“I can’t believe Midas hasn’t choked on one of these things yet,”
Kore’s voice echoes from the console area, where she’s transferring Judge’s many, many ayatan stars into crates to transfer into the cradle room at the back of his ship. Even after attaching several blues and yellows to his vast collections of kinetic sculptures, there’s still too many to safely keep on board. “This is hell, Judge.”
Judge rubs his eyes blearily. “Thank you for helping me, Kore.” His eyes sting from staring at collection of duplicate mods for the past 40 minutes. Or the lack of sleep. “And you’re free to use my foundry for whatever number of experiments you want.”
“You’re damn right.” He hears her gently admonish his bear-sized kubrow, then the clatter of metal on metal. “What do you want me to do with the actual sculptures?”
“I’m going to give them to Maroo.” When did he even get all these Pressure Points? “Unless you want to take some.”
“Can I take Midas instead?”
He sells what he has gathered on the market and presses the heels of his palms to his eyes. He’ll do the rest later. “Kore, I only have two functioning companions.”
“I’d take Cadmus with me, but he’d miss annoying Ugly. And I’m not taking your kavat because I only have room for one Cosmic Terror on my ship.” Her voice is right beside him and he looks up from his seat on the floor. She has one crate balanced in her arms and peers at him through a Sah sculpture. “You look like shit.”
She rolls her eyes. “Go lie down or something. I don’t want you getting mad at me because you thought you hallucinated wanting to clean up your ship.” Midas trots in behind her with a crate balanced carefully on his back. Kore has been working marvels with his kubrow, even if Midas himself doesn’t know his own strength.
“I’ll lie down after I go through my relics.” Judge says.
“Scylla, dim the lights.” Kore says, effectively ignoring him. “Judge is going to take a nap.”
“Yes, Oper-r-rator Persephone.” Judge’s orbiter walls shift from fair green to a darker teal, and his lights dull to a cool blue.
“This is my ship,” Judge protests weakly. Kore gives him a look before rounding the corner. The blue hue hits the back of her head and the collar of her hood briefly before she disappears behind the door to the cradle. They shift close, and all that’s left is the quiet hum of the engines.
He’s still stinging a bit from the embarrassment of admitting just how bad his ship had gotten in the past few—-months? Years? He’s almost certain he woke up collecting things.
“The trick is,” Kore had told him after he’d curled up against Valencia on her orbiter. “To only keep what makes you happy. Are you going to use these noggles? This array of broken plastids? This moa head?”
She was trying to keep things light. And Judge tries not to be thick at the best of times. He knew how ‘my Warframe is haunted’ sounded. He also knows Kore, and he knows how low her tolerance for bullshit is. He also knows, fortunately, that she loves him, somehow
She’d touched his cheek, briefly, warily, and said, “It’s void sickness, fool. You did it to yourself.”
He smiled at the memory. Leave it to Kore to uncloud his head, like reaching in and shaking something loose. She’d kept an Oberon noggle for her trouble. He wishes he could give her something better. He feels the lights flicker before he sees them and looks away instinctively.
His double’s appearances are becoming less and less frequent. With Kore’s counselling, he’d noticed that the voice echoed in his own head rather than where he imagined the source of it to be. He’d filled in the blanks himself. There wasn’t any anti-toxins he could take for this kind of poisoning. The less attention he gives, the more he can centre himself.
“I see you brought the spring on board,”
And Judge, despite himself, can’t not look up at that. He watches his own face smile at him.
“That got your attention.” the void wraith says, eyes glittering. “It’s nice to have your own personal springtime isn’t it? Saryns always smell like petrichor, somehow.”
Judge can’t seem to keep his eyes off the figure, as it becomes more and more solid with each step through the orbiter. It glances around, as if appraising the newfound space the missing argon pegmatite had left behind. “It’s a pity she’s come in to shift everything around. I did like my winters.”
Judge feels his heart in his throat as the ramp draws open and the light spills in. He hadn’t moved. He hadn’t moved and the ramp only reacts to movement. He doesn’t follow his double up to the navigation area. He tries to concentrate on hearing—actually physically hearing his footsteps. If can’t actually hear them, they’re not real. Kore had said—-Kore had said the only way to know is to believe. He’s not the hallucination. He tries not to hear the footsteps.
He heaves a sigh when a luminous kavat saunters down the ramp. He puts a hand on his throat and stifles a sob. “Handsome, I have never been so happy to see you.” The kavat flicks her tail and bears her mismatched teeth in disgust. He leans in to pet her soft fur, earning him an annoyed yowl. Handsome knows that something’s going on with him, otherwise the sleeve of his suit would need to be replaced again.
Either that or she’s still drowsy from snoozing on the codex station the entire day.
The doors shift open and Kore appears again. She grimaces at Handsome. “Thought you’d gotten yourself jammed in the trash compactor again.” she says.
“Likewise, Ugly .” She turns to Judge, and he must still look upset because her grimace doesn’t soften. Kore’s stare always leaves him feeling helpless and wired at the same time. “I’m going back to my ship to rest. Night-cycle started two hours ago, so Scylla’s staying dim for the next 7 or so hours.” She hesitates before approaching him, and Judge holds his breath.
She looks like she’s thinking about touching him, but doesn’t. “I’ll be back.” She says.
Judge nods. “I know.” He smiles despite the nerves around his throat. Kore makes a show of narrowing her eyes in suspicion. It makes him feel better.
“Don’t put your relics up without me. I still don’t have Red Veil tributes and I’m tired of spending standing on a pack of Liths I already have.”