Katherine’s first night as a free woman she spent in the Khan’s bedchambers, finally giving in to her baser drives with him. A real attraction had developed between the two of them and it made Vladimir Ward, a staunch traditionalist, uncomfortable but that just resulted in more intensity than the otherwise libertine bonding experience “coupling” was in the clans.
In between the lovemaking sessions they talked and she found that Khanslayer Vlad the Beakbreaker and Green Eyed Monster had hidden depths that surprised her. He was still a blood-soaked warlord but was genuinely trying to bring about a new Star League led by the Clans. There was just disagreement on how to do that to that end Vlad had learned Russian and read Alexander Kerensky’s and his son Nicholas’ journals to try and understand what their real drive. He adopted some of Alexander’s other interests. Since the Great Father was not at first a military man but a political science major at the University of Tharkad interested in the arts Vlad had taken up poetry to try and connect to what he saw in the man many centuries dead. He was dreadful at it but Katherine was genuinely impressed at his attempts.
Ever since the clans had been exposed to the Inner Sphere especially the Invading Ones began to have doubts and start taking on characteristics of their occupied people. Even the most traditionalist Crusader had to admit that the Star League would not arise by force of arms alone especially since they had been stymied by the Freeborn Stravag Spheroids. Each clan had their own idea on how to achieve it but they were all too fractious and warlike to work together without a strong common foe. Despite the former ilKhan Ulric Kerensky’s attempts to kill him Vlad was inspired by the man’s leadership ability even if he thought it was the wrong path. If the clans were not a means to bring about the Star League what were they?
The next morning Vlad gave her a red leather jacket as a gift which was a touching but unusual gesture. Nevertheless Katherine had to admit it looked good on her and it was nice to have a pretty thing that was unique after wearing a uniform for two months. She was also given her Codex, in the form of a steel bracelet with a raised Wolf’s head on it, which marked her as a Wolf Warrior and allowed her to freely move about occupied Tamar City. While she would love to be free of the stress of running the Lyran Alliance she had to return before anyone noticed her deception.
As a Star Commander she needed a post and sought out Katya, who accepted her as a Wolf Watch Officer with the future left somewhat open-ended. She would establish an HPG link to Tharkad from Tamar and this would add another back channel to the Inner Sphere other than Ranna Kerensky, Star Colonel and consort to Khan Kell of the Wolves-in-Exile. Kerensky as a Warden was interesting in checking Khan Ward’s more warlike impulses though she was impressed with his pride and prowess. Watch Commander Katherine took a light rail from the Governor’s Palace, Wolf Clan HQ, to Tamar’s spaceport where the Leopard dropship LIC One-Eyed Raven was impounded.
Upon arriving at the Spaceport she took a utility transport onto the Tarmac and the Wolf Patrol guards assigned to the vessel parted to allow her entry. She immediately rushed to her room and undressed, jagged lines ran along her fine features, she would have to dress more conservatively or people would ask questions. Even the Canopian beauty industry wouldn’t be able to make them all disappear. Even if they did though the emotional and mental scars would remain. She had fought and killed people for the privilege of fighting and killing more people and she felt sick and vomited into her quarters’ private toilet.
Upon cleaning up she looked at her reflection in the mirror, she still had cuts and bruises along her face but all she could see was the dead eyes of that young women in the cage. She couldn’t have been older than her own little sister, Yvonne, yet she had murdered her. “This isn’t me, I’m not a murderer.” Freed of its constraints for her survival and still suffering from the neural feedback she had received the previous day her broken mind finally snapped.
But of course you are, you killed your own mother without remorse, Galen and his son are dead because of you. Vlad loves this side of you because it is the real you, he has broken down all the little lies you tell yourself and freed your true nature. An Alpha Female, a White Wolf red with blood, that’s what gets him off and you love it. Don’t try to hold yourself back just accept who you are like you did in that cage. You savored the moment you walked out proudly after murdering two people. Before this too your fight with Vlad, every cut delivered felt just as good as every thrust last night.
Katherine’s anguish was clear on her face, she hadn’t experienced a break this intense since Solaris. Desperate to bring it under control she opened the medicine cabinet and pulled out a pill bottle, the small white tablets shaking inside their plastic container. She placed three of them into her hand and held them.
*Katherine/Katrina is just a weak pretender maybe that is why Mother wanted to replace her with her lesser brothers. She just gives and gives, a tragic heroine married to the state, destined to never be happy. Even Victor hates you, Omi turned him against you and they are going to try and kill you. She needs to die if you want your brother back, and you do.
Deep down you want him more than anyone else even Galen, he was just a great consolation prize because Victor had eyes for another but if she’s gone you might have a chance. Why did he leave you? Both of you were supposed to rule together as King and Queen of the Universe just like you dreamed. You were so close, he might never have known it was you that night at the ball but it felt wrong. You had him but couldn’t do it and ruined it for yourself just like you always have, because you hate yourself for wanting it so bad.
Morgan is just a scared little girl calling for her daddy, desperate to make friends. You can’t cling to her, Daddy’s dead. What if they just like her because they found out she is a princess? You can’t let go because the happiest years of your life belong to a woman that doesn’t exist. It is all just pretend, no matter how much you try to charm them they still hate you because you are fake. Krazy Kat is the real you and the sooner you admit it the better off you will be. Why should you care what they think if they will never accept you?*
All the stress and pain from the past two months had worn down her defenses against the one enemy she feared the most, herself. Katherine looked down at the three tablets in her hand, all it did was buy time. She had to keep her condition to a low burn or she would turn out like another “Mad Marge” Olsen wrapped up in a cell on Gallery, whispering to the darkness after losing a civil war. Would they give me the old woman’s cell?
