could do right now so she changed the subject. "You're right. We should get going and find shelter. Hopefully some food and information on when and where we are."

She followed her wife's action by standing up and soon they began to put one foot in front of the other with little idea if the direction they picked would bring them luck or hardship. She imagined them in a movie. How the camera would shift to birdseye-view and show them as two tiny dots moving away from the safety that lied only 200 meters in the different direction. She had always liked that movie cliché. It showed how perspectives were important to base your decision on something more than intuition. But now she didn't feel too fond of it anymore. She felt mocked by her own association with the trope. Lisa knows what to do... kind of.

It was true that her wife would be much better equipped to do anything of value in a survival situation. Rhiannon had always been a head person. She loved to learn, to read, to discuss, to debate, to wonder. There was no need for her to know how to read the stars to orientate herself, she hadn't needed to learn how to survive on the bare minimum. And while Lisa's life had thrown more hardships at her, Lisa had also never needed any of that training. The social justice system took care of people. It didn't discriminate, it didn't need you to fulfill a certain amount of things and keep up with a ton of rules. It was more flexible than ever and it made sure people were always provided with what they needed on a basic level. But Lisa had enjoyed learning these things. She had always had an interest in keeping herself alive. Her wife liked staying busy with her hands and being able to rely on herself instead of anyone - or any government or system. Rhiannon hadn't thought they'd ever need to rely on this hobby of Lisa's.

While Rhiannon was - typical! - in her own thoughts, Lisa found what seemed to be a leftover of a once intact fence. "You think the farm might be in better shape than this fence and field? I am all for a dry place to sleep but I'd rather not be buried beneath a collapsing old house in the storm."

They continued their way on, stepping onto the overgrown field. They walked for quite a while. As they crossed over the first field, which had been bigger than anticipated, they reached something that remotely reminded them of a sandy road. It had been a long time since it had been used so it was hard to tell at first, grass and other greenery had overgrown the path. But they followed its many curves and soon found the old farm. There was a house, a big shed, and a hut. As they got closer, they could make out the house better. It had been painted white once upon a time, but the paint was coming off more than it was staying on. The two front windows that faced them were broken and the door seemed closed. The entire house was battered from nature, vines were overgrowing it and Rhiannon found small insects crawling along the wood, the vines, and the other greenery attempting to pull the house into the earth. It had two stories and Rhia would have guessed it had a very small attic where one could barely stand.

Rhiannon went up to the windows and peeked inside. It was mostly empty. Dirt was scattered along the floor, some greenery had managed to get inside through the broken windows. In one corner stood an old piano that was missing a whole bunch of its keys and one leg. There was no stool. She attempted to open the door but it was shut close. "The weather must have rusted the lock. It won't budge." The physicist took one look up and down the house, threw her body testingly against the wall and decided it was probably stable enough so it wouldn't fall down on them at night. "We could climb in through the window."

Before her wife could voice her opinion on that, Rhiannon had already swung a leg over the windowsill and climbed inside the house. The windows sat low enough so that an adult would barely have any problems lifting themself up onto it.

As Catarina spoke, Aïtana kept her gaze on her food, only looking up at her at times. But she was fully aware of every movement, every twitch with the eye her captor was taking. Even if just from the corner of her eye, Aïtana was watching her. She didn't feel tense or stressed. She felt more curious. And she was hungry. So she focused on her food and tried to listen to Catarina without her emotions getting in the way for once.

As much as Catarina's surprise eased Aïtana's mind just a little more - she had managed to surprise Catarina, to break through her masks for a moment -, she was soon to be the one to show surprise as Catarina actually took her up on her offer and asked for the address of her lingerie shop. Aïtana lowered her bread to the table and looked at Catarina with confusion on her face for a moment before she got up. "Of course." She moved through the room. Once she found the items, she took it upon herself to write down the address.

With a couple of steps, she stood in front of the bars that made her room a prison. She folded the paper once, lowered herself down to Catarina's level, and slid the paper through the bars for her to take.

After, she returned to her seat at the table and continued her meal as if nothing had happened. But something had changed. Strange... How one simple exchange can shift something. She wasn't gonna let a little moment like that make her forget how she was still imprisoned, how Catarina had knocked her out with her pain spell before and could do it again anytime she felt Aïtana was being too unpleasant.

