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Writing Prompts 
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Post Writing Prompts
From other forums and fandoms, I've found these to be a fun way to pass the time. For those unfamiliar, you can either post writing prompts for scenes or write scenes to answer them.

To start, here's the eventual follow up from pages 38 and 47.


Quote:
Beryl leaned forward, eyes alight at the chance to glean more knowledge from the beleaguered ambassador.

"So with such even numbers of males and females, how does Humaniti manage its population growth? Do you control who mates, or is it just chaos?"

Alex blinked, unsure of where to even begin.

"Well, it's not chaos per se, we just don't... manage it. Everyone just sort of... um, pairs off into family units."

Instead of placating the Loroi, the answer only stoked her curiosity. "Pair bonding? How does that work?"

Jardin began to sweat. Beryl's eyes were glued to his, and the conversation had drawn the attention of Tempo and Talon as well. Even Fireblade seemed to be listening from her position on the far bulkhead.

"Well..."


Mon Feb 06, 2017 10:04 pm
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Post Re: Writing Prompts
Jardin was uncomfortable; he was really, really uncomfortable. This was the exact sort of thing that hack science-fiction authors had been inventing for centuries - the kind of thing he'd actually envisioned when he had dreamed about joining the Scout Corps as a young teen - and now that he was here, it wasn't arousing or amazing in the least.

If anything, it felt more awkward than that time he'd gone to kiss his then-girlfriend as a sophmore in high school, behind the P.E. equipment shed, and unexpectedly found her breast in his hand, her having decided he wasn't moving fast enough for her. The stuff of teenaged dreams, but far more awkward when it happens.

He swallowed, and took a slight breath. Humanity, not Humaniti - I need to correct her sometime, he thought, realizing that just by thinking about her pronunciation, he was attempting to dodge the question. Beryl seemed bright, eager, hopeful - she reminded him almost of a puppy, eager to please - and so, so naive.

Alex finally sat down, letting out a breath. "Okay," he said, putting his hands together, folding them. "Um - first off, you need to understand that this is a general rule of thumb - there's a lot - and I do mean a lot - of other ways that families can exist, and a lot of other ways people, um, mate. There's huge variety just within the culture I come from, let alone across our homeworld, or colonies."

Beryl listened, practically bouncing on the edge of her seat. He suddenly felt keenly aware of how her memory was eidetic - the words he spoke now would be remembered by the cheerful Loroi forever, and passed on. No pressure, Alex. Don't fuck this up. He glanced around; Tempo was listening with unmasked academic curiosity, but Talon's looked decidedly more puerile. He resisted groaning; of course some of them would be like that. Talon (and Beryl, and Spiral) were teenagers, after all. Fireblade had her ear quirked towards him as well, though her expression was impassive. Unless he was exasperating her, she seldom showed her emotions.

"All right," he began. "The, um, the traditional way, in my culture, is that you're expected to find your own mate; if one person likes another in that way, and they're liked in turn, they begin, um, a courtship - uh... Ritual is not correct, it's not formal or anything; they spend time together, get to know one another. Some people find their mates when they're still young, receiving education," he said, thinking back to the abrupt moment when the older girl had hurried him along, "or later, in their workplace," he said. He almost choked, thinking of Ellen, but through herculean effort mastered his emotions, not wishing to be derailed by the perceptive Beryl asking him if her inquiries were making him uncomfortable.

"Some find them at social events, or liesure or sporting activities, or festivals - ah... Like I said, it's up to you. There's no orderly way to do it, in general," he said, refraining from adding his commentary on the social phenomena of arranged marriages. "Sometimes your friends, family, or coworkers will try to arrange for you to meet someone they think is right for you - it's, uh, it's complicated. Unordered."

He heard a slightly snort from the aft bulkhead, and turned his head, looking at Fireblade. "Something on your mind," he asked. He injected a little acid into his tone of voice, because she'd twig to him being grateful for the distraction if he didn't at least appear slightly adversarial to her, but in truth he was glad for the interruption.

