Previously, on Save the Pearls: Eden, Bramford, and Dr. Dad escaped on an airplane. then they escape on another airplane at Mach 20! Eden thinks Bramford is a major fucking hottie, but also thinks about how he’ll be rejected from society due to his new catface? Then she went on an Oxy bender. Yeah, it’s kind of all over the place.
The chapter opens with Eden noting that not even an IV drip of oxy into her bloodstream can calm her anxiety. She tries to do her “I am a stone in a cool, dark cave” relaxation thing from chapter 1, but it to is insufficient to calm her flight anxiety. She knows that they’re headed out-of-bounds, and she finds herself wishing to be back in the Tunnels of Racism.
Eden sees Daisy, the white-lady flight attendant, handing Bramford a briefcase. Bramford opens it up, revealing an “old-fashioned computer.”
She watched, fascinated, as Bramford’s sharp nails clicked against the keyboard.
“Cat-Guy Types on Keyboard with Long Cat Claws” is as ASMR video I never knew I needed. No joke, I actually just googled “long nails typing ASMR” and it’s some good shit.
Anyway, Eden thinks that Bramford is typing on an old computer because his fingers are now too fat for his Life-Band ring. Which is apparently a tragedy:
Poor Bramford, cut off from the constant direction of his inner voice. To Eden, it seemed like a fate worse than death.
God dammit. I love that in the last chapter, Eden was all “being a cat-guy probably will have a major impact on Bramford’s life,” and now she’s like “Bramford losing his iphone-ring is LITERALLY A FATE WORSE THAN DEATH.” Like, of the two major life changes he’s recently undergone, I’d say that losing his smart-ring is probably the less significant of the two, but what do I know?
I know a lot, actually. To Eden’s surprise, Bramford seems unfazed by the loss of his Life-Band. She imagines that he’s making preparations for their destination, which, maybe?
Daisy brings Dr. Dad the first-aid kit, and cuts away his bloodied pants leg. The sight of the blood makes Eden gag. Dr. Dad notices her reaction:
“It’s only blood, Daught.”
Always a failure in Father’s eyes.
That’s kind of a lot to read into her father’s words, don’t you think? Eden is totally one of those people who will twist your words to make everything into a personal attack. Those people are exhausting. This girl has the biggest victim complex, I fucking swear to god.
Anyway, Eden hopes that her dad won’t be too savage when she tells him that this whole thing is her fault (since she was the one to tel Jamal about Operation Animorph).
Daisy says that there’s no medicine for Dr Dad on board, and there probably won’t be any where they land. Eden asks where they’re going. All Daisy tells her is this:
“We’ll land in approximately two hours.”
Um, no. Unless they are literally circumventing the globe, their flight will not take 2 hours at Mach 20. You’d think that Foyt could have taken five minutes to google “mach 20 speed,” but apparently her aversion to research is just that extreme.
So Eden gets all anxious because that means that her destination probably won’t have on-tap Oxy. Which, assuming Oxy is an opiate, is a valid concern. I won’t get too worked up over the lack of withdrawal because this is Future SciFi land, so it seems plausible that the manufacturers somehow found a way to keep withdrawal from being that bad, so whatever.
Dr. Dad, however, takes this revelation in stride:
“In that case, I estimate a high probability of gangrene,” her father said. “The most elegant solution would be to amputate the leg. No impairment to any major body system and my odds for survival would increase.”
I have never felt such an urge to give someone a wedgie or stick their head in the toilet. I thought I was cool with nerds, but it’s like some latent rage has been awoken and whenever he says anything I turn into a bully from an 80’s movie.
Eden thinks her dad’s idea of amputating is terrible, although she doesn’t seem to have a reason for this. He tries to tell her that it might be necessary, but she just huffs about how their lives are over and thinks about how he doesn’t see the real Eden.
The two talk about how much Bramford has or hasn’t changed. Dr. Dad says that while Bramford looks different, he still seems completely unchanged mentally. Eden doubts this, even though she said as much last chapter, didn’t she? I don’t care enough to check. Dr. Dad is proud of his experiment’s success, and says it’s “worth any price,” because he is a Scientist. Eden feels like he doesn’t care about her some more, and ruminates about how cold and distant he can be. Her dad tells her to cheer up and think of this like an “unexpected adventure.”
Their conversation returns to Bramford, and Dr. Dad says that Bramford changed more than was expected due to the heat from the fire. Eden asks if it’s possible to reverse it, and Dr. Dad says it’s not likely:
“This is what’s so exciting. We don’t know what to expect. Bramford is highly unpredictable in his current adaptation.”
