Template:PostCatH Post 69 sees Clear aboard the God-Killer alone with Ameryl. Ameryl confirms that she is responsible for destroying the planet Indra but sees no fault in her actions. When Ameryl offers to help Clear get home, Clear believes this is a guilty conscience. She explains that she wanted to replicate her twin sister, Imeryn, who once defeated Ameryl and then sacrificed their entire empire for her own power. Ameryl allows Clear to return to The Hopeful aboard her Hoopa. Once there, angry with Ameryl and The Imperium, Clear gives every detail of the God-Killer she can to Navatitex Haryn so that the High Empire might enact some form of vengeance for Kimleigh's death in CatH Post 68. She sits in the Hangar of her ship with the supplies granted to her by Haryn, including a mass of biological pulp from Kalor Varkesh that can be used to provide fuel for the Power Core. Clear opens packs of cards upon cards until, finally, she finds a card of 'Kimleigh The Radiant'.
The Woman Who Sold the World
Clear's head is still throbbing as she stands there, trying to take in her surroundings. She stares down at the floor. It's a pink and transparent material. Through it she can only make out more vague shapes of varying colours. Instead of walls there are walls of falling water, which seems magically pour straight through the pink floor even though it's solid enough for Clear to stand upon. The water itself isn't quite water. It's too blue and sparkles too much, especially since there's no sun in here. The ceiling is a night sky, except instead of stars there are hundreds of galaxies to be seen, some larger or nearer than others. Some nothing but starry specks.
Clear: "What is this place?"
Clear gasps in sheer awe at the view.
Ameryl: "Do you find it beautiful? I certainly do..."
Ameryl joins Clear in looking up and smiles with absolute joy at the sight.
Ameryl: "There is no meaning to life if there is not beauty to gaze upon and fill you with wonderment."
Clear reaches out and feels the cool blue liquid stroke her fingers. It feels viscous, too thick for water. When she moves her fingers she can see residue on her skin, glittering up at her.
Clear looks up at the woman again. She is stunningly beautiful with dark brown skin that is in stark contrast to her pure white hair. Her hair tumbles down over her shoulders and bounces lightly in its ringlets as she walks. Her right cheek has two circles of pink that appear to be tattooed to her skin, or else some natural, yet pretty, deformity. Her eyes are dark blue and intent, as though in a constant staring match with whoever she looks at. Now that Clear can see the black and yellow leather dress she can see that it is adorned with technological enhancements that are worn as part of the clothing itself. One large, black, circular portion at the side of the dress is quite prominent with a large pink jewel, as big as her head, encrusted into it.
Clear: "Who... are you? What is this Imperium? I've never heard of it."
Ameryl: "I told you, dearest, I am Ameryl. The Imperium is... well it is as the name implies. An empire. The galaxy is a very big place, I find it little wonder than you haven't heard of it. Our dominion in the Milky Way isn't so large as others'."
She sweeps her hand elegantly as a door slides quietly open. Or rather a hole in the air. It's nothing but a big, pink rectangle. Clear looks at it but doesn't move.
Ameryl: "Surely you want to be returned home?"
Clear groans inwardly, knowing that, once again, she's at the mercy of someone else's intentions. Warlord Strang, President S. Polk, High Legatifex Kimleigh and now this Ameryl woman. She walks forward and follows the human through the gateway. As soon as she passes through the purple door she leaps back, shocked to find herself suddenly suspended in space. The door, however, as gone, and sheer terror envelops her. But it begins to quickly subside as she realises she'd not dead. She's also breathing and standing on a solid surface.
Below her is the remains of the planet Indra, huge fragments of rock now slowly drifting apart. Likely it will eventually form a broken orbit around the red sun, but for now it just sits there in a forlorn state of what once was. Clear's heart aches for the people of Indra, especially those she met - Swati and her son Teala. Ameryl, standing beside her, points and Clear sees that Hoopa is standing tall and pretty. It doesn't look damaged at all. It, like she and Ameryl, are standing upon an invisible floor.
Clear: "Where are we? Is the room invisible?"
Ameryl pulls a patronising and pitying frown.
Ameryl: "Nothing so simple. We are outside of reality, looking in. An astral plane of sorts. From here we can observe but not touch."
Clear is eager to hop onto her ship and fly off but she feels like she's owed an explanation.
Clear: "Was it you and your God-Killer that destroyed Indra? And its people?"
She finds it hard to mask the anger rising in her voice.
Ameryl, with a voice of absolute innocence and purity, asserts;
The affect of Ameryl's voice has Clear at a complete loss rather than sudden anger.
Clear: "But-- why!?"
