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Up Until Now (Octavia x Twilight - SciFi)

JeffMango Mar 20th, 2017 (edited) 250 Never
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  1. >You’re not sure if it’s the rattling of the ship as it materializes into real-space or the painful punch to your shoulder that wakes you up
  2. >But regardless, you roll out of bed and land on the floor in a groggy, tired heap
  3. >”Get up, nerd!  We need you to land the ship!”
  4. >You blink the sleep from your eyes, fumbling around for your glasses
  5. >It’s not like you need them, though; the imposing form of your squad’s commanding Gilda* is unmistakable even to someone heavily myopic
  7. *[All CDC military detachments are headed by a Gilda, to some extent.  Not because of their tactical prowess, of course, but because they’re just the best at bossing people around.  Usually it falls to Twilight science-officers, like yourself, to keep things in order.]
  9. “H-huh?”
  10. >”Hurry up, dude!  We’ve only got a weekend, and I’m not burning it waiting for you to get your shit in order!  Just get the ship onto the pad, okay?”
  11. “O-okay…”
  12. >You scurry to your feet, feeling your way half-blindly to the cockpit
  13. >The metal floor is freezing cold beneath your bare feet, and you find yourself bumping into and tripping over the random crates of ammo and surplus that cover the small military shuttle
  14. >”Hey!  Watch it, egghead!”
  15. >A couple of Rainbow soldiers* jeer at you, probably because you almost tripped over their pulse rifle**
  17. *[Dashes are the only ones loyal enough to the CDC as a whole to actually fight and die for it, and have the benefit of not belonging to a character-specific faction beforehand.  You think a Dash faction might have existed at one point, but they probably fought amongst themselves even more than the Trixies.]
  19. **[Yes, leaving a pulse rifle out in the hallway is a terrible, terrible idea.  But most Dashes don’t care.]
  21. “S-s-sorry…”
  22. >You duck your head, trying to focus on not bumping into anymore equipment as you slink into the pilot’s seat
  23. >Which, unfortunately, has two more sleeping Dashes in it
  24. >You think they might have been making out*, but it’s hard to tell when you can’t see further than two feet in front of your face
  26. *[Totally a normal thing in Dash culture.  It’s like how they say hello.  The closest Dash friends will even casually eat each other out, just as a quick “How you doin’ buddy?”]
  28. “Um, h-hey?”
  29. >They don’t respond
  30. “I k-k-kinda need to…”
  31. >One of the Dashes raises her head
  32. >”Beat it, egghead!  I’m kinda busy here!”
  33. >Okay, yeah, you’re *really* glad you can’t see what they’re doing
  34. >Awkwardly, you sit crosslegged on the floor while you fiddle with the ship’s controls
  35. >You can’t see them at all, but at this point it’s second-nature enough that you can do it purely by feel
  36. >Double-tap the comms button, switch on landing guidance, grant permission to the station’s AI…
  37. >All-in-all, the process takes less than thirty seconds
  38. >”That’s more like it.  Now get yourself dressed, ya fuckin’ dorkaccíno.  I’m not showing up to the Event Horizon* with you in your underwear!”
  40. *[It seems like all night clubs based on space stations come up with equally uncreative names.  You suppose this isn’t as bad as calling it “The Black Hole,” at least…]
  42. >Gilda shoves you back out of the cockpit, and you keep your head down and your eyes on the floor as you dart back to your room, maintaining as low a profile as possible
  45. >The ship glides smoothly down into one of the station’s various docking ports
  46. >All around you, a sealed enviroshield maintains a relatively stable environment, keeping you surrounded warm, breathable, and somewhat piss-scented air
  47. >Have you mentioned how much you hate these places?
  48. >Up ahead, nestled into the station’s central hub, the Event Horizon resembles a huge Buckminster Fulleresque dome of glass, pulsing with different-colored strobe lights and reverberating from the endless hammering of bass music
  49. >Your squad spends every single leave in a place like this and, no matter what you do, you can’t seem to get out of it
  50. >If you take the ship somewhere else, Gilda will kill you
  51. >And it’s not like there’s anywhere else to go on the station
  52. >Immediately, the Dashes of your squad sprint towards the club, shouting challenges and humiliating punishments for whoever throws up first tonight
  53. >Gilda bumps your shoulder as she strolls past
  54. >”C’mon, dorkarita.  What’s the hold-up?”
  55. “N-nothing.  Just…”
  56. >”What?”
  57. “N-n-n-nothing.”
