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Unswayed

 
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Lirssa Sarengrave
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 12, 2017 3:26 pm    Post subject: Unswayed Reply with quote

“Just how did you find me?” Lirssa did not whisper. The noise of the club was loud. No one was going to overhear them.

Coach looked weary and worn. There were more lines around his eyes, and they had darkened with deep shadows. One finger scratched at the paper labeling his bottle of beer. “Not hard. Matt Simon was fighting. It was an event that required tickets. Meant you were calling in favors. You don’t spend money on something like that. Also why I didn’t feel guilt pulling you out of there.”

Lirssa sighed as she settled in the chair across the table from him. He knew her too well. So few did. He had been her mentor, and saved her backside a few times with the school authorities, for the years she had spent at academy. The first to call her Lulu. The one that had all the connections. She owed him. Maybe always would. No matter. Some loyalties never swayed: Matt and Koy Simon. Coach. Alain DeMuer. Lucky Mallorek. Her brother. Jeb – where was Jeb these days? People she rarely saw, if ever anymore, could call on her at a moment’s notice. They were distant enough to keep memory untarnished. Close enough to know how to use her loyalty.

“What’s it you want, Coach? Note is pretty serious.”

“Nothing like ‘get here now’ to make you run.”

“From a few.”

“Honored.”

She snickered and he took a drink from his bottle. “Need your help, Lulu. Need to get out of town without the usual paperwork and sensor tracks.”

The lurch in her stomach gripped her heart and began a painful strangle. She shifted in her chair, heel of her hand pressing at her chest to stifle that feeling, and sat up straighter. Worry that someone would be listening now tickled at her thoughts. She did her very best to not look around the club and still note through mirrors and shadows who was close; who could be listening and be interested in what was being said. Coach wasn’t exactly a young man, though his race tended to age slowly enough. Still, a man his age sitting with a woman her age was going to give the average person a reason to look twice, no matter what their conclusion. “One time. One time I get away with this, and it’s suddenly my best known move.”

“Pretty valuable move to get off a planet without being traced.”

That nervous sickness bubbled inside. “Don’t have a ship, ya know.” Not one able to fly at least. “And why don’t we just fix the problem instead of sneaking you off and giving authorities all manner of reason to get cranky with ya? Come on, Coach, can’t be all that bad.”

“No matter how chaotic you think this world is, Stars End authorities still frown on murder, Lulu.”
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"Anyone can handle a bad girl. It's the good girls men should be warned against." - David Niven
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Lirssa Sarengrave
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 12, 2017 1:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"I didn't sign up for this, Ansel!"

"Don't start with me, Lulu!"

Another blaster shot lanced through the vacuum of space, it's chemical reaction vibrating through to a heated strike against the side of Boatswain. Coach sat in the co-pilot chair across from Ansel. "You need to switch places," he grumbled.

"I'm not leaving the life of my ship in her hands -- she burned up her last one!"

Coach snarled, "And I'm not leaving our lives in your hands. Get to that tired old machine in the turret and keep them off our backs." The snarl had eased into a calm, unarguable command.

Lirssa did not like manning the guns. Saving her unexpectedly-longer-life or not, she hated fighting people when she couldn't see their faces. Last time she had done this was with Inferno and his crew. He had known, and he had tricked her into the job.

Seeing their eyes was important. It was that last step. The decision to know the full weight of what she was going to do. It made it personal. It made it harder to do.

Her gift had a similar burden. She could help, sure. She could also destroy -- and not see a single widened pupil or shocked last burst of breath.

"Get out of my way," Ansel pushed at her shoulder. The white knuckled grip on the turret handles had nothing to do with tension, and everything to do with the slenderness of her fingers in opposition to the abuse her joints had taken over the years.

Lirssa scrambled the short distance of the corridor to the bridge, dropping onto the chair as another blast sent them ten degrees off course. The seat was still warm from Ansel, and it felt wrong in some way. But as soon as her hands were on the helm, it all felt right.

In these moments, she felt connected to everything. The ship hummed or whined its information faster than the monitors could spit it out -- faster than Coach could let her know. Eventually, he fell silent.

* * *

There was only the sound of the wounded engines, churning their best as Ansel worked to patch them up. They still had a week before they would get to a station, and luckily the place they were headed.