But Catarina wasn't done surprising her. She had actually... listened? Aïtana was slowly running out of food. She had been eating a fraction too fast and she needed to slow down before her hands would be left empty. Catarina had just acknowledged what Aïtana had explained. She had admitted that Aïtana had every right to her anger. And that wasn't all. Had she really just confessed that she didn't know how to handle this situation any further? Did Catarina just ask me for advice on respect?

"Uhm..." Aïtana was at a loss for words. How could she give advice in such a situation? Of course, Catarina was correct to assume she could not let Aïtana go if she didn't want to stand up for her crimes. She couldn't help but feel rushes of anger coming up again. Asking to be taught respect but not wanting to be held responsible for her actions, that's just like you, isn't it? But this wouldn't help her. What was her own agenda here? To show Catarina just how much she despised her actions, her morals? Did she want to make sure Catarina went back to hurting her and not really listening? She had undoubtedly surprised her this morning and lifted the mask. If she wanted to get anywhere, she needed to start with keeping it respectful as long as Catarina attempted the same. She was listening. She was asking for help. This could definitely be a sign that there was still room for Catarina to grow. Somewhere, somehow - maybe.

"Well... You could continue to talk to me at eye level. That is a good start. You could also give me the newspapers every morning. I like to read them. I'd appreciate three actual meals per day. I am assuming you were gonna provide that already. And fresh clothes. A big jug of water always refilled and a cup to drink from. I should not have to ask you for water throughout the day. That would be the best beginning, I think."

Catarina rose from her position on the floor. Aïtana noticed the glance to the second chair at the table. She had already guessed that Catarina would use it one of the coming days. She hadn't bothered to think about in what context that would be - she had felt it would have been a more cruel one than shared meals. But it seemed Catarina was missing friendships in her life. She seemed lonely to Aïtana, in that moment. She could've been mistaken though. There would be plenty of other reasons her gaze could have crossed that chair. Maybe she had seen a fly.

"I must admit that I indeed don't feel up to reading. The... situation kind of takes the fun out of that."

"Your arm is still bleeding." Rhiannon sat up and positioned herself so she could take a better look at Lisa's injury. She gently began to take off the improvised bandage. "Just hold still. I'll look at the sky with you in a minute." She gave her wife a genuine and gentle smile. The rush of still being alive, of still being with her wife hadn't washed off yet. She knew they'd have to start walking soon enough and she knew that it wouldn't be a simple journey from here on in. But they were together and Lisa was alive, only mildly injured considering the scenario they had just escaped by hair-with. For this moment, all could be fine, all was well.

As she looked at the injury, she tried her best to not move Lisa's arm too much. She didn't want to cause her any more pain. A bullet wood must hurt like a bitch, even if it was "just" a shot in the arm.

"You're lucky. It seems it hasn't hit any bone. Just a flesh wound. I wish I had something here to disinfect it with and a proper bandage." Since neither of them had anything but their clothes with them, Rhia took it upon herself to find the sharpest tool she could and rip a piece of her lab coat off. It took her a while. In movies, it seemed so easy. They just pulled on the fabric and it came apart. But in real life, tearing apart a piece of labcoat proved much much harder.

Once she had managed that deed, she wrapped it around her wife's injured arm and pulled it tight to stop the bleeding. "We will need to find you some stuff to disinfect the wound and a fresh and clean bandage. I don't wanna risk infection. We have no idea where or when we are. An infection could end deadly."

Rhia let herself rest on the floor next to her wife. Lying at her healthy arm, she put her head closer to Lisa and slung her arm around her mid-waist as she snuggled into the woman. "I am sorry we almost died and the last thing you'd remember of me was a fight we had." She still wasn't over the fact that her wife had kept such a big secret from her and had dumped it on her at the side of the street. But right now all she cared about was that Lisa was safe and healthy and they were together. Rhiannon had no idea how to handle everything on her own. Lisa had always been there, all her adult life. There wasn't a thing she had to tackle on her own. And she didn't want it any other way. They were a team. And they would continue to be a team. Despite Lisa's mistake of shutting her out like that for years. Couples overcame things all the time. Some even overcame cheating. She could forgive her wife and she would trust her again. Rhia believed that Lisa would not make the same mistake twice.

As she lied with her wife and took in the sounds of nature, Rhiannon began to make a list of necessities they would need first. She didn't mean to. If she could, she would just lie and enjoy the moment as they deserved this peaceful minute of rest. But her body was still pumped with adrenaline and her head was going a mile a minute.

