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Battlecry (Ongoing)

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OOC Notes: Hi! This is the first short story in a series I might or might not make just for funsies. Kira Vasquez is by far one of my most cherished characters to date and I love writing her—I hope you all like this and help me turn it into something unique. You might recognize the ending options as inspired by the SpaceBattles forum, and if you do, good!

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Royalty-free image by Yuri_B on pixabay.com.  

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In a place you only dream of
Where your soul is always free
Silver stages, golden curtains
Filled my head, plain as can be

As I sat down in my seat, I felt my ears twitch a bit as archaic, if a bit catchy, rock blared from a rundown jukebox. This one in particular was by a band I was familiar with, The Outlaws. They’re one of those old Earth bands that made a name for themselves with their smooth vocalist and equally smooth guitarist. I still idly hum it to myself when I’m working, like a song stuck in my head. It has roots in my subconscious after hearing it so often during my time with Sol. My first squad, and eventually the rest of my platoon, would sing when we/they were shipping off to whatever mission Command had in store for us. I guess to them it was a nod to old times and how ushering in the new was foreign, or some kind of travesty. A lot of the men in my units thought strongly about it, but I never cared either way. I just thought the music was pleasant to the ears. At least, it was a nice relief from all of the metal screeches and pulse munition fire.

I was in a bar of sorts. It looked like one of those run-down country restaurants you'd find on Mictlan or San Colette, assuming those planets were allowing visitors and moreover that the locals wanted to serve you in the first place. Around our five-man team were duos, trios, and groups of men and women alike sharing a meal or pint together. The place was full of wood, purposefully pandering to Earthers and those adjacent who favored a more "homey" setting with knick-knacks and antiques that caught the eye and alluded to the soul of humanity. Above all else, the smell of food and drink was readily apparent, punching you square in the nose the moment you stepped into the place. If I had to guess where the spices hailed from I'd probably lose it, because it was such a cacophony of fragrance that must have been lent tastes from all around the solar system.

I opened my mouth to say something, probably to sing along. Whatever I had planned to say was cut off by a voice across the table from me, the body of which had raised its glass in a manner that said, hey, listen!

“Kira!” A deep, thick Martian accent jumped into my ears and into my brain. It was a more guttural form of Sol Common that borrows some elements of Freespeak, the former a mix of Mandarin and Asian languages and the latter descending from Hindi, combining into a multi-rooted jumble that sounded incoherent or even barbarian to non-native speakers. It made me snap my gaze up to meet his, but I took it in stride and didn’t show any surprise. God dammit, Ethan, do you always need to talk so damn loud?

I perked up, shifting around in my seat as to not seem idle. I felt myself blink a few times as my concentration shifted to an image more important than the grooves on the table we sat at, which was only just better than some dented piece of balsa wood barely sanded. There was wear and tear on the mahogany, and it looked just awful. My eyes landed on Ethan, who was a man of above-average height and build, save for a longer set of legs and shorter torso. He had brown hair that made up a sloppy mullet, with a cowlick on top that solidified his position as part of the lower-class in this bar. From my perspective, it looked like he had two heads and four eyes. 

“You been awfully quiet, hermana. What’s been goin’ on with you as of late? We sure as shit don’t see you often, let alone talk to ya.”

As a rainbow grew around the sun
All my stars of love who died
Came from somewhere beyond the scene you see
These lovely people played just for me

While my mind drifted back to the music reverberating throughout the bar, my hands moved to sign. “I’ve just been dozing off.”

“Dozing off? God damn, chica, you sure got a twisted sense of purpose nowadays.”

Thanks, I thought. I appreciate you calling notice to it like it’s worthy of damn spotlight. Really helps me get accustomed to the atmosphere.

My hands moved again. “It’s difficult, is all.”

