The room Lucia found herself in was… unnatural. Dark, blue-grey walls of some kind odd leathery, padded material Lucia couldn’t identify patterned in various square shapes, indented at the edges. The walls slanted upward at the edges of the ceiling, which was made of the same material. The floor was a shiny metal of some kind, perhaps steel. In the corners were large glass cases containing strange hulking suits, the function of which Lucia could not discern. The only other thing of note was the large pentagonal opening through which Arana was stepping. “Wait! What’s going on!?” Lucia shouted after her, struggling to stand. As she made her way toward the opening, a large metal plate in the same shape as the opening rose up from the floor, blocking it. Lucia panicked a bit at that, wondering if she’d just escaped from one prison into another.
The room suddenly shuddered, as if shivering in a cold wind. Lucia felt a sensation of being pulled backward, then to the side, and then it abruptly stopped. All was still again. She sat down on the floor, next to the pentagonal plate, unsure what else to do. Several minutes later, the pentagonal panel opened again, sliding smoothly into the floor. Through the opening, stepped Arana, dressed in different clothing. Strange clothing. Tan with grey and teal accents, form fitting, but not skin-tight. She was wearing straps across her shoulders and torso, various pouches and items hung from the strap across her lower abdomen. On her hip she carried a strange metal object that was unfamiliar to Lucia. Her face was now visible, as she had no covering for her head. She had dark skin, dark eyes, and very short dark hair. Lucia found her to be quite beautiful. She spoke, her voice different than it had been, more professional. “Miss Lucia Carlena? I’m afraid I wasn’t entirely truthful about my identity. My real name is Niarith Velnazranak. I am not, as I’m sure you’ve guessed, from the Forsythe Rebellion. More can wait until later. Come with me please.” Lucia wanted to ask so many questions, but Niarith’s authoritative tone made her hold them for later. She followed her through the doorway.
The hallway Lucia was in looked very similar to the room she had just left, though obviously much narrower. It was at this point that Lucia’s body seemed to suddenly remember she was still nude. She became aware of how cold she was, how much her shoulder ached from where Niarith had thrown her, and the fear, the confusion, was beginning to come flooding back. You’re an assassin, she told herself You’re trained for situations with such high stress levels.You’re going to be fine. The fear faded, more of a dull ache than a sharp pain. Niarith directed her through another pentagonal doorway. Lucia stepped into a room much like the last, only with wooden panels along the midpoint of the walls, cutting off the strange padded material, which continued beyond the midpoint, up onto the ceiling and down to the bottom of the wall. A bed sat across from the door, a comfortable looking one with red, silky sheets. To the right of the bed was a wardrobe made of a solid material Lucia didn’t recognize. The lighting came from ceiling mounted objects, just as it had in the hallway and other room. The floor was soft, thick carpet.
“There’s clothing in the wardrobe, get dressed, and I’ll come collect you later, to answer your questions, and ask my own.” With that, Niarith turned and walked out of the room, the large metal door sliding up to close behind her. Lucia sat down on the red silk sheets of the bed, and promptly curled into a ball and cried. Her ordeal had been terrifying. The assassination attempt, the subsequent failure, her capture, the meddling Mirideth had done to her mind. It was more than she’d ever trained for, more than anyone could train for. The things she’d seen, the things that had been done to her, now that it was quiet, it was just too much to handle. She simply laid there for a while, she wasn’t sure how long. As her thoughts became quieter, and her fear calmed somewhat, she began to feel… strange. She had thoughts she couldn’t control, thoughts of pale skin, dark hair, glowing teal eyes, of fuzzy, pleasurable feelings in her head. She wanted to stop them, she wanted to think of anything else, but the thoughts seemed.. sticky somehow, immovable. Lucia began to wonder why she was trying to stop them, it felt good to think about Mirideth’s lovely, pale curves, her beautiful glowing eyes, her moist, black lips... Lucia was startled by the sound of the large metal door opening. She jumped up in sudden fear and turned to the doorway, the thoughts fading as she did.
“Miss Carlena? Why haven’t you dressed yet?” Niarith was standing in the doorway, still wearing her strange clothing, looking mildly annoyed. Lucia replied with a nervous stutter “I.. i-it’s been a rough day, alright? Give me some time to recover.” Niarith sighed irritatedly “We don’t have time. Get. Dressed.” She turned and left, the door sliding shut again behind her. Lucia groaned and held her head for a moment before standing and walking over to the wardrobe. She looked over the clothing on offer. Surprisingly, her assassin’s outfit was there, and she quickly dressed herself in it. It felt good to be back in her own clothes. She left the hood and mask off, figuring there wasn’t much need for it now.