I read every fucking thing this guy says in the PokeDex voice.
Eden interprets this to mean that maybe Bramford will continue to change into a catguy, and Dr. Dad thinks that this could happen. Eden gets pissy that they’re risking their lies for Bramford, and Dr. Dad says he’s responsible for him. There’s some talk about how Dr. Dad was bluffing when he threatened to kill Bramford back in chapter 10.
Despite her father’s obvious feelings on the matter, Eden stupidly suggests to him that they trade Bramford to the Evil Government in return for avoiding charges or something.
This appears to get Bramford’s (who is still chillin’ in his private compartment) attention. He lets out a roar, and “leaps” to their side:
Her eyes traveled from his strong thighs, thick as tree trunks, to his brilliant eyes. She felt trapped, as if caught in the path of an avalanche. Only, she wasn’t sure she wanted to move out of the way.
BEAST count: 5. It just wouldn’t be a description of CatFord without needless sexualization.
So Eden says tells him that he has to let her and her father go. Bramford accuses her of wanting to go back to Jamal, and Eden says that she had no idea who he was.
His broad, naked chest distracted her so she forced herself to look into his eyes, which didn’t help much, either. Instead, she stared at a point just over his shoulder, as he often had done to her in the past.
BEAST count: 6. And notice the subtle implication that Bramford’s been in love with Eden all this time too!
She continues trying to convince him that she knew nothing of Jamal’s affiliation, bringing up how she almost got gang-raped at the Moon Dance. Dr. Dad is confused, but Bramford just says that he knows that Eden was the one who leaked the information to Jamal.
Then we find out that when Bramford was putting Eden “on probation” in chapter 2, he was doing it so that she would stay home! He admonishes Eden for hoping Jamal would propose, and she gets all offended:
Eden looked him dead in the eye. “Someday, when you’re locked up in a cage, Bramford, maybe you’ll understand what it feels like to be an outcast.”
Way harsh, Eden. It seems to hurt his feelings, and he “growls menacingly” before “his face flooded again with human intelligence.” How dangerous and thus sexy, or something?
Anyway, Bramford says that since Eden is so untrustworthy, he has to take her Life-band. He literally rips it out of her ear (I think; it’s unspecified if her ear-lobe is ripped or if it was just like a clip-on or something).
Eden screamed as her hand flew to the spot. How dare he? She felt more violated than if she’d been raped.
She raised her arm to strike him, but he caught it midair, pinning her beneath him. They stood locked together like a pair of impassioned tango dancers. A muscle twitched in his jaw. The hair on the back of her neck prickled.
Look, Victoria, I know that non-consent is a kink or something, but, um, do you really want to be juxtaposing feelings of violation and rape with highly eroticized language? This is a book for teenagers, remember? If you want to write furry noncon erotica, go for it, but to the best of my knowledge most teenagers aren’t picking up ostensible “issue novels” to get off. If that’s what they’re looking for, they can go to FanFiction.net like a normal person.
Oh, also BEAST count: 7.
But oh god, if you thought it stopped there, I’ve got some bad news:
Something else besides fear gripped her; something Eden couldn’t name. A sharp awareness of his powerful body, the warmth of his skin on hers, and the nearness of his lips overpowered her. Or maybe it was the lack of noise in her head that disoriented her. She felt off balance without her Life-Band, frighteningly alone with her thoughts.
Since I’m counting by paragraphs, BEAST count goes to 8. I’ve got to have some sympathy for Eden, as this has got to be one of the most confusing sexual awakenings of all time. Also, her dad’s like right there. That’s kind of awkward, IMO.
Dr. Dad tells her to be careful (lol), and Bramford lets go of her. Bramford then turns to Dr. Dad, and requests his life-band as well. Bramford allows Dr. Dad to remove his life-band himself. So was it the percieved betrayal that made Bramford retaliate on Eden physically? It sounded like he didn’t trust her to have a life-band, so does he not trust Dr. Dad either now? Who knows.
Dr. Dad offers Bramford a seditive, saying that he doubts it will kill him. When Eden tries to caution Dr. Dad, he says it’s just some “scientific humor,” and, like, how?
Bramford accepts the sedative, and goes back to his seat. It is unspecified if this is the seat in the private compartment, but whatever.
Eden finishes out the chapter with some angst about how her dad doesn’t love her, and feels some sad.