  58. >”That’s what I thought.  Lighten up, man!  We’re on leave!”
  59. >She slaps your back
  60. >”Live it up a little, alright?”
  61. >She chuckles to herself, sprinting inside to join her squadmates
  62. >You stare after her, trying to process what the hell just happened
  63. >Was she trying to be genuine with you, or just messing with you?
  64. >With Gildas, it’s always hard to tell…
  66. >You walk towards the club slowly, suddenly aware of what an idiot you must look like
  67. >The Dashes all have various slutty getups* they can change into for events like this, and Gilda has a spiffy leather jacket, covered in her medals
  68. >But you’re just dressed in science-officer fatigues which, now that you look closely, have a little bit of spaghetti sauce splattered on the lapel
  69. >Great…
  70. >Hopefully it’ll be too dark to nice, you think to yourself as you step inside
  71. >Immediately, you’re assaulted by the sheer pulsating and screechingly-loud claustrophobia of the place
  73. https://soundcloud.com/vapor_profit/skeletone
  75. >The main dance floor is packed with girls from all over the multiverse, most of them dressed in little more than a bikini and various strings of glowing alien jewelry
  76. >Several dozen Dashes have formed a moshpit in the center of the room, bumping and jostling and grinding against each other as thundering synthwave threatens to bring the entire place crashing down
  77. >You duck away from the dance floor, trying to avoid bumping into anyone
  78. “S-sorry…” you mumble anytime your shoulder so much as brushes against someone else’s
  79. >Finally, you’re almost to the bar
  80. >Hopefully you can get some soda and just keep to yourself until the others are ready to find a motel room for the night
  81. >You’re just starting to relax — letting your guard down as well, unfortunately — when a hand closes over your shoulder
  82. >”Hey, cutie!  Haven’t seen you before!  Where ya goin’?”
  83. >A chubby Pinkie Pie, built vaguely like a girl from a Hip-Hop music-video, emerges from the crowd and boxes you in against the wall
  84. “Um, uh… j-just… w-want a drink…”
  85. >”That’s cool!  You wanna see my tits?”
  86. “W-what?  I…”
  87. >Before you can stammer anything out, she yanks her shirt up, baring plump, rounded breasts the size of your head
  88. “I, uh… u-uh…”
  89. >”You wanna touch them?”
  90. “I j-just want some M-Mountain Dew…”
  91. >The Pinkie grabs your hand, placing it right over one erect, rosy nipple
  92. >Her skin is hot and sweaty beneath your palm, letting you feel the fleshy quivering of her body as the music pulses through it
  93. >You’re gonna be sick
  94. >Pulling your arm away from Pinkie’s chest, you take off in a random direction
  95. >All around you, the lights, music, and endless throngs of dancing bodies seem to close in, making it feel like other people’s sweat is clogging up your nose
  96. >There’s dozen people in line outside the bathroom, so you sprint past it, taking a random doorway out of the dance hall
  97. >It leads into a winding, narrow hallway, which you make it about halfway down before you sink to your knees, gasping for air
  98. >You really should start actually working out…
  99. >The hallway is blessedly cool, allowing the sweat drenching your body to evaporate
  100. >You feel your heart-rate starting to slow back to regular after a few minutes, and make yourself stand up
  101. >Sound-dampening technology has reduced the music to just a background throbbing, leaving you with a wicked case of tinnitus
  102. >Unwilling to return to the dance floor, you decide to follow the hallway further
  103. >The walls are unadorned, and the space is lit only by faint purple light emanating from between the panels
  104. >After a few minutes of walking, you find yourself facing a sliding door, left slightly ajar
  105. >Peering inside, you find what looks like a storage room for musical equipment
  106. >Crates of cables, guitar cases, huge mixing consoles, PA systems, boxes of data-discs, and crates of traditional vinyl are piled up to the nearly ten-meter-high ceiling
  107. >The purple light is stronger here, provided by glowing bars of phosphorous lamps placed along the perimeter of the floor, and it’s even colder than out in the hall, probably to keep the equipment safe
  108. >In one corner, you notice a row of cots, probably for exhausted performers to nap in before or after their shows
  109. >Peering around, you step into the room and make your way towards one of the cots
  110. >Could be a good place to hide for a bit, you suppose
  111. >Just as you’re about to lay down, though, a steady voice behind you catches you off guard
  112. >”You shouldn’t be here.”
  113. “G-gah!”
  114. >Turning — and preparing your eyes to witness another topless Pinkie — you throw your hands up
  115. “S-s-sorry!  I didn’t know, I… w-who are you?”
