Once In A Lifetime


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Scene Title Once in a Lifetime
Synopsis Kintsugi - the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery by mending the areas of breakage with lacquer mixed with powdered gold. It treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise.
Date July 6, 2021

The Convoy

The convoy has stopped once again and Eve immediately runs off to a bunch of ruined cars off the road by a mile or so. Taking the traditional walking route because she wanted to carry. Eve had been spending a lot of time alone and deep in thought while around the others ever since the ambush and exchanging of conduits.

For a few minutes the former seer sits there arms around her knees and one joint lit between her fingers. The breeze rustles her dark mane and Eve tips her head back to look up at the stars in the sky. "Hm." She comments though the weight of that sound makes her sag her shoulders for a moment. "Hmm."

Another puff and she taps the ends to be rid of the ash, weed smoke lays trapped in her lungs until she releases it like a jet through her nostrils. They had survived at a great cost.

It takes a while but she gets a fire going that crackles and pops softly, the glow of the fire shining on her ghostly pale face.

Sacrifice is the only way. The words from her alternate self ring truer than ever the deeper down this hole Eve goes.

"Beautiful, aren't they?"

The voice comes from behind Eve, where Nathalie has slipped into view. She points up toward the sky full of stars. She sounds a little bittersweet, like maybe the stars remind her of something she lost. But also, there's a depth of appreciation in her voice for being able to see them at all. Which perhaps isn't so strange, since she just survived certain death.

She hasn't been very effusive since her recovery, mostly because the rest of the convoy is in mourning. Or, at least, didn't come out of the ambush unscathed. She hasn't wanted to make anyone uncomfortable, because the truth is that she's grateful. And happy to be alive. For a young woman who was barely anything but surly before the ambush, it's quite a switch.

"Did you need to be alone?"

"They are…" Eve sticks her tongue as if to taste the very star's essence, "Magnificent." The women's tone mirror each other though they both have different things to be bitter over and grateful for. She knows that voice but she still looks surprised when she spots Nathalie standing there. "Well hello young one, ah no. There is plenty of time to be alone. Sometimes too much time. Sit. I'll make tea."

Inside of her bag she rummages around for a crude kettle and the boxes of herbs and spices and a battered couple of bottles of water that she empties in the kettle. Crimson eyes on the younger woman, viewing her with interest but there was something else hidden beneath that gaze. Whatever Eve Mas had learned a few days ago after the ambush had shaken her to the core.

"Stars are born to die. I think they know it too, but they still exist. Hanging up there shining and waiting." How do you continue when you know everything you've worked for is going to be washed away. Eve had always been optimistic when there was no hope.

Placing the kettle over the fire and staring into the flames, trying to divine the universe's secrets from the very embers within as if that has truly helped any. "I knew a young woman like you once."

A pang in the heart for a young charge lost, a sister in the gift.

Nathalie can't help a crooked smile when Eve produces a kettle. She doesn't protest, though, and lowers herself to the ground. "And yet, stars remain. New stars are born. A cold comfort, perhaps, but sometimes it's the only comfort we have."

She holds her hands out toward the fire, warming them for a few moments before rubbing them together. Her head tilts at Eve's words, an amused but gentle smile on her lips. It isn't every day she has one up on a seer. Especially this seer. "Did you?"

"We take what we can get in these wayward realities, hm?" Because it was all they had. As the water begins to warm Eve takes another puff of her joint. "You don't indulge here do you? You didn't where I'm from. Probably for the best."

She's already talking about her world's Nathalie, might as well go all in.

"She was a fresh charge. All young Expressives are little birds that need a flock to feel strong together. A unit. We are all family in a way, families are stronger together. Children of the stars." Of the Eclipse. "I didn't protect her though. I thirsted for knowledge, I wanted to avert the end of it all. She was an integral piece to the Great Mystery. I did not teach," Eve takes a deeper puff of her joint and considers her words. "I pushed her away and before I could fix it she was dead. All because she was given something no child should have to bare."

Glory's words the days before ring in her head. Decimation. "Everyone that has been lost in the fight for the liberation of the Children of the Stars, all of them. It means nothing." Eve is shocked to hear herself say it, "No matter what I do we still become extinct."

There's a sad crack of a laugh, "Have you ever discovered you were running on a wheel the whole time?" Always in place, nice and neat.

