a/n: I'm honestly not sure what to say about this one, other than the fact that it's pretty experimental and that I was really kind of focusing on other things more than the plot (as you will soon realize). I wanted to sample writing in different points of view. Even the writing style is a little different than what I'm used to. This thing was going to be a ridiculously long oneshot, so I decided to do you poor people a favor and split it up a little so it didn't bombard the crap out of you with words, words, and more words. Three chapters, I'm thinking. Three fairly long chapters. I'm sorry, I really am. But I'm a oneshot person; its just the way I normally work, so this is a pathetic example of me stepping out of my comfort zone in order to hopefully make it easier to read.

But on a slightly better note, it did give me a chance to play with some interaction between Cyclonis and Piper, something I haven't really done yet, and have been inspired by fellow authors to attempt. Lots of references to my previously made theories about Cyclonis's origin as well.

For Dragonwings144, even though she probably won't like this. Whether she knows it or not, she has made a friend, one that appreciates the way she treats them as an equal and encourages them try to explore both the inside and outside of the box.

I don't own SH.

-0-

Cyclonis

Sometimes, if I squint hard enough, I can literally see the dust of everything going on in the other parts of the world-the seemingly infinite world that I helped turn upside down. I was not the leader of a bloodthirsty empire anymore, but it would take a while to fix all the damage I had done. I shook it like a snow globe, with blood covered specks becoming unsettled and drifting gracefully in the sphere of contained water. Spheres: they were something that I had much experience with. They keep you fed and they keep you warm. They keep your skin soft and your mind peaceful. They block out all of the noise that reality loved to encase those living within it.

There were times that I wanted to go back to the days before I was actually alive and self sustaining. The days when all of the scientists who would pump liquidated food into my tubes would sound like a bunch of fuzz, but when they would accidentally put their palm up to the glass of my home I could hear their pulses softly throb. I would never smile, nor could I open my eyes; I was unborn, after all. But I did appreciate what little of real life I was allowed to experience.

Nowadays, I wish it was all I had experienced. The living pulses of humanity would have been enough for me if I had known what I was about to be brought into. After being born I had to hear their voices when they told me they had failed to fulfill my orders, or touch the heightening hairs on the back of a certain someone's neck when I ran my hand through their obsidian mop. Over the years I have learned how to rule, be cruel, intolerant, and immoral, and I'll admit, maybe sometimes I truly enjoyed it. I do seem to be the embodiment of the hideous part of each person, the part they always do their best to ignore but wish they could indulge in at least once.

Never did I pretend to be malevolent.

I came out much like an ordinary birth, except there wasn't a woman screaming about the contractions and the placenta wasn't filled with the smell of metallic blood. I was pretty slimy though, and my eyes couldn't bear to expose themselves to the diabolical red glow of my inherited fortress. So as I came out of my clear precious embryo, soaking wet and naked as a baby rat, my developed but unused brain was thankful for the mysterious pair of arms that held me close, at least attempting to secure my shivering form.

Everything seems so far away, and I'm selfishly grateful for that. I may not feel guilt for the turmoil I've raged across the world, but I'd much rather be far from it than having a front row seat.

How can I feel remorseful? It was what I was raised to do.

Intended to do.

It's been years.

I have weird dreams about crumbling castles and people with missing limbs. The vast amount of time I spend by myself contemplating things I'd rather not is filled with an annoying effort to keep the anxiety out of my daily sensations. If it wasn't about tactical strategies, crystal manipulation, or news about specific reliable individuals who used to belong to the Cyclonian empire, then more often than not I didn't want a goddamn thing to do with it.

At least, that's how it was.

-0-

This raid was very bad. So bad that even in my throne room, so far from the outside, I could hear battle calls and the clash of energy blades and crystal staffs. If I wasn't clutching my dark cloak and huddling in a pool of my own sweat and urine I probably would have plucked up the courage to congratulate the Sky Knights for such a well executed invasion.

Of all the fucking times to have a relapse.

The large doors to my throne room opened, and through the droplets of cold sweat running down into my eyes I could see someone enter. A blinding red single blade gave it away completely, and I almost rejoiced. He was always my protector, but never had I had him actually fight my battles for me. And as much as I hated it, I didn't have a choice this time.

Dark Ace scanned the room, found me, and touched the back of his hand to my sour and clammy cheek. He sighed heavily, a brief show of alarm before asking:

"Are you deteriorating again, Master?"

