TTC: The Cygnus War, Part 19

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The Tessa Chronicles: The Cygnus War #19 (Strength of Bond) By Earl S. Wynn



“We... we need to talk.”

Tessa rolled over. Lights were out in the section of tent that the colonists had partitioned off for Minerva Squadron, and the lights from the other side of the fabric wall cast long, yellow shadows across Izzy’s face in the darkness, making her features stark, playing across every desperate edge, every line, every curve that cruelly begged for explanation or screamed its own silent scream of betrayal.

It hurt. Tessa pulled in a slow breath. It was so clear– Izzy’s thoughts were painted across her face like a thick stroke of wet, pale light from some cruel, luminous paintbrush. She swallowed, turned away, and heard Izzy choke back a desperate noise– the sound of her heart cracking open, bleeding away every denied tear, pushing the pain further and further into the depths of her tortured soul, internalizing, internalizing. Tessa closed her eyes.

“So the doctor told you...” Tessa breathed, unable to finish. It was something she’d always dreaded, knowing that one day Izzy would find out about her heritage, about her dark, dirty little secret, the thing that she’d tried so hard to hide all her life, to ignore in the hopes that she could live her life without wearing her heritage around her neck like a brand burned into the flank of an animal that someone owned. That was how it felt, how the commonwealth government wanted it to feel, all GMOs and their offspring labeled and separated from the rest of humanity, segregation, and it was what the people wanted. It was written into short and direct bills that had passed by landslides decades ago.

She bit down hard against the pain rising in her gut, burning through her own heart as surely as it was burning through Izzy’s. Conflicting feelings battled in her chest, boiling up and bursting in little bubbles of hatred, worry, concern, and guilt, all stiffer, all sharpened by the deep-running pangs of discrimination she’d silently endured from afar for her entire life. Oh sure, she’d never faced the persecution directly, never been denied access to restaurants or schools or the miliary, never stood up before a mob of angry Catholics ready to lynch her simply for being born, but she’d seen it done to others, she’d watched in horror as that kind of heartless, inhuman discrimination had been meted out on people like her, people that could have been her, had she not been so lucky. Oh Izzy, I’m so sorry.

“Yeah...” Izzy’s tone was so direct, so final, like the last strike of a church bell at some midnight funeral. “The doctor told me about it.” Tessa’s eyes squeezed tighter, squeezed against blinding buds of burning tears. “Why didn’t... Why did I have to hear it from him, Tess? Why couldn’t you tell me?”

“I...” Tessa drew a shaky breath. What was there to say? She’d been scared, she’d hoped Izzy might never find out, she thought– Oh god, say something! “I– I’m sorry, I just...” She stumbled, then suddenly buried her head into her pillow and forced the rest out, half-muffled. “I can’t talk about it right now...”

“You thought I wouldn’t find out.” Izzy managed, her voice level, her tone sad.

“No, I...” Tessa turned her head, looked across the mounded curves of the pillow at the distant horizon where white met a sky of dark canvas wall. She bit her lip. Damn! She’s not even touching me and she’s practically picking up on my thoughts... She shifted, buried the heels of her palms into her eyes, held back a curse. “Izzy, I always wanted to tell you... I just...”

“Tess...” Izzy reached out, squeezed Tessa’s shoulder. “Please.”

“No, Izzy...” She trembled under the other woman’s touch, pulled in another shaky breath. Oh god... “I’m... I’m so sorry, I... I need–“

“Don’t...” Izzy tried, squeezing Tessa’s shoulder again. Warm tears burned in her eyes, breaking free in silent streamers and running in filmy rivers across her cheeks. Izzy bit her lip, fought the urge to shudder, to cry out. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d cried, truly cried– it had been so long, too long... it had been in Tessa’s arms, only now those same arms refused to hold her, refused to touch her. Instead, they rejected her, stayed limp at Tessa’s sides, silent and unwilling.

