hubble's law of expansion
(a/n) for the @tmntflashfic theme 011: april! takes place in the space pirates au! multichapter
Her world is dyed in red, and the spinning ruby luminaries dance across her too wide eyes, glossy and far away out into other galaxies; April hears only a faint buzzing in her head, and the ringing pierces her like the smoke in her eyes.
It’s wisps puff out in black plumes like chalk dust and ash, and the smooth swirls of smoke break apart but April isn’t really April because this isn’t real- she’s watching herself in warped time and bent reality where this is all just happening, where she is still, where Donnie is, in front of her, yelling.
He’s right here but she’s not, and April tries to take a breath just as her footing shifts; she can only stare at the hole of space ahead of her, past where Donnie screams, stumbling forward to her. She wants to tell him to stay away as sparks trickle from the ceiling to the floors around her but she can’t look away from those planets just beyond.
“-o Apr-! Go!”
April cuts her eyes away to the sound and her world- it comes colliding into place, into a kaleidoscope of blood and fire and smoke and sparks and stars, the sounds clashing into her. Senses heightening, April hears the alarms blaring and the canons and the screaming.
She looks back to find Donnie and he’s so close; he kisses her head.
“Donnie…wha-” she coughs and he kisses her forehead again, taking her sweat and soot with him.
She tries to ask him again, but he puts a mask on her, hands her his blaster and before he can grab her April starts screaming, kicking him away, “No…n-” the mask tastes like plastic air, tastes like dying and coming alive all at once in the moment Donatello shoves her into the pod, the glass sliding closed to separate them.
And April kicks it- the doors, the glass, the lock- choking on her saliva and snot and tears. “Donnie- no, no…No, Donnie lemme- let me out-!”
He says something through the glass and smiles, breathing fog onto the window, he traces the letters with shaking, bloodied fingers.
c u later k
And he points to the hole, to those stars and planets straight past him.
She gets lost in them, for a moment she’s not April and this is her glimpse at the possibility.
But those planets get further- and so does Donnie and the ship.
April tries to yell for him, but her breath is sucked away as she plummets away.
A cannon shoots through the center of the ship and it breaks apart, into a million shards of metal and crystal and fire and her pod flies through space, away from the flames that swallow themselves up, reflecting in her bright eyes until her breath is snatched again.
“Have you guys ever tried Murakami’s - or…anything besides pizza, algae and worms?” April raises her hand up eyes softly closed, “Mikey this is strictly rhetorical- I don’t wanna know. But I mean, c’mon pizza is not…life-”
Mikey gasps and falls over the side of the couch, “That’s waaaay harsh, sister…tell ‘er she’s dead wrong, Raph.”
Raph hits the punching bag, sending it swinging, and catches it against him, grinning at her, “Look, does it look like we have a diet problem, O’neil? Besides we don’t just eat pizza,” he says, steading the bag again.
“Yeah,” Mikey picks himself up, and starts sharpening knives for the fun of it, “We like…had pizza rolls a couple’a times so-”
April stops listening, even as Mikey keeps talking because she can’t hear a thing, her eyes going white- there’s a buzzing…a knocking she can’t-
April likes things that fly; she wants to believe she always had. Because things that flew- they were just so bizarre and wonderful. They were free, but weren’t really- they had compasses and maps and calculations in their hearts that led them back to wherever they just had to be.
She lays there, looking at the light and the sky, and the little flying thing that pecks and knocks at the glass of her pod.
“Morning…” April says out of a hoarse voice, throat sore and torn.
Leo would tell her to get away from it before she caught an infection or something; he was always worried about that kinda stuff. And remembering that brings a certain kind of pain, spreading through her chest. The thing flies away and April almost resents it for leaving her alone here.
She’s alone- she’s alone and her family isn’t here and the ship is gone and they’re too far away, they shouldn’t be that far from her- from here.
April gasps, forcing herself to take a breath and another, watching her breath fog up the cracked glass, and she watches it recede and dissolve and she counts how many time she breathes and she pinches her eyes closed and feels sick.
And suddenly the world- this world- seems to come alive around her, in front of her, above her, and April senses the life of it, listens to noise of it, letting the sensations flood back into her in technicolor. Everything is a blend of greens and blues and overgrown life; somewhere, very distant, is the sound of water hitting the rocks. And if April closes her eyes and undoes her tightened fingers, she can convince herself that in the sounds is her family.
