Harke's Homepage

The entrypoint to the PET proper was a transfer pad that sat in the middle of a circular arrangement of large red couches. Four little islets of varying seating arrangements surrounded this main circle. One was a short Electopian-style table with a small doily table cover and red flower vase on top, surrounded by neatly arranged red seating cushions. Under the table, one would be able to see that it doubled as a small shelf, currently filled with a line of books. The next one, clockwise, was a collection of differently colored pastel beanbag chairs haphazardly set about a circular table, with nothing on it or under it. The next one was a small dinner table, with only two ornately-carved wooden chairs on either end, and a red checkered tablecloth on top. The next one was a single black leather armchair and footrest, sitting all by themselves with no table to speak of.

The entire area was covered with what looked like a low-profile beige nylon carpeting, with each of the seating areas demarcated by a line of dark-colored wooden flooring, that, all combined, bisected the large square "room" that was the living area in a cross shape.

The "room" seemed less of a dedicated physical space at first, as at a glance there didn't seem to be anything else to the space except an endless expanse of water beyond the square floor that made up the area. Looking up only showed a similar lack of enclosure, displaying a slightly balmy day with blue skies all around anywhere one looked. The wooden paths that radiated out from the middle of the room seemed to lead into empty space, with a pair of dim, pulsing lines of light running along the path, embedded into the flooring.

Some more observation would reveal that there did appear to be glass walls surrounding the area, with some holographic displays floating on them idly, showing a few minor things such as a news ticker, the current time, and some displays that showed the real world outside the PET. Four holographic icons hovered above the empty space at the ends of the pathways as well, showing a bed, a tennis racket and ball, a spoon and fork, and a bathtub in clockwise direction; perhaps the place wasn't just a lounge?
[>> Sneaking out with friends - Yoka Rogue Net.]

The transfer pad in the middle of the PET's room lit up with a dim light, as the party of three (and dog) appeared in the homepage area.

"Welcome to our PET! Make yourself at home, and all that," said Eternalis, turning about and fell onto one of the couches around the transfer pad; Sparky followed suit by jumping out of his arms onto the couch next to him. Both of them earned a look from Aurora, though it was mainly directed towards the more humanoid of the two.

"Come on, we have a guest!" she said.

Eternalis groaned slightly, as he laid back further on the couch. "You did most of the work on it, why don't you show her around? I already did a lot of walking today," he said, his head leaning back on the headrest.

Aurora began to pout a little, puffing up her cheeks briefly. She then turned to Lyntael with a shrug and a smile. "Well, that's that, then," she said matter-of-factly, before waving her hand around in a circle. "Have a look around! I'm quite proud of the work we did; we just finished yesterday. Do you want to go to any room in particular first?"
((Lyntael, following from => Yoka Net))

As Lyntael arrived alongside her friends in the unfamiliar space for her, there was a slight mote of tension in her body that relaxed only after another moment; the instinct of a body unconsciously bracing for discomfort that wasn't present for once. As her shoulders relaxed, she looked about with an eager glance, finding a space that looked not just like a sitting room, but almost like many different sitting rooms and lounge rooms, all put together in their own separate pieces alongside each other. There was one for Aurora and Eternalis to have proper meals together, one for private reading, or simply relaxing, a section that was more for casual social lounging – the beanbags in particular caused a small, fuzzy sense of glee in here just to see- and then the couches around the centre, along withe little demarcating lines helped separate each area from each other in a strangely efficient way. It all seemed, and felt, very... what was the word? Modern. Post-modern? She wasn't sure.

Despite the initial few seconds of bright-eyes looking about, Eternalis' immediate reaction upon arriving still made the young girl giggle aloud. she understood exactly that feeling, though she'd only actually really experienced it properly once or twice herself; arriving back in her own PET after an outing was usually a respite from a worse situation, but rarely a comfort or relief, until she had actually gotten the permissions and redecorated everything. Now she understood, finally, what it was like to arrive home, after stress and pain outside, and she was glad to smile and giggle for him as he and Sparky relaxed.

“Wow... this looks so neat! It's like, you waned a bunch of different styles, and there was no reason not to put them all in in their own cute little areas, all together, hehe! Oh—!” It was only after the initial pass of her eyes that she really took in the extra details about the space, and she noticed properly that they seemed to be more in an open-sky space rather than an actual room. she darted to the edge, where the water seemed to start, and crouched down, one hand about her knees while she reached out to splash lightly with the other, seeing if it was real water and what it felt like.

“I never really even thought of doing things like this... I think I think too much in 'real' terms, even when I know I don't need to actually follow all those rules...” After another moment she stood again and looked back to Aurora. “Hey... how far does it go? Is it good for swimming in?” The thought made her blink and pause for a moment, then look down at herself, realising only now that the transit had also conveniently dried out her otherwise hot-spring soaked clothing and undergarments. A small grin accompanied the realisation. Most of the immediate discomfort she'd been feeling from the fight, and the burns on her feet, had gone as well, though she could still feel the tender blisters themselves. Rather like the small burn she'd gotten from the kettle earlier that morning, minor annoyances like that didn't seem to be picked up by direct restoration processes. Oh well.

Once she finally noticed, or potentially was made aware of them by aurora, Lyntael looked at the other icons that were mapped about the space, including the ones over the ends of each pathway. She wondered if Aurora had built a whole home gym and sport-field into one area, or whether the icon was just a vague suggestion more than anything else. when she was asked what she wanted to look at first, a slightly pressing thought came to mind and she pushed it aside for now before grinning back towards Aurora.

“Oh... I don't know! Um, how about... we start at whichever one you're most pleased with? I'd love to hear where you got your ideas for all of this too!” She skipped back to stand beside Aurora and fell in to walk with her to whichever path she opted to take them to first, following the other woman's lead for now.
As Lyntael would test the waters that bordered the room, she would find that it provided a tiny, almost imperceptible resistance to her hand at first, but then easily allowed it to pass to the cool waters that spread out before her eyes. Playing around with it, the water didn't seem to splash back to her either; the small resistance seemed to be an odd invisible one-way barrier that she herself could easily pass, but not the water. Aurora walked over to to follow her with her hands behind her back, looking quite pleased that it had captured her attention so well.

"Ahaha! Well, it doesn't go that far. I wouldn't really recommend jumping in, since it's only really there for decoration, but if you did swim in it, after a short while you'd just loop back to the other end of this room," said Aurora, gesturing with her head towards the opposite side. She walked over to an adjacent end of the room, and rapped on the invisible barrier with her knuckles. At once, the barrier made itself much more visible, showing up as a translucent whitish screen, save for a rectangular doorway. Above the doorway, one of the icons that had been hovering over the pathway earlier--the spoon and fork--was now a lot more noticeable. Aurora then demonstrated pressing her hand onto the materialized wall, then turned back to lean on it with a prideful smile as she watched Lyntael play with the water for a little bit.

When she stood back up, ready to move onwards, Aurora clapped her hands together lightly. "Alright! It's the kitchen, then. Come on," she said, walking over to the doorway that had revealed itself, before strolling towards what looked like the water beyond. However, Lyntael would see that Aurora would vanish immediately after crossing the boundary of the room, the air rippling as she passed the threshold. A moment later, the air rippled again, and a strange sight occurred; Aurora's head was the only thing to be shown through the doorway. With how her disembodied head was displayed floating in the air, it looked quite macabre. She seemed to know this, grinning mischievously all the while before the head disappeared back through the doorway.

Once Lyntael herself passed through the doorway, she would find a similarly laid out space on the other end; a large square space in the middle of an empty expanse of water and sky. This space was characterized by four long tables that stretched out to the other end of the room, in the middle of which was a large circular firepit flanked by two short wooden benches. The tables had all manner of stoves and cooking implements set atop them. A wood-imitation ceramic countertop bordered the entire room, along with rows of drawers and doors under them, and two metal sinks on each side.

The flooring was wooden flooring for the most part, but the area around the firepit had some interlocking stone tiling around it. The far end of the room had two more of the "doorway icons" on opposite corners of the room, which denoted a snowflake and a pair of leaves respectively. If one were to look up at the doorway they had just passed through, they would also notice a floating icon depicting an armchair.

Standing in front of the doorway, Aurora turned to Lyntael with a beaming smile. "Well! Here's the kitchen. I tried to make it easy to move around in, but it's pretty big, so sometimes I end up having to move around a lot to use some things," she said, hands at her hips with pride. "Over on the other side is the cold storage," she gestured over to the snowflake icon, "and the vegetable garden," she said, her hand moving to point at the leaf icon. She then looked around at everything else, with her forehead creasing. "Then there's the firepit in the middle for the grill, and the stoves on each of the tables, and... Thinking about it again, I think I might have gone a bit overboard with how much I put into this, considering I don't know how to use all of it..." mused Aurora, standing with her arms crossed as she surveyed her own handiwork.

