AN: Hello all, don't have much to say, other than I got weirdly inspired writing this chapter and thinking about Tamaranian culture, aha. I only had a small chunk of it done and then I just knocked out the rest in the past day or so. I'm really excited to continue writing and get to the stuff that'll tie all the plot threads together, ehe. Anyway, classes have started up for me again, but I'll try to update at least semi-regularly. I'm learning how to sculpt 3D images in Maya, so that's fun.
I guess I did actually have a fair amount to say. Anyway, I hope you enjoy the chapter, please tell me what you think!
I'm really tempted to put lyrics from Frozen here, but I won't. Not yet.
Chapter 3: Blorthog
Komand'r perched on the balcony railing, gazing down at the streets below mischievously. The balcony was positioned in an alcove along the castle walls, the curves and spires around and below it positioned in such a way that she could see everything with hardly a chance of being spotted herself, unless someone had the gall to go flying around close to the upper palace walls. The young princess kicked her feet in anticipation as she watched the bustle down below.
The festival of Blorthog was starting, and jovial citizens who weren't busy cartwheeling through the air were already crowding the streets, setting upon vendors, participating in various games and tests of strength. It was an unfortunately unusual sight.
Tamaran was a planet often beset by war, be it from prejudice and fear, or desire for their resources, and by necessity its residents spent the majority of the year preparing themselves for battle, should the need arise. With all their losses, it had become the norm to put these things ahead of personal relationships. But historically, they were a culture that deeply valued their emotions, the source of their powers, and their loved ones. So, a time had been set to put aside thoughts of war, and to celebrate friendship and love of all sorts.
Honestly, Komand'r found the whole thing pretty cheesy. She liked training to fight. Still, she never begrudged it, for on the other hand, she liked games and sweet food very much as well. But every year, to her growing frustration, she didn't get a chance to take part and show off her growing skills until the whole thing was almost over.
The royal family had a specific part in the festivities, honoring the bravery and strength of their subjects, espousing their deep loyalty, care, and love for all. It was boring, and Komand'r wasn't allowed to mingle in the celebration until after it was over.
But not this year. This year, she'd…
Blackfire groaned, stretching as much as she could in the cramped space of the small ship's cockpit, rubbing her eyes against the blinking red lights on the semi-circular control panel in front of her. She didn't remember falling asleep, but the craft was on autopilot anyway, so it hardly mattered. Like her uniform, it was stolen from law enforcement, and while different sectors tended to recognize different law enforcers (save for the Lantern Corps, who seemed to have free reign over everywhere), no one was likely to bother one just passing through.
Sitting up, she looked out at the star dappled expanses around her. It might have been pretty, awe-inspiring even, if she hadn't been looking at the same sort of shit for the past several days. X'hal, they really stuck her out in the boonies this time. The nearest outpost where she could get supplies (a change of clothes, a better, faster ship) was still a good half-day away.
She settled back into her seat, which was at least comfortable, and tried to ignore how in need of a shower she was. Slowly, the memory of her dream came back to her, and she scowled. Why that memory, of all things? Those days were behind her, and she was better off for it.
Well, maybe not at this exact instant. She eyed the bland rations on the counter next to the pilot's seat with distaste. But then again, all of her current hardships could oh so easily be traced back to the baggage she'd yet to get rid of from her old life. Besides her combat training and the recognition she'd received as royalty, her childhood had been an absolute waste, and she felt vaguely angry with herself for even subconsciously reflecting on it.
Taking a breath, she tried to focus on other things. She needed a plan. Thinking about wiping the floor with her sister and all her little friends was a pleasant and cathartic thought, but it wasn't exactly productive when she didn't know how she was going to go about doing it. As much as it made her blood boil to think about, her little sister had beaten her in a fight twice now, and she had a whole team backing her on top of that. Landing on Earth and punching them all a lot wasn't exactly a viable option.
And after all the crap they'd put her through, she needed something good. Anything else would feel anti-climactic. She'd practically managed to rule Tamaran before they'd messed things up for her. They'd taken away her birthright!
Though, thinking back on it, she didn't know why she'd bothered with Tamaran in the first place. She supposed it was out of desire for what should have rightfully been hers, but the whole planet was a pathetic and boring husk of its former glory. Even Earth was better, at this point.
