2018-03-20: Just Another Night

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  • Cutscene: Just Another Night
  • Cast: Gwen Whitlock
  • Where: A forest in Meribius
  • Date: March 20th, 2018
  • Summary: A quiet night in a lush forest on an alien planet. An unresolved trauma. What could go wrong?

That was the thing about nightmares: they don't really wake you up the same way they do in those cheap novels Gwen liked to read. No bolting up in bed, no screaming, just a startled snort and a disheveled view of a hastily patched canvas ceiling. Gwen could see a fragment of the Blue Star through an unpatched hole, its brilliant light casting down against the flooring of the wagon. Grimacing at the way her back felt against the blanketed wood panels of her wagon, Gwen rose her left hand to rub at her face, a muffled groan filtering through her spread fingers.

"Had another nightmare, didn't you?" Hanpan's whiskers twitched as he peered down from his nest, a mass of woven fabric tucked into a compartment underneath the driver's seat. From outside, Gwen could hear the soft breathing of a sleeping Gulliver, and the rustling of the forest canopy above.

"It's nothing. Just slept wrong." Judging by the concerned expression on Hanpan's face, Gwen realized that It wasn't that difficult for the wind mouse to see past her attempt at a lie. Sighing, she sat up and began the slow process of working the sore muscles of her back. "Okay, that, n' I had another nightmare, yeah." A left hand idly scratched under her loosened blouse at the new scar on her upper chest, feeling the new texture of raised scar tissue outlining the metallic surface of her ARM, as well as the steady, beating warmth of the object underneath that now served as her heart.

It was disturbing how easy it was, even to Gwen, to pretend that everything was still the same, even as she remembered painful slivers of memories of that day. The assassin's brilliant blue eyes, a silken voice. Pain. "I gave you a gift, one that you have returned to repay me, in equal parts blood and truth...."
And then-

She didn't want her song to end, just there. She wanted to continue on, no matter what the consequences.

And now, she felt them, underneath the skin of her fingers.

"Have you told anybody about what happened yet?" Hanpan leapt up the redhead's shoulder, nimbly balancing himself on the edge of her left shoulder. While he was entrusted by Jack to Gwen with the implication that she would take care of him, in some ways, the opposite was true.

Gwen shook her head. "Nope. Just you, n' Gulliver, n'... well, Mr. Balderdash." There was also the blue-eyed assassin, but Gwen felt it was better left unsaid. Reaching a hand to gently pet the wind mouse, the redhead smiled as Hanpan leaned into her fingers. "I know I should. Just don't wanna spill the beans yet until I remember more clearly. Or what it all means. N' there's definitely nobody here that can take a look at it."

If someone opened her up then and there, would it even look like a human heart, or would it look like a mechanical bastardization, all cogs and wheels like some fancy wind-up automaton?

Well, wouldn't that be weird.

Hanpan, momentarily lost to Gwen's indulging, straightened his tiny body and crossed his arms, a rebuking posture that looked more adorable on him than authoritative. "We should've gone to Frea while we still had the chance. Your ARM with a capital A replaced your actual arm, so what's a heart on top of it? It was already doing most of the work as it was. I bet she would've just accepted it, from what you've told me."

Frea. Gwen's head flopped back against the blankets. Frea was there, somewhere, on that giant blue disk that hung in the sky, its blue light filtering through the canvas. Her hand reached up to touch the ray of blue light that peeked through the hole in her canvas.

And then her gaze fell on the worried Hanpan.

Hanpan, who had lost his friend to Malevolence, to problems far more tangled, darker, and older than her own. Hanpan, who was probably concerned about losing another friend.

The young woman's hand drifted over to gently itch an index finger on his furry head. "I'll be okay, Hanpan. I got you, n' I got Gulliver. N' I'm sure Balderdash'd probably have a thing or two t'say 'bout all my mopin' 'bout, right?" Sitting up, she turned to regard the wind mouse, as well as the blissfully sleeping Gulliver. "Don't get me wrong; I'm still scared. I'm scared of the wrong people findin' out. I'm scared of the fact that I almost died. And I'm scared about Auntie Frea out there, n' that I can't... check on her." Cupping both her hands in front of Hanpan, Gwen lifted him in front of her, leveling the mouse with her face. "I don't know when I can feel okay with tellin' anyone 'bout this, 'specially on a planet like this. The stakes are even higher. But if something happens, I'll tell you. I won't keep it bottled up completely. N' you can do the same."

"At least some of your worries are legit ones." Hanpan twitched his whiskers sternly as Gwen chuckled, but slowly, he relented, hopping off Gwen's cupped hands as she lowered them down. "Alright, alright. Let's get back to sleep, okay?"

"Right." Pressing a quick peck on top of an embarrassed Hanpan's head, Gwen smiled. "Good night, Hanpan." Laying herself back against the blankets that still smelled of glittering sand and cold nights among the dunes, Gwen closed her eyelids, breathing in the memories. Of who she was. Who she is.

And, with the comforting warmth of a curled Hanpan against her cheek, Gwen dreamed, at least for tonight, of all the things she'll have another chance to experience.

And of a future, while uncertain, that still extended beyond a new horizon.