“Hey, it’s alright.” Another voice piped up. This one belonged to a Lunar chick around my age and height. Her accent was lighter, with a more eloquent edge to it; it wasn't something I could replicate myself unless I spent months practicing. It had a much more comforting tone compared to the battle cry old long, tall, and ugly had just shouted. I didn't know her name off-hand, that or it just wasn't coming to me considering what was in my system. I could have sworn I'd seen her before, what with the cool-colored ponytail and dark uniform. It looked like a service uniform. Wait, why was she wearing it out tonight...?

The world blurred as the lights mixed and shined through my eyelids. I closed them sometime after she spoke, placing my elbow on the table and my hand on my forehead to support my head as I leaned into it. My free hand immediately went to my drink, bringing it to my lips to sip from. I could taste creamy lime and ethyl alcohol assaulting my tongue and burning my throat. Whoever mixed this drink sure had no idea of what quality milk cream was…but I couldn’t be bothered to let myself get frustrated over it. Not today. I had bigger problems on my mind that were more worth my time. I wouldn’t be drunk if I didn’t. Hell, maybe I would. At this point, drinking took to me as much as I took to it.

Electric guitars soothed my nerves when I heard them, especially ones that weren’t distorted or altered much. The Outlaws, among many others from that era, had a magic in their picks that took me to a land far, far away from all of the political bullshit I usually found myself experiencing. It might have been because of the classic era they truly belonged to. It might have been because I’m an emotional mute with an eye for the little details and ears for the big ones. Either way, I felt less inclined to speak in my comforted state, and would much rather keep my voice down.

“I miss…” My hands moved, then stopped. My mind grew thick with a kind of fog I couldn’t describe, like I needed a signal flare if I wanted to see a foot in front of me. I missed a lot of things, and I honestly felt better leaving it like that rather than picking any in particular. My head hurt just being here. My hands returned their stances, one on a drink, and one on my head. 

Irving, for one. He was a damn fine rifleman.

I shook my head once more.

“A lot of things,” I muttered. My head spun a little, but I steeled myself enough not to plant my head on the table below me. I even let go of my glass, letting my arms sit by my sides and my glass on the wood. My eyes drifted back to it, watching the alcohol inside it settle. The smell of it wafted into my nostrils, reminding me of why I was here in the first place. Maybe even why I was still going, who knows?

Now if I let you see this place
Where stories all ring true
Will you let me past your face
To see what's really you

I grasped my cup one more time and brought it to my lips.

It's not for me I ask these questions
As though I were a king
For you have to love, believe and feel
Before the burst of tambourines take you there

"Kira? You're..."

For a moment, I felt my hardsuit again. The thick, chitinous mass that only Hephaestus or Zavodskoi weapon manufacturers could manufacture with ease and perfection. My breath mask clung to my face and rubbed against the bridge of my nose, the rubber seal and synthleather strap irritating my skin and pushing my hair into my head. Around me were bright lights—were they muzzle flashes? Was it all my imagination?—ones I couldn't easily describe. They felt so intricate, now, looking at them. I felt sudden acceleration push me into my seat as our engine roared to life, the rifle on my chest red-hot and burning. All I made out was the stars, so many stars, all bright and...

I feel lightheaded and disoriented. What was I going to do...?

[ ] - Change the subject. All this talk about the past hurts your head.

[x] - Tilt your head back and try to keep it together. You're with friends.

[ ] - Finish your drink and leave. Better to be alone than uncomfortable.



Edited by dessysalta
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Just like the SpaceBattles forums, if you'd like to vote for one of the ending options, just format it like this: 

"[x] - Tilt your head back and try to keep it together. You're with friends."

We'll see if it lands. I'll continue after a sufficient amount of replies come in or after a few days/a week.

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Posted (edited)


I tilted my head back and let the chemical taste barrage my senses.

Green grass and high tides forever

My head felt thick as I did so, my double-sight threatening to drift into triple-sight as my senses mixed into some great slurry that I couldn't tell the liquids from the solids. This particular drink was meant to be light, but I must have drank at least four of them so far. I couldn’t even taste the lime at this point, the vodka drowning it out and making it burn as it went down. That’s what I get for getting low-quality swill, I figured.