But that’s meaningless now, she tells herself as she unjams the latch, stepping out (screaming as she smashes the rest of the glass with her- no…no it’s not her’s, this is donnie’s- blaster), sinking to her knees in the glowing soil. Because her family is dead, right with the best parts of her. And it’s just the worst thing ever- being trapped and alone and April hates herself for letting them spare her.
She presses her forehead against the pod, and thinks that Leo probably never gave the command a second thought- to have Donnie take her and shoot her into another sector. And he probably told them all to go, determined to go down swinging, but his brothers- Casey- they stayed anyway because that’s how things had to work. They didn’t know how else to work. And Donnie’s eyes- when he just knew that they all were going to be murdered and she was gonna be safe, his bloodied hand against the glass and Mikey stumbling behind him without an arm-
April heaves, dragging her head down the pod, curling inward.
“Oh...god-” she clenches her fist, her frizzy, curly red hair twining with her fingers, and she spit on the ground.
Mikey needs his arm, April thinks, dizzily, he’s their best shot. She tries to remember which one was missing, and if Raph was there too when something crawls up her thigh. Raph would hate that, April smiles shakily and turns, back against the side of the pod, and draws her knees up to her chest, looking out into the landscape.
She was under some kind of canopy, a blanket of interwoven plants with enough spaces for light to flood in, and crystallized rocks broke through the branches in certain places where the plants were black and purple and it was beautiful and it sucked because April hated it.
She grips the hilt of her Sulvarian blade, and carves a line into the pod.
There are no more flying things when April wakes next, nor is there light besides the neon luminaries in the soil, that trailed along the ground like paths- like stars, like galaxies, like all those wonderful things. When she steps down, they disappear under her gravity boots, and the little space around them.
The colors are nearly entrancing as they dance a little in the ground.
April looks around, finding everything unchanged in the darkness. She scouts out the land and finds no creatures, part of her wishing something would just jump out already and try to kill her so she could shoot it dead at her feet, eat something, and not feel so alone on this planet- waiting for something to rip her apart.
In the canopy above her, the plants rustle, almost catching april off guard. And she doesn’t mean to sound so bloodthirsty in her own consciousness, in her thoughts, but she was anxious and so afraid and she needed to fight- because that’s what they always did, to ward off the bad energy and the ugly, darker thoughts. They fought. She tightens her hand around the blade, the grooves in the hilt glowing along with the lines going up her suit, and despite the damage in it, April raises her hand to her face, carefully pressing into her temple until her cracked helmet slides out (halts a few times till she hits against it) encasing her face in a screen. And the world is tinted yellow, the words flashing across the screen, reflecting in April’s eyes as she read over the scans.
There is nothing here. Just plant life and fancy, glowing dirt and misery and bugs.
April groans, stashing her blade away, “Get it together O’neil- ‘s just a breeze…or some…thing.”
April is accustomed to fear, and she knows how to channel that into something fierce and hungry and a little overconfident, so she lets her bravado swell up a bit in the assurance that she had a blade, her blaster, technique and too much energy. And that this was a dying planet; the ooey tendrils of black on the branches and rocks that she presses her fingers against speak of its slow-burn death in little whispers as April begins to breathe, and feel the planet’s energy. She pushes deeper and deeper and deeper into the core, feeling the flutters of life trying and of some fight warring so greatly beneath the lull of warm glow in the nighttime and swaying plants. And further into the world, her third eye peers into why, pulling and stretching and yanking at the hidden things and their layers.
April reaches for the heart, as the tension builds up and something claws its way up to her and she’s close to it- can feel it ripping- when April is pulled from the sensations, and slammed to the ground, the lights dissipating from beneath her, spreading like lightning in jagged paths across the dirt.
April blinks away the blur in her vision, biting down from the way her bones and muscles pull tight and finds herself pinned between legs, her arm held down under someone’s knees.
And their eyes are so wide April almost loses her focus in girth them, deciphering the meaning in them. Her skin, concealed in the darkness holds hues of indigo, and absorb the fairy lights around them. And the sound of the nighttime become only their intertwining breaths, heavy and uneven; still, April doesn’t even think to grab her weapon because something like amazement keeps April beneath her- this alien of blue and dark purple and black woven hair that fell over her shoulders and hung in April’s face, those luminescent creatures spiraling up her braids.
