“In Ixion music and party are our only beliefs. Darkness is our comfort. We have few rules but they are absolute. Your endocrine systems have been altered by changes to your hypothalamus. You no longer need to sleep or see sunlight.”
“Ixion exists as an antidote to the rules and conventions of other places. We believe that indulging in pleasure will make better people. Self-denial and discipline and virtue are all myths invented to control you.”
“Rules? Ixion is supposed to be free of rules, yet it seems as strict as Grave in its own way and more...more dangerous.”
“Everyone comes here for pleasure. Even if they think they don't. Embracing it is harder for some and they go mad before they truly accept it. Most of the places they cme from are founded on guilt and rules. The Ripers want us to break away from that - some wish to tear it from us while others are more subtle.”
“Kero and Rollo stood over it, slick with blood, both holding knives.
‘Kero, you came? Why?’ asked Naif.
‘Maybe I just needed someone to show me how to be brave enough,’ he replied with a hint of a dangerous grin.”
“I burned too bright. I saw too much.”
“Will you wait for me on the platform then?’
Suki looked at Rollo and cast her eyes upward. ‘I suppose so.’
Retra smiled at her. ‘Don’t you mean, “I guess so”?”
“Something from out in the dark brushed her throat, damp
fingers smearing her with warm wetness. She started, raising a hand against it, but touched nothing.
A teasing whisper in her ear – no, more a thought. Come to me …
She glanced around to see if anyone else had heard, but those near her gazed eagerly ahead. Except the Riper; he watched her.”
“We all pretend things sometimes. And sometimes we leave thing too late.”
“Retra recoiled from his dangling nakedness...”
“Can you really change anything, Joel?”
“Your kind shouldn’t come here. The change is too great for Seals. Yet you have chosen it and rejected your society, so you must learn quickly or perish.”
“Ixion music and party are our only beliefs. Darkness is our comfort. We have few rules but they are absolute. Your endocrine systems have been altered by changes to your hypothalamus. You no longer need to sleep or see sunlight.’ More titters and cheers.”
“Why did you get involved? That’s not a Seal thing to do.’ ‘I … what Brand was doing to Krista-belle … she was scared … like when the warden gave me the obedience strip.’ ‘You had a pain strip? Fross! How did you leave the compound then?’ Retra gave him a small, anxious smile. ‘I practised. The pain.’ Rollo’s expression changed. His eyes widened in a kind of admiration and he enveloped her in a comforting hug. But Retra didn’t want comfort right now. She wanted to leave. As she tried to edge out his grip he held on. ‘There’s something I’m going to tell you. The real reason that I came here,’ he said.”
“Retra pressed her fingers to her thigh. The intense pain from her obedience strip had receded to a steady throb and nausea. Perhaps that was the worst it would get, now that she’d left the compound. She glanced back. No shout came. No lights followed her. The rust-mesh fence that segregated the Seal enclave from the rest of Grave rose like a grey fortress in the dark. And she’d climbed it. Pain can be dismissed. Her brother Joel had said that to her after Father had beat him one time. Retra remembered that more clearly than anything after he ran away to Ixion. It was the thing that gave her hope. She could control pain. And she could follow him. So she’d practised. Hours with her arm twisted, or something sharp pressed into her skin; practised thinking and acting, despite hurt. And now was the time. The barge would be waiting at”
“What’s Ixion? she’d asked him. He’d laid his face close to hers, whispering so their parents couldn’t hear. Imagine a place where there are no Elders. No rules. No punishment. Only music and laughter and freedom. That’s Ixion, Ret. That’s me. Soon after,”
“Welcome aboard the way to Ixion: island of ever-night, ever-youth and never-sleep. Burn bright!’ He gave her a mock salute and disappeared along the long, shadowy deck towards the bridge, leaving her shivering over what she had done. At least the pain from her strip had ebbed, as if his icy hands had robbed it of heat. She could breathe again.”
“The obedience strip began to glow at 1492 steps, and with it came the pain. A hundred steps before the fence. Stabbing then easing, then stabbing harder. Like a branding iron sizzling skin at first touch, then easing in a rush of endorphins, only to turn into an inescapable agony as it bit deeper into the skin. Retra knew how branding felt. Seal girls and boys received theirs at puberty. The strong ones didn’t make a sound when the hot iron bit their flesh. Retra hadn’t been strong. Then.”
“The stars look like they're so close, you could reach out and touch them. But you can't. Sometimes things look a lot closer than they are.”
“If you don't want to sink, you better figure out how to swim”
“He was smoking hot. As in H-O-T-T, hott. I’d never understood until that moment why girls insisted on adding an extra t. This guy was extra-t-worthy.”
“Y lo que llamamos amarnos fue quizá que yo estaba de pie, delante de vos, con una flor amarilla en la mano, y vos sostenías dos velas verdes, y el tiempo soplaba contra nuestras caras una lenta lluvia de renuncias y despedidas y tickets de metro.”
“We're just not cut out for all this media circus crap.
But then, you already knew that.”
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