They'd need to get clothes for sure. It was highly unlikely they'd not draw attention the way they were looking right now. They'd need stuff for Lisa's wound and if possible pain meds. Then they'd need to come upon an opportunity to find shelter, food, and a way of income. Without money, it'd be hard for them to survive for a longer period of time. They would need a disguise, a reason why they showed up without papers and without any coins on them. If they were lucky, someone would take them in for a short while and point them towards the opportunities they needed, like a job or information or medicine. They also had to quickly figure out the position of women in this society. It was probably the smartest move to drop their lab coats immediately. They couldn't know what decade they landed in and history was full of sexism at its finest. The risk would be too great. They should also learn how much education and say a woman, in general, had here. If they'd walk around openly reading papers when women weren't typically allowed at school that might prove difficult. It was best to blend in with the most common people. The big mass, the grand crowds.

And as much as it stung Rhiannon... they had to figure out the position of queer people as well. Her gaze went over Lisa's face. The amount of love she felt for this woman could never be hidden entirely. How would she even attempt that? In their time, no one had to hide for loving someone. Holding her hand, lovingly gazing at her, calling Lisa her wife, being a couple was so normal to Rhiannon, just being in love openly... she doubted she could convincingly pretend she didn't feel any of those strong emotions. They belonged together. And anyone with a little sense would be able to tell. Oh god, she hoped this wasn't a far misogynistic and homophobic past. But she had a feeling that she'd just gotten unlucky.
As if it wasn't enough for Aïtana to wake up in this place, locked up and undressed. Which meant Catarina had taken advantage of her unconsciousness to release her off her clothes without her consent. But then again, nothing here was happening with her consent. So she wasn't too surprised about that crossing of a border either. But to top it off, she had to say something. She just had to. It felt like the conversation from last night just started right up where they left it off. The sweetly hidden insults. The sexual component on Catarina's part. The play of dominance. The mask of someone who still tried to convince her that she had any power to make any decision here and affect the outcome.

I wouldn't need a book recommendation if you hadn't kidnapped me and locked me up. I have plenty to read at home. Catarina's nicety act was more than getting on Aïtana's nerves. She could try her best to convince her she was a decent human being. As long as Aïtana sat in a prison cell - however nice and pretty it might be - she would not believe one word of it. Decent people don't kidnap you and lock you up.

Needless to say, Aïtana was quick to put on her clothes and paid Catarina's comment no response. Although her head had turned red - which he regretted but had no control over -, she didn't care for her words. No, she didn't. Why would she? She absolutely didn't.

"I can give you the address of my lingerie shop if you like", she answered, to her surprise, without any sarcasm, without any bite in her tone. Just... a regular answer. She must still be feeling the aftermath of that pain-spell attack.

As she laced up her shoes, one foot propped on the chair in front of her while she still sat at the table, she looked up at Catarina. "You know, Catarina. If you want people to not immediately dislike you for kidnapping them - which they have any reason to, just so we're clear - maybe you should refrain from telling them how lucky they are to have time now because you kidnapped them. And you're holding them hostage in a cage. It doesn't matter how pretty your cage is, it is still a cage. But I appreciate the bed."

Aïtana let out a sight. She did offer breakfast and Aïtana had the weird feeling that she wouldn't get any if she didn't play nice for now. That wouldn't be a smart move. She needed her energy. Especially if Catarina planned to use her godforsaken powers again. That abomination of a spell.

Aïtana moved her body towards the bars. She took the bread Catarina had slid through the door and returned to the table to sit at it with her breakfast. She made sure she was facing Catarina. It made no sense to provoke her right now. There would come many other possibilities but right now breakfast sounded good enough.

"Anther suggestion if you're up for it. If you want your prisoner to lighten up, maybe don't tell them you're not in the mood for their anger. You put us in this situation. That was your decision. You have to deal with the consequences of that. If you want me to meet you on eye level and treat you with respect, you gotta make the step and show me you're even capable of repaying that favor. Your gestures - as you'd likely wanna point out now - do not show me respect. They just show that you have a love for the romantic and dramatic. They show that you like to play the good guy even when you have someone locked in a cage and knock them out whenever you feel like it. If you want me to ... what did you say? ... lighten up, you might wanna consider to give me a good reason to not curse you and oppose you with every breath I take." As she reached the end of her little speech Aïtana came to notice that she still hasn't spitten venom at the woman. Maybe she was still a bit exhausted? Maybe she would regain her fighting spirit after a few bites?