Ameryl: "A test of sorts. The catalyst I used was created of this world and so it led us straight here. It was quite dramatic, I must say. And worked perfectly."
Clear: "How... can you be so cold?"
Ameryl: "You think me cold dear? Why? Because I do not mourn the loss of these people? I am not so cruel that I enjoy sentencing the planet to its destruction, but in this universe everything has its place. Those who rule and those who serve. It's the natural state in all things."
Clear: "I've never heard such crock!"
She thinks to Kimleigh and silently corrects herself on that.
Clear: "They didn't exist just to serve as your test!"
Ameryl: "You mistake me. The people of the world were not the test. They were merely in the way."
Clear is too stupefied to lash out at her.
Clear: "They died because...?"
Ameryl: "They were incidental. It is, indeed, a shame. It would have been better that they were never on the world. Alas they were. The universe continues turning. But the whole test was a success and so their loss was not entirely meaningless..."
Ameryl: "Just mostly. Trillions upon trillions of other lives will be improved upon the back of this experiment. We are bound for a bright and shining future of freedom and enlightenment that will enshrine The Imperium wonderfully!"
She spreads her arms as though expecting an ovation. Clear just stares at the ragged remains of the world below them. Ameryl's arms drop with a sigh when she sees Clear sulking.
Ameryl: "Now now. You just can't see the bigger picture. One world sacrificed for the safety of trillions. But I understand. When one lacks objectivity it is difficult to see the universe for what it truly is."
From around her neck she takes off a necklace and holds it out to Clear. Reluctantly Clear takes the locket and opens it to see another face similar to that of Ameryl.
Ameryl: "My twin sister. Isn't she truly beautiful?"
Clear thinks only about as beautiful as Ameryl seems to be, yet she somehow expects Clear to be all the more impressed by this little locket's image.
Ameryl: "There isn't a more courageous soul in the entire galaxy. We fought each other. We fought over something as petty as love. I was the unlucky loser and banishment was my punishment for not having the same strength as she. Imeryn. That's her name. Some time later I came back home. Just to see it. Hoped she would at least allow me to walk through our gardens again... but it was gone. All of it. She had destroyed everything, everyone. Far more than just one world. I knew that was the strength I lacked then. She destroyed our worlds to defeat her greatest enemies. I had to emulate that to become as great as she is. And now... now I have exceeded her."
She smiles and speaks to herself rather than Clear and Clear thinks she's only there, now, to serve as a mirror to voice herself to.
Clear: "Both you and your sister are villains."
Ameryl turns again to Clear and looks mockingly hurt.
Ameryl: "So mean you are."
Clear gets the feeling that she may be edging towards the boundary of what this powerful woman may tolerate and so Clear closes her trap as tightly as she can and makes no further utterance.
Ameryl: "I'm not so terrible. Not really. I just don't live so close to this... sub-level of understanding as you do. And look! You're here! Alive and well! I'm not so filled with malice! I would happily help anyone, like you, caught up in affairs."
Clear: "I was on that planet before you blew it up. I would have gone with it..."
She taps Clear's nose.
Ameryl: "You didn't!"
Ameryl: "I do like your pretty little ship. It's quite lovely. I think I would add some spots of pink here and there myself. Actually, not pink. Fuchsia. I do love fuchsia. A colour filled with so much passion and depth."
Clear: "Aren't you a commander in this Imperium? I wouldn't have thought fuchsia to be militaristic colours."
Ameryl smirks, a little cocky this time.
Ameryl: "In your culture perhaps! I told you. The universe doesn't resolve around one, tiny planet. Your limited experience makes you clouded to the greater goal."
Clear: "You keep trying to vindicate yourself to me and I don't understand why."
Ameryl: "Well. I just don't want you to leave here with a bad impression of me! I'm really not some evil tyrant, you know!?"
Clear shakes her head, getting a clearer understanding all of a sudden.
Clear: "Seems like your guilty conscience, Ameryl. If you're looking for acceptance or understanding from me, you won't get it."
Her face goes cold but appears lost not stern.
Ameryl: "I have to do what's best for my people."
Clear: "Am I free to leave then?"
Ameryl snaps out of that moment of reverie and return to her pleasant, blithe demeanour. She smiles broadly and sincerely and strokes the nose of Hoopa.
Ameryl: "Certainly. With my blessings. And my condolences."
Clear opens a small panel on the side of the Æon ship and she keys in the code to unlock the hatch. It pops with a hiss.
Ameryl: "Would you like me to drop you off somewhere? I can take you where you want to go in an instant!"
