Taking a Break from All your Worries

You're fine like trans-Alpine wine, Prissy-bitch

rating: +26+x

Her eyes were shut, and she daydreamed. It helped relax her, easing her breathing. It smelled horrible around her, but at least she could finally breathe clearly. She smiled to herself, feeling someone nestled in her chest lovingly. Then her eyes came open as she remembered who it was.

It was dark out. Hours had passed, not minutes. She pushed the body off of her. There was enough light for her to see bodies around her, some of them sporting bullet holes in the center of their foreheads. Whoever had won the skirmish had started executing people, or else shooting the bodies to make sure they were dead. Yasir had covered her, protecting her in death. She didn't even know his clan, his full name, or if he was even working with the MCF.

No one had shot her, but the force of Yasir slamming into her had broken something in her. She had never broken anything other than an arm or a leg. She brought a hand to her nose, gently pressing against her nose and mouth, checking for blood. "Oh, good," She murmured, seeing fresh black stains in the moonlight, followed by a strong surge of pain. Broken nose rather than internal bleeding. That would only make it harder to breathe.

"Oh, good," She whimpered, and started to pull herself up to her feet, trying to ignore the childish panic running through her as she started tasting and smelling blood in every breath she took. She stopped moving at the sound of gunfire. Scattered shots, followed by a volley of semi-automatic fire. Professionals.

The Global Occult Coalition had arrived.

"Targets in sight," Agent Bijl of Strike Team Phalanx didn't hesitate, raising his rifle and firing off a shot at the shadowy figures. Both drew back.

"Check your fire, might be civilians!"

Bijl furrowed his brow. He hated hearing that. Killing civilians held a certain horror for most people. He couldn't help but not feel the same sort of concern, but it was still a pointless exercise. He was a professional killer; killing wasn't something he took lightly, or took pleasure in. At the very least, he preferred an enemy that could fight back.

Gunfire came his way, bullets thumping against his cover and spraying a fine mist of dust on his Black Suit. The two shadowy figures had emerged again, short and gangly. They couldn't have possibly been older than thirteen, yet both were firing in his direction. AKs, sloppy aim. Child soldiers. He hated that even more.

"Last Hearth, we have children here," He called in, firing at the figures without hitting, trying to suppress them.

"Civilians are being evacuated from the area," The voice of Team leader Umber "Last Hearth" came over the wire in bland response, "You are authorized to engage any remaining contacts in the vicinity, civilian or otherwise."

"I didn't say civilians, Hearth, I said children."

A long silence passed. The shadowy figures didn't pop up again to fire. He could hear them talking in hushed, panicked voices from behind the alley.

"Confirm, Phalanx 1-8, are they armed?"

"They are armed, Last Hearth."

"Engage all hostile contacts, Phalanx 1-8. One has a weapon, they all have weapons."

What the fuck, man? He'd shoot anyone who tried to shoot at him, but they were kids. What was he supposed to do?

"Hearth just tell us to waste these kids?" Another soldier asked. Just then, the shadowy figures burst out of cover. They were firing wildly as they made a run for a squat shack several meters back. Five shots rang out from behind Corporal Bijl, and both figures dropped.

What the fuck, man? He whirled on the others, but they were already moving.

"Fuck. Fine," It was just Somalia, he reminded himself. Just another sub-Saharan war zone, "You don't see the green and white, you don't fire! Copy?"

As night began to fall, Frank was still running to the hospital, trying to remain away from GOC teams. There were fires in Laascaanood, shots everywhere, black choppers, a small war. He saw the flare of an apported bomb suddenly appearing and immediately blasting a house several blocks ago. He heard more and more blasts behind him; the refugee camp. There were bound to be AMISOM soldiers there.

He wondered whether or not the GOC would make a distinction between those who shot at them and the rest. Probably not. They were already bombing a city with civilian inhabitants, right?

He gritted his teeth as he ran faster towards the hospital.

He almost collapsed before reaching the place, but he finally got there; it looked like the militants had gotten there with explosives or shot a gas tank, because two of the MCF pickups had caught fire and another one was already turned upside down and smoking. There were a few corpses, mostly locals and a few wearing MCF's colors, laying around.

Many of them were just out of the hospital, about to force their way trough the makeshift barricade hastily covering the main gate. Fortunately enough, they seemed to be out of explosives; a man was goading the group to attack the place. Dodger's stranger, maybe. Except she never mentioned a beard on him. Some of them were already trying to break the strong glass over the windows, reserving their guns for the inevitable slaughter that came to those inside…

Frank took out the gun. It was a pretty shitty pistol, but the preacher guy was pretty evident, standing over the mass. He pondered his options.

He could make the shot. He could take the bastard out. Then die a horrible death by rioting mob, of course, but that was not a problem to him…

Frank came closer to them, discarding the MCF vest as he got closer to the man. He was standing over a few piled boxes. Two of the militants noticed him, saw his weapon.

Suddenly, he felt the stream of authority and power, the intimate comfort of a gun. He had missed that. He knew it was an armed mob and they would not respect a Westerner with a gun any more than one without a gun, but he did not cared.

The men who saw him were shouting. He raised the firearm to take aim —

There was a screeching sound behind the hospital. It was like a metal bud, blooming into a flower, petals chafing each other as they unfolded.

Then, there was a roar. Then, thundering steps. At that point, the mob looked unsure, none of the people in front of the hospital were paying attention to Frank and he knew what was coming. So he decided to get away from the mass of people before Olympe 'walked' around the hospital.

Olympe decided to jump over the hospital instead. Frank pushed through the terrified crowd, in the middle of their confusion, and found a place to hide behind a half-demolished cube Torres had grown there as an extra supply room. From there, he watched the show.

The Old Orange moved faster than usual, walking with potent strides over the sturdy Vestan building. It stopped right before the mob, standing over the edge of the rooftop, right over the barricade.

Frank noticed Olympe had applied a dozen pieces of scrap metal over the canopy and several joints. The Old Orange looked like a jagged steel gorilla; now it was the beast its creators had intended it to be.

Frank heard the machine scream Olympe's words, spoken in Arab, Somali and French.

There were insults. Threats.

Then, there was simply a mindless howl.

Most of the men had tried shooting at the Old Orange, but Olympe simply ignored them, or at most mocked them, challenging them to keep firing. Few of them took up that challenge.

And when mindless shouting had driven most of the militants away, the Fifth Coalition Donation dropped from the roof top, crushing what remained of the toppled pickup.

At that point, no one was left to keep fighting.

Frank stood and walked slowly towards the Old Orange. "Frans!"

The machine spinned, its pilot barely visible underneath the metal armor that surrounded him. "Salut, Frank. It is not combat if I just threaten them, right?"

Frank laughed and rised the gun, clasped in his hand. "Hey, I was about to shoot them! You might as well be Volunteer of the Year!"

"Keep it with you, just in case," the Coalition ex-operative said. "I'm going out. To follow them, roam a bit. Patrol, you know."

"What about the battery?"

"It's unloaded. I've got hours of battery, Frank. Don't worry about me."

"They blew up the trucks, Olympe. They'll try to do the same to you."

"Sure they will!," the machine seemed to shrug. Frank noticed how asymetrical the motion seemed. "And I'll be glad to find out they think this is just another pickup truck to be blown up, 'cause I just mounted enough metal panels on this thing to turn it into a tank."

"You have no guns."

Old Orange's left 'fist' reached into the engine of the destroyed pickup it was standing on. It then clenched tight, a horrible crunching sound indicating how metal was mass in its manipulators. Frank uncovered his ears once it stopped.

"Good hunting, I guess. Be careful."

The biped vehicle dropped from over the pickup and walked away, treading with ponderous steps. Frank ran towards the hospital and screamed: "It's me, Skipper!"

"Frank! Have you seen my brother?!" Martino cried out in response.

She could walk fine, only having to deal with the aches and bruises on her legs. But trying to run would easily wind her. Asthma, she thought to herself, not for the first time, It's always been asthma and I kept putting off doing anything about it.

At least she had a gun now. Few people bothered to look her way, but with a mud-caked AK-47 cradled to her mud-drenched breast, she was functionally invisible. Whatever had happened the night before, it had escalated. Gunfire was everywhere now, and the GOC had deployed. Either she'd been out for longer than she thought, or someone had told them the situation was out of control. Ironically, the GOC's arrival made that a self-fulfilling prophecy.

What she saw as she dragged herself from block to block was like scenes from a documentary, unfolding on either side. Just down the block in one direction, a young man caught another unaware, and bashed the back of his skull in with the butt of his assault rifle. He ran her way, but ducked away into a hut before she could consider raising her own weapon. Directly in front of her, an older man was shooting down a narrow niche. He looked her way, waved a hand, and shouted out in Arabic for her to follow him as he went in to the niche. She didn't see any sign of him as she passed it by.

Another few blocks, and she saw a naked woman hacking two men apart with a machete. Either they'd been trying to rape her, or she'd been playing possum as they looted her, thinking her a corpse. She ran at the sight of Dodger.

The closer she got to the hospital, the louder and more frequent came the shouts and cries in Somali and Arabic. One side had more Arabic than the other. Somewhere around, a speaker was issuing orders or a call to prayer, tinny echos adding confusion over the already chaotic place. Despite this, she saw nothing else, no one else.

Preacher guy, she figured. Guy on the back of the truck. No fillings, or otherwise amalgam fillings. Newer, non-metal. She hadn't spent much time looking at Somalians' teeth, but her gamble had paid off—guy had to be a fraud.

I'm right again. She looked up, seeing light starting to creep through the billowing smoke, and the sounds of helicopters droning between hard cracks of gunfire. A couple of dark forms darted over the town, recklessly low. Drones. One of them sprayed a line of bullets for an obscene length of time over the other side of town. Beyond overkill for a case of local warlords and gangsters. One of the drones was suddenly lit up, catching a well-placed RPG and smashing against the other, the sorcerous engine's screams drowning out any victory cry given by the shooters. The wreckage started littering buildings below, setting more fires, and driving off the victors as the flames spread quickly.

I wish I could be wrong more often.

She had steadily made her way back to the hospital. She expected it to be swarming with civilians looking for help, seeking shelter. There were dozens of those. Not quite hundreds, but close. Some of them even had guns slung over their shoulders. No one was shooting here just yet, but there was more than enough of them armed to start a massacre. She made her way across to the entrance, people parting for her. She belonged here. Some were starting to press onto her, begging for help, as if she were one of the doctors.

As Dodger came into the hospital, she saw Opal's broken shape sprawled on a collapsible field pallet. Her face was riddled with shards of glass and horribly bruised; she bled through her ears and nose, and her arm was covered in a large plaster of different bandages, all of them reddened with blood. Even under the dressing, she noticed that the limb was twisted in a shape that couldn't be natural.

Locke was there, looking the most rattled by the badly maimed woman. Mirror Universe Locke. Dodger nearly spouted out. The other woman rushed up to her, as if Dodger would keel over at any moment. Surprisingly she found herself already off her feet, and being carted away. She looked down, "Oh, good," That must have been that sudden stabbing of pain a while back; blood was leaking from one of her boots. She couldn't feel most of her toes.

Priss let Dodger go, to be settled in with the dozens of others already being treated. She called out for her sister, then disappeared. Dodger closed her eyes, and again lost sense of herself as she was somewhere else when she opened her eyes. She still couldn't feel all her toes. Her feet were both wrapped in bandages, one thicker than the other, so she couldn't tell if she'd lost anything. Oxygen was being carried straight through her straightened nose. Westinghouse was over her, clutching one of those Wondertainment birds.

"Oh hey, Frank."

"Not so pretty anymore, huh?" He noted.

She smirked up at him, glad at least she could breathe more clearly. Whatever was on her nose was holding her nostrils up, giving her a piggish look, "You saw Enrico?"

"I saw. I told Martino. Wanted to get to the Myrmidons and do something reckless. Had to sedate him. We'll try to recover the bodies later, if this calms down. What the hell happened, Dodger?"

"His team was disposing of the tainted meat. People in the neighborhood started burning the MCF food and supplies they were handing out, thinking it was infected like the meat. Someone's been spreading rumors and stirring up shit about us. I'm pretty sure I know who, but I don't have a name or possible allegiance. They probably called the GOC, too."

Frank groaned, and shook his head, "GOC's been anxious to crack down on the whole thing from the start. Somalia's too unstable for their tastes. No place to bring anomalies to, they say. They'd get 'em and trade them with the Foundation, or worse, the Insurgents. Can't have that, too risky, et cetera. Any excuse to bring the hammer down on us."



"Call him. With the fucking bird."

"I've already been in contact. Situation is officially out of our hands, and it gets worse; SCP is on to the whole thing."

She blinked. SCP Foundation arrival meant detainment and amnestics at best. She rather preferred remembering things and not risking the health of her long-term memory retention. Given her own long history with anomalies, she likely wouldn't get off that lucky.


