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The Pheligian Falcon: Prison Break

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soundofmind says...


a @soundofmind storybook

On the Pheligian Falcon, seeing the stars is a reward.

Being a criminal in a world where technology has far advanced beyond just space travel comes with its complications. It makes staying hidden harder. It makes getting away with things more tricky. As the Intergalactic Guard has cracked down on law enforcement across the galaxy, more and more devious plots have been exposed, destroyed, and brought to justice.

Unfortunately, for most of our crew, this wasn't good news, as they found themselves on the losing side of that battle.

Now trapped in a high-security prison that ever remains sailing smoothly in the eye of a space storm (of which, is made of giant crystals constantly forming, crashing into each other, and breaking) it seems to be the end of all activity - criminal or otherwise - and the end of all hope thereafter.

The only way out is a (very expensive) heavily guarded vessel built to withstand the pressures of the storm's raging, and all access routes to that are unknown or inaccessible. I mean, of course they are. You're not a guest here. You're a prisoner.

But one day a newbie in your cell block comes in with a little more pep in their step than normal and tells you there's another way out of this hellhole.

They have your attention.

[ Cast ]

    The Newbie: Empyrean Lode by @Magebird
    The Charmer: Ozirma Aorox by @Oxara
    The Brawler: Kazimir Petrov by @soundofmind
    The Victim: Corden Grand by @Omnom
    The Guard: Genesee Dana by @Wolfical

Spoiler! :

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Magebird says...

Empyrean Lode
cowritten with @soundofmind

The ship was dark, cold and metallic. It made the yellow uniform he was stuck wearing stick out like a sore thumb. Part of him wondered why yellow was the chosen color. It looked so ugly in a place like this. Maybe that was part of how they broke you - if being stuck in a cell and prison wasn't bad enough, you started questioning your self image because this shade of yellow didn't look good on anyone.

If that was the case, Lode was definitely impressed.

But, anyways. Time to focus. He was sitting on a ship, heading to the Pheligian Falcon. This was just a taste of what to come. He was even getting a taste of the cellmate experience, though he had heard that the other prisoner that was coming in with him wasn't going to even be in the same section as him. Lode didn't bother questioning why.

He just took it as an opportunity to settle in.

The poor guy looked nervous. He had been staring down at his lap in silence was Lode looked around the transport ship, and his hands hadn't stopped shaking. He wondered how someone like that could have ever been a criminal, but maybe it was the Falcon's reputation that was at fault. It did have a pretty bad one.

"Hey," Lode said, nudging him with his elbow.

The other prisoner sat up with a start.

He held his cuffed hands up in mock surrender. "Don't worry - I'm not going to start a fight. This silence is just so boring. Want to talk for a bit?"

He tilted his head to the side a little bit, in an act of childlike curiosity.

The man looked up towards the guards escorting them. Lode watched as he got a little paler and gulped, gaze quickly falling back down to the floor.

"They won't mind a little conversation," Lode reassured him. "They're probably bored out of their minds, too. I bet almost everyone is too scared to talk when they're coming over to the Falcon - we'd be doing them a favor by chatting."

The man hesistantly looked up. "...You think so?"

"Oh, I know so," he promised. "This isn't my first time in prison. That's actually why I'm here."

The other prisoner stared, a nervous glint to his bright green eyes. "...What did you do at the last prison?"

Lode gave an awkward dismissive wave with one of his hands - the cuffs made something simple like that surprisingly difficult. "Nothing, actually. It was what happened after that got me here. You know the Intergalatic Guard's headquarters?"

The man gave a hesitant nod.

"Well, I broke in."

All he got was a stare.

"It wasn't that hard," he mused, leaning back up against the wall. "It's surprisingly easy to slip by security if you have a plan going into it. I was going to change my files on the main system they have there, but I got caught in the act. I managed to get away, but..."

The other prisoner was leaning on the edge of his seat. "But what?"

"I ran into Vice Admiral Nova," he said. The man gasped, and even the guards escorting them looked a little shocked - Lode definitely took some pride in that. "We fought for a little bit when he tried to stop me. I don't know how, but I got out pretty uninjured and he got sent to the hospital."

He paused, adopting a musing expression on his face.

"That's what I heard, at least. I also had some drugs on me, but I think sneaking in and beating up a vice admiral was probably the worst of my crimes," he nonchalantly said.

The transport ship suddenly came to a stop.

Lode sat up a little.

"Oh," he said. "It looks like we're here."

He glanced over at the other prisoner as the guards moved to escort them out.

"It was nice chatting," Lode said, giving him a cuffed pat on the shoulder. "I'm Lode, by the way - short for Empyrean Lode. See you around, maybe."

The other prisoner just stared as he was led out.


He was led down a seemingly endless set of hallways, but Lode made sure to take note of every single one. They did, admittedly, all blur together. They were all as metallic as the transport ship, but were a nice silver instead of the boring dark grey. The only breaks in the dullness were the yellow uniforms of the prisoners they passed as they walked. And throughout all of the hallways was some kind of lighting - sometimes it was dimmer than most. It honestly reminded him of his old workplace, with the same boring uniformity.

Lode knew this already, of course. The moment he was sure he'd be breaking into the headquarters, he knew there was a very high likelihood that he'd get caught. He made sure he knew the Falcon like the back of his unshifted hand, even when he had very limited resources.

But something he hadn't studied was the layout of the ship, so he paid extra close attention to every hallway they took the moment they set foot on the Falcon.

It didn't take much longer for them to arrive at his cell block.

Wow, he thought. Beating up the vice admiral and breaking into a government building must have been quite the serious offense in the prison's books - they had gone through multiple halls and doors, and at least three different layers of security to get here. And the cells themselves were pretty isolated. There were only two of them, and they were right across from each other. Going by the size and what was inside, it looked like they were meant to house two people.

Lode ducked his head down to hide his smile.

Perfect, he thought, I'm getting a cellmate.

As they stopped in front of the cell he hadn't glanced into, he noticed that the cell didn't have a traditional door and lock. It was a forcefield of some kind. When a red light burst to life on his cuffs, the guards were able to push him inside.

He didn't miss how hard they shoved him in - it was hard enough to send him tumbling to the floor.

"That's for the vice admiral," one of the guards snarled.

The light died. The guards left. They didn't even bother introducing him to his new cellmate, which Lode thought was just a little rude. Then again, they already hated him. He wasn't exactly expecting a warm welcome.

Lode didn't look at them at first. He just got to feet, brushing the dust and prison grime off of his pants.

Then he looked up.

And then he paused.

Lode had a very well crafted plan. The beginnings of one, at least. There was only so much he could do before he ended up here. But never once when imagining that plan had he guessed who his cellmate would be - and never had he guessed he would be placed in the same cell as someone who had arguably done worse things than essentially putting a middle finger up to the government.

In the darkest corner of the cell - which really wasn't that dark - he saw a worn face and glowing blue eyes. Lode tried to remember how long it had been since his cellmate was arrested. Kazimir Petrov, member of the Mercury Mob. He had been tucked away for so long that most of the world had stopped wondering where he was.

...It wasn't too long in the scheme of life, but it was just long enough for Kazimir to be the perfect source of information.

"Hey," Lode said, giving Kazimir a friendly smile. He hadn't felt scared this entire time, but now he was starting to feel a little intimidated. He definitely had that intimidating feeling to him right now. Regardless of that, he knew he had to be careful around him.

Kazimir's eyes had been locked on him the entire time with a grim, deadpan sort of stare, but once Lode spoke, Kazimir's mouth turned up into a smirk that was probably supposed to be deeply unsettling and was. He also had been crouched down in the corner, hands hanging loosely in front of him over the ground.

But when he stood, he towered over Lode, even from the distance.

"You look plucky," Kazimir said, his mouth still turned into that disturbing grin. Kazimir's eyes scanned Lode up and down, like a predator, assessing. Lode resisted the urge to do the same. Instead, he kept looking Kazimir right in the eye - not faltering for even a single moment.

"Got a name?"

"Lode," he offered. "Short for Empyrean Lode. What about you? It looks like we're going to be cellmates for awhile, so knowing each other's names is probably important."

Kazimir's smirk grew into a smile, and he chuckled deep in his chest.

"Kazimir. Long for Kaz."

"So how long have you been in here?" Lode asked, sitting down on one of the beds and pretending like he didn't know it had been seven years since Kazimir was arrested. He gave Kazimir a smile. "You can probably guess, but I'm new. I've been in prison before, but never in the Falcon."

"30 years," Kazimir said without missing a beat, no hint of irony in his expression or tone, though he still remained smiling.

A laugh slipped out. "You're looking pretty good for thirty plus, then."

"Damn right. What are you, then? Twelve?"

...Maybe this wasn't going to be so bad, after all.

"Didn't you know it's rude to ask someone their age?" Lode shot back - a smirk of his own dancing across his lips.

"That rule doesn't apply to children," Kazimir replied, squinting a little as he looked down at Lode. "So what business does an infant have with the Vice Admiral? Needed a diaper change and he didn't use baby powder? Got mad? Had a tantrum?"

Oh, that was a good one.

"Something like that," Lode said, smiling. He leaned back up against the wall of their cell. "Actually, I punched him in the face. And a couple of other places, too - he tried stopping me from leaving the Intergalatic Guard's headquarters."

Kazimir tilted his head back a little as his smile turned almost... crazed, from the look in his eyes. "F*ckin' kickass baby," he said, then his eyes flicked to Lode's frame again. "Except you're built like a twig. Your bones made of iron? How do you keep from snapping when you wake up in the morning? There's not enough milk in the world to save your fragile... fragile spine."

Kazimir's eyes were locked on Lode one moment, and then the next seemed to glaze over, as if Kazimir was looking through him. His smile faded. Then he blinked hard, as if shaking off the haze.

"What was his name?"

"The Vice Admiral?" Lode asked. "Nova."

Kazimir's eyes lit up with recognition and his smile returned full force - wicked and devilish. "Nova..." he said lowly, like the very name held the weight of years of resentment. "How badly did you make him hurt?"

Lode froze - just for a moment.

The tone and look were just the reminder that he needed. Kazimir might have been his cellmate, but he couldn't ignore that Kazimir had done far worse crimes than he could ever imagine. If he wanted to get out of this place, he had to be very careful.

Kazimir was like a ticking time bomb, and Lode couldn't let himself accidentally set it off early.

"Bad enough to send him to the hospital," he said, smiling a smile that he didn't really feel.

There was another deep laugh in reply. It was short, but it felt like it echoed throughout their small cell, even though Kazimir barely opened his mouth. This laugh, though, wasn't rooted in amusement. This felt sinister.

"Good," was all that finally came out as a reply.

"It's what he deserved," Lode somehow managed to get out.

He turned and laid down on his bed, staring up at the ceiling above them. His heart was still racing in his chest, and his hands felt sweatier than they ever did. He had been so sure that the biggest problem escaping would be the guards, but he was starting to realize that the prisoners were the threat he should have really be worried about.

He took a deep breath.

(It failed to calm him down.)

At the very least, he had his crime as a safety net. He had sent Vice Admiral Nova to the hospital. The crime might have made the guards hate him, but the prisoners would never see him as an enemy.


Mom, Dad, he thought. If you're watching over me right now, I think I might have just made the biggest mistake I've ever made.

He closed his eyes.

Please let me get through this.

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Vincian says...

Corden Grand

Corden stretched and yawned, letting the last remnants of his manipulated dreamstate complete its arc. That body modification was one of his first, way back when he was much younger and far more inexperienced. Many of his peers and higher ups thought that manipulated dreams were frivolous and a waste of a body mod.

