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17 December 2008 @ 08:41 pm
Trial Run!  
Karolina sat on the edge of her new bed and gripped her knees 'til her knuckles went white.  This was not her familiar room back at the Hostel; the air here was processed and metallic rather than muggy and sulfuric.  The furniture had a stark, utilitarian feel to it, the ergonomics totally alien.  She wondered if she'd be able to sleep at all, then remembered that she and her friends had bunked down in some pretty inhospitable places in their time. 

The thought of Nico, Gert, Chase and Victor finding their rooms equally uncomfortable made her smile.  Karolina would never be able to thank them enough for coming with her.  For all her brave talk of righting her parents' wrongs, she knew she never would've found the courage without them.  Alone, they were just a bunch of bratty teenagers, but together they were indestructable and that made her feel as strong and she sometimes pretended to be.

But there was one thing they couldn't help her tackle, and her (his? Did shapeshifting aliens have the same concept of gender?  Did one or the other raise the babies?  Was there equal pay for equal work?  What about birth control?  Or did any of the things that had fed her activist anger back in the day even apply!?) name was Xavin.  Karolina took a deep breath, clapped her hands to her cheeks and got up off the bed.  She wanted to talk to Xavin now, without an audience, to figure out where they stood.  She had to make it very clear that coming to Majesdane was not the same as agreeing to get married.  That wasn't even legal (or was it, where Xavin was from?!), and she didn't see how marrying some traitor's daughter off to the enemy prince was going to get the Majesdanians to drop their weapons. 

That was another thing.  What did she know about interstellar politics?  She'd only ever cared about animal rights!  Karolina almost gave in and sat back down, but knew she'd never get up again if she did.  So, with another deep breath and a determined face, she pressed her hand to the door's lock and stepped out into the shuttle.  It was a small craft (really, she was surprised there was room for all of them, and it was a tight fit for Gert and Chase to share their room with Old Lace), and the bridge wasn't far away.  She figured she'd find Xavin setting their course to...Majesdane.  Not-home.
shemalien on December 18th, 2008 02:17 am (UTC)
Xavin was in his skrull form right now, sitting in the cockpit, staring at the screens and read outs. Everyone was settled in, the hatchling with a person they could trust and he had...

...he had done it. She was with him. He had to remind himself, her parents hadn't told her anything. Her parents had expected him to be dead by now.

He couldn't thank enough gods of any race that she had agreed to at least come with him. Scent being better among his people, he smelled her before he heard her, and the scent was like sunlight.

He turned around, and smiled, before he thought to shift into the female form. It hadn't bothered him at all that she preferred a woman's shape on her mates, some did, some didn't. It was merely an ascetic. The person was on the inside.

"Karolina," he would refrain from calling her love, despite feeling it even more now. He didn't want to make her uncomfortable, "Is everything well?"
Karolina: Uncertain (human)burningpainting on December 18th, 2008 02:28 am (UTC)
The shapeshifting was going to take some getting used to. It was strangely beautiful, like watching an icicle melt, but it also raised the hairs on the back of her neck. It didn't escape her that Xavin's Skrull form was male. Or was it? Did they even...they were aliens, so maybe he didn't have a...

Karolina jerked away from that train of thought, blushing furiously. "Um!" she stammered, "It's fine! The room is...fine, thank you."

Oh, she was off to a great start.

"I was...kind of hoping you could tell me a little more about Majesdane. And the war. I'm sorry, but my parents never said anything about it, and I don't want to go into this blind." There, that was a safe way to begin.
shemalien on December 18th, 2008 02:44 am (UTC)
That confirmed one of his suspicions about how much her parents hadn't told her. Xavin gestured to the co-pilot's chair. He had come alone.

There weren't enough soldiers left to waste on a guard. Even for him.

"I can tell you anything you ask, show you too, the ship's computer has logs... I can have them translated into English for you if you like," she offered, since he was a she right now.