Nathalie sits for a moment, taking in all that Eve has to say, her hands folding together in her lap. After a lapse into silence, she lets out a small laugh. "You know what, Eve? I've just gotten a second chance at life. I think I can indulge this once." She has always worried so much about losing control, about what a danger she can be when that happens. But today, she feels differently.

"I always feel like that. Running in place, making no progress, stuck. Pointless." She holds her hand out for the joint, tilting her head as she looks over at Eve. "You're the last person I would expect to feel that way."

The younger woman being willing to partake in her cannabis does wonders for her mood. Eve hurriedly hands over the joint and smiles sadly, "If I am being honest," which in a rare moment she was being the most honest she's been in a long while, "I'm more lost than I've ever been in my life!" Eve cackles softly and shakes her head, strands of hair falling into her glowing blood red eyes.

She looks over at Nathalie out of the corner of her eyes, "Learn your limits early dearie or you'll end up like me and others. Undoing disaster after disaster," starting a few of her own too for good measure, "All in a great big loop, exhausted and crazed by the end of it and right back where you started." Her rasp trails off and she blinks a few times, head tilted to the side. Sometimes Eve wished she could just shift into her mist and drift away, untethered from the world, unbothered and not bothersome. Free.

A tiny bit of smoke has begun to lift from the kettle's lid, it'll be ready soon.

Another moment passes, "I'm happy you were saved. How does it feel to have a second chance at life?"

"Don't worry, I know about limits." Nathalie gives Eve a crooked smile before she smokes a little, letting out a smokey sigh after. "What's got you so lost, Eve? Not this ambush, surely." She knows it takes more than that to shake this particular woman.

Her question, though, gets a smile. "I've never seen a more beautiful night." It may seem a strange answer, but for someone who stood hand-in-hand with death, she can't think of a better way to explain her feelings on being alive again. "I'm happy I was saved, too. Even if it does mean I'm back on the hamster wheel. I'd rather that than a night without stars." Endless dark. And worse.

"A night without stars. Here is better than nowhere or when. Aimless in the Deep Cosmic Sea." Eve remarks softly, continuing to stare into the fire.

"I have spent the last few years of my life chasing every story and myth concerning our one great ancestor. The Mother of all us Children of the Stars. In my quest to know her story, her pain and sorrow. I neglected the duty I gave myself altogether years ago. I promised to protect us, all of us. With every ounce of my being. On a rooftop surrounded by candles I made a vow." The older woman sounds sorrowful, that time seems so long ago from where she sits now.

"Tonight I learned that every sacrifice, every moral line I tipped toed along and bent, every connection I nudged and person I led might not result in anything but the slow decimation of the entire Expressive line." The former seer cackled softly and wraps her arms around her shoulders, hugging herself tight. "It was all meaningless! Humpty Dumpty had a great fall!" For a moment she just laughs with her head thrown back and the sound is familiar to Nathalie, the sharpness of it mixed with that devilish delight that layered every interaction with Eve but it soon descends into wretched sobs, echoing out around them. Eve is inconsolable for a time, the bitterness of propping herself up into a position she had no business taking in the first place emitting from her.

"All I've ever wanted was for us to stand in the sun."

Nathalie steps in, wrapping her arms around Eve as she sobs. She doesn't try to stop her, but makes it known that she's there supporting her.

"You made the best choices you could. You never have stood by and let anything happen without a fight. Never regret the things you did in good faith." Nat tilts her head to look at Eve's face, her expression curious. "That decimation hasn't happened yet. And how many tragedies have you averted? You have a warning now, we can find a way around it. It's what you do." Not a fair burden for anyone, but at least Eve doesn't have to shoulder it alone.

"I met her, you know," she says, "when I was dead. Our Mother. I think we have to save her. And maybe if we save her, she'll save us."

It's a few moments before Eve can totally process all of what Nathalie is saying, holding onto the younger woman's arm as she is cradled. Her eyes snap open and she gasps, wheeling around to take Nathalie's face in her hands. "Oh my dearie." Looking at her in shock and confusion as fresh tears fall and then it clicks for her, "Oh my goddess!"

Eve cries out in joy and embraces Nathalie, fresh sobs awaken and she clings on, "Oh I'm so sorry my dear girl. Oh my goddess you're back! Bless it all!" It takes Eve a moment but she mostly pulls herself together staring at Nathalie mystified. "She has returned to us, in our moment of doubt and uncertainty. I saw you. With Chess and Gilly, all holders of the conduit. I was never sure which you it was. But it was you. AH!" Eve is practically overcome, in her darkest hour a light shines through in the form of Nathalie.

