By D.D. Randall
Sagira kicked the pile of grungy, ugly, orange overalls as they pooled around her feet. She really wanted to tear them to shreds so small they were unusable. She refrained, only because she didn't want to give her matron any more reason to keep her in this small hellhole beneath the Cathedral.
It had been too long. Away from her life, away from freedom, away from Garrett. This had been the hardest three months of her entire life.
She had considered her home environment at House Cabal restrictive. Her formative years paled severely to the rigid schedule she'd been pressed into. Serving time sucked.
There was a small thought she could exert her talents, physical and mental, once she was in. Leverage over the humans running the place should have been simple, right? Sagira frowned heavily. This was the Cathedral, an organization whose sole purpose was to tame the supernatural forces of the world. She should have known better.
They'd prepared for her.
Her guards were exo-suited – always. Her prison cell not only was made from the most resilient material to be found, they also emitted a low level of ultraviolet radiation that stung her skin if s got within two feet of it.
Mentally? She was pitted against Talents in their own right who were either well-defended or completely immune to her supernatural wiles.
Just another hour to go. She almost couldn't stand herself.
"Ma'am!" she responded automatically to the disembodied voice.
Her skin crawled at how submissive she acted when the matron was around. It was a forced concession to be sure. She'd been shown on day one how acts of defiance were dealt with. A vampire captive. He'd done something – she wasn't sure what – but they had taken him to their rec hall, trotted the rest of the denizens of this hell out, and made them watch as they repeatedly subjected him to ultraviolet light. They didn't bathe him in it – didn't crisp his skin in one shot of agony. No – they dragged it out. They used small flexible tubes, like whips, glowing with captured radiation. The wheals as the bands of light touched his skin opened and oozed, but didn't close. Every inch of his exposed skin was subjected to this torture – until it was crisscrossed with wheals. After an hour of repeated lashes, they finally dragged his limp form back to his cell.
She'd seen the man since. His once youthful and eternal looks were forever marred by the radiation scars.
She found no matter how much this yoke chaffed her, she didn't want to be on the receiving end of the torture she'd been shown. If she wasn't careful, that could be her…
"You've got two minutes or you can rot in here another month!"
Knowing Matron Korra was good for her threat, Sagira shed her normally human speed for something that better reflected her pedigree – supernatural mutt.
She was dressed, prepped, and on the line in less than 30 seconds, drawing a wrathful glare from the matron. Well she assumed it was wrathful. It was hard to tell behind the mirrored visor of the exo-suit. She'd never seen the matron's face, had no clue what the woman's appearance looked like. However, just by her body language and actions, the woman was a hard-ass from the word go.
There was part of Sagira that wanted to challenge the woman – to coerce her in some way to step out of that protective shell and face Sagira one on one. It was in Sagira's nature to assume that she was superior to Matron Korra because the woman was human. Still, a more rational part of her – the one tempered for better or worse by her dad's influence, cautioned that there was a good reason the agent was in charge of the women incarcerated here.
"Show off," the woman breathed. The whisper was amplified by the microphone in her helmet. Not that the Matron was trying to hide the comment.
Her frustration drew a smile to Sagira's lips. She shrugged to get the hastily stuffed backpack to sit better on her shoulder. The mirth bled off and anxiety took its place. She kept thinking something was going to go wrong, something was going to keep her from her eventual reunion with Garrett.
She had no idea what was going on with him, beyond that he was still alive. She had no idea what kind of progress he'd made since the one visit she was allowed after pulsing the hospital wing. It seemed radio silence over the matter was part of her punishment for that very expensive stunt.
She stiffened when the matron approached her. Heavy clanking steps echoed down the hall, still reverberating after Matron Korra stopped opposite the bars from her. Despite her features being muffled in armor, the matron gave off the distinct impression of giving her a disdainful once over.
Matron Korra's frustrated sigh was loud in the silence, before she passed a hand over the control panel. Sagira glanced up as the strange orange lighting dimmed and the tingling along her skin faded from her perception. Two clicks followed, the first gave her a shiver of an altogether different sort as all the small weapons compartments on Korra's suit popped to the ready. The second was the lock cycling.
As the door slid back, Matron Korra gruffly ordered, "Hands!"
Dutifully, Sagira made a sharp about face and laced her fingers together behind her back. Guess it wouldn't do for her to start a riot on her way out of here. The thought brought a smirk to her lips, one she quickly struck from her expression as the manacles engulfed her hands and weighted her arms.
"Front," the matron growled.
Once more Sagira complied. That was another thing she couldn't wait to do – act like herself. Being this constrained of thought and action all the time was like a slow, maddening itch she couldn't scratch.
"Step to the line, Arturo."
As soon as Sagira set foot on the center-line, Matron wrapped her bicep in one suited fist and practically dragged her towards the end of the block. Her attitude said it all, she'd be happy to see Sagira remain in her cell block indefinitely. She would be happy to see Sagira die in this place.
Be happy to disappoint you, Matron. Sagira though acidly, trying to keep the accompanying expression off her features. She moved forward pliantly, following instructions to the letter as she gathered her belongings, signed the required documents, and was led to the front of the building.
She almost lost all composure when she caught a glimpse of Garrett's form beyond the induction clerk's desk. His frame was rimed in the artificially bright flood lights beyond the double doors. Her body ached to be at his side and a little squeak escaped her lips, betraying the emotion. Matron Korra must have sensed the change in her body language, for the grip on her arm tightened to painful levels.