"While you're here, with me, you don't need to wear that form," she offered gently. He hadn't seen any Majesdanians walk around with their natural light shielded like that.

Edited at 2008-12-18 02:52 am (UTC)
Karolina: Power Down/Upburningpainting on December 18th, 2008 02:57 am (UTC)
"Could we start with my parents' role in all of it?" Karolina asked as she took the proffered chair. "If I'm going to catch the flack for that, I'd better be prepared. And I'd like to know more about that part of their lives."

She blinked when Xavin suggested that she "turn on" her light. It hadn't occurred to her until that moment that she was going to be around people who looked that way all the time. Even the realization was surreal.

"I guess I just don't think about it," she apologized, fiddling with the clasp of her bracelet. "I didn't know I was anything but human until last year so, for me, this is more normal."

The bracelet came loose and her light fell around her in waves. It reflected off the metal consoles and shone back from the softly curved walls of the shuttle. Karolina found herself smiling unselfconsciously. "But this does feel more natural."
shemalien on December 18th, 2008 03:21 am (UTC)
"The beginning is normally the best place," Xavin agreed, feeling nervous though his nerves didn't show, but she had a lot of experience in keeping her nerves down. Xavin was good at that.

When Karolina took the bracelet off, she couldn't help but to stare a bit. Xavin had never really regarded anyone as truly beautiful before. Especially not a Majesdanian. But there was something else about her that made her beautiful. Beyond the promise of peace.

Xavin cleared her throat and may have been blushing a bit when she pulled up files on the ships computer and ran them through the translation program. It wasn't the best one out there by any stretch of the imagination but it did the job on the files of Karolina's parents.

Thieves, arms dealers, not the type of people you would think would birth someone like Karolina. Of course, Xavin was the child of warlords, and she was trying to find a different way too.

It wasn't always easy, but they were not their parents.

"I hope this translation is passable, these are the files my people have on your parents."
Karolina: Distressedburningpainting on December 18th, 2008 03:38 am (UTC)
The text read a little like something run through Babelfish, but Karolina could make it out easily enough. It verified what little she knew about her parents, and fleshed out a few lingering questions. They'd gotten themselves kicked out of paradise and then, like petulant children, they sold it out to invaders.

And she'd been a bargaining chip. The thought turned her stomach. At least she and Xavin had that much in common, involved in invisible politics since they were infants. The difference was that Xavin had grown up with the resulting war, and she'd lived in blissful ignorance. It hardly seemed fair, since it was all the Deans' fault.

Karolina turned away from the transcript, biting her lip. She couldn't quite bring herself to look at Xavin, but the silence turned awkward fast.

"I'm sorry," she said softly. "For what they did. I really am, whatever that's worth." She found it easier to look Xavin in the eye, having said so. They were the same red-brown regardless of her shape, and more expressive than Karolina would have expected from a soldier. "I really do want to help you fix it."
shemalien on December 18th, 2008 03:49 am (UTC)
Xavin slowly reached out to take her hand, hoping it was a friendly gesture because she didn't want to scare Karolina away with the romantic, despite his own feelings.

"We will fix it. It is not your fault. You didn't know. You are... untouched," he hoped that was the right word.
Karolina: Blue Eyes (Human)burningpainting on December 18th, 2008 04:08 am (UTC)
"Naive, maybe," Karolina blushed, nothing more than a rosier glow in this form. She gave Xavin's hand a little squeeze, appreciating the offer of comfort. At least she wasn't in this alone. Maybe Xavin felt that very same relief.

And, well, she'd be lying if she said Xavin wasn't a beautiful human. All those "Radiant"s and "Glorious"s could really go to a girl's head! But Karolina couldn't even begin to sort out what she wanted romantically. She hardly knew Xavin, and the Skrull had picked the worst possible moment to come dropping out of the sky. Sooner or later, she'd have to apologize to Nico for...for being so pushy. For almost ruining everything.