"I'm fine," I slurred, looking up at the Lunar woman that had started a sentence I didn’t hear the latter half of. All I cared about at this point was getting comfortable in my seat and ignoring the voices in my head that said I shouldn’t. The war had ended long ago, after all. I was just some shell-shocked girl who couldn’t keep it together after being handed some of the best offers of her life—a job aboard some corporate ship, free housing, what wasn’t to like?

As if having stole the thoughts from my head, Ethan asked:

“The war never ended for you, did it, Viper?”

I looked at him again, with feeling in my eyes this time. My face felt cold, the expression on it probably as lifeless as the chair beneath me. Ethan must have seen it, and I know Solrise, that Luna, did.

The air around us grew tense and quiet. I leaned my head back over the back of my chair and eyed the ceiling. I could see a slow-moving fan that must have never gotten replaced, that or it was following the rest of the bar’s style and patron-conformities. I set my gaze on one blade as it went around and around, ignoring the pain in my neck from the spine of the chair that dug into it.

The jukebox was far away from me, now. Whatever words The Outlaws had in store for me, I didn’t have the ability to make them out.

“I know it was hard, girl. It was hard on all of us.” This time, an English accent. It was midtone and scratchy, the body it stuck to thinner than your average weight-lifter. “I can’t speak for what you saw and did, but I know there’s better ways to process it, right? I can give you a number for a shrink if you’d like.”

I put up my hand and waved it dismissively.

A shrink. That’s comical. God, that’s really funny, actually. That’s…

At first I smiled, then I grinned, and then I chuckled. I felt chortles emit from my head, then raised my eyebrows as they turned into wheezes and twitches. There weren’t any words for that, let alone any I’d actually use.

“No.” My laughter slowed to a stop. “No, I’m long gone. I’m sure the only thing a therapist would say to me is that I need to start taking pills or some other ‘self-help’ spiel that starts with paper exercises and ends with a padded room.

“You know what I think I need?” I leaned forward, looking at the lot of them. 

I didn’t get a response. Maybe I just didn’t hear it. 

“I need…”

My lips stopped after having mumbled a few half-baked phrases of sorts. What was I even saying? I had nothing to, that’s what I thought. I shook my head and laid my head on my arms, my eyes fluttering shut.

“Eso es lo que necesito, hombre...” I whispered as I drifted off.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

All our times have come
Here, but now they're gone
Seasons don't fear the reaper

Nor do the wind, the sun, or the rain

I grit my teeth as I wrapped gauze around my wound. The round that caused it tore straight through my hardsuit, through my thigh, and out the other end. I didn’t feel like I was dying, but I certainly didn’t feel great, either. If it had hit something important, I’d have been down in a second, I’m sure. I’m glad it didn’t, although it did make the firefight that ensued that much harder. I had to kick off my hardsuit in a hurry, and it was a godsend that we were in a pressurized area. I might’ve lost my leg if we weren’t.

The mesh that had been sprayed on it was already working its magic. I couldn’t quite sprint, but that was fine. I’d live a little while longer.

I pushed myself up as I took note of my surroundings. It was some civilian freighter, with various goods like food and supplies for, I’m guessing, an airdrop to Luna. There wasn’t much of note except for a crate full of weapons, but the pilot has, or had, a warrant. These guns seemed of recent make, Zavodskoi laser technology that was a cut above typical Nanotrasen rifles. The rest of the cargo hold was unappealing, but had the logo of Orion Express plastered on the side walls. Been a minute since I’ve seen them. Hauling companies out here usually make big bucks if they’ve got the manpower to back them up.

I cleared my throat, which was dry and somewhat hoarse after all of the yelling I was put through. It was a tough set of events that led me to where I was now, but at least we’d prevailed in the end. I should check on the rest of my men to see how they’re doing. 

I didn’t get far out of the hold before one of them ran up to me.

“Pirates are contained, sir.”

It was Nelson, a rifleman with a head like a bowling ball and a figure built like a brick shithouse. He was still under his hardsuit, but I could see a few stray strands of almost-gray hair behind his orange visor. He looked a little more groomed than usual, with a cleaner shave and less shadow on the rest of his face.