Good Lord, I hated that word.

I nodded slowly, fearing that my brain would slip out of one of my ears and onto the cold floor beside me if I did it too hard.

"They're coming. What will you have me do?"

No vows to fight at the front line? No cocky recitations of plans to make the Sky Knights fall to their knees?

It must've really been the end.

Which was a damn shame-I still had a lot left in me, or so I thought.

I said nothing to my right hand; I just looked away into the ether and his expression went from violently concentrated to frantic.

"Master, they're coming for you. Do you have any idea what they'll do to you if you're caught?"

My upper lip sneered, and I snorted.

"That's an easy one. They'll kill me."

Dark Ace shook his head and ran a gritty frustrated hand through his hair. I wanted to somehow tell him that I was no more prepared to surrender than he was; but what could I do? I was a hunched over mass of sweat and sickness. There was nothing I could do. Suddenly Dark Ace bent down and gathered my skinny body up in my cloak, ignoring that I must have smelled like filth, and carried me to the second door that connected to the throne room. I almost laughed at this man's inability to leave me. I guess in a way it was quite sweet. Of course the swooning thoughts gave ultimate way to the possibility of capture and the rising waves of nausea that I was starting to feel.

The hallways we walked through were fresh and it was obvious that the feet of Talon soldiers rarely touched the floors of it. I wouldn't say it was a secret hideout, but there were few that I'd let into the door next to my throne. The corridors were long and winding, and a hot sickening wind blew into our faces. Occasionally I made Dark Ace set me down so I could crawl on all fours to some inconspicuous corner and vomit up my insides.

The explosions were drawing nearer. And my body was closer and closer to failing for good. There were epinephrine shots in my lab, but that was long time by now. It probably fell hours ago to the Sky Knights. I cringed at the thought of those bastards mindlessly tearing away at years of scientific progress and break throughs. To them it was just 'evil Master Cyclonis stuff' instead of valuable information that could probably help them restore every last bit of peace to the Atmos.

For a brief second I wondered if they were monsters as well, just out for a different kind of blood than I was.

Another lurch tore through my nerves and I coughed hard, clutching Dark Ace's shoulders for dear life and damn thankful that he didn't object to me expelling bacteria-infested air all over him. I thought we could make it to the back hanger, but I ceased all hopes of that happening after I coughed one last time and felt a projectile wad of blood hit the back of my teeth.

I was dying. I had to do something.

The thought made me retch, but there was no way to avoid it.

I needed a Medullary Function Enhancement.

An entire session took weeks, even months. The machine was fashioned to keep my bones and muscles conditioned while the treatment ran its lengthy course through my diseased body, enhancing everything that the sickness destroyed.

The thing was I didn't have that kind of time.

They were coming for me, right then and now, and if I stopped for anything I'd be seized and what they would do to me would be much worse than heaving out what little life I had left in these stinking back halls of my fortress.

One good dilemma.

Dark Ace saw a trickle of blood leaking from the corner of my mouth and gently used his thumb to wipe it away.

"We're almost there, Master."

From the sound of his voice, it was obvious that he knew. My body was fading; without treatment I would have to cross over the threshold to the other side, and he knew it the second he the drop of dark red on my thin chaffed lips. However, regardless of the circumstances, he made no notion to do anything about it. We just kept on walking, my frail skeletal frame in his arms and the putrid air still hitting us with gusto. Between the contractions and sways of stomach-turning fatigue, I listened. I'm sure Dark Ace did too. Something didn't feel right, and there were sounds of footsteps where there shouldn't have been. A gross feeling rose throughout the both of us, but it didn't have anything to do with my disease.

The hanger was close.

The air was thick as paste.

Dark Ace's heavily armored skimmer was in view and for a split second I felt elated.

Of course that was before I saw Piper of the Storm Hawks, her trusty staff over one of her shoulders, and looking more ready for a fight than ever.

Her eyes flickered with excited apprehension. Piper let fear get to her about as much as her red headed counterpart, so in that sense I was worried. Having dueled with her myself, I knew that she posed a big enough threat. That, and her knowledge with crystals equaled mine liberally, even if she didn't know it yet.

