The berthing bay’s walls were a soothing dark teal and covered in writing. Graffiti, several years worth: games of tic-tac-toe, pairs of names circled in hearts, arguments over who’s screwing who.
Two women were waiting for Eve. The first was obviously Nysa. She was short and thin, none too feminine, with aquiline features. Her shirt was neatly buttoned and her jeans fit well, everything modest and tasteful and well-maintained. Her goldenrod hair, like spring’s first crop of grain, was tied in a bun. She scanned Eve with cool, withholding amber eyes.
The other woman stood a half step behind. She was a head taller than her companion, a voluptuous beauty in a wool sweater and skirt that made no secret of her curves. Her tangerine eyes were like a cat’s, curious and playful and taunting. The rest of her features were soft, and her orange hair splayed out in feathery strands all the way down to her midback.
Eve’s stomach lurched. She knew the second woman. That was Libera. Hyperion’s daughter. Eve’s granddaughter.
She had first met Libera once… no, twice in her life. Their first meeting was short, perhaps eight years ago. All Hyperion wanted to talk about in those days was her brilliant, magnificent daughter Libera. Eve would have loved to play a hand in her training, but had been too busy. When they finally met there had been no time for anything but a few pleasantries. Libera seemed as smart as Hyperion made her out to be, and charming to boot. Eve couldn’t remember much else about the brief encounter.
The second time they met was maybe a year later, a casual lunch meeting with many others. Eve had been working in the Sorority at the time- things had gotten bad enough by then that she had to lead LUX politically, a task she loathed. Libera seemed a bit different then. More subdued, with heavy bags under her eyes and a tendency to swallow her words. Eve didn’t remember their conversation, she had been engrossed in some draft proposal, stuffing down food so she could get to another meeting.
Hyperion completely stopped mentioning Libera not so long after that. Eve never thought to ask why.
She was sure the first words out of Libera’s mouth would be: “The fugitive! Eve Volcanalis!” Instead they were: “Damn, Knees. When you told me we’d have a new transfer, you didn’t mention she’d be a smoking hot superbabe.”
Nysa’s mouth tightened. “At least introduce yourself before hitting on her.”
Libera offered a well-moisturized hand. “Right. Name’s Libera! Senior Fellow Libera Satyricon, if you wanna get technical. I’m the ringleader of this circus. The serious one is our tragic clown Nysa- don’t call her Knees. I call her Knees, but she hates it when people call her Knees.”
“Absolutely despise it,” Nysa added.
Eve stared at Libera’s hand. “Err… beg pardon, Senior Fellow, but my power doesn’t allow for me to…” She gestured at the Arcane Suppressor.
“Oh, right right! Duh. Stupid. Knees, make a note to slap me.” Nysa didn’t move while Libera peered at Eve. “What’s it called, by the way?”
“Pyrostatic, ma’am,” Eve said. That was forward of Libera indeed, to ask about Eve’s power within minutes of their meeting. Etiquette dictated that a witch not be asked about her ability except by close friends. “It’s… better if you don’t touch me. Even with the Arcane Suppressor, my powers are slippery.”
“Oof. That sucks.” Libera winced. “Don’t worry, we’re both witches too so we know how it is- in fact, almost every girl onboard is a witch, right Nysa?”
“That’s right,” Nysa said with a nod. “And no non-LUX personnel, either. I’m sure you’ve faced distrust and rudeness from girls in other branches before… not here. This is a safe place.”
Nysa couldn’t have been more wrong. LUX girls were more likely to recognize her than other branches. They hadn’t earned the nickname of “owls” for being unobservant or stupid. Eve had changed almost everything about herself from her appearance to the way she spoke, but some things like her build were not so easy to alter. “I see,” she said neutrally.
“Plus if anyone’s bullying you, Nysa’s got a sick power.” Libera winked. “She can find anyone at the base at any time. Show her, Knees.”
Nysa turned pink and looked away. “I’d rather not, she murmured.
Many girls were sensitive about their powers for one reason or another- Eve was definitely in that category. “That’s okay, I’ll get a demonstration at another time.”
“Ha! She’s so polite, isn’t she? I like you already.” Libera lowered her spectacles to peer at Eve. “Say, have we met somewhere before? I used to work at Pergamon, maybe there?”