Reflective of my headspace of late, I've taken to writing short excerpts for Glitch wip and [mostly] out of order bits for Oracle wip. I've also done some brainstorming for my Reaper wip and written odds and ends for wips that don't exist yet. Here's everything so far, in case you missed it.
in which there is a cyborg named sacha and a shapeshifter named cipher
[[ cw: cyborg slavery and related issues of agency ]]
.01 -- sacha’s jerked rudely and abruptly out of stasis, which immediately puts her on the alert because fitz may treat her like a thing, mostly, but he wakes her like he would anyone, with a nudge to the shoulder and not a zap to her temple port.
her eyes fly open and she’s met with a figure dressed in and masked by glitch-wear, which only heightens her alarm. her arm whirs as it calibrates, the pump in her heart picking up speed and filling her with adrenaline. she doesn’t swing immediately only because she doesn’t have enough intel on what’s happening to know if that’s the right move.
the stranger raises his hands palm outward in that universal sign that means ‘i’m harmless’ and also ‘don’t attack’.
well, she’ll see about both things.
“hey,” the stranger says. “you conscious?”
the stranger’s grin is bright in the dark. “great. fully functional?”
sacha keeps her face blank, but internally her wariness only heightens. “define fully,” she responds.
“you can move on your own? walk, run, sneak out of here? quietly?”
“and will you?” he asks.
clever, she thinks. sacha considers, and then discards, the idea that this is some weird trap to test if her contract’s been corrupted. no, this is something else. the stranger is thief or a saboteur or both, here to steal her away from fitz or to decommission her. fitz pissed someone off, or cost someone a lot of money. he’s pretty good at managing her fights, knows when to play the odds, when it’s in his best interest for her to lose, and has made sure she knows that half the point of her fights is the spectacle.
still, maybe he slipped up. maybe he got greedy, or stupid, or missed something. maybe someone’s ego was too big or their pocket too small for fitz’s calculations.
sacha doesn’t want to be decommissioned, so she answers carefully, but honestly. “my contract doesn’t let me leave the premises except for pre-authorized bout locations, and stipulates that i remain within three feet of—”
“—your owner while on route,” he finishes. “or to be more precise, you need to stay with three feet of the person who’s got your contract on them.” that same gleaming grin shines, and then the stranger holds up a small transparent square between his pointer and middle finger. to her eyes it gleams opalescent. she focuses her right pupil, and the circuitry shimmers into visibility, golden.
he’s got her contract.
“this is real old school,” the stranger says admiringly. “meant i had to steal it and couldn’t hack it remotely. so. you’re coming with me.”
thief, sacha thinks, as he rolls smoothly from his squat in front of her to his feet.
“you’ll follow me as quietly as you physically can,” he says. “or, well, you know. pain and all that.”
sacha stands, just as smoothly but not quite as silently, as her leg hisses and clicks at the shift. still, it’s not loud enough to be a problem. fitz doesn’t have augmented guards (or any guards) around the gym or any security that’ll be a problem for them. the contract was meant to be enough to keep her put, and there’s nothing else valuable here. all fitz’s security is to protect against damage to the place.
[[ cw: body modifications and manufactured/associated chronic pain ]]
.02 -- they get outside without issue, and then the stranger takes her on a long walk zigzagging through alleyways and across streetlinks, graceful and surefooted as a cat while she follows more heavily behind him. his glitchwear flashes like a corrupted, pixelated oil-slick constantly, which gives her a headache even when she limits her bionic eye to basic functionality.
against the backdrop of lights neon, fluorescent, and bioluminescent, and the roving, flashing, strobing, shining, flickering ads, he blends right in, making it impossible for cameras and sensors to track him, and difficult for the un-augmented human eye too.
still, sacha’s got formal training in following her assignments, and further informal training on tracking her assailants, and the stranger’s not trying to lose her, which makes it easier. plus, of course, he’s got her contract, and the chip sends little zaps up her spine when he moves too far ahead, spurring her after him in the right direction no matter what people or objects get between them, momentarily concealing him from view.
they walk for what her readout tells her is two and a half hours before he finally slows. they’re in an older, more rundown area, where there are fewer flashing ads and many more cables crisscrossing everything like tangled netting, sparking where their casing has worn or been chewed through. it’s darker here, and conversely the stranger is more visible until his glitchwear dims, no longer flaring in response to all the tech trying to read him.
he leads her to a shadowy corner where the edges of two buildings overlap and frame out a door, flipping open a keycode cover in the wall and pressing his fingertip into the pad. it beeps once, faintly, and the door grumbles open. he slips through. she follows him in and the door shuts solidly behind her.
she’s met with a small, windowless apartment, utterly crammed with stuff.
i. -- ❝ if i wasn’t mad before i certainly am now. i fell through a hole in reality that was like a hole in the world and when i came out the other side i was in the world of my mother’s books, the world of my childhood imaginings, only it was all real, or real enough that when i fell into a ditch, disoriented and panicking, i twisted my ankle so badly i almost passed out from the hurt of it.
i don’t think i’m mad enough to invent a pain that vivid. mad enough to invent a whole new reality though? maybe. ❞
ii. — ❝ she holds my face gently in her hands. her thumbs rest on the points of my cheekbones. “you’re an awful person,” she breathes. “i see you. i know you. you’re unworthy of life, of love, of me. of anything good. of any peace.”
she pauses. her eyes shift between mine. i can feel the pulse of her heart in her palms. “does it make you feel better, now that i’ve said it aloud?” she asks.
i shake my head minutely. i feel like i’m choking on air.
“i didn’t think it would,” she says, and her smile is cruel, condescending.
she tips forward, kisses me, a gentle press of her lips against mine. she doesn’t pull away, speaks with our skin touching, like she wants to make sure i feel her words as well as hear them. like they’ll sink in more permanently that way. engrave deeper. scar over.
“here’s the thing, sage, sweetheart,” she says, half a whisper. “i don’t care that you’re awful. i don’t care that you’re undeserving. i don’t care how corrupt your soul is. i don’t even really care how much a part of you doesn’t want this, because i know that part of you is full of shit, and it’s just louder than the part of you that wants this so bad you think it might kill you, or ruin you, or make you break. i’m choosing you anyway. i’m keeping you anyway. go ahead and try and run away.
i’ll never stop coming after you.” ❞
no one has ever thought i was worth it.
time isn’t a circle or a spiral. it’s an evergrowing web.
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