She was royalty, and unlike her sister, she was actually good at it. She could lead, she could charm, she could hold her own. She'd managed to get a bunch of disorganized lowlife criminals to work together well enough to break out of a high-security prison with just her words. She could do better than Tamaran. She could do better than Starfire. She deserved better.
And so, sitting curled up in the pilot's seat of a tiny spacecraft, dirty and alone and bitter, the once and future queen made a plan.
Starfire wandered into the entrance hall of Titans Tower, stifling a yawn. After the encounter with Red X, she'd continued to wander the city for a while. She'd stopped an assault near the docks, and then broken up a fight between a couple drunken women, before escorting them both safely home. The sun was now well over the horizon and she didn't imagine she'd have any trouble falling asleep now.
She hazily contemplated how to tell the others about what had happened with Red X as she rode the elevator up to the horizontal part of the tower, where most of the rooms the Titans actively used were located. She almost dozed off on the ride up, jolting awake again as the elevator stopped and opened into the hallway leading to the main room.
Voices drifted from the brightly sunlit room, as well as the clanking of kitchen appliances. Starfire supposed that some of the other Titans must already be up and making breakfast. She paused, contemplating joining them for a bit or just heading to bed. It wasn't as if any of them had the most consistent of sleep schedules anyway. Another, larger yawn made her decision for her, and she began on her way to her room, head lolled back a little as she stared at the ceiling sleepily.
"Oh," She tilted her head forward to see Robin walking towards her, smiling in greeting. She smiled back, "Good morning, Robin."
"Where are you going?" He asked, then paused, looking her over. "Where have you been?"
Starfire laughed and smoothed out her slightly disheveled clothes. "I could not sleep, so I went on patrol."
"Oh, good. Did it go all right?"
"Yes," She began, unsure of how to broach the subject of Red X. Robin had certainly evened out since the inception of the team, but she wasn't sure how he would react. She certainly didn't want to worry him. Besides, the encounter itself had been so odd she wasn't sure if she should bring it up at all, at least not yet.
She decided to sleep on it, Red X wouldn't make a move in broad daylight, and she'd be able to explain what had happened better when she wasn't about to pass out. "Something did happen, but I wish to think on it more before I discuss it."
Robin's mask shifted slightly on one side, indicating a raised eyebrow. "All right." He said, then shook his head. "I'm sorry, Star, you look exhausted. I should let you get some sleep. We can talk about whatever it is later today, that sound good?"
"I'm gonna go talk to the others about that guy's offer, getting treated to lunch or something sometime could probably be a nice pick-me-up. That, and some other regular city relations stuff. I'll save you some food and fill you in on anything important later." He gave her a pat on the arm. "Have a good rest."
Starfire pulled him into a hug. "Thank you. Have a glorious breakfast." Robin hugged her back, then pulled away, head tilted to the side to hide a blush. Starfire giggled and his blush deepened, before he laughed a little himself.
"All right, see ya." He said, a little too fast, hurrying along past her to the main room. Starfire waved tiredly after him, before setting off again down the hall. She didn't bother to change when she reached her room, she just curled up around Silkie (who was snoozing in the middle of her bed) and though she tried to give some time to conscious thought on Red X, fell asleep almost immediately.
Koriand'r took a deep breath before quietly pushing open the door to Komand'r's room. Her older sister didn't like her going in there, but the younger princess was just so excited! She tiptoed in and looked around, momentarily confused. Komand'r's room was decadent as usual, if a bit messy, filled with an interesting contrast of valuable trinkets and various pieces of weaponry and armor scattered over the luxurious indigo furniture.
Komand'r herself, however, was nowhere to be found. Koriand'r had woken up early, hardly able to sleep with anticipation for the start of Blorthog, and the sisters' rooms were across from each other, but she hadn't heard her older sister get up. Koriand'r had expected her to still be asleep, and had come to wake up her up to share in her excitement. The little princess squinted, befuddled, before she noticed the slightly ajar door off in the far corner of the room, the one that lead out onto the balcony.
Grinning, she leapt into the air and flew over to the doorway, pushing it open further. Sure enough, her sister was out on the opalescent balcony railing, half-silhouetted by the early sunlight, kicking her legs and looking down at the city below.