What if Peter is already there? She didn’t want to be lonely maybe he snapped before she did, he was always wound tight. Would anyone visit their poor sister who thought she was so great before she lost her mind?
Why go back? If this was just about the Falcons she could fight them as a Wolf, just run away and die in glorious battle. What was she trying to prove? No, she wouldn’t run. She had castigated Victor for running away. She took the pills and washed them down with a water bottle before taking a long shower to gather herself and dress her wounds. She could keep it under control, she had to, because Krazy Kat was right.
Katherine’s clothes were too big now, she couldn’t recommend the training regime to anyone though even if she looked great. She cinched them tighter and put the red leather jacket back on, it was a gift and Vlad would be offended if she didn’t like it. Now she needed to get back to the rest of the unit, Katya had given her the address and told them they were expecting her. What did they think happened over the past two months?
She departed the Leopard dropship and ordered the Wolf Patrol transport her to the rest of her unit and have a bus on standby to take them back, they would be leaving immediately. While initially hesitant to listen to her he followed orders and made the appropriate arrangements with the Starport Factor and drove her to the hotel in a gray Wolf Patrol car.
Driving through Tamar City was depressing, the city had already been going through tough times before the Clan Invasion. One of the original colonies of the Lyran Commonwealth it was much like Arcturus, mines had been played out, fertility in people and soil had fallen, factories had closed down or been destroyed during five hundred years of war with the Draconis Combine. People just left and never came back, seeking better opportunities elsewhere. As Archon and before that as a Princess everywhere she went they put on their best appearance. Here she saw what it was really like it was humbling experience and she endeavored to do better if it was possible.
She arrived at the Starflight Hotel, it had once been a solid four star hotel used by traveling merchants doing business with House Kelswa now it hosted Wolf Merchants and their dropship crews while their vessels were awaiting cargoes. At least her unit wasn’t lonely, no doubt the Loki agents had gathered quite a bit of information from the travelers. Katherine ordered the Patrol officer to remain on site in case she needed to go somewhere else and he grudgingly complied, upset to be doing a Laborer’s job. Opening the hotel lobby’s double doors she was happy to see that her friend Isadora was there waiting for her. The woman rushed her friend and embraced her, “Katherine! I’m so happy you’re alive!”_, she looked closely at the barely concealed bruises and cuts on her face, “What did they do to you?”_
“That’s not important Isa, I’m fine. I managed to come to an agreement with the Wolf’s Khan. We can go home tonight.”, Isadora was furious and poked her firmly in the chest, * “It’s not important! You were gone for eight weeks! and you come back to tell us that you have an agreement with the Khan with all these injuries. And it’s not important! Dammit Kat I want answers! I have been worried every day that the Wolves would turn on us or I’d hear my friend died.” *
Isadora’s angry voice caught the attention of the rest of the Loki operatives that were waiting in the hotel lobby but they waited. “_Isa, I had to do some things for the Khan to accept me; some things that I’m not proud of, but the other option was worse.”_
Katherine started crying, “I’m so sorry to have put you through this, so very sorry. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to make it up to you but I’m willing to try. Please forgive me, I shouldn’t have pulled you into this.”
_“I don’t want to tell you what happened, please don’t make me. I’m so happy that you are all unhurt I couldn’t live with myself if I hurt anyone else. Can we just please go?”
Katherine and Isadora stood apart from each other for a tense moment, before Isa turned and stomped off likely to her room. The Archon joined Special Agent Roderic and the other Loki operatives, “Archon, we have an immediate situation, it is timely that you are now free because the Falcons have attacked Coventry. General Steiner and Mandrinn Liao are dealing with the situation and we haven’t informed them of your status whatever it was we are glad you are returned to us. We have passed some intel to Asgard that we overheard about current events here but nothing substantial.”
Archon Katherine was terribly concerned, “The Falcons have attacked Coventry! How did they rebuild so quickly and get past our Clan Front Forces.”
“Archon, when Phelen Kell returned to Arc-Royal with three Galaxies of Wolves General Steiner deployed the quick response forces that might have opposed them. We weren’t sure whether or not his Wolves would make a move on Tharkad with the Kell Hounds.”
“Verdammt! Inform Asgard that I will be returning to Tharkad via Pandora in sixteen days and need a command circuit in position by then. Until then gather two task forces to deal with them and if you have to drain Galatea of mercenaries do it, but do not let Coventry fall. Pack everything up and get to the One-Eyed Raven, we leave tonight. I have to go for a few hours but will meet you back at the dropship.”
Watch Commander Katherine returned to the Wolf Patrol vehicle and left for the Governor’s Palace, this unwelcome news might yet to prove fortuitous for her Wolves. She ascended it’s grand staircase past the Wolf Patrol guards and the new and imposing Gnome battle suits acquired from Clan Hell’s Horses. Rapidly finding Katya she informed her of the recent events by the Jade Falcons. She then spoke with Vlad and shared a touching moment with him before departing, still feeling strange with this unusual relationship.