The truth was that for now, it didn't seem in Aïtana's interest to sarcastically belittle Catarina. They had tried to communicate yesterday. That much was true. They had also failed immensely. Maybe none of them had wanted to communicate, maybe both parties had just wanted to say words and dance around the other, talk at them, not to them. In a sense that was still the case for Aïtana. And if her gut feeling and her interpretation of Catarina's approach were any indicators, her captor still felt the same way.

In the end, weren't they both in a situation that is hard to handle? Yes, Catarina put them in this situation. She definitely holds the responsibility for it. But so far she hasn't attempted to torture Aïtana even though she easily could with that spell of hers. She also hasn't tried to bribe or blackmail or frighten Aïtana into promising she'd never say a word or even joining her cause.

All Catarina had done was react immediately to a situation she felt she had no control over. When Aïtana discovered what she had, she had put Catarina into the situation of fast-react. And Catarina had chosen to knock her out. Maybe so she wouldn't confront her. Maybe so she couldn't escape. Maybe because Catarina wanted to make sure she would never tell a soul - death was still a plausible end for all of this. But maybe Catarina hadn't known how else to react. And at that moment, she stood alone with the unconscious symbol of morality and goodness at her disposal. And she had to do something. So she took her with her. To a place, she would consider safe.

And truly, since then Catarina hadn't tried to harm her. Not really. She had played games, had tried to seem bigger than she is, had attempted to put on many different masks to hide the fact that, probably, she still didn't know what to do. Maybe she doesn't wanna hurt me after all. It was a big maybe but it still was one. And it was in her interest to not put Catarina into a situation where she wanted to hurt Aïtana while Catarina still held all the advantages.

She pushed out the air in her lungs audibly. "While we're having breakfast, you can tell me about that book you've been talking about. If you like."

To Rhia's big surprise that was indeed the moment her wife came blazing in with smoking guns. Well, not literally smoking. Rhiannon could do little but watch her wife take down the people, freeing her first and going for the guy with the weapon next. All that she could do was make herself small so she wouldn't be in the way of her wife's firing and hope Lisa didn't get shot.

But there seemed to be no need for worry on that front. Her mouth dropped as Lisa threw herself into action like some Lara Croft spinoff. She wasn't really sure who this person was that she had married but something within her loved this revelation. Maybe that something was her survival instinct.

She didn't get more than a couple of seconds to admire her wife's work before being pulled to stand and dragged into the direction of the time machine by her heroic woman. People fired at them, Rhiannon ducked away, almost letting out a scream but there was no time for her to scream. As Lisa fired back, Rhiannon got pulled into the machine. It took her just a split second to have her mind catch up with her wife's. "You're a fucking genius", she whispered more to herself than to Lisa.

"It's too late..." Rhiannon looked at her wife as she began to fiddle with the inner workings of the machine they had built together. Then Lisa let herself down to the floor and Rhiannon quickly grabbed her by the arm. She was worried sick. Lisa was still bleeding and losing more blood by the minute despite her improvised bandage. "There's no stopping it... this is our only chance... if we don't make it... I'm sorry for everything and know that I love you."

Rhiannon's eyes tried to meet with her wives. "Lisa...?" In that one word and that last look she was granted she put all the emotions she was feeling. They had fought before this. She had accused her wife of going behind her back, of sabotaging her. She felt so stupid now. None of that mattered. This was the last time she would ever see her wife. And it broke her heart more than she could carry. But what broke her more was that Lisa thought she had to use their last seconds to apologize to her. Tears welled in Rhiannon's eyes. "Lisa, -" She began what was meant to be her last words. But the countdown hit zero.

She felt like she needed to throw up and as if all of her worries had disappeared at the same time. The swirls of colors made her sick and calm. It seemed as if the light itself bent in on them, towards them. It was too bright but pitch dark. All the colors in the world seemed to exist in this moment without any substance.

Then her back hit the ground harshly. She heard something break at the middle of her back and all air left her lungs. Rhiannon opened her mouth in desperate need of oxygen but her body seemed unable to remember how to take the substance in. How do you remember to breathe when you had never had to worry about such a process before? Luckily the long anguishing seconds in which her body refused to consider staying alive went by and Rhiannon was allowed to draw in a breath.

