Turn of the tides
Groaning, Solstice’s eyes felt like iron as she tried to sit up. What happened? Where was she? A weight shifted on her front, looking down to see Gadget sleeping on her chest. Smiling, she raised her hand to cradle and pet her little baby, but her hand froze and the heaviness in her eyes forgotten as they shot open. Her hand…both of her hands, were tipped with thick claws. Along the top side of her hand was decorated with golden scales, lining up her arm and across her shoulders. Sitting up, causing Gadget to squeak and tumble into her lap.
Cooing, the little Arachne watched his mother staring shocked at her hands and new scales before the growing panic became more apparent. Gadget climbed up his mother, coming to sit on her shoulders and nuzzled her neck. He knew this always calmed her down and made her smile, but she didn’t. Solstice could feel Gadget nuzzling her, but her mind was still in a level of shock. What had happened to her? Did Megatron do this?
“Dada! Dada!” Gadget peeped, his voice turning Solstice to the room door. The moment she saw Perceptor looking in, concerned and holding food for her, her mind raced. Instantly, she turned and threw her head into the bed pillows, tears welling up as Gadget held on and started cooing as his mother’s tears dripped on his arms.
“Solstice,” Perceptor skittered in, placing the tray of food aside as he touched her shoulders. His touch caused Solstice to flinch. “Shh, it’s okay. You’re safe.” Her shakes concerned him, watching as his own son began to reflect his mother. His peeps and hicks caused Solstice to look up, her heart churning at the sight of her child welling up in tears.
“Oh baby~” she whispered, cradling him closer to her. It was almost amazing how much bigger he grew from the last few months. Perceptor had explained that with a regular diet and care Arachne babies grow and mature fast. Instead of being the size of her palm, he was the size of a normal human baby, plus a few more limbs. Another hand grasped her shoulder, turning her back to Perceptor. Tears welled in her eyes, launching her into his embrace. Her sobs were muffled by his shoulder, holding on like he was her only life line. Hearing the door open again, she welcomed Drift in as all four shared a hug.
“Oh Solstice, we’re here for you,” Drift cooed, holding her closer. “But what happened to you?” She knew this question would come up. But what could she say?
“I…I don’t know. I was making a delivery to Eclipse and…”
“Wait Eclipse? The woman… Why in primus name were you in Kaon?!!” Drift panicked, holding on to her tight as his eyes widened in surprise and shock.
“Her family asked me to deliver something to her, she’s my friend I couldn’t say no,” Solstice argued, cradling Gadget closer. “I didn’t think it would lead to…to this,” indicating to her scales and horns. Gadget quirkier his head at seeing his mother’s new horns, climbing up her back to poke, prod and touch her new horns. It was a strange sensation, feeling her son’s fingers trail along her new appendages, she even giggles when his fingers brush a sensitive nerve.
“But..how did this change occur? Was it magic? A curse?” Perceptor asked, looking on concerned as he waited for her answer. Cradling her son, Solstice turned away. Not from shame or guilt, but fear.
“Solstice, you can tell us. We want to help,” Drift cooed, sitting with her and placing an arm around her shoulders. She shied away but knew they would persist until she told them.
“I…” She swallowed a lump in her throat, feeling the ache from her previous injury. She had to just let it out, don’t leave anything to interpretation but prepared herself for their reactions. “I died.”
A chilling silence cloaked the room. Gadget looked on confused as to why his parents stood still. He could feel his mother tense, saw his father freeze and his second father turn pale.
“What?” Drift whispered, as if he heard her wrong.
“Megatron…took my presence the wrong way. He thought I knew Optimus, that I was there to take Eclipse away. She was screaming…His hand around my neck,” her hand raised, hovering over her neck to simulate his hold before pulling away. “I…it went black then…I…” In an instant, Drift and Perceptor latched onto her. Gadget squeaked in surprise at the sudden hug his fathers gave her, struggling to his mother’s front to see her tears again. Cooing, feeling his own tears coming back, he remembered how strong and brave his fathers’ were, reaching up to pat and wipe away her tears, nuzzling into her chest to comfort her again. The family stayed quiet, holding each other and not speaking a word until time made itself aware.
“Oh, I need to get back to Eclipse’s family. They need to know I made the delivery,” she went to move but found herself pulled back. Confused, she looked to Perceptor to find he had allowed her to move, holding Gadget as she did. Turning back, Drift had been the one to pull her back. “Drift, I need to…”
“No,” his sudden denial surprised her, surprised Perceptor too. Gadget just looked confused. Solstice tried to move again but his grip wouldn’t budge. “No. You’re not going anywhere.”