Coach lay on the bunk bolted to the wall, his arm draped over his eyes. But he was awake. Lirssa knew it as well as she knew the sound of the ship. She sat at the table, legs drawn up in lotus style. The fraying edge of her coverall sleeve twisted and tugged between fingers. "Why did you do it?"

He chuffed a raspy breath. "How long have you been holding in that question?" Dragging his arm away from his face, he let it droop over the side of the bunk. He looked at her with a worn apathy, and the touch of amusement was mixed with a sorrow.

She did not answer him. It was from the first. He knew that. He was buying time in his answer. "You've not denied it to me -- to anyone. You fled first thing you heard of it. Actions of a guilty man."

"But you still can't believe it, can you?" He sat up, hunched over his knees as his legs dangled. The boots were glossy, perfect black ankle boots. He had always been to the letter of military style dress. Still was, even years past his serving, past his teaching, past.., well everything now. Except living.

"I suppose I can't." Lirssa pouted as she shrugged, feeling childish in her biased belief in him.

"Time to tell a tale, Lirssa." He used her name. "Not one of your fancies you make up. True words."

"From your point of view."

He chuckled and nodded. "Yeah."

"Okay. Tell it."
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"Anyone can handle a bad girl. It's the good girls men should be warned against." - David Niven
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Lirssa Sarengrave
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 04, 2017 12:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"You wanted them to target you -- focus on you," Lirssa rubbed cold fingertips against sandpaper weary eyes. The soothing feeling made them water. She wiped the moisture away, blinking back to Coach sitting across from her. "Distract from...? Who were you saving?"

One shoulder rose higher than the other in a mild shrug. It brushed along dirty blond hair no longer kept military short. "Whomever."

She had sat through the tale. Just his side of the story. What he had done, when, how...but not the why. That important point of it all -- why? She snarled over the word in complaint, "Coach..."

"You can stop calling me coach now, I should think. It's Chris."

She knew that. But it was so...plebeian. 'Coach,' while not a title of nobility or even high inspiration, gave him rank in her world. It was status that set him apart. It set him in her pantheon. "Coach," she began again in more of a sigh than a snarl, "You acted like a guilty man to protect someone. Who was it?"

He stood from the bunk, rubbing his palms down his pants that were well smeared already with grit and grime of several days wear. "Does it matter? It worked. If they ever find me, go through all the hassle of proof, find me not guilty.... Well, it'll be far too late to find them."

"Look, I'm no stranger to the flip-card plan you're pulling here, but I - and Ansel -- are helping you along. The more I know, the more I can help you. I bain't," she stopped. Sometimes the old words pushed out before she could catch them. "I'm not your daughter."

Lirssa saw his flinch and glare just before he turned away for the bridge. "Speaking of Ansel, I should take the helm and let him rest. Only a few days more, and this will be done."

When he stepped away, Lirssa had to stand and stretch to catch at his sleeve. The slight tug was just enough to stop him. Maybe he wanted to stop. Maybe it was the teacher in him keeping him from stepping away from a student, even with both of them long past the school years. "You have kids?"

"Yes."
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Cirque du Soliel contortionist -- skills similar to Lirssa's

"Anyone can handle a bad girl. It's the good girls men should be warned against." - David Niven
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 30, 2017 10:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

All the journeys of this great adventure
It didn't always feel that way
I wouldn't trade them because I made them
The best I could, and that's enough to say
-Headlong Flight, Clockwork Angels, Rush

She should have known. Shouldn't she?

It wasn't her place to know. In the weeks passing, she had not asked. She had not asked then, in the years of loud and chaotic hallways of school, and she did not ask now in the silence and vastness of space.

Headlong flight. Forever. Perpetually. Just keep moving.

"Lirssa?"

Ansel's voice carried over the intercom. Lirssa stopped her circuitous pacing of the cargo hold to listen. "Destination is coming up. Could use you at the helm."

Ansel willingly giving the helm to her kept her still only a moment. No more than seven strides toward the bridge and she managed to stop and think.

Her fingers curled into fists. Short, ragged nails indented her palms. How dare he act as captain and she crew. If he thought he might convince her of his grand dreams of a shipping empire by just acting like it was so, he had another think coming.

So did she.

It was so hard not to just act. To storm up to the bridge and give him what for. But she walked. And she thought.

