Solo Fatal Flaw (Part I)

One mistake could risk it all, and cost everything.

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A lawless town of anarchists, built on the ruins of an ancient mining city. [Lore]

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Fatal Flaw (Part I)

Postby Asterope on April 1st, 2019, 2:01 am

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22nd of Spring, 519 AV

There was a lightness in Aster's step as she padded down the hallway back to the apartment through the barracks; she kept her head down, as per usual, but her thoughts were elsewhere. She was so preoccupied, Aster almost didn't even notice that the door to the apartment was slightly ajar.

She paused, her hand mere centimeters from the doorknob, her mind finally catching up with her. Was someone in the apartment? She pressed her ear close to the door, but she didn't hear anything. After a long moment of hesitance, she pushed the door open, peeking in around the door frame. What she saw made her heart stop, her mouth going dry.

Alard lounged in the wooden chair by the table, his legs splayed out, idly flipping a knife between his fingers. Upon hearing the door creak open, he looked up, his eyes catching Asterope's gaze. He smiled, but it was all teeth, with no hint of humour. His eyes were dark like a storm cloud as he drove the point of the knife into the table so that it stuck up from the wood.

"There you are, sunshine. Come on in." He sneered, standing from the chair. Aster knew she was beyond screwed. She should have known it would catch up with her eventually, should have been more cautious; but her streak of luck and the recent turn of events had made her careless.

Swallowing hard, Aster stepped into the apartment, shutting the door behind her with a soft click. He won't kill me, she reasoned with herself; he had paid too much money for her to do that. But it was her only comfort, and a small one at that; there were always things worse than death.

Alard was already pacing the room, hands clasped behind his back as Aster stood, her own arms folded tightly over her chest in a semblance of protection of some sort. "You know," he started, and Aster could hear the anger in his voice, hear it in the way his teeth clicked shut at the end of his words.

"I had my suspicions. But I figured, no. You're not that damned stupid, and maybe, just maybe, I did a good job training you. But I decided, hey, it couldn't hurt to check. Either I was right, or I was wrong. I figured, I'm probably wrong. But I damn well want to be totally sure. And would you look at that," he spun on his heel, throwing his arm out.

"I was right." He growled out the last few words, stalking over to her. Aster stumbled back a step as he loomed over her, her back pressed into the door. Her gaze, just for a moment, flickered past Alard, to the knife on the table. Bloody thoughts of the last time she'd held a weapon with the intent to use it filled her mind. Could she bring herself to, even if she could get it? Would it matter? He was bigger than her, and he was stronger, and he had experience.

Word Count: 510
Last edited by Asterope on April 2nd, 2019, 1:06 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Asterope
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Fatal Flaw

Postby Asterope on April 1st, 2019, 2:05 am

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In the end, it didn't matter, because she wouldn't have the chance to reach the knife. Alard slammed his fist into the door above her head, making Aster flinch, caging her in with his body. "What am I gonna do with you, huh?" He snarled down at the Eth.

Aster cried out more in surprise than in pain when he grabbed a handful of her blonde hair, dragging her across the room. She stumbled after him, hands automatically reaching up to grasp at Alard's wrist, fingernails digging uselessly into the skin there.

Once he reached the other side of the room, he threw Asterope to the floor; she hit the ground with a thump and an 'oof', pushing herself up into a sitting position. Defiance crossed her features for a moment as she stared up at Alard, her nose wrinkling and lips parting into a sneer; she wasn't going to go down without a fight this time. She'd had enough of being tossed around and put down, literally and figuratively. She'd found her hope again, and she was going to fight for it tooth and nail if she had to.

A sort of desperate anger filled her as she bared her teeth at Alard; anger at herself, mostly, for letting herself be put into this situation to begin with. Anger at Alard for thinking he could own her. Anger at the ones in Ravok who had captured her in the first place. It was hot and sharp in her chest, tingling through her limbs; it still wasn't an emotion she enjoyed, but now she let it fuel her.