She coughed hard and loud and turned herself onto her knees, her hands on the ground. Beneath her lied a broken twig from the forest they had landed in. It had dug into her spine when she had crushed into the ground. Once Rhia had ceased coughing, she let herself drop to the floor. Exhausted and looking quite dismantled she lay there flat on her tummy.

She knew Lisa was next to her without looking but she had to turn her head anyway to be absolutely sure. A rush of joy paired with a rush of tiredness flooded her body. Rhiannon began to laugh. It was quiet and subtle for the lack of energy and her ribs hurt from it.

She forced her battered up body to crawl closer to her wife and put her hands on the woman's cheeks before she leaned in for a longing, soft, intense kiss. Her lips played with Lisa's, her heart began to beat faster and faster. Nothing mattered at the moment. Lisa was alive. And Rhiannon would kiss her and never stop if she could.

"I love you, Lisa Jane Johnson. Don't you ever have your last words to me be 'I'm sorry and know that I love you' ever again!" Her eyes beamed down at her wife's face, her hands still holding her head gently. "I will not have it. Do you hear me? I won't have it." She hoped Lisa would understand what she was trying to say but he herself could not put it in better words right now. Her life had turned upside down. Rhiannon wasn't ready yet to look around and realize where - or when - they had landed. She would cost out this moment with the love of her life and so help her god if something interrupted it.

Aïtana kept her eyes closed when she awoke the next morning. Her back muscles felt tense and painful but the softness of the blanket around her body and the wonderful feeling of her head on a pillow embraced her with kindness. She didn't want to awaken her sleepy brain to whatever reality would throw at her today. She would need to get dressed soon she reckoned.

A pain in her cheek made her groan. It was more so a memory than actual physical pain. The body reminded her of something she was trying to not remember. But Aïtana was unable to hold her thoughts from coming back to her.

"No, no", she whispered into the pillow. Wetness grazed the corner of her mouth. She must have drooled in her sleep. "Urgh, no. Okay... I'm ready." With a defeated sigh she sat up and let her brain introduce her to the roughness of the morning. She took a breath and slowly opened her eyes, revealing.... "What?", the woman softly wondered.

There were bars that kept her locked inside her cell. But other than that... This wasn't what she had expected. Her hand stroked over the soft duvet of her bed. It felt expensive. It felt like someone had deliberately chosen exactly this material. The room was stacked with shelves and within the shelves books. Candlelight hugged the cell into a dim and romantic embrace. Some of the candles had burnt down entirely. They must have been on all night.... Or they were old candles. But with someone like Catarina as her host, she doubted it. There was a wooden table with chairs that looked oddly inviting. At the sight, Aïtana's stomach sprung to life and growled desperately.

Aïtana scooted her butt to the edge of the bed and touched the floor with her bare feet. The rug greeted her toes with the decent feeling of a very ordinary rug. Bare feet... She attempted to wrap her head around the fact that all she was wearing was her undergarments. To be fair, it covered her nicely still. She had some more showing lingerie but found those impractical. So her go-to were tight underpants and a tight top that would allow her to move freely without her chest hindering her.

[(basically sports underwear like this but in all white and a bit less modern cause we're not in a setting where we wear modern clothes)]

Aïtana let her eyes wander around. Catarina had surprised her after all. After their conversation last night she had not hoped for much more than the typical villain's lair. She found her clothes were neatly stacked on the table with her boots standing by the side of it. She rose from the bed and made her way over to the table. The candle on top of it had only burned down halfway. It was a white ordinary-looking candle. But Aïtana recognized it anyway. It was the same candles she always bought for her study. All the long nights spent with her head in a book or above various parchments, she had found that these candles provided the best quality. They lasted her for days. But she never burnt them down in one go.

In her study, she would often sit and read and write for five hours with no interruption. Within five hours, the candle would be burnt down by approximately one-fifteenth of its original size. It would be hard to measure time with such a long-lasting candle. Aïtana sat down on one of the chairs, grabbed the burning candle, and began to etched small indicators into the wax with her fingernail. It wasn't a foolproof technique and it would be hard to read. Considering that her measurements were likely inaccurate anyway, she could be glad if this was even helping her a bit. No windows, no time measurement. But candles work well, just gotta keep my eye on them.

