Your oldest memories are of confusion and solitude.
You remember being in a cold, dark place, your small body slowly moving around with six little legs, and tiny sharp teeth biting everything and everyone that came close. There were strange round white blurry shapes in which you couldn't quite identify with your still developing vision, along with other, more colorful moving figures, most of them roughly the same size as you.
You remember bigger colorful figures too. They were huge, wore lots of green and made weird sounds which you couldn't make heads or tails of. They would often walk around the place, sometimes picking some of your fellow colorful companions and taking them gog-knows-where. They never looked at you.
Then, there were the huge black figures. They scared you. A lot. They made even weirder noises that sometimes hurt your ears, and whenever they weren't flying, their footsteps shook the ground, making you and pretty much everyone else close enough lose their footing. Sometimes, they would pick up small colorful ones like you and throw them against walls or pointy parts of the ceiling, making the warm liquid that colored their shells spill everywhere.
You stayed as far away from the big dark figures as you could.
Other memories that you have of your grubhood are of being held close, basking in the warmth of a large white beast and feeling so... Protected, like nothing in the world could hurt you these moments. You wish you could go back to those days, even if for a second. To feel your lusus' gentle nuzzling and grip on you. To have nothing to worry about and just... Be happy.
Unfortunately, you grew up.
You wonder if things would have been easier and less painful if you had died in the caverns.
Alas, here you are. Navigating through unknown territories in a stolen spaceship, the whole fucking Alternian Empire coming for your ass and a half-hidden dirty little secret in your veins, just waiting until the time comes to show itself.
Your name is MISPAH RAEDRE, and let's rewind a bit and see just when, exactly, everything went wrong.
It's slimy. You would say that you're used to it, after all, you bathe in sopor slime every time you go to sleep, but this... Is different. It doesn't have the pleasant buzz sopor gives you, that little feeling of sleepiness and intense relaxation, no. This is just fucking slimy and sticky, and while there's not enough for it to drip on the floor, it's enough to cover your entire body in a single, thin layer. It does absolutely nothing other than be disgusting. Ew.
You can't really walk yet, so you simply drag yourself out of your chrysalis and lay on the floor for a while. Oh, your hair has grown. You're too tired to care right now, but maybe you'll cut it later? Who knows, maybe you'll leave it that way, whatever.
Your sense of time is completely fucked up from your time as a chrysalis, but you're pretty sure you stayed on the floor long enough. Trying not to shiver from the slight cold of your respiteblock, you shakily try to get up, using the wall as support until your legs stop trembling from disuse and such radical change. Woooah, you're tall! You knew you would grow up, but damn, you feel like a gogdamn tower now. Hell yeah!
Now on somewhat stable legs, you quickly walk to the ablutionblock, eager to both get a look at your new body and get rid of the sticky-slimy substance that comes with molting. You idly note the footprints which were added to the mess on the floor when you walk. Shit, you'll have to clean them after your take a good, long shower. Aw man, you're still feeling kinda drowsy. C'mon, think straight-
Ah shiT YOUR HORNS-
Great. If you were only a bit drowsy before, that's a full-blown headache now. Oh, the unfortunate downside of being tall. Your hive wasn't designed for an adult, and now your once Ok Ceiling turned into a Not Ok Ceiling. You quickly wave your hands in a fanning motion around your horns to try (and fail) to subdue the pain.
At last, you reach the ablutionblock. You have to duck to be able to walk through the door frame, and the whole space itself looks way smaller than you last saw it, but it's manageable enough.
You make a beeline for the tub, quickly twisting the knob and letting lukewarm water through. While waiting for it to fill so you can finally get clean, you walk over to the mirror, looking at the floor just to make everything more dramatic- no one here to see your reaction, but it doesn't hurt to add a little "more" to everything-.
You gently lay your hands on the edge of the sink, closing you're eyes and looking up. Okay, now's the moment you've been waiting for.
You open your eyes, and find yourself staring at a very scary, very exciting sight.
It's you! But... Not? You already knew your skin was darker, almost black, but seeing your face like this is certainly a weird experience. Everything's more defined and your cheeks lack the baby fat they had so abundantly before, making your jaw sharper too. As noticed before, your hair is longer, making your wet bangs fall in front of your eyes. Hmm, maybe you could cut the bangs and put the rest in a ponytail?
All those thoughts are shoved into the back of your head, however, as you take a good, long look at your eyes.
Lime green. Cullbait.
Sighing, you reach into the cabinet under the sink and hastily pull out a small medicine bottle. You found this in the black market for the price of three kidneys, and while it took a while for you to find the perfect victims and a spot to hide their bodies, along with the courage toactually do it, it was all worth it. There is a kind of drug which is capable of changing one's blood color, as long as it's close enough to the desirable color. For example, a rust blood can't turn into a cobalt blood, but can turn into a brown, maybe yellow of they're lucky. Incredibly illegal.