She was too far from the table to even consider the knife as an option again, but she lunged up, shoving at Alard, catching him off-guard; the low angle allowed her to get a good shove in, sending him stumbling back a step. Aster lashed upwards with her foot, aiming her heel at his crotch. Alard caught her ankle easily, fingers digging painfully into her skin; he twisted sharply and Aster screamed when she felt something crack. He dragged her forward by the foot, sending sharp lightning bolts of pain up her leg, before reaching down to grab one of her horns.

"Stupid bitch," he snarled, slamming her head back down into the floor, smacking it into something along the way. Aster cried out sharply as she lay still, stunned. Her vision was swimming and her head ached fiercely; she could feel something wet on the back of her head. Blood? Was she bleeding? It took a few moments of confusion before she realized she must have hit her head on the edge of the bed.

Alard stood over her, staring down at her with a sneer as she blinked dazedly up at him, her head throbbing and ankle stabbing sharply in pain. Was it broken? Dislocated? Fractured? She couldn't tell. All she knew was that it hurt. Belatedly, she realized she could feel wetness on her face as well from tears of pain.

"This would have been much less painful if you hadn't tried to fight back, you know." Alard crouched down by her head as Aster squeezed her eyes shut, trying to get her bearings and make things stop spinning. "Still painful, of course. But less so. At least you're not running off anywhere now."

Aster cracked open her eyes in time to catch Alard's sharp grin as he pat her ankle, making her jerk and hiss out a breath. He laughed, standing again and dragging her up by her arms so that her back was on the bed, her legs dangling off the side. It hurt to put weight on her foot, so she left it hanging loosely; she could hear Alard rummaging around somewhere, and after a moment, carefully pushed herself up onto her elbows. The room was still spinning lazily, but much more slowly than before.

Word Count: 649
Total: 1,159
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Asterope
But I flicker from time to time
 
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Fatal Flaw

Postby Asterope on April 1st, 2019, 3:22 am

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Even if she had wanted to, even if she had a plan, Aster couldn't get up. The thought of standing while her vision slowly righted itself made her stomach feel sick, and when she dared to rest her foot on the ground the sharp pain that lanced up her leg was nearly blinding.

Asterope felt weak. Defeated so easily, even when she had tried. She didn't like violence, didn't like fighting, but only now, confronted with her own weakness, did she realize how helpless she was. She couldn't even save herself; how could she save others? Protect them? Defend them? The harsh reality came crashing down on her that she couldn't.

All she could do was help them once they'd already been hurt, and even then she had failed. Caught up in her thoughts, the sound of Alard's approaching footsteps made her turn her head; what she saw made her stomach clench as she automatically drew her hand in close to her chest.

Alard held an all too familiar brand in his hand, the end of it glowing white-hot; the shape of a sun stared down at Aster, so bright it burned itself into her vision. It seemed to be mocking her as she blinked and looked away, trying uselessly to edge further back onto the bed.

She tried to squirm away as Alard approached, and held the brand dangerously close to her face, the heat almost searing her cheek. "Really is a shame I paid so much for that pretty face," he muttered, shifting the brand away. "Although I admit I'm sorely tempted, since it wouldn't stick around. Not during the day, anyway."

Aster remained silent, her body tensed. "It would send a message, wouldn't it?" Alard continued to debate, but after a long, tense moment, seemed to make up his mind. The Eth let out a breath she hadn't realized she'd been holding when he turned his attention away from her face. Instead, he pulled up Aster's shirt, tugging the waistband of her pants down over her hips.

However, for the moment at least, Alard's focus wasn't on her bare skin; at least, not all of it. Planting a hand on Aster's stomach to keep her still, he glanced up at her, meeting her gaze as he pressed the brand into the skin over her hipbone, and pushed.