However, it was a play for the long haul, as were most of his choices early on in his life. Imagine being able to plan how your day was going to go while you slept, or gain knowledge by reading a subconscious book, or start your day off right by having an enjoyable night. It allowed Corden to start off on a better foot than many other competitiors who chose more... vain options. Of course, Corden did choose those body mods later on in life, but that was after he made himself comfortable in power.

His latest dream was a recurring one he found himself in while in his current conscious situation. It was a wargames-style tactical operation with one of his old bosses that ended in a cheesy romance that would would make anyone blush. It wasn't accomplishing anything but it at least made him feel useful. It was fake though, a temporary feeling as he felt trapped. Oh well, he sighed, there are many worse ways to be trapped. At least he had his own-

Corden was jabbed fully awake with a military-grade rod. He opened his eyes to four guards standing over him. What a way to start the morning.

Corden gave a placating stretch in response to the prodding and donned an easy, crooked smile. "Surprising to see you all here this early in the morning. Is it that kind of day already?" Corden shrugged. "You will have to give me time to prepare, of course."

The three guards in the back glanced at each other nervously. The one in the front, the leader, grunted. "We're not here for that, prisoner."

"You seemed to be last week." Corden winked at the other guards.

The leader growled, "get up," and ripped Corden's covers off of him, revealing his naked body. The other guards coughed and turned away. Corden laughed lightly and sat up.

"You can look, it's okay. Privacy seems to be a formality these days anyway." Corden commented, sliding his legs off the bed and making sure his member was still in full view for the guards.

The head guard tossed him his uniform. "Get dressed, now. You're going on a trip."

"Sounds exciting. Is it a vacation?" Corden said, catching the clothes adeptly. "Why, exactly?"

"It's not my place to tell you. Now, hurry up. I don't get paid to see you put on a show."

That aroused a chuckle from Corden. "You could have fooled me." The guard inched forward, but Corden avoided his death stare by turning around, brandishing his zipper that was a the navel of his back.

"Zip me up?" He asked the officer, who glared at him.

"you seem to have no problem doing it yourself until now."

"But that would be no fun," Corden protested. He furthered his point by backing into the guard's hand that held their baton. Corden lilted back, leaning on the officer. "If you protest now, you'll be causing a scene, and we wouldn't want that, would we?"

Corden could basically hear the guard's eyeroll, but his request was granted, and he could feel the zipper make its path up his back. This uniform was a choice of his, and it was moments like this that made it worth it.

Corden traced his hands up the guard's uniform, and was met with the cool metal and the sound of cuffs clasping. "What's this?" All the sweetness and manipulated lust fell from his voice, just for a moment. He turned around. "Feeling up for a little foreplay, are we?"

"The rules have changed, Corden." The officer said, pressing a button on the inside of their wrist. The cuffs dug into Corden's skin, and his vision blurred. "Welcome to the real Pheligan Falcon, Corden Grand."

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Corden jerked awake, his eyes flicking open to see his feet dragging across the cold metal floors. He couldn't feel too much, but his awareness of his surroundings was rushing in quickly. Two of the guards carried him by the shoulders and he could see the officer walking in front of them, and he assumed the fourth guard was trailing behind them. His mind kicked him into a state of alarm, and he regained access to movement. Still, he let them drag him. They didn't know he was awake yet, and he wanted a moment to gather his thoughts, to see how he could use that to his advantage. At least he could feel things again, even if it was the semi-regular bump of the metal tiles against his toes.

Corden's instincts jump-started into overdrive, and he stood on his own. In a split second, he tripped the guard on his left and rammed the one on the right into the wall. Both of them let go of him, and the right guard slumped to the ground, hopefully unconscious. Not noticing yet, the caboose guard ran into Corden with a "Hey!" Corden took advantage of the surprise and kicked them in the knee. The satisfying sound of a crack let him know the guard's knee was crippled. Corden let the guard's own momentum take them down, dodging to the side as they toppled over.

An electrifying jolt sent Corden to his knees. His body fought the shock as he glanced up to the officer standing over him. The officer stashed their shock-baton and lurched Corden up. "You're a resilient one, for a human." Corden felt his consciousness fading once again.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Corden jolted awake once again. He was no longer moving, and he absorbed his surroundings. "Good, you're awake again. That second dose was enough." The officer was in front of Corden, their arms crossed.

"Where am I?" Corden asked, his temperament thinly veiled.

"Your new home." The officer laughed, their voice crackling in their headset. "You can get details from someone who actually gives a shit. Or your new roommate." The officer gestured to the door, and something was wheeled in on electric constraints.

"Oh, you got me a houseplant? You shouldn't have."

The something was unstrapped, and it stepped into the room. Not something, but someone.
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formerly omnom

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Oxara says...

Ozirma Aorox
cowritten with @Omnom

Even with the technology they used to try to contain Ozirma, it was imperfect. His skin itched, and his other dimensionality practically leaked from him. His senses started to merge, his smelling created a visual repression, and vice versa. His eyes glanced to his new roommate, and Ozirma gave a small smile as he could see that the person not only felt his gaze on him, but actually felt it. He sniffed and his sensitive nose picked up on the hints of the person in front of him, a pure human, which was rare in this society.

He felt a slight shock as a controlled 1000 zettawatts spread through his body, as well as various other things designed to keep him in his form and remove this other dimensionality. His part of the cell had a light blocking wall, leaving the room split one side being well lit and the other completely hidden. This controlled burst of lighting made his form only appear for an instant to his new roommate, which added to the primal fear corden showed

"So they brought a human for me to snack on," Ozirma said, his voice low, as if ready to pounce. Ozirma could hear every breath the human made, could feel the changes in the air from his breath, feel the slight change in his body temperature, the gulp he made in his mouth.

Ozirma focused his powers to make a single vampire like tooth, despite the pain coursing through his body. He moved his body forward, so that he removed himself from his electric constraints, which gave him another large dose of chemicals and volts, but it let him disconnect from it, though he knew not for long.

He poked his head out in such a way that only his newly formed sharp tooth appeared, which glisted in the lights of the cell. The human sprawled backwards to the wall.

Ozirma, entering the human's side of the cell, smelling the sweat on him. "So what is the name of my prey?"

The human prisoner glanced at him suspiciously, though if it was at Ozirma's human looking form or his constraints he wasn't sure. The prisoner made a dry grunt, trying to clear its throat but it didn't appear to do much. "Corden." The human's voice said weakly, a male voice.

Ozirma laughed, "Of all the people to have come back with a good response it had to be a typical human?"

Corden regained some whiteness in his face. "So, you're not a typical human?"

Ozirma looked at him with his cold gaze again, "Let's not put up a false shall we. I am bound to kill someone eventally. A stupid, obvious human would make a great first."

Corden took a second to recover from the statement, but returned with "I've come across plenty of species, but there are select few who consider humans frail," Corden cleared his throat and his voice became bolder, "so what species do you come from?"

Ozirma let out a sigh, "Fine, guess it would be boring to not tell you. I'm a kir-ik. There is not much that your kind knows of my race, though I am sure you've heard some rumors. Who knows though, you might just die before you find anything more than rumors."

"Death by old age?" Corden gulped, the fear obivious in his voice, and his face.

"Maybe. Or I might get bored." Ozirma flashed an insidious smile, and Corden visibly shrunk futher into the corner.

"Humans really are interesting, their powers are next to none, they're short lived, and yet they find in them to do biazzare, things, even when their body tells them to fear they find bravery in themselves."

Corden stood back up, his posture strighting and he managed to take up a more respectable aura. "You assume to know everything about humanity, but I know a bit about the Kir-ik as well. You're awfully chatty for a benevolent being, much unlike others of your kind I've managed to come across."

"Oh you've encounted another of my kin? How rare, you get to encounter two of us, even I haven't met another of my own, besides my parent." Oz let his eyes flare, showing that of the void that makes up his home.

"I guess that makes me special," Corden said. "Also, I never said I met one before."

"Special huh, I would say lucky," Oz let his fang catch the light, "Or unlucky. Regardless even recognizing the presence of a Kir-ik is quite an accomplishment. So tell me how did you find out about another of my kin."

"Is that a question?"

"Of course it is. My kin is a master of disguise; we don't often show others, espically those that are more humoind. The only reason you know my true heritage is because of these constraints." Oz said, giving Corden a smirk.

"Is that a threat?" Corden asked, sitting down against the wall.

"Perhaps, to meet another of my kin is pratically impossible. Let's say I'm calling your bluff, or seeing if your a lucky enough to live through one, or perhaps two of my kin."

"I would like you to realize this now." Corden said, still sitting, his voice completely calm. "I do not take kindly to any sort of threat. I don't care who you may be, who you may say you are, or what kind of past you have. You are in the same present as I am, and right now, I think I have more control out of the two of us." He rose to his feet within a second. "Now, I could be an ally, or I could be an enemy. Frankly, I don't care which one, but I think you should. I can help you out of those constraints." He inched closer to Oz.

Oz was struck out of his mask and let out a deep laugh. "I see, I see, so I have learned a few things. One, you like to bluff. You're the one of the type of people I like, and you either have a death wish or are very stupid," Oz paused for a second, "or brave."

"You have a nice laugh. Sort of." Corden paced around the room in front of Oz. "Unlike I posed earlier, I do not have as much information about your species as I would like. But, you're here, of course, so that will be resolved in time. And you are right about one thing, Ozirma, you said? I'll call you Oz. Anyway, you're right about one thing. I am either brave, stupid, or have a death wish." He stopped and smiled. "I'll leave it up to you to guess which one for the meantime."

"Aw, why ruin the mystery? Though if i had to take a bet, I would say it's a mixture of all three." Oz paused as to pay attention to every detail of Corden's face and body, every muscle fiber twich he would have been able to see.

Corden stifled a smile. "I didn't take you for a betting... Kir-ik." He swiveled to stare Oz in the eyes, well, Oz's humanoid eyes. "I have surprises, and I know you have the same. We're going to be here for awhile, so let's enjoy the moment we have and learn more about each other." He stopped for a moment. "In other words, a new introduction. Hello. I'm Corden Grand, most likely the most dangerous and least dangerous human you have ever met, depending on the moment."

Oz let out another deep laugh, his other worldness slightly slipping in slightly. "Greetings, Corden Grand, my name is Ozirma Aorox, a pure Aroamari." Ox gave a wink to Corden, "and you're right about one thing: one of us will be here for awhile."

Corden shifted his weight. "Greetings, Ozirma A---. Area... I have to be honest. I don't think I'll ever be able to say your last name."

Oz grined at Corden. "Ozirma is fine, as long as Corden is fine."

"Corden will work just fine. Let us begin, Oz."

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Wolfi says...

Genesee Dana

Genesee woke with a start from an accidental nap, in uniform still and sprawled across the lumpy folds of an unmade bed. Head swimming from sitting up too quickly, she reached for her arm on the bedside table, only to realize she’d never even taken it off. It hummed and whirred to life, the neurons and tendons of flesh sending signals to those of wire and metal as she twisted it palm up and asked for the time. Holographic digits blinked awake and informed her she’d only been asleep for a tenth of her leisure block. That was good. She sighed. Let the arm drop. Looked around at her unkempt room.

She had so few belongings but somehow her quarters were still as messy as ever. It made her unhappy to look at, but the motivation to take care of it was also as low as ever. She was too unhappy, too tired. It was an endless cycle. She wasn’t in prison anymore, but sometimes it still felt like she was in a cage.

She was finally able to get up and walk to the other room. “Holobath,” she said. “Begin Danerth sequence, setting, um... Let’s go with setting 18.”

As the tub began to fill with warm saltwater, the metal tiles began to shimmer and familiar sounds gently seeped into the air: creaking wood, a distant vendor, sea birds bickering. She turned to detach her arm and set it on the counter, and when she looked back again, the holobath looked a little more like home, the curved metal walls now projecting a purplish blue sunset sky with two yellow moons that shimmered in the water.

She undressed and sank into the holobath, feeling content and at peace for the first time all day. She completely submerged her head and opened her gray Diawei eyes, which could see underwater as perfectly as above, and watched her water-activated, color-shifting tattoos subtly shimmer like iridescent scales.

Each separate tattoo consisted of simple shapes, like the three triangles on her hip or the lines snaking up her arm. She could remember the story behind each of them. Some were from inking ceremonies, some were gifts or dares from friends.

They all meant something important to her, even the ones she let them hack off when they installed the new arm. She was tired of trying to ignore that fact. One of the prisoners today, rambling about her home planet to anyone that would listen, apparently passed on some of her homesickness to Gena, who wallowed in the symptoms of the virus as she closed her eyes and dozed off in the tub.

A jarring sound suddenly cut through the peaceful Danerth ambiance, jerking her back to reality on the ship. Gena raised her head above the water, eyes slitted in annoyance. The arm on the counter was pulsing blue each time it rang. “Who is it?” she asked, irked.

“Lieutenant Commander Tringali, Head of Security of the Pheligian Falcon,” the arm replied flatly.

Gena’s slitted eyes became very wide. “Holotub, off!” she sputtered as she jumped out, splashing and dripping saltwater all over the bathroom floor.

Tringali?! The hell does he want? Shivering in the comparatively cool air, she quickly threw on a robe and snapped the arm back into place. In just a few seconds, she imagined dozens of possible explanations for his call, all of them bad, like getting ratted out for allowing that one prisoner double sub-blocks in the Vi-D chamber yesterday.

She took a deep breath. “Answer,” she commanded.

A yellow-tinted hologram of Tringali’s bust bloomed from her palm. “Officer Dana,” he said, pronouncing it wrong. “Finally. I was sitting here forever.”

“I’m sorry, sir, I—”

“You have a new assignment. Report to my office at precisely B Block 2. If you’re late again I’ll give it to someone else.”

The hologram disappeared.

That’s all it is. Just a new assignment. Gena closed her metal palm into a fist and collapsed into a chair, letting loose a sigh edged with anxiety. Then why would that require an office visit?


“Officer Genesee Dana,” a female robotic voice chimed above the door, pronouncing both halves of the name wrong. Gena rolled her eyes.

Grateful her time of waiting and worrying was over, she stood and entered Tringali’s office with a rigid posture and a face of stone. Lieutenant Commander Tringali, meanwhile, was leaning back in his chair and picking at his teeth with a plastic utensil from the cafeteria.

“Take a seat,” he said, gesturing to the chair across from his desk. She obeyed. Grunting, he readjusted himself on his seat so he could refer to the screen on his desk. “You heard what happened to the Vice Admiral,” he said.

“Yes sir,” she replied. She found the whole thing hilarious. “An outrage,” she added, quoting one of her angry coworkers in the break room when it was announced, and hopefully covering up any hint of amusement that had initially crossed her face.

“Agreed. As you may know, his attacker is now in our... care here on the Falcon. He arrived here yesterday. One of the guards currently assigned to him isn’t up to snuff, so we’re swapping him out for you.”

Oh. Wow. She was going to meet the man himself? “It’s an honor, sir.”

He nodded. “An honor indeed. I’m putting a lot of trust in you. We’ve placed him in Deck 7. Highest security.” He glanced down at the screen on his desk. “A step up for you, if the data serves me correctly.”

“It does, sir.”

“President Rofata has requested we conduct a thorough background check on all the guards assigned to him. And I have. Ironic that I’ve decided to okay you, isn’t it?”

Gena didn’t know how to answer that out loud, but yes, she definitely found his authorization, especially post-background check, unsettlingly strange.

“Don’t play dumb,” he chided. “I’m well aware of your previous, er... residency on our sister ship orbiting Danerth, but it doesn’t bother me. In fact, it makes me all the more certain that you’ll be perfect for this assignment. Especially when you know that any deliberate error you make—any sympathetic nicety towards this abhorrence of a man or any of his cellmates—will send you that much closer to a life back behind bars.” He paused. “Am I clear?”

Cruel but brilliant, he was leveraging her past against her. She choked back a gulp. “Yes sir.”

“You should have received your new instructions and prisoner information in your inbox by now. Your shift begins today at Block D. Good luck, officer.”

She got up to leave. “Thank you, sir. I won’t let you down.”

“I need another bath,” she muttered under her breath once she had left the office.
John 14:27:
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.
I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled
and do not be afraid.

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soundofmind says...

Kazimir Petrov

The room was cold and sterile. It felt just as much like a prison as the rest of the Falcon, except the lights were a little brighter, the doctors pretended to be friendlier, and you didn't have to wear the bright yellow jumpsuit the whole time. At the moment, he was butt naked. Or at least, the near equivalent of it, in the scanty doctor robe that had gaping holes in the back.

He didn't like feeling a draft, but he supposed it was freeing.

The first time he'd gotten evaluated - years ago, when he first came to the Falcon - he'd deliberately peed on the floor (as opposed to, say, saving it for a cup). At the time, he thought it was hilarious. And in hindsight, it was still hilarious, even if they gave him hell for it.

Kazimir stepped into a metal archway, following the directions of two guards who flanked him on either side. He never really understood what exactly the full-body scan accomplished, but he knew he had to do it every time he came. At first, he thought they were scanning for anything he might be hiding in various crevices, and maybe they were, but there was one time he managed to keep a pea from breakfast hidden under his tongue. He spit that on a guard. It was nice.

The big metal arch closed around him like a big robotic hug, and he heard the hum of the machine. It was recommended to close your eyes, but he liked to keep them open and see all of the flashing lights jump across his vision. Blue, purple, red, and green. Ironically, no yellow, but maybe that was reserved just for the prisoners to wear. That made sense to him, somehow.

It was always at least a solid minute before the scan was over, and since the machine trapped him in it, he was just stuck standing there until it was over. He was glad he wasn't scared of tight spaces. It helped to know that it wasn't going to be forever. He was already trapped, in the prison. Being trapped in a little body scanner was just an extension of that.

Besides, he'd already been in isolation several times. This didn't compare to that.

Finally, there was a beep, and he was set free. Free to be led by the guards again, anyways.

The moment he stepped out his cuffs locked together in front of him, binding his wrists, and he could feel the magnetic force between his ankles grow a little stronger. A little harder to fight, but he could still walk in a slow shuffle.

A doctor stood beside a counter, and a low, cushioned table that was meant for him to sit on. He already knew the drill, so he plopped down on it and splayed his legs out with his knees straight.

"Sit normal," one of the guards ordered.

"I'm going to need an example of normal," Kazimir said innocently.

The guard - an older man with a stern look that looked hard-earned from probably years spent working this prison - glared at him. The doctor strode over to him slowly with a syringe in hand, and the usual blood-drawing kit.

This doctor saw him a lot. His name was Tottan, and he was a tall, four-armed Yarkan with two nubs for horns and dark, emotionless eyes, and he always tried to say things that sounded nice, but Kazimir knew he didn't really want to be nice. He was only playing the good guy, and the moment Kazimir acted out one too many times, the guards and the drugs would kick in, and the whole nice-guy act would be over, and the doctor would watch with a detached indifference. That was the thing about the prison doctors - they didn't really care about you, they only cared about doing their job and getting paid. Just like every other person who worked for this place.

That said, when the doctor found Kazimir's vein and gave Kazimir a smile, Kazimir found himself grinning back. At least, until the doctor started drawing blood. Then Kazimir was staring down at the needle, watching the blood come out. The tube was hooked to a machine that pumped it automatically, on a timer.

"How much you need today?" he asked.

"We never take more than necessary," the doc replied, which wasn't really an answer. "You might be a little lightheaded though," he warned. "So don't jump out of your seat just yet."

Kazimir frowned. He wasn't that stupid.

The doctor went quiet as he went over to a floating holographic screen and started flicking through information idly. Kazimir figured it was the results from the scan, but they never shared those with him no matter how many times he asked. Which felt wrong. He thought doctors were supposed to tell you what was going on in your body.

The machine pumping his blood beeped, and it stopped. The doctor came over and took the needle out of his arm, wiped the crook of his elbow, and put a tiny patch over the vein that melded to his skin.

Kazimir's hands were still stuck together in front of him, with the cuffs.

"So what's the consensus?" Kazimir asked. "Am I healthy, doc?"

Doctor Tottan turned around from the holo-screen, which was currently only engaging the use of two of his arms. His lower two arms are just crossed over his chest and his simple white scrubs.

"Everything looks good on your report, Kazimir," Tottan said simply.

"Including me." Kazimir winked. Tottan was unfazed.

"The whole report is about you," Tottan replied factually. "Now get up. Slowly."

Kazimir obeyed, partially. He got up a little quickly, and sort of regretted it. He started to feel lightheaded, but he tried to hide it by forcing his feet solidly on the ground. He patted down the little apron-like robe down over his thighs as well as he could with cuffed wrists and then stood up straight, seeing stars.

Tottan was watching him with critical eyes, but nodded his head for Kazimir to follow. Kazimir looked over at the two guards, who had been watching silently from the side as they always did. He stuck out his tongue at the male guard while Tottan was looking away and smirked. The guard only slow-blinked in reply but that was enough for him. Kazimir hurried after tottan with a giddy hobble. Were his ankles less restrained, he would have skipped, but he settled for a hop.

Tottan led them through a short series of interconnected hallways, and the guards followed closely behind.

They only passed two doors before Tottan led them into a new, smaller room, devoid of all of the fancy medical machines and supplies back in the examination room. There was just another cushioned seat - more like a lounge chair, if someone wanted to make the least comfortable lounge chair possible - and a chair across from it. Kazimir had done this many times. He knew which seat was his, and which one was Tottan's.

Tottan sat in the normal chair while Kazimir lied down, though the seat propped his back up a little, so he wasn't completely parallel to the ground.

Kazimir looked over at Tottan and waggled his eyebrows. Tottan returned the look with a blank stare. Kazimir drifted his eyes to the door, where the two guards stood on either side, staring out into the room with the same alert but blank look on their face. He never understood how they could keep that up for that long. It seemed exhausting. And boring.

"So I understand you've been transferred again," Tottan began.

"Yeah. New cellmate. New block. The whole shebang," Kazimir said.

"You understand why you were moved, right?"

That gave Kazimir pause. He thought back to only a few weeks ago - no, not even that long. Or maybe it had? Time felt like such a blur all the time, and for him, days were almost indistinguishable from each other, even with things scheduled throughout the "day." But he did know for sure it hadn't been that long ago that he'd seriously messed up one of the guards.

He'd gotten lucky.

The guard always picked on him, making light jabs at him and his family while Kazimir was behind the shield of his cell. She would say things about his father, and his wife, and gossip to him about what was happening in the outside world. She would tell him what the mafia - his family was up to - and would always make it sound like they were the worst people in the world.

Kazimir didn't want to believe anything she said, but still, it made his blood boil. He'd waited patiently for the day that she let her guard down, and he'd managed to get her from behind, with his arms around her neck and his legs around her waist. He'd taken her to the floor and put her in a sleep hold, and had just begun to beat the life out of her when he felt the piercing of the cuffs in his wrists, and the drugs entered his bloodstream like a flood. It hadn't taken long for him to black out.

"Yeah," he said cooly. "Pluria."

That had been her name.

"You really did her in, you know," Tottan said. Kazimir couldn't tell if that was a compliment or if he was trying to elicit pity. "Pluria's been out for weeks."

Hm. Weeks. So it had been weeks that he'd been stuck in solitary.

"I like my new cellmate," he said.

Tottan stared at him.

"He's plucky, and he apparently beat the shit out of the Vice Admiral. That's true, right? He put him in the hospital?"

One of the guards shifted their weight by the door. Tottan narrowed his eyes.

"There's been rumors floating around," he said stiffly.

"I hope he's on life support," Kazimir said, staring up at the ceiling with his eyes widening.

He remembered the day he got caught and taken in. Vice Admiral Nova - though he hadn't been Admiral anything then - was the one who questioned him. Threatened his family. Tried to get information out of him. Kazimir could feel his breath starting to quicken.

"Kazimir, I want to talk to you about your outburst," Tottan said, his voice clinical like it always was. "It's becoming a dangerous pattern for you and those around you. If you keep this up, you might be put in isolation for life. I'm trying to help you. You're really not helping yourself by acting out like this. They transferred you to Deck 7 as a last chance. If you mess this up, you could be looking at an empty cell for the rest of your days."

Kazimir sat still, for once, his blood running cold. He let the doc's words sink in. It was a conversation they'd had many times before, but this time Tottan almost sounded like he was pleading. Begging. What was Tottan's game?

He started tapping his thumbs together, interlacing his fingers on his stomach.

"But it won't be empty," he said. "It'll have me."

Tottan's eyebrows furrowed, and for once, he looked angry. Tottan leaned forward and Kazimir looked into his eyes, challenging him with his stare and a cocky grin.

"Kazimir, if you don't get your act together, you will never see your beloved family again."

Kazimir's grin faded slowly, but he held Tottan's gaze.

His stomach felt like a gaping hole.

"I am trying to get my act together," he countered. "I want to see my family again."

Tottan didn't break eye contact. "Prove it."

Kazimir blinked. "... How - wh - like, now?"

"You say you want to see them every session, but then you keep exploding like a ticking time bomb. All it takes is one little comment to light your fuse, and you explode again. That makes you a danger to society. Someone as volatile and unpredictably violent as you shouldn't be back out in the universe until you learn to keep a cool head. I've told this to my superiors--"

"I can keep a cool head--"

"No. You can't. We need to talk about your anger issues, and you need to start being honest."

Kazimir's heart sank and he frowned. He felt... genuinely hurt. He couldn't explain why.

"Shut up," he retorted.

Tottan's lack-of-eyebrows shot up. "Excuse me?"

One of the guards snorted.

"He's never going to change, doc," the male guard said. "The wake-up call's not working."

Tottan looked over to the guard with a warning glare.

"I'm just saying," the guard said, defensively.

There was a tense silence that followed, and Kazimir's thumbs kept tapping together, wrestling each other. Linking and un-linking. He felt antsy. He wanted to be out of this robe, out of this chair, and out of these cuffs.

"Kazimir, please, listen to me," Tottan pleaded. "I've tried to see the good in you. I know it's in there--"

The male guard scoffed this time.

"Say goodbye to your family, Kazzy," the guard muttered.

Kazimir's eyes glowed blue.

He felt a rush of heat and energy rise in his chest, and he locked eyes with the guard for a split second before he launched himself out of his seat and leaped at him with his stupid little robe flying. His fists his the guard upside the head hard, but as soon as he heard the clock of the man's skull he felt a shooting pain course throughout his body as his ankles snapped together, sending him falling to the ground.

The guard muttered a curse that landed on ringing ears. Tottan and the other guard were saying things that Kazimir tried to understand, but he felt another pulse of pain, and another, and another, and another. He curled up on the cold metal floor on his side, trying desperately to rip his hands and ankles from their bonds. Every time he felt the stinging pain of what felt like a million little needles poke at his skin there was a new surge of stinging, burning, and sharp, aching pain that washed over him. He could feel his muscles begging to tense up in an attempt to fight it, but nothing helped.

There was yelling. Yelling, he was sure of it. Two or three or twenty voices above him, blending together and angry, and so loud, but nothing near as loud as the high pitched ringing that didn't seem to pause, even for a moment.

He groaned and tried to roll over. Tried to get up. He found himself on his feet, but he couldn't remember getting to them, and his whole world was spinning like a whirlpool in front of him. Everything was moving, and nothing was solid.

"F***in' hell," he hissed, reaching out for something to steady himself. Turns out he wasn't reaching at all. His arms were behind him, and he was being held. No. Carried? Dragged?

"No more for you today," finally reached his ears, like a spot of clarity in a field of mud. "You're going back to your cell."

There was a grumble behind him. It sounded bitter, but Kazimir couldn't register words. Maybe they were a different language.

"You got off easy this time," someone told him. "Way too easy."

He could feel his legs being dragged against the floor, and his head was hanging limply, looking up at the blinding lights of the ceiling. He was wearing real clothes again. The jumpsuit. The yellow.

For a second, his eyes began to refocus. He could see the two guards on either side of him, arms linked in his as they dragged him. One of the guards was new. Switched out. He'd hit the other guy hard enough. He couldn't help but smile.

Then he saw the guards looked at each other with anger in their eyes. One of them nodded.

There was another shot of pain, and then darkness.

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Oxara says...

Ozirma Aorox
cowritten with @Magebird

It had been two centuries and some more since Oz had left his cell, yet alone heard and seen anything different. The guards unhooked him from his device, having received a rather large dose of volts. The guards fidgeted and shook a little as Oz stretched and let his body seal the remaining of his power, allowing him to seem much more mortal.

"Well thanks for that, a few centuries can give you such a cramp - you know what I mean," Oz paused, seemingly waiting for a response. "And, well, I guess you wouldn't. Well, can you tell me where the lunch room is? I was never told."

"Oh, um." One of the guards pointed down the hallway. "Follow that and turn to your third right and you'll make it."

Oz gave a nod. "Well, I'll be off. Have a good day."

It barely took Oz three minutes to walk down the corridor, as he failed to regulate his speed, as it felt just so good to be up and about after a few hundred years in the cell. The thought reminded him that he would have to thank Corden later for getting him out of his cell.

It struck Oz as a little odd that the cafeteria was so big for a prison. There were rows of tables that were held down by multiple dozens g's of artificial gravity. On the outside of the room there were multiple little shops, or rather, stations serving what seemed to be sandwiches, some sort of insect soup, and some sort of goop with legs sticking out. Most people seemed to avoid the insect soup, excluding a seemingly simple man with maroon hair - who seemed to have trouble lifting up his tray which he put down at an angle. It seemed that there was gravity on the tray itself once it hit the table.

Personally Oz didn't see why most people avoided the soup. It reminded him of kislic, a rather delicious delicacy for the lthia. Oz started to walking over, not minding to slow his speed from before, or even care as people sneered as he walked by. After all, he was the one that didn't seem to fit among these other prisoners, and those that had seen him on the ship when he was brought were either dead, or long one.

"HEY!" Oz heard a prisoner shout, and Oz turned to see that an inmate yelled at the simple man. The maroon haired man didn't seem to notice him - he was much more focused on his insect soup. It was only when the angry inmate, who seemed to be a lot more muscular, at least compared to the maroon haired man, pushed the maroon haired man that the maroon haired man finally looked up.

"...Have we met before?" the man asked.

"No," the pretend-strong prisoner growled. "But you were looking at me funny."

The simple man stared. "...I was looking at my soup. And this tray. Which still won't go down at a normal angle-"

The man was knocked to the floor by the man, rather way too easily that Oz couldn't help but chuckle. His insect soup - and the tray - unsurprisingly remained stuck to the table. The man tried to get up, but was quickly knocked down again by the giant that towered over him.

Oz had heard of prisoner fights but had never seen one. He figured it couldn't hurt to help out a man. Oz released a little of his powers, and seemed to teleport over to the man.

"Excuse me sir, but may I ask what is happening?"

The man that towered over the maroon haired man turned. "I haven't seen you around here, so you must be new. Let me teach you a very important piece of advice: if you ain't in trouble, don't stick your nose into it."

Oz let out a deep laugh. "Funny, I was going to say the same to you," he said and let a single tooth transform into fang, and let it gleam in the light.

"You want to go new guy? Huh? Is that? Think you'll be the 'king dog'? Well let me tell you somethi..." Oz moved his back to the cameras in a single flick of his legs, and let his eyes reflect his true nature with a simple other worldly smile. The man's hand relaxed and then the man fainted, falling on top of where the maroon haired man was.

Oz gave a simple scoff. "Light weight."

The maroon-haired man had been silent on the floor for the entirety of the exchange, but he gave a startled noise as the other prisoner fainted right on top of him. Still, he recovered quickly for a mostly-human. Before Oz could extend a helping hand, the man had eagerly pushed the lightweight off of himself. A moment later, the maroon-haired man was up on his feet again.

"That was pretty impressive," the man commented, looking Oz over with an impressed whistle. "Whatever you did. It almost reminds me of how someone might react if they saw a species I once heard of - but I doubt one of them would ever let themselves get stuck in a place like this."

Oz gave a shrug. "Many species can be terrifying," Oz gave another look at the man, who didn't seem to even mind that his soup and tray had been flung on his shirt. "I don't recall that the man dumped soup on you. Oh well, guess I was too late. Sorry."

The man gave a nonchalant shrug.

"It's okay," he reassured Oz. "You were actually the one who did it when you ran over, but it really wasn't the best soup - I've had much better insect soup before."

He glanced down at the unconscious man.

"Besides," he added, "it was worth seeing him get knocked out like that."

The man stuck his hand out.

"Ozirma Aorox, what in the hell do you think you're doing?" an annoying voice said, almost like a bee would buzz.

Oz turned on his heels in a swift motion to see six guards with full loaded guns of his friendly chemicals and volts, pointed at him.

"I don't know what you mean... I'm was just talking to this very nice inmates here. Uh, the big guy and the maroon headed dude," he said, pointing over his shoulder to them.

"He was," the man confirmed.

Oz mentally noted that lying was not the reason the red headed man was in here. The guards seemed to confirm his hunch.

"I don't know why," the man added, "but he just...fainted in the middle of our conversation! I think it must be because he hadn't eaten in a bit - or gotten a good night's sleep. Either way, my friend..."

The man glanced at Oz.

"...Ozzy is definitely innocent."

He gave a big, innocent smile at the guards.

Oz turned over and gave a grin and winked at him, and prayed that he'd let Oz take over. "As you just heard from uh, this nice inmate, I did nothing to this man. If you don't believe me, check your cameras. It will show I did not lay a finger on this man. So at best you got me for speeding and that's not worth six fully armed guards, is it?"

The guards took a second, seemingly as they received information from a source Oz could not hear. "Very well, but just watch yourself Oz. You're on a short leash - remember that."

Oz gave a slight chuckle under his breath, and elegantly turned around again. "Sorry about those bees, just like parents, right? Over protective? Sorry red headed man, what's your name, as you just learned my name is Ozirma - though I guess Ozzy is fine."

The man's innocent smile turned into a grin.

"It's Lode," he said. "Short for Empyrean Lode. I'm pretty new here, but it looks like you're an expert. Why are they keeping you in here?"

"Nearly destroying society. Well, it was nice meeting you. Sorry about soup - I'll buy you a better soup when they release us," Oz said with a wink, and proceeded to move to get his own soup, whistling a happy tune all the while.

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Wolfi says...

Genesee Dana

When her break time arrived halfway through Block D, Gena was eager to leave the stifling, dimly lit passageways—and the prisoners—of Deck 7. She didn’t have enough time to take her coffee all the way back to her room, so she sought out a small table along a cold steel wall of the crowded pentagonal break room in Deck 5.

She closed her eyes and allowed the steam from the mug to warm her face. She knew she needed to relax, but she was too tense and anxious to do any of that. She wished she had the ability to shapeshift or even disappear, like some of her new prisoners could, escaping from the bright lights of this room that made her feel exposed. The back of her neck tingled, sensing that people were staring at her and whispering about her and judging her.

“Genesee,” a flat, dry voice uttered behind her. “I’m unsurprised to see you.”

Gena turned around, finding a familiar silver face. Puzzled to find that she was actually happy to see the android, she gave them a genuine smile. “Can’t say the same about you. It’s been a while, Neyti.” Willing to have company to distract her spiraling mind, she nodded to the seat opposite her and Neyti took it. “Why are you unsurprised to see me?”

“I performed my routine scan of the databases this morning. You’re in Deck 7 now, aren’t you?” Neyti gave her an unsettlingly slow up-down, as if they was scanning her. Gena involuntarily squirmed, crossing her legs defensively. The android’s glimmering eyes were narrow and purple, and they pulsed instead of blinked—it had taken Gena a while to get used to that. Her smile disappeared as she wondered if Neyti really was scanning her. She wasn’t sure what androids were capable of.

“Deck 7. Yep. Not sure how that happened.” Gena laughed awkwardly.

“Me neither,” Neyti said flatly. “I thought they only post guards with backbones up there.”

Oof, there they went again. Wincing, Gena wondered how she could have ever been glad to see this person. She had to remind herself that the blunt android wasn’t trying to be unkind. They were just looking at the facts and making a valid conclusion, but that certainnly didn’t make the pit in Gena’s stomach weigh any less. With one jab, Neyti had zeroed in on what had weighed Gena down the most ever since the meeting with Tringali earlier that day. That she was a lousy excuse for a guard. That she didn’t deserve this promotion. That she was like a fish out of water in Deck 7, and everyone else knew it.

“I’ve hurt you,” the android said, matter of factly.

Gena looked up at them, surprised. “What?”

“Oh. Last week I received programming to be more empathetic to my fellow guards,” Neyti explained.

“Empathetic,” Gena said, unconvinced.

“Not to the prisoners, of course. To you, to the others.” Neyti glanced around. “My engineers noticed I’m not too good at making friends.”

Aw, Gena thought. Poor Neyti.

“And now I’m just stuck talking with a lousy misfit like you.”

Gena blinked.

“Oops.” A muscle in Neyti’s face twitched unnaturally. “Based on your reaction, I wasn’t supposed to say that. They’re still perfecting the programming. I’m sorry.”

“It’s alright,” Gena said, feeling thoroughly awkward, hurt, and alone. The only guard desperate enough to talk to her was a computer. “Wish they could change my programming,” she said mostly to herself.

Neyti’s face twitched again before speaking. “Your feelings are valid and I’m glad you’re being open with me.” They reached up and awkwardly placed a hand on Gena’s shoulder. “There’s nothing to worry about. Soon the Falcon won’t need any living guards and they’ll just digistruct hundreds of clones of me.”

Is that supposed to be comforting? Gena wondered as she tried to pry the hand off.

Just then, an unmistakable figure entered her field of vision: Bauthynr, a very tall human with very long green hair and a very charismatic smile. Gena’s first instinct was to duck under the table and hide, but it was already too late. They’d made eye contact.

“Genesee Dana!” he lilted. “My old corridor buddy!”

All at once, every pair of eyes in the room was on her.

Bauthynr lifted an adjacent chair as if it weighed two ounces and made himself at home at the two-person table of the Diawei and the android.

“How are you?” he asked rhetorically with sugary warmth. “It’s been so long! Since when do you work Block D again?”

“Since today,” Gena replied into her coffee mug. She was trying not to look at him, but it was difficult because he was leaning in so close with both elbows rooted on their tiny table. Others were drawing nearer, too, like flies to a feast.

“She’s on Deck 7 now,” Neyti pitched in.

Gena slammed down her mug a little too abruptly, liquid almost splashing over the sides. She shot Neyti a dark look, but they only looked amused as they leaned back in their chair with crossed arms.

Bauthynr, meanwhile, had both of his long-fingered hands clapped over his gaping mouth. “My little Gena on Deck 7!” he said. “I can’t believe it. I am so proud of you! You deserve this like no one else. Look how far you’ve come.” He shook his head, grinning. “Someone like you, rising to the top. It’s so inspirational!”

Gena felt like she was sinking lower and lower into her seat as each of his words pounded her deeper into a well of guilt and shame. This guy was dying of envy, and his weak niceties were only a thin garnish of courtesy sprinkled over his disgust.

“So tell me, what are the inmates like? Are they extra murderous?”

“I don’t know,” Gena replied honestly. “I’ve only been with them half a block so far.”

“You’ve gotta give us more than that,” someone behind her said.

“I can give you more,” Neyti offered, but Bauthynr and the rest ignored the android, their eyes glued on Gena instead.

Seeing that she had no other choice but to give them what they wanted, she sighed. “Well, one of them’s a super old shapeshifter. He’s under intense trillion-volt security all the time.”

“A kir-ik,” Neyti said.

“Who else?” Bauthynr inquired, his neatly plucked green brows furrowed over rather snake-like slitted eyes. He obviously believed he was up for anything and she was not. He just wanted to prove it.

“One of them just sits in his corner all day, glaring at me,” Gena said. After a while of feeling Kazimir’s glare digging into her back, she’d worked up the courage to turn and look him straight in the eye, to remind him who was boss. To her surprise, he just smirked at her. It gave her the creeps, and she instantly forfeited the staring contest before it even began.

As for the one named Corden, he was either insane and seemed to think she was the lunch lady, or he was just choosing to treat her like one. She definitely wasn’t about to tell Bauthynr and everyone else about that.

As for Lode... he most of all she wanted to avoid mentioning. She’d probably be expected to express her hatred of him and talk about what she was going to do to make his time here a living hell. But in truth, she kind of liked Lode so far. He reminded her of a younger boy at the orphanage who had been like a little brother to her.

“Is there any cell in particular you have to watch out for?” Bauthynr asked.

“I mean... I’m only guarding two cells. Four prisoners total.”

“Only four! Whew! That’s when you know you’re on Deck 7.”

“She’s leaving out an important one,” Neyti teased, tapping their fingers on the table.

“Are you?” someone asked.

Bauthynr leaned forward expectantly.

Gena felt a rising sense of panic. She pushed her chair back from the table. “I don’t know who Neyti’s talking about. Maybe they can tell you, since they seem to know so much. I have to head back up now.”

Scooping up her coffee, she stood to leave, but Bauthynr put a hand on her shoulder and forcibly pushed her back down. The hot liquid splashed onto her lap and she cried out in surprise, but the green-haired giant didn’t seem to notice. “No, you tell us,” he said, still smiling.

A few people chuckled. Gena was trapped. She felt like she couldn’t breathe.

“Let her be,” Neyti commanded suddenly. “She can go if she wants.”

Bauthynr withdrew slightly and stared at the android in open-mouthed surprise.

Neyti handed a napkin to Gena to soak up the spilled coffee. After registering her grateful expression, they added: “Sometimes the programming works.”

“She can go after she tells us who she’s forgetting,” Bauthynr said. “Right, Gena?”

Gena’s eyes were downcast as she dabbed at the coffee stain. “It’s just... it’s Empryean Lode. The one who assaulted the Vice Admiral.”

At that, Bauthynr’s envy came to a boil, and the entire break room predictably dissolved into excited chatter. They tried to talk to her, but Gena insisted that she really had to go, and she finally managed to slip out of the room and catch her breath.

“Well, back to work,” she sighed.
John 14:27:
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.
I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled
and do not be afraid.

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Vincian says...

Corden Grand

It was meal time for the inmates, and shift change time for the guards.

According to Corden's calculations, that would mean the guard about to take the position of overseeing these two cells was...

The new one. The gullible one. Ahh, gullible wasn't the right word. That has such a... negative notion attached to it. She was the, well, the susceptible one. She would be Corden's way in. Well, again. It's unfortunate the amount of progress that could be lost in such a short amount of time.

Aliiances had to be re-forged if Corden was going to not rot for the rest of his life in this place.

Sure enough, like clockwork, he heard shuffling and the usual commotion of small talk before one gratefully leaves and the other reluctantly takes over.

Corden shuffled to the corner of the cell, enough to a point where he managed a glimpse of the exchange but was still shrouded in enough darkness that they wouldn't notice he was there. Corden had the lights off for a reason.

There she was. She looked downtrodden. Perfect.

Corden let her pass by the two ceels once, twice, before he announced himself. "Rough day?"

She jumped. She didn't know anyone was there. Perfect. She visibly steeled herself and cleared her throat. Putting on the "tough guy" act, is she?

"Why aren't you in the cafeteria?"

"Oh, that's neither here nor there." He brushed the question off. He let a moment linger between them, like glue. "You didn't answer my question."

She continued her pacing. "Neither did you."

Touche, guard. He wouldn't allow her to be in that position again. In this game of chess, he had to become vulnerable, just a bit, to allow the sense of power back into the vacuum.

"Okay, you got me. I was waiting for you. You're not a face I've seen before, and I didn't think you would last, so between food and curiosity, curiosity won."

She mulled his words over. For a moment, he didn't know if the conversation would continue. He had to gamble, and he was beginning to think the risk didn't pay off. Then:

"How so?" Back in the game.

"Well, I know I am a lot to handle, obviously. And don't even get me started with Mr. Eldritch Abomination."

She shrugged. That was the in he needed.

"Today was a rough day, then."

She said nothing, but he noticed a slight hitch in her walking. He had gotten in, past her defenses. He had to act like he was backing off, for just a moment. Couldn't wound her pride too much.

"Okay, okay. Let me just ramble for a bit, and we'll see if I get anywhere close."

He shuffled. "Let me paint a picture. It's later in the day, whatever that means aboard this rock, and let's say, let's say you were catching up with some old friends, whatever. You just moved to a new position, so you're feeling a little homesick. You wanted some glimpse of your former life here. They don't just bring in a new guard directly to the tippy top; you've been here before.

"Shocker! It's not what you remember. In fact, people don't see you the same anymore." Time to drive it home. "Hot shot got too hot and burned those around her."

He let the silence flood back in for a moment too long. Then he spoke again. "Am I close?"

She forced out a sigh and rolled her eyes, a gesture made purposely towards him. He was close, he knew it. They both knew it.

"Listen, I get it. I wouldn't want to open up to an inmate, either. I'm the enemy. But I'm not the one who'll tear you up from the inside out in here." Maybe the eldtritch abomination that was his cellmate might, but that was besides the point.

She stopped in her tracks, and turned to face him. Eye to eye, he had to respect that. "Listen carefully, inmate. You best be careful here. Be grateful that I'm your guard, because if others heard what you just said, or, hell, if the androids were here to replace me? They would never take this shit."

There's the ticket. All aboard the train of destruction. He changed tactics. No more bullshitting around; he had to tread delicately.

"You look like you could use an ally here. I might not be a good friend, but to have someone watching your back. Well..." He shrugged, and left the ball in her court. Of course, he was not talking about her anymore. Maybe she realized that, too. Whatever the case, he thought he might have just won himself a way in.
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Magebird says...

Empyrean Lode
cowritten with @soundofmind

Prison was going just about as well as Lode expected.

He hadn't expected that it would be picture perfect; he also hadn't expected that it would be some kind of unbearable punishment. It was squarely in the middle: a little chaotic, a little bit torturous thanks to the treatment from other inmates and the guards, and little bit...boring. The prisoners were only allowed to go in so many places on the ship. Considering that he was one of the more hated prisoners by the guards because of the crimes that had brought him here in the first place, there wasn't much freedom allowed.

But that was okay, to some extent.

Lode liked routine. It didn't matter that he had barely been in the Pheligian Falcon. He could also begin to see what this place was like. Give him a little more time - maybe another day or two - and he would feel more at ease than he probably should have.