These particular pills make your blood turn olive green for about two days. You figure lime and olive are close enough. Choosing to fake being a yellow blood would be dangerous, for you don't have any psiionic powers, which would get you culled nonetheless. As an olive blood, you suppose if will be easier to hide.
You take the pills dry and glance at the bathtub. It's already halfway filled, which is good enough. You unceremoniously plop your entire body in the tub and immediately start scrubbing your legs. People often comment on how well-defined and pretty your lower limbs are, which you wholeheartedly agree. Damn right they're gorgeous. The one thing you're proud of.
The rest of bathtime goes uneventfully, just lots of scrubbing and lots of soap to really get everything out. As the transparent substance slowly colors the water of the tub, making it seem like the oil stains in the ocean that the sea-dwellers so often complain about, you start to think of your future. It's not particularly bright.
You're an adult now. You can't stay on Alternia. You thought of forever staying at home, but it would never work. How would you get food? Lusii aren't allowed in stores without a grub present, and you sure as hell aren't a grub now, haven't been for sweeps. Besides, you bet eventually a drone would find you and cull you for sticking around longer than allowed. So many things that could go wrong, you can't risk staying here.
The only option left (there were never many options in the first place) is to join the fleet as a soldier, as every troll is supposed to. Being an olive, you're low enough so that highbloods won't notice you, but high enough to get a somewhat decent position, one that doesn't involve manual work was much as it would had you been a rust or a brown blood. You would still be a soldier, still a lowblood, but it's better than being culled.
You could also start a revolution. You chuckle at the thought. As if.
Even though this place is not of particularly high altitude, the wind still blows cold and unforgivingly in the night. Outside the chained fence, critters of all shapes and sizes huddle together to watch the proceedings inside, some teary-eyed, others with their chest puffed out in pride. Oh, how they are going to miss their grubs.
A single, lonely lusus watches from afar. They fidget with their paws while they nervously observe as how one by one, each adult troll slowly boards the ship, having received clearance from the drones and the teal blooded workers in charge of overseeing everything. The lusus hopes for a miracle, that their sweet dear grub (no longer a grub, the lusus reminds themselves, not that they would ever stop calling them their grub) doesn't suffer more than absolutely necessary. They don't deserve it.
The lusus closes their eyes, a small sigh escaping their mouth. They really, really hope the best.
Inside the camp, far from the worried lusus, is a young green blooded adult troll. That troll is you. The focus has now been shifted towards you as your point of view becomes relevant once more, which honestly confuses you. When had the point of view not been yours? You are you! There were zero times in which you had not been you, and it'll always stay that way!
... Somehow, you feel like the 'you've always been you' trope had been used before more than it should. Gah! You're getting a headache! Where did all of this even come from?!
"Number 413914, please step into booth number 7."
Oh. Time sure passes when you're musing. You get up from the uncomfortable plastic chair you were formerly sitting on, hyper-aware of your posture and the way you carry yourself as you walk to the small black tent with the number 7 painted in white. The drones are watching, and although the paperwork you submitted to them was just swell, you still can't help the shiver down your spine as they watch you like a meowbeast watches a squeakbeast before pouncing. Not a very inaccurate metaphor.
You bump on a few fellow recently-molted trolls on your way. This is an Assigning Camp after all, a place where young adult trolls go right after molting so that they can be assigned their place in the Empire. A death sentence for the incapable, a push into hell for the lowbloods, a stairway to heaven for the higbloods.
Once arriving at the tent, you are greeted by a slim teal woman. Her impeccable formal suit and hair tied to a ponytail with no rogue strands just scream "serious business", but then again, being Assigned is no joking matter. She gestures you to sit and opens an olive green file from the pile of equally colored paperwork.
"The drones saw nothing wrong with your resumé, but we still need to triple check everything before we send out anyone, just the usual stuff." The woman says, not looking up from your file. "And so," she looks at you for the first time, hints of indifference under the thin veil of monotone. "I'll just be asking a few basic questions, make sure we have everything straight. You can do that, right?"
"Yes." You grip your knees a little tighter, ready for anything she might throw at you. Come on, you've practiced this in the mirror.
"How is it spelled?"
"13th bilunar perigee of the 4th dark season's equinox."
And so the game of twenty questions went on, with the lady shooting questions at you like bullets and you successfully answering them without a hitch. This is way less stressful than expected, and you can't help but relax as time goes on. Looks like you worried for nothing. The drones may check your bags, but you took extra care to wrap your entire pill supply in goldblood psionic with the help of an acquaintance from the black market. They'll never find it, and if these questions are all that stands between you and sweet, sweet survival, this will end up being so easy you almost feel like crying.
