Hekate's Call, Chapter 6

Content Warning: Sexual Assault

The weeks following the pirate attacks were slow and tense. Ilina was told not to disclose the events that transpired during boarding, and it seemed like the rest of the pilots had been barred from viewing the battle log. They gave her a wide berth in the halls, and Krystyn looked more upset with every passing.

Contempt was something Ilina was familiar with. This didn’t bother her.

Morian Kyrnn appeared before her repeatedly, finding her during whatever activity she was busying herself with while the Gestalt travelled to the nearest gate to begin its journey again, to tell her of Velia’s progress. Her remarkable progress.

Morian was used to dealing with sedentary pilots and invalids, sure, and had developed ways to keep their bodies from atrophying to death. Velia’s mental recovery was quick and her mood was stable with only two attempts on Morian’s life so far — the first was an aggressive attempt to strangle Morian to death and the second was made with a stolen scalpel from behind. So, her reaction speed and coordination were recovering rather quickly, but she was still rebuilding strength.

It felt too quick for Ilina, who had still avoided being seen by her sin. Four years of torture and experimentation by the hands of Corpse Eater, the necromancer, defiler of the natural order, and so many more awful epithets… and she was well on the road to full recovery and mobility in only three weeks?

There was no way.

The unpleasant twist in her gut only worsened when she caught a glimpse of Velia in the gym, talking to Morian as she worked on her physio.

This was supposed to take time! Velia was supposed to come to and see that Ilina was a core part of the crew. Respected by her peers! Instead she was going to recover and see her as the pathetic third-string who still needed constant correction. This wasn’t how it was supposed to go.

And then things got worse. They always got worse. Ilina Falke hadn’t had a stroke of good luck in her entire life.

It started with a sucker punch in the hallway that more or less folded her in half. Krystyn dragged her off towards her room while Manya followed along smiling. Krystyn was pretty, but she was a trained soldier and bigger than Ilina, and Manya seemed unlikely to help her if she tried to fight back. In fairness Manya seemed unlikely to help Krystyn either. She just seemed to enjoy the drama.

Once she had been thrown to the floor of Krystyn’s room, and the door shut behind them, there was no hope of assistance from anyone. Not that anyone on the Gestalt would help Ilina. She was still an outsider technically. But the pilot quarters were separated from the rest of the ship’s personnel and only select people had access — like Morian and Crater, not that either would be rushing to her aide.

Just keep your head down and do what you're told.

The silence was the most unbearable part. Manya made herself comfortable on one of the two beds of the room while Krystyn simply loomed over her. The look in her eye said that the atmosphere of the ship had rapidly moved past contempt into new territory.

"Murderer," she finally spat.

"Remember, you can't kill her," Manya chimed in quickly.

Krystyn kicked at her with her well-worn black boots. They were in need of a polish. And a touchup with a wax pen. Not that Ilina was about to offer those services. She didn't know how to repair a few of the aged grommets anyways.


Hunter, please just do what you're told.

She hesitated, but not for the normal reason of being afraid of what comes after or any general nervousness about her body being seen. This was about power and creating a divide between them. To tell her that she was beneath everyone here. It was the same when she was working with the rebels, but the difference was that those girls wanted her to put on a show about it. Krystyn would probably see that as presumptuous.

Button by button she undid her hand-me-down fatigues and felt a heat rising in her. Ilina groped at the feeling as she shed layers and pulled her dirty, unfitted t-shirt over her head. Was she embarrassed? She'd been subjected to worse, so that couldn't be it. Horny? Maybe, she thought as she tugged off her trousers, they were both really pretty. But that still felt wrong.

"No wonder I mistook you for a boy," Krystyn muttered as she kicked Ilina's legs apart. "If you didn't have such a cute lil' face, I'd swear to my grave you were just some boy."

Ilina pondered in the moments between words when she had given up on her dreams of growing up. Her moms were so pretty, and her first memories were all compliments about how she would look just like them when she grew up. So how did she end up scrawny and short -- the runt of the litter left behind. Androgynous, but not in the sexy genderless way, just a teenager who'd never hit puberty.

"Do you know how many people you killed in that ship?"

Ilina shook her head. She didn't consciously remember most of what happened once she'd gotten past the hanger. It was the simple, rote work that was packed into the same places in her mind as cleaning the barracks or maintaining her equipment. Nothing unexpected, nothing to think about after the job was done.