She put the candle back where it belonged. Her stomach made another growling noise. When had she last eaten? Being knocked out twice by an insufferable amount of pain had cost her body a lot of energy. But at least she could be certain now. The pain she had felt had definitely been Catarina's work. And by work, she meant her magic. Did the ducal couple know about this cruel ability of hers? Why would they let someone who practices illegal magic into their inner circles?.

However unpleasant her encounter with Catarina's ability had been, she had revealed a part of her hand. Aïtana now knew of this little trick of hers and could prepare herself for it. She had an advantage for as long as she knew more about her captor than Catarina did about her captive. Why do I have a feeling that won't last long.

Aïtana leaned forward and reached for her clothes. The sound of keys in a keyhole made her look up and stop in her motion. Then the door beyond the bars began to open slowly.

At this point, Aïtana wasn't sure why she was still listening to this person. They were more than clearly not on the same page. Morally as well as dictionary-wise. The chair got lifted off the floor once Catarina seemed satisfied with her theatrics.

Aïtana's face turned from apathy to a mix of apathy and defeat. It wasn't the kind of defeat that suggested you had found yourself in a corner or at a loss of will to fight and now felt there was no other way but to surrender. It was the kind of defeat that made you retreat into yourself and let the other person talk because they are too stupid to follow your simple logic. The kind of people who stand before you and stomp their feet and grin at you thinking they've won when you stop arguing with them, not even realizing that they haven't understood a single word you had said before. It was a waste of time to reason with such people.

Aïtana's had nothing of her humor, her bitterness, or her sarcasm in it anymore. She just sounded bored. "Just because you are able to remember and quote my sentences doesn't mean you understand them. If I say those words it implies that I think little of your morality. It does not imply I believe you to be a monster because - as I've said before - those are mythical creatures. And you are not mythical. You are not hell-bound. You are just a human who decides to make decisions the law doesn't agree with. You are a criminal. That's all you are. If your definition of a monster includes yourself as such, then that is something you should reflect upon with yourself. My definition of a monster doesn't include people. If you haven't understood why I can spell it out for you. But I thought you smarter than that."

The woman took a deep breath. Much like a professor who was sincerely done explaining the same thing yet another time for that one student who still doesn't get. "If you think I haven't picked up on your feelings regarding my intellect, you have missed something. However, what surprises me I must admit is that you seem to think I care one bit whether you think me the greatest genius or the biggest fool that ever walked this planet or the next. I don't know why I am still granting you this much of my breath."

She wasn't sure what made Catarina think any of her words had left even the slightest mark on her. Maybe she had misjudged her after all. It was possible Aïtana had given her more credit than was due.

"As for your offer... Hold me responsible if you can handle holding yourself responsible. If you wanna appear so brave, let's see what the judges say about our crimes." What gesture, word, or expression had caused Catarina to even think for a second she'd need her to not hold her accountable for her wrongdoings? How did this person think she'd even be tempted to let her off the hook if in return Catarina let her off the hook? She wasn't even on the damn hook!

Yes, she had made mistakes. As everyone else. And she was not seeking a mistake-free existence. But all her mistakes had been honest and she had done her best to repair what could be repaired. She had done her best to better herself. Her mistakes were not hidden, she hadn't run from them. She had dealt with them openly, had endured the public's roar and the possible social and legal consequences. What had Catarina done to make her trustworthy? What had she done that would allow Aïtana to trust even a single of her words? Why would someone like Aïtana ever consider sitting on the same level as someone like Catarina?

As Rhiannon ran through the corridor she pressed down forcefully onto her comms. It was to no avail. The communication was cut off. She could not talk to her wife. Please be unharmed. God, please be unharmed.

She rounded a corner and her heart began to race with happiness she hadn't know was in her. A massive amount of tension lifted off of her, she hadn't even noticed it before. "Lisa!" She was about to tackle-hug her wife when she noticed the red seeping into her sleeve from beneath where her hand was pressed against her arm. "You're bleeding!"

Lisa was talking so fast it took Rhiannon a fracture of a moment to catch up to her. "Wait - bombs?!" The next moment the hallway began to flash in red and blue lights. A female robotic voice began to announce the start of the experiment. Their portal was being powered up. Rhiannon's mouth dropped. She didn't know what else to do. Her body felt frozen in this moment as the voice echoed in the corridor. "Why are they starting it?", she whispered to herself. But she knew the answer, she just wasn't ready to face the consequences of such a stupid decision.