"'Fraid not. GOC's our only ride out, unless you wanna be processed and finely chewed out by the Foundation."

"Eff that, I says."

"Well you're not alone. A bunch of volunteers were talking about heading east, then hitching a train out to Eyl airport and heading out with Ruperts-3 Work Group. Mostly kids, spooked by everything. I doubt any of them won't be stepping onto a GOC chopper by tomorrow morning."

"Good, I'll head that east alone, then."

Frank sighed, "You don't look like you'll be walking right for a while—"

"I'm not going with the GOC," You don't know me, Westinghouse. She wondered what explanation they'd come up with to explain her disappearance. She wondered if Kone and Lindsberg would even care, "I'll find my own way."

"No way to talk you out of it?" Frank offered, knowing she wouldn't budge regardless of what he said.

"Save your energy for Priscilla Locke."

Priss had tried to step out of the hospital, panic threatening to unman her as the crowd of helpless natives kept pushing her back. She saw bodies near the flaming wreck of an MCF truck, but couldn't tell if Rhiannon was among the dead.

"Get back!" She flailed uselessly at the crowd. Some had guns—they wouldn't dare draw on her; the MCF wasn't their enemy. She didn't trust them not to pull their guns on her if they saw her lashing out at them in turn.

She gave up trying to get past them, and went back inside. She stubbed her toe against a wall as she made a right into a hallway. Then she realized the wall had partly given way from the impact.

"What the fuck, man?" She yelped out, realizing it was the fungus.

"Get back here!" It was Jacob. He kicked down the semi-solid mass, and yanked her through by the sleeve, before patching up the opening with fresh fungal growths, "Local militants are swarming this way, gunning down everyone remotely connected with this site. We need to slow them down long enough for the GOC to reach us."

Priss stared at the mass of fungus, rapidly spreading to encompass the open crevice 'Rabbi' Torres had made to pull her through. She hadn't realized it could form so quickly. But it was just a wall component. Probably no insulation, no wiring, just solid fungally-grown concrete.

"You better find Skipper, he's been looking for you."

"Where is Rhiannon Locke?" She asked in stentorian tones, as if he didn't understand English. Her mind was racing; she'd been arguing with herself and hadn't realized who she was talking to just then.

The look he gave her seemed to reflect that. You don't belong here. "Last I saw, she was in the reservoir with the Hippo, checking up on the water and stuff you brought in. That was hours ago, before the fighting reached us."

Priss nudged past him without a word, and nearly tripped over a short mass of fungus growing nearby.

Hey Hey Hey Hey, baby sis! How're the hormones treatin' ya?

Priss looked up. Rhiannon was there. Rhiannon Locke, covered in tattoos, eyes bloodshot, missing her front teeth. She scowled; now wasn't the time to be hallucinating!

Who's hallucinating?

Priss shook her head, refusing to acknowledge what was undoubtedly a stress-induced delusion. She could even smell Rhiannon's earthy scent, taste the liquor-drenched tongue she'd once nearly shoved down Priss's throat. She dimly remembered the scientists who'd been around the Anabasis for long periods of time. After a while, they claimed to be smelling people who weren't there, seeing them, tasting them. Priss moaned and mashed her palms into her eyes. Now she was fucked; she'd let the thing get into her head and twist her brains inside out.

You're fine like trans-Alpine wine, Prissy-bitch. You always have been. Speakin' of which, you've left your friend behind.

She looked behind her. Anabasis. She'd dropped it some time ago and forgotten. It was sitting there, just on the other side of the slowly spreading fungus, threatening to separate them. She reached over it as it started to reach chest height, hoisting the Anabasis up and bringing it across.

"I've got you," She hugged the device to herself, then slung it over her shoulder, "I will keep you safe."

Sarah woke up.

"Oh, my, I feel tired… why is it so dark? It shouldn't be this dark."

Suddenly, she could make out where she was. The basement of the hospital. Every wall was covered in green veins, the dark green of the Mason Mold, flocking to the ground; a whole section of the room was now perfectly covered in it. There were many people there, most of them patients and volunteers; not even sixty in total.

Many members of her Work Group were there. Some were not. Locke wasn't there, and good riddance. The Rabbi and his bunch were furiously smashing on the keyboards of a few thin computers, shouting something complicated. Frank and Alba checked on people, trying to help the three Satanist Scientists tend to them. Garziel had been hurt, her perfectly shaven head smudged with bruises all over.