“Drift please, I need to…” a sharp gasp echoed as Solstice was slammed into Drift’s front, pinned in place while demonic eyes brightened.
“Stay,” his voice was dark, deeper than normal. It frightened her seeing such an ominous side of Drift. Even thinking he had this side scared her. Perceptor tried to reach out, Gadget placed behind him as he reached but Drift hissed, actually hissed at Perceptor.
“Deadlock, enough,” Deadlock? Solstice looked on confused as something was exchanged, something she wasn’t aware of.
“She belongs to us,” a second voice hissed, a dark glow filling the room. Gadget squeaked in fright, hiding under the blankets as the light brightened and a heavy shade covered the room. “No one can take her. No one can touch her, but us~”
“She’s not some trinket, some object for you to hoard,” Perceptor hissed, casting a dark look from Drift. “Come back Drift, you can’t let him win.”
“Stupid pest,” the voice hissed, growling and edging away, but something caused him pause. Looking down, Drift’s eyes widened at the sight of Solstice’s. Blazing blue, like blue flames, cast in a frightful stare. She was afraid of him, and something in those eyes. Something seared and burned through the darkness, chasing it off as ‘Drift’s’ eyes came back into focus. Shame rushed through him, shame and guilt for what he almost did, but soft hands wrapped around him, pulling him closer.
“Please Drift,” looking back up, the fire in Solstice’s eyes was gone and only her shining smile remained. “I promise once this matter is settled…we can start the move,” Perceptor edged forward. They had only been together with Solstice for the last year, and neither wanted to pressure her. Of course her work and life were important to her and when the time comes, she would move in with them. Still working between the cities and villages, but would attempt to persuade her guildmaster than she was moving to one of the smaller villages, away from the main city and the constant stigma monsters had there. It was more accepting than most cities, the human capital especially since it was the only city to completely ban monsters within its walls, smaller villages had more contact and even regular visits from monsters within them.
“No, Solstice I don’t…” with his grip slack, her hands reached up and caressed his cheeks.
“It’s fine. I…we missed our chance this time because of a run, but…why wait another year for the festival to come around now?” she smiled, though her tone was betraying her words. She knew it was unfair for her to wish to remain a courier and runner when she had lovers and now a child. Gadget would always be beside himself when she had to leave, and leaving on so young alone without a mother, she would be repeating her own past. Her son didn’t deserve that.
“Momma stay?” some of the few words he knew always warmed Solstice, turning to her son peeking out from his safety blanket.
“Yes, I’ll be moving here…one I finish this job. The last one.” She knew Gadget didn’t understand what she was giving up, and she didn’t want him to, seeing his shining eyes and jubilant trill as he bolted from the blanket back into her arms, tugging on Perceptor to share the joy. But Perceptor understood, looking on in worry as Solstice hid all behind a smile. “I’ll…head there now, but I’ll go home tomorrow. I’ll need to explain a few things, and I own a few others some answers.” The pair nodded, both now worried and concerned. Running was the world to Solstice, giving it up like this was like slicing through her tendons.
“What of Blurr?” Drift asked, recalling her reunited friend. “I…know it has been a few months since you found him,” his grip tightened, again recalling her explain the events concerning Coil, Blurr and Tarn – of all monsters – and feeling that came darkness tug the edge on his consciousness. “Doesn’t he still need you?” Solstice eyes widened. How could she see him? Blurr was still recovering in the Hospice, managing to walk some ways yes but his immense fear of monsters and the unfamiliar haunt him. Seeing her as she was now, she feared what it might do.
“I’ll…my friends are Blurr’s friends too. He won’t be alone,” she reasoned, though her own worries and concerns swam around her head.
"But Solstice," Perceptor worried, slipping closer. "The captial is strict regarding monsters...you won't make it through the gates."
"I know other ways," she replied, kissing her excited child, watching him skitter from the room in joy while she moved around her own room getting changed. Unashamed of her lovers seeing her, Drift sighed and turned her back. Her chest bare to them didn't faze them, remaining focused on their concern.
"Solstice...you're..." he didn't know how to say it without upsetting her.
"They will see you as a freak," Perceptor spat the horrid word. He had always been the honest lover, being blunt where there was no other means of explaining the delicate nature of their concern. "They won't see you as a human anymore, their bigotted and narrow view will peg you as something to be killed...or worse." Perceptor knew his bluntness was cutting like daggers. Solstice may have said she care little for what others thought of her, but the reality of being seen as something else....something that wasn't considered human, a freak, she was trying desperately not to cry.
Instead, she turned from them. Rummaging through her clothes she removed a long sleeved shirt. Followed by long tights, high boots and a leather vest. It was more clothing than she would normally wear. Being a courier meant being fast so light clothing and some protective padding was necessary, but with the more conservative clothing would make running strenuous, she wouldn't be able to maintain her usual speed and endurance when her body would slowly be consumed by fatigue and strain.
