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TLoSaI Ξ “The Meaning of Twilight”

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Samus awoke to a piercing headache, and a good half of her face feeling like fire. She winced, letting the memory of her escape from Federation space and her crash on an uncharted planet slowly filter back. She would have been amazed that she'd survived—not only survived, but somehow went herself into an, all things considered, decently comfortable bed—were her survival something still capable of surprising her anymore. She'd been through worse. She would just keep on surviving until she didn't, she figured, and then she wouldn't.

Samus groaned and propped herself up on her elbows, looking around to make an appraisal of her surroundings. And then she did experience surprise, or rather, shock, freezing like a statue at what she saw. Or, more to the point—who.

“It's a fucking human,” Samus said, too stricken to even care about the fact that she had just spoken those words out loud. The fucking human in question lifted their eyes up from their desk and looked to her at the noise.

It was a fucking human—by the looks of it, a young twentysomething girl; her hair cropped short into a cute pixie; a soft, slightly bookish look about her; lanky, but in the way that would once keep Samus up at night, the kind that she wouldn't have minded climbing all over her, all bony limbs and delicate flesh, back when girls climbing on top of her still seemed like it might one day be a possibility, rather than yet another way to invite state surveillance into innocent and unsuspecting women's lives.

Of course, that had to be why this girl was here—clearly, Samus had not been so skillful at evading the Galactic Federation as she had thought. She sighed—ah, well. Freedom had been appropriately trashy and mediocre while it had lasted.

The mysterious woman smiled at her—a big, earnest smile, like gosh madam, put that thing away—and then spoke, in a light, singsongy sort of voice. Her words gave Samus pause, and not because of what they were saying: They weren't in any language she recognized—and certainly not GF Common.

As a matter of fact, now that she was sitting up and blood was flowing properly to all parts of her brain, nothing about the room she was in resembled what she had come to expect from the Galactic Federation—there were no cameras, for starters, nor, for that matter, any sign of electronics at all.

That suggested she was still on the surface. In that case, if the Federation Police really had been the ones to discover her, there should be an armed guard in the room, at least—and rank or station visible on her caretaker's uniform, not that she could really refer to the girl's outfit as such. Samus looked around again, for any manner of institutional presence. The room wasn't big; nothing materialized. Still, the presence of humans necessitated the Galactic Federation be around somewhere—unless…

…There was a human settlement that wasn't under Galactic Federation control?

It was way too damn early in the morning for the universe to yet again be contradicting itself, and given her splitting headache and overall soreness, Samus was very much not in the mood. She needed her damn coffee. Actually, she needed to pee.

“I, uh, didn't understand anything you just said,” Samus responded, finally. “Is there a bathroom nearby?”

The way that the girl didn't laugh when Samus pantomimed using the toilet, but just smiled, found papers, and indicated directions with her hands, indicated to Samus that this probably wasn't her first time communicating with someone through a language barrier. She nodded her thanks, then set off to relieve herself promptly. Doing so, she noticed for the first time that this was rather obviously not her nightgown she was wearing—meaning that she must have been undressed at some point during the night.

It was okay, though, because bathrooms were good places for having panic attacks, too.

When Samus returned, it was to the smell of breakfast, and it did great wonders to help her mood. She'd taken heed of the sun's positioning overhead on her trip to the outhouse—it was past noon. But the woman had spared no expense in making her a meal—eggs, cheese, bacon, a corn tortilla, a cup of tea. Lack of coffee aside, it was an envigourating meal, and Samus consumed it happily and with thanks. Introductions took place alongside: Samus had indicated herself and said her name, and the woman had done the same—“Ilia,” she had replied. She chatted idly as they ate, and even though Samus couldn't understand a word of what she was saying, she didn't mind. Ilia had a great voice, and her words were frequently accompanied by small sung tunes and hand gestures, which were fascinating even if Samus had no clue what they meant.

A knock came on the door, interrupting their meal, a man's voice carrying through from the other side. Samus bristled, Ilia flashing her a worried look as she set her utensil aside. The girl rose quietly, excusing herself, and met her visitor outside.

☙ ⁂ ❧

Ilia closed the door quietly behind her, turning to face Rusl, who was standing on the platform outside. “Hey,” she said, straightening her shirt, brushing off a few crumbs. “What's up?”