Lila and François weren't there. Enrico wasn't there. Martino was laying on a stretcher, apparently unharmed, but moaning. Dodger wasn't there. Yusuf wasn't there.

"Please, people, be alive and well," she murmured, feeling desperate for a moment; that moment passed, and her heart filled again with the fire she knew so well. "What am I talking about-"

Sarah tried to stand, but realized she was on a bed just a moment after trying to stand. She fell down to the ground, acute pain seizing her. There was a cast on her left arm. Her head was burning, except where the blood hadn't yet dried. A thousand cuts announced their demands that she did not try to move again.

She didn't realize how badly hurt she truly was. It all registered to her as a clumsy body, dull after resting too much. Resting! Now!, she chastised herself, How can I be such a lazy idiot! Come on, UP!

"Opal!," Mirra said. Sarah recognized her voice through the heavy mantle of her pain, her confusion; she looked at the young girl — dear lord, why are they all so young — squinting as to try to make out her expression. "Opal, please, stay in your bed- wait, your eyes, your eyes were wrecked a moment ago!"

"Don't be ridiculous, they're just fine," she said.

And so they were. And they had always been so.

She looked around her again, seeing the mess she knew that was there, but suddenly it wasn't blurried.

"Very well, they're fine, my mistake!," Mirra said. "Now Sarah, please, just go back to your bed, you're hurt-there was an explosion and-"

"Hurt? Me?," Sarah laughed. "No, I'm fit as a fiddle, sweetheart, see?"

And so she was.

Sarah "Opal" Desjeux stood, still bloodied but decided and as healthy as the moment before being blown away by an explosion. the arms and legs of her clothes were ripped apart, and so she pulled from them until she was comfortable with a state of acceptably partial nudity. As she covered her freckled body again with a white lab coat with the MCF logo stamped in the left chest, she noted her hair was free.

Her hair moved almost freely. Like if it was alive, coils slithering against each other, the brown darkened but with a brighter shine of an almost green color.

Ah… so that's it, I was hurt. It's just that I'm doing it again, am I not? Sarah felt, once again, like she was a stone in a pack of twenty eggs. The world was so fragile around her…

She would have to be careful with what she said now. The world is too fragile, she heard her ex say to her. You are a thrown stone and the world is thin glass in front of you. That is why I'll be leaving. Can't know for sure if I love you or you just made me love you.

You never know with the Greens.

She chose to let her hair down for a while. It was an emergency, and she'd be careful. She could control it.

Mirra was staring at her. "That's… impossible," she said, blinking and slowly shaking her head. "You can't be doing this. You'd have to be a-"

Sarah pressed a finger against Mirra's lips. "Mirra, my dear, forget about it. Just for a little while, hmm?"

And so she forgot about it, despite Sarah's own feelings on the matter.

Guilt… sorry, Mirra. I'll be dealing with that later. She raised her sight and listened; the sounds of battle were faint, but they persisted out there.

"There is a lot of Blue going on out there, Mirra, my dear. Is it a Coalition attack?"

"Yes, Opal," the Satanist answered, seemingly upset without knowing why. "They've been here for a while. They shot Lila and a few others that were trying to leave through the front door."

"Oh, my! Is she alright?"

"Well, I'm not sure. She just ran for it as soon as she was full-on wolf. Through a Coalition formation," Mirra looked genuinely uncomfortable. "But, uh… I think she didn't kill anyone or anything."

Sarah smiled. Ah, my only confident… I hope you live through all of this, 'cause I'll need you later.

"What about Olympe?"

"He took Old Orange out to scare the militants off. Hasn't come back yet."

Sarah looked down. "That so."

She felt the hair around her head coil and turn and sliver and hiss, asking her to command him to come back, to speak the words, to say it-

No. There are limits. There have to be limits. I will not use you. I haven't used you in decades, and I will not use you now.

The voice that demanded her to make use of her heritage was silenced. Sarah "Opal" Desjeux glanced up to her robed friend, grinning.

"Well now, tell me. I see Jacob has been toying with the Mold again. I know him. Certainly better off finding our own way out than wasting weeks or even months in Coalition detention… How is he getting us out of here?"

This was a familiar experience for her, more familiar than she'd expected. Trapped in an underground facility, gunfire and shouts emanating from the surface, Anabasis sitting with her, suit drenched in sweat.

