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10/18/2017 11:23:45 PM

REEF MOB, Ch. 80: Ia Adrift

If you missed the last chapter of REEF MOB, you can find it [url=]here[/url], or if you need to find a previous chapter, you can find them all in the [url=]Table of Contents[/url]. Please give a bump or leave a comment if you enjoy this and any other chapter! ***  The floating debris almost looks familiar as I drift through the broken cell wall and out into the void – the echoes of gunfire, cheers and commentators screaming my name reverberate through my mind – [i]Focus![/i] the voice inside commands imperiously. [i]Find something you can grab on to![/i] I twist my body with effort as I reach for the debris, desperately clawing at anything to slow my momentum – but each piece slips through my gloved fingers – A growing sense of panic threatens to suffocate me – without thinking, my hand reaches instinctively for my vaporizer beneath my armor – [i]LEAVE IT![/i] the voice inside barks. [i]GRAB SOMETHING!!![/i] I struggle to obey, but every piece of flotsam and jetsam in the vacuum eludes me – within moments, I feel the sea of debris dissipating, leaving only the yawning, infinite nothingness beyond – [i]No![/i] I growl inside, struggling to think of something, to do something to change my fate – But with a last gasp of effort, my hands part the dust at the edge of the debris field, and then there’s nothing as I feel myself drift further out into space… [i]whatdoido, whatdoido, whatdoido –[/i] Panic grips my insides as I feel my chest begin compressing, my lungs working overtime as I hyperventilate in fear – [i]imgonnadie, imgonnadie, imgonna –[/i] I wait for the voice to comfort me, to provide a clue, to give me encouragement that this isn’t the end – but the voice is silent once again. [i]dontdothistome – ether ether –[/i] My mind races, everything screaming in unison – Instinctively, I curl myself into a ball as I float along, shivering as the cold leaks through my suit, as the first tendrils of hopelessness wrap themselves around my heart – [i]The bloodstained child struggled against the monster, but was helpless to save herself, helpless to change her lot in life, helpless to change her destiny…[/i] The memory burns in my mind so intensely it feels as if my brain’s on fire – in the fog of forgetting I’ve experienced for as long as I can remember, it feels like this memory, this moment, has always been with me – not the happy times with Mother, not the times with friends I know I must have had – none of the memories of peace or contentment or joy. The only memory that’s stayed with me is one of suffering. Why? Am I meant to only know suffering? Why can I only remember pain? Why is fighting such darkness all that comes to mind when I think of who I am? [i]Because it’s the only thing that conquers hopelessness[/i], the voice inside me finally whispers. [i]It’s who you are, who you’ve always been. There’s only one thing you can do, even now, when all hope seems lost….[/i] And I know without asking what that one thing is: [i]Fight.[/i] I push all my compulsions and concerns from my mind. [i]The Reef is full of asteroids,[/i] I calm myself with. [i]I just need to drift into proximity with one, and can use it to –[/i] But as I look around, I see the closest asteroids would take hours, if not a day to reach. [i]Air won’t last that long[/i], I think glumly. [i]If I can maybe create a puncture in my suit, I could use the pressurized air to accelerate toward one of the asteroids… Depleting my air supply and putting me back at square one. Shit.[/i] I grit my teeth and fume silently, mind racing as it runs through plan after plan, dismissing each one. [i]Fight![/i] the voice inside commands again, but this time there’s a sense of calm I meet it with. [i]But I can’t fight forever, can I?[/i] I answer, remembering being held down by Taniks, remembering the suffocating inevitability of Kaliks Prime. [i]No one can. Then the only alternative is death,[/i] the voice responds. I begin to answer my standard response, but it sticks in my throat. [i]You’re right.[/i] [i]No,[/i] the voice answers sadly. [i]I was wrong. I chose wrong. Chose? What do you mean chose –[/i] But before I can even finish my thought, I feel something grab me – instinctively struggling against it, I fight as I feel it pull me forward – turning to see where it’s leading me, I feel my mouth drop open: The Volition is pulling me in. Tilting my head back to see what’s gripping me, I see the grim expression of Callas through his helmet. “Holy….shit….” I gasp out in honest astonishment. “I’ve got you,” is all he mouths silently. [i]Maybe I can’t fight forever, but maybe I’ve still got enough luck to keep going.