“I just wanted to check up on… well, you know,” Rusl gestured, replying, a hint of concern in his voice. “Is she up? Doing alright?”

“Yeah, woke up just a minute ago,” Ilia said, glancing back at the door without thinking. She smiled. “We were having breakfast,” she said, the tone in her voice making it clear that she knew full well it was after noon. “I don't think she's ready for visitors right now, though, so I'm afraid I can't offer you inside.”

“That's fine, that's fine, I'm just glad she's alright,” Rusl said, relieved. “I don't suppose… she has told you where she comes from? An Ordonian woman falling from the sky is… Well, some in the village are claiming she was sent by the gods…” Rusl chuckled. “To deliver us from Hyrule, no less,” he added—and Ilia knew he was speaking of Jaggle.

“Her name is Samus,” Ilia told him, “and that's all I've been able to get out of her. She doesn't speak a word of Hylian.”

“Oh?” Rusl scratched his chin thoughtfully. “A woman from the sky, speaking in a strange language we can't understand…” He winked at her. “You know, I think I might be familiar with an expert in that.”

Ilia giggled, immediately catching his drift. “Right,” she said, nodding. “Shad.”

Shad was a young, attractive scholar who Ilia had become acquainted with during the wartime. At that time, he had been researching a mysterious people that he referred to as Sky Beïngs, who had supposedly built entire cities floating above the clouds. He'd come to Kakariko over the course of his investigations, which was how Ilia knew him, and had been a member of the Resistance, which was where Rusl had made his acquaintance.

Word had it that Shad was now working directly under the employ of Princess Zelda, in Castle Town. Neither of them had made contact with him in years.

“I suppose it has been a while since I've made the trip to the castle,” Rusl said. Since the war's end, he had hardly left the village, not wanting to travel far from his daughter, Linkle. He sighed. “I suppose I could set out within the week.”

“Oh, no, Rusl, we need you here,” Ilia replied quickly. “Sorry—I know you'd get the chance to see Colin, but… Well, you were at the meeting last night, you know how things are right now.”

“And if things really are falling from the sky,” Rusl nodded, “Ordon Village will need her swordsman.” He gave Ilia a grim smile. “Alright, I'll stay. But then, who will make the trip? Talo? He's the right age, but… not what I'd call… responsible.”

“I was hoping Beth would, actually,” Ilia said with a smile. “You know how she's always wanted to go. And she could take Luda, too, and maybe stop by Kakariko.” None of the adults knew that the girls were a couple yet (although, if anyone was to have suspicions, it would probably have been Rusl)—but their friendship was obvious, and the idea of one travelling without the other was unthinkable.

“Beth and Luda, hmm…” Rusl looked thoughtful. “I'll have a word with her parents. If they consent, I'll send her by.”

“Thanks Rusl,” Ilia grinned. “It's a big help. Oh, and if you're talking to Sera anyway… let her know to start looking for more fabrics. Samus is…” she winked, “not exactly my size.”

Rusl laughed. “Alright, will do. I'll let you get back to your meal, now; sorry for keeping you.”

“It's fine, it's fine,” Ilia said, waving away the apology. “I'm glad you stopped by.”

Ilia returned indoors to see Samus climbing down from the window—evidently, her curiosity had gotten the better of her, and she had looked to see who was outside. Ilia hummed her a happy tune. “☺♪ Just Rusl, stopping by to see how things were,” she said lightly, moving to clean up the dishes from their meal. “He helped carry you back here, you know. He's a friend.”

Ilia glanced to the towering woman. She was a mess: Her long, blonde hair was all in tangles from her sleep; her nightgown—that is, Ilia's nightgown which she had given her—was too short in the legs, too narrow in the shoulders, and too tight in the—well, chest. And, most noticeäble of all, there was a large, swollen bruise discolouring one side of her face. Ilia had considered showing her around town, but she really didn't look ready for anything of the sort at the moment.

“You probably want to get washed up, huh,” Ilia said, thoughtfully. She rummaged through her drawers for clothes that (a) were clean, and (b) might have a chance of fitting, and tucked them under her arm alongside a towel and a bar of soap. “Well, come on.”