Koriand'r floated up behind her, taking in the view as well, eyes filled with wonder. She had turned ten this year, and thus this was the first Blorthog where she would join the rest of her family (save for her younger brother, he was still far too young, and off visiting relatives as consolation at that) in addressing the citizens. Beforehand, she'd had little personal experience with the holiday. She looked forward to it greatly. After a minute, she tore her eyes away from the festivities and looked back to her sister.
"Good morning!" She proclaimed, hugging the other girl from behind. Komand'r jumped, practically dragging them both off the edge of the balcony, then straightened herself, cursing. Koriand'r released her grip, gasping at her language as she floated back and touched down on the floor of the balcony. Komand'r rounded on her.
"What was that for?" She demanded in a hiss, as if afraid they'd be overheard.
"It's the first day of the festival and I wanted to enjoy it with you?" Koriand'r replied bashfully, playing with a strand of her hair. "I'm sorry, sister."
Komand'r groaned and rubbed a hand down her face, before pivoting around and hopping off the railing. She reached forward and her little sister flinched, but she just ruffled the smaller girl's hair. "It's fine, Kori."
Koriand'r smiled in relief. "I get to go out with you all this year!" She squealed, excitement taking back over, then gasped pointing out past the balcony as small transport ships flew by, surely filled with all sorts of fun supplies. Instead of responding, the dark-haired girl before her merely shook her head and gave a wry smile. Koriand'r tilted her head quizzically. Suddenly, her big sister had an all-too-familiar look of mischief on her face.
"Do you want to go out to the festival now?" She asked, leaning in conspiratorially. She was grinning and her eyes practically sparkled in the morning light. Koriand'r's eyes lit up as well.
"Can we?" She gasped. "I thought we had to wait!"
"Not if we go out in disguise." Komand'r punctuated the last word with a flourish of her hands, heading over to a chest next to her armoire. She pulled it open and moved the contents around. She leaned forward to her upper body was obscured for a moment, before resurfacing and spinning back around triumphantly. In her hands, she gripped clothes suitable for an average citizen, and on her head, a flowing auburn wig covering her unusual dark hair.
"How do I look?" She asked, preening, then tossed an outfit to Koriand'r. The younger girl caught it, bouncing up and down.
"Lovely!" She exclaimed, then took on a more serious tone, "And very disguised." She retreated briefly to her room, coming back as quickly as she could, wearing the lightly embroidered robe she'd been given.
"What about me?" She asked, giving a twirl. The fabric twisted around her and nearly knocked her off balance. Komand'r snickered. She'd put on her outfit as well, a bit of a shorter, fur lined tunic and breeches. The usual armor worn around Tamaran mostly wasn't bothered with on holidays.
"It's a bit big on you, hold on." She rummaged through the chest a bit more before pulling out a belt and securing it around Koriand'r's waist. "There. Though…your hair." She paused, lips pursed in thought. "Can I cut it?"
"What? No!" Koriand'r held onto her hair defensively. She'd been growing it out, to look more like Komand'r. Not that she'd told her that.
"All right." Komand'r replied flippantly, and a moment later she fixed a hat over the other girl's head. "That'll have to do."
"Are you sure this is all right?"
"As long as we don't get caught." Komand'r grabbed her sister's arm and led her back out onto the balcony. "Besides, you don't know it yet, but we'll miss most of the festival if we wait. Now come on, before Galfore comes looking for us."
They raised up into the air together, Komand'r still holding onto Koriand'r's arm to lead the way, and stealthily flitted down and around through the outer architecture of the castle until they reached the ground in a quieter street of the city.
Koriand'r looked around in wonder as her sister lead her to the areas of the cities where the business she'd seen from above was happening all around them. Though she trusted Komand'r, mostly, part of her worried a little. She reassured herself that they would hardly get in much trouble for just going out to play games a little early, as long as they got back in time, and the sights and sounds and delicious smells distracted her quickly.
And best of all, she got to really experience it all for the first time with her sister.
Starfire woke up in the mid-afternoon, judging by the angle light coming in through her windows. Silkie was nuzzling at her face, clearly hungry. She laughed, nudging him gently away before going over to her shelves to find food for him.
She sat back down on the bed as he ate, stretching, then slowly let her arms fall to the side, staring at nothing. An emotion washed over from her, different from the frustration and confusion she'd felt earlier. She struggled to remember what she had been dreaming about, but found only the most vague impressions of it, and even those she could barely keep a grasp on.
Unhappily, she recognized the rogue feeling as sadness.