“Good.” I looked him up and down, checking him for injuries. He got out unscathed, from the looks of it. Lucky bastard. “And the rest of us?”

“Irving took an energy blade to the chest, it’s not looking good. He’ll live, but that scarring’s gonna fuck him in the long run. Rest of us are banged up, but no one’s out of action. Mann’s got a coupla broken ribs.” Nelson hit a button on the side of his chestplate, retracting the helmet and revealing everything above his neck. He had some dried blood below his nose.

“You have anything else for me?” I reached into my pocket and produced a cigar, setting it in my mouth and looking for a lighter in one of my pockets. Nelson came through with his own, lighting it for me. I nodded my head in thanks.

“Pirates seem to be of Himean descent. One of them mouthed off to me about hunting Hephaestus workshoppers, so that’s the closest thing we have to a statement thus far.”

“Si. You get the one in the exosuit?”

“Yeah. He was running a basic power cell in a powerloader. The thing shut down and he pretty much just gave up.”

“Can I have a chat with him?”

“Yes, sir. He’s secured in the cockpit.”

I gestured to Nelson, allowing him to take point. He responded with a single nod and then turned to walk.

When we arrived in the cockpit I was greeted with the sight of some bloodied, middle-aged man with a furrowed brow and dirtied jumpsuit. His attire didn’t have any sort of association or company patch, which I found somewhat unusual given the circumstances. He was just as faceless as his weapon.

“Yes?” The man asked. His voice was gruff and showing age. 

He seemed very to the point. I can respect that.

“Your name.” I said, and stepped over to check his cuffs. He’d managed to slip out of them, but he made no motion to run. I guess that was for the better, since he certainly couldn’t have come back from all this. I twisted his arms getting them back on. He didn’t resist as I set him onto a chair.

“John Willard.” He replied, settling down once he was restrained again.

“John, why did you attack an Orion ship this far away from Luna?” I stepped back and nodded to Nelson to let me be. He obliged, walking out.

“I wanted its contents.”

“And those contents were?”

John looked off to the side. “The weapons you saw in the hold.”

“What weapons?”

“Zavodskoi rifles.”

“For what purpose did you want them?”

“For whatever reason you associate with taking weapons.”

I slowly nodded my head as he gave that last answer. Then, I closed the distance and drove my good hand into his face. It tore back open a cut that was stitched on his cheek. When he met my eyes again, he looked amazed, as though he didn’t expect that.

Gilipollas. Try that again.” I crouched to get to eye level with him.

“...I intended to use them for shit like this.”

“Thank you, John.” I stood up straight. “Is everyone with a gun associated with you?”

“I guess so.”

“You guess so?” I tilted my head. “Well, they either are, or they aren’t, which one is it?” 

“Anyone who wasn’t already on this ship.”

“Are you lying to me?”



I puffed out smoke and then sat in the chair a few feet to his side, swiveling it to keep my body pointed towards him. He didn’t bother doing the same. Miserable sad sack…

“Where are you from, Willard?”

“Biesel, Tau Ceti.”

“I hear that place is nice this time of year. You from Mendell?”

“Am I gonna get shot if I don’t tell you?” He cocked an eyebrow, clearly confused with what I was doing.

“If we wanted you dead, we would have killed you already, hijo.”

“...No, I’m from Phoenix Port.”

“Rough start, down there. Your ship belong to Einstein Engines? We haven’t looked it over yet.”

John looked at me for a long time, bending over slightly as if to take in my full figure. It took him a few seconds to say, “No, custom-make. Modified a Nanotrasen one.”

“Mhm…You have any family down on Biesel?”

“Some friends. An aunt, maybe.”

I felt a twang of pain shoot through my leg as my holster brushed against it. Dammit! My leg jerked the direction opposite the pain, which only dug it into the chair and made it worse. My hands gripped the arm rests, dulling the pain as I came to terms with it. The man in front of me looked at me with an expression I couldn’t describe. What was that supposed to mean? Was it a look of malice? Was he mocking me?