He had asked more than commanded. The tone acquiescing not ordering. Ansel was altering the dynamic, and it unnerved her. It was all tilting far off balance.

When she arrived on the bridge, Coach did not talk to her from his seat across from the helm. Since their conversation, and his revelation, their communication had been limited to what had to be said.

Ansel's smile was a bounce in the corner's of his mouth hidden by a curl of mustache. "Got to thread this needle." As Ansel passed her by, he said, 'I'll check cargo and make sure everything is ready to offload."

Lirssa sat and wrapped her fingers around the helm. "Coach," she cleared her throat a little when the word seemed to tangle in her mouth. "If you could turn off the auto stabilizers, please. They'll fight me as I dodge and bounce gravity pulls."

"Got it," he spoke as his fingers moved over the panel.

The planet had managed to trap thousands of asteroids in orbit, creating a rocky blanket. Through that and down to the planet, they would leave Coach and hope his troubles had not chased him across space and time to trap him up. Or her.
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"Anyone can handle a bad girl. It's the good girls men should be warned against." - David Niven
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 10, 2017 9:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It went smoothly.

That alone made it a story worth telling. But a dull story. Nobody would want to hear about how they got through the asteroids without a bump, or at least nothing deflectors couldn't handle, landed, unloaded cargo, got paid, and said goodbye to Chris.

No grand battle. No near capture. There and done.

Ansel found a good cargo to take back to Rhydin -- skin implants that projected holograms over the skin. It changed a person's look in an instant. Not their smell, though, so that's something for the good guys to work with if scum want to hide their criminal activity.

That made Lirssa snicker.

"What?" Ansel asked, looking up from the digipad he was reading.

"The skin-holos. No more picking 'em out by sight. Have a smelling line up." Her nose crinkled even as she laughed again.

"Or a reader go rifling through the mind." He smirked with a dry huff.

That made Lirssa's skin crawl, but she nodded and adjusted her grip on the helm. "Yeah. That, too."

No one needed to go through her mind. She didn't even want to do that. Even with it mostly good. Mostly lucky.

"We're nearly there." Ansel sighed, setting aside the device and looking past her to the viewport. "I guess you'd say nearly home."

Home. Lodestone. "Wandering course of a busy bee to a hive."

"What's that?"

She had spoken the words without meaning to. "Nothing. Just agreeing."

One more journey. One more story. Dull story.

Keep moving.
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"Anyone can handle a bad girl. It's the good girls men should be warned against." - David Niven
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 15, 2017 1:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

“Lirssa Redbane Sarengave al Amat.”

The voice was warm – a woman’s voice - , but it spoke Lirssa’s name like a warning.

The library in Stars End Center was robust in its use of plastisteel and transparent polymer windows. It preferred blues and greys over warm browns and greens. The furniture was cozy enough, but there was always a business, austere feeling. People there were on a mission – to learn, to discover, or to get away.

Lifting her head from her hand where it had rested while she was reading Lirssa said, “Well there’s my history all tag-a-line.” She did not turn to face the woman. No one nearby looked up. The vast room felt very close. “You’ve got something on your mind.”

When Lirssa did turn slowly about in the chair, she noted the others continued to do their best at keeping their eyes down to their books or digipads, as if they could keep track of what was going on through the tops of their skulls.

The woman and two others with her, a Kumpari and male human - or human looking-, were decked out in Port Authority gear. Cute insignia on their badges, all stars and grandeur with some chaotic lines. Lirssa grinned to the woman who said, “I’m Agent Rutlidge, and what I have is an arrest warrant.”

“That’s lovely,” Lirssa kept her smile and remained seated.

There was no sign of exasperation, irritation, or even humor. Agent Rutlidge was as precise as her long blond hair and line of nose. Tough audience. The agent went on. “You are under arrest for aiding in the escape of Chris Amberfall. You’ll come peaceably.”

No options given. The last thing Lirssa needed was to become a fugitive herself. And, in the end, she was guilty. Go the honest route. Evidently, go that route when it throws her in jail, but still that honest streak had a way of cropping up better late than never. “Right.”

All three of the agents tensed.

Standing slowly with her hands out where they could be seen, Lirssa laughed, “No, really. I’ll go without a fuss. No shenanigans from me. I mean, you were so polite about the arrest. Seems only fair.”