Ilia was correct in assuming that the Ordon Spring—just a short walk through the woods from her house—would be entirely vacant at this hour in the afternoon, and she led Samus there calmly. It was a warm day, the late summer sun shining down on them happily, a fact for which she was thankful, as it meant the water would be reasonably warm. She sang a soft celebration to the daylight, bringing them to the spring, and then around. “☼♪ It's a nice day, isn't it?” she chatted. “You can't bathe in the spring itself, obviously, that would be… ⚠♪ sacrilegious. Plus the soap would settle in the water and it would get all scuzzy.” Ilia stuck out her tongue. She strode up beside a small stream leading away from the pool, and plopped the clothes down brusquely. “But this will do fine. Clothes,” she said. She pointed to the stream. “Stream.” She handed Samus the bar of soap. “Wash.” She hoped that got the point across.

Samus nodded, taking the soap and standing there somewhat awkwardly. “I'll… go stand watch,” Ilia said, walking to the spring's entrance and leaning up against the gate.

She got the sense that Samus was someone who liked her privacy.

☙ ⁂ ❧

The clothes were hardly a perfect fit.

They weren't bad, Samus presumed, all things considered—the tanktop gave her shoulders plenty of room to breathe; the capris, although they were basically shorts on her, fit at the waist, even if they were a little tight in the thighs. Samus took her time glancing at her reflection in the surface of the spring, admiring how ridiculous she looked—the hem of her shirt barely reaching her waistline, pants that cut off right at her knees, her legs completely unshaven—not that it seemed to matter here; Ilia's were likewise—and these boots, worn, leather things, which clearly weren't her caretaker's because they weren't even close to the girl's size.

A breeze blew by, and Samus shivered, even though it wasn't cold. She wasn't used to exposing this much skin; she wished she had a jacket to cover up, or her Zero Suit, or heck, her armor

No luck on that front again, though. She'd been trying all day.

Ilia was patiently waiting at the gate, staring off into the forest, her back turned. It was pretty clear, at this point—since she had left to use the facilities, really—that Samus wasn't under any supervision, and if she wanted to run away, there wasn't anyone who was going to stop her. It wasn't even running away at that point, she supposed, just…

Leaving.

Samus leaned up against the gate beside her partner. As much as she had been craving it before, the thought of disappearing now, of not beïng seen… terrified her. She looked at Ilia's face, soft and glowing in the afternoon sunlight. Was it just that she now knew that there were other people watching? But—she had known that before, hadn't she?

Perhaps she had forgotten. Perhaps she still felt betrayed.

“Hey,” Samus said, quietly.

For a moment, it had slipped her mind that Ilia didn't speak the same language. Her smile, at least, needed no translation. Samus smiled back, then braced herself. There were still some answers she needed to find.

“Ilia…” Samus started, unsure how she was going to get the question across. She traced her hands along her body, along her arms, down her chest. “My outfit that I was wearing before…”

Ilia stared as Samus's hands traced her curves, then blinked and blushed beet-red when she understood what she was asking. At least, Samus hoped she understood. She looked pretty bashful.

Ilia led them back to the house, talking all the while, not that Samus could really understand. After depositing towel, soap, and nightgown, she pulled out a box, lifting the lid for Samus to see inside. It was, indeed, her Zero Suit—cut into pieces, because of course it was, that was the only way to get it off without power—but neatly, along the seams, so that the fabric might still be good for something later. Underneath, she noticed with a chuckle, was a towel that must have come along from her ship. Samus sighed, rubbing a fragment of cloth gently between her fingertips, fondly remembering its feel before placing it back into the box.

Alright, next question. She gestured towards Ilia. “You?”

Ilia nodded. She looked uncertain, but not in a way that suggested she was lying.

“Not…” Samus gestured back at the door, towards where Ilia had met with the strange man from before.

Ilia smiled, rolling her eyes and firmly signaling “no” with a shake of her head. She pointed to herself. “Ilia,” she said.

Samus sighed loudly. Well, that was a relief. “I need to…” She signed walking with her hands, and then her ship falling from the sky, and crashing into the land. “Get back to my ship.”

Ilia nodded, filling a light pack with supplies, presumably for the trip. She tilted her head slightly, and they were out the door again.