"Solstice stop," Drift tried to hault her need to cover herself, placing her own ability in strain with the number of restricting garments she now wore. Pulling her arm away from his grip, she turned to the difficult task of hiding her new horns. She didn't have enough hair to tie back and hide them so, instread, she found a small scarf and with some folding, she tied a bandana around her head to keep her hair back and hide her horns.
"I need to go. They deserve to know," with that, slipping away from their grasps, Solstice bolted from the room.
"Solstice!" Drift tried to follow, Perceptor scrambling behind him but Solstice was already out of sight. Seemed this transformation had caused other changes besides the obvious.
"She'll be alright," Perceptor sighed, watching Drift long after her. "She knows the Capital better than we do. She'll come back" Turning back, his sighs turned exasperated as he found Drift was no where in sight. "How did I end up with those two?" he asked, rubbing his main eyes.
"You love mama!" came a sudden reply, pulling a smile over his annoyance as Gadget came skittering out to him. But he still worried and prayed they would both come back safe.
Solstice tried to ignore the fact she could still run despite her heavier and covered clothing. Coming to the large wall of the city, Solstice recalled it was a regular place both Eclipse and Oracle would take the school children to play. The wall close to this area was shadowed by trees and brush, but had more patrols since monsters would use this area to try and sneak into the city. Solstice used the same trees to scale most of the wall, climbing the rest with a strong jump.
Climbing over the wall, watching for guards, she landed scaled down on a climbing vine. Running through the streets, taking the usual runner routes over the stone rooftops and through the backstreets to Airstrike's home. Some of the guards did see her, but they either recognised her and moved on or they did a double take and wondered why she was dressed like that.
Watching the streets, Solstice moved to the door when no one was looking, knocking quickly while keeping an eye on anyone approaching.
"Yes? Who is it?" asked Red Moon, her soft voice coming through the door.
"It's me, Solstice. I'm back from Kaon," the door flew open, the younger girl hurried her in while running off to get her family.
"Papa! Smokebomb! Mama! Solstice is back!!" she cried, running into some of the other rooms while Solstice stayed in the living area. She fidgeted, picking at her clothes and tugging her bandana. But her focus turned back as Airstrike ran into the room, Smokebomb close behind and a stronger Radar shuffling out with help from Red moon.
"You're back! Did you find Eclipse? Is she okay?" Airstrike asked, his family standing close behind to get her answer. Of course being surrounded so suddenly and bombarded with questions left Solstice a little on edge, she took a breath and took his shaking hands.
"Eclipse is fine. She isn't hurt but...you might want to sit down." her change in tone concerned them, moving to take a seat as Solstice tried to sort out her words. "Okay, I lot of what I'm going to say is going to...shock and surprise you. But everything I saw is true." Airstrike nodded, sitting beside his wife while Red moon tucked into her side and Smokebomb sat with his father. "What do you want to know first?"
"Why did "that monster take her?" Smokebomb snapped, calmed by his father. But Airstrike urged the question, if only to make sense why the Demon King sort his child.
"He..." Solstice had to be delicate regarding this despite how hard that would be. There would be no sugar coating this. "Truthfully, Megatron is now...Eclipse's husband." The family froze, shocked indeed but disbelief spanned across all of them. "Megatron wed Eclipse the day after he brought her back from here. She resides in a tower...because Optimus tried to get her away from Megatron."
"So he...my daughter is trapped in a tower?" Airstrike tried to make sense of all of this.
"And Megatron...married her?" Radar asked, shaking while Red Moon held her and comforted her.
"Yes," Solstice nodded.
"Wait...what does King Optimus have to do with this?" Red moon asked, looking on confused.
"I'm not too sure about that, but rumors say Optimus had agents stand in the wedding and, at the right time, would get Eclipse out of Kaon. But something at the wedding exposed the plot. Megatron...wasn't pleased." Solstice shivered, recalling his own anger against her. The feeling of him holding her...gripping tight. "He's paranoid right now. The tower is meant to protect her from Optimus." Then something Megatron had said came through. She didn't recall it before since her mind was focused on trying to breath. "Something he said...Optimus didn't approach you about this...has he?"
"What no! We know nothing about this!!" Smokebomb snapped, held back by Airstrike.
"I'm just asking! It just shows how paranoid he is, but Eclipse is safe. That much I can assure you. She's fine, safe and has everything she need now that she has your package," Solstice turned to Radar, "And...she loved the necklace, she was wearing it when I left." Radar smiled, happy knowing her daughter was safe and she was safe with her charm.