"Fireblade is wondering how something as important can be left up to chance; whether those who fail to find a mate are somehow considered unworthy, or left in ignominy," Tempo spoke for the mute warrior. Alex took a breath, and sighed.

"That is a complicated question. Yes, some people fail to find a mate despite wishing to. Some people do mock them for it," he said, with a moment of self-recrimination, remembering how he had joined some other boys in teasing the nerd who had somehow summoned the courage to ask the cheerleading squad leader to a dance, and been humiliatingly, publicly rejected. It was hard to imagine that was less than five years ago. "But that's generally considered to be extremely rude. Others simply aren't interested, or..." He shrugged. "As I said, there's a lot of variations of ways that it can go."

Beryl eyed him up and down, carefully, and he raised an eyebrow. "How do you display if you participate in some kind of alternative mating partner attraction scheme," Beryl asked. He blinked.
"Um... You don't, not really," he said, deciding not to get into the issue of social media. "Like I said; it's a very... Unordered, somewhat messy process. There's miscommunications, sure. It can happen."

Alex shook his head, pushing to the back of his mind the memory of one of his bunkmates at the academy. He had thought the young man was his best friend; Alex had entirely failed to realize that he was gay, and into Alex, until his bunkmate had gotten frustrated and laid it all out in plain English. That had been awkward; even more awkward than this, he realized upon reflection, which gave him heart to soldier on.

"But in general, people find their way. The typical family unit, Beryl, is a mated pair of man and woman. The traditional way it works is that after they've met, decided they want to spend their lives together, they get married; which can be either a religious or nonreligious ritual, a ceremony or celebration, or it can just be paperwork filed with and officiated by an official of the government; for legal reasons, to make them officially family to one another. They'll take up dwelling together, combining their resources to obtain good housing, and have as many children as their means and inclination allow."

He left off the myriad failure modes, not wishing to explain the concept of a broken household, or an alternative lifestyle; of all the different ways people did things. He swallowed, thinking of his own parents, his kid sister ten years his junior. The last he had seen of her, she was crazy into ponies and gymnastics. He wondered when - or if - he'd ever see Evie again, and if so, how old she'd be, what she'd be like.

The Loroi were quiet; he would think them taciturn, or even impassive, but for the way their eyes kept flicking to one another; the quick gesture of Beryl or Talon's hands, a shrug or nod from Tempo, a roll of the eyes or a smugly superior smirk from Fireblade. At least if they were deep in telepathic conversation with one another, they weren't asking him more questions. He waited until Beryl had turned to gesticulate at Talon to let out the breath he'd been holding in, glad that he had somehow been excluded from the conversation. He didn't know if he was up for discussing things like homosexuality, polyamory, single parenthood, or even an in-depth explaination of dating with bright and cheerful Beryl, let alone with the ever-so-slightly-superior Tempo, or the derisive Fireblade.


Last edited by ShadowDragon8685 on Fri Feb 10, 2017 9:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Mon Feb 06, 2017 11:55 pm
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Post Re: Writing Prompts
:shock: *slowclap*

Wow, shadow, that was outstanding. You captured the feel of the comic perfectly.

Quote:
This was the exact sort of thing that hack science-fiction authors had been inventing for centuries

Valid shot, haha. Consider that lampshade well and truly hung.

I sincerely hope Highland-Seven comes under direct fire soon afterward, because that would be much preferable to (and the only possible distraction from) the follow-up questions for poor Alex.

Fireblade (via Tempo): "Fireblade inquires as to whether you've won a mate or not." (challenging his worth)
or
Beryl: "So how many children do you have?" (vastly misinterpreting his equivalent age)
or
Talon: "So how does one initiate this 'courtship'?" (misinterpreting nothing and leering unapologetically)

...that's not the writing prompt. This is. Part is my headcannