"What are you going to do?" Mieran's voice is almost robotic, serene. The metallic stripes of silver on the side of her face catch the light, shining bright white. Andy's aim remains unwavering, though her hands start to shake once Mieran starts talking.
"You're going to shoot me?" Mieran queries when Andy doesn't answer. Her lips quirk into a small smile. "You don't have what it takes, Andora. I know you."
"You don't know a damn thing about me, so shut up," Andy shoots back, then snaps her mouth shut. She's not supposed to say anything-- just make sure that Mieran doesn't get away until the others arrive. Andy’s mentally ticking down the moments she has left until she can finally get away from this woman. Mieran has been the epicentre of her life from the moment she applied for this job, consuming Andy’s every thought. She has become as vital as the oxygen Andy breathes. She is the sun, her light brilliant and mesmerising, touching every dark corner of Andy and turning it to flame. It’s a deeply profound sensation that surpasses everything Andy had thought possible, an outlier on her emotional spectrum that occurs once a millenia.
Mieran stretches against the back of her steel throne. The empress is supposedly more machine than human, and as Andy watches Mieran touch that pale, perfect collarbone of hers, she’s captivated by the ethereal beauty in such a mundane gesture. Unlike most androids, her fingers remain unspoiled by metal. Those pale digits dance along her throat, and Andy feels a very human clench between her legs at how sensual the display is.
“Andora,” Mieran whispers, her voice running low and rough like sand. As one of the ships orbiting the tower passes by their window, a shadow falls over the empress’ face. Her grey eyes gleam even in the dark, sly and inviting. Then her hand falls from that swan-like neck and reaches out to touch Andy’s face. Her fingertips are cool and soft and wonderful, making Andy’s cheeks flush and mouth part. Miraculously, she doesn’t drop the gun, but her chest heaves with the effort to breathe properly. Mieran is oxygen, and her lungs burn to accomodate the need for more.
Mieran touches her cheek with feather-like caresses, then slowly pulls her in. Her lips are hot and wet, delivering sweet promises and silent pleas. Andy finally lets the blaster fall to the floor. Her legs move of their own volition, already coming to straddle Mieran’s lap.
“Oh,” Mieran gasps against her mouth. They break away from their kiss, pressing their foreheads against one another’s. The empress is panting and Andy can hear every beat of her heart, feel every rise and fall of her chest. Andy can’t help but kiss her again, their lips meeting slowly and languidly. Andy savours it, trying to commit to memory how wet she already is, and how soft Mieran’s hair is against her cheek.
Andy’s hair stands on end when she feels an unsteady hand cup her ass through the silk of her dress.
“May I?” Mieran’s voice is breathless. Andy will give her anything and everything she has. She’s starved for the older woman’s touch.
“Yes,” she says, and the elegant fingers she’s admired for so long slide up her skirt. Andy holds her breath, awaiting Mieran’s reaction to encountering the copious moisture between her thighs.
Mieran does not disappoint. Andy revels in the short intake of breath and the way the older woman’s eyes glass over.
“You’re,” Mieran begins, and easily slips a digit in. Andy shudders, and her hips instinctively grind against the empress’ hand. “You’re beautiful, Andora.”
I love you, Andy thinks. I love you so much.
“More,” Andy says, and Mieran gives her what she wants without protest. Two fingers, three, four. Her muscles freeze up and when she comes, she sees stars.
It’s all she’d thought it’d feel like, and more. With just her hands, Mieran tears her apart and rebuilds her all over again. Andy feels new and sticky and empty and home.
They keep kissing, quicker now that they’re both revitalised from Andy’s release. Andy shimmies off of Mieran’s lap and falls to the glass floor on her knees. Without prompting, Mieran spreads her legs, and Andy hitches up the silver cocktail dress to allow herself easier access to take what’s hers.
The first swipe of her tongue against Mieran’s bittersweet folds makes her head spin and Mieran moan, and Andy buries her face in it, seeking more. Mieran crumples against the throne, making all these small breathless noises. She arches up against it, white hair rumpled and face flushed. She cries out Andy’s name when she comes, clinging to her back as she undulates like a wave. Once she wound down, Andy straightens her skirt and stands back up again.
Mieran watches her with something like horror. “What are you doing?”
“I don’t know,” Andy says, and she means it. Then realisation strikes her. “Oh god, why did we do that?” Mieran frowns and opens her mouth to say something.
The tower shakes violently, cutting the empress off. Andy jerks her head up to peer out the window, and sees the steady circulation of ships and satellites orbiting the Crystal Palace fall out of sync, some going off in orange explosions that reek of phosphorus and copper. Her heart pounds, a concerto of similar explosions going off in her head. Andy glances at Mieran, she’ll never forget that look on the woman’s face in that moment, lost and afraid. The angry flames outside make the silver and glass on Mieran’s face look like gold.
Andy can’t bear to see her like that, and stares outside. “It’s started.”
“What?” Mieran’s voice has regained its sharpness, cold and swift like a blade. “Andora.”
Andy glares at her pointedly, outrage and fear tangling into a nasty storm in the pit of her stomach. “Don’t you know? This is the beginning of the end.” She gestures to the window, and Mieran’s eyes follow her hand apprehensively, flickering between Andy and outside in disbelief.
“Buckle up, baby. We’re in for a wild ride.”
Emilyn doesn’t know what she’s even fighting for anymore. A year has passed since this all began, yet her mind refuses to understand the war as anything other than one single day stretching on for eternity. Before, she knew things. Back then, she knew she was a pretty little piece of ornamentation gracing the living room of Her Divine Highness. Now she doesn’t know anything.
She tilts her head at her reflection, one of the few mirrors belonging to the long-dead Glass Goddess in her possession. Emilyn used to spent hours looking at herself in those mirrors, getting lost in the beauty she saw in them. Empress Mieran had caught her in the hallway once. Her Ladyship had knelt beside her, wearing that headdress of glass and silver that matched her mask. It was just after the Moonish Winter Festival, when Her Opulent Excellence waved at the adoring crowds, her image projected on every tower and spaceship.
“Emilyn,” she had said, as if talking to a fellow android. Emilyn had trembled with joy at this, she remembered that vividly.
“You’re very beautiful,” Empress Mieran had said, touching her back and exposed shoulders. The way her gaze had swept over Emilyn was hungry, and it was obvious what she’d wanted. Emilyn had given it to her eagerly, and then Her Divine Highness departed once she was satisfied. She’d stared at her reflection afterwards, admiring the light marks that her master had left behind, branding her as property of Her Opulent Excellence.
The joy of that moment is long forgotten, and Emilyn now stands forlorn in front of the mirror, surprised with how much she’s changed over the course of a year. She now knows that the easy life she’d led was not a life at all. All her feelings and memories of that time are just echoes in an empty room, cheap imitations of reality. Now she’s real and her existence is concrete, as to be broken is to truly live.
Struck by this revelation, Emilyn smashes her copper fist into the mirror. The shards of glass are the same as the ones that made up Mieran’s beautiful face. For a part of someone so powerful, the silver glass crumbles easily in her hands.
Hilda’s heart is aching as she races across the sea of red sand, her feet kicking up dust as she runs.
She doesn’t look back, because she knows the ships are still following her. All she can do is keep going as far as she can until she dies of exhaustion or is captured. She looks up at the sky, where stars of fantastic colours twinkle among the dark velvet sky. Hilda smiles at the sight, even as her eyes sting with sand, and as pain flares up her leg with every long stride.
Her heart is aching for home, for her family, and death.
“You foolish girl,” Veran snarls, striking Mieran across the face. Mieran’s face stings, the damaged glass of her face digging into her cheek. Her aunt’s shadow looms over her menacingly. Mieran blinks back tears at the searing pain, still standing as tall as she can. She mustn't cry in front of Veran. She musn’t let herself be humiliated again.
“Do you have any idea what you’ve done?” Veran circles her, her grey eyes flashing like those of a woman gone mad. “You ruined everything.” She gives a cold, unearthly laugh and Mieran wonders what she’s done to deserve this-- her tormentor has the same face as her mother. Mieran knows that she and her aunt share the same blood but hopes that this kind of insanity isn’t genetic.
“My deepest apologies, Empress Veran,” Mieran says as she bows, with a kind of poise that shouldn’t be possible for a nine-year-old dripping blood onto the floor. “Though it was not my intent, Your Iron Majesty, you mustn’t need worry about any similar occurrences in the future.” As she’s only nine, she can’t really make any promises but Mieran’s gotten very good at lying.
Veran’s mouth twitches into a malicious smile. “I don’t care about that.” She grabs Mieran by her shoulders, her grip vise-like. “You killed my sister, Mieran. I won’t forget this.”
Mieran is tempted to remind her that Veran was the one who killed her, but is smart enough to hold her tongue. “I’m sorry for your loss, Empress Veran. The whole kingdom grieves for your late sister.” The sentiment is said without a shred of emotion, because one can only say the same thing so many times before it loses its meaning. Mieran can barely remember her mother’s face, that tender smile failing to exist in Mieran’s mind without Veran’s image spoiling it.
She hates Veran for taking her mother away from her, both in body and in memory.
Veran gives her a distant smile, tears trickling out of the corners of her eyes. “Thank you, darling.” She reaches out to ruffle Mieran’s hair, whose countenance remains unwavering.