"Thank you Solstice," Radar smiled, making Solstice feel slightly better about her situation.
"No!" Smokebomb managed to stand, away from his family. "She had every oppertunity to help Eclipse too!" Smokebomb glared at Solstice, driving her own annoyance up. "You got into a place even Megatron thought no one could get to her! And you didn't get her out of there?!"
"A tower that can only be reached by flying?! A tower tall enough to see all of Kaon?! How was I supposed to get her away from there?!!!" Solstice snapped back, glaring at the younger boy. She wasn't swayed by the tears threatening to spill out of his eyes.
"You could've still done something!!" Smokebomb growled, grabbing ahold of Solstice in anger. Their struggle had Red moon clinging to Radar and Airstrike standing to stop Smokebomb. "She's your friend!! You should've saved her!!" still holding strong even as Airstrike grabbed him, Smokebomb tried to keep his own grip on Solstice. One hand trying to hold her arm and another moving to her hair but she managed to wrench herself free, a loud rip echoing through the home.
Everything stopped. Smokebomb's anger and Airstrike's concern disappeared, replaced by shock at seeing Solstice. Radar had become concerned and stood with Red Moon beside her, sharing her own surprise.
Solstice hadn't realised what happened until seeing their faces. Looking at Smokebomb's clenched hands; one held her bandana and the other was her sleeve. Looking down, her exposed arm revealed the golden scales beneath, shimmering in the light shining through a window. Now in her own panic, her hands grasped her head, her new horns in full view.
They saw her. They could see her.
Red Moon shrieked, loud and frightful, running behind her parents. Radar stood shocked, frozen by her own surprise one might think she froze up out of fear. Airstrike, however, took action and drew his family behind him.
"What in Primus' name?" Airstrike gapped. "Solstice what happened to you?!"
"She...she's one of them!!" Smokebomb screamed. "That's why she didn't save Eclipse! She's a monster!!" Monster. The word drove down hard on Solstice's heart, like a dagger was pericing her chest. She was a monster?
"But...but she wasn't like this before!" Red Moon whimpered, physically shaking in fear, her wide eyes staring at Solstice.
"T-Then she's a freak!" another. Solstice could feel another stab to her chest.
"Enough!" Airstrike snapped, keeping his children back. His eyes glared down on Solstice. He didn't know what happened to her, but he wouldn't allow any harm to come to his family. "Get out Solstice," looking up, Solstice was shocked to see Airstrike demanding to leave. "You have to leave now," to make his threat meaningful, he reached for a dagger on his belt. The moment she saw the weapon, Solstice backpedalled into the wall, showing her own fear. "Leave my home, now!"
"Airstrike," Radar's sudden voice caused him to stop. Red Moon and Smokebomb were surprised when their mother spoke. Airstrike tried to stop her, watching as she moved away from his protection. His grip tightened on his dagger as Radar approached Solstice. Solstice was petrified now, her eyes darting between Airstrike, Smokebomb and Red Moon. The looks they were giving her. They were angry, afraid, defensive. Things they never were around her.
"Solstice," hearing her name, Solstice looked up as Radar knelt before her. Her hands cradled Solstice's cheeks. "Are you okay?" That was the first time anyone had asked her since it happened. Her eyes watered, her body shook with sobs as Radar knelt beside her.
"No...I...I don't know..." Solstice whimpered, still unsure how to explain her current self.
"Did...Did Megatron do this?" Radar asked, rubbing soothing circles into Solstice's back. Just under her shirt she could feel the same scales present on her arms. Just what had happened to Solstice for this to happen?
"He...played a part in it," turning away, Radar could sense there was more to it than that. "He...didn't take kindly to me being in Eclipse's chambers unannounced." She had to word this right. If she made any mention of Megatron killing her or just being violent might set Smokebomb and Airstrike off again, let alone cause them even more worry for Eclipse. "I would've gone straight to him and spoke my intentions but...I didn't trust his men to get your parcel to her. And I would never hand over something as precious as your necklace to some stranger." Radar smiled, humbled Solstice had such concern for them, and worried that she took such a risk for their sake. "But, when...this happened," indicating to her current state. "Megatron...he turned to protect Eclipse." This took the family by surprise. "He could've ended me...but instead he took to protecting Eclipse. I remember seeing him, cradling her and keeping himself in front of her. Acting as her shield, just like you did for your family." This was true, Megatron had protected Eclipse instead of attacking her. Sure there was more to it since he did try and Eclipse had been her shield, but keeping those details out might be prudent.
"Megatron...protected my daughter?" Airstrike asked, confused and concerned, watched as Solstice nodded. Her tears were still falling, the weight of everything bearing down on her. A hand combed through her hair. Looking back up, she saw Radar patting her head.