  116. >The girl behind you doesn’t quite resemble any particular character you’ve met before
  117. >She’s perched daintily atop a metal crate, with a plexiglass cello resting against her shoulder
  118. >Her skin is a stately grey, complimenting inky-black hair in a stylish pompadour
  119. >Unlike nearly everyone else here, she’s full dressed, and in a full suit no less
  120. >She’s even got a tiny pink bowtie on
  121. >The girl regards you with calm, almost emotionless eyes
  122. >”Could ask you the same question, love.  Don’t seem to recall you getting a backstage pass.”
  123. “I d-didn’t know… I'm n-not sure where I am."
  124. >The girl shrugs
  125. >”Quite obvious.  Still… you don’t look like a troublemaker.  Not like those Rainbow-haired rapscallions from earlier.  Regardless…”
  126. >The girl crosses her legs, giving you a small bow
  127. >”My name is 8-TVIA.  I am the personal assistant to the Vinyl performing tonight.”
  128. “8… h-huh?  That’s an a-android name.”
  129. >”Perfectly aware of that.”
  130. “Oh.  I d-didn’t realize… you l-look so real.”
  131. >The android cocks her head
  132. “A-ah!  Sorry, I didn’t m-mean it like that.  Just, you… I d-d-didn’t realize you were an a-android.”
  133. >”I’ll do my best to take that as a compliment.  Can’t help but wonder what you expected, an extension chord sticking out of my rear end?”
  134. “N-no!  S-sorry, I didn’t… uh…”
  135. >You hang your head, stuffing your hands into the pockets of your fatigues
  136. >”It’s nothing to get upset about, now.”
  137. >She gets to her feet, crossing the room to get a closer look at you
  138. >”What’s gotten into you?  Looks like you’ve seen a ghost.”
  139. “H-heh… you’re not too far off…”
  140. >The girl turns, grabbing you by the hand and pulling you towards the other end of the room
  141. >”Well, come on, then.  We’ll get some tea into you.  Tea fixes everything, my mum used to say.”
  142. >She glances over her shoulder at you
  143. >”That’s a joke, love.”
  144. “Huh?  Oh!  Y-yeah, because… android… heh…”
  145. >”You, ah… don’t get out much, do you?”
  146. “N-not in the slightest.”
  147. >”Hah.  Well, me neither.  Us lonely sods gotta stick together, right?”
  148. >You honestly don’t know how to answer that
  149. >The girl sits you down by a makeshift table — just a single large crate surrounded by smaller ones acting as chairs — and disappears into the shadows between stacks of equipment
  150. >You wonder just how much space is actually in there…
  151. >When she emerges, she’s carrying a steaming kettle and a few hollowed-out glass bulbs to act as mugs
  152. >”Sorry, I know it’s not much.  But it’s better than the rat-poison they serve out there, I reckon.  Here you go…”
  153. >She pours you a bulb and passes it over
  154. >When you take it, trying not to drop it with your shaky hands, the warmth begins to seep through the thin glass almost immediately, traveling up your arms and to your chest
  155. >The tea itself is minty and slightly bitter, doing a lot to clean the taste of sweat and putrid air out of your mouth
  156. >You smile at the girl
  157. “Thanks, um… 8…”
  158. >”Just call me Octavia, love.  Or Tavi, if you’d prefer.”
  159. “Thanks, Tavi.”
  160. >”A Twilight who can loosen up a bit? That’s new.”
  161. “You’ve m-met other Twilights?”
  162. >”Loads. You lot are bloody everywhere.”
  163. “I g-guess that’s what we’re good at, heh…”
  164. >”And all with the stutter too. Is that just a thing they teach you to do?”
  165. “W-what? I dunno. It’s j-just kinda how we talk.”
  166. >You take another sip of tea
  167. “Are all the TVIA androids... I mean, are all the Octavias British?”
  168. >That actually seems to take Octavia by surprise, and she ponders it for a moment
  169. >”Uh… yes, actually. Good lord, what is it with this entire multiverse and our lack of creativity?”
  170. >You shrug
  171. “I g-guess infinite versions of the same person are gonna have the s-s-same ideas.”
  172. >”Reckon you’re right. But seriously, a little variety would be nice. Anyway…”
  173. >She gestures towards the hallway leading back to the dancefloor
  174. >”What’s a nice girl like you doing in a place like this anyway? If I had to guess, I’d imagine you were dragged here? Same as me?”
