“Maria? Are you okay? How did we get here?” Niarith was asking rapid fire questions and Lucia had no idea how to answer them. So she simply said…
Niarith went quiet. “Ah. She used my body again, didn’t she?”
Lucia sighed “Not… quite. You know how she… entered the ship, during our confrontation with her, back uhm… home?”
Niarith nodded, Lolanene had appeared next to her at some point.
“Part of her is… still in the ship. Has been since then. And so… the ship is… connected to her, to you. She can fly it remotely. She smashed it into the FIC ship, got us out, and then destroyed it.” Lucia finished her nervous, confused explanation with a small nervous giggle.
“She did WHAT?! She.. destroyed the.. I… The FIC… I.. SHE DID WHAT?!” Niarith had grabbed Lucia by the shoulders, shaking her manically. “We need to get out of here, oh fuck we need to go. We need to go right now right the FUCK now!” She immediately sprinted off down the hall to the cockpit, leaving Lucia and Lolanene behind in the airlock.
“So uh, ya could’ve explained that a lil better, huh?” Lolanene was leaning against the wall in her usual pose, her hair over one eye.
“What do you mean? I just told her what happened! How else could I have explained it that would’ve gone better?” Lucia found herself irrationally angry for reasons she didn’t quite understand.
Lolanene stood up and walked up to Lucia, into her personal space. She looked up at her, making eye contact. “Ya could have told her ‘bout the way Mirideth talked to ya. The shit she said, the way you responded. Do you even remember that part?”
Lucia just stared. Before she could say anything more the ship shuddered so hard Lucia ended up on top of Lolanene on the floor of the airlock. Lucia found herself surprised at how soft Lolanene was, just before Lolanene wheezed out “Please… get off’a me.”
Lucia quickly pushed herself off of Lolanene and stood up, offering a hand to her fallen companion. Lolanene took it, and the two made their way to the cockpit.
Niarith was frantically pressing buttons and switches as the ship accelerated using the LightDrive. “Nia, why are you so freaked out?”
She didn’t turn from her work. “Because Mirideth just got us in SO much more trouble. She killed at least 20 more cops, and destroyed FIC property.”
Niarith’s eyes glowed briefly “I also got the rations you needed by using the ship’s external PA system to demand the store clerk load them onto the ship or I’d burn the village.”
Niarith shook her head vigorously and said “You say that like you just went down to the store for some milk, you fucking monster!”
Lolanene was leaning on the doorway to the cockpit, her hand over her face. “How is it that this is th’ least traumatic situation I’ve been in with y’all?”
Lucia turned to her “Because our lives have become nothing but one long traumatic event?”
“Y’know what, fair enough. I’m gonna go lay down. See y’all later.” She pushed off the doorway and wandered off into the living area.
Lucia turned back to Niarith. She was breathing heavily, frantically pressing buttons. Lucia stepped closer and placed a hand on her shoulder. “Nia… It’s okay. We’ll get out of this. We can leave FIC space, right?”
Niarith sighed “That won’t be easy. The Federal Interplanetary Commission is the largest space nation in existence. They control most of the Carina-Saggitarius arm, as well as a sizable portion of Scutum-Centaurus.”
Lucia stared blankly. “...The what?” Niarith opened her mouth and Lucia continued before she could speak “I’m sorry the centaur’s what?”
“They’re the names of the galaxy’s spiral arms, Maria.”
Lucia paused for a moment, confused. “Why do you keep calling me that?”
Niarith paused, her hands hovering over the controls, before placing them down on the pilot seat and turning to face Lucia. “...What do you mean? That’s… your name..?” Her expression was one of concern.
Lucia only grew more confused. “I… no. It’s not. Maybe it used to be but it’s not. I’m not that person anymore. I know I told you about it but that doesn’t give you the right to just-”
“What are you talking about? You told me to start calling you by that name! Are you okay? Did… did something happen?” Niarith stood up and placed her hands on Lucia’s shoulders.
“I…” She shoved Niarith’s hands off of her “my name is Lucia. Maria’s dead. She’s been dead for a long time. I’m not an innocent little girl anymore. I’m a hardened killer. I like killing, Niarith. I love it. It’s who I am.”
Niarith just stared, not comprehending.
“I’m a murderer, a terrorist, an assassin. You knew that. You knew that when we got together. Accept it, or don’t. The choice is yours.” She turned to leave the room.
“Lucia. Stop. Right now. You are not going to just walk away from me after that.” She turned back, Niarith looked furious. “If you want me to call you Lucia, fine. I will. But I will not let you just backpedal on all the progress you’ve made. You’re better than that. And you know it. I don’t know what’s gotten into you or why, but it stops. Right now. You’re not some heartless monster, Lucia. You’re a kind, caring person, who’s been through horrible things no one ever should go through.” She stepped closer to Lucia, her expression softening. “Listen to me, honey, please.”
Lucia’s head felt weird and fuzzy, it was hard to focus. She knew what this sort of feeling meant by now. Someone had fucked with her mind. “Something happened.” she said “Something… I woke up on my knees in the airlock. Mirideth told me I’d woken up once before, but passed out again. I’m… not sure she was telling the truth.”
Niarith rolled her eyes “Now there’s a surprise. But yes, do you think she did something to you?”
Lucia nodded. “I think so. I remember… the lights getting bright, teal mist… I… I don’t know.”
“It’s okay, honey. It’s okay. We know now. We can fix it. It’ll be okay.” Niarith hugged Lucia tightly, she returned it.
After a few moments, the hug ended, and they both stood there, unsure what came next.
“So… what do we do now?” Lucia asked
“I’ve set a course for as far as our currently loaded fuel will take us. When we get there, I’ll get on the VRnet, and set up a post soliciting our services. If we get a job, we can get paid, and that will get us more food, more equipment, more fuel. It’ll take us a long time to get out of FIC space, into the Perseus arm, but if we’re careful, we’ll make it.”
Lucia considered that for a moment, then asked “How long, exactly?”
Niarith grimaced, sucked in a breath and said “A few years, probably. Space is big, Luci. Real big. But we can do it. We will do it. Together.” And reached out and took Lucia’s hand.
Lucia leaned down and kissed her. “Together.”