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Posted on Mon May 10th, 2021 @ 6:45pm by Lieutenant Commander Shylow Vitari

Eyes sealed shut against the afterimage she still saw it. The bodies strewn across the floor, shattered in a cordite haze that hung off her like summer mist, waiting for a breeze that wouldn’t come. It wasn’t real, she knew it. Just another scene from a book, written into stone too many worlds away. But here she was again, like a puzzle of the past. A broken mirror that she cut herself upon each time the image shifted. Maybe it would destroy her, drive her mad. Maybe it would set her free.

The paced metronome of her footfalls echoed, metered off the reinforced concrete floor like the dull hounding of unforgotten names buried too deeply to be lost. Unseeing eyes of those lining the halls in mixed states of carnage and horror stared at her, the self inflicted accusation cast across her in a web seeking to tangle her path. She passed through unimpeded; a wraith stalking the dead hallways of her personal crypt.

But for the hiss of overcharged energy cells, the last remnants of a lunge towards salvation, all else was silent around her. The threat of a voice carried within the space, a baited breath waiting to be screamed from empty lungs as one hallway bled into another. Each corner offered the chance for a different path, a change, an escape. But there were no choices.

Nothing but a straight line. The illusion only came afterwards, when she asked ‘Why me?’ and ‘What if?’ When she looked back to see the branches, like a pruned bonsai tree, or forked lightning. In the end, if something had been done differently, it wouldn’t have been her, it would have been someone else looking back, making a different set of choices. It would have been someone else retracing the worn path, each bloodied footstep marking her passage before staining it in time.

The walls bore energy soaked gouges as she got closer, pockmarked impacts of hurried projectiles and explosives like the scars she had already healed, the deep written genes not letting the world leave its surface marring upon the featureless expanse of her skin as she almost ached to reach out and touch the still cooling impacts, an arsenals might unleashed to feel the fire only moments gone.

The slow unlidding of her eyes revealed the depth of her dislocation, a blank stare of black into black barely settled into the straddle of each step, measured with feline precision between the gradually desiccating remains of security, scientist and warden alike; in the end rank and position had meant nothing.

The distance of her destination folded in upon itself in foreordained conclusion.The past was like a gaping hole. She tried to run from it, but the more she ran, the deeper, more terrible it grew behind her, its edges yawning at her heels. Her only chance was to turn around and face it. But it was like looking down into her own grave, kissing the mouth of a gun, a bullet trembling in its dark nest.

The exhalation of purpose escaped from her in a soft rush as she stared into that last portal. Within the near endless loop of sharp corners, their uniform design just another part of that maze, another illusion but she had counted with clarity, knowing each step and counted down to one; that one that stood before the final door. It’s once reinforced, plated steel useless as it hung limp open like a puppet without strings. She knew with certainty what she would find. The automation of her body stepped forward without hesitation, demanding of her that terminal movement beyond her ability to resist, the weight of the past, of living memory insurmountably pushing her onward.

The faint sparking of failed escape and burnt out conduits behind her, she stared into the mirror of herself; long inky hair resting upon unclothed thighs, head bowed in shadow, arms bound still to the wall above her, the pant of exhaustion wracking her frame, hinging upon that release of unrestrained rage and terrible purpose, the teardrops of ruby fell to the floor joining their like in a crimson pool, two fine rivers across her cheeks from the black iris’ of too aware gaze as it lifted to met herself.

The scream died on her lips before it began - an echo in the night lost in its formation - as Vitari snapped awake. Her obsidian eyes wide, almost unseeing while she panted, tight fingers slowly unfurling with the imprint of her nails leaving droplets of forgotten pain upon the sheets, her coiled tension escaped into a slowed breath.

The soft hum of distant thoughts caressed her mind, crew of the ship screaming their inner monologues into the void before she caught up with herself. The walls sliding around her thoughts like charcoal panted silhouettes in the dark, until she let herself slump slowly, the raven curtain of her hair flowing into a cave around her head as she sat there for a few moments longer.

Eventually she sighed, the quietest sound echoing in the silence as she surveyed the sparse attachments she had accumulated around her, curious and memorability - they stared back at her unjudging and uncaring until she lowered her gaze, the scars latticed over her skin long since healed into memory as she slowly flexed.

A soft chime echoed from her PaDD, shattering what might have become a small revierve and she stood with a nod, the evenings sleep set aside for the days tasks while her room illuminated into soft light around her.


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