"You're going to be okay, Solstice," Radar smiled, "I know you're confused and frightened right now, but I know you'll find the answers soon." Solstice just couldn't believe what she was hearing. Radar had no reason to comfort her, had no reason to be nice to her and yet here she was. Comforting her, reassuring her. Her emotions overflowed, her arms latching onto Radar, hugging Radar and accepting everything she was giving.
"T-Thank you," Solstice whimpered, pulling back and giving a small smile.
"In here!!" a new voice shouted, catching everyone off guard. The front door opened and a few guards stormed the house.
"What is going on?!" Airstrike demanded, his attention turning to the guard.
"Shouts and screams were heard si - what in primus name is THAT?!" a guard spotted Solstice, his eyes widening. "Release that woman, beast!!" Solstice, with her arms still holding Radar, had been mistaken for attacking her. The guard charged, sword raised, to help Radar but Solstice easily moved them both aside.
She couldn't stay. They would get hurt for just knowing her. They would capture her. Tie her down. Perhaps even...kill her. Her fear drove her now.
Springing up, leaving Radar with Red Moon, much to her own fright, Solstice then lept through a window. More guards were drawn to the loud noise distrubing the peace. Spotting Solstice, she ran in the other direction as the guards gave chase. She couldn't hear Radar or Airstrike or even Smokebomb and Red Moon over the shouts of the guards. Running through the streets, dodging other citizens and approaching guards, Solstice tried to scale walls and climb up onto the rooftops but her paths were blocked at every turn. Her only chance of escape was through the open markets to the main gate.
Turning another corner, Solstice skidded to a hault as someone familiar came into her path.
"Solstice?" the woman was tall, hair a blazing red contrasting against her dark armor. Contrasting her strong and stern appearence, were concerning green eyes. Requiem, a memeber of the Elite Guard. "What's happened to you?"
"Requiem?" Solstice gasped, looking back to find the growing mob approaching behind her. "I...I'm sorry I gotta go before..." Looking back again, Solstice took another street.
"Solstice!!" Requiem cried, moving to follow her. She had changed, why did she have horns? and were those scales on her arm? Watching as another band of guards rushed by her, she turned to her approaching regiment. "Get in there! But no harm is to come to her!" she ordered, catching her men by surprise but knew they would heed her command.
Wallrunning over a large procession, Solstice rolled as she landed and ran through the busy market. Maybe were confused by the fleeing girl, running too fast for them to see her true appearence but the guards had other ideas.
"A bag of gold for any who stops that creature!!" many of the guards shouted through the market, turning once confused and scared merchants and citizens into an angry mob. Solstice had to jump, dodge and slide to avoid grasping hands.
Jumping through stalls took most of the heat off, blocking those trying to grab her as she drew closer to the gate. Coming to the open circle that led to the gate, the last stretch. Jumping clear through the last stall, she pushed herself hard. Trying to gain speed and dodge the growing mob, she didn't see an approaching guard spinning a rope and weight.
Everything slowed, the guard threw the weight, letting rope fly slack. Solstice didn't see the rope until the last second, running straight into its path. The weights momentum spun the weight around her, biding one arm and tangling her legs.
Tumbling to the ground, further tangled in the rope, she was beset by the frenzied crowd. Pushed and pulled, her clothes ripped and torn in they're attempt to hold her down and get her up, a rush of black and red caught her eye.
Requiem's regiment disperse the crowd, forming a blockade around Solstice and their commander. Now up close, Requiem gasped at the sight of the young courier. She had only met Solstice once but was regaled by her sister regarding the plucky woman. Now to see her like this; shaking, panicked, struggling and covered in golden scales topped with horns. Was she a human cursed? or was she always a monster in diguise?
"Requiem!" turning back, the crowd parting as a procession approached. Her men stepped aside as Sentinel Prime, captain of the guard and a known prejudice prick towards monsters. His eyes turned down, sneering at the helpless Solstice. "Why hasn't this...monster been dealt with."
"Sir, this isn't just some monster," Requiem argued, standing between Sentinel and Solstice. "Solstice is a known member of the Courier's Guild. She's a human." Sentinel's eyebrow twitched, recognising her name. There had been a rumor around the guards that Sentinel disliked some members of the guild, especially the women. He had a dislike of any woman in a 'man's' role, but to have them as couriers deepened his dislike.
"Then why haven't you detained the freak yet?" Sentinel sneered, glaring down on Solstice. Helpless and pained, tears rolling down her cheeks.
"Sir she isn't a threat! I will personally vouch for her, she isn't just some cruel beast!" Requiem hissed, stopping one of his own men from approaching Solstice.