No, no, he couldn’t be. Calm down, Kira. You're the one in charge here.

“You think they’d be happy with you doing what you’re doing now?” I asked, my voice steady.

“Are you trying to guilt me?”

“No. I’m asking you an honest question. I know my own family wouldn’t be happy with me if I did this.”

"It must be hard to be you."

Me siento como si estuviera hablando con una pared de ladrillos, I thought. I’m getting tired of this. Fucking Biesellite.

[x] - Keep talking. He'll say something you like sooner or later.

[ ] - Make him pay. 

[ ] - Something else... (Write in)


Edited by dessysalta
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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi, quick update: Life is hitting a little hard and I need to double-check my story notes to see where I can take this. I'd say stay tuned for another update within a week or so.

If there isn't a third vote by then, I'll phone a friend.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Posted (edited)


I decided to keep talking with him. I know he'll say something I want to hear sooner or later.

That said, it might be wise to end the era of friendly chatting. I kept going. No reason to start breaking him now.

"Willard, do you understand what's happening currently?" I asked him, tilting my head to the side. It was a sarcastic question, intentionally so. If he was so dumb that he needed this explained to him, maybe we might be better off...

"You're interrogating me. You want to hear something that gives you a lead on someone or someplace else." The prisoner shrugged his shoulders and leaned back into his seat, like he was getting comfortable. It took every inch of me not to leap at him and drive his skull into the hull plating. "I might get a deal if I give you a key worth knowing. You might kill me if not. Does it matter now?"

I chuffed more smoke out of my mouth after letting most of it absorb into my lungs. The heat and nicotine gave me a short-lived rush of relief after all that, but the bad news is when my leg pain came back it hit just as hard. The difference this time is I didn't jolt or show it. 

I studied him again.

"Does it?" I leaned back myself, crossing my bad leg over my good one. That seemed to help. Now a new problem arose: the feeling of dried oil and sweat in my fatigues. Having been moved around so much to have my wound properly treated, paired with working in this claustrophobic freighter that had seen better days and probably didn't have a cleaning crew worth half what they are now, I felt every bit of dust or grit on the interior of my clothes. One of my hands went to scratch at it, but it didn't relent very much after it. I just had to get used to it.

John was surprised at that remark. I could see it in his face. It wasn't a kind of visible, "oh shit" surprise you might see on a petty thug when they watch a cop round a corner, but his complexion softened and shifted away from his dismal glare to a more cold, not-quite-understanding level of fixation on the gaze he set on me.

Come on baby (Don’t fear the reaper)
Baby, take my hand (Don’t fear the reaper)
We’ll be able to fly (Don’t fear the reaper)
Baby, I’m your man

"I don't know." He said, finally. He sounded tired. I could hear an edge in his voice pronounce itself more than it had previously.

Good. Now we're getting somewhere. I'm surprised he snapped this soon, they're not usually so weak-willed. Then again, it's probably the first time in his life he's gotten into a firefight.

I finished my cigarette and cast it aside.

"Why did you really go after this ship, Willard?" I peered at him, softening my own expression a little bit.

"...It was for the weapons. Hand to God. But I wasn't going to use them. Zavodskoi guns go for a lot around the system." He averted his gaze from me finally, like a child who'd just gotten scolded by their mother.

"Just sell them to the highest bidder, then?" I clarified.


Smugglers. I guess that makes sense. With what Sol has been pulling lately, everybody's looking to get decent arms that can hold their own in the event of some kind of uprising or invasion. Sure is dumb as shit they can't see Sol won't invade itself. At least, I'd sure hope so.

"I admire your restraint and ethics when boarding this ship. Honest. It's not very often pirates leave the crew alive." I reached for my pack to grab another cigarette, stopped myself, then let my hand back down. "So far off the Highway you can expect blood and guts every which way. You know, I saw a coupla Earthers ram into a civilian habitation not too long ago. Fucked them right up. Disgusting. Thank you for saving me that sight, John." I wasn't lying when I said that. After that scene near Callisto, I didn't need more towns painted red by schmucks looking to earn a quick buck.

