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Old 12-01-2016, 05:52 PM
DarkAngel DarkAngel is offline

Priestess of the Moon
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Join Date: Sep 2010
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BattleTag: Samael#1487

Orb of Slow Dispatch #37

Hey, now. I was most of the way to having this ready by the time you posted! It's got some weld lines, but it had to get out the door ASAP.

* * * * * * *
Personal log, November Terra:
I’ve done many things as a Ghost. I’ve infiltrated the highest security in Terran space. I’ve assassinated senators, scientists, and corporate executives. I’ve even rescued children. But I never—not even once—imagined I’d be standing watch over a sleeping Spectre. With time at seventy-one hours, I’m doing exactly that.

I have half a mind to kill her while I have the chance—but she’s also proven herself. She could very well turn around and waste me, but I don’t think she will. Not for a while yet. She’s here for a reason—a bullshit reason—but one that’s at least half true. Besides, if she wanted me dead, I would be. She wants something; what I still don’t know.

That healthy skepticism is why I only gave myself four hours down. I was deliberately slow to kill the alarm, making it look like a sleep-shrug. I was apparently just in time to hear Blood-breath try talking to Tybi. “Care for some breakfast?” she asked. “No? You’ve got to be hungry by now.” I held still. My position would be much better if I could read the situation before she knew.

“Not from you.”
“My rats are perfectly safe. I’ll take the first bite if you want.”

“Not from you!” my younger self repeated.
Blood-breath was nonplussed. “Well, then. Miss Sunshine can keep it bottled up until she explodes. I should warn you.”

“Shut up! You’re worse than she is!”
“Am I? I’d say I’m just further along. Someday, she’s going to be me—and I guess you are too.”

“No! Just stop it!” She sounded on the verge of tears.
I rolled over. “That’s enough. Leave her alone.”

If nothing else, it switched her attention. “Ah, so you are awake. I was starting to wonder. Ghost discipline doesn’t allow sleeping in.”

I sat up, holding her gaze while Tybi scurried back to her hiding place. “No. It doesn’t. No fraternizing with outsiders, either. I assume Spectres kept that one too.”

“A rule you had the habit of breaking,” she added.
I glared. “You would know.”

She glared right back. “Indeed I would.”
I stood up, crossing my arms as I walked over. “You wanted to talk. What is it?”

“Always to the point, Nova. As I said, I’m here to protect you.” Her smirk was all the more infuriating because it was mine.

“Protect me from what? I’m a damn Ghost—the best Ghost. What could I possibly need to be protected from?”

The look she gave me was piercing, like I was looking into my own soul. “Yourself.”

It was enough to make me hesitate. “Myself? I need to be protected from myself?”

“You do. You may be the best Ghost there is, but you’re not perfect. You make mistakes; you break the rules. All Ghosts do. That’s what they got wrong.” Her fingers absently drew a terrazine canister from her belt. “The Ghost Program tries to create machines, but the Ghosts are still human. You hunger desperately for human connection, but you can’t have any.” She raised the canister to her lips and took a drag. “The job doesn’t allow it. So you start making exceptions—that’s how you live with yourself. Oh, I let him live because he smiled at me while I was under cover. I let her slip away because she reminded me of someone I’ve been made to forget.” She looked right at me. “I helped that little girl because I was symbolically helping myself. You love to do that one.”

I glared again. “Your point?”
She matched me. “My point is that hunger can make you do stupid, self-destructive things.”

“Like inhaling terrazine?”
“Yes.” She gave me that piercing look again. It wasn’t angry or condescending. She was just stating the facts. And that’s what made it so damn scary.

“Are you seriously telling me my humanity is what makes me into a blood-sucking monster? How is that even possible?”

She looked down. “In a word, Tosh.”
I snorted. “If I see that bastard again, he’s going to get a hole in his head.”

Blood-breath looked up again. “Yeah? I think you’ll find terrazine has a way of undoing brain-panning. Someday, you’re going to remember your history—and how you felt about him.”

“Felt about him? The very thought of that monster makes me sick! What could possibly get us back together?” I only later realized I’d tipped my hand about remembering.

Yet the Spectre didn’t notice my slip. She looked away. “Toom was dead. Mal was dead. We were both looking for a rebound—and there we were, both fully remembering the Academy.”

Suddenly, the pieces fit together. Meeting Tosh. Toom dead. Full memory. It all converged at one point: Ghenna Station. But that’s already in my past. “What happens to Mal?” I asked carefully.

Her fists clenched. “Hauler kills him—or Bennett—or whatever his name is. Happens right in front of you, too—and there’s nothing you can do about it. You should...prepare yourself.”

I gave her my best smirk. “I’ll prepare by killing him the moment we see each other again—if I ever get out of here.”

Blood-breath gave me that unsettlingly familiar smirk. “You’re me all right. Now do you see why I’m here? I can save you a hell of a lot of pain.” I said nothing, pretending to consider her offer—but she didn’t wait. “Think about it,” she said, standing up. “It’s my turn to get some shuteye, and I’m going to trust you not to disappear—or kill me.” Her eyes narrowed. “Remember, I found you once. I can find you again.” She pushed past me and made herself comfortable in exactly the place where I’d just taken my rest. The symbolism wasn’t lost on me. Needless to say, I won’t be racking out there again.

It’s been quiet for an hour now. From her breath, my Spectre self appears to be asleep, but I’m still on guard. Lulling an opponent into complacency is what I would do, and...she is me in a way. But she isn’t me. Not really. She’s some twisted version from an alternate reality. My Mal is very much alive—for which I should be thankful. Without him, I’d be one of them, massacring my way across the sector.

She’s right about one part, though. I could’ve been saved a lot of pain if I’d known what was up ahead, and it’s not too late for the other copy of myself in this room. Tybi, however, wasn’t much more interested in conversation with me than with Blood-breath. In fact, she deliberately faced the other way while she ate. I may have to make talk a condition of these hand-outs. As it stands, feeding two is burning through my rats at almost double. Some in situ resource acquisition may be in order. Nova out.

* * * * * * *
It's kind of ironic, but I've had a copy of Spectres sitting next to me for almost a year now. I can't bring myself to open it for fear of contaminating my Nova with the official one.

Still, I was pleased by what Mickey did with her in the comic -- that she on some level acknowledges the evil of her occupation. He suggested an idea that might get used in a few more posts...
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