Right now, he was sitting in his cell again. He had just gotten back from lunch with Ozirma. He had been preoccupied with thinking about how lunch had gone down, but he was quickly distracted by two people nearby. The first was the guard. They hadn't talked much before, but she seemed nice. Lode wouldn't mind having more conversations with her. Besides Ozirma and Kazimir, she was one of the few people he was on relatively good terms with here.

Ignoring the fact that she was a guard and he was a prisoner.

But speaking of Kazimir: something was off. Lode had noticed it the moment he was returned to his cell. Kazimir hadn't moved from his spot on the floor for the past five minutes. Maybe that would have been considered normal for another inmate in a prison like this, but he knew Kazimir. Laying on the floor and staring up at the ceiling with a blank, glazed look to his eyes wasn't something he did. Kazimir was full of energy and spite and wit.

This was too tame.

He turned to the guard.

Maybe she knew something about what had happened to Kazimir?

"Were you here when he was brought back to our cell?" he asked.

She turned to look at him slowly, assessing him. Her eyes flicked to Kazimir.

"He was there when I got here," she said, her voice distant and stern.

Lode couldn't help it. As he sat down near Kazimir, he let out a - somewhat frustrated - sigh. If she wasn't here when he was brought in, she probably had no idea what had happened to him. And even though Lode knew he wasn't supposed to care, he couldn't help but feel a dash of worry. What if Kazimir was sick with something? He couldn't think of what illness would lead to something like what he was doing, but it was eerie seeing him just laying there.

...But there was an alternative.

An alternative he didn't like to consider.

He glanced at the guard.

"Is it...normal for prisoners here to be treated like that?" he asked, gesturing back at Kazimir with his thumb.

"Like what?" Gena echoed, narrowing her eyes.

Lode leaned up against the cell wall.

"I was thrown in this cell for dealing drugs," he said. "...And for punching the Vice Admiral. But I know what it looks like when someone is drugged. Is that something I have to worry about happening to me, too?"

Gena stared at him for a moment, glancing at Kazimir once more.

"Only if you act out like him," she said cooly.

That was a good point.

Kazimir did seem like the type to act out. But it still left an uncomfortable feeling in his chest, one that Lode didn't like all that much. He gave a little nod to show he understood the veiled threat. He was sure she wasn't going to act on it just right now, but he also knew he would have to be careful in the future. He couldn't afford to get drugged just because he acted out a little too much.

He needed to be coherent if he was going to get things done.

Getting to his feet again, he turned his back to the guard and walked over to Kazimir. He crouched down right beside him and gave him a little nudge to get his attention. He had no idea how many drugs they had given him, but he hoped Kazimir was still a little coherent.

On the second nudge, Kazimir's eyes seemed to come into focus, and he looked up at Lode, locking in on his face. He started laughing with a slow-build, deep and near-maniacal. Kazimir reached out and clamped a hand around Lode's leg.

"How was school?" he slurred.

Lode stared at him for a minute.

Then he gave Kazimir a smirk in a poor attempt to hide the relieved sigh that started to slip through his lips. Even if he was drugged, it looked like Kazimir was coherent enough to mock him. That had to be a good sign.

"Pretty good," Lode replied. "The cafeteria food was atrocious, though."

"Funnnnnny," Kazimir drawled, though he didn't laugh. He attempted to yank Lode's leg out from under him.

For a moment, it almost seemed like Kazimir was going to be successful. Lode had to admit that he was humoring him a little when he let him tug his leg out. But without any hesitation, Lode readjusted his weight so it was on his other leg and on a hand he casually put behind him.

His smirk grew a little.

"Nice try," he said.

Kazimir tugged again, not letting go of Lode's leg.

Lode, in response, plopped himself down on the ground without giving any indication that he was even a little bit phased by Kazimir's attempts to knock him off balance. It was a little awkward keeping his leg up in the air while Kazimir held onto it, but Lode could manage.

"What did you do to get so drugged up?" Lode asked, tilting his head ever so slightly to the side.

"Ssssssometimes I like how it feels," he said, pulling Lode's leg down to his chest, practically hugging it. "Make them think I'm stupid. I'm not."

Lode faltered.

"Psychological warfare then," he said. "A good tactic. But is getting drugged usual for you?"

"No," Kazimir replied. Then he threw Lode's leg to the side, finally freeing him.

"This happens every once in a while," the guard spoke up. Her expression was unreadable, as she watched the two of them. "When he gets psych evals."

Lode furrowed his brow as he put his now freed leg underneath him. Legs crossed, he glanced between Kazimir and the guard.

"And when I punch people who derserve it," Kazimir slurred.

Lode stiffened for a moment, but he put aside his unease. Kazimir had no reason to think he deserved to be punched. He didn't have to worry about his cellmate hurting him. He needed to focus more on the implications of the guard's statement.

"Who deserved it this time?" he asked.

Kazimir growled, and his eyes flashed a vibrant blue, just for a moment. As if on cue, the cuffs around his wrists let out a faint beep, and if Lode listened closely, he could hear the faint hiss of the mechanics moving.

A vein practically popped out of Kazimir's forehead as he clenched his fists, like he was fighting it, but only a few seconds passed before his expression began to relax, as if unnatturally, and his eyes almost rolled back into his head.

"You smell like lunch," Kazimir commented wearily, before he rolled onto his side and started pushing himself up.

That wasn't an answer.

Still, Lode didn't press it. If Kazimir wanted to talk more, he would have. Just the thought of the person seemed to make him angry enough to use his power when he had to know the cuffs would punish him for it afterwards.

(He tried to push away the pit forming in his stomach. He couldn't tell if it was because he was worried about Kazimir, worried about himself, or worried about this whole ship.)

He got up and moved like he was going to offer a hand to Kazimir, but drew it away seconds later when he realized Kazimir probably wouldn't want the help.

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soundofmind says...

Kazimir Petrov
cowritten with @Wolfi

A few days had passed. It was always hard to tell in a sunless, windowless existence, but the patterns of the changing shifts, meals, and everything else built into their monotonous schedule made it feel like there were days, even if they all blended together.

Kazimir had been contained to his cell for the past few days, and he was getting antsy. After his "outburst," he hadn't been allowed to leave. Not for meals. Not for doctor's appointments. Not for recreation. Not for labor. Not for anything. Of course, this was nothing compared to isolation. He still had Lode coming in and out, and he was good enough company. He was a funny dude, and easy to talk to. But the thing Kazimir liked about him most was that he got put in the pen for beating up Vice Admiral Nova.

Of course, it would've been more impressive if Lode had gotten away with it, but not everyone was invincible or untouchable. He learned that the hard way years ago.

He was blowing bubbles with his saliva when the next shift of guards came in. Sitting in the center of his cell, he watched the new ones shuffle in, and the old ones shuffle out. At the moment, he was alone. Lode was out to lunch with Ozirma, and Kazimir didn't know what Corden was up to, but maybe it was food, maybe it was something else. Corden always seemed like he was up to something.

His spit bubble popped, and he sucked his lips in to build up another one as his eyes followed one of the new guards. Probably Pluria's replacement. Genesee.

Genesee was cold and distant, just like all of the other guards, but she never badmouthed his family to him like Pluria did. So at the moment, he was only neutrally hostile towards her. At least, as much as someone could be hostile through a forcefield wall. Which was hardly at all. Kazimir got in some good glares, though.

She started marching, doing the usual back-and-forth pacing, and Kazimir got on all fours and inched towards the forcefield, putting his face only inches away from it.

"I'm going to call you Gena," he announced, just as she started passing his cell.

Gena edged away from the forcefield, looking down at him as if he were a snarling dog (and he was). "That's... fine." She resumed her march.

Kazimir's eyes followed her. This was a success. She accepted his nickname.

"You can call me Kaz," he offered.

She paused and glanced back over her shoulder, then kept walking.

"Your arm is cool," he said, leaning in just a little closer to try to get a better look at it. He could feel the buzz of the forcefield like static electricity grabbing onto the hairs of his face. Humming. "Does it turn into anything? Or is it just an arm?"

He noticed from day one that she had a metal, robot arm that looked pretty advanced, and he knew she wasn't human... but people liked to modify their bodies in all sorts of ways. If it was available, why not? Robot arms could be more useful than regular arms. Although, it did mean only one of her hands was webbed. He wondered if she didn't use them for swimming.

Did prison guards have a swimming pool?

Gena glanced down the hallway like she was making sure there were no other guards in sight. Sighing, she seemed to decide that it wouldn't hurt to answer his question. "No, it's not one of those. It's just an arm."

"Can it light up?" he asked.

Her eyebrows raised in amusement. "I mean, sort of..." She twisted her hand palm-up, and a holographic logo of the Intergalactic Guard appeared.

Kazimir's eyes lit up, and he focused on the image. Holograms were pretty common, but it was a whole different thing to be able to hold one in your hand. He'd seen a few other people in the past with robotic limbs, but he couldn't remember if they could summon images on command. He didn't know all the science of it, but he wondered if she could just think of something, and it would show up.

"Can you do a uh... a dancing monkey," he requested, still staring at the hologram. "They're an old-earth beast. They make funny noises. Hoo hoo ha ha. Booga booga."

The hologram shut off as Gena used the robotic hand to cover the tease of a grin. "I think you can do it just fine."

"Are you asking me to do a monkey impression?" Kazimir started to get to his feet.

Gena backed away, glancing down the hallway again. "I, um... No, that's not what I meant."

"Oh," Kazimir said, clearly sounding disappointed. He sighed, and his shoulders slouched for just a second before he stood up straight. Looking down at Gena like this, he felt tall. Of course, he was always tall, so that wasn't new. She just seemed small.

"You know, I don't have any robot arms," he started to say, rolling up one of his sleeves. "But I've got these."

He rolled the sleeve up to his shoulder - and he had to bunch it up to get it that far - but he was able to show off most of the snake winding up his arm. Unfortunately, he couldn't show off the head without stripping off the top part of his jumpsuit, and frankly, he liked Gena too much at the moment to do that. He didn't want to get on her bad side. He might've done that to Pluria, but then again, he never would've been able to talk to Pluria like this anyway. She would've hit him or something before that. Or yelled at him.

"One on each arm," he said. "Two snakes, and their heads are up here." He pointed to his chest. "I got them because they look cool. And also because, like snakes, I can constrict. With my arms. But mostly because they look cool."

When he looked up expectantly, Gena wasn't there anymore.

Perhaps he'd gotten his hopes up too high.

He started rolling down his sleeve and looked down the hall to see where she was at, and it turned out that Lode, Ozirma, and Corden were all being brought back from meal two. They were being ushered in by a group of guards, and he watched as the shields on the cell across from him let up, and Ozirma and Corden were pushed in. Gena was leading Lode over to his, and the shield only opened partially, just enough to push Lode in before it closed right behind him. The army of escorts marched away after mumbling a few things to Gena. Technical things that went over his head that he'd stopped listening to a long time ago. It went in one ear and out the other.

He heard the doors whish closed, and it was back to normal. Gena. Their two next-cell neighbors. And his cellmate, Lode.

Kazimir looked over at Lode, making brief eye contact.

"Gena's cool," he announced.

Lode looked from Kazimir to Gena curiously. "Oh yeah?"

"Yeah. I like her," he said, even though Gena was right there. He looked over at her and made eye contact, and then flashed her a little smile.

Gena turned away, looking a little uncomfortable. She walked over to the other cell, checking to make sure the other two were secure as she pressed some buttons on her inner wrist.

Kazimir waved Lode over, and Lode came up quickly. Kazimir leaned into Lode's ear.

"She's just shy," he whispered.

Lode raised his eyebrows a little and looked over to Gena thoughtfully.

"Did something happen while we were out?" Lode whispered back.

"No," Kazimir said. "I just decided."

Lode was quiet for a moment before he whispered back. "I think I like her too," he said in agreement. That made Kazimir grin.