John didn't respond to that. Instead, he said: "I'm not a bad person."

"I don't think you are, John." I replied.

"Really?" He scoffed. "I bet now that I've--"

"John. I do not think you're a bad person." I raised my voice a little bit to punch it into him. He froze and met my eyes again as I did. "Thievery is usually done out of necessity. Not always, but usually. Armaments I can't excuse, but I can understand the reasoning behind it. Hell, maybe I'd be boarding some trade ship if I was in your situation, right? Human condition, all that."

I paused. "We aren't friends. But you have some sense in you. Frankly I'm astonished you didn't kill any of us or get killed yourselves. Everyone on both sides suffered minor injuries, and your men are being treated. Now, if you want this conversation to keep going well, I want you to answer a few simple questions for me. Not a lot. Most of it's already on the record."

John, again, didn't respond for awhile. He just kept staring at me, flicking his eyes around the room periodically and I can only assume admiring the architecture while lost in thought.

"Alright." He finally said.

"Good. Firstly, any associates who got you into this? Here, Biesel, anywhere."

"No. My own accord."

"Alright. Your men, did you put them up to this, or did they volunteer?"

"Volunteer. Group effort. Had to be if it was going to work, we all figured. I don't think any of them have associates."

"Do you regret what you've done?"

Another long pause from him. This one made the air grow thick with tension. By now, my pain was a far cry, with how intently I was focusing on this convict.

"...No. I'd do it again. A hundred times. Money is money."

I nodded my head. "I can understand that."                                                                                                                   Wasting my fucking time.

As I kept staring at him, I felt my mind drift a little bit. I wasn't a chain-smoker, but my injuries and frustrations bottling up was probably enough to set my mind afloat. I didn't really consider my position in speaking to the man with all of my malaise and conditions. It just felt like the natural thing to do.
                                                                                                                                                                                     This prick.
I wanted to look for another question to ask him, but I sort of...blanked. That was all I cared about, frankly. Leave the rest to police chiefs. They'd handle it.
                                 "Is this how you were trained to fight? You're pathetic!"                                                                                                     "You mother fucker."

                                                                                              "Shit! Shit, man! M-My-y fucking-g--"

My leg screamed at me as the bloody bandages around it sent a thunderbolt of pain through me. They must have touched a nerve, I swear. It made me grunt. No, it made me yelp. I saw the color drain out of everything in front of me as the pain only grew worse by the second. It was like someone had stuck a hot rod of lead into me and was twisting it around, begging the devil to make it worse while it happened.

"D-Dios-s m-mio!" I exclaimed. Everything was so dark, I couldn't see a foot in front of me.


...Slowly, I felt my senses shift back into my limbs. I had stood up somewhere in the middle of all that. That didn't surprise me. What did was the...

Iron sights. Steadied on the man in the chair. The glowing dots burned into my retinas. When the fuck had I pulled it?

"Do it." He said.

"Lo haré, hijo de puta." I roared.

"Do it." He said again.

This piece of trash. I swear to God, I put so much effort into being nice and reasonable, and he just tells me to fucking do it? Well, I'll tell you something, asshole, I'm no pushover. I fucking earned the callsign Viper. I earned that shit! And you know what? I don't give a fuck about you and your little pirate gang! I'll kill each and every last one of you scumbags until there's none of you left and I won't feel a goddamned thing except recoil. I'll do it, you son of a bitch. I'll fucking...

[ ] - Pull the trigger.

[ ] - Pull the trigger. 

[ ] - Pull the trigger.

[ ] - Calm down. This isn't real. You wouldn't do something like this.


Edited by dessysalta
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  • 4 weeks later...

WOO boy, we're getting close to a month since last update. Crazy. I won't spoil anything major, just know that a lot of it's going to be confusing war-induced psychosis, because that's pretty much all I have the mind to write for this particular situation LMAO. I've been running over concepts in my head but haven't done a whole lot of writing atm; been focusing on my mental health and other projects, like art commissions and such.