Still no laugh. Even if the agents could not laugh, Lirssa did. Inside it was a roaring, wild thing in her head. In the world around her, the staccato release of breath barely heard.

No one around them was pretending to be oblivious now. They watched as the Kumpari’s tentacles wrapped her arms to hold her while the other agent put the manacles around her upper arms. With one push of the device, it hummed alive and sent a numbing pulse to deaden her arms.

Lirssa was escorted out into the chill sunshine and on to the darkness of the cargo hold of the Port Authority shuttle.

Maybe they would let her be a cellmate with Penny.
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Cirque du Soliel contortionist -- skills similar to Lirssa's

"Anyone can handle a bad girl. It's the good girls men should be warned against." - David Niven


Last edited by Lirssa Sarengrave on Mon Dec 11, 2017 3:21 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 10, 2017 9:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It was a moment in time. One to follow after another. Another would come after.

Or could.

Yes, could is the better word. Possible to the probable.

Lirssa did not need to go wandering down the paths of Aristotelian philosophy, even if thinking of it made her think of her old tutor, Professor Jolly. And then other teachers. And other people. More and more, letting her mind trip and stumble over images of other moments in her life.

The cell in the security barracks was sterile in its whites and greys. Comfortable in a minimalist fashion. And all she had were her thoughts; her imagination. A doubled edged knife of a gift that was, to be sure.

Lirssa tried to be so very still, close her eyes, and strain to hear someone else moving -- breathing -- but she couldn't. Just the nature of the cells all lined up in pretty, silent rows until someone visited.

Footfalls first. A tap, tap, tap along with the synchronous steps meant someone official. The plasti-steel of the badge tapping against them as they walked. Just one person to stop somewhere along the corridor. Would it be three cells down? Two past? Maybe he or she was just walking the line of cells to taunt the inmates with anticipation and dread.

But the footsteps did stop. There. If she opened her eyes, whomever it was would be right there just beyond the cell vibrascreen. "He said you were small." The man spoke. His voice was the tone of a broom across a floor, both harsh and soft as a whisper.

Lirssa rolled her head to face him from where she sat in a lazy lotus, her back against the wall that faced the corridor. "Things I could say." She held his gaze. He seemed familiar. There was the shadow of a memory at the corners of his eyes and along his shoulders. He was draped in the haunting of a someone she knew.

The badge name was unreadable at the distance and angle. She turned away, muttered, "Things I won't say."

With a swipe of his badge, the vibrascreen evaporated, and he entered. Without a pause, he swiped the badge against the panel on the inside, bringing the vibrascreen alive once more with the brief flicker of luminescence -- an orgy of fireflies that then went invisible.

The man smiled, "I appreciate that." Lirssa chuckled. He knew what she had insinuated and turned it to his own meaning. He was a quick study of people's nature, or at least hers. "I need a favor."

Lirssa gave a tired snort, "That's what brings you here? Really? Seems you've got your role reversed. Isn't that what I should be saying? I'm here, you see, and you're...." she wiggled fingers to indicate the 'out there' side of the cell.

"No, no," he shook his head and took a step back, "Sorry, that isn't what I meant. That is, I mean what I say, but not the way you heard it."

"I suddenly feel like Alice in Wonderland."

"All versions, I'd wager." His smile did not waiver, though he thankfully did not have the eerie grin of a Cheshire cat. It was amused, but kind. Perhaps even sad in a way. Tired. Yes, tired was there. A smile that is made to be worn like an overcoat, keep out the rain and cold, but not comfortable.

He ran a hand over his hair. The dusty blonde hair was short, but too long for military cut.

The cut. The smile. A step back. Lirssa hopped to her feet and grabbed at his badge just as his fingers tightened around her wrist. Marcus Amberfall. Coach Amberfall.

Lirssa's jaw tightened and her knuckles went white. "It was for you, wasn't it?"
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 18, 2017 5:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It wasn’t nothing. Lirssa jumped again from her bunk to the washbasin counter. She swayed.

”It was for you.”
“No, and I can’t explain here.”
“Well, here is where I am.”
"I just need that favor. Please."
"Might as well. I'm already here."
“Not much longer.”


Jump. Wobble. Sway. Rage.