She made her way over to the door, but upon reaching it realized she didn’t actually know how to open it. She stood there, looking at the door and the area around it. There was no handle, no knob, nothing remotely resembling a door opening mechanism of any kind. To Lucia it seemed like the door was simply a metal sheet with no discernable way to interact with it at all. Next to the door was a smooth, shiny black rectangle set into the wall. Lucia cautiously reached out and touched it. Nothing happened. She sighed in exasperation and went and sat in a metal chair near the door and waited.
She didn’t have to wait long, as the door hissed open only a minute or so later. “Ah, finally. Glad you noticed I retrieved your clothing. Wasn't easy, I'll say that. Come with me, Miss Carlena.” Lucia followed without responding, liking Niarith less every time they spoke. They stepped out into the actually rather short hallway, and made their way down to the other end, entering a door to the left of one at the end. Inside was a room that looked much like the hallway and the room Lucia had entered from. This one had a metal table with two metal chairs on opposite sides of it. One wall had a large metal plate over the wall, as opposed to the strange grey-blue material everywhere else. “Please sit, Miss Carlena.” Niarith said. Lucia did as she was told.
Niarith sat in the chair opposite her. She sighed. “Lucia Carlena. 28 years old, 185.42 cm, 82 kg, born in Thulen, trained as an assassin in Talar by the Forsyth Rebellion against Empress Mirideth Asazlaiyn. That is you, correct?” She gestured toward Lucia.
“Uh, yes. That’s me. How did you know all that?”
“No questions until I say so. What were you doing there? In Mirideth’s citadel?” Lucia wanted to protest, but the words died in her throat upon being told not to ask questions.
“I was part of a large militia of Forsythian rebels. Our orders were to enter the citadel, and make our way to the throne room. At that time, I was to leave the small group I entered with and get into position up on the rafters. We... lost most of our number before getting to the throne room. But it was expected we’d take heavy losses. The troops were a distraction, for me. So I could get in close and drop down on top of her while they held her attention.” A small amount of anger became audible in Lucia’s voice “But the men who were left... they were angry at their losses, they wanted to take her themselves. And so they tried it. And so they died. Instantly. No one is a match for Mirideth in open combat.” Niarith sat and watched Lucia as she spoke.
“Then what happened?”
Lucia hesitated, not wanting to recall the memories of what happened next. “I.. I was captured. Beaten. Violated.”
Lucia hesitated again. “Mentally. Mirideth... did things to my mind. Made me feel things, tell her things, do things. I couldn’t stop her, I was helpless. I tried to resist, Heavens I tried... I just.. I.. I just” Lucia broke into tears and couldn’t continue speaking.
Niarith watched, trying to remain professional, but her expression softened, and she reached out across the table, offering Lucia her hand, Lucia took it. “Hey, hey it’s okay. You don’t need to go on, not right now, okay? What Mirideth did to you, it wasn’t right. It wasn't okay. And no one should have to go through that.” Lucia looked up at Niarith as she spoke, tears streaming down her face. “With your help, no one ever will again. That’s why I’m here. To stop Mirideth. But to do that, I need your help.” Lucia stared in confusion.
“My assassination failed. I failed. I wasn’t good enough.”
Niarith gripped her hand more firmly and said “You failed, yes. But it wasn’t because you weren’t good enough. It wasn’t because she’s better than you. Mirideth just has an unfair advantage.”
“Her magic..” Lucia said quietly. Niarith looked concerned
“Yes... her.. magic. About that. I.. need to tell you something. Actually a lot of somethings.”
Niarith stood and walked over to the metal plate. Another shiny black rectangle was set into the wall next to it. Niarith reached into her strange bodysuit and pulled out a smaller rectangle with rounded edges, attached to the bodysuit with a cord. She pressed the smaller rectangle onto the shiny black one, and suddenly it lit up a bright green color, before fading. A loud, shrill noise came from the area near the black rectangle. After that came a loud noise of grinding metal, as the whole room shook rather violently. Niarith calmly put the smaller rectangle back into her suit and stood watching as the metal plate began to descend. What Lucia saw behind it shocked, confused, and scared her to her core.