"Well, at least you got the basics right," the woman murmured. "Believe it or not, some people actually find ways to mess this up." She snorts. "Like, damn, if you're going to fake some documents, at least do it right! I swear, there's at least one idiot every perigee." Her eyes finally diverge from cool indifference, shifting to something more akin to amusement and exasperation before losing their light once again, leaving dull teal circles behind.
You nod along, choosing to stay silent.
At last, it's over. You can now finally be assigned to ship and a function and-
"Last but very far from least, the blood test." She reaches into a drawer under the table and pulls out a small device with a needle on one of its ends and a small screen showing pixelated Alternian writing. "It will only hurt for a second but will reveal vital information. This test will not only prove your Hemocaste, but also show any signs of substance abuse. The most common case so far is sopor addiction, but it is capable of tracing just about any type of drug." She bores into your eyes. "So if you conveniently left something out of your resumé, pick a god and pray."
"W-Wait, I wasn't informed of this." You immediately start beating yourself up the moment these words come out fo your mouth. Way NOT to be suspicious at all! And your voice faltered too!
She smiles. It's not a kind smile. "Yes, this procedure is not very well known to the public. You can imagine why we would want this to be a surprise."
You're so fucked.
She sets the device on the table and gestures to it with the wave of a hand. It's now or never.
With a deep breath, you reach a slightly trembling hand forward, index finger out and, with your eyes closed in nervousness, you prick your finger.
Perfectly acceptable olive green drips out, and you withdraw your hand with haste. The liquid slowly trickles to the base of the needle, and the device makes a tiny beeping sound. You hold your breath.
The screen lights up with "Questionable substance detected", and you can't feel the floor anymore.
"Well, well, well, what have we here?" If the meowbeast-drones outside looking for a squeakbeast were terrifying, they are nothing compared to this woman's eyes now. She's the meowbeast that caught its pray.
"Oh! I've seen this one before! It's a blood-changing drug, isn't it?" She huffs. "Well, this one's rare. What are you? A tiny little goldblood trying to escape being turned into a battery? Well, that's too bad."
She pushes a button under her desk and it's over.
Everything. It's all over.
You're no longer Mispah Raedre. You're just a fool who thought they could trick the Empire. Another one of the idiots who thought everything would end up alright. That a simple, small pill was the key to happiness in this world of suffering. Another dreaming moron who forgot their place, who forgot...
Who forgot that this is Alternia, and there was never such thing as happiness in the first place.
You don't even scream, don't even fight as the drones take you away. It's over. You were doomed from the start. There was no way this crazy plan was going to work, not in the best outcome. Other trolls look at you with disgust as you are taken away, each arm held by a drone in each side, feet staggering behind you as you struggle to keep up with the pace. It's over. You're going to die-
From the crowd of lusii outside, horrified beady eyes meet yours.
Your heart feels like it had stopped beating.
It's like a punch to the chest. Like a slap to the face. Like a bath of cold water. It's all of those things and more. Your lusus. Your parent who chose you amongst the sea of grubs in the caverns. Who raised you in hopes of you surviving. Who fed you, taught you, protected you with all their might. The only one who cares about you.
Those eyes, which once looked at you with such warmth and adoration, now looks at you with sorrow and grief.
You... It can't end like this.
You plant your feet into the ground. It gets pulled along with the rest of you by the drones.
Seriously? Was THAT the best you could have done?! Ten sweeps! Who knows how long you can live! Don't you want to find out?
You tug on your arms slightly. The drones pull harder.
What is even your Hemocaste ability? Why are there no more limebloods? Why were they hunted down?
You jerk your torso to the left. The drone at your right is surprised, but pulls you back.
Don't you want to live? To get in one of those spaceships and explore the stars with your fellow trolls, hell, meet some trolls. You've never had friends, too afraid to trust anyone. Don't you want to have someone to rely on? Someone to talk to and be happy around?
Yes. You want to. You can't die here. Too many sights to see, too many questions to answer, too many friends to make.
You won't die here.
And so, you lift your leg and-
You stomp it on the drone's foot. Hard.
It's not enough to significantly damage it, but it sure as hell is enough to startle it. You take the small moment of confusion to retreat your arm from the drone's hold, swinging it to plant your claws between the other drone's neck plates. It's by sheer luck that you don't miss it, and since you can feel a strong electrical current through your arm, you think you managed to hit a wire.