As far as feedback goes, assuming any of you want to gimme that, I made a thread for my characters that also doubles as a feedback page for Battlecry. If any of you have ideas on where to take the story (or my characters) (or just have feedback in general) and want to post them without clogging this thread, that's the place to do it.

It's nice to see at least a few people like what I'm writing. First time I've actually undertaken a project like this, so we'll see where it goes. Maybe I'll get some kind of award from the Aurora team, lmao.

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  • 2 months later...


I pulled the trigger.




- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Fill yourself again with hollow words
But you should know by now they all have heard
So careful what you say
When you walk away 
and haunt the halls again

Pain. A very familiar feeling, in a not-so-familiar environment. My arms and legs ached, but most importantly my ribcage, the lower right quadrant of which harboring a sting I recognized as the same aggravating lightning bolt you felt when you crack something you shouldn't. I coughed up spit, and the pain worsened. As my surroundings finally faded into view past the triple-sight I had previously, I recognized the place. I was still at the bar, and I could just barely remember who I was. Kira Vasquez. That's a good name, if not for the heartbreak and hardship attached to it. You know, come to think of it, my dad told me this story of how it was supposed to be Vazquez, with a Z. Turns out my four-great grandfather had misspelt it when he got his name change, which was particularly bizarre given he had a writing major, and a minor in political sciences. What always confused me about Sol was...

I shifted my weight onto my hands and knees. Something knocked me out of that looping dead-end thought pattern, but I couldn't tell what. Everything was so muffled and hard to understand, as if coated in thick cotton. My fingers, which were normally hypersensitive tools of constant labor, felt like they were wrapped in duct tape, placed in mittens, then coated with Vaseline. The one persistent feeling was that pain, which was serving more to aggravate me than raise my alarm bells. It had my attention, and shortly thereafter, it had my disinterest.

"Kira." That Martian voice again. I had to channel all of my willpower into remembering the name of who it belonged to again.

Ethan, again. Of course he let this happen. I shouldn't have expected anything less.

"Do you need something?" Is what I tried to say. Instead what came out was, "Duh...mmgh?" I didn't even bother to sign.

Then, somewhat relieving me, I felt arms dig under my own and hoist me up. Although in hindsight I realize this was a particularly normal motion, at the time it felt like I was swimming in water, all the while fighting against gravity, which was inverting itself up and down, left and right. I kicked my legs out and locked them in place, standing up shakily. That rib of mine wasn't happy with the commotion, sending bit after bit of that same organic message: hey, fix me! I felt like a child who was being reminded of the bell's timing at school, getting one-two punched by my own ignorance and to a degree my own apathy, manifesting in this quasi-sane bubbling and bellowing of anger and inattention. It was bordering on driving me crazy, the more it went on. Here I was, awakened from a peaceful, if very intoxicated and stress-driven nap and dunked into the waters of reality again.

Man, I really do need an outlet.

I put my full body into shaking the Martian off me, stumbling forward but catching myself. I swayed deliriously back and forth, the ground beneath me appearing to rise and fall. I knew this feeling. I knew how to combat it. I knew how to ignore it. I waved a hand at Ethan and grumbled words to the effect of, "Shut the fuck up, you Red planet outlaw." and started making my way out. It was surprising to see one leg go in front of the other again and again without tripping up on each other, an act my body is fond of when I'm drunk enough to see stars. Apparently none of my colleagues like that, because somewhere in the middle of the stream of audible vomit I heard one or two more shuffle up from their seats. Just when I thought I had some independence, I saw the bar shift--it turned on its side and then rammed into me. That pain got worse, going from aggravating to excruciating. From my throat came this guttural, visceral squawk of fury and torment helping the alcohol to better clear out of my system, and at the same time making it even harder to focus.

"Kira, you're falling!" The Lunar woman called after me. What was her name? Even so, it was a bit late to say that, wasn't it?

Fine, then. My thoughts drifted in and out of legibility. Pick me up and drag me out like you always do.

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