She seemed lost in her own thoughts for a few seconds, before she realized that she was there to show someone around, and clapped again to snap herself to attention. "A-Anyway! I come in here sometimes to spend time trying things out and pass the time in between doing things out and about. It's a lot of fun. What do you think?" she said, her feet shuffling around in anticipation.
A small nod of understanding accompanied Lyntael's gaze as she listened to Aurora and watched her demonstrating some of the limits of the otherwise artfully decorated space. She grinned anyway and splashed at the water one last time before following after her host with light steps. When Aurora stepped through, Lyntael half stifled a giggle at the way she played with the doorway transition, though she still watched her own hand fora few moments as she stepped up and brushed at the border of the effect, testing whether it was a simple screen or an actual transition. Despite herself, she still closed her eyes as she stepped through, a quiet instinct that was too subtle to really register for her thoughts.

“Is that... an actual transport, or is it just a filtered screen? I couldn't tell... I set up sound screens in my home, for the reading room and a few other places, but nothing visual...” She opened her eyes an looked to Aurora as she finished moving through to the next room, still smiling softly as she looked around the new space. There was a lot to it; Aurora had seemingly tried to think of everything she might need or like to use. She grinned towards her host and nodded.

“It is, hehe... much bigger than mine at least. It looks like you really wanted to put everything you could plan for into the space! Does it all work? I know when I was looking about for things I found an awful lot of designs and code structures that were just decorative, you know? It's kinda hard to find a lot of this sort of stuff properly, since there's so many things that most navis only really do for the enjoyment of it, and don't need to... But, you've even got a vegetable garden? Can I see? What do you grow?” She had darted about a little bit as she spoke, ducking around the counters and looking at other parts of the room, sometimes opening a drawer to see what was inside, and other little excited curiosities.

“I'm still learning how to cook a lot of things. There's just so, so much... different types of food from so many different places, and stemming from so many different cultures and times, and then there's all the different ways that styles and dishes have evolved, or blended with others as they've moved around the world, and... I think, when I started I though it might be easy enough to, um, you know... 'learn how to cook', but, there are so many things I want to try, and so many places to start... this looks like a great place to try things out, hehe...” She giggled more as she darted about, looking at the different set ups that Aurora had. “My kitchen is really very simple, it's just the basics, really... I might have to try to find space to add more. I like it nice and compact though... Space is great, but I prefer, um... cosy, I think, for myself.” Despite the words she still seemed very thrilled by everything she was looking at as she chatted away. After a few more moments of more innocent conversation, however, she waited for a pause in their conversation and looked back to Aurora with a more thoughtful expression.

“Hey, Aurora... before, you said you'd caught up by looking through Eternalis' memories. How does that work, exactly?” She bit her lip, shying away from the question just a little and looking towards her friend with a slightly more apologetic side glance. “Ah, if that's not too personal to ask, I mean. It's just that, when Eternalis first...” her words broke away as the crimson blush flared back up in her cheeks again as she tried not to think about the unfortunate connotations that now seemed to surround the moment, whether they had been originally intended or not. “When he made the connection first, I got a whole bunch of broken off fragments of memories and stuff from him. I saw a lot of things that I know were your and his past memories, but they all stopped again after a little while, and now there's just this sort of feeling like I know where he is. It kind of stopped when you woke up and shouted at him, before, though...” She paused, a thoughtful look creasing her brow as she glanced down.

There was still one 'fragment' tucked back like a spiky little shard in her mind. She gently tried to push it aside as it reacted to her thought. She didn't want to look at it and have it unravel to her, if it was something private, but perhaps Aurora might have an explanation that would tell her what to do so she didn't invade any more privacy. She was still a bit concerned about the question of other people seeing her own thoughts, but Eternalis had said he hadn't seen anything, and she trusted him. She hadn't exactly been deep in thought about her own life or experiences at the time, and her instinct said that was probably relevant, but she didn't really know where to being understanding it properly, yet.
"Ah, it's a transporter between sections; they have their functions activated when we need them, it's like turning the lights on. So, everything works, yes. Honestly, I just got everything I was told I'd be able to use... I've got a friend who's, er, a little enthusiastic about this kind of thing," said Aurora, smiling sheepishly as she followed Lyntael about. Recalling the night when she revealed to her small group of friends that she had tasted food for the first time, and the unending barrage of food-related chatter that had ensued gave her a small headache. As her guest ducked and opened things that peaked her curiosity, she shook it off, and watched as Lyntael was greeted with neatly packed rows of kitchen utensils and little containers inside the drawers, some pots and pans hidden underneath the counters, and larger spaces within some of the cabinets to store away things that were a little too big to tuck into the drawers, like a massive cast iron griddle that she happened upon.

When Lyntael mentioned the vegetable garden, however, Aurora's expression grew even more flustered. "Ah, the garden has mostly herbs and vining vegetables--I wanted to grow some tomatoes since I thought they, um, looked cute," she said, averting her eyes. Her smile turned to a slightly sad one while she fidgeted about with her fingers. "Unfortunately, I kind of set the settings a little too high, and er, it's... a little overgrown, to put it nicely. Sorry if you wanted to see it, I've been meaning to get around to cleaning it up! It's just... I--kind of get distracted. Maybe I can show it to you next time you're around." Her eyes flitted over to the entrance to the garden once or twice, before she opted to simply keep her eyes on Lyntael for the moment by sitting on one of the long tables, while Lyntael regaled her experience so far in cooking.

"Making new things is fun, isn't it?" giggled Aurora. "Maybe we can show each other what we've done after this. It's not like I've learned all that much either. I only have myself as a taste tester so far--well, unless you count Sparky as one. It's a bit hard to do anything with his feedback, as you might imagine," she laughed, resting back on one of the tables as she did. However, she noticed that Lyntael had stopped looking around the place, and subsequently asked her a different question. Raising her eyebrows, she realized that Lyntael might not have had all her fears assuaged just yet, and her mirthful expression simmered down into a more mellow face. She took a deep breath, sharply exhaling through her teeth, before she leaned back a little further to look up at the homepage's skyscape, propping herself up with her arms.

Aurora then closed her eyes, and focused on the linkage between herself and the Navigator that she had entrusted herself to. The connection felt like a continuous stream of consciousness in her mind, part of which acted on its own. The other end of the stream was now quiet, however. There were intermittent thoughts here and there, but nothing consistent with any actively logical thought process. All of it pointed to the conclusion that... he was asleep.

Retreating quietly to her own corner of her mind, she opened her eyes again, to see Lyntael's face; she realized that she had probably left her hanging for a bit. "Mmm... The simplest way I can put it is that the way I'm privy to my own thoughts, if I switch that perspective to imagine myself as Eternalis, I can have the same kind of access to his thoughts. Same deal with his memories. Something like daydreaming yourself as someone else, except that you're given the content of the dream, instead of having to make it up yourself. There's not much I can explain much more than that, since I don't know if you're built the same way," she said, shifting her posture to lean a little forward instead.

"Since I'm his Support Program, I had some degree of access to the data he uses for battle, since I share it to him so we can fight together. When I woke up earlier, I saw a data connection being started up, and I kind of just intercepted the data by force of habit. That might have been why it got stopped," she explained. At the end of it, she realized what Lyntael might have been concerned about, and continued. "The incoming data being sent over to Eternalis was just your physical data in terms of some medical parameters; I just parsed it without really thinking. Other than that, there was nothing else that I saw being sent over, so I don't think he saw any of your memories."

She exhaled sharply, as she hopped off the table. "Or even knew how to, as I've just found out..." she said, standing akimbo and looking off to the side. Her eyebrows creased as she recalled having accessed Eternalis's memories while thinking that he did the same to her. Had she been taking advantage of him the entire time without herself knowing? She shook her head to clear her thoughts, and turned back to Lyntael. "Hope that helped clear things up for you a little. Anything else you want to see here? We can talk more in the next room, if you want," she said, gesturing towards the doorway they had passed through earlier.
Each drawer and cupboard containing more neatly stored and ordered kitchen goods seemed to be a small source of glee for the younger girl as she explored, though she didn't touch anything or take it out. she turned a somewhat understanding grin towards her host at the mention of food-enthusiastic friends; her own experiences with actually eating were still fairly limited, and Aurora knew full well that the first few instances she'd had of the sensation had been somewhat overwhelming for her. thinking about it did make her cheeks feel a little warmer as she contemplated the relief that they hadn't connected up the way they were now, back then, or the more complete knowledge of her reaction would have been more than a little embarrassing.

For a few moments the idea of exploring a vigorously overgrown garden appealed very strongly to her, but she reigned in her excitement when it quickly became clear that aurora herself didn't exactly feel comfortable sharing what she viewed as a mess. Lyntael just nodded and shrugged, giggling with a good-natured glee at her admission of how bad the garden space was. By the time she had returned to her other explorations and other comment caught her attention and she paused, somewhere between different ingredient shelves.

“Just yourself...? Doesn't Eternalis like trying things too?” Her thoughts drifted back for a moment, and she recalled that his eating during their outing had seemed more social and polite than for the actual flavours, specifically. She frowned slightly, then shrugged it off.