Her curious wonderment makes April’s brows rut and, briefly, she wonders if this is the way she’s meant to die: horribly amazed by something so intricately beautiful and blinded that she couldn’t even foresee her own death. Qich would be a shame, April says in her thoughts, as the alien pulls out a metal spear from its holster behind her back, because April really did want to get to look at her for a lot more seconds or minutes (or hours or days).
But she prepares to die now and maybe find her family in the other plane of existence saying this is it, April. This is how you die. Now stop being so afraid of it; you should’ve been a better person! until the alien (warrior queen boss looking alien) proceeds to yell very loud- which doesn’t help the way April’s brain feels like it’s been set on fire and then stomped on several thousand times but- and jumps up from her, promptly stabbing, tackling and wrestling a huge, wild beast.
The display in and of itself was pretty damn remarkable as far as April was concerned, as she sat up, nit sure if running away would be best. And there are a billion things on her mind like: gosh you’re stunning kinda, or: hey so are we alone here, or even: would you happen to have a holomap on you by any chance- i may have lost my friends a few sectors back. But April’s throat won’t push the words out and every time she tries its jumbled and the alien, fresh from a kill with the creature’s blood dripping down her arms, looks at her with narrowing eyes and a complicated, unreadable kind of twist to her lips.
Then her lips move and April is back into her own skin, back into her senses.
And for the first time in too, too long- April is laughing, and it’s quiet and it rolls off her tongue like honey- so sweet and thick and rich she almost gags on it. The sound is almost foreign to her.
But another sound all the same, and just as strange to her, tickles her ears.
“X’vhkl? O…lft’zes. Lft’zes u wen’ju olkrsp?” she says, stepping till their distance is gone, leaning into April, cocking her head.
April stumbles back, mouth pulling into an awkward half grin, “Um…yes? No…no, okay. Look-”
“Svxtl,” she repeats, spreading her palm against April’s chest, her eyes lighting up, growing wide with an eager smile, “Jhanna…”
The marks in her skin begin to illuminate in soft blues as she smiles brighter, her hand still over April’s slow rising chest.
April, somehow unafraid, feels warmth spill into her, blossoming throughout her aching body and she can’t quite look away from her eyes, and that smile and that glow dusting parts of her skin that made Jhanna look very much like a constellation of all the most magnificent stars.
But god April was just so tired, and she would never try to explain the feeling before she sinks to the sparkling dirt.
The third time April wakes up she knows exactly what’s going on, she’s also pretty much done with this shit, and seriously just wants to tell, the universe it freaking won already and if this was some godawful, cruel punishment for agreeing to blow up Sibith’s capital federation building with Casey and Donnie then fine.
But her voice is still tight and it hurts to think and the alien (no, it’s jhanna now. which means they’re acquainted. which, in turn, means she wont kill april- basically. probably.) is standing over her, hair pulled back now, her lips parted in what just might have been a little concern.
“I had to absorb some of your energy to understand your language,” Jhanna says, conversationally and extends a hand, “I apologize- I became distracted.” she looks down at April, “But I will not kill you, if you are not convinced…”
April coughs, squinting up at her with what she hopes looks intimidating and pissed- because she is, “Well-” she grunts, pushing herself off the ground, “It may come as like- a total shocker but…you throwing me down, oh and drinking my energy-? Honestly, it’s not that convincing,” April grumbles, brushing the dirt from her face till it smears.
And Jhanna watches her- like she’s been watching her- cleaning off the blood on her spear with the sleeve of her skintight, very, very nice suit, looking a whole lot less eager than she did when she was sucking energy out of April but maybe they’re just both tired right now and the swell of heat that rises by the river they’re at doesn’t help, of course, and then there’s other factors April doesn’t give a shit about anymore.
“I did not intend to take that much-”
“Yeah well you kinda d-”
“Qildif!” Jhanna throws her spear down, taking a step closer, and April balls her fist to stop from flinching, “I could have left you to the Beirk when you nearly gave my position but I choose to- I saved your life-”
“I could have taken care of myself, thanks-”
Jhanna scoffs, arms crossing, fingers gripping her biceps, “You are an earthling-”
“I am not. An earthling! Ugh, god what is your problem?” April says, plucking dirt off her sleeves. She glares at her, cradling her sore arm, “I’m for sector 29G-17, only my memories of some stupid counterpart are from, Earth and the only people that would even began to get what I’m saying are probably- shit, I dunno- light years away from here or…and I’m not from Earth, alright? Jeez…”
And April doesn’t know why she cares or why any of this matters or why her eyes sting or why Jhanna’s face softens, her muscles relaxing as she kneels, gathering her spear.
