She's so exhausted, she can barely keep her eyes open, and yet cannot wrench them away for the huge crystalline form in the center of the chamber – the Granolith, she assumes, as she slides down the wall of the cave, further tearing her tattered and dirty dress. She looks like Cinderella among the ashes, and feels like it, too, as if everything she has ever know or believed or loved as been torn away from her.
"I'm 18 today, mother. October 25th… It isn't fair. It isn't fair. I need you. I need you. Where are you? Oh, God, it's my birthday. We should be together. How could you leave us? … She said I betrayed my family. Is it true? Is it true? Am I a terrible person? Answer me. Answer me. Come on, answer me!"
Isabel's cries follow her into her sleep, restless and jagged dreams, as her tears leave trails down her dust-covered cheeks. She wanders through endless corridors, her heart beating in her chest, more afraid then she has ever felt almost blinding her as she searches fruitlessly through the power plant, hearing a voice sobbing in the distance. She doesn't even know what it is that she is supposed to find, only that it is important, and close.
She runs for hours, through the maze-like corridors, until she finally comes to a familiar corridor. Tess, battered and bruised, lies on the floor, and Isabel thinks, once again, that she is too late. Her words echo in her head, more urgent than before, "Oh, Tess. Oh, God. Tess. Oh, God. Wake up. Oh, wake up."
Isabel takes the smaller woman in her arms, feeling the sense of completeness that has always come from being close to her, the woman who pretended to be her friend. She moves Tess to an empty room, and bolts the door, shutting them both away from the world, from the thing that pursued them.
"There. Tess. Tess, stay with me. Stay with me, Tess. Damn it. Don't die on me now. "
"Isabel?" Tess seems confused disoriented, looking around herself, past Isabel with her brow drawn, blinking.
Isabel feels her heart clench in her chest, it's not too late, she can do this, she can save her. "Ok, come on. Come on, Tess. I'll get you out. It's ok. Ok. Ok. Come on. Come on. I'll get you out of here. It's ok. It's ok. We'll make it. I promise. We'll make it. Ok." There is no question in her voice as she babbles her reassurances.
"Tess. Stay with me. Stay with me, damn it. Don't die on me now. Don't die on me now."
"Is this a dream?" she asks softly, her voice soft and rough. She looks down at her hands and back up into Isabel's stricken face.
"Don't leave me. Please, don't leave me again."
"Isabel. I'm okay. I'm safe; we're both safe. You got us out. This is just a dream. We're dreaming, this isn't real."
"No. No. I didn't…"
"It's okay, Isabel; it's just a dream." She reaches out her small hand to brush the tears away from Isabel's face. "You can change it. You can fix it. You saved me; we don't have to stay here any more." She spoke softly, concerned. This was one thing she could fix, one thing she could do right. It wasn't about orders; it was about her and about Isabel, and how much she was hurting.
The walls slowly dissolved around them, until they were in a landscape that looked surreal, as if painted around them. Three moons, burnt orange, hung overhead, unobscured by clouds. Tess gasped in surprise, and she could feel Isabel's confusion flow through her in frantic waves, and the dream started to fall apart with her panic.
"No!" Tess cried out, and grabbed one of Isabel's hands tightly between hers. "Don't go. I didn't think you remembered. I didn't know."
"Tess?" Isabel spoke warily. "Where are we? What is this place?"
"This is home. Our home. Our… from before."
"Where I betrayed you all and got you all killed, you mean?"
"No! It wasn't like that. She's wrong. That's not how it happened. You didn't betray us. It wasn't your fault. Max didn't understand. I couldn't tell him. I was his queen. He was my husband. He didn't understand."
"Understand?" Isabel tried to pull away, but Tess wouldn't let her go, not now, not when they were so close.
"That I loved you. You loved me. We were in love. He drove you away, drove us apart and I let him. I had to do what was right, had to protect our people. But I was wrong; I never should have let you go."
"What are you talking about? You're crazy! This isn't real; this is a dream. I'm not gay!" Isabel's voice steadily rose, until she was all but shouting the rest.
"It's true. You know it's true; it's why you called out for me tonight. It's why you felt the connection from the first moment that we met again, and why your heart was breaking right along with mine, when you heard our destiny, knowing that we had to do this all over again. I have to be with Max. I have to make things right. But, god help me, Isabel. I love you. I've always loved you."
This time Isabel did wrench away from Tess' grasp, wrapping her arms around herself, as she stumbled away. "No. I can't do this. This isn't real. It's just a dream, a nightmare. No."
"First you break up Liz and Max, and now me. You're just going to knock down everyone that gets in your way. Won't you? This is just some silly delusion you are putting into my head, using your powers on me. Aren't you."
"This is your dream, Isabel. You're keeping us here, not me. You remember. You feel the spark between us, long for me just like I have for you from the moment we sat down for lunch together that first time."
"I can't do this. Not to Max, not with you, I can't"
"Again. Yes. I love you, Villandra."
"Don't say that name. I'm not her. I can't be. I won't be."
"But you are; we all are. It doesn't have to be the same. We can stay together this time. We can be together, be a family. I can make it right this time. I know what to do."
"I'm sorry." The moons were starting to set, the purple glow of the sunrise starting to creep in. "It's time to wake up, to forget all this. It's not real.
"It doesn't have to be over. You feel it. You remember. I'm not going to give up. I'll never give up, Isabel."
Isabel shook her head slowly, as everything began to fade away. "Goodbye."
Tess's words followed her into wakefulness, "I'm not giving up. It'll never be over, Isabel. Never."
Isabel wiped away her tears, and she stood up in the cave. She couldn't cry anymore. It was a new day.