And that was apparently the wrong answer. Thankfully Manya seemed to know, since she chimed in, "About one-hundred-and-twenty people, plus or minus forty. The medical bays were particularly ghoulish."

Krystyn knelt down and shoved a pair of fingers into Ilina's cunt without an ounce of warning. The sounds they made as they explored her were wet and dirty, and her surprised moan got a giggle out of their spectator.

"You're fucking soaked," the woman growled. "That's what gets you off, huh?"

Was it? When was the last time she'd been given this kind of attention? Not since she handed Velia to the necromancer. That wasn't true. The mechanics and other staff at Carrion carried money to buy her attention for themselves. She was a mercenary at heart. She'd do anything for a price. Not a very high one either. She could have earned a lot more if she wasn't so lonely.

"Yeah, it is," Ilina covered her face with a hand. It wasn’t true, but it was what Krystyn wanted to hear. To validate herself in the exchange.

The new heat Krystyn was stoking in her was mixing with the initial heat in a strange way. Ilina hadn’t identified that feeling yet. She was going to start rocking her hips if Krystyn kept pushing. That would be a really bad look.

Remember, you can't kill her.

Manya's voice drifted through her head while Ilina tried desperately to control herself.

Krystyn seemed to fancy herself a hero of some kind. The kind of pilot who believed their titans an instrument to enforce their lofty ideals on the world around them. Rebel and imperial ranks were rife with idealist little girls just like her. Instead of doing the smart thing and just disposing of Ilina, the living poster girl for every imperial war movie back on fucking-nowhere was three fingers deep like she had any idea what a punishment was actually supposed to look like.

Because Ilina had the necromancer's blessings. The Corpse Eater wasn't a friend anyone would choose, but that thing would never allow any of the living it oversaw die. The dead exist for the sake of the living, and surviving was Ilina's only real skill.

"The power," she panted as Krystyn thrusted and scraped her fingers inside her, "and the protection of steel. It makes me feel good."

The woman hovering over her had a fury in her eyes. A disgusted curl to those soft looking lips lips that made butterflies flutter in her chest in ways she wasn't quite used to. Krystyn was so pretty. Manya, floating somewhere on the periphery, enjoying herself to Krystyn's little show, was also so very pretty. Their commander was pretty. Even Vigil was on the better looking end of the beat-to-shit war dogs she was used to seeing.

Oh, how she used to hate being surrounded by women like them.

"We're exactly the same, too."

Whether it was her moans full of too much real enjoyment or her last comment, Krystyn stopped dead.

"We are not the same," Krystyn spat, "I'm not a murderer."

Ilina forced her elbows back under herself so she could sit. "No, you're worse. You can count my causalities on a spreadsheet. Every. Single. One. Only the gods below and the stars above could guess how many you've killed since you brought that walking war crime planetside."

"Krystyn," Manya preempted the spiral of anger spreading across her partner's face. Or she tried to preempt her.

The scuffled lasted a few seconds and a few swings. Manya held back Krystyn's arms in some hold, keeping her from plunging a dagger into Ilina's exposed chest. Krystyn's collar was balled up tight in one of Ilina's fists and the other was pulled back for a swing. All three of them were still for a moment and she finally saw it.

The soldier's breathing was steady, but her body gave the rest of it away. Pupil dilation. The slight shift in the scent of her sweat. But the blood pumping through her neck was the biggest tell. Krystyn was afraid of something.

"How many people have died of starvation, dehydration, since you arrived? Thousands, surely." Ilina leaned in so close she could feel Krystyn's controlled, seething breaths on her lips. "Farm irrigation rended for the Inertia's armor. Steel and ferrites ground up so fine by those fucking nanite clouds that they hang in the air and poison every well for hundreds of miles. Famine and pestilence follow everywhere you walk."

"That's enough, dear," Manya purred while bending back one of Krystyn's limbs. "I think we better call this little scuffle a draw here."

A scuffle? Offworld tourists sure had a way of phrasing things. Ilina gathered up her belongings and let herself out without bothering to get dressed. What was the point? Her room was next door and she didn't particularly care if anyone saw her. She'd finally managed to pin down that burning feeling in her chest too. It was hate. Ilina hated every single one of these people.

A scuffle.

Back home they called scuffles like that rape. They did not end in a draw, and there was always a winner.

And today that winner was Ilina.