The Dark Ace narrowed his eyes, and put me down so that I stood on my shaky stick thin legs and leaned on his shoulders. He didn't like fighting Piper. I never had the guts to ask why; he just didn't. She wasn't Aerrow, so it would offer him no chance to redeem his repeated losses that not even I jest him for. Somehow, I felt that this would end quickly though. Indeed, she wasn't Aerrow. But I knew Dark Ace better than anyone, and it was a fact that Aerrow got under his skin. Piper was just as good, but this time there was no upper hand.

"What's wrong, Cyclonis?" Piper asked.

That sounded like a direct question. Without the jibe, without witty banter following it.

Dark Ace glanced at me, as if advising me not to speak in return. My disciples seem to regret defying me, but vice versa I couldn't care less.

"I'm feeling a bit under the weather." I said.

My voice sounded so unlike it usually did: Weak, faraway, outlying. And I wasn't fond of it at all.

"Trust me," She said, "You're going to feel a lot worse if you stay here any longer."

That perturbed me. Did she know about my relapse, or was she talking about the storming of the fortress?

Dark Ace powered up his red energy blade.

"Are you going to stand there trying to stall us, or are you going to try and fight me?" said Dark Ace, his voice as low as it could possibly get.

Piper reached into a pouch fastened to her hip.

And in her hand she held an epinephrine needle out in front of us.

Both mine and Dark Ace's eyes widened at the sight. It was what we needed to get away. Even if we did escape on his skimmer there was no way that I would survive a journey to another terra with an adrenaline shot.

"Your lab is an incredible place, Cyclonis." Piper said slowly, pretending to examine the needle closely. "I wanted to stop them from destroying it…but what can I say, there were more important matters at hand."

I narrowed my eyes. Like what?

My skin was cold as ice and slimy with unhealthy perspiration. Dark Ace and I darted back and forth between the needle and the startlingly emotionless expression on Piper's face. It hadn't yet come to begging, but somewhere in the back of my pinching head I was getting ready to start. Piper approached us, her staff at her side in one hand and the needle in the other. Dark Ace was ready to send her head rolling, and I was preparing myself to see that. Piper may be on the opposite side, but on top of everything else that was chaotic at the moment I really didn't want to see her decapitated.

Before Dark Ace could do anything she forced me onto my back and grabbed my leg from underneath my cloak, accurately inserting the needle into one of my veins. I groaned and bit the knuckle of my index finger-it was painful when it wasn't being administered by myself. I immediately felt the effects of the serum, and the nausea, headache, and twinges in my bones dulled to a minimum.

She backed away. I stood up, still using a bewildered Dark Ace for support.

"What the hell was that for?" I asked her.

Finally, she smiled a bit.

"When they catch you, they're going to tear you apart." She said.

"No shit?" I said, smirking slightly.

"Well, I can't let that happen."

This girl was more wigged out than I was when I found my father's delightfully aged supply of liquor.

"Cyclonis, this girl is wasting our time." Dark Ace said, detaching himself from me and moving forward to forcibly subdue her.

"Wait." I said to him, and he looked back at me in angry astonishment.

Still under the impression that there was no way in hell that she could truly be set on helping me escape, I said:

"Well, Piper. What do you propose we do?"

-0-

I was the result of In Vitro Fertilization-without the female sex cell. When my father was alive, and the supreme ruler of Cyclonia, he used a milky dosage of his sperm and unnatural meiosis to create an heir. The woman who was meant to be my mother was supposedly infertile, unable to bear children. For that reason Dad saw to it that she was disposed of.

Depressing, yes. But moving on.

The sphere in which I was produced in was a comforting and waiflike place. But while I was calmly situated in the warm soothing waters of the chamber, the tubes connected to the base were feeding me poison. It went into the water, and into my skin. Into my eyes and into my mouth, into my bloodstream. There it went dormant until I became active enough for it to resurface.

I came out what appeared to be a healthy girl. All sodden and dripping, blind like a newborn kitten, just like everyone had predicted. They cleaned me up and took me away in a cream colored blanket. It was a big day for me; just because I didn't look like an infant didn't mean that I could automatically be briefed about my purpose and standing in this world. There weren't many times that I was shown tenderness in my life, not that I'm complaining. It's not very offsetting for a person such as me. But when I came out of the sphere, normally hard assed Cyclonian officials as well as Talons actually greeted me with 'oohs' and 'aww's. Some of them even pinched my cheeks. Like I was in some fucking nursery school. Oh well, as weird as it was, I can't say I didn't enjoy it.