  175. “P-pretty much. I’m a s-science officer on a CDC Arbite* squad.”
  177. *[Basically the council’s paramilitary police. You’re usually called in to break up conflicts, provide some security for faction diplomats, or just for routine patrols of unruly realities.]
  179. >”Right, that explains the uniform. Wouldn’t have figured you a military girl, though.”
  180. “Y-yeah, I get that a lot.”
  181. >You hang your head, draining a few more gulps of the tea
  182. >The more you drink, the more you like it, and you’re grateful that the kettle’s still mostly full
  183. >Octavia seems to have the same idea, and pours both of you more
  184. “What about y-you? You said you were with a V-Vinyl?”
  185. >”Yeah.  They keep us around as assistants.  Good thing too, because half the time, they’re too coked out of their mind to do anything but blast music and headbang.  So I handle just about everything else: booking shows, payment, travel, whatever she needs.  Makes me feel like bloody C3PO sometimes, though…”
  186. >Octavia catches the look you’re giving her
  187. >”What?”
  188. “I w-wasn’t expecting the Star Wars r-reference.”
  189. >”You weren’t?  Christ, love, just because I’m a robot doesn’t mean I’m some cultural void.  Quite the opposite, in fact.”
  190. >Her leg-crossing intensifies
  191. >”Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one with a shred of dignity around here.  Other times I *know* I am.”
  192. “H-heh.”
  193. >”You actually laughed that time.  I’m starting to I like you.”
  194. >Even though you know she’s just messing with you, that’s the first time you can remember anyone saying something so nice to you
  195. >You pause with the bulb full of tea halfway to your mouth, staring at her
  196. >”Um… you alright, love?”
  197. “Y-yeah!  Fine.  T-thanks.  I’m starting to l-l-like you too.”
  198. >”Hah.  Well, blast my bolts, you’re just the nicest thing to happen to this place.”
  199. >Octavia finishes her tea, setting the empty bulb down
  200. >”You know, speaking of which… you fancy getting out of here?”
  201. “O-out?”
  202. >”Out.  Not for long, of course.  My Vinyl will be calling me back to take her to her hotel room before too long.”
  203. “R-right, yeah.  And my squad will p-probably want me for the s-same thing.”
  204. >”So, I reckon it’s best we make the most of our time while we can, wouldn’t you agree?”
  205. >She stands, extending a hand to you once again
  206. >”So come with me.  There’s something I want to show you.”
  208. >You take Octavia’s hand, and she pulls you to your feet
  209. >Now that you’re no longer freaking out, you’re able to notice the subtle, uncanny hints in her movements that give her away as an android
  210. >She hides it well, though; as she leads you deeper into the club, she carries herself with a calm, though slightly stiff grace
  211. >Her hand is the most obvious giveaway, though
  212. >Instead of the rough, sweaty warmth of a human hand, Octavia’s palms are smooth and cool to the touch
  213. >There’s something refreshing about that, though
  214. >It’s a gentle, clean feeling, holding her hand
  215. >”Hello, multiverse to Twilight.  You in there, love?”
  216. “Huh?  Oh, y-yeah.”
  217. >You blush slightly, realizing you were staring
  218. >Octavia gives you a concerned smile
  219. >”Don’t freak out on me now, alright?  I promise, you’ll love this.”
  220. “W-where are we going?”
  221. >”Shuttle.  It’s docked out back.”
  222. “W-wait, a shuttle?  Just the t-two of us?”
  223. >”Just about.  Unless you’re lugging a very tiny Trixie I’m not aware of.”
  224. “No, I’m not, b-but…”
  225. >”But what, love?”
  226. “I dunno.  Are you s-sure it’s okay?”
  227. >Octavia rounds the corner of the hallway, leading you into a small hangar bay
  228. >In the center, caressed by support struts, lies a boxy and small cargo shuttle
  229. >On it’s side is printed some DJ name with a bunch of weird alien glyphs (or just a Scratch’s drunken handwriting) along with a lot of tacky “psychedelic” art
  230. >Octavia turns to you, squeezing your hand
  231. >”I’m certain.  Aren’t you?”
  232. “I d-dunno… if the squad finds out, t-then…”
  233. >”Then what?”
  234. >You hang your head, and Octavia sighs
  235. >”Listen, love.”
  236. >Octavia raises a hand to your chin, turning your face up so that you’re staring directly into her violet eyes
  237. >Up close, it’s easy to tell they’re just replicas, made out of photo-contacts, glass, and gel
  238. >But there’s more humanity there than you’ve seen in a lot of “real” people; her eyes glow with something intelligent and sad
  239. >”People like you and me are gonna spend the rest of our lives getting kicked around and used up by every sod we run across.  It’s just the way we’re made.  And there’s no changing that.”
  240. >Her hand moves to your cheek
  241. >”But there’s always gonna be moments like this one.  Where things slow down, and you get to have just a little bit of your life to yourself.  And… and you have to take them.  Because they’re worth it.  I promise.”
  242. >Octavia takes a half step closer to you, hesitating for a moment
  243. >Inside her body, you hear a servo stuttering as she reconsiders…
  244. >She steps away again, but maintains her hold on your hand
  245. >”So please.  Don’t let this one slip up.  Please, love?”
  246. >You can only stare at her for a moment
  247. >And then you nod, and let her lead you towards the shuttle’s ramp
  248. “Alright.”
  250. >The shuttle’s interior isn’t much: just an empty storage palette for musical equipment, a few empty crates, a bunkbed, and a cramped cockpit
  251. >Inside the cockpit, you see a couple of stone busts situated atop the control console, similar to what your Dash comrades do with explicit anime-girl figures
  252. “Who’s that?  C-composers you like?”
  253. >”Aye.  You could say that.”
  254. “Cool.  Which ones?  Bach?  Beethoven?”
  255. >”Hah!  Nah, not quite.  That one’s John Linnell, and that’s John Flansberg.”
  256. “D-don’t think I’ve ever heard of them…”
  257. >”Really?  Pity.  The two are bloody geniuses.”
  258. “You like music a l-lot?”
  259. >Octavia gives you the weirdest look
  260. >”Yeah, love.  I like music.”
  261. >She sits down at the controls, and begins priming the shuttle to take off*
  263. *[The entire process doesn’t require her to even touch the control console, since she can interface directly with the ship’s core as an android.  Still, she looks pretty cool sitting in the pilot’s chair, poised in front of the glowing panels.]
  265. >”Love of music is programmed into all the 8TVIA’s.  Apparently we’re based on someone the first Vinyls knew from their home dimensions.  The real Octavia.  So we all love music, because we’re supposed to be like her.”
  266. “I… I’m s-sorry.”
  267. >You sit down in the copilot’s chair, tucking your legs up underneath you
  268. >”Why?”
  269. “That just doesn’t sound very… r-rewarding.  Or real.”
  270. >”On the contrary.  It’s been given to me, so I make the most of it.”
  271. >Octavia stands up just as the shuttle hums to life, gliding smoothly out of the hangar and into empty space
  272. >She keeps the ship moving in her desired direction with what, to her, probably just feels like just casual thought
  273. >You’re starting to feel a little warm
  274. >Octavia sits cross-legged atop one of the empty crates, and reaches into the storage pallet below her
  275. >From within it, she draws a tall, thin cello constructed entirely of glass
  276. >The strings are narrow, silver wires, and the bow flares to life with a plasmatic beam
  277. >”I didn’t choose to love music.  I didn’t choose a lot about myself.”
  278. >Octavia touches the bow to her cello’s strings
  279. >”I might not ever get to make a real choice.  But I can still enjoy moments like this.”
  280. >And with that, she begins to play
  282. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0azsUm69EC4
  284. >The notes drift easily forth from the instrument, the precision crystal acoustics of the glass amplifying them throughout the shuttle’s interior
  285. >A dark, slender melody seems to uncoil from her fingers, falling in flowery streams down to the floor
  286. >You fix your eyes on Octavia as her hands move with the mechanical equivalent of an artist’s precision across the strings
  287. >Her eyes remain closed, and she continues to guide the shuttle even as she plays
  288. >You’re starting to sweat, and you raise a hand to fan yourself
  289. >When her song finishes, you give her a tiny round of applause, not even realizing how stupid you probably look
  290. >Octavia opens her eyes, and smiles
  291. “That was b-beautiful!” you blurt out
  292. >She raises a hand to her mouth, obviously flattered
  293. >”You’re quite a pleasant audience.”
  294. “Well… I d-don’t really get to listen to m-music like that very often.  Or ever, really…”
  295. >”A tragedy indeed.  Well, I’ll try to cram as much as I can into our short time together, I suppose.”
  296. “Short t-time, yeah…” you mutter under your breath
  297. >Octavia begins her next piece; it’s quicker and brighter this time, but with the barest hint of contained sorrow
  298. >You’re so enraptured that you don’t even notice the shuttle’s stopped
  299. >Octavia stands up, setting her instrument aside
  300. “S-something wrong?”
  301. >”Look behind you.”
  302. >You swivel in your chair, looking out the viewport
  303. “W-whoa…”
  304. >A few hundred meters from the ship’s nose, the folds of inter-dimensional space seem to fold in on each other, and then blossom outwards in bands of blue, pink, and yellow
  305. “Is t-that a… a ley-line manifold?”*
  307. [Extremely rare points of space where the fringes of various dimensions fold together in sheets of beautiful cosmic light.]
  309. >”It is.  One of the only ones around this spot of space too.”
  310. >You rub your hands across your eyes, hardly able to believe what you’re seeing
  311. “It’s s-so pretty.  I’ve only ever s-seen them in pictures.”
  312. >”Not a lot of people know about this one.  I found it by accident, when Scratch got drunk and nearly crashed a skiffer into it.”
  313. >You chuckle at that image
  314. >”I like to come here during her gigs.  It’s peaceful.  And it’s a nice place to compose.”
  315. “Y-yeah?  Was that piece you played earlier one of yours?”
  316. >Octavia nods
  317. >”That’s almost all I play, really.  Playing someone else’s music always feels a little alien.  Can’t seem to get as much out of it.”
  318. “I’m n-not sure I understand.”
  319. >”Not sure I do either.  It’s just I feel.  Or how I’m programmed.”
  320. >She winks
  321. >”Whichever.”
  322. >You sit back in your seat as she joins you at the front of the ship, sitting on the armrest of your chair
  323. >The proximity of her body strikes you, and your hand twitches when you realize that hers is close enough to grab
  324. >Octavia notices this, and reaches down to intertwine her fingers with yours
  325. >Now that you’ve seen what they’re capable of, just touching them feels only barely shy of a sacred experience
  326. >How can hands that can create such gorgeous music be content with holding yours?
  327. >You can’t help but feel like you’re sullying Octavia by touching her
  328. >”What’s wrong, love?”
  329. “N-nothing!”
  330. >You turn away from her, probably just making her all the more certain that you’re upset
  331. >Octavia squeezes your hand
  332. >”I can read your heartbeat and body temperature through your palm.  Also, you look a wee bit like you’re about to throw up.  What’s the matter?  I haven’t said something to upset you, have I?”
  333. “Not at all!  You’re just… r-really close…”
  334. >”Can’t argue with that.  Not a problem is it?”
  335. >You can’t get any more words out, so you shake your head
  336. >”Then…”
  337. >For a robot, Octavia has a positively devious look in her eye
  338. >”Will you mind if I get a little closer?”
  339. “N-no…”
  340. >You scoot to the edge of the seat, trying to provide enough room for her to sit next to you
  341. >But she doesn’t bother with that; Octavia pulls herself right into your lap
  342. >She’s surprisingly light, probably not more than forty kilograms
  343. >The android’s slender arms wrap around your neck, holding your face against her chest
  344. >Your heart is hammering inside your ribcage, and goosebumps raise along the back of your neck
  345. >This is the first time someone’s been so close without hurting you
  346. >Octavia’s fingers find their way to your hair, gently scratching your scalp with prosthetic nails
  347. >”Sure you’re alright, love?  You’re trembling like a leaf.”
  348. “Y-yeah, just n-not used to… to s-s-someone being so g-gentle…”
  349. >”You’ve never been held like this before?”
  350. >You shake your head
  351. >”Well that’s a right shame, it is.”
  352. >Her arms wrap around your midsection, squeezing you against her
  353. >As an android, her body definitely isn’t the softest thing in world
  354. >But there’s something reassuring about how solid she is; you feel very, very safe here
  355. >”A girl like you deserves to be held, once in a while.”
  356. “A girl l-like me?”
  357. >Octavia nods
  358. “What do you mean?  I’m n-nothing special.”
  359. >”Don’t have to be special to be a decent person, love.  Anyone who’ll spend their evening entertaining a common android is definitely a cut above the average Twilight.”
  360. “I m-mean…”
  361. >”You can’t argue with me on this.  I’m programmed to be a good judge of character, because Lord knows the Vinyls aren’t.  Every quality-detection algorithm I have tells me you’re pretty great.”
  362. >For a moment, you can only stare at Octavia, your cheeks flushed
  363. >And then you drop your face against her chest and start to cry
  364. >She looks startled, for a moment, but quickly recovers
  365. >You feel a gentle impact on your back as she pats you between your shoulder blades
  366. >”Easy now, love.  Let it all out.”