Once their chatter had tuned to more serious matters, Lyntael leaned against the counter top briefly, then slipped up with a small hop, making sure her skirt was neat and pressed down as she settled on the edge of the work counter to relax and chat for a moment or two more.

“So... if you can put yourself into his memories while you're filtering all his data like that... does he feel you doing it? Is he, ah, aware of it, I guess? Sorry... I'm just... I don't know, a little bit nervous still.” She tried to diffuse it with a grin and put her hands to the sides of her head for a moment. “There's some pretty private stuff in here, you know?” She nodded at the reassurance that Aurora had already realised was her concern and grinned. Either way, she did trust both of them to be tactful, even if there was some slippage. Better Aurora and Eternalis than more or less anyone else she knew. the only people she'd trust with access to her personal or private memories comfortably would be Rogan or Eric, but Aurora and Eternalis came close, at this stage, she realised. She grimaced slightly and nodded as Aurora explained the data she was seeing further.

“Rogan always complains that he's not a doctor, or a biologist and that Eric was being ridiculous making me this way... But he often spoke to me about authentic experience, and wanting me to be able to make my own choices... but there are some things I could really do without.” She frowned softly, recalling the particular discomfort and unpleasantness that had recently shown up as part of her fully authentic female body, but shook it off a moment later with a small shrug. As she hopped down from the counter and got ready to wander after Aurora to the next part of the tour, she paused, glancing around briefly jsut to be sure that Eternalis hadn't wandered through. She wasn't entirely sure why she felt the need to ensure that, exactly, but the urge to privacy was there all the same.

“Er... speaking of authenticity... I ah, I don't suppose you've got a bathroom tucked away here anywhere? Another exiting part of having an active metabolism now, which Rogan always seems offended that a navi should have to be concerned with...” She rubbed at her neck with a mild sense of embarrassment; not really because the question itself was embarrassing, but mostly because she was aware it was another one of those things that 'normal' navigators usually had no cause to think of, making it another case of her being a difficult guest. “I... I um, I mean, I don't really expect you to, honestly, I can manage for a while longer, but I just thought I'd... you know... ask, just in case... um...” Her eye contact dropped part way through as the question felt increasingly awkward and she regretted asking. “Um, don't... don't worry about it, I'll be fine. Ah, where to next? She glanced toward the icon in the doorway, then tried to recall what the other symbols had been “Back through the main room first, right?” She rolled her shoulders and shrugged off the feeling of awkwardness as best she could, looking to Auarora to decide which part of her home to show off next.
"Ah, no, he's never mentioned anything like being aware of it, and he's not the kind to go without mentioning that kind of thing, either. Always up front," said Aurora, in response to the inquiry Lyntael had with Eternalis's memories. One part of her wanted to cry out that she wished Eternalis would be a little more considerate, but at the same time, she knew that being so readily communicative was a part of how they had made up. Before her thoughts could linger, however, she looked over towards Lyntael, who seemed to have paused in the middle of walking to look around the place for some reason. Perhaps she was looking for something that she might have missed, she thought. "Come to think of it, that medical data might have had some private information too... with how you're built, I suppose." She made a mental note to purge any logs she found later.

The second inquiry about a bathroom caught her off guard, however, and she froze. Her brow furrowed as she mentally backtracked through the design process they had; she had never thought of putting one in, much to her dismay. Looking over at her guest, however, with how she kept fidgeting about, and subsequently attempted to drop the subject, she feared that the girl might have been holding in her needs for much longer than she let on. "Hang on," she said, moving over to the "wall" that separated the kitchen from the living area and performing a small gesture with her hand on the invisible barrier. The wall shimmered, and spat out a holographic menu that Aurora began to quickly navigate, looking through it for something. Her expression became more intense over time as she went through it for a solid minute, with Lyntael being able to see brief snapshots of different household items coming into view through the hologram projection.

Eventually, Aurora exclaimed, "Ah, there it is!" In front of her, a wireframe projection of a tiny, but somewhat normal-looking restroom spun about, while Aurora's fingers began to dance faster about. The projection disappeared after a couple of seconds, and Aurora turned back to Lyntael, exhaling in relief. "Okay, I managed to find the prototype of the bathroom section, and I'm swapping out the current one with this one for the moment. It'll take a bit to load up, though, so let's go to the main room first. Come on," she explained, taking a moment to catch her breath before heading through the doorway that led them there.

The main room looked exactly as they left it, save for a few small differences. In the middle of the room, where the transfer pad area was, a certain Navi and SP pair were sprawled out on the couch earlier, with Sparky curled up on a shamelessly laid out Eternalis. His body shape seemed to be less coherent than what it was normally, but it still roughly took on a humanoid shape. Both of them appeared to be very much asleep, with Eternalis's mouth left wide open. Aurora tensed up slightly in what seemed to be embarrassment, but nevertheless turned back to Lyntael to gesture with her head over towards the room where the bathtub icon had been earlier. This time, the icon had changed to that of a sitting toilet, and a little progress circle was above it, filling up at a decent pace. It seemed like it would take a few minutes to do so, judging from its speed.

Making her way over to the side of the room, she looked up at the floating icon, and pursed her lips with a worried look on her face. "Making the place modular like this was a good idea," she mumbled. It was a fair distance between the middle of the room and where she was, but she still tried to keep her voice down as she turned to Lyntael. "Anyway, I managed to find the oldest copy of the bathroom area that I took as a base to work from. I forgot what it exactly looked like, but it's listed as having everything a normal restroom has, so hopefully you can, um, make use of it," she said, smiling while she tried to make the best of the situation.

A small bit of curiosity welled up inside of her, however, as she took on a more sympathetic tone. "You know, Lyntael," she said. "How do you feel about being built the way you are? I can't imagine it's easy..."
That the other person filtering through memories apparently gave no noticeable signs was enough cause for a small, slightly concerned frown as Aurora answered, though it was quickly washed away as the rest of their conversation moved on. Memories aside, she was almost as concerned about what Aurora was calling her medical data. she knew just how much, and how detailed the information was, and it was a bit worrisome to think of other people essentially having full read-outs to hand that exposed her mental and emotional states along with her physical information. A lot of it wasn't really anyone's business after all, but at least from the point of view of Eternalis acting more or less like a healer, it was sort of necessary in that respect.

As much as she'd regretted bringing the less publicly spoken-about question up, and tried to shunt it away again afterwards, Aurora seemed to latch onto the lack quite fiercely, while Lyntael shrank in on herself a little bit more, further embarrassed by her friend's attempt to be a good host.

“It's just...” she mumbled, mostly down towards her chest as she stood back from where aurora was rapidly trying to work on a solution. “I was.. kind of nervous about coming out to meet you today, with it being a more dangerous place, and I had, like, three cups of tea before I finally left home, and then we were walking through the rain for ages, and I really should have known better, because it was so hard to find things that weren't just decorative or aesthetic, so I should know to never expect...” her mumbles grew increasingly retracted as she made more excuses, but after another few moments Aurora proved that the fretting wasn't quite as necessary as she'd begun to fear. She cut herself off and glanced up again, peeking up from under a slightly ducked posture to offer a grateful smile to her friend. It took her an extra moment to follow what Aurora meant as she explained, but she nodded along quickly and followed her through, back to the main room. “Thanks. Sorry to be awkward...” She rolled her shoulders again then looked around for a topic to change to more easily.

The sight of Eternalis sprawled out in rest and seemingly melting a little as a result brought a gentle giggle to her lips and she covered her mouth after a moment, leaning against the wall with Aurora and lowering her voice to a whisper as well. If he was that tired out then she didn't want to wake him. She watched his open-mouthed, sleeping form for a few moments until Aurora's explanation alerted her to the working doorway.

“Oh, I'm sure it's fine, I'm just... I mean I'm surprised, I guess... I had a bit of a hard time finding everything I, ah, well, everything. All the things that Rogan says I shouldn't have to deal with... or well, as he puts it, that he shouldn't have to deal with me needing. Lots of things made to look nice, not a lot made for function.” Her cheeks coloured and she glanced to the side, averting her eyes. “It was kind of awkward really. A lot of the time I'd end up finding all kinds of... um... you know... adult things... because apparently that's... um... a thing... and it's the main reason that other navis have those... features. I sort of wish I hadn't learned that.” Her careful word picking got progressively more hesitant and embarrassed before she managed to find a safer train to conversation.

“But... I'm just, I guess, me. I don't really know how I feel about being like this, though um... if you could... I know I was programmed, and designed... I know that my body as modelled, deliberately, like, with software and all of that, but...” she winced a little, unsure how to phrase it. “I don't really like thinking about myself like that. Like I was 'built'... It doesn't feel... right. It's kind of uncomfortable, even when Rogan says it. Is that weird?” She peeked back at Aurora, raising a cautious eyebrow. After a moment she relaxed again and leaned back on the wall.