I finally opened my eyes, and suddenly I was flooded with information about me, my inheritance, and the spreading of the empire. I was taught to read, and I was taught how to be in command. In fact sometimes I remember tugging shyly at Dark Ace's arm after following him to the common hanger, in hope of him showing me how to pilot a skimmer. He would rarely smile at me, but every time we spoke his bloody eyes that often glittered in malice and loathing would suddenly become kind.

First, the aches came. I was probably about seventeen, but who's counting. I couldn't sit in a chair tampering with my crystals for hours anymore. I slept restlessly each night, tossing and turning while trying to find a position to lay in that would let up on my pain. Yelling at my soldiers to get things done was suddenly a difficult shrewd chore, and that alone spurred my ruthlessness.

I began to bleed. Not the pesky monthly kind; I mean from everywhere. More than once I was woken up by my own sputtering to find that blood was flowing out of my mouth and every other orifice in my body like scarlet rivers. I shouted and yelled for help, knowing for sure that this wasn't right. My servants stand at the door like the dumbasses they were and just watch in horror as I would try to rise from my crimson soaked bed only to fall on all fours, blood dripping out of every hole, even my eyes. Finally Dark Ace shoved his way to my room and stepped forward, not caring that my blood was getting all over him. I can still feel the fibers of the towel he held to my mouth as he snarled at them to fetch the doctors and scientists.

Scans. Scans, scans, and more scans. They found a hematological neoplasm in my blood, but they didn't have a name for it. Only a few cases in the entire world had been reported. When it came to chronic diseases, the Atmos was a very healthy place. Either you had a cold, or something that would kill you in three days. They traced the malady back to two possibilities; my genetic makeup, and the enzymes that were placed in my sphere in which I grew.

Discussions and meetings, consultants and tests. Pin pricks and cotton balls stuffed in places I never want to mention.

Finally I had enough.

"Listen you shit heads," I hissed one day, nearly leaping out of my bed and dislodging the needles in my arms. I grabbed one of the scientists by the cuff of their immaculate white coat.

"If you don't find out what's wrong with me as well as a cure in the next twenty four hours, I'll throw you, you, and the rest of your little science pricks into the furnace."

It was a slightly empty threat; instead of twenty four hours, they took three days. I was much too weak and in pain to do anything about it, or even order someone else to do anything about it.

Still, after that I don't think I've ever seen Cyclonia's science department work faster.

But I was still stuck in bed. With nothing to do but twiddle my thumbs. And maybe scowl at Dark Ace each time he came in with a smirk on his face asking me if I wanted him to read me a story.

And the pain, ohthe pain. It was unbearable. When no one was in the room changing my sheets or bedpan or whatever, I moaned uncontrollably. My hands gripped my hair, tearing it out by the follicles. My bloodshot eyes rolled back into my head. I couldn't move my pinky toe without wincing.

A leading scientist came into my room three days later with a shit eating grin that he did a poor job in hiding. He must have thought he deserved some kind of prize for whatever he was about to divulge.

"Master Cyclonis, I think we may have figured out how to counter the disease."

"Well, spill it." I said. "And don't use that fancy lingo that I know you all love. Just give it to me straight."

"Okay…well, we're basically going to hook up tubes to your medulla oblongata in several treatment sessions, stimulate the most important functions of your brain so that they in turn do the same to your body, and hopefully they will cancel out the sickness in time."

Well, I hope he was proud of himself. Because I was going to knock him down as many times as I could. Whatever it took to get me better.

"'In time'? How long is this supposed to take?"

"Well…it's not really a cure, just a form of treatment. So it will need to be…continuous. And each session will take a few weeks or so."

"A few weeks?!" My naturally low voice almost cracked. As usual he nearly cowered in fear. Even as a bedridden patient, I was still damn capable of instilling fear in my cohorts.

"Please, Master. It's actually quite miraculous-"

"Get the fuck out."

He did.

Because I never have to repeat myself.

It was the only thing the bastards came up with, though, so I had no choice but to comply. I wasn't ready to die yet, and there was no way I was going to stay in my bedroom until I kicked the bucket in my sleep.

They brought me, all bundled up in my familiar blackish purple cloak to test the Medullary Function Enhancer for the first time. Although I'd never say so, it was an amazing sight to behold. It was a giant black pod with a compartment for the patient to fit inside. Even I had to admit that this was an incredible bit of engineering, planned and built in three days no less. They were powered by my specialty; the Enhancer stones. The ones I had spent days of back breaking sleepless hours to harmonize.