This was worse than the brand on her hand, even done several times over; the spot was more sensitive, and Alard was pressing the heated metal into her flesh like he was trying to push it through her, twisting the handle slightly. Aster bucked up, letting out a howl of pain as the smell of burning flesh filled the room. Alard reached out to grasp a horn again, yanking her face close, forcing Asterope's tear-filled golden eyes to meet his own, a dark and viciously satisfied grin stretching over his lips, baring his teeth.

"Look at me, sunshine," his voice was soft in Aster's ear as she let out a small sob, the brand pressing harder into her flesh. "I own you." The last words were growled out, and they were meant in the most literal sense. She was an object, a thing. He had bought her, and he owned her, like an elaborate sword or a fancy cloak.

Alard wrenched her head back by the horn, staring down at her, face now impassive. "Say it back to me." Aster blinked up at him, exhaling and shuddering in relief when the brand was finally pulled away from her skin. Confusion clouded her thoughts, then disgust, and hatred curled in her chest. She shook her head weakly.

A part of her had been expecting it, but the slap across her face still shocked her; Aster's head snapped to the side, and she could feel the heat of the cooling brand ghost over her hip again. "Do you really need this reminder a second time?" Alard threatened, quietly.

"You own me." The words fell from her lips, the fear of experiencing that pain again sending them tumbling out almost of their own accord; but they wrenched something deep inside her chest, making Aster catch her breath. It hurt more than she could have expected. More than any brand could ever hurt. The familiar feeling of weakness returned, taunting her as Alard chuckled.

"Good," he praised, rising to go and return the brand to its spot by the hearth. Aster closed her eyes, exhaustion creeping over her. She'd given in so easily, succumbed so quickly when threatened with pain; and of course anyone could say anything, and it didn't necessarily mean something. But the words, coupled with the searing pain in her hip, were an undeniable truth. Saying them just made it feel more real.

Word Count: 792
Total: 1,951
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Asterope
But I flicker from time to time
 
Posts: 323
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Joined roleplay: August 16th, 2017, 11:11 pm
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Fatal Flaw

Postby Asterope on April 1st, 2019, 8:43 pm

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It wasn't long before Alard returned again; Aster flinched when he slapped at her face, but it wasn't full force with the intent to hurt like it had been before. Rather, he almost patted her face, attempting to get her attention. The Eth blinked her eyes open, focusing on Alard's face as he leaned over her.

"Think you've learned your lesson, sunshine?" He asked her, his voice infinitely more cheerful than it had been before. Learned her lesson. What lesson was that? That no matter what she did, how hard she tried, she was apparently doomed for failure?

She thought of Crylon, speaking of the goddess of hope. She thought of Kelski, herself an ex-slave, so willing to help. Shame burned Aster's face; they would be so disappointed to see her now. Giving up again so easily, and after she'd been so determined.

Aster nodded silently, and Alard stood back, tugging her into a sitting position. "I think you mostly have as well. But I think some time to really think on what you've done, and why it was such a terrible mistake, might be good for you."

Her brow furrowed slightly in confusion, and she automatically grabbed onto Alard for balance, a sound of surprise leaving her when he picked her up. He didn't go far, walking the few steps to the corner of the room and bending to set her down on the floor of the wardrobe.

"I have things to do. You know, I did just come back here to check on you. I was hoping I'd be brief. I don't want to have to carry you around all day with that ankle, but at the same time, I clearly can't trust you alone now, can I?" Alard placed his hands on his hips as he looked down at her, making a 'tsk' sound in the back of his throat.

Aster hated the sound of his voice. He enjoyed hearing himself talk too much. "So for the time being, it looks like this is my best option. But I think some time to reflect will be good for you." He reached down to nudge Aster's legs into the wardrobe properly, and the Eth suddenly realized what he was doing.

Panic lanced through her like a blade, stabbing sharply into her chest. "No," she protested, her voice raising, pitched with fear. "Please don't, I won't go anywhere, I promise!" She realized she was begging but she didn't care; unbidden, memories of a cold, damp stone prison came to mind. Shackles around her wrists and ankles and nothing but pale artificial light.