Clear might have accepted that, thinking it the least the woman could do for killing her friend. However she's afraid of what would happen between this God-Killer and Kalor Varkesh, let alone what might become of The Hopeful in the middle of them.
Clear: "What... happened to my friend? She... disintegrated right before me... She is--..."
Ameryl nods but it seems a nod of meagre sympathy rather than passionate regret. Clear can't stand to look at Ameryl's pretty and clueless face. Kimleigh may not have been Green. She may not have been Pully. But Clear had felt a connection with the girl. They'd had fun. They'd bonded. Clear had begun to feel less like a subtle hostage, as she had in the beginning, and more of a co-conspirator. Kimleigh shouldn't be dead. And certainly not accidentally.
The only reason Clear isn't punching this woman's stupid face into pulp is the hidden threat lurking behind the mask of her face. Clear knows that Ameryl could have had Clear killed in an instant with zero effort on her own behalf. Perhaps a click of her fingers and those pink doors would open and soldiers would pour in. Perhaps a weapon hidden somewhere. Something. Clear wants revenge for Kimleigh but knows she cannot get it.
Clear climbs the laser-generated ladders and gets into the cockpit.
Ameryl looks up at her with that same dumb smile that Clear longs to wipe off of her face with her knuckles.
Ameryl: "Don't be a stranger, now! Next time I'll be sure to serve teacakes!"
The hatch closes and Clear gets one last view of Ameryl as, in a few seconds, the woman had faded and Hoopa begins to drift lazily - free of the astral box. With the box has also gone the huge ring-machine and the salmitton is left with the remains of Indra. Clear looks at the planet's bits. Then she looks at the backseat.
An hour later, Hoopa reemerges from hyperspace with an uncomfortable jolt. The thing was never designed for such an incredibly long jump but all that energy that Kimleigh had poured into the ship was still there, waiting to be used. The last known point on the ship's navigation index was easily found and so Clear is back in the Deep Void and there, after what seems like an eternity, she sees The Hopeful standing big and bulky against the dead blank slate of the void. It's probably the ugliest thing she's ever seen and yet, for that moment, it's also the most gorgeous and wonderful thing in the universe.
No sooner has she arrived than her comms channel starts blaring. Clear wipes her eyes. Unfortunately they'll be stained blue for a good while, no getting round that now. That's what happens after an hour of grieving in the backseat.
Now she has to explain what happened to these empire-types and she knows they're going to be angry.
Orion Navitatex: "Captain Clear. Where is the High Legatifex? We don't have any readings on her."
Clear: "Dead. Gone. Vaporised."
The green-skinned man splutters incomprehensibly. She can see Kalor Varkesh looming close to The Hopeful, one of its void-black wings now visible against the outline of The Hopeful. She wonders where Kara Pashna is and his DNA ship.
Clear: "She's gone and I'll tell you who killed her, why and everything I can about what I saw inside their ship..."
If Clear can't get revenge by herself, she'll damn well help someone else get revenge on her behalf.
Clear stands, now, in the hangar of The Hopeful. She has spent several says here in the Deep Void, mostly aboard Kalor Varkesh with the Orion Navitatex. When Clear proved most forthcoming about every detail she could provide, Navitatex Haryn, as he revealed his name to be, was decidedly helpful and accommodating. After all details were unfolded he even came up with a solution to getting The Hopeful on its way. Before she left Clear was allowed to stock up on a lot of goods, foods and materials that Haryn said could be replicated quickly and easily with their crystal technology. Without asking too many questions about how safe or healthy replicated food could possibly be, Clear accepted and now sits in the docking bay of her ship. The crate beneath her is filled with seafood but the crate is, fortunately, well sealed. The crate to her right, which is much larger, is filled with a very different substance.
Unsure about the technology of the power core on The Hopeful, Haryn decided not to risk the chance of replicated organics not working with the device. Instead he provided flesh from Kalor Varkesh himself. Clear tries not to think about that too much, but Haryn assured her that Varkesh's muscle would grow back in time. She hasn't even looked in the crate yet, knowing she'll probably throw up at the sight of a huge blob of meat gouged from the creature's stomach.
Putting off the inevitable gross-out moment, Clear remains seated on the crate. She feverishly opens a new foiled packet of cards and sifts through them.
Clear: "Got, got, need, need... need."
She has two little piles formed.
She opens a new pack and tosses the cards into their relevant piles.
Another pack. Another pack. And another pack. And another-- then, finally, she finds one.
She looks older than she did, definitely older in the chest than should be allowed for a girl of her seeming age, and instead of her uniform she's wearing a sparkling outfit of white. A gown vaguely reminiscent of her Hian heritage.