“Well if you want to get back to your sector- there are only two ways off of Omatran,” she says, rewrapping the vines around middle, “Unless, of course, you wish to hijack a ship…”
April hides her small smiles from Jhanna’s knowing eyes that flicker over to her, studying the falter in her indignation before smiling coyly too, turning her attention back to wrapping her spear.
“Now,” she starts again, patiently, “The typical way any Omatran leaves this world is through the slave transport ships heading to Galamora- the next transport is at the end of this Drepton. Others…they fight the Omatran gladiators.” Jhanna pauses, lowering her weapon, laying it gently against the ground, “No one has made it out that way. It is…impossible.”
“Nothing’s impossible…” April says, in a low, quiet murmur like there’s nothing in this world but her- like she needs to know this. Jhanna breathes deeply, untying her hair, and April takes cautious steps to get near her, unsure if she should, and kneels beside her, “Nothing- Jhanna,” she says again, her fingers twitching.
“The Ulysses Crew doesn’t give up…that’s our motto- was…our-” her brow furrows as she holds emotion in, “A-and…nothing is impossible, okay?”
Jhanna’s lips tug into something small and and hopeful and that- is enough for April.
“We’ll get outta here- we’ll…steal a ship-”
“I cannot do that, I am afraid,” Jhanna sighs, lifting her eyes from the fire to April’s, “My people need this resistance- I must lead them into this.”
April drops the Beirk’s meat into the flames, pushing her frizzy hair behind her ears, scraping dry blood.
“Okay- so plan b, then.”
April is well acquainted with plan b’s (and c’s and d’s and f’s and-) and this, is no different, because she’s escaped other pirates and thieves and correctional facilities and planets and even her own, heavy, suffocating emotions- all to get back to her family. She’ll do it again and again and again until she’s there. With them.
She pretends she doesn’t notice the admiration in Jhanna’s stare, and fights the urge to grin confidently because she is confident- somehow. Somehow losing everything, or not knowing just how much you’ve lost- not knowing how much of that loss you can take- makes you wanna fight until you can’t breathe anymore, to get it all back. And April is still raw with loss and pain, and suppresses it when she can because she won’t feel this until she’s giving her last breath.
Jhanna pokes at the roasting meat, her gaze lost, “You are a good companion,” she says, barely above a whisper as she turns to April with a ghost of a smile, “And very talkative.”
With a gasping laugh that bursts out as naturally as anything she’s felt here- now- April shoves Jhanna, their heads falling back in brittle, bubbling laughter, their hair of different shades twining as the strands graced the neon lights in the blades of grass.
When Jhanna shoves back and April falls over on her side and doesn’t care that it kinda hurt a lot, a mutual understanding happens, to add to the fascination of each other’s differences and April knows that when she steps out of the world and embarks on her journey to find her family and their Ulysses- she wants Jhanna to be there with her.
April drags her blade through the shuttle pod for the third time.
The days were longer here, than in her sector, and the nights seemed even longer still. Jhanna slept a few hours, April definitely crashed for maybe five and in between shifts, when one would wake the other, they exchange small glances that said so many things.
In Jhanna’s eyes, before they closed and she would sleep, April saw trust and under the layers of trust, and conflict and sorrow and fear, is the soul of someone who needed another someone.
April thinks- and, god, maybe she’s crazy for it- somewhere, that she could be that another someone.
“Yes, Jhanna-” April shoots at a Trylthor soldier, imported from Trylth to round up the poor onto the ships, and watches the blast burst through him and burn a hole in the chest of the soldier behind him, “I can shoot- well trained, actually.”
The attack came suddenly, when both of them had drifted off to sleep under a canopy of falling, dying leaves, and well trained was most likely an overstatement compared to the way Jhanna twirled into battle flawlessly, gun in one hand and a spear in the other.
“Very well,” Jhanna shouts, over the blasts and ruins crumbling down into the water, and ducks, impaling another soldier’s neck, “A’iztc!” she cries throwing the body off of her an into two more guys that April kinda felt awful for, with the way their skulls hut against the rocks.