At least there she had room to move, and had something to see by, even if it wasn't real. The thought of being locked in the wardrobe sent a new sort of terror racing through her; her palms were clammy, and Aster could feel her heart racing, her mouth going dry. It would be cramped, she wouldn't be able to move, and it would be pitch black inside. And she would be alone.

Word Count: 506
Total: 2,457
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If there's a light at the end, it's just the sun in your eyes
User avatar
Asterope
But I flicker from time to time
 
Posts: 323
Words: 287183
Joined roleplay: August 16th, 2017, 11:11 pm
Location: Sunberth
Race: Ethaefal
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Fatal Flaw

Postby Asterope on April 1st, 2019, 8:57 pm

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Alard ignored her; Aster made a last ditch effort, lunging for the doors as he stood back and closed them, but she was too slow. The wardrobe doors clicked shut, plunging her into darkness. All she could hear was her breath, coming hard and fast, and her pulse drumming in her ears. "Please, let me out! Let me out," Aster banged on the doors with her hands clenched into fists, trembling.

"If you keep that up, I'll tie and gag you before I go," Alard threatened from outside, voice vaguely muffled as he locked the wardrobe. Aster stared at the doors, or where they were, for all she could see was black. Footsteps sounded from the outside, and then the click of the front door, and then silence.

With a frustrated cry Aster slammed her fist against the doors again, then slumped back against the wall of the wardrobe. Mindful of her ankle, she curled up, pulling her knees into her chest and pressing her face into her legs. Without even thinking about it, one of her hands reached up, her fingers curling around the warm, smooth surface of one of her horns; she clung onto it as if it was a lifeline. In many ways it was, but she wouldn't have it forever. Night would fall soon enough, and who knew when Alard would return.

Aster squeezed her eyes shut, trying to block out the darkness surrounding her; she could almost feel the walls pressing in on all sides, closing her in, squeezing too tightly. Her breathing stuttered as she hunched her shoulders lower, silent tears streaking down her face.

She had been stupid. Careless, reckless, and look where it had gotten her. She needed to do something about her ankle; what if Alard didn't let her and it healed wrong? The burn on her hip ached dully, as did the back of her head. She could have at least nudged the healing process of the burn along, but even the mere thought of doing so seemed to be too much.

Maybe she'd been foolish to be so hopeful. Perhaps she should have allowed herself to wallow in her doubts, her misery. If she'd been content with realizing that this was the life she was meant for, to be owned and controlled, spending her days with no purpose, useless...none of this would have happened. It would have hurt, but so much less than finding hope again and then having it ripped away from her.

Asterope tried to remember what had been so motivating; what had she found that had filled her with hope again? What had it been? Getting rid of the bone that had been haunting her since Alvadas at the slag heap had certainly been a weight off her chest, but that hadn't been it.

She'd been entirely devastated when just recently she had let a young boy die in her arms. Useless, the thought returned. But Crylon had told her about the goddess of hope. Priskil. And Anja had directed her to Kelski.

It seemed there were glimmers of it everywhere, of people willing to help even in a city like Sunberth. Yet there she was, curled up in a dark closet, alone, with tears staining her cheeks. Perhaps it had all been pointless. Thinking back over the course of events that had lead her to this moment, everything seemed to fall flat and dull.

None of it sparked the ember of hope in her chest she had so desperately been trying to fan into flames. Perhaps she'd just been fooling herself all along, stringing herself along just to keep herself going. But now she was injured and trapped, and she truly had nowhere left to go. There was no more pretending; this was her situation, and a heavy weight settled on Aster's shoulders as she realized that she could do nothing about it.

(Continued in Fatal Flaw Part II*)

Word Count: 649
Total: 3,106
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If there's a light at the end, it's just the sun in your eyes
User avatar
Asterope
But I flicker from time to time
 
Posts: 323
Words: 287183
Joined roleplay: August 16th, 2017, 11:11 pm
Location: Sunberth
Race: Ethaefal
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Medals: 5
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