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She was exhausted. They had taken a request to be transferred to the Houston panopticon for about two weeks, it had seemed like a good idea at the time. Alaya had jumped on the opportunity to see her friend again, dragging Skye along for the ride with her. Everything would have been fine, except on their way over they had been ambushed by a rival ‘con. No one had been expecting it, but that’s really what the point of an ambush was, to get the drop on them.

Luckily they had been mostly prepared, transported in one of the carriers with their gear. It was a grueling fight, no amount of anti-howl augmentations could stop her ears from ringing. She forgot how to breathe halfway through, lungs constricting when someone else’s thorn wrapped around her chest and she was dragged. She dug her knife in to the concrete, using all her upper body strength to pull herself away. The binding thorn dug in to her sides, pricking her skin and making holes in her shirt.

She turned, grabbing the opposing thorn with her hands, the gloves she wore did little to stop the piercing. She found her footing, digging her heels into the ground as she held on to her knife. She yanked the thorn, causing the other sinner to come crashing towards her. Alaya pulled out her gun, knowing she wouldn’t be able to pull her knife out fast enough. This was the last one of the bunch, all of the abductors had been taken down, Skye was busy getting everyone back on the carrier safely. She pulled the trigger, the sound loud even in the midst of the noise after the battle.

Alaya hated having to be the one to put a bullet in someone.

The thorn around her wilted, and she dropped it. She sagged, body feeling the sudden exertion. With some difficulty she pulled her knife out of the cement, and quickly put her gear away. She stumbled back over towards the carrier where Skye watched her. She knew Skye was worried, but she waved it off. She was fine, this was nothing. The blood on her palm spoke volumes of how it was more than that though. 

They arrived safely, the sudden stop jolting Alaya awake. She sat up straight, looking around wildly. Right, right they were going to another ‘con. She wanted to be more excited, but she was far too drained. It felt like it took them forever to finally get inside. It was humid, hot and humid and completely unfamiliar.

She hated the weather already.


She groaned, shaking her thorn off her arm and throwing it to the floor. She rolled up the sleeve of her jacket, rubbing at the puncture wounds she had given to herself. More blood smeared across her arm as she forgot that her hand was bleeding as well. She peeled off her glove, wincing as it stuck to her skin and the open wounds. She looked like a mess, she knew that, if anything she could easily collapse right there on the spot. It was looking like a very real option.

“Skye?” A soft voice from behind her brought her back from the pain. “Alaya?” She turned around, quickly stuffing her glove in her pocket. She could deal with that later. She could deal with a lot of things later now that Vinh was standing just behind her. Turning on her heel, she spun to face him. She threw her arms around his neck, and immediately lost stability in her legs. He caught her, startled but still managing to hold her up. His arms were around her waist to keep her up for the most part, but it was the closest thing to a hug she was probably going to get.

She sagged against him, hyper aware of the blood that was probably soaking in to his shirt. It was a dark colour, it’s fine no one would notice. He made a startled noise, looking around desperately for someone who could help. Her legs felt like rubber as she tried to find some purchase again. “Are you ok?!” Vinh was talking, but Alaya was having a hard time focusing.

“Don’t think so.” Her words slurred together and she tried to push him away. She needed a doctor, someone with a healing thorn, anything. She needed medical attention and she needed it fast. He scooped her up in his arms before she could fall over. A soft ‘oh’ escapes her lips as she lightly grips at his sleeve. It was a small comfort for her, being able to at least hold on. All of this was out of her control, she should have taken care of herself sooner. She wasn’t exactly the best at that.

“Sorry I have to…” He turned towards Skye, trying to bow with Alaya in his arms without dropping her. He jostled her a little, and she gripped his sleeve tighter. Skye shook her head and smiled, waving the two of them off as Vinh rushed away.

Girls were too much trouble.