Where were the stars? Wind against her skin. A high rooftop. A swinging tree limb. Sand. Dirt. Sweat. Stink.

Lirssa slammed her body against one silent, clean wall and then rushed to repeat against the opposite.

Not much longer.

He wouldn’t say more. Coach’s son had come to see her. Look at her. The little minion held in her private religion of loyalty and honor. A cobbled together sense of duty out of stories and myths; legends of old worlds far away.

She yelled as she stood in the middle of the cell. It was a guttural, growling build into a shriek of frustration. Energy pulled from her feet up and out in a cry both angry and miserable. Lirssa ran and crashed against the wall again, and then she sank down to sit on the floor.

Her forehead rested against her knees. She felt the echoes of each hit; fetal bruises to be born.

Not much longer.

He had meant it to console; to ease her mind. Instead, it was an unknown, moving and elusive, hope. A reminder she was not out yet, not free to roam. Caged. The walls felt closer than yesterday. The steps from one side to another fewer and yet harder to manage. She was weary. Lirssa wanted to sleep, ever sleep some more.

In the dreams there was sky, wind, and smells. She could walk, run, and climb. Be strong and flexible. Be alive.

Not much longer.
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"Anyone can handle a bad girl. It's the good girls men should be warned against." - David Niven
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 29, 2017 1:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Was it music? Could she hear the voices raised in chorus? What song was it? If she pressed her ear to the wall and crumpled her eyes tightly closed, the sound clarified. It changed from song to laughter.

Laughter bright and childish and familiar; it was just a memory. A memory of years past with the children in the homes. Or there -- yes, there was the sound of her little brother laughing. Was he home now enjoying his gifts or off with their father's family? Did he wonder where his sister had gone?

A voice carried up a scene from a yuletide past. "Come see, Lirssa! Come see what we got! I've never, ever had a red coat. Red is my favorite! Come see!" The cacophony of times gone by swelled and then spirited away as ghosts upon a holiday morning.

Weeks had passed. Lirssa sat in the corner of her cell with her hair a stringy mass, turned ash red with neglect. They tried to encourage her to wash. To clean up and move. The prison was not cruel, except in limiting her sight of the stars.

Lirssa craned her head back, facing the cushioned ceiling above, but with her eyes closed she traced the patterns of stars. And she heard the voices again. They mingled nonsense into a rhythm of sounds, a symphony of history. Among the imagined stars faint recollection of little faces traced over them. Their transformations swift from sallow, shells of a child to pink cheeked smiles. So many that held their early terrors as sand inside oyster, coating over and over to create pearls. Others kept their sand, familiar in its pain.

Sucking in a breath, Lirssa blinked open her eyes and considered the wash station not more than a few steps across the room. Using her hands against the walls behind her, she rose to her unsteady feet. The weight of the clean, solitary, starless room threatened to press her down again. She walked. She walked to the sink.

The water was warm. It danced over her fingers as she wiggled them beneath the faucet. She did not look up at the plasti-mirror. Not yet.

She had to clean away the neglect. Cut it away if need be.
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2018 6:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"It has to be cut."

The bristles of the brush snagged in the knots and tangles of Lirssa's hair.

"It just has to be cut. She can't go before a judge looking like this! How did you let it go this long?"

"We can't force them to brush their hair. She kept clean." The man hesitated. "Mostly."

"Can't force," Lirssa mumbled her agreement as she sat. The edge of her bed was the only place to sit, and she was pinned in on both sides by the others there in her cell.

The woman, Lieutenant Gwendolyn Famil, arrived an hour -- was it two -- ago, and claimed she would represent Lirssa in court. She announced it with the same perfunctory way she gave her name and dressed in her steel grey uniform.

Lirssa was impressed the lieutenant had only sneered slightly at the unkempt, snarled mane of Lirssa's hair. With the security barracks' supervisor now joined them, the two had struggled to get the chaotic, dull amber mass into order.

Lirssa sat.

"Just cut it off," Lieutenant Famil snapped once more, tossing the brush aside where it flumped on the bed.

The hiss and clank of metal drawn from a case was followed by a dull thwap against a palm.

Shhhhh. Snick!

Over and over. At first, Lirssa could not feel the efforts; just a little tug from time to time. Then harder tugs, tilting her head abruptly and straightening again. Another shhh-snick! Her neck felt cool, and the tiny hairs there rose starting a wave of pimpled flesh down her arms.