The last bit of what was said rings through Eve and she almost tips over, "Whoa. Head rush. You've been on a journey. You connected to the spirits! Ahhh I'm sorry you had to learn in this way, that is not how it should have gone." A pause, "I believe you, all that I've seen from her has shown me she has lost something precious. I just do not know what! I think I've seen her when she was a child, they called her Ninbanda… our Mother."

"Say what you can precious but I will not rush you." Eve is finally learning some lessons and she wants to savor the moment with Nathalie.

Despite everything, Nathalie can't help but laugh when Eve connects the dots. "I had you going for a little while," she says, keeping her hands on Eve's arms to keep her stable.

"Eve, you wouldn't believe the journey I've been on. Well, you would believe it, but practically no one else." She nods when Eve speaks Ninbanda's name, letting out a soft sigh. "She was so beautiful. So strong. She gave so much of herself to others. To me. She said she saw visions of doing so, and followed instructions. That's the word she used. Instructions. It's been troubling me." The idea that something was manipulating Ninbanda has been circling around her mind since Mesopotamia. "It would be hard to narrow down one thing she's lost. I think she's lost everything. Herself. Her power. Her freedom. Her family. Even back then, I think there was already a rift." That, she can't explain. Only the memory of Nanaja's anger at Inanna moments before the eclipse threw her out of the past. "I wish I could talk to her again."

"I'll have to get you back!" Eve laughs and wipes a tear away from her eye. "Ooh you really did see her. Oooh my heart." The former seer can barely contain her joy and excitement, the return of Nathalie and news of the Mother? It was Christmas and her birthday all over but that news was sad because Ninbanda was lost. Of this Eve was beginning to be certain.

"Instructions? Her mother was a seer. Was she raised as this being her birthright?" To give and give until there was barely anything left. "How do you make someone whole who has more pieces shattered than you could imagine, the tiniest specks, dust even."

Eve wraps her arm around Nathalie's shoulder and hugs her close. "Me too young one. Me too. We met different versions but love her just the same."

She considers, "So much of her story is shrouded in mystery, stories long changed over time. She wouldn't speak of it. Now I think it's because she can't truly remember." How awful it would be to not remember what you're mourning.

The looming threat of Eve having reason to get back at her might be worrying under other circumstances, but Nat is too happy to be alive to truly worry about it. Maybe later.

Her head tilts, because Eve raises some good points. "I'm not sure we can put her back together. I think we return to her what we can and then she'll have to rebuild herself into someone knew. Returning to who she started as… well. Can any of us do that?" And for someone as profoundly torn apart as the Entity is, Nat can only imagine. "Her memories, she gave those away as well. To Inanna, to Shara, to Nanaja. I'm not sure if she got to keep any of it. They might still be connected to the conduits, but if anything is left, it's buried deep."

The news dismays Eve and she gasps with a choked back sob. "Forever broken? How sad." But the remaking of one's self. That is something both these women have experience with. "Yes… we could guide her I think, offer assistance? It's the least we can do right?"

The memories being buried deep starts the inkling of a plan in Eve's head but the actual workings elude her. There's also, "The version of her running around in Adam Monroe's body isn't very friendly. How can we have her listen?"

It strikes Eve then, singing my life with his words, the lyrics to her favorite song echo in her mind and she gasps leaning forward to grab at Nathalie's hand. "We have to be so loud she cannot ignore it, our voices must pierce the wall of pain she's encased in. I feel this in my bones, Nathalie The Gray."

But how?

"But how!" Eve throws her hand up and sighs, "But how…?" Asked softly this time. All she wants is to help, all she wants is to help undone the injustices that were done to Ninbanda.

"It is sad," Nathalie says, as far as being broken for as long as Ninbanda has been, "but it doesn't have to be forever. If she can come out of it, maybe it can become a dull ache instead of a sharp one."

Her head tilts and she falls silent, considering Eve's question. How. She doesn't know how. Her hand squeezes Eve's and she gives her a sad smile. "We have to get back to her, first. I think I could get her attention, but I'm not sure how to let her know we just want to talk. We'll have to think about it." The last thing she wants is to stumble into a fight with the Entity. Given that both she and Eve now have history with both her and the person she's inhabiting… it might be a difficult sell.

"We'll figure it out, Eve. We have to."

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