They prepared me for the treatment session. I would be unconscious for weeks. Two tubes would be imbedded into my brain stem, sending slight electrical currents and through the neurological stimulation my body will react to my brain's signals and try to purge the disease. There was a chance of vomiting blah blah blah risk of hair loss blah blah blah.

Then they asked if I had any questions.

I shrugged and said, "Let's get this over with."

I was placed on the cold surface of yet another bed I was to be confined to, and ignored the aches and pains in doing so. They were about to insert the tubes into my spinal cord, and suddenly I was afraid.

They all knew that I would never say I was afraid, but it was definitely apparent that I was.

The Dark Ace put his hands on both sides of my face, trying to draw my attention away from the tubes that were aiming closer and closer to the soft skin of my neck. He must have felt me trembling.

"Don't pay attention to them. Look at me." He said.

I tried my best to do so. But then I closed my eyes tight and held in a whimper.

They stuck me, tickling and scratching an agonizing itch underneath my skin that wasn't even supposed to be there, and I felt it nudge up against my spinal cord. It wasn't painless, but the warmth of Dark Ace's hands on my icy cheeks kept the smarting at bay.

The drowsiness kicked in rather quickly, and I lay down on my back. The last thing I saw was Dark Ace's agonizingly fond expression before I was enclosed in a dreamless void.

I don't believe I will ever be able to aptly describe how horrible it is to be in the middle of an MFE session.

It's a sleep in which you're completely conscious-completely coherent. You're all alone in the pod, caged by the cogent darkness. You sit in one spot the entire time, afraid that if you wander you'll fall through an invisible hole in the abyss and never see daylight again. Three weeks, two weeks, five days, five months. It's never certain how long each session may be.

But in the pod, time melts into one undistinguished sequence of waiting to wake up.

-0-

The instant I broke away from sleep I could already tell it was going to be an ailing day.

I awoke with one of my arms across my forehead, feeling the blunt of the heat radiating off my head. My other hand was tangled in the thin but matted tresses of what little hair I had left. A glistening sheen of sweat covered my body, and using my small amount strength I had I threw the five comforters off of my bed that had been put on the previous night to curtail the chills. As hard as I tried with the thick blankets no longer suffocating my sticky form, I could not go back to sleep.

I have a room all to myself here. It's nice and quiet, except for the frequent beeps of the machinery used to monitor my failing health. The carefully placed chips underneath my skin allow the machines to observe what is going on inside of my body without me having to stay bed ridden or carry around one of those IV things.

Rising was slightly difficult; getting into a sitting position makes the accumulated aches from sleeping in a single position all night creep up and shoot up and down my spine. I saw a sliver of light coming through my blood red curtains. Sunshine on Terra Kiros was a rare thing to behold. But when I opened my drapes to look at it I drew back and shielded my constantly dilated sensitive eyes. I couldn't enjoy a sunny day without being reminded of the inevitable even without being all doped up on my numerous medications.

Picking up the same clothes I wore yesterday; a black tank top and dirty denim jeans, I dressed slowly. I looked around for my black cloak I was almost never seen without, but then I remembered a few days ago the way I fought tooth and nail with Piper when she said she had to wash the bloodstains and germs out of it.

I thought about showering, but last time I took one, several clumps of hair came out and ever since then I've been hesitant to do it again. Eventually my body odor would force me to, but for now I'd rather wallow in my own stink than create another bald spot. There was once a mirror that hung near my bedroom door. A few months ago I knew it had to go. I already knew that I looked like something that lives underneath a bridge feeding off of society's scraps. I didn't need my reflection to give me a recap.

The mansion was long and winding. I liked it that way. My fallen fortress was a snaking series of tunnels, but not in the way that this one was. On the walls were beautiful wooden carvings of angels. I didn't believe in the existence of angels, but I thought they were lovely anyways. Instead of an apocalyptic red essence radiating from the structure like the old place, it was pale and blue. Soft, calming. Somehow mournful. With my arms wrapped around my torso I walked barefoot down the stone cold stairway. This place used to be abandoned; it was dusty, and probably full of asbestos. Piper's extensive cleaning and care did away with the grimy interior. In time, I found myself calling it home.