"There. That's better."

Lirssa heard sweeping and the clank and clatter of gathered debris set to the small garbage shoot just outside her cell. A soft drone of the refuse being vacuumed away and then silence again.

"See you tomorrow for the hearing, Lirssa. Not too much longer now." Lieutenant Famil and the supervisor, she couldn't remember his name, left Lirssa there. More silence.

Her fingers rose fretfully slow to seek her hair.

Gone. Just an inch or so left. She could feel as much scalp as hair.

Not too much longer. Tears mingled with a restless, bubbling giggle.

Not long at all.
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 30, 2018 6:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

…”The Court acknowledges the defendant complied with law enforcement when apprehended and admitted to aiding and abetting the fugitive, Chris Amberfall.”

Lirssa stood beside Lieutenant Famil and listened to the judge read out the court summary. There was nothing for her to do. It was a silent room with just those that needed to be there attending. It was a hearing; a cleaning up. The final step.

Blue sky with wispy trails of clouds beckoned her just behind the window. It was a cold, bright, beautiful day. Lirssa could almost taste it. She breathed deep, but the chemical scrubbed, purified smell of the building was all that filled her lungs. Her body leaned slightly toward the window, wishing the outside would meet her part way.

“Court further acknowledges that the fugitive, Chris Amberfall, was found by courts of law not guilty for the charge of involuntary manslaughter….”

Lirssa blinked back to the judge sitting behind the tall, white paneled desk. So it was done. That masquerade played out and completed. She felt a web of tension unravel in her chest. She breathed easier. The twitch of a smile fought at the corner of her mouth.

“Therefore, Lirssa Redbane Sarengrave al Amat is released with apologies of the court and, as requested, her record expunged.”

“Thank you, your honor,” her words in an impulsive echo after Lieutenant Famil’s own requisite statement of gratitude.

The judge continued, “It would be in your best interests to not engage in such matters in the future, Ms al Amat.” Judge Creose sighed folding fibrous fingers over her voluminous robes. “Right or not, the law is there for a reason, and it works in time. You put yourself and the officers through a difficult time and kept us from apprehending the appropriate person. Doing wrong for the right reason is no excuse.”

Not an excuse, but it was practically her mantra.

The gavel slammed down without being touched, or maybe one of the judge’s fingers had moved without Lirssa seeing. “Court dismissed,” the judge intoned.

Congratulations. Thanks. Warnings. Smiles. Shakes of head and gripped hands. It was a flurry of finality. Done. Free.

Lirssa dare not run, but she walked so fast her hips hurt and knees ached. She needed to rid herself of hallways and cells. To be out of the court and its adjoining prison barracks. People around her minimized to abstractions, just a shadow world where she needed to break through to the real world outside.

The door slid aside. She walked free, drinking in the cold air and heating her insides with the sun. That beautiful star that had once nearly killed her, she held her arms out wide to, wanting to hug it close.

“Stop that man!” A voice shrieked.

Lirssa turned toward the commotion, and in the way of the man. He had been running fast, but looking over his shoulder at the pursuers. Lirssa’s arms flung about him, an automatic reaction, but not trying to wrap him up. Her arms wanted to protect against the sudden, burning pain in her chest. The warmth soothed as it spread along her body.

“Thanks, miss.” Another voice, gasping for air as she had just moments ago. She could not see him. “We have him now. Miss?...”

There was the sun again. It was so bright. Yellow bleeding to white in her vision, and that then filled with faded views; moving pictures left out to burn away in the heat of day.

High Spires House
Children – so many faces and so many emotions
Family….Friends…

Back and back and back, the film winding backwards until…

…there was Bubber. She saw him hunched at the edge of the old stage. The wood edges fading out of the circle of her vision. His gnarled fingers plucked at the stale middle of a heel of bread. “Bend, little one, but be strong. Strong and flexible.” He hummed and smiled. “Like bamboo. You must sway.”

But bamboo becomes brittle without sun and sky. It must feel the breeze, breath in the world.

Without it, it breaks.
_________________
Cirque du Soliel contortionist -- skills similar to Lirssa's

"Anyone can handle a bad girl. It's the good girls men should be warned against." - David Niven
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