"I am your superior, Requiem," Sentinel hissed, flicking his cape back as he directed him men. "Remember, I can have you court marshalled and thrown in the dungeon for even allowing this...this abomination to walk within our walls." His men tugged and pulled Solstice to her knees, readjusting the ropes to bind both arms beside her. "Take her to the dungeons, and inform the black mask he has a job."
"Are you insane?!" Requiem snapped, gripping her spear. "There is no reason for the bloodthirsty torture fanatic to touch her!"
"A creature we know nothing about? Know nothing of her capabilities? Black Mask is thorough and I want know everything," Sentinel hisssed back, watching as Solstice shrieked and kicked, trying to get away.
"Please!! Please! I'm not a monster!! I'm human! I'm Human!!! Please don't do this!!!" Solstice shrieked, managing to kick a guard back only for two to replace him. "Stop it! Leave me alone!! Please STOP!!"
A blast of wind picked up around her, the guards' shouts of pain echoed with the crowd's screams of panic as everyone was pushed back. Requiem had braced against the sudden gust while Sentinel was thrown onto his backside, his cape fluttering and blinding him. Solstice gasped as her binds fell slack. Confused, she turned and found a white blur standing beside her. Only when those bright blue and red eyes shone through, her heart stalled as the wind broke revealing the Oni, small swords brandished and making his presense more menacing.
"Men! Don't just stand there!! Capture the-" Sentinel froze as a great sword came down on him, slicing through his cape and cape clasp like it was butter, but it remained planted before his face.
"Touch my mate again, and I will rip the soul from your dried husk," Drift growled, Deadlock slowly slipping through his words but he remained himself. Removing his blade, replacing it to the sleeve on his back, Drift returned to Solstice. Bringing her close, Drift glared back at the crowd. He knew this was going to happen; the humans here were sheltered and knew nothing of the world outside their walls, and when they looked they turned to disgust.
Solstice looked to the crowd, seeing everyone looking on in fear, shock and confusion. Spanning the crowd, her eyes fell on Airstrike and his family. He stood there firm, unsure of what was happening, Smokebomb glared out while Red Moon hid behind her mother. Radar, held by Airstrike, looked straight at Solstice. Eyes meeting, Radar looked on with concern and hope Solstice was alright. Solstice, in return, looked on the family with regret and grief. Hiding her head in his shoulder, Drift held Solstice closer as his demonic aura surrounded them. Legs bent, Drift launched them both into the sky and toward the gate, leaving the city behind. Solstice couldn't keep her eyes open, bolting them them shut as they sailed through the air, Drift leaping off of treetops as if they were nothing.
"Solstice," hearing his voice, she opened her eyes and was truely surprised. They were now in a secluded pond. Thick trees formed a barrier from the rest of the webwood while the moonlight danced across the serene pond. Small glowing flowers lit up the soft grass and moss like tiny stars, reflecting the night sky above. "We can rest here before going back to the shrine. Don't worry, Perceptor knows we're here." A strong grinding sound caught his attention, turning back to Solstice and turned horrified at the sight of her...scratching her scales off. "Solstice!?"
"Get them...off..." her whispered mumble drew greater concern from her lover, moving closer as her frenzied scratching became worse. Small loose scales dropped, catching the moonlight as they fell, but left rather nasty bleeding spots where they once resided. Even her sharp talons seemed to have trouble prying the hard looking scales from her skin, all the more reason to stop her before she did herself an injury. "Get them off." she hissed again, moving from her arms to her sides, then her back and with a frenzied screamed tried to scratch everywhere at once. "GET THEM OFF!!!"
"Solstice stop!!" Drift demanded, rushing forward and grabbing her hands, Solstice just screamed more and struggled to get free. She had managed, much to Drift's own surprise, snapping with an unusual strength as her endeavor turned to her horns. They were now more pronounced, not a hinderance as they were still quite small. From her hairline they sprouted up before curving back over her scalp. Making a small wave over and around the side of her head, followed by a second smaller pair of horn bordering the first. Her hands grasped the larger set and struggled to wrench them from her head. Tears of pain rolling despite her disregard, pushing herself to remove them.
"Solstice that's ENOUGH!!" putting more strength behind his hold, Drift easily held her down. Despite this, Solstice continued to struggle, matching Drift's own strength. Before she could get free however, Drift's legs caught hers and sent both of them into the shallow pond. Water sprayed over them, glittering as the drops dripped from them. "Please Solstice, stop this."