“I like experiencing thing, new things especially. I like the way wind feels, and the way sunlight feels. I like... taste, sort of even when it's odd tastes that aren't very nice; the experience of them is still fascinating. I like solving problems, and I like learning. I like analysing information and working things out. I love dancing, so much... the way it feels to move my body. And I love rain, too, and the way it feels on my skin... But all of that, that's not... unusual, really. Eric always said that there was... a greater deal of authenticity and genuine qualic mapping in the way I would experience the world, over the top of other high-end navigators, but I don't know how to interpret that, because this is just what I am, what I have, you know?” She paused and looked down.

“And then there's the rest of it...” A more huddled tone entered her voice. “Pain is scary, and fear is worse. I've seen other navigators take a sword through their middle and just walk away from it like nothing happened, but... I can't do that. I get cut, and I bleed, and it hurts like I can't even describe, and it keeps hurting, and hurting. I can't just ignore it, or turn it off, or shut it out, because it's there and it's real. If...” a particularly harsh memory surfaced briefly. “If something breaks my ribs and I can't breath any more... that's all... that's all actual bone in my actual lungs, you know? It's not just a damage number, and there's just no way I can stand up or keep fighting, or try to do anything but curl up and cry... And Rogan orders me to because he doesn't really believe me. And there's worse than that, too, but I...” She swallowed, shaking her head as she noticing that she'd grown a bit shorter on breath, throat choked up and eyes starting to sting. The spiky little memory fragment in her mind lurched as she tried not to think about the 'worse' bits, and she pushed it away, trying to make sure that whatever was in it didn't reveal itself to her accidentally.

“So... So I don't know. There's so much that's so wonderful, but there's been so much that's been hard as well.” She struggled to lighten up her answer as best she could.

“And you know, I could really do without the cramping and the inopportune monthly bleeding, of course, but one day I might have a daughter... Eric says I can, if I ever feel like I want to... though he said he hopes I'd wait until I was a fair bit older before I start really thinking about anything like that... but you know, a part of me thinks that that might be really nice, one day, in the future... so it can't be all bad.” She blushed more fiercely for a moment. “I mean, if I ever find someone that I want to do that with, of course... as I understand it, the process is supposed to be very fun as well.” She tried on a grin and a small laugh, though it was a little nervous all the same. In her own mind, the joke was covering the heart-clenching fear she had of the physical act... but the concept, at least, of romance and romantic intimacy with someone of her own choosing, was still appealing to her, and that was what she had to try to focus on, over the terrified reaction she found herself having in the face of suspect male intentions.

“I... I don't think I would want to be any less than I am if that's an answer... I wouldn't want to lose what I have, just to save myself from the bits I don't want, if that makes sense.” She nodded once, more sure of herself as she reflected on it. She glanced to the other woman to see her reaction, but after that particular conversation topic had run its course she looked back to the sleeping navi in the room. After a moment more, she tilted her head a little, contemplating him.

“Does he ever snore..?” The question came out as a murmur before she'd really thought about it. “I... I mean, it doesn't seem like he actually has to breath, you know? So I wondered...” She trailed off, tilting her head back the other way, as though that might reveal an unobserved answer somehow.
Leaning with her side against the wall, Aurora crossed her arms as she listened with interest to Lyntael presenting her thoughts on her situation. She covered her mouth to stifle a giggle as Lyntael mentioned finding out about "adult things", as she put it, before it segued into a more serious part about how she came to be. "Hmm... I wouldn't say it's weird to think about it another way, but I guess it's uncommon to say that we're not "built". I can understand the sentiment, at least. Maybe some humans prefer it the other way around, too, who knows. You could say that a human is an assembly of its constituent body parts," she commented.

As Lyntael's explanation became more and more "involved", Aurora contemplated whether to comfort her with an embrace or something similar, but decided against it as Lyntael continued to talk. Her eyebrows raised quite visibly at the part where Lyntael mentioned her "monthly woes", as well as the possibility of carrying a child. The concepts were alien to her, but she found herself contemplating them nonetheless.

Her thoughts drifted into a very distracting image, which took her attention for the next few seconds before she realized it. As such, when she looked back up, she had missed the joke about the "process" that Lyntael had made to try to lighten up the mood, and only stared briefly at an awkward-looking Lyntael, who seemed to be now actually answering the original question.

"I see..." With the answer given, Aurora gave it some thought while she rested her head in her hand, arm propped up against the wall. She glanced down at her feet, feeling her Navigator boots shuffle against the wooden flooring, before comparing it to Lyntael's bare feet. She wanted to try to change out of them to see how it would compare, but thought it wouldn't be quite polite while entertaining a guest. "I don't think I've ever felt "lacking" in experiences, but with the last couple of weeks, and what you said, I'm not quite sure any more myself. I know my old self wouldn't have ever thought to try cooking, that's for sure," she said, lightly chuckling. "Life's just what you make of it, I suppose."

She noticed Lyntael's eyes hovering over to Eternalis in the middle of the room, who was very much still knocked out, and her observation made Aurora's brow crease slightly. Indeed, she had never noticed that Eternalis ever "breathed" in any sense, though his slime body did gurgle occasionally. "... You're right, I don't think I've ever heard him snore," she said. Sparky, on the other hand, seemed to be breathing as a normal pup would. The scene made her giggle a little. "Honestly, it's kind of embarrassing to see him sprawled out like that when you're over, but it's also kind of cute," she said.

A dim humming noise then grabbed her attention, and she turned towards the source of the noise. The icon above the doorway had a full indicator next to it, which then promptly disappeared. "Oh, it's done. Let's see..." Aurora straightened herself up, brushing off her arm, before testing the section warp in the doorway. The air rippled just as the previous doorway had, and she gestured to Lyntael with her head before stepping through.

Inside was a very modest-looking bathroom in an enclosed space, much unlike the grandiose displays of open skies they had just gone through in the previous two rooms. The tiling was a rather boring beige halfway up the wall, with the rest painted plain white. Equipped with standard amenities, including a combination shower and bathtub, a sitting toilet, and a sink and mirror, the bathroom felt rather cramped compared to before to Aurora. A single roll of toilet paper sat on top of the toilet. Behind them, the doorway was now a strange-looking portal to the blank expanse of water they saw before, with an opaque, collapsible screen and a latch to lock it in place.

Aurora looked around with pursed lips, walking over to the sink to test it. Clear water came out of the faucet, and she nodded to herself, before testing the toilet with a light push on the lever, producing similar results. "It's a little small, I suppose, but it seems to work," she said, shrugging. "I'll wait outside." She then walked out, making sure to tug slightly on the collapsible screen to move it before exiting through the doorway.
A small, thoughtful nod followed Aurora's own musings on their experiences, and Lyntael followed her brief glance to look at her toes. She wiggled them briefly, curling and flexing them before arching her heels to stand up on her toe points for a moment. By the time the more serious conversation shifted aside in favour of Eternalis' extreme relaxation, Lyntael herself giggled and waved a hand.

“Oh it's fine, hehe... I wasn't really much help out there earlier, and he really did do most of the work in the end, including looking after me.” She was thinking about asking something else, but the sudden distraction took over a moment later as the room they were waiting on loaded. She still ended up hesitantly rubbing at her emblem for a few moments while Aurora tested everything to ensure it actually did work, feeling deeply self-conscious until she was left alone. Essentials aside, she paused in front of the mirror as she rinsed her hands briefly, looking at her own reflection, then cupped both hands at the tap to wash her face as well. Part of her mind was still insisting that it would have been more tactful not to ask. It was an imposition that she ought to have known they wouldn't be expecting... but it was done now and she had to admit she felt more able to relax in general now.

Green eyes studied her complexion, lingering on the very faint scatter of barely visible freckles that dusted her cheeks. They hadn't always been there, but since redecorating her own home and having a mirror she could use, she'd begun to notice them after she spent any amount of time out in the sunlight. She couldn't decide whether she felt like they were nice, or blemishes, but didn't exactly have anyone to ask. After another moment she finished drying her face and hands and slipped out of the room again.

“All good,” she murmured, quickly stepping away from the door. “Hey, Aurora...” her eyes had shifted to Eternalis again and she moved into a question she'd been meaning to ask, as much for her own curiosity as a way to move conversation on quickly. She glanced across to her friend, then back to Eternalis as she moved carefully around the couches to rest her arms on the back of a different one to the one he was sprawled out on. Unconsciously, her hips swayed a little as she tilted her head back and forth, contemplating the goo-man. She kept her voice low as she continued, trying not to disturb him with sound.

“I don't really know if this is rude or anything, but I wanted to ask... Um... What... What's the story between you... I mean, the more serious one, you know? I...” she hesitated, not sure if she was over-stepping. “When I got that memory flood... I got lots of small fragments, but they didn't make sense, sometimes. I didn't want to bring it up before, because I thought you might still be angry at him, but... it seemed strange. The earliest ones, from what I could see, you both seemed really really close. Like...” despite her best efforts, she felt her cheeks blushing. “Like really close... But then there were others, later, where you were, ah...” she winced, then glanced back towards Aurora with an apologetic uncertainty. “I mean, it seemed like you were being, I guess... really cruel and mean, or just, like... you didn't want anything to do with him and didn't care. And then later again there was...” She stopped herself, her cheeks going from a light pink to a fiery heat again. She didn't need to finish the sentence.