Lisa's face was painted with pure horror. Rhiannon's attention was averted towards the blood on her wife again. It'd have to wait. "Shut down the system. Evacuate." She repeated the words for herself, to spring her mind to action. Her body had not been frozen for more than a few seconds but in this situation, it had felt like valuable minutes had passed. She gave her wife a glance packed with love and sorrow and the pain of someone who was ready to lose the love of their life. Lisa would never leave her behind. And she would never leave the complex and save themselves. Neither would Rhiannon. Both of them knew this. And neither of them pretended for a second there was a chance to convince the other to not put their life on the line.

There was no kiss, there was no last 'I love you'. There was no long longing moment in slow-motion as they stared into each other's eyes and flashbacks of their love played in their heads. It was a fracture of a moment and it was hectic, loud, chaotic and Rhiannon had no time to even think about what could happen to her wife.

Rhiannon began to run once more, back to where she had come from. This time with Lisa by her side. "I'll try the lab. You check the power grid. If you can cut the power externally, it'll activate the emergency power which is not connected to the portal or the generator." How would they stop a bomb from exploding though? If the saboteurs opened up the generator and placed the bomb inside, the generator could explode even if it wasn't powered up. There was still a chance for it to happen.

Rhiannon pressed on her comms once more, trying to connect to someone she trusted on their team. But the comms were still out. As she turned to head to the lab she hoped Lisa would head straight to cut the main power. When she saw the doors to the laboratory closed, she feared she wouldn't be able to enter. But her keycard swiped and the little light led up green, she offered the sensors her eye and then her fingerprint and entered the code. Her heart was racing. This was taking too much time.

As she stumbled through the door once the security system permitted her entrance to the experiment chamber - also commonly known as the laboratory among the team - Rhiannon was greeted by one of the supervisors she had never seen before pinning her straight against the wall. "Good day, Mrs. Windsor", he greeted her unamused. "I am afraid your clearance has been revoked for an undetermined amount of time."

Rhiannon struggled against him but her shock was shown on her face and the man was clearly stronger than her. "This is treason!"

The supervisor laughed into her face. "Mrs. Windsor, I understand you don't have the full scope to see what is at stake here. Scientists are always looking down their noses so much, they miss what's around them." Rhiannon's eyes found the head supervisor lying on the floor. He was unconscious. His head showed a bleeding wound. His hands and feet were tied together. Anger rose inside of her.

"Do you understand what you are doing? We are all going to die! You are blowing up the entire facility! Radioactive material will be blown into the air these citizens breathe! Are you aware of that?!" She was screaming into his face. Her hands were trying to dig into his skin, scratch at him, pull on his fingers. Anything to make him loosen his grip. But he wouldn't budge. He had been chosen for this job in particular, she was certain. To hold them off. To guard the door. His body was way too close to her. She drew up her knee between his legs but only screamed in pain.

He only grinned at her, holding her upright as she buckled over in pain. The feeling rang through her bones. She wore some kind of metal protection around his crotch. Her knee was burning with pain. Rhiannon screamed and began to claw at his face but he simply readjusted his grip on her. As though she weighed nothing more than a rag doll, he threw her onto the ground and positioned himself on top of her, so she couldn't move her legs or her arms.

Her eyes darted around the room for someone who could power down the system instead of her or for something else. But she couldn't move in this position and her limbs were beginning to feel the shortage of blood flow in them. They will be guarding the main power, too. Lisa will not get through. What do I do? What do I do? The fact was, she didn't know what to do. She wasn't equipped for such a situation. She had run straight into this man and let him take her down with ease. But Lisa won't. She's much smarter than this. Smarten than you. The lab had a power system that could power down the portal as well as the generator if you had the clearance and the codes. It was for safety measures. But in case of emergency, the power could always be cut from the power room where one had access to the entire power grid. If the main power was cut down, all systems would power down automatically and the emergency power would spring on. The safety protocol demanded that the emergency power would not be connected to the portal or the generator. If Lisa could cut the main power... How did I just fail her this badly? As a theoretical physicist, I should have been smarter than this. And then another thought crossed her mind: Why haven't they shot me yet?