The drone crashes down just as the other regains their bearings. You duck with a yelp when it tries to grab you, and you don't hesitate to run now that you are free. There is a loud siren behind you, coming from the drone which is now chasing you, and you've never felt that much adrenaline before.
You run. You run and don't ever stop. Trolls pass by you in a blur and drone reinforcements land nearby as you duck through them with desperation. A young cerulean man snatches your wrist and received a punch on the nose, blue blood splattering all over the floor and your knuckles. He lets you go in favor of nursing his wound.
You have to hide somewhere. But where? All around you, there are only tents, spaceships and... Oh. Oh.
You'll have to trust your luck. It's potentially the stupidest plan you have ever thought of. Scratch that, it is the stupidest thing you've ever come up with.
You're gonna fail, it's never going to work-
A loud 'BANG' cuts through your thoughts, and you clutch your right ear as it bleeds, a large chunk of it gone.
It's your only chance.
With a wince, you take a sharp left and knock a cobaltblood -A cobaltblood, oh my god. Can you get any deader?- into the floor as you push them aside and climb into a space shuttle.
You ram your fist into the control panel next to the entrance, but not before a trail of bullets zips through, leaving dents through the floor and walls and scraping you. You don't waste any time bolting through the main hallway of the shuttle and going to the control room. It's no doubt that the drones will try to break in. You need to take off.
But. You don't know how to pilot a space shuttle. How the hell are you going to do this?
*BANG* *BANG* *BANG*
"RAEDRE, EXIT THIS SHIP RIGHT NOW OR WE WILL BE FORCED TO BREAK IN. YOUR PUNISHMENT MAY BE LIGHTER IF YOU COMPLY."
You push the biggest button and pull the most eye-catching lever. You can feel the engines roaring.
You grip the yoke and pull.
The shuttle takes off in a mighty blast, the wind and heat from the engines blowing any and all bystanders nearby. Drones flew around like demented bees trying to take the right course of action, trying to find the proper protocol for this situation. There was none. Going after the rogue would be fruitless, after all, what was a drone compared to a space shuttle?
Trolls from other ships watched in awe and horror as the deviant ship flew away into the horizon. The cobaltblood who was pushed into the floor, then blown away and scorched by the force of take-off could do nothing but stare as his precious personal ship was stolen, from the hands of a rogue lowblood nonetheless.
From outside the camp, the group of lusii scatters, scared from the unexpected take-off. All but one, and as they stand tall, their head lifted up and looking straight at the shuttle, they can't help but smile.
They did it. Their grub did it.
Their little one is going to survive. They know it.
You glare at the smashed chip on the floor. Stupid thing.
After three hours, three, of dodging missiles and ducking under the control panel in search of this damned thing, you at last found and managed to destroy the tracking device installed on every ship.
The Fleet was doing their damn best on trying to catch you and/or kill you. As expected, there were hundreds of armed battleships once you exited the planet's atmosphere, but none of them waiting for you exactly. They just saw you as a little blue blood shuttle which was flying a tad faster to allowed, but then again, cobalt paint job. They probably thought you were a young highblood too excited to join the fleet of something.
None of it mattered five minutes later, however, as the message finally got across that this shuttle wasn't supposed to be flying at all, and must be taken down at all costs. That's when things got complicated.
Missiles. Lots and lots of missiles. You don't know how to pilot this thing, and lost half a wing and stuff you can't even name in the whole ordeal. You're pretty sure you lost one of the numerous fuel tanks, however, and it seems like the ship is going to last way less than expected. On the other hand, near-death situations seen to be the best teachers. You're starting to get the hang of this whole piloting thing.
After miraculously surviving for three hours under constant attack, you finally managed to exit the nightmarish concoction of deadly weapons, only a couple dozen left following you. A few warp blasts from the shuttle's failing engine, along with the fact that you finally managed to find and destroy the tracker, and boom, you're off their radars. Or at least you hope so.
You swipe the back of your hand under your bangs, sighing and laying your cheek on the scratched panels in which you raked your claws in when looking for a place to hold onto. Gog, you're so tired.
You can't believe you did all of that. You just fucking escaped Alternia. You- you escaped Alternia. Gog, you can't even begin to fathom in how much deep shit you're in. You're tired, almost passing out from exhaustion, full of cuts and bruises with a chunk of your left ear missing, but you're alive, dammit! You survived Alternia and you escaped Alternia and-
You're crying. You're also laughing. It's a strange and foreign feeling, one which you can't quite name. You're shaking and hurting, ecstatic and filled with dread, relieved and mortified. You, you...
You never really put a name to that feeling, actually. Instead, you flop on the controls like a ragdoll, the day finally catching up to you.
Your last thought before passing out is about how you left your luggage on the planet, pills included.