  367. >And let it out you do; you bawl your eyes out as the ship gently drifts through space around the leyline, guided by Octavia’s gentle control
  368. >When you finish crying — which doesn’t happen for a good ten minutes — you just let yourself go limp in Octavia’s hug, shuddering and sniffling
  369. >”All better?”
  370. “A b-bit…”
  371. >You sit up, wiping your eyes
  372. “I’m sorry about t-that.”
  373. >”Nothing to apologize for, love.”
  374. >Octavia pats your cheek, using her thumb to clean away a few remaining tear streaks
  375. >”You know…”
  376. >She stands up from your lap, returning to her cello
  377. >The moment she’s gone, you hug your legs against your chest, feeling more than a little lonely without her presence
  378. >”I’m feeling rather inspired at the moment.  How’d you like a composition?”
  379. “A c-composition?  About what?”
  380. >”About you, love.”
  381. “Me?  I mean, that’d… if you w-want to, it’d…”
  382. >You gulp
  383. “That’d be incredible.”
  384. >Octavia smiles
  385. >”That’s what I like to hear.  Now sit back.”
  386. >You curl up in the chair, shaking slightly with excitement
  387. >An entire musical piece, purely about you?
  388. >With your squadmates, it’s rare to hear anything directed at you other than an insult
  389. >And now this girl who’s only just met you is going to compose her beautiful music for you?
  390. >Some kind of warm and electrifying bond towards Octavia begins to swell up inside of you
  391. >The android leans her head back, her eyes shutting in concentration
  392. >And then her hands begin to move, and music fills the shuttle once again
  394. https://soundcloud.com/vapor_profit/from-octavia-for-twilight/s-aFF7b
  396. >You’re not really sure how to process what you hear
  397. >For music about you, it’s surprisingly… pleasant
  398. >When Octavia finishes, she raises her head, violet synth-eyes meeting yours
  399. >”Well?  What did you think?”
  400. “I…”
  401. >You drop your head onto your hands, feeling like the entire room is spinning
  402. “Why are you b-being so nice to me?”
  403. >Octavia stands up, crossing over to you in three quick steps
  404. >”Because you’re adorable, kind, and you’ve improved my night loads.  And I suppose I fancy you a bit?”
  405. “F-fancy!?  Me?”
  406. >”You seem a little surprised.  Yes, for some reason, the Vinyls decided their androids needed to be programmed with the capability to…”
  407. “N-no, that’s not the part that’s weird.  Why me?  Just… why?”
  408. >”Do I need to repeat myself?  You’re a good person, Twilight Sparkle.  Trust me.”
  409. >She taps her head
  410. >”Old CPU never lies.  And if I’m smitten with you, it’s because my body registers that I objectively should be.”
  411. “I, b-but… b-but…”
  412. >You feel fresh tears of disbelief welling in your eyes
  413. >But before they can fall, Octavia drops to her knees, her face ending up level with yours
  414. >She places a hand to your cheek, giving you ample time to pull away
  415. >But, as confused, scared, overwhelmed, and absolutely head-over-heels as you are, you can’t
  416. >And so Octavia pulls you into a slow, gentle kiss
  417. >It’s your first ever, so you have no way to gauge if kissing an android is different than a person
  418. >Either way, it’s wonderful
  419. >A squeak of mixed nervousness and joy escapes your lips, and you tilt your head to return her kiss
  420. >Octavia pulls away, smiling
  421. >”Well?  Believe me now, love?”
  422. >You don’t say anything in response; you just throw your arms around her, shaking with joy as you pull her onto the chair with you
  424. >The ship drifts on in lazy circles, filling the cabin with the leyline’s hazy light
  425. >Octavia and you stay cuddled together throughout the entire rest of the flight, trading little kisses back and forth
  426. >This time, though, she’s the one holding you
  427. >It feels like the best, most vivid dream of your life
  428. >And unfortunately, like even the most vivid dreams, it has to end
  429. >A buzzer into the control panel flares to life, startling you out of your bliss
  430. “Oh no…”
  431. >Octavia grimaces
  432. >”Yep, it’s Vinyl.  I’ve gotta head back.”
  433. “R-right.  I’ll s-stay out of your way…”
  434. >Octavia holds tightly to you, though, reclining in the chair with you as she mentally guides the shuttle back towards the Event Horizon
  435. >”No you won’t, love.  You’re staying right here with me until the end.”