Rhiannon was here, at least. Or someone who looked like her, sounded like her, claimed to be her. No, she wasn't Rhiannon Locke, Priss decided. She no longer cared; she accepted that she did not belong here.

"Oh shit… Oh shit. Fuck. Shit." Rhiannon was hyperventilating, pounding the keypad of her cellphone frantically. No one was answering. Somali gangs had been advancing on the hospital, and now they were trapped between the MCF and the GOC. A clear violation of what Sun Tzu says, Locke thought… leave your enemy a route of escape, lest you wish to see them truly fight. Confronted with a heavily armed para-military force and a ragtag band of MCF peacenik volunteers holed up in a bunker, they were gunning for the MCF.

"Stop," Priss croaked.

Rhiannon didn't listen. She was starting to whimper and gasp, holding the phone to her ear, clinging to the desperate hope of hearing anything but static on the other end.

"Stop!" Priss yelled.

Rhiannon looked over at her sister, "You've been in this type of situation before; I haven't!" She lashed out, then shook her head, "I'm sorry. I'm… I'm scared."

Priss looked over at the Anabasis, and smirked, then back to Rhiannon, "Don't be. We're safe. Ana will keep you safe," She patted the device's fount, "I will keep you safe."

Rhie shook her head, "No way… that's insane."

Priss shrugged, "Turned out okay for me."

"Where will we go? Some dimension where there's no United States and no England, where no one will understand us? Some place where Rome never fell and there's gun-toting centurions roaming around Africa? Some place where the Nazis won?"

"Turned out okay for me," Priss repeated.

Rhiannon seemed to lose all composure, and started to shriek at her sister, "That's YOU! YOU could handle it! I'm not fucking YOU! I can't handle losing all my friends and family and everything I've ever known"

Priss's blood rushed, and she shocked herself at how rapidly she rose, and advanced on Rhiannon, "You think I could?!"

Rhiannon gaped at her, eyes wide and open mouth quivering. That expression was such a departure from the cracked grin she expected from Rhiannon the "Subhuman Mongrel" whenever Priss raised her voice at her. Priss's yelling fed Rhiannon the Subhuman Mongrel. Rhiannon the Junior Assistant Director quaked and collapsed under it.

"I'm sorry…" She sobbed, pulling away from Priss, "I don't wanna die…"

Priss could see Rhiannon the Subhuman Mongrel, standing there in her tanktop and baggy pants, grinning at the well-kempt girl barely able to stand. Priss saw her sister…

"No," She growled, and sat back down, caressing the Anabasis affectionately, "My only friend. You're right."

Rhiannon looked over at her, overhearing her, "Right about what?"

"Not you," Priss snarled.


"I wasn't talking to you. You don't want to die? Just sit here and keep crying like a baby. The GOC will get to you eventually, and take you back home. I saw Torres setting up barriers along the way down here. Meet up with him. You'll be safe."

"What are you saying? What about you?" Rhiannon warbled, her hands visibly shaking.

"I'm saying sit down, cry like a baby, and wait for the GOC to take you home."

"Take us home."

"No. I'm not going with you."

Rhiannon squeaked, "No?! Why not?"

Priss looked at her glumly. She looked like Rhiannon Locke. She was Rhiannon Locke. But she wasn't Priss's sister. She was someone else. She had tried to love her, and Priss couldn't hate her for that, but the woman just wasn't her sister.

"Because you're not my sister." Priss said, smiling as she saw Rhiannon catch on to what she meant. She had told Priss the very same thing weeks ago, when Priss first met the MCF directors of Africa branch. It was an ugly smile, and it hurt to see its effects wrought on Rhiannon's face. Despite that, she kept feasting on the pain Rhiannon surely felt. It was an ugly, painful gruel, and she swallowed it down with an ugly smile.

The ugliness finally got to her, and she got up to her feet, ready to kneel down before her sister and embrace her, to finally be the one to apologize to her for a change. A subtle tug, and she looked down. Anabasis held her hand. Let's go home, it said, and offered its lever to her.

"Goodbye, Rhiannon. Maybe I'll see you on the other side." Priss said in a soft voice, and cranked the lever.

Rhiannon Locke could barely see through the rush of tears in her eyes, only making out the black and orange of her sister in front of her. A light started to dance across Priscilla's suit. Rhiannon turned around, thinking maybe the GOC soldiers had arrived, flashlights mounted on their guns. But there was no one there.

As she turned back around, there was no one in front of her either.

Rhiannon Locke had lost her sister again.

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