"Hey Gena," Kazimir called out, back at a regular volume. "How would you rate the cafeteria food 1 to 10?"

She glanced up from her arm, eyebrows raised. She shrugged ever so slightly and turned her back to them, walking to a panel in the wall where she tapped more buttons on the screen.

"I'd say it's a three," Lode offered. "A six when they have macaroni and cheese."

"You sound so picky," Ozirma's echoey voice rang out from the corner of his cell.

"Some people have standards," Corden chimed in, sounding bored.

Now that they were talking about food, Kazimir started getting hungry. He felt his stomach rumble, and gurgle loudly. It was like a wheeze.

"Was that you?" Lode asked, looking over at him.

"I didn't fart, if that's what you mean," Kazimir said.

"That was his stomach, obviously," Ozirma explained, even though Kazimir was pretty sure everyone already knew.

"If my farts sounded like that, maybe they'd take me to the doctor, and I could get out for a minute," Kazimir mused.

Lode laughed a little. "I don't know, I feel like I've heard a fart like that before."

"You have extensive experience with farts?" Kazimir asked. Lode looked back at him with another light laugh.

"I'm surrounded by children," Corden muttered from his bed.

"When you've lived as long as I have," Ozirma said. "Your definition of children is much different."

"Hey Gena," Kazimir said again, still trying to bring her into the conversation. "Can you smell farts through a forcefield?"

She had resumed her stone-faced march, but to their surprise, she actually replied this time.

"That and more."

Kazimir burst out laughing, and the others followed after. At that exact moment, he heard the whoosh of the cell block's doors opening, and a figure came in through the door. It was another guard, in the same white-armored uniform, and he was standing at attention.

He looked alarmed. And angry. Kazimir's laughter already started to die down just a little when he saw the man make eye contact with Gena. It was at that moment that Kazimir remembered him as one of the ones who'd brought him to his last checkup. Before his extended time-out. That must've been why he didn't look too happy to see Kazimir laughing.

Kazimir watched as Gena's march came to an abrupt halt.

"Gena, what the hell is going on?" came the guard's pointed question. He had daggers in his eyes, with the way he was looking down at her. No one was laughing anymore.

"The prisoners are in good spirits after lunch, sir." A bead of sweat appeared at her browline.

"We were telling fart jokes," Kazimir said. "Want to hear one?"

Kazimir watched as the man's brows furrowed together, and his eyes widened in anger and annoyance. That was Kazimir's cue. He took in a deep breath and made the loudest, wettest fart sound he could muster. But this time no one laughed.

Tough crowd.

The man marched over to Gena quickly, until he was standing right in front of her.

"You better keep your prisoners in line, Gena." He said it like a threat.

"Hey, we were just laugh--" Lode started to say, but he zipped it when the man glared at him.

"I will, sir," Gena said. "They won't cause any more trouble on my watch."

"With this group, I doubt it," the guard said, his glare still lingering on Lode. "They're one step away from ejection duty."

"Ejection duty?" Lode whispered. He didn't sound like he knew what it was.

"Stinky," was all Kaz whispered back.

The guard turned to the panel in the wall, ushering Gena over with a jerk of his chin. "Tringali had me come here to update you on the new maintenance procedures." He pointed at things on the screen while stealing Gena's attention, and Kazimir backed away, deeper into his cell.

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Oxara says...

Ozirma Aorox

Oz knew the cameras were there in his pitch black cell and that the guards could be watching. But after a few hundred years, he could just feel that they had stopped watching him. His body tensed and his muscles felt like they were on fire, millions of tiny needles in his skins. His laugh bounced off his room and he made sure his half of the cell was completed closed. Not even Corden could get in if he wanted to, though he was doing labor now.

"Man, mortal bodies are so weak sometimes, especially if their past their due date." Oz mused out loud, "I'll give it to them though, using electricity as a bridge to my quantum frequency is ingenuis. Though I've learned that which can be your doom can so often be your savior."

Oz let his powers well. This would be a test for the falcon itself, and he felt the constraints tighten as a warning to him. He did not heed it. Instead, he went more ambitious, trying to change his entire body into another species until the Falcon system finally caught up and pumped enough power into him to stop him. But the system had failed, partially at least. His shape-shifting powers were indeed gone, but he had a few other tricks up his sleeves.

He had to act quickly, he connected to the falcon itself, a trick known by only the noble of noble kir-ik. He could see every camera, feel the ship, every electrical current, every step that the guards and prisoner stepped on him. The ship had only a few minutes until the power systems failed, and it would go into lock down. It would take about half a minute for power to be back up. His job here was to make sure they didn't know what he'd been up to.

He worked quickly, changing the records for power flow. Being idle for a mere few hundred years had actually dulled his powers a bit, plus the power meant to stop him from this. He then attacked the system controlling his constraints. Which was considerably more difficult given part of it was on this ship but another part of it was on another ship exactly one and half light seconds away. Oz quickly focused, channeling his other worldly senses, slowed time to a halt, until he could jump from the ship to the electrons of particles outside the ship, until he got to the other ship. A quick hack there made it seem like the extra power had been a malfunction, a falty wiring in one of the sensors, clearing him and their suspicions. After all they had no idea of this nifty little power he had. It would have been impossible for him to have hacked his system without leaving a trace, or so they thought. He connected back to the falcon, just in time for the power to shut down. Alarms rang out, all prisoners with cuffs were drugged, except for Kaz, which Oz had made sure of. He would be awake at least until the main power came back online.

The lock down systems were more intense than Oz had predicted. Even he was having trouble controlling the ship. He spent more time than he wanted hacking the hologram projector of the falcon , and he made a hologram in front of Kaz. With the lessing of his powers and the systems fighting him, it appeared more Eldritch than Oz. The hastily put together hologram was based more on his true consciousness than a programmed set of data points, to make it. Regardless, even a bit of his true form was a bit too much even for the famed Kaz. Kaz yelled out a string of explatives and ducked, as if he thought he was being attacked, and looked ready to fight. He attempted to punch the hologram, but of course it had no impact.

Oz spoke, half human, half eldritch, but it didn't help comfort Kaz.

"Meet me at lunch in three days time, I require your unquie... skills."

The main power kicked back in and Oz was booted from all the systems back into his body, which was now on the ground curled in around it self from the power. He had gotten the data he wanted. He could work with this, and had made contact with Kaz. To him that was a success. He just needed a few days to work out how to use this body of his with his true powers, and without setting off bells. After all, a faulty wiring after a few hundred years was believable, but two back to back problems after nothing for hundreds of years was suspicious. No, he didn't plan on giving them anything to suspect. But he did plan to keep practicing his power, and his body.


Oz had skipped getting food to get a rather quiet, non descript place, well as much as a place can be discreate in the highest security prision in the galaxy. Oz waved Kaz over, to the table. Kaz waved back, and hurried over, smacking his lunch tray down onto the table before he plopped down beside him.

Oz put a finger up to his mouth before a wave of darkness and electricity erupted from him. It surrounded them just enough to go past the table. It swirled around them almost like they were in the eye of a storm.

Oz spoke: "I have to say breaking the falcon systems was quite informative, and to be honest it was fun to use a bit of my power. Never thought just a few centauries would make me miss them as much as I do." Oz's words echoed because of the barrier around them

Kazimir's eyes lit up with recognition. "Oh wait so that was you who pulled that shit? F***in' gave me a heart attack, Oz!" Kazimir smacked the table, but he was starting to laugh. "You couldn't have just asked me when a guard wasn't looking or something?"

Oz gave a smirk. "Hey I needed data, and I got it! Don't blame me for a little bit of inconvenience in my form of message. You got it in the end didn't you? Besides, I needed that data for this nifty litte barrier."

Kazimir looked around them. "So that's what this thing is? Part of your... powers?"

"Well, my Kir-ik powers are being stabilized by this bodies' amari powers. Though my control over the electricity isn't perfect. I had to practice for days since the accident just to make sure lighting didn't strike you, or that the table would fall over because of accidental gravity... I mean, it doesn't help that this body should have died by now." Oz gave a causal shrug.

Kazimir stared at Ozirma blankly, and it was clear that he didn't fully understand, but Ozirma wasn't sure if Kazimir could fully understand.

Oz added in "So you know how electricity brides quantum frequencies including the one that your matter is born with?

"...Uh... no?" Kazimir said, tilting his head to the side like a confused dog.

"Oh boy and that's not even the real science," Oz shook his head, "Ok do you know what a mirror is and how it works quantumly?"

"I know how mirrors work," Kazimir scoffed.

"Ok so this barrier," Oz started knocking the barrier, it sending a ripple across the surface, "Basically works as a mirror. But instead of making it take the most the most simple path I make it take a path to a realm I created, using my powers and using electricity to make sure that it stays stable. But the inside it takes the most simple path. See? Pretty simple stuff, right? Though the act of it is a bit more difficult keeping unstable particles stable, when I'm so weakened."

Kazimir stared blankly at him, blinking slowly.

"Explain it to me like I'm three," Kazimir said.

Oz scoffed a little. "Okay, so we can see outside the barrier to the real world and hear what's happening. Whatever we need to sense, we can. But to them, they see, hear, taste whatever I want them to. I could kill you now and none would be the wiser. Not that I want to. Or you could explain an entire escape plan and the camera, guards would be none the wiser. Do you understand that?"

Kazimir's eyes widened. "So it's like we're in a secret bubble," he concluded.

Oz let out a large frustrated sigh "Yes we're in a giant magical bubble blown by me to exist in." Oz mused.

Though Oz had meant it as an insult, Kazimir seemed to take that as an affirmation, and he smiled.

"Okay, cool. Giant bubble," Kaz said with a nod, poking at his food with a fork. "That's sick. Why are we in it, though?"

"Well, one: I'm a bit home-sick and want to eat something different, and two: I want to make sure the guards don't hear us. They already don't like that their constraints can pull enough power to make the ship shut down and it not even knock me out. Though admittedly, they have let up the watts, which allows me to be able to do this. I suppose I should thank Corden for that."

Oz causally popped a delicate, well-marbled Kythichu (a deer-like animinal) into existence and began to eat it. "Ah, a food cooked to my preferences how nice! I've not had rare food in so long." Oz squinted at Kaz's food, but didn't extend an offer to make him food.

Kazimir gawked with wide eyes. "You can just... summon food?"

He reached out towards Ozirma's hands, like they were the source of his power.

Despite himself, Oz rolled his eyes. "Not summon. I simply applied nuclear fusion and fission in order to construct the food I've eaten in the past on an atomic level. Not even I am powerful enough to summon food out of nothing. Also, I can only do it in this bubble, or in a black hole, where I can freely use my powers. Which are quite limited right now due to the whole prison trying to suppress it. It's taking quite a lot of concentration just to keep the barrier up."

Kazimir drew his hand away for a moment, and then reached out, grabbing Ozirma's hand. He didn't seem hostile, though. Just curious.

"If I had magic hands like yours, I would make myself a steak," he said, still holding Ozirma's hand. "Or chocolate."

Oz stared for a moment. "So let me get this correct. I made the Falcon use all of its power - which by the way it's powered by a Dyson Sphere," Oz took a second to consider Kaz's mental abilities, and changed his wording. "Powered by a... sun. I went into the Falcon data base without ever go near a computer or something to access it by, but by rather becoming the ship. I used negative mass to take my conciseness to another ship, came back, hacked through the alarm doors of the ship being powered down, then made a hologram. And you are most interested in me making you food?"

Kazimir looked down at Ozirma's hand, still holding it, then met Ozirma's eyes.


Oz let out a sigh and used his power - despite some pain and wavering of his power - and made Kaz a steak and some chocolate, although it was dark chocolate.

A childlike smile of pure euphoria spread across Kazimir's face, and it almost looked like it didn't belong there, on the face of a murderer and supposed hardened criminal. Kazimir reached out to take the steak, cradling it in his hands, and tears welled up in his eyes.