  436. >The shuttle shudders as its engines flare to life, accelerating the craft back in the direction of the station
  437. >You bury your face against Octavia’s shoulder, smelling the crisp, clean scent of her tuxedo
  438. “W-when we get back… we’re n-not going to see each other again, are we?”
  439. >Octavia sighs
  440. >”There’s a rather good chance we won’t, love.  My Vinyl will haul me off in some other direction.”
  441. “And my s-squad will… yeah.”
  442. >You squeeze your eyes shut, too exhausted to cry
  443. “It’s n-not fair… you’re the only p-person I’ve ever been happy around.  Why does it h-have to end already?”
  444. >”Because not everyone’s designed to be happy, love.  I’m made to serve a coked-out party addict until her untimely and tragic death, and then I’ll be re-assigned to another.  The cycle will continue until one of my partners breaks me, or breaks me down and sells me for scrap.”
  445. “N-no…”
  446. >Octavia shrugs
  447. >”It’s a fate I’ve accepted.  And you’ll continue to be a grunt for the CDC, disrespected and kicked around.  We weren’t signed up for happiness.”
  448. >She raises a hand to your cheek, cupping it just long enough to kiss you
  449. >”But, that being said, it’s a giant, crazy, random multiverse.  And even sods like us get our breaks once in a while.  We’ll always still have moments like this one.”
  450. “Do they always have to b-be so short?”
  451. >”I’m afraid so.  But they’ll mean more to you that way.  Trust me.”
  452. >Octavia holds a hand to her chest, frowning
  453. >This time, you initiate the kiss
  454. >She returns it, not breaking apart until the shuttle touches down
  455. >Standing up from her embrace feels like hell; more than anything, you wish you could stay
  456. >But she’s right; this isn’t your place
  457. >You accepted a long time ago that happiness wasn’t owed to you
  458. >And this evening with her, short as it was, is more than you’ll ever deserve
  459. >Octavia takes your hand, leading you down the shuttle’s exit ramp and back into the club
  460. >The further you get inside, the more the music crashes and howls around you, making you feel like a tiny, curious insect squished against the floor
  461. >Octavia stops you just outside the main ballroom
  462. >”I think this is goodbye, love.”
  463. >You nod, unable to form words
  464. >The tears won’t fall anymore, but a hard lump is forming in your throat
  465. >Octavia lifts her shirt enough to expose part of her chest, where you see a narrow metal slow nestled just beneath her breasts
  466. >From within the slot, she draws a small crystal disk, which she hands to you
  467. >”I know it isn’t much, but I’d like you to have this.  It’s a recording of the song I wrote for you.  And there’s a little message at the end.”
  468. >You nod, pulling yourself against her for one last hug
  469. >She returns it, squeezing your shoulders and kissing your forehead
  470. >And then she steps away, not breaking eye contact with you until she disappears into the crashing bodies of the dancefloor
  471. >You lean back against the wall, clutching the disk against your chest
  473. >Of course the Dashes find you before too long and drag you back to a cheap hotel room
  474. >Well, it’s more the other way around; most of them are too fucked up to even walk
  475. >When you’ve collected your entire squad in one place, you sit by yourself in the corner of the room, feeling like a tiny purple lantern in the silent, dark room
  476. >And you plug the disk into your slate
  477. >The slate’s capable of localizing sound to a small area, so you’re confident you’re the only one who can hear Octavia’s music
  478. >It replays for you in perfect fidelity, the gentle patterns of notes caressing you in the same careful way Octavia herself did
  479. >You can’t keep yourself from crying this time
  480. >Tears spill freely down your face as you imagine her out there, alone and unhappy
  481. >She deserved so much better
  482. >No matter what she says, she deserves to be happy
  483. >And so, in that moment, you make a stupid promise to yourself
  484. >You promise that you’ll find her
  485. >You don’t care if it means betraying the entire CDC, going AWOL, and making yourself a fugitive for the rest of your life
  486. >One day, you’re going to escape, and you’re going to find her
  487. >Just then, the song ends, wrapping up in a brief moment of silence
  488. >And when it ends, in a gentle, whisper, you hear Octavia’s voice delivering her message
  489. >”You are loved, Twilight Sparkle.”
  490. >Of course you cry
  491. >You cry like you did when you were a little girl, growing up in the massive nursery-academies of the HST, with your hands over your eyes and your entire body shaking
  492. >Over and over, you replay the message, letting her words rest against your ears
  493. >”You are loved, Twilight Sparkle.”
  494. >”You are loved.”
  495. >”You are loved.”
  497. >”You are loved.”
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