“Sorry. I mean, I don't want to pry, if you don't want to say, but, it seemed really strange. There's another little fragment that came to me too, but the more I think about them, the more they unravel, and I'm trying not to, because I don't want to see personal or private things I shouldn't... I'd rather ask, and then you can just say what you're comfortable with.” She turned her attention to face Aurora more completely, watching the other woman carefully to see if she'd said something she shouldn't have. The remaining fragment felt conspicuously present in her mind, like a small bundle of thorns that needed to be tugged; she tried to ignore it, at least until Aurora answered.
As Lyntael finished up with her business and left the room, she found Aurora staring over towards the middle of the room. Her exit made Aurora turn to her attention quickly, however, and she smiled. "Glad to hear it," said Aurora, getting ready to show the next room as she was originally going to do. However, she quickly noticed that Lyntael seemed to have had something else on her mind, and switched gears to match. Going along with the flow, she propped her head up on top of the couch next to Lyntael and prepared herself to respond to another one of Lyntael's curiosities.

Having expected that Lyntael would bring up the topic of the memories she had glimpsed sooner or later, Aurora felt like she could handle it. Unexpectedly, however, she found herself at a loss for words. Every time she tried to speak, she fidgeted about and readjusted her posture. Unintelligible mumbles could be heard every time the hand propping up her head happened to cover her mouth. Her brow furrowed more and more. Her eyes wandered about the room, before she eventually settled on staring at the only other person around, and her expression softened a little more.

A dry chuckle escaped her lips, and she looked at Lyntael with an apologetic smile. "Sorry, I just don't know what to start with. It's complicated, I'll tell you that, at least," she smiled, before turning back to stare at Eternalis, resting on the couch. Without warning, a much darker image overlaid itself on her vision briefly, and her eyes widened in terror. Immediately, she shook her head and blinked rapidly, and was relieved to find that nothing was wrong, and that she was still in her home. Cupping her hands in front of her face, she took a deep breath, and let it out slowly. "I just... don't want to lose someone I care about. I don't want to go through that again," said Aurora. Looking at Eternalis through the gaps in her fingers, she drew another breath.

"I haven't told him yet, but I chose to 'die' once."

She turned to Lyntael, but avoided direct eye contact, instead choosing to focus on her palms in front of her face, as they were mostly covering it. "I didn't really die, but it might as well have been the same. I asked to have my program be deep frozen. All because I lost someone." Aurora balled up her fists, and covered her eyes with them briefly. Another breath drawn, before she propped her chin up with them.

"When I met Eternalis, it was a fresh start. Like I was on my first day of being... born, I suppose? Using your terms. No clue who I was, or that I had just gotten out of deep freeze." Her eyes lingered upwards to the artificial blue sky, reminiscing through the memories that flipped through her mind. "I enjoyed those days a lot. There were some bumps, but we were good friends. Even if he was a bit of a blockhead at times."

Her eyes strayed downwards, and her expression followed suit. "A little bit of a misunderstanding happened, and I got my pre-freeze memories restored," she said, her lips pursed as her face scrunched up in what looked like regret. "To put it simply, I just panicked. It's a lot to take in. It's like... I'm living a perfectly happy life, and then, I suddenly get to see it destroyed, and I don't even get to react to it--I already did, apparently--and I've got all these emotions suddenly stapled onto my heart, and I'm left to deal with them, but I can't be justified in doing it, because I'm living this new life, and, and... uuuugh!"

The runaway freight train of her thoughts poured out, and Aurora grunted in frustration, her hands clawed over her eyes as if she was tearing them out. She found herself short of breath somehow. "I'm sorry, I don't know what got over me," she said, one of her hands running through her hair. "I need a moment, hold on..." murmured Aurora, as she closed her eyes, and tried to catch her breath, though it sounded like she was holding back something choking her chest with how she breathed.
Already unsure if her questions were rude or intruding, Lyntael glanced across to her friend with more than a little bit of cautious uncertainty as she tried to gauge how much of an imposition she was being. She didn't speak up any further, but held her peace quietly while she listened to Aurora struggle to find words that worked. It was a difficult topic, that much was clear, and she could see the other woman's struggles in the way she fidgeted and couldn't settle her gaze for long. Lyntael bit her lip; she knew how it felt to have something to say, but not know how to say it, though in her case it was usually lacking the courage to say what she knew she should, or wanted to.... Aurora wasn't the kind to lack courage on anything, like she was, but even so, she remained patient. If she hadn't wanted to share, or if it had been a step too far, she would have said so up front; Aurora was sensible like that.

The first clear line of explanation she got was one that Lyntael herself could already read clearly all over her friend and she nodded, casting her eyes back to Eternalis' sleeping form as well. That it was complicated was clear. It might not really be her place to ask yet. About to open her mouth to apologise, she stopped herself and held back again as Aurora mustered the words to continue. She caught the brief look of fear, only for a moment, a tiny flash as she looked at Eternalis and her brow furrowed. It was an expression she recognised from feeling very well, but not one she'd ever really expected to see, even for an instant, on someone like Aurora. For a moment she wanted to reach out to comfort the other woman, but she collected herself quickly and the impression was gone again in an instant.

The story that began to follow next took Lyntael by surprise, on many levels. She felt her shoulders drop back and her eyes widen as she watched Aurora explain her difficulties; there was a tightness in her own chest as she processed the words. Aurora was looking at her, but not, and with an acute sensitivity to the topic, Lyntael found herself casting her own eyes downwards as well, listening as she breathed deeply to keep her composure.

The look of fear... it sounded as though Eternalis himself must have had a close call at some point, or else, maybe, she was just worried about being as close to him as they were, if something had happened to the earlier loved one she had lost. As Aurora struggled to keep her own composure through the story, Lyntael could feel her eyes prickling and a warning sensation high in the back of her nose. A number of thoughts ran through her mind a her friend went on, but she stilled them all in order to let her speak.

As it went on she recognised the signs of her friend getting ever more overwrought by the build up of everything. It was too much, and she couldn't even imagine it herself. She had enough trouble dealing with her own emotions sometimes, let alone finding herself suddenly with a whole other set still reeling from loss and pain... Words tumbling out over each other in an ever-increasing landslide was an all too familiar thing, and the need to comfort the other woman somehow quickly grew overwhelming.

As Aurora broke into inarticulate distress, Lyntael moved without thinking; one moment she was standing apart, controlling her own breathing as she listened, the next she shifted, twisting to step in and slip her arms about the other woman, pressing close to her. The height difference made it hard for her be the properly comforting part of the hug, but she tried her best, reaching her hands up to hold against her back properly and resting her head against the other woman's shoulder.

“I'm sorry...” Her own voice broke and forced her to sniffle, but she tried again, keeping her voice soft and as reassuring as she could manage. “It's okay... not to have the right words. Sometimes there aren't any. You... you know that you're loved now, and that's what matters now.” She drew a breath and squeezed gently for a moment. She wasn't sure if she was saying things that would help for Aurora, but she knew the sorts of things she always felt like she needed in these moments, and the way it felt not to have anyone to offer them, and she wasn't going to leave Aurora in the same place now if she could help it.

“I'm sorry for pushing, but, but thank you for telling me.” Her voice was barely above a slightly laboured whisper, but they were near enough for it to be clear. “It means a lot. I think you're an amazing person, even without knowing that, and all the more now, for carrying it with you and moving forward anyway. You're one of the bravest, and strongest people I know... So, it's okay, if it's hard. If it feels like it's too much, it's okay. It's... It's okay to cry, when it's what your heart needs... the people who love you will be here to help, if you let them.” She squeezed again, the let her grip loosen, holding on just until Aurora herself decided to move apart.
The sudden embrace surprised Aurora. It was clumsy, and Lyntael barely got up to her shoulder, but it was all she needed. Drawing the little girl closer, she reciprocated the hug, wrapping her own arms around Lyntael's body and resting her head on top of hers. Lyntael wouldn't be able to see anything, but every few seconds, a choked sob would reach her ears, and she would feel Aurora's body tremble slightly, with her fingers tightening on the sides of her arms.

To Aurora, the feeling of Lyntael's body in her arms felt fragile, yet solid. Having only had Eternalis and Sparky for physical contact didn't quite substitute for the warmth that she felt at that moment. The reassuring words only made her grip tighten more. However, she almost feared that she would accidentally crush Lyntael, and withdrew from the embrace slowly. Despite the streaks on her cheeks from her tears, the smile on her face was the brightest one yet.

"Thanks," she said simply, through her choked voice. It still took her a while to fully draw away from Lyntael, but she eventually sat down on one of the couch ends. Clasping her hands on her lap, she calmed herself down with deep breaths, taking the time to wipe her cheeks as well. With one last deep breath, she continued talking. "It was a confusing time, and in that confusion, I figured that if I pushed him away, if I made him hate me, it'd be easier to kill my own feelings. It was stupid, and I was stupid," she said, quietly laughing at herself to stifle the ache that came with admitting her fault.