And more lasers and bullets graze her suit and blood splatters her the mask of her helmet but April charges in with a smirk and the bravado of a (hell yeah she was well trained and deadly and fearsome) warrior, slicing through the fleet of soldiers like second nature.
Out of the corner of her eyes she watches Jhanna take down the last of them, a burn in her shoulder through her jacket and wonders what Leo would say, or how proud Raph would be.
She almost stumbles, thinking.
She can’t think; that’s how people die.
She feels like dying, like killing like crying.
In the middle of the fray, Jhanna falls down and April goes red and then there’s nothing and she lets out the worst of her feelings.
When it’s all over, and when April feels like she can breathe, everyone is dead and there’s a head in her hands, eyes still open and unseeing- and she’s alone again.
Scratch that. She’s not.
Because now she has Jhanna.
They don’t know what to do with the bodies, so they let them rot and move on. April doesn’t know to where, really, and doesn’t care about the bodies either. The ground can have them now.
Jhanna tells April, as April’s fingers trace the burn on her shoulder, that she’s a warrior.
“You would fit well into my kingdom,” she laughs, weakly from blood loss, tilting her head a little, as April dabs water onto her wound, “Once this is all over- finally. I would like to appoint you.”
April grins, eyes fixated keenly on the marks and the rivulets of blood running down Jhanna’s back, making tracks of read into the grooves of her deep blue skin, “Sounds nice…”
They listen to the water rushing over more of the ruins that Jhanna stares at with a familiar pain, April watches them too.
“So you’re gonna be a queen or something, after you take down- what? Your dad? Mom?” April wrinkles her nose, freckles bunching up, and goes back to cleaning her burn.
“Moriah.” Jhanna plucks at the grass in a way that lets April know she’s so very young yet- they both are. And the realization hurts April, “I cannot explain to you what she has done to our kingdom- I do not understand myself but…she convinced the people that they were worthless if not wealthy- that the wealthy deserved something more than what our father gave. She is too young, too…foolish. My people turned to her blindly, even the poor.”
Jhanna shrugs, wincing slightly, and April listens.
“What could I do? They believed her and she gave them reason; she made alliance with the Galamora- and she sold our people…killed those who resisted…it was...horrible-” she clenches her fist, fingers closing around the tiny blades of withering, burnt grass.
Her pain, in her voice as it wavers from its otherwise steady dance through the words she spoke, is something powerful, and April flattens her hands on Jhanna’s good shoulder, unsure of the touch. She feels the rise and fall of her breaths, almost steady and rhythmic.
“Then I guess…we really can’t steal a ship huh?” April chuckles bitterly, and Jhanna’s shoulders shake with a laughter just a quiet and bitter.
“Perhaps not. Though I would enjoy sector 29G-17. I’ve never met a pirate- or anyone so skilled for that matter, that could take the head of a Trylthor.”
April shrugs, tucking her hair back, “Well congratulations, Jhanna- soon to be overlord or whatever of Omatron- you have met a pirate.” she flashes the alien a smile and falls back against the grass, staring up through the hole in the canopy, flashes of the night and the sparks and the gaping tear in space and Donnie’s eyes- and breathes, taking it in.
Jhanna eases beside her, laying in the patches, glaring up there too.
“The Ulysses Crew.” she says, turning to peer into April, “Do they value…life- of…others? Could they-”
She doesn’t need to finish and April knows they would. God, they would help her people in any way they could.
“Yeah,” she breathes, “They really freakin’ could…we just gotta find them.”
“Where are they?”
April watches transport ship fly overhead, warping into hyperspeed into distant galaxies, “I don’t know…the D’hbul…they found us- petty bet I don’t even know. Donnie…he pushed me into this pod- shot me out into space before the whole thing-” she unclenches her fingers puffing her cheeks and pushing breath out.
“Explosion…” Jhanna whispers, watching her people’s capture above them, “They are selfless- for how they saved you…”
And then it begins; April tells her all about them, and she can’t stop telling- and the stories, their stories, they bubble out from her in too fast words and a wavering voice overfilled with joy and regret.
She turns over to Jhanna, and sticks out her hand, tears pinched in the corner of her eyes when she presses a smile, “And by the way…” she says, seeing her own reflection in Jhanna’s bright eyes (she sees someone strong and emotional and full of a lot of crazy thing. she sees her trauma. and her fighting spirit. it’s her…), “I’m April.”
(It is April.)