"But...I...I'm not me," Solstice admitted, tears running down her cheeks. "You saw the way they looked at me...they called me a freak...an abomination..." her sobs grew stronger while her struggles weakened. "Why...why did I change? Why did this happen?" Allowed to move again, her arms wrapped around herself, turning away from Drift in an effort to hide herself from him. "This isn't me anymore."
"Solstice," Drift cupped her face, turning her back to him. One hand moved down her front, smoothing over her irritated scales, wiping away the small trails of blood to let the gold shine through. "You haven't changed at all. You're still you, you're still so, so beautiful to us, to me."
"No I'm not," turning away, ashamed to look at Drift, Solstice's sobs caught in her throat. "I-I'm a freak...this isn't me, I'm...I'm useless...unwanted...forgotten...a...a mistake." her tears renewed, her body curling in on itself. Drift, however, refused to allow her to close. Arms pried her body open, pinning her to him. His hands smoothed and touched anywhere they could reach, his lips leaving kisses and pecks on her neck and cheeks, drawing her sobs silent and turning her attention back to him.
"Don't use such ugly words," he cooed, moving over her and kissing each missing scale, lapping the blood as he went. "You're not a freak, never an abomination. You have me and Perceptor, you have Gadget. We all love, we would never abandon you and you will never...ever be anything less than treasured."
"But...I'm not...me anymore," Solstice sighed.
"Really?" he asked, his tone turned humourous, catching her confusion. "Well, you're still as stubborn, kind, generous, selfless and passionate as you ever were. That hasn't changed," he smile was unexpected, growing her confusion.
"But...my skin...and the horns?" she gasped as Drift's lips carressed the base of her new horns.
"You could've turned into a goddess, or become the undead," the last comment concerned Solstice, causing her to grimance. "Perceptor, Gadget and I would never stop loving you so long as you stayed the same stubborn, lovable, rambuctious woman we all love...and that I adore~"
Solstice heart torn, filling with such warmth and heat she could feel new tears fall. Tears of love.
"I would kiss every scale on you to show how much you mean to be. Worship your body as you deserve, until those horrid, ugly thoughts leave you," to prove his point, Drift pecked several spots, spots he knew would make her quiver and gasp. "Never listen to those skittish idiots. They don't know true beauty~"
"Please..." Drift watched as she raised her arms, circling around his neck and pulling him closer. "Make me...make me feel whole...please..."
Lips merged in a loving kiss, arms lacing around each other as Drift pulled Solstice from the water. So that she didn't freeze, Drift was swift in removing what had remained of her clothing. As the moon peeked over a cloud, the silver light illuminated Solstice's new scaled body. Much like the underbelly of a lizard, some parts of her body were left free of scales. Spanning from her back inward; her belly, along the underside of her arms, chest, crotch, inner thighs and the pads of her feet were left as they were while the remainder of her body was decorated with shining gold scales. It looked like she had been laid in molten gold.
"Divine~" he purred, his gaping mouth finding a skin patch on her neck, just enough to expose her pulse beneath. He was pleased with the loud moan he pulled from her, sliding between her legs when she jerked. From his new position, Drift slid his haori off, revealing his sculpted chest and arms. A blush creeping across her cheeks, Solstice hesitated in raising her hands to touch his bare skin.
Smirk growing, Drift untied the ties of his hakamas, removing the last of his clothing. Taking his haori, Drift used his own clothing to cushion Solstice on the ground, his hands returning to her hips.
"Drift~" the way her voice rolled saying his name, Drift couldn't hold back. Delving in, his lips kissed, licked and mapped down her body. Coming to her chest, he nuzzled and massaged her breasts, teasing until her nipples drew in tight. "Drift!" she gasped, one of his hand rolled the stiffened nub as the other was rolled between his teeth. She could feel sharp canine's drag and lavish her flesh but never drew blood. Alternating between the pair, his hands easily pressing and kneading those soft mounds, his body slid further down, kissing and nipping skin.
"Delicious~" Drift purred, pressing his face into her belly, mindful of his own horns. Soft hands rolled through his hair, glancing up to see Solstice flush. She was growing warmer, her body quacking as his tongue and lips descended. She tried to turn away, to hide her blush and embarrassment but his urgent hands teased her thighs but rubbed soothing circles to help calm her. "Don't look away~" Hesitant, Solstice looked back. Holding her gaze, locking with his smolder, Drift allowed his tongue to hand past fangs and dive in.
"GAH~!" Solstice froze, the sinful and delightful dexterity of Drift's tongue lashed and probed her clit, seemingly grasping it and drawing his mouth around it. She legs kicked out, her body merely reacting to the new sensation. Recalling Perceptor's encounter their lovemaking was feverish, animalistic, scratching an itch she didn't know she could have. But Drift, his touches were soft but meaningful. He strove to tease and worship, only continuing when her gasps turned wild and her begging increased.