Eventually I came down to the tallest hallway in the mansion, which also contained the largest room. That room was the lab. Piper's sanctuary. And my yearning.

I wished very much to be the one in that tall chair at the stainless steel desk, looking at the crystallized filaments that made the objects that I secretly pined over. I made my way closer to the door of the lab, which was open a crack. Inside I heard her voice.

"C'mon…c'mon…"

On the verge of something, no less.

And then I heard a loud blast and a trail of black smoke coming from the crack in the door, as well as a snarled expletive.

"Shit!"

I smirked. Sweet, sweet music.

I walked over to the tall wooden door and pushed it further with the back of my hand, only to have a thicker cloud of smoke hit me in the face. I coughed violently and waved my hand trying to clear the air. When it dissipated, I saw Piper sitting in the coveted giant blue chair with her head between her knees. A blackened burnt slimy…thing stuck to the steel desk.

"What happened?" I asked, barely masking my amusement as I leaned my shoulder up against a wall and crossed my arms.

She didn't answer right away. Her breathing was deep and she kept groaning in irritation. Finally, she sat upright, her long blue hair covered in black soot-like dust falling below her collar bone. There were black smudges on her cheeks as well. I pursed my lips to keep from laughing; she looked adorably hindered.

"The enzymes from a paralyzer and an enhancer." She said, not meeting my eyes.

I uncrossed my arms, walked over to the desk, and touched the tip of my finger to the hardened black mess.

"What're you, crazy?" I said, sweeping my finger down into the mess. "A paralyzer would cancel out the enhancer. Completely immobilize its effects at the least."

I scratched off a small piece of the black debris with my fingernail and held it in my hand.

"At the very least."

Piper sighed again. I was normally quite ruthless with my critiques; this was me being lenient. Perhaps this time she was beating herself up over the failure more than I this time.

"What were you trying to do?" I asked.

She opened the desk drawer and took out a scraper, much like the one she used to grate frost off the windshield of her heliscooter after a frozen night, and began to chip off bits of the black blob.

"I thought if I could harmonize them both, the paralyzer would destroy your deteriorating cells and the enhancer would increase the healthy ones."

I gave her a hard stare. Not out of disappointment. More like out of the sheer brilliance of her way of thinking and the fact that she was using her skills to try and find a cure for my disease. I wasn't planning on the latter; I was just going to teach Piper my techniques and use the MFE chamber until I finally perished. Piper was a strange girl. Even before the years of living alone in the mansion with her, she never failed to surprise me.

Five years it's been since we came to this place, since I first cringed at what I used to think was distasteful décor on the internal structure of the mansion.

I'm sure she hated it just as much as I did. I was secretly thankful for her help during the raid, but I masked my gratefulness with my initial refusal to live under the same roof, let alone teach her how to be as great as she could be when it came to crystal manipulation. My first thought was that she was already good at it-why would she need me? Then I would reason, reminding myself that I had an almost divine knowledge of what she wanted to dedicate her life doing. I was book smart, and after a while I learned from pages and black text how to use my intuition. But Piper? Pure untainted talent.

Her idea had promise. And that worried me.

We started cleaning up the mess together without talking. Never in a million years did I think that I would be able to achieve a comfortable silence with the likes of an ex Storm Hawk. After we threw away the black material that resembled hard charcoal she sat exhaustedly in the blue chair again, draping her long brown neck against the back of it. Her face looked at the ceiling, but her eyes were studying me even from their awkward position.

"You feeling okay?" She asked.

I both hated and liked it when she asked me that. I disliked feeling that I had to be asked at all, but it also gave me the strange sensation that perhaps I was normal. Or at least had the potential to be. No one ever asked me that when I was Master Cyclonis. I was a mad hatter with a terminal sickness; of course I wasn't okay, why bother asking.

"Fine." I said.

Worst lie ever.

Like she'd really believe anything of that sort when I had patches of my scalp out for the world to see or when I wake up covered in sweat and blood from hemorrhaging every other day. I looked, and felt, constantly tired. It gave me a sick feeling in my stomach; we both knew I needed another session again.

When I whisked away the thought of another session the sick feeling didn't go away, however. In fact, it rose. To the top of my stomach, through my thin esophagus that barely allowed me to have an appetite, up into the back of my mouth…

It must have been written all over my face that something was wrong. Piper stood up immediately as I put one arm on the desk to support myself and the other cradled my churning stomach. I clenched my eyes shut, willing the vomit to go back down where it belonged, but it wouldn't listen.