Aurora turned towards Eternalis, with that same sad smile. "He was about as stupid as I was, though, and didn't even treat me any differently. We're both idiots, really," she mused. "In the middle of all of it, he gets himself infected. I realized I didn't want to lose him, but at the same time, I had pretty much loathed myself to pieces for letting it go that far, so... I had the bright idea of sacrificing myself trying to save him. Atoning for what I'd done, or some other. I don't know."

Looking down at her body, she hovered her hand over her semi-solid torso, the remnant of her attempt at a heroic sacrifice. "But... by some divine intervention or some other, I didn't end up sacrificing myself, and we were both saved. I confessed how I felt to him soon after, and, well..." she began to blush, "... that's about it."

With a last sniffle, she turned to Lyntael with a weary smile. "... Thanks again. I didn't think I needed to tell someone, but it was a load off my shoulders," she said, running a finger across her nose. A realization then came to her, and her eyes widened.

"Oh... come to think of it, you didn't even tell me what you saw in his memories. Was it even related? Ahaha, I guess I just kind of went off on my own there, didn't I? My bad. What exactly did you see? I'd like to know." she said. "I promise I won't get mad. Even if it's, um..." Aurora averted her eyes. "... a little embarrassing."
For the few seconds that it lasted, Lyntal nestled against her companion, letting the moment linger as long as Aurora wanted. As touch-starved as she was, Lyntael drew as much from the contact as she was trying to offer, and it was a comfort to her. Eventually, as she calmed down herself, and by the time Aurora had pulled apart and let them separate again, Lyntael rubbed at one of her own arms and peeked up at her friend. A pang of guilt threaded through her thoughts, but it faded again swiftly as she saw the other woman's expression. Even if it wasn't rally her place, or if it should be someone else' place, knowing that Aurora herself was feeling better for it was enough.

She moved to sit beside her, turning inward with one knee on the seat so she could face Aurora properly while her friend continued. The rest of her story made sense with what she'd seen, and it explained everything, as sad as it was. Lyntael nodded, watching her, and cautiously reached out a hand to hold one of Aurora's while she listened.

“It's... it's alright. It's good to talk, really.” She gave the hand a light squeeze. “And I think I needed some of that as much as you, really.” Talk of infections and losing and sacrifice, and Aurora's attention towards her own midriff made Lyntael realise that particular difference, between now and most of the memories she'd seen, but it didn't seem like the right time to plunge into technical questions about specifics, really.

“Honestly... I've felt overwrought like that, a lot, and it's what I always feel like I need, and then there's no-one, and I didn't want to let you feel like that... but... It should really be Eternalis being here for you, not me. You said... you said he doesn't know all of that...” She smiled softly, then glanced across at him. “I think you should tell him, when you can. Even if it's hard, you know he loves you, and you know it won't change how he thinks of you, really. You know he'd never want to do anything to upset you, or hurt you...” Her thought trailed off briefly as the remaining memory fragment flexed and warped; the impression of a white room slipped into her mind before she pushed it back with some effort and tried not to think about it. She blinked, pulling her focus back to Aurora as her friend asked about the other things she'd seen.

“Oh! Um, well, most of them were from earlier times, I think. There was a big war, where you both protected each other, and there were bits and pieces of you hunting with other friends, too...” she looked down at the couch, trying to stop her cheeks from colouring. “And there was, um...” her free hand fidgeted, drawing a circle on the cushion distractedly. “Ah... something I promise I tried not to look at once I realised what you were both doing...” She tried to clear her throat quietly.

“There's one other, too, but I've kept it apart once I realised they were all memories. I've been trying not see it, but it's uncomfortable in my mind like that, and keeps trying to, er, unfold. I was going to ask if there was a way I could, I guess, give it back, without prying...” Her gaze went distant again as she spoke while the fragment uncoiled and flowed into her other memories. He'd never try to hurt her, she'd said, but...

Nearby, Aurora would see the distance in the girl's eyes grow suddenly more pronounced as something internal distracted her. Her words trailed off unfinished and a sudden tension suffused her body.

Lyntael's mind flickered on the unfolding events and the cosy sitting room fell away from her senses. A locked cell, hard, cold surfaces. Aurora was there, she looked terrified. Something violent and purple attacking her, wanting to cut her, wanting to kill her, to devour her... lusting after her as well, all at once. Limbs ripping and tearing, stabbing, rending off her armour and her clothing, slamming her against the walls or the floor. The violent and violating urges ran through the memory as the purple form stripped and exposed her; pressed itself against her.

Without really being aware of her surroundings, Lyntael stumbled backwards, tripping over furniture as she tried to back away from the phantom visions and curled into a small crouch, hands covering her head and rocking slightly. Her breath came in panicked, shallow gasps. Different memories fed into each other, past experiences that were too real, and as she got caught in the loop, none of them were memories at all for a few moments. The original memory had been from the creature, but it wasn't any more. Sometimes it was the white-walled cell, other times it was the cold metal lab, sometimes it was Aurora trying to fight back, sometimes it was her own body, battered and naked begin thrust again the walls or the benches. Sometimes it was the hideous purple monster, pressing against her skin and forcing its way into her mouth, and trying to do worse lower down... sometimes it was Him, with his cold smile and sharp blades and wires, slicing through her clothes to taunt her and cutting her skin just to hear her scream.

As Lyntael herself unwittingly fell into a panicked terror, reliving and blending the similar elements of the memories into further horrific nightmares, the physiological sensations of a panic attack feeding back to Aurora and Eternalis burst sharply into Lyntael's side of the experiences she was reliving, her own vivid parts of the nightmare crossing the connection back to her companions; a research lab in some far off network, and the navi that had identified himself as Vigilance. The agonising minutes of his taunting and toying with her, and her own futile efforts to fight back, all rushed through in a matter of moments, until it culminated at the feeling of her burning out into near unconsciousness. Strongest through the recalled distress was the icy cold metal on her bare and bleeding back as the other navi spread her stripped, unresponsive body across one of the benches; the way he kept taunting and smiling above her as he unfastened his pants.

The memory broke off in a crash of electric static and a tangibly different pain feedback. From where she was crouched down, holding herself tightly, Lyntael's hair cracked and sparked as she dug her fingernails hard into her upper arms, causing tiny red crescents. The deepest of them began a slow seep of red down her arms.

“Not real. It's not real. I'm not there. Not real.” Lyntael repeated the thoughts to herself several more times, unaware that the words came out mumbled fiercely into her chest as her form rocked and shook; the memory backlash faded slowly. “It's not real. It's all past. It's not now. I'm not there...” Gradually, the phrases grew clearer and firmer, spacing out between short, shallow breaths. She was safe. She was with friends. After a few more moments she puled her awareness back to the room she was in properly and drew a longer, deeper breath, keenly aware of the rapid thud of her heart in her chest. Carefully, with some effort, she uncurled her fingers from her arms and pulled them away from the places where she had dug in, wincing as she did. She dropped back to sit on the ground properly, taking longer breaths, and looked up to the others. She was with friends; and she was supposed to be trying to be supportive to Aurora, not making a scene of her own. The least she could do was keep it together. Focused again, her gaze was still wide-eyed and terrified as she looked at Aurora and glanced about the room.

“I... I'm sorry. Sorry... I'm, I, I'm alright. I just... the last fragment... it... I saw some things... I'm okay, I think. It was just, ah... just upsetting.” Her eyes fell on Eternalis, and drifted briefly to his unusual arm, and she felt her body flinch visibly before she cast her eyes down. It couldn't be the same. It couldn't be him. The memory had started like the rest, but... He wouldn't ever... she swallowed, still looking at the floor. “What... was that... Was that, what you meant, when, when you said 'infected'?” Her breathing was still laboured; long, deep breaths, but forced and faster than they needed to be. A small thought came to her as she tried to marshal her scattered mind, that for all she avoided thinking of things, she had some things that she needed to talk to someone about as well.
"It's nice to hear him say it, but a little voice inside me is telling me that he's just putting up with me... From what I've seen him do, I know he's not, but these little feelings aren't ever logical. Weird how that works, doesn't it?" Grasping at her chest with her free hand, she laughed a little. "—But yeah, I'll tell him later. It'll be good for me to hear him say what he thinks," said Aurora. She hadn't noticed how Lyntael's mental state was drifting as she talked, and listened to Lyntael recount what she saw of Eternalis's memories.

A big war... There was only one thing that came to mind, and that was the counterattack against the Neo-Shogunate Army. Thinking back about it, it was odd that they had been sent to suppress such a massive force with only the five of them, but she supposed that they counted for a large number of soldiers by themselves. If the commanders hadn't showed up, it was possible that they would have, indeed, dealt with the threat quite easily. She also reminisced about hunting viruses and odd things with friends, most notably Rhea's crew. She wondered briefly how she was doing, along with her... rather capricious mechanical horse.