"You taste amazing Solstice," rising from his crouch, licking his lips clean of her spilling juices, Drift admired his work. He intended to show Solstice just how much he meant to him, even if it required he drive her body and mind to Nirvana. He had managed to gain two orgasms from her in such a short time, watching her body pant and flinch from the receeding highs, but now he intended to fulfill her request; he intended on making her whole.
"D-Drift...please~" she had become hoarse from begging, from moaning and screaming as his talented and experienced mouth toyed and charged every inch of her nerves to the edge. Feeling his arms loop and cradle her, Solstice felt the world rush around her as Drift changed positions. Back pulled against him, she gasped at something stiff pressed into her. Arms flying up, wrapping behind her, Solstice tensed as the feeling of his hardened cock pressed against her netherlips. But her anticipation was quashed as his fingers laced from her front, pulling a surprised and loud moan. Taking this time, Drift's other hand steadied her while he shifted her angle. Feeling the heat and relaxed muscles teasing his tip, Drift forced his hips forward. "AH! DRIFT!!!"
"Oh~ Solstice~" Hands holding firm, Drift started his pace. Slow as to ensure she felt everything enter her. "P-Please...Drift~ Ah!"
"Do you feel me?" Drift asked, rolling his hips, grinding hard against her backside. "Feel how hard you make me? how much I love you and wish to show you just how beautiful I see you?" A hard buck drew a gasp from her, drool rolling from the corner of her mouth. Solstice began to drown in ecstacy. And Drift too, was beginning to succumb to his own movements. The way she clenched, pulled him back. The way her hands and arms tried to grasp and hold onto him.
Both hands flew to her hips, Drift watched Solstice fall forward, cushioned by his haori as she found her grounding. Their hips bounced in unison, wet slaps and sleek slides echoing around them, heightening the arousal and driving them on. Drift smirked as Solstice began to grind back, meeting his thrust with her own.
"D-Drift...c-close...I-I'm close!" she couldn't keep herself up, turning her head to the side and grasping what part of the haori she could reach as he increased his pace.
"Oh Solstice.~! My love~" Drift purred, glancing down to watch his own cock slide effortlessly into her dripping cunt. "So beautiful you are~ Filled to the brim with my cock," a louder moan rolled out of her, muffled as his body blanketed over her, arms trapping her down like a dog rutting, his hips snapping wildly as he licked and nipped the scales on her neck. "I'm going to cum, I'm going to fill you up, flood your tight pussy with my seed. Perhaps we can make a little brother or sister for Gadget~" Solstice shrieked, pushing back against Drift as the pace became unbearable. "Seeing you full, bulging with my children~ with my little Oni. You would love that, wouldn't you~?"
"DRIFT!!" Solstice froze and shook, an orgasm riding through her but was forced through it harder as Drift refused to stop moving. He would achieve his own completion before she would think of pulling away for relief. "GAH! Drift Drift~! DRIFT!!"
"Cumming...Cumming! NYGH!" Drift wrapped his arms around her waist, his grip tightening as he felt load after load spill into her. He refused to left any leave her, pushing in harder to keep her nice and full.
Solstice shook on her hands and knees, held up by only Drift's wanning strength. Both were consumed by fatigue, both reeling in the aftermath of their lovemaking. Drift didn't bother removing himself, collapsing with Solstice and remained as they were. Sleep easily took hold and left them both in a dreamless but sated slumber.
Perceptor was getting worried, he had already placed Gadget in his room after falling asleep waiting for Solstice and Drift to come back.
Perceptor had only awoken from succumbing to his own rest when the shrine door slide open. Jumping to his feet, Perceptor skittered into the main room, sighing as he saw Drift carrying Solstice.
Wrapped in Drift's haori, leaving his lover bare chested, it didn't take him long to realise just what had occured.
"Was this truely necessary?" Perceptor asked, but noticed the sullen look in Drift's eyes. "Drift?" He followed as Drift placed Solstice in their shared bed.
"She's in a really delicate place right now," Drift admitted, sitting on the bed as she slept. "She was chased and attacked after informing the family," Perceptor could see his aura beginning to flare, as it did when the Oni was angered. "Even people who knew her or of her easily turned for the promise of gold. And that...bastard captain intended to torture her, throw her in some cell and poke and prod her." His growl shook as he tried to control himself. "I needed her to know, to show her, how much we love her, no matter what she may look like."
"I know," Perceptor smiled, crawling behind and hugging Drift closer, kissing his cheek. "And so does Solstice," sighing, the pair shifted and drew closer on the bed, surrounding Solstice. It was a long road ahead, for all of them.