"Mind yourself," the Matron growled.
Forcefully, Sagira made her frame relax. There were several more torturous minutes while they read her the conditions of her release, escorted her to the final set of doors, unlocked her cuffs, and allowed her the beginnings of her freedom.
As they came through the doors, Garrett peered over, a smile turning up the close corner of his mouth.
The dam burst, Sagira bolted from her escorts, tearing across the open space and leaping into Garrett's embrace. "Oh Garrett! You're up!"
"Was there a doubt?" he answered. His voice was a bit rough.
Heat flooded her cheeks as she leaned back to look at him. Opening her mouth to speak, her voice caught as she got a good look at his face. The intact side of his face was aimed at her, one never really touched by scarring or the nanites progress. But there…
Across the bridge of his nose was a nearly silver squiggle. Once she noticed that, more became apparent, encroaching on what was left of his rugged handsomeness. They weren't nearly as dark as they had been, but they still stained his sub-dermis. Reaching up she turned his chin, shivering when the detritus not only thickened across his right cheek, but an eye-patch covered that socket, sealed in some fashion directly to his skin.
Involuntarily, she took a step back.
Horror scaled higher, when her perusal took in how the right arm was still a stump capped in a sophisticated looking system support device.
"I know what you're going to…"
"You didn't get fixed?" she squeaked, cutting off his statement.
Instead of answering her, he reached across the growing divide between them, and pulled her closer once more. She struggled against his grip, confused and angry that he would come to her incomplete.
"Knock it off!" He growled, tightening his grip on her bicep and yanking her yet closer. He glanced up and her gaze followed seeing her jailer and many other guards looking ready to haul the both of them back into detention. "Not, here, 'kay?"
Sucking her cheeks in, she nodded tersely and relented her struggle. Side by side the two of them walked towards a waiting transport – Garrett keeping his intact side towards her in some strange attempt to maintain the illusion that his body was whole. That thought sent a shiver through her frame.
She was shocked to note their ride wasn't his Holocaust, but a limousine, complete with a chauffeur. The plain looking man opened the rearmost door and Garrett motioned Sagira to enter first. He climbed in after her, which put his mangled side closest her. She found herself leaning away from the wreckage of his skin and nerves. As the driver slipped into the front seat, Sagira reached for the controls for the privacy window between front and rear seats.
Scooting forward in her seat, she turned to face Garrett.
He got there first. "I put off the replacements, Sagira," he sighed.
"Why?" she whined.
He sighed and looked away, the disconcerting view of dark material making up his eye patch all that greeted her. She saw his jaw muscles work, making the fading lines of nanites detritus dance under his skin. "The shit had me spooked." He turned his single-eyed gaze back on her. "You did good. The nanites were disabled down to the last one, but… that left the original condition to contend with. Even an EMP burst wasn't going to stop the progress."
"But you mentioned… the docs spoke of some new treatment."
"Yeah." Again he clenched his jaw. "There was a delay starting that, 'cause they had to clean out my systems some first."
She looked dubiously at the evidence under his skin.
"It was worse, 'Gira, much worse than this."
"But they treated you, right?"
Garrett nodded, but didn't say more immediately.
"And? Did it work?"
"They tell me it did." He lifted his left hand rubbing his fingers and thumb together. "I've not experienced the pain, the weakness in a couple weeks. I'm slowly beginning to believe them."
Sagira shivered at how shaken he looked. "So there should be no issues. Yet…"
"Call it gun shy, Sagira, but I haven't been brave enough to… strap the cybernetics back on." He glared at her. "Does it really matter?"
She snapped her mouth shut, the implications of her behavior slapping her in the face. What a bitch she was being about the aesthetics, when she should just be happy her beau was alive and functional.
"I… I'm sorry, Garrett."
His lips thinned as his single eye worked over her features – testing the sincerity of her words. Purposely she leaned into his right shoulder, backing up her words with comforting action. He reached across his body, lightly stroking her hair and face with his left hand.
"I'll get there, 'Gira," he sighed. A small laugh shook his frame, jolting her into sitting upright. "You know me, I won't stand to be handicapped like this too long."
She smiled at his words, even knowing he was just saying them to hide his fear from her.
"Of course not," she purred. Leaning in and pushing up, she kissed him square on the lips.
Straddling his wide lap, she wrapped her arms around him and kissed him more deeply. He responded in kind, wrapping his large hand around her waist to lessen any attempt at escape from their intimacy.
"It's been a long three months," he sighed when she quit the kiss.
"You bet it has."
"We should wait until we get back to the apartment," he whispered as if someone would overhear him. He also didn't sound at all like he was for his own suggestion. Just the opposite.
Her smile broadened as her blood quickened. One small check of the dividing window later, Sagira ravished Garrett right there in the back seat of the limo.
A/N: A little One Off to follow up the end of New Kid on the Block. I wanted readers to have a glimpse of what happened after the EMP, after Sagira's incarceration. So here we go. I won't say that this is completely polished, but I rather like the overall feel of the chapter. I also like the idea that Garrett, Mr. Power hungry and body proud has been shaken enough by his near death run in with the nanites, that he is reconsidering the worth of having the additions.
Thanks for reading! Reviews are most welcome! :D