The next one had her giggling a little with how touchy Lyntael was with the subject. As much as it embarrassed her, the way Lyntael fussed about it so much cancelled it out, and she felt like poking fun at it instead. Besides, Lyntael definitely had her share of embarrassing moments, as well. "What exactly did you realize we were doing? We've done a lot of things together, you know?" she nudged her in the side teasingly. It might have been unintentional on Lyntael's side, but she was definitely feeling a bit more cheered up about the unexpected dip in her mood. The last one, however, put her into a more serious mood. She flipped her hand around under Lyntael's to give it a small squeeze. "It's alright, I'll try to be here for you for it," she said. It was then that Lyntael's voice trailed off, and Aurora frowned a little in concern.


It had been a short while since Eternalis had woken up. Being roused from his sleep from a nearby conversation, he realized it was Aurora and Lyntael, and meant to try to find a good time within the conversation to properly reveal that he had woken up. Once Aurora's small breakdown occurred, however, the conversation topic shifted to him, and it suddenly felt much more awkward to open his eyes as time passed by. He finally figured that he would simply be better off pretending to be still asleep until they had left the room, thankful that his less than human appearance made it easier to hide his embarrassment.

Suddenly, he felt a sudden lurch inside his body, as if he was suddenly falling. The sensation of falling on his back assaulted him, along with an intensely nauseating stench. The resurgence of the memory was awfully vivid, and he felt his normally fluid body freeze up, simulating the loss of control he had experienced back then. He wasn't even able to cry out in alarm as in his head, a vision of Aurora, battered and bruised from that fateful day projected itself. Was he relapsing somehow into the infection? Struggling to fight the loss of control, he found himself unable to move, stuck to where he had been lying down with his eyes wide open.

However, there was something strange about the memory. Aurora's projected image melted and diffused in front of him, and in its place, the face of a male Navi he had never seen before took its place. Around him, the nondescript paneling from the server in his memories warped into a cold, dark laboratory area of sorts, with some bright source of light occupying a large portion of the other end of the room. The backdrop light provided an eerie glow to the scene, as he felt a shot of electrified pain pulse out from his core.

The pain burst out in shots, and at times built up inside without recourse. It felt hard to keep himself lucid, yet some force kept himself awake throughout the entire ordeal, forcing him to relive a moment that wasn't his own. The words that were being spoken didn't make sense to him; he was unable to process what they meant. He did, however, understand that they were laced with dark intent, and that whoever's memory he was reliving drew intense terror from every phrase.

There was one point, however, where the fog of incomprehension lifted itself for a few moments, when he was suddenly able to understand the words spoken—"He promised: always!!"—as being spoken by someone he knew, but the comprehension was short-lived. The electrification came to a head, and overwhelmed him enough to the point where his consciousness within the imagery began to fade. There was now nothing but the sensation of painfully cold metal, a snaking, crackling hurt that spread throughout, and a manifestation of evil hovering over him. Suddenly, the pain shifted into a different feeling, of being yanked out of a dream and into a more "real" sensation, which his body rapidly reacted to. At that moment, he remembered having a self-healing body, and it was then suddenly as if the memory's hold completely purged itself, causing him to feel a sense of whiplash akin to being suddenly freed from some unbearable restraints.

He found himself lying down in the same place as he was before, with no pain to speak of, and a still-sleeping Sparky on his chest. Relief washed over him, but was then overtaken by the sudden impact of recognition from the vision he had been exposed to. That voice was Lyntael's, without a doubt, but what exactly had happened?

On the other side of the room, as soon as she had called out to Lyntael, Aurora was suddenly rushed by a foreign source of audiovisual data threatening to overtake her processes. Involuntarily, she let go of Lyntael's hand, causing both of them to stumble backwards over the furniture in the room, as she buckled over next to the couch arm she had been on. Thankfully, she was quickly able to relegate the task to her usual data processing, allowing her to take stock of what it was that was being sent. The data played itself out in her head, and she quickly recognized the first half of it being Eternalis's infection incident. As the latter half transitioned in, however, it confused her, before she recognized one of the voices inside the audio data to be Lyntael's.

"! Lyntael!!"

Turning towards her friend, she saw the agonizing situation that Lyntael was in, and forced herself together from the moment of weakness. With great difficulty, she managed to scramble over to her friend, who was crumpled in on herself near the wall, and rushed in on her knees to pull Lyntael into an embrace. The errant sparks that raced about pricked and tore at her, but she gritted her teeth and bore the pain, making sure she had her arms firmly around Lyntael, her hand curling around her shoulder.

"It's okay, it's okay..." she whispered, hushing her gently in the meantime.

It was a little bit of time before Aurora felt the rampant static from Lyntael's core recede, and she drew back a little to look at her, still holding the sides of her shoulders. Her eyebrows raised as she drew a sharp breath at the slightly bloodied fingernails. Her surprise was further exacerbated when the little cuts started to heal rapidly, before she realized what was happening. Eternalis must have woken up, she thought. That was the only thought that went through her mind, before she turned back to Lyntael.

"I'm sorry you had to see that... Yes, that was what I meant, but... I'm sorry," she said, holding onto Lyntael's hand and squeezing it tightly as she sat on her knees.
As her senses returned more fully, there was an initial sense of panic at having someone's hands and arms about her, aware as she was of the tension and current in her skin, but as Aurora held on through her first few moments of reactive retreat, a soothing sensation accompanied it, and she felt some form of calm returning along with it. The pain in her arms faded, and she glanced down to see the tiny red crescents sealing over rapidly. A glance up between Aurora, holding her shoulders and looking at her, and Eternalis, seemingly awake but spaced out and confused made her swallow and duck her eyes as she focused son slowing her breathing again. She must have woken him up with her flailing around.

The lingering feelings of the horribly blended episode faded away; elements from the new memory she'd seen mixed haphazardly with elements from her own past, now, as they came apart, seemed all the more abstract and unreal. She nodded along to her companion's reassurance, sniffing once before her nose began to run and pausing to scrub at her face. She tried to focus on bringing her charge in and down, to make her skin safe again, but it was a gradual process. Eventually she felt in control enough to rest her head to one side, leaning into aurora's contact for a little while longer.

“I'm alright... I think...” she paused, the looked up at Aurora properly, and across to Eternalis, then closed her eyes and took last long, deep breath, letting it out slowly.

“No... I don't think I am, actually. But, I'm better now. Sorry for that...” slowly, she made motions to stand up, uncurling from her huddled ball and giving aurora's hand another quick squeeze as she did. she moved a little to rest on the arm of a chair and looked down at herself, studying her toes as she moved and flexed them slightly.

“That wasn't your fault, I promise... It... it's me...” She peeked up at Aurora, and then to Eternalis. Calm had come gradually, and as much as her eyes still lingered uncomfortably on his unusual arm, she mostly pushed aside the initial fears that had jumped up moments ago. Putting what she'd seen together with what Aurora had said, it sounded like it had been a terribly compromising ordeal for both of them, and more than her initial worry, it was a sense of sympathy she felt for the normally so optimistic slime-navi. If some infection had turned him into that for a while, and made him act in those ways, she couldn't imagine how that knowledge would had to have weighed on him, as considerate and caring as he was. A slim ribbon of fear, tying him to the monster she'd seen, still remained, but she set it aside.

“I saw... some of what happened, with the... infection. I didn't mean to, but, it's been sitting there for so long trying to blend in like the rest, and I lost it for a moment... if that makes sense...” She rubbed at her neck, then looked around the room. “I'm sorry you both had to go through that, I had no idea... I think it's really great that you both care about each other so much... it sounds like neither of you wold have really made it through in one piece, without the other. It seemed... very scary.”

Over the next few moments, as she listened to her friends, or in quiet if it lingered, Lyntael shifted her position slightly, fidgeting and intermittently pausing to rub at her emblem or tap it unconsciously as she weighed up her words. It wasn't the first time she'd had an episode like that, and avoiding thinking about what happened really didn't seem to be helping at all. It was horrifying, and she didn't want to think about it at all, or about Him, but if she kept avoiding dealing with it at all, then she was probably going to keep having these terrible flashes.

Aurora had said that sharing her own burden had helped, and if ever there was going to be a time or space where she might be able to talk about SciLab to people who would understand, safely, it was probably going to be with Aurora and Eternalis. She looked up again, scanning her gaze between each of them now.

“There was more to...” she paused. “There's some stuff I'd like to....” she shook her head again, grasping for the best way to say what she wanted. After a moment she settled. “You've shared a lot of personal things with me, and, I've put you both through enough of my... issues... that I really owe you both an explanation, and I want to... to, um, be honest with you both, I suppose, I do... but... I've never really, you know... spoken about it, or dealt with it at all. I just don't think about it, really hard, and that's really not working out so well. So...” She took a longer breath, biting her lip as she contemplated voluntarily going into everything she'd so steadfastly avoided. After a few more moments of breaths and bracing herself, she looked down at her toes again. She wanted... as much as she'd only had them for a short while, the idea of sharing all of this with the comforts of her own home around her felt safer, somehow.