She once more took a look around. There were maybe five of them. Only one seemed to carry a gun. They couldn't risk being exposed before they had the facility under their control. They were too close to the real external supervisors. If one of them had spotted them wearing weapons, they'd have locked the facility down immediately. One guy, that's a risk they took. But not all of them. Rhiannon didn't know a big deal about guns but she knew they ran out of bullets. They're saving ammunition for when they need it. If she could only somehow make them waste their bullets and free herself from the man's weight on her body... Maybe she could still fight her way to the controls and power down the system in time...

This is the moment I'd like you to come blazing in with smoking guns, darling. If her bet was between her or Lisa firing a gun with accuracy, she'd bet on her wife any day.

Would you believe that? That maniac was laughing. But of course! If someone had something to laugh about in this situation, Aïtana would assume it'd be Catarina. Her facial expression slipped into one that clearly read 'you serious?' but would not offer the belief that she'd be phased much by it.

Throw at me what you like. As much Aïtana had wanted for Catarina to just slap her, scream at her, threaten her with torture and get the cruel waiting phase over with, the woman was smarter than to think she could crack Aïtana with such standard villainous behavior. Instead, Catarina indulged herself in mimicking Aïtana's way of conversation. She stayed calm, slightly amused. She threw jabs at her, called her boring, tried to insult her with meaningless words. Catarina played the game Aïtana had raised between them. She could recognize and respect that. Catarina let Aïtana decide how to go about it, in this moment at least, and gave her that bit of control. She was smart. She showed Aïtana just how helpless her situation was. Not by force and not by threads. By flirtation.

If Catarina wanted to call her darling, so be it. It boiled Aïtana's blood a little but she was far from letting that affect her. The first anger rose and then lifted as she cleared her head. It's just a word and it has no meaning in her mouth. She means to take a rise out of me. She thinks she found something that pokes at me and so she uses it to show her dominance. Pathetic, but fits her style just fine.

As Catarina walked behind her and touched her scarred cheek, Aïtana's head drove to the side a small fraction. It was the automatic response of her body. The wall that screamed DO NOT TOUCH. However tiny and miniature her movement had been, she knew immediately that Catarina had noticed it. You didn't go to play such a game of touch to then miss the one reaction you were looking for. Aïtana could scream at herself for that failure. With Catarina's arm around her neck and her chin on her shoulder, it took a lot within Aïtana to not move away as much as possible. She equally waited and feared for that moment that their cheeks would brush and she would be forced to feel Catarina's skin against her scarred one. But the moment didn't come. Instead, Catarina made a show of running her hand over the same spot again. This time Aïtana didn't flinch. But she felt the familiar acid in her stomach crawling up her throat. That swirling sensation inside her belly that made her feel like throwing up.

The world tipped and with a way too soft thud Aïtana landed with her back to the floor. "Uff!" The coalition tensed up her back muscles and she felt how the back of the chair dug into her bones and skin uncomfortably. She would have muscle pain for days after this. The fancy carpet helped. Her first bitter thought was to spit on the carpet again. But that would make her seem childish and unresourceful. It'd be a little 'fuck you' but nothing more.

So Aïtana looked Catarina into the eyes with apathy as she continued to romance her with words. The assumption on Catarina's part about Aïtana's reading happens amused her but she would not let a stray comment like that reveal any emotions on her face. And she would certainly not counterbalance Catarina to her liking. This weak attempt to gain information on her, however small, would not rouse Aïtana to share a single word.

And what was this bit about books? Way to redirect a conversation. Was she supposed to be impressed? Did little Catarina want a pet on the head for having a signed edition of some romance novel? How ridiculous.

Catarina's words finally found their end with a question. One that could've meant to challenge Aïtana. But it was to no avail. "Is this villain's tactics 101? Is this the beginning of a corruption arc or are you trying to get me to save you - you know, deep deep inside?" She let the words sit for a moment, unsure why sarcasm was still her go-to. Catarina would just feast on it.

"You and I are alike. We are alike in the sense that we both choose our actions ourselves and are to blame for them. But those actions surely look different. I never called you a monster, Catarina. Monsters are tale-bound mystical creatures that come out after dark. You're just a human. You're responsible for your actions." If she was looking for a heart-to-heart about the painful mistakes in Aïtana's past, she was bound to wait for eternity.
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