"I haven't had steak in seven years," he said.

Before Ozirma could react, Kazimir set the steak down and rushed forward, pulling Ozirma into a very, very tight hug.

"I knew you were a good one!" Kazimir growled into his ear.

Oz laid his arms around Kaz. "There, there, you can have more food in the future as well. Though I may require a bit of help from you in return, if your so willing."

Kazimir gave one last squeeze before pulling away.

"Sure, whatever you want, Ozzy," Kaz said with a smile and a little shrug. He then grabbed the steak and bit right out of it, not bothering with utensils.

"Sooo this body of mine," Oz pointed to the mortal flesh he currently inhabited. "Needs a bit of practice with control of lightning. I was thinking every day at lunch I put up the uh... magically bubble, and you can help me learn the lightning. And if you get put in insolation or can't leave for lunch I may have a solution to that... but I need a bit more time. After all solving the negative mass problem of worm holes, it's quite problematic when not in a black whole. Especially when I have my powers limited."

"Oh, you just need help with lightning?" Kazimir said with a nod. "Sure, sure, I can show you -- well, I don't know if I can show you, since they nuked my powers with this, you know." He lifted up his hands, gesturing to the cuffs. "But I can explain, I guess?"

Oz showed his cuffed hands and shot out dark almost-black lighting which bounced around the mirror a little until it struck Kazimir's steak, cooking it a little. "As you can see, my problem is that I am only able to use my... Kir-ik powers in combination with my amari powers. I can't use my amari powers on their own."

"Oh shit, black lightning, though..." Kazimir said with a near-crazed smile. "I'm not half kirik, but it looks like you're kind of just throwing it around. With lightning, you have to direct it. If that makes sense. Otherwise it'll find its own path. Maybe if you focus on where you want it to go you can separate it from your food and bubble powers."

"Hmm, so kind of like I'm doing with the light in the uh... bubble of ours. You know, you're not half as dumb as you talk."

Kazimir grinned. "And you're not as freakish as you seem."

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Magebird says...

Empyrean Lode

After being in the Falcon for a few days, Lode had finally gotten a tour of it. It wasn’t the most enjoyable tour he had been on - it was far from it. The guards that had escorted him weren’t nearly as nice as Gena was. He had been shoved around corners a little roughly once or twice. He had even been pushed into a wall when it seemed like he was enjoying the tour too much. But now Lode was back in his cell, arms aching from a guard’s too-tight grip and legs sore. He wasn’t sure if he was supposed to be appalled or impressed by how sore his legs were. He had been sitting down a lot since he got here, but still. He had expected more from his traitorous legs.

He sat down on the very end of his cot.

He had told Lode that solitude was best for thinking, but prison was short on that. He was admittedly alone in his cell right now; Kazimir had been presumably escorted off to lunch while Lode was out on his tour. But it wasn’t true solitude. True solitude was finding a forgotten patch of park while off in the city. It was ignoring all obligations for the day and running off into the closest forest to sit under some trees. Even when Lode closed his eyes and tried to imagine bark next to him instead of metallic walls, he could still hear the sounds of the ship over the fictional birdsong he had conjured up.

He took a deep breath.

If he couldn’t get his solitude, he’d have to do the next best thing. He softly let his breath back out and thought about what he had seen on his tour: how close the cafeteria was to his cells, how far they were from the section prisoners weren’t allowed to go to, and how the guards patrolled different parts of the ship. If he would be able to escape wasn’t a question at this point - the real question was when he was going to escape.

He breathed in again, then let it back out.

Repeat the process, he reminded himself when his mind started to wander. In through the nose. Out through the mouth. In. Out. In. Out-

The metal of the ship hummed.

He could feel the vibrations of the ship underneath his feet and through his cot. The constant, gentle trembling was almost like the ones that Xelea’s internal shields made as they fought against the temperature and pressure of the planet’s core. Lode gave a tiny smile at the thought. This ship, at least, had decent air filters. The smog there was so bad that it was a miracle he hadn’t died from lung cancer before he turned eleven.

He let out a sigh.

...It looked like he wouldn’t be doing any planning today.

Laying down with his back on his cot, he caught a glimpse of the ceiling up above before he closed his eyes. He wondered what his childhood self would have thought if he could see him now. Lode wondered what he would think if he could see his childhood self now: malnourished, covered in a thick layer of rust that fell from the center’s ceiling, and probably with a bag full of stolen change in his pockets. Little him would have cackled if he knew that he had gotten arrested for punching the Vice Admiral, but would have probably been disappointed if he knew about the drugs. Not because they were drugs; the cosmos knew he was far from an innocent child back then. But he would have certainly been appalled at the stupidity of carrying drugs on him when sneaking into the Intergalactic Guard’s headquarters.

...And he probably wouldn’t understand his complicated relationship with Kazimir.

As if the thought had conjured up his cellmate's return, Lode heard the familiar sound of his cell opening.

He opened his eyes and sat up, letting memories of running through Xelea’s halls while being chased by tired, dirty members of the Guard fade to the corners of his mind.

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soundofmind says...

Kazimir Petrov
cowritten with @Oxara

Kazimir was always grateful for the cafeteria. You never really appreciated what you had until it was gone, and he'd been deprived of the joys of socialization while eating more than enough times for him to appreciate it when he had it.

Sure, it wasn't like all of his interactions in the lunchroom were friendly or exciting. More often than not he was taunting and intimidating just as much as he was chatting people up. The two would overlap most of the time, but it was all in good fun.

Everyone knew that, right?

Eh, he couldn't read minds.

Kazimir sipped on his soup as he looked around the lunchroom. He was sitting with Ozirma and Lode again. They often sat together, but it wasn't like the three of them were an item. Corden was always more of a floater, and Kazimir didn't even see him at meals more than half the time anyway, so he was rarely on Kazimir's mind.

In fact, not much was on Kazimir's mind at all.

He stared out blankly, slurping his soup loudly with each little spoonful for no other reason than that it was satisfying for him to hear the noise. He was caught up in the moment for a while. Sitting, slurping, and having not as much as a thought pass through his mind. He was content to just exist.

Then, he saw a familiar face emerge from the crowd, and the emptiness in his head surged with recognition, and his eyes lit up. His spoon clattered back into the bowl, and without a word to either Lode or Ozirma, he jumped out of his seat and slunk across the wall, weaved his way through a moving group of people, and then jumped out at a woman sitting at the end of a table bench.

As he leaped out to wrap his arms around her shoulders, she immediately turned on the defense. He happily let her grab his arms and flip him over the end of the table. He caught himself as he fell off the side to the ground and jumped back to his feet, and that was when she finally made eye contact with him, and he saw recognition.

"Rem!" he said with a smile.

She still looked just like he remembered. The same dark, heavy-lidded eyes. The pale white skin seemed to shine and hum like a star. The same pitch black lips and stark white hair - except now, her hair was longer, reaching down to her mid-back, and was pulled back in a low ponytail. Yellow still looked just as bad on her as it did everybody else.

Rem seemed to stiffen at the nickname, and her eyes flicked to her peers at the table.

"That's Empress Rem Qaž jÿn Voiduum," she said sternly and then paused. "But... it's good to see you're doing well, Kazimir."

Kazimir stuck out his tongue. "Yeah, yeah, small talk whatever," he said, waving his hands for her to get up.

"Just like seven years ago, you could still stand to be more discreet," Rem said in annoyance, but Kazimir knew she was happy to see him. This was just how she was. She didn't move, though, so Kazimir leaned on the table instead, putting his elbow between her tray and the tray of the guy in front of her.

"Rem, it's been forever," Kazimir said. "You survived! Solitary can't take out either of us. I never thought I'd see you again."

Rem nodded stiffly and returned her attention to the food on her plate. She started picking at it with her fork.

"I see they still haven't broken your spirit," she said carefully.

Kazimir wasn't sure what she meant by that.

"Obviously," he said, like it was a given.

"You've still got time," she said almost cooly, not looking up at him as she took a bite of her foot.

Kazimir was having a hard time picking up on whatever signals Rem was trying to send, but if he didn't know any better, he would've thought she wasn't happy to see him as he'd initially thought.

"Oh, stop looking at me like that, you stupid human," Rem muttered, pushing him off the table with ease. He always admired her innate strength.

And it was then that it seemed to hit him.

This wasn't the Rem he knew years ago when he'd first arrived on the Falcon. Back then, Rem was angry, and wouldn't take shit from anybody. She was proud, and she would fight, and she was always ready to use whatever messed up means that was necessary to get what she wanted.

She was fun.

But this Rem? This Rem was so... subdued. So boring.

He squatted near the end of the table, and he poked at her arm. Maybe this wasn't the real Rem.

She looked over at him in annoyance, and grabbed his finger, bending it back just enough for it to hurt, but not to break it. Kazimir pulled his hand away, and he watched as Rem sighed, and leaned in towards him.

"Things are different now, Kazimir," she whispered, barely audible. "You need to watch your back. Rumor is, there's a mole on the ship, but you didn't hear it from me. Don't talk to me again. Okay? Now... pretend I said something funny and walk away."

Kazimir was never known for his acting abilities, so the ugly laugh he let out was loud, and he ended up slapping Rem's shoulder as he got up to his feet to depart.

"Good one," he said, almost wishing what she said was actually a joke.

But he could feel it in his gut that it wasn't. She really didn't want to associate with him, and if it were anyone else, it might not have stung so much.

He tried to brush it off as he walked back to the table and plopped back into his seat beside Ozirma. Lode was sitting across from them, and he glanced back at Rem and then back at Kaz.

"Old friend?" Lode asked.

"Not the oldest," Kazimir said, poking at his soup with his spoon, trying not to look so much like a dog with its tail between its legs. "She's probably younger than you, Oz."

A simple crackling otherworldy chuckle came from Oz. "That's not saying much," he mused.

"I think she's like, 400 something-something," Kazimir said. "If we're talking human years."

"A Kir-ik infant is older. Actually, I'm insulting Kir-ik infants with that statement."

"How does it feel to be surrounded by babies all the time, then?" Kazimir asked, looking to Ozirma and pointing his spoon at him.

Oz let out a rather loud laugh, that somehow seemed to shake the ship. "Infants or not mortals are always entertaining. Why do you think Us Kir-ik surround ourselves with mortal kirlikra?[i]"

"Is that what you call us?" Lode asked with a small smirk.

"Kir lick uh," Kazimir repeated, intentionally butchering it.

"It's what my kind calls mortals like you, and you are the spitting image of its meaning."

"Hold on," Kazimir said. He paused, took a sip of soup, looked at Lode, and then spat on him. Lode half-ducked the spray and looked at him, unimpressed.

I'm the spitting image," Kazimir said.

Oz grumbled something in his kin language, and though the meaning passed over Kazimir's head, it clearly wasn't a compliment. Kazimir looked over to Ozirma with a smug, self-satisfied grin.

"Now I'll tell you something in my language," he said, before clearing his throat, and speaking an ancient human language (once called Russian).

"Ты мой лучший друг," he said.

"What does that mean?" Lode interjected.

"It means--"

Oz interrupted. "I'm a fool who calls a monster a best friend."

Kazimir smiled. "Awh!" He jabbed Oz in the side with the elbow. "See? It's mutual."

Oz simply gave Kazimir a stare that seemed to look into his soul. Kazimir wondered what he saw. Probably just meat. That was all people were made out of anyway.

Meanwhile, Lode was watching the two of them with a slight smile, but he almost looked concerned. Kazimir didn't really know. He was bad at "reading" people.

"And now, back to my soup," Kazimir said, leaning over his bowl, and going back to slurping spoonfuls loudly.

you ever say spidgit finner unironically?
— FireEyes