It wasn't long before Ilia held out her hand, invitingly, as they walked together, quiet for once, into the woods. Samus paused in her tracks, looking at her, hesitating. She had been touched plenty of times in the past several years—by Federation scientists and medical staff, invariably young, white men in their 20s or 30s, with faces that smiled but never at you, undressing her and running tests and performing experiments on her body, often while she was unconscious, only to find out about it after the fact. Samus understood why they were interested—she was a homo sapiens–Chozo hybrid, the only one of her kind, enough of a human woman to spike their—intellectual—libido but not enough to make them feel bad about it afterwards, in their eyes. Yes, she'd been touched innumerable times in recent years—but never once had she been given a choice.

Ilia smiled invitingly, and Samus cautiously, gingerly took her hand. It was soft and warm, far moreso than she had expected. They walked a short distance like that, hand-in-hand.

A few dozen steps later, Samus gently took her hand back. For once, Ilia didn't say a word.

☙ ⁂ ❧

The path back to the crash site was long, but much easier now that it was daylight and they were taking things slow. They spent it mostly in silence, snacking on pumpkin seeds and deku nuts as they walked, Ilia startling a little when babas rose out of the ground to meet them, Samus barely heeding them any mind, having seen much more dangerous foliage in her travels across the galaxy. Ilia had brought along a walking-stick, and Samus could now see why: It only took a few thwacks to decapitate the creature, and one more to crack open and harvest seeds from the resulting bulb. Babas couldn't be farmed, so every grown traveller with a taste for the nut carried a small seed-pouch along with them while travelling; when she got home, Ilia would salt the seeds and spread them out to dry. They had a certain spice—Samus was almost certain contained caffeine.

Samus had never been to Earth, but, fanged flora aside, walking there amongst the trees, it finally sunk in just how Earth-like this planet really was, with the tall, woody trunks and wide, green canopy and birds and insects and occasional patches of clear blue sky. From what she'd heard, actual Earth typically wasn't so wonderful. This was like something from a fairytale—but the old, animated kind, the kind whose copyrights had expired a century ago and which were freely accessible online.

And Ilia was, well… it was the longest she'd spent in the continuous company of another person of her own free will. And here they were, walking together through a mystical wilderness, lightyears away from the Galactic Federation or anybody who could do her harm. Samus realized that she could pursue a life here—she could hold hands, date women, fuck, and nobody would ever care, and nobody need ever know.

It would have been a lie to say it wasn't tempting.

The pair came to a clearing—the crash site. Samus sighed, examining the wreckage before her. Definitely not flyable. Still, all things considered, it could have been a lot worse. Well—she could have died. She found the open hatch on the side of her ship, and stepped inside.

Ilia followed her through. Samus was clearly familiar with the room—she moved with a purpose, checking on things, grabbing a bag, and filling it with belongings—clothes, mostly, which made Ilia breathe a sigh of relief for her own wardrobe. Samus tugged on a black jacket of durable cloth Ilia had never seen before, collar popped daringly, glancing back at her. Gods. It wasn't like anything they had in Ordona, or Hyrule for that matter. Ilia felt herself blushing. Samus paid her no mind, pulling out a large, metal case from a closet, extracting some manner of cylindrical mechanism from it.

Ilia felt a small squeak escape her lips as Samus sat herself down, pulled up the leg of her trousers, and stabbed the cylinder into her thigh.

There were two injections. The first was an immune booster—always a smart idea when arriving on a foreign planet, especially one inhabited by humans, even though Samus's physiology was unique enough that she doubted she was in much danger of catching any of their diseases. The second was estradiol—always a smart idea in general. Samus took all her medication this way, when possible—because it could be easily facilitated by her Power Suit's life support functionality. In situations like this, however, she had the necessary equipment to manage things herself.

Samus looked up at Ilia, smiling lightly at her in an attempt to ease the stricken look on her face. It worked—she nodded and smiled back.

And with that, Samus had everything she needed for an extended stay on an alien planet. As they departed the ship, Ilia chivalrously offered to take one of the bags; Samus obliged, then giggled as she watched the girl's slender arms strain under the weight. None of this would last her forever, and she knew that. Eventually, she would probably have to try to find some way back home. But if humans were here, then interstellar technology must have been at one point, and in the meantime…

Maybe this would all work out. Maybe things would finally be okay.