"What about you?" she asked. "You said you lost your parents in the war, so does that put you in charge of the Skrull soldiers? Are they okay without you there to run things?"
shemalien on December 18th, 2008 08:22 am (UTC)
"A soldier has to be able to fight without his leader," Xavin returned. A warrior who could not think on his own did not live very long at all. "I left trusted advisers in charge, I am not old enough to rule our colony officially yet but in the times we've seen that hardly matters," she said. His face, as a skrull, showed little emotion that was recognizable to humans.

Her face, as a human showed a great deal of wear, "Many of the things you are going to see, Radiant One, I wish were not. But we cannot change our parents mistakes, perhaps we can fix the future. One way or another."
Karolina: Haloburningpainting on December 19th, 2008 01:39 am (UTC)
Karolina began to understand something, then: no matter how human Xavin could make herself look, her way of thinking was completely alien. It had nothing to do with being Skrull or living on a distant planet, and everything to do with growing up in a war. She wondered if she would ever really grasp what that meant. For now, she was impressed with Xavin's strength, but sad that she'd needed it at all.

"My friends and I aren't soldiers," she said, and there was a little bit of defiance her voice. "We're just kids, and back home nobody listened to anything we had to say. So we're used to making people listen to us. We'll do the same for Majesdane and Tarnax, whether they like it or not."

More brave words. But sitting there with Xavin, so close their knees almost touched, she felt capable. The Runaways had been founded on the principle of undoing their parents' mess, and this could be the biggest step they ever took towards accomplishing that goal.
shemalien on December 22nd, 2008 08:27 pm (UTC)
((ooc: Sorry this took me so long! I was sick most of last week. x___x Just now starting to get back into things.))

"We will make them listen. You will make them listen, you prove that war is not the only way for them," she said. "I hope it is not the only way..."

Xavin would like nothing more than to stop this war, which was useless, pointless and had such a high toll.

"Together... perhaps... if you choose..."
Karolina: Distressedburningpainting on December 23rd, 2008 02:32 am (UTC)
((OOC: Don't worry about it! I'm glad you're feeling better. I just received notice that I've been accepted at marvel_mansion, but I'm also leaving town tomorrow for the holidays. I might be able to post, but no guarantees. I'll be back definitively on Sunday.))

Uh oh. There it was. The pact their parents signed, hanging over their heads like a sentence. Karolina's gut churned. She could not screw this up.

"Xavin, um..." she didn't pull her hand back, not wanting to crush whatever expectations the Skrull had, "I don't know how they do things in space, but arranged marriages don't really happen where I'm from. And I'm about ten years too young to get married." Okay, so that was a little bit of a white lie, but she'd never been able to picture herself at an altar. At least, not in most states.

"What I'm trying to say is, I get that you and I would be an important symbol in stopping this war. But...I don't know if I can be that un-selfish. Not when I hardly know you. What if we hate each other? For the rest of our lives? I can't agree to that out of the blue."

She bit her lip, ashamed of the words that left her mouth. She understood how unimportant one person's happiness was, compared to an entire war, but it wasn't her war, not yet, and she couldn't just give up everything for it. It was selfish, and she knew that, but so be it.
shemalien on December 26th, 2008 12:53 am (UTC)
"I understand," Xavin said, and he did on one level, "You wish to get to know me first. It is reasonable... and perhaps to know yourself first. As... your parents... raised you as human."

Which made sense, they were surrounding by humans, and with the right equipment and control Karolina's people could indeed pass for human.
Karolina: Haloburningpainting on January 9th, 2009 01:43 am (UTC)
"Exactly," Karolina nodded gratefully. "I want to know what it means to be a Majesdanian. They probably won't take me seriously as it is."

How could she help if they just looked at her as an alien? She still considered herself human at heart. It was only recently that she'd stopped thinking of herself as some kind of mutant, had begun to accept that she was physically something else.

Maybe she'd always be a California girl.

"But I'm definitely standing with you." she added softly. She'd given up pacifism a long time ago. Maybe she'd surprise her "cousins" yet.