[/i] The voice doesn’t answer. Callas pulls me into the airlock and slams the door behind us – the chamber pressurizes, and with a gasp of relief I remove my helmet, heart still working double-time. “Where in the hell did you come from?” I ask incredulously. “Ran into some friends on the way back,” he answers. “They jumped at the chance to help us get you.” He opens the door and I turn to look into the twinkling gaze of Rafe Sin. Before he can get a word out, my fist is already connecting with his teeth. Stumbling back, he holds in the blood pouring from his mouth as the Verge behind him rush forward, brandishing their weapons. “Stop!” he commands, spitting blood onto the deck. “You’re cleaning that up,” I snarl. Rafe simply laughs. “You never change, do you? And here I actually expected some gratitude.” I narrow my eyes at him as the crew Mother gave me emerge. “They were already out searching for you,” Callas tells me quietly. “Looking to get your prize fighter back?” I sneer at Rafe. “Oh, come on, you loved the arena!” Rafe protests. “You gonna blame me for your habit, too?” “You exploited me!” “And what was the alternative?! You go around murdering Eliksni? How quickly would that get back to the rest of them? You think they’d just look the other way while the Mob harbored a murderer?” I pause, scowling as I consider his words. “So….so what? There’s more Fallen coming?” Rafe nods seriously. “A lot more. That’s why we knew we could come looking for you. The rest of the Mob’s wrapped up with their little scheme, too distracted to keep looking for us.” [i]Scheme?[/i] I think, but ask instead “Why would they come after you?” “One, because I know too much; and two, because we won’t work with Skolas.” “Skolas? What’s he got to do with this?” “It’s all the Reef thinks it wants right now. So he’s the perfect distraction to keep Vesta occupied while Seren makes her move.” “What are you talking about? I haven’t even been gone a day – “ “This has all been in motion far longer than you could realize,” Rafe answers. “I wondered how much Seren would tell you…” “Tell me what? What’s Mother doing – “ “Mother?” Rafe asks, a look of confusion replaced instantly with a look of contempt. “So that’s what she told you. I wondered what her angle was going to be. Even for her, though, that’s devious.” “What do you mean?” “Seren’s not your mother, Ia.” “My name is Mariel…” “She’s using you to do the work she doesn’t want to dirty her own hands with.” “You’re lying,” I answer immediately, ignoring the cold sweat sticking my suit to my skin. “Usually,” Rafe contends. “But ask yourself this: why would any mother send their newly-reunited daughter directly into a battle? Directly into the Prison of Elders itself to fight one of the most dangerous beings we’ve ever encountered?” I swallow the lump in my throat down before answering. “Because she….she knows I wanted to prove myself….” “Prove what? That you were a worthy daughter? What kind of mother would that make her?” “What do you care?!” I snap back. Rafe sighs deeply, seemingly holding something back. [i]What’s his angle?[/i] I think bitterly, remembering the feeling as he waved the ether in front of my face, knowing he had me firmly in the palm of his hand – “Because I have to,” he answers soberly, and I sense another dimension to the seediest and shadiest man in the Reef. “Hard as it may be for you to believe, I don’t want our home taken over by the Fallen. I don’t want any more war. I just want freedom, and will do anything and everything to get it. If that works for you, we can work together fine. Or I can just as easily put you back where I found you.” I sneer again, wondering how many times he’s delivered ultimatums like this. [i]Wily bastard,[/i] I think as Rafe extends his hand knowingly. I slap it with a huff, but swallow the rest of my words. “Good,” he smiles broader. “Now we can deal with the real issue.” “And what’s that?” “Skolas. He’s finally been captured by the Guardians.” “So?” “So that’s the signal, you dolt,” Rafe answers. “Seren’s War has begun.”

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