If you’ve read The Thief’s Dark, you might remember the name Ariana. She was a security guard on Endurance and was sitting in the mess talking to Sakura Watanabe when Sophia, Zoe and Tara were eating and laughing just as the attack happened. Later, we saw her briefly in the cage with Zoe and Danielle from The Officer’s Mess.
Ariana is half-Japanese and half-Somali. She was born on one of the nicer space stations in orbit of Earth. Her Somalian mother was a security guard there when her military father visited on shore leave. They quickly fell in love and he left the military and took a position as head of security on the station to be with the woman he loved.
Ariana was raised to fight. After the violation mercenary groups emerged across the Earth. In Japan, groups merged and embraced a part of Japanese history, creating a military caste so that they could train to defend Earth. As such, they are coveted military personal, as well as being coveted in the private sector as guards, personal security and more.
After the death of her parents, Ariana's training was taken up by her uncle, Akimitsu. He was a soldier on one of the Sentinel stations where Ariana spent the rest of her childhood before transferring to the training grounds in Japan when she was seventeen years old. There she completed her training with her father's people, before joining Earth's military forces. Later, she became a security officer and was quickly moving up the ranks when she took the commission to Endurance under Farah Bennett.
When we catch up with Ariana, several months have passed since Endurance was taken and her crew sold. Ariana has had to accept her new reality for a while, but she’s had Aran to help and support her, because that’s who Aran is as a person. He helped her adjust and Ariana will do anything to help him and repay him for everything he did for her.
Despite her military training, Ariana has never abandoned those parts of her that are feminine. When she sees the pain her three Amarans have been through, she wants to make life better for them. She wants to be the soft place they can go for comfort, even as she plans to use her skills as a fighter to fight for them and with them.
I absolutely love her. I hope you do to.
Hot water poured from the spout overhead. Ariana almost cheered, more thrilled at the sight than she’d ever been by a shower before. Which was saying something considering she’d cut her military teeth on four-day excursions on Europa in an atmo suit. Ariana still remembered the automatic injections that kept her going with a combination of everything her body needed, nutritionally, while also pumping stimulants and appetite suppressants into her.
Even though she’d been sweaty and stinky when she was finally allowed back inside the training grounds on Europa, she had never felt as dirty as she did now. She could still smell that place. Still feel their eyes on her, their hands.
Ariana forced the thoughts from her mind as she stepped under the water. It was slightly too hot, but she didn’t care. She could feel the filth sluicing from her and being carried down the drain.
It had taken an hour to calm Aran. Her heart broke for him, and yet it was a healthy reminder that whatever she’d been through in that place was nothing compared to what Aran had been through. She had gone through pain; she knew that and would deal with it when she had the opportunity, but for now, the only thing that mattered was helping her male and two adalan begin to heal.
One thing was for sure, she didn’t think asking questions about the dominant and submissive dynamic would help. Whatever they’d been through, it was doubtless that the natural desires of their gender had made them vulnerable to abuse and that an abuser had used that against them. That meant reclaiming that part of themselves had to be their decision, driven by their timeline.
They may never be able to reclaim it, and that was okay with her, but she knew she had to be ready to support them if they did.
This Drexan guy had taken so much from them.
Ariana remembered the first time she’d seen Aran naked, the multitude of scars that covered his body. She’d stared at them, aghast at what had been done to him when she realised there were two types of scars on him. One set was the result of sickness and fury, chaotic and unleashed purely for its own end. The other set was art. It had shocked her to realise it, to realise that there were swirls, loops, tapered ends. A pattern that covered Aran, that was as beautiful as it was disturbing. Aran refused to answer any questions about it, but now, with what Vedian had told her about adalan and their desires, it made perfect sense.
And the fucker, Drexan, had destroyed them for his own sick ends.
Ariana was washing her hair when a thought occurred to her.
Her mind turned to Tyne, who sat in the chair, watching her nervously as she’d switched on the tattoo gun. He’d broken out in a thin film of sweat.
She rinsed her hair out, feeling the kinks of her Somali heritage against her otherwise Japanese hair, which now felt impossibly soft from the Amaran product.
When she was done, Ariana stepped out and let the dryer divest her of all moisture. She walked into the bedroom and looked at the clothes Tyne had left for her. The pants were a straight-up no. Even with the smaller pair Tyne had given her, they were still far too big. She turned her attention to the tunic top Vedian had gifted her. It would act as a dress, which would have to do until they got some clothes for her. She would still have to wear the ballerina-type slip-on shoes they had forced her to wear at the brothel. They were thin and barely protected her feet but were marginally better than walking around barefoot.
As she had showered, a plan unfolded in Ariana’s mind. It wouldn’t be about them reclaiming their sexual desires; that wasn’t the point. It would be about them reclaiming their bodies from what Drexan had done to them.
The thought had a visceral effect on Ariana. She wanted to do this for them.