“Um... Maybe... Maybe give me a few minutes to calm down more fully? Come at it more carefully, you know? Um... I still haven't seen the other rooms here..?” She was stalling, she knew, and internally she scolded herself, but in her mind, it felt like a very daunting abyss to be diving into.
Retreating a little to give Lyntael some space, Aurora sat back and waited. With what she had just seen from the audiovisual data, it looked as if she had just seen one of Lyntael's memories, streamed from Eternalis. As she had seen earlier, however, Eternalis had just woken up, which suggested that it had been entirely Lyntael's unconscious flashback that had triggered the event. At the moment, however, it didn't seem appropriate to bring up, and so she simply listened to how Lyntael recounted the memory that she had received from Eternalis, of the unfortunate event that had nearly deleted both of them.

Withdrawing her hand, she looked down at her lap, and her fluctuating midsection, before looking up again with a smile. "Yeah... At the time, it was scary, but now that we've gotten through it, I feel like we're stronger now. It's not something I'll ever forget. I feel proud, actually, that I managed to do something." Her smile widened, but there was something in her expression that betrayed a slight sadness in her last sentence.

She then let a bit of peace and quiet return to allow Lyntael to calm herself down for a bit. In the meantime, Aurora stole a quick glance towards Eternalis, wondering what his condition was, but he seemed to be fine for the moment, judging from him currently gently caressing Sparky's head.

However, she was interrupted by Lyntael's slightly stuttered statement, in wanting to divulge more of her past to them. A twinge of guilt sprung in Aurora's chest, having already seen quite a bit of it against her best intentions, but she swallowed it down, and replied, "Sure, I'll listen anytime."

A small text message appeared in her periphery. "I hope she's okay," the text read.

Aurora furrowed her brow. Had Eternalis been affected by what had just transpired? It didn't look like he was particularly shaken from her earlier glance; perhaps he had simply been a relay for Lyntael's memory data while he was sleeping. "Seems to be relapsing into some bad memories. I'll handle it, though she seems to still be up for looking around. Do you want to come with or sleep a little more?" she replied silently.

A brief pause ensued before the text message changed its contents in reply. "No, I just woke up, so I think I'll keep Sparky company a little while longer. :)" he replied, before turning away from the two of them. The little smile text at the end relieved Aurora slightly; perhaps she had been worrying too much for no reason. She rolled her shoulders, and turned back to Lyntael.

"Alright, let's head to the bedroom next, then," she said, propping herself up to full height and giving a hand to Lyntael to do the same if she accepted. She then escorted Lyntael to the doorway with the bed icon hovering above it. From where she was standing, Eternalis was obscured by the back of the couch he was lying on, but she gave him a brief worried glance nonetheless, before stepping through the doorway.

Stepping through to the next room, a sudden darkness overtook the area, a stark contrast to the bright blue skies that had been the backdrop for the last two rooms. Above them, a bright full moon illuminated the area, accompanied by uncountable stars dotting the dark sky around it. The watery surface surrounding the area reflected the moon wonderfully, framing the room before them.

A single bed dominated the center of the room, looking to be slightly larger than a king-sized bed would appear. The bed was neatly made, with a thick quilt appearing to have a white flower pattern printed on it, along with two pillows in the same design resting against a dark wooden backboard.

There appeared to be nothing else in the room, save for two more doorway-indicating icons, showing images of a shirt and three wavy lines above a circle. There was a small extra detail, however. Around the bed, and the doorways that bordered the room, a small cluster of fireflies seemed to be flying about, enough to indicate the places, but not really enough to give any substantial amount of illumination. Unfortunately, if Lyntael were to reach out to one of them, they would be revealed to be only projections, and not actual entities.
As embarrassed as she felt about not managing to actually finish what she started when she spoke up, Lyntael was still more than grateful for her friends to give her the space she needed and move on without pushing further. She could see that for all her reassurance, Aurora herself was still dealing with mixed sensations over the event, but it was hard to be supporting properly when they were each as bad as the other for being emotionally fraught. Though, that wasn't really fair; Aurora was handling her troubles far better than she was. She nodded and offered the other woman a weak, but gradually steadier smile as they both stood to begin moving on. She wanted to tell them, now that she'd gone this far... but as she thought about doing so, she had to admit she was going to need some time, and possibly a run-up to actually get the story out.

As she straightened her clothes and brushed off her skirt, Lyntael noticed some kind of quick glance that passed between her friends, but neither of them poke. She busied herself for an extra moment, looking down. Some unspoken agreements managed to pass between them, before Aurora volunteered to keep showing her around, and Eternalis made the motions of returning to rest. She didn't push it further, but paused as she moved towards the next doorway, glance back at his couch.

“Ah, sorry for waking you!” It was mostly a shoulder-hunched whisper than anything of actual volume, and she ducked through the doorway after Aurora a moment later.

Inside, she stopped just past the door and looked about. Her eyes were drawn up and as her head tilted it left her mouth to drift open slightly in momentary awe. The other details of the room would need to wait for an extra few moments while she looked on, eyes passing across the sky and then across the moon-lit waters as well while she turned about once and took a few more steps, just to take it all in.

“Wow....” the word drifted like a sigh. “This looks so amazing...” without really thinking about it, she found a clear spot on the floor and lay down, staring upwards at the spread of stars. She let her hands rest gently on her middle, loose as she relaxed.

“I've never really... the night cycle at my home is fairly simple. I spent more time on the day time exterior... I've never really seen a proper sky like this... It's beautiful. Work with Rogan is usually closed networks without any real attention to niceties or realism. Lots of cold, stark corridors and flat data walls, you know... and I've not really had much chance to get out on open networks often, but it's always been day time there...” she trailed away again, taking a few more minutes to look upwards, before sitting up properly to take in the play of the moonlight on the water.

“You've done so much that I'd never have thought of doing. It's all really neat.” She turned to look at Aurora properly. “I'm guessing that one is for outfits and things, but what's the other one?” She glanced alternately at the other two symbols that seemed to lead elsewhere. The second symbol wasn't familiar to her, and she couldn't work out if it was meant to represent coffee or a shower or something else again. A small part of her was keenly noting that there was just one bed, but it would step beyond tact to mention anything along those lines. Between what she'd seen and what she'd learned about Aurora and Eternalis, the fact that they were a couple now wasn't something that needed really mentioned, as cute as she thought it was. Unconsciously and unaware of it herself, Lyntael's cheeks coloured lightly as her gaze lingered on the bed in the centre of the room while the thought passed through her mind.
Eternalis turned his head slightly as he heard Lyntael's whispered apology, but made no move to respond. Lost in thought, he sank into the couch while watching Sparky on his stomach, fast asleep. Trying to make sense of the vision he had seen for the last minute, he frowned as it intermixed with his memories of his own ordeals. From what he could tell, it was likely to be a fragment of memory from Lyntael's mind, sent over to him by mistake from the earlier connection, but with how muddied it was, it was difficult to determine exactly what had happened.

One thing he could tell, however, was some feeling of primal fear that he hadn't experienced thus far. It was unlike the feeling of mortality that he had experienced from being nearly deleted by the infection, but rather of something else. Trying to figure out what the emotion meant without any frame of reference just made his head hurt, and as he continued to stew in confusion while in a tired state, he drifted back to sleep.

Lyntael's unexpected act of lying on the floor instead of the bed took Aurora by surprise. She figured it was out of politeness' sake, with how Lyntael tended to worry about the smallest things, but also considered the possibility of her finding the floor to be more familiar to her, considering the previous state of her domicile. She tried to will away the depressing implications of the latter. "It's kind of embarrassing when you put it that way, it feels like I've blown it up too much," said Aurora sheepishly as she took a seat on the floor next to Lyntael, hugging her knees as she watched the stars with her friend.

"Honestly, it's really kind of bare, I haven't even gotten around to making a day cycle for this room yet. I just wanted to make a room where I'd feel like I could just sleep for as long as I wanted," she laughed. At the most basic level, it was a mostly empty bedroom, with a projected skyview taken from a public-facing NAXA satellite feed, but with how much joy her friend took from it, it felt bad not to at least participate.

"Oh, that's the outdoor hot water pool. I saw it at a hot spring inn I went to once, in Yoka, so I basically copied the whole thing from it, since someone posted it up for people to use. It's something like a commemorative thing, except I can actually use it, so it's very nice," said Aurora, her cheeks turning rosy as she recalled the event that had etched the location so firmly in her mind. "Come on, it's a great view, too," she said, standing up to walk over to the doorway.

Once they pass through the threshold, the area would change dramatically into a large stone terrace overlooking a gorgeous nighttime valley. The majority of the terrace housed a steaming hot pool, though a quick test would reveal that it was self-adjusting, appropriately changing its temperature for whoever was in it. The pool was illuminated by a widely-spaced array of lights around it, though it was also illuminated from above; the moonlit skyscape from earlier was brought over as well. The only stark difference was that the endless watery scape that was around earlier was now replaced by rolling hills.

"If you're not in that much of a hurry, I'd invite you in, but I think you'd be more comfortable at home," said Aurora, standing proudly to survey the area with her hands at her hips.