Elissa believed that there would be light.
Wasn’t it what she was trying to do? Create a new light?
Instead she was walking in the darkness. Not in the void of her mind. She was outside.
The Threads were not with her.
For the first time since she had memory, her mind felt… alone.
It was strange. Maybe a little scary, like losing all hearing, but at the same time-
It was peaceful.
She let out a long breath. Couldn’t see it, but she felt the air leaving her lungs. The night smelled sweet, like soft flowers. The rustling of the wind over the grass reached her ears.
It was so unlike when she had given herself to the Forest. Then she felt like she couldn’t ever be alone anymore.
Now she was.
Elissa sat down on the grass, wrapping up her knees with her arms. She adjusted her hair and felt the empty orbs of her eyes, the scarred, stitched skin.
Not worth it in the end. She had mutilated her body for nothing.
She perked up at the sound of a foreigner voice. It was that of, it seemed to her, a middle-aged woman.
She couldn’t see her and even though her other senses were sharpened, without the Threads she couldn’t perceive where she was exactly or what she looked like.
A bit scary, yes.
“I surely hope so,” replied another voice, this time belonging to a man. His steps drew a strange sound out of the grass. Maybe he wore boots? “When do you depart?”
“Tomorrow. But might as well launch tonight. I do not have much time anyway.”
“You can spare a few hours then.”
“I can’t…” the sound of a kiss, lips hastily pressed against lips. “The viable orbit will close too soon.”
“You did not tell me. I-” the other hesitated. She heard him reach up to her and the soft crease of fabric as they embraced. A tiny bit of her heart roared in jealousy at the contact, but she stayed and listened. She could imagine how they would look like.
Was she some sort of soldier? Or an engineer?
“You have chosen to believe it will be worth it,” he said with hidden rage in his voice. “What if I don’t? What if it’s better to make use of the time we have left? Whatever it is, we can spend a few days together rather than an eternity apart.”
“It doesn’t work like that,” she retorted in a whisper. “I wish it would. This is our last attempt at a pushback.”
Elissa stood up. For some reason, beyond any rational thought, she felt like this was important. These people were talking about…
“After the Hearthwombs, and the Marker, and the nukes?” He sighed. “There is no pushing back the Forest. She has won. We have to accept it.”
“I will not accept it.” There was a tragic focus in that face that echoed through Elissa’s chest. The same refusal. The same steadfast determination, come hell or Winter. “As long as there is the tiniest sliver of hope, I will have to fight for it. This is our best batch, by the way. The specimens will grow sturdy. One of them has shown incredible promise! When she grows up she can…”
“I don’t care.”
“This is my life’s work…”
“It isn’t your life! This vain attempt at revenge has consumed you. Look at yourself! When was the last time you have eaten? When was the last time you let go, when was the last time you spent Tim with others, with us, with me?”
“Need waits for no man.”
“Don’t change the subject. I know I have no right to ask you-”
“That’s correct.” She detached, making the fabric creak. She now stood alone. “You have no right.”
“I hoped this went beyond rules.” A pause. “Is that an order?”
“Do you wish it to be?” She retorted in a heated hiss.
“Then it is. It’s an order. Go back to your post. Goodnight.”
Another, longer pause.
“… goodnight Doctor. May you rest easy between the stars.”
His boots left the scene.
The woman, the Doctor, stood alone. Elissa walked closer.
“No rest is possible. Not until we have burned the whole woods to the ground…” she stumbled away, and Elissa ran after her.
She reached out for the stranger, for anyone, but she was blind, and deaf to the Threads, and she found no purchase.
She flickered for a moment.
And then the echo that had been Elissa, who had found herself shifted into a clear night of decades before, disappeared, and all was good with the world once more.
And when she came back, there came the light.
How do you build a star?
Erepople might have found an answer, once. Together with many others, they used those answers to build a civilization that defied description.
Elissa, for all her wit, couldn’t have possibly found that answer on her own. She had to rely on her Threads, on the connection she always had with the past and the future, running through her veins and pulling her arms taut.
They had always been with her and she had always been with them. A relationship that had lasted for years, be it from the moment she had opened her eyes in the protective capsule, between Verna’s arms, to when she had tried to beg them for help in order to protect Sadja, to when she had lost herself completely to their embrace when she had scooped out her own eyes, to when she rode them to find the Hunter and heal him, to when she had collapsed the pylon back into a favorable present, to now-
To the moment she held the sun in the palm of her hand.
Maybe, for the tiniest of moments, she was given the gift of understanding.
About what she did – the sheer magnitude of what she had accomplished, turning a chemical reaction into the beating heart of an expanding ball of gas that burned hotter than the one currently bathing the other side of the planet.
Maybe her heart managed to flutter at what she did. Maybe, as the Threads snapped all about her like strings pulled too taut, too fast, one time too many – pop pop pop they went – she was given the solace of pride.
I’m a good girl.
And then she clapped.
Pic by ThePanda
Author’s Notes: when I first began thinking about Patina, back when the title of this work used to be Argent, I knew that Elissa would be, in the end, the pivotal character. She’s a character I have always loved to write. I hope you liked her as well – out of the three times I changed the title card, two were to represent what she did go through. I hope you had a lot of fun with her. Thanks for reading.