“I was going to tell you...” Tessa tried again. “But then I saw... I saw the footage of one of the speeches you gave on Mars, and I...” Another shaky breath crossed her lips and she swallowed. Dammit, Tess, pull yourself together!  She forced herself to roll over, her eyes meeting Izzy’s and slipping slowly across the glistening trails of tears on her face. “I’m sorry Izzy, I... I can’t do this now, I...” She swallowed. “I have to get some air.”

“Don’t...” It came again, another desperate fragment, another broken piece of sentence that came out on a cold, quiet breath. Tessa bit her lip again. Izzy was a wreck, and it hurt to see her like that, hurt to see her so wounded and broken that she lay helpless and begging, face wet with tears held back too well, too long. Tessa shook her head quickly, shook her head against all the pain and remorse and regret and pushed herself upright.

“No.” She managed, forcing firmness into her shaky voice. “I... I need to get some air, Izzy.”

There was no resistance, no fight. The warrior spirit she’d come to love in Izzy, the strength she’d come to respect, even expect– it was all gone, drained away like the blood in her face, leaving pale and weak flesh quivering in its wake. She couldn’t bare to look at the other woman. It just hurt too much to see her so weak. Fresh tears broke from Tessa’s eyes as she turned away, squeezing against the pain. I’m sorry, Izzy.

“You’re the stronger one.” Izzy managed, struggling to rein in the tears. “You always have been. Sure, out there, I put on a hard face and give you a run for your money, but... God, Tessa. You’re so much more... you’re so much more resilient than me.”

A teary fragment of laughter escaped Tessa’s lips, a little broken burst of sound that blossomed wet and sarcastic in the darkness.

“Don’t do this, Izzy.” Tessa shook her head. “We’re both people... people have limits...”

“Talk to me, Tessa.” Izzy sat up beside her, forcing herself to reach out and brush a stray line of midnight hair and a cold slick of tears from Tessa’s cheek. “There’s a part of you I don’t know, a part of you I want to know. Talk to me.” Izzy’s hands traced gentle lines across the soft skin of Tessa’s arms. “There shouldn’t be any secrets between us... perfect love and perfect trust, remember?”

There was a long moment of silence– It was sentimental, almost awkward, but somehow sacred. It had to be there, had to bridge the gap that stretched between their words. Izzy’s gaze locked with Tessa’s, almost faltered under that powerful, unyielding cobalt gaze. God, Tess, if I wasn’t so hurt and scared and... yeah... oh man, I swear I’d kiss you right now.

“Izzy.” Tessa managed, voice hoarse. She swiped at the tears at the edges of her eyes, tried to force a smile, failed. “Please... some other time.” She made a half-hearted gesture. “Somethings... somethings shouldn’t be rushed.”

“There’s no time like the present Tess, you know that.” Izzy’s resolve hardened a little, her strength returning. She forced a smile, but concern came through in every line and curve of her face, softening it immediately. “I don’t want to lose you, Tess.”

The traces of a smile creased willingly Tessa’s lips, her eyes dropping.

“Don’t worry, Izzy.” She breathed, gently reaching out to touch her lover’s arm. “You won’t. We’re in this together, babe.”

“Just like old times.” Izzy’s smile widened slightly, overcoming the taint of concern and the lines of drying tears that streaked her face.

“Just like old times.” Tessa echoed.
Full title: The Tessa Chronicles: The Cygnus War #19 (Strength of Bond)

Author Blurb: Ugh. I am tired. This new submission thing is cool though.

Progress report: No progress from last week. Schoolwork and all is kicking my butt again, but I’m going to try to get some stuff done this week– my cushion of completed work is starting to diminish!

Anyway, this is the nineteenth installment of TTC: The Cygnus War. You can find the previous episode here: [link] The next episode, “Eisen und Stein” is done and scheduled to be released first thing next Wednesday (November 22th, Pacific time.)
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M4dLeprechaun's avatar
Another evocative bit! This was also a fun one between the two main characters, not a lot happening though just as important. The dialouge pwnz.