"I'm gonna barf, Piper…" I rasped.

"Hold on, hold on…" She said calmly, although she hurriedly searched for something in the deep recesses of the desk.

"Hurry!" I said, my tongue flopping around my mouth as sour and numbing saliva began to slip from between my lips. A true sign that I was about to toss my cookies.

Finally she produced a pipe and some green mince that looked like pencil shavings.

"This alright?" She asked. I nodded frantically.

She took a lighter and lit it quickly, hastily offering it to me. I grabbed the pipe and breathed in like a madwoman. I blew out the smoke and felt my insides contract again, but only because of the smoky inhalant. I took another hit. The vomit was thankfully receding, and my stomach was content at the presence of the calming herb.

Piper sighed in relief as I visibly seemed to recover from an intense wave of nausea.

I liked this herb. It made the pain dim quite a bit, and it helped my stomach aches. It used to make me dizzy, but not anymore. Piper came back with it one day when she went to get supplies, using a chroma to mask her identity. Even with her long hair that no longer stood strait up, she was just too recognizable. I smoked the herb, started giggling uncontrollably (earning a raised eyebrow and smirk from Piper), and almost begged her to get it every time she went out. I've been smoking it frequently ever since.

"You're sick again." She said.

I didn't say anything; just silently held the pipe to my lips.

"You've been having a relapse for several weeks now. I think it's time for another session in the pod."

Still quiet, I agreed with her. Bitterly, and I narrowed my eyes at the thought; but I agreed with her.

"You're looking for a cure." I said all of a sudden, holding the pipe in between my brittle teeth.

"Well…yeah." She said almost dejectedly, as if she thought I would snub the idea and make fun of her for wasting her time.

Part of me did think she was wasting her time. I fought my sickness that whole time to teach her to fulfill her own destiny - not interfere with mine. She had the ability to fly with her skills, but never flew from the protective surface of her ledge. And for the past five years I had been trying to push her off. All of this cure nonsense sounded like another ploy to keep being attached to me. If I kept living, I could keep teaching. I didn't approve of that at all.

But I guess I was flattered.

"When do you want to do it?" Piper asked.

I parted my mouth to speak.

"Besides never?"

"Well in that case…" I said, smirking and rolling my eyes.

"I'm serious." She pressed, frowning.

"Let's do it tonight, for all I fucking care." I said gruffly.

"You sure?"

No, fucktard, I didn't mean it.

"Don't I get a say in whether to have one at all?" I said, turning away from the dark young woman and staring out the window. The sun was in the middle of the sky by now.

"If you don't get treated, the disease will spread again…"

"And since when has that ever been news to me?"

"But you'll die!" Piper said anxiously.

"Then so be it. Dying is natural. It happens all the time."

Piper looked at me, and for once when it seldom did, it made me uncomfortable.

"You're hopeless." She said, and walked brusquely out of the lab.

I sighed heavily and my eyebrows knitted themselves together to make a rather ugly expression. I was now alone, the smell of her failed experiment still wafting about in the room; a remnant of her 'righteous' inclination. It wasn't that I was tired of living. But perhaps if things had turned out differently, I wouldn't have ended up this way. Maybe if my mother hadn't died under my father's orders I could have been born a healthy human being, able to suck on a tit like nature had intended.

Fighting for the expansion of your empire is easier than fighting for your right to live. And the second one didn't have too many perks so far.

I was sick of fighting. I admit she should understand that. I could try calling her selfish, but that's not right. Piper's anything but selfish.

What I primarily couldn't believe was that she left her squadron in the first place. She told me time and time again that they let her do what she did, that they understood, but that has to be at least halfway full of bullshit. They had to hate that she left for someone like me, that she was spending her time alone with the most merciless dictator in the history of the Atmos. To be honest, I kind of hated it too. She had everything: Love, challenges, friendship, a duty. And she left it all behind just because she thought I could teach her some new tricks.

I could only imagine what her teammates thought about it. Their rage towards me after finding out their cherished Piper was leaving for what seemed like forever must have been positively ceaseless. How could she do that to people who had been so good to her? I may not have liked what they stood for, but they were still good people. I can't hate good people. It's something not even I can do.

My teachings could only take Piper so far. The rest was up to her.