Her disgust must have shown on her face. “You’ll get used to it,” Coronis said in a conciliatory voice. “And not everyone here is like that! Phoebe, for instance, is completely dedicated to studying the Enyoni.”
Eve looked down at the floor, her eye twitching. She didn’t want to snap at Coronis, as Other Eve was not far behind if she did. That was the most insidious part… she couldn’t let her anger out in small bursts. It was all or nothing- and if it was all, there would no longer be a Coronis. Or an Eve. Or a Lethe-2 for that matter.
“I’m trying to stay calm,” she told Coronis through clenched teeth. “It’s not easy.”
“Ah… wait, I have something for you.” Coronis rifled through her sweatpants and produced a pack of pills. “These are really popular here- a neo_SMOKE special. You ever take ragdolls before?”
Eve shook her head. “I don’t do well with most medicine. I used to take SPRING_Fever downers but…”
“Oh, those things? Don’t bother. SPRING_Fever makes overpriced crud for bored businesswomen. Now these… these are wonderful.” The pills were white and shaped like a cat’s head, with little blue dot-eyes. “You feel sort of like you’ve dove into a heated pool, and then the next thing you know you’re outside your own body, drifting through memories like a nomad. Nothing hurts, everything is smooth and pleasant, and you return to reality a few hours later.” Coronis’ voice took on this dreamy, faraway quality as she described the drug.
“Memories? So I’d see…”
“Yes, you could reunite with people! Even if it ends up as a bad memory, it can be really cathartic. I knew a girl who got back with her ex because she realized while ragdolling that their relationship was the only thing that had ever made her truly happy.”
It did sound enticing. Eve realized she automatically stuck out her hand to accept the pills. “Thanks, but I’m okay,” she said as calmly as she could, withdrawing her hand. “I haven’t got the digits to buy it with.”
“For you, Mater? No charge.”
No charge for expensive contraband? Incredibly generous… suspiciously generous.
Of course- why hadn’t Eve made the connection before? Coronis was a smuggler, a damned good one. Half the base were pill-poppers. Obviously, Coronis was the one supplying them. She was a drug dealer.
Eve didn’t know how she felt about that. Coronis might poison people, but it was by their own volition. Eve had killed people, a lot of them. She had no right to judge.
“Drugs have strange effects on me, sometimes,” she said through gritted teeth. “My biology is different than yours, after all. Really, all I need is discipline and self-control and I’ll be okay.”
“Right… it’s just that, isn’t that what you said before you had your accident?” Coronis’ voice was gentle.
“Well, Mater, I’m a fan and I was reading some old interviews of yours. Before the accident. That’s what you said. You could control Born from Atom… until you couldn’t.” Coronis shrugged, wisps of flame emitting from her mouth. Eve couldn’t tell why she was saying what she was saying. “For your sake, I want you to be able to keep control. You want that too, don’t you?”
“What I want is for you to watch your tongue.” Eve was talking without meaning to. The words just came pouring out and she couldn’t do anything about it. “How dare you lecture me on how to control my powers? Do you have any idea what I’ve sacrificed just to be standing here? What sort of agony I had to-” Breathe. Breathe breathe breathe. Eve felt her skin bubbling while Coronis took a step back, shielding her eyes from the heat.
“I’m sorry,” the neo_SMOKE agent muttered.
“Do you have any idea how insulting you just were?” Eve hissed.
“Yes. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have, I was being an ass.”
“Do you know why I’m insulted?”
“Because I shouldn’t pry. Mater, I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I was being a bitch.”
There was terror in Coronis’ eyes, fear for her life. Her face was pink and flushed and glistening with sweat, all from standing near the living nuclear weapon. Eve breathed, regaining her composure bit by bit. When she felt ready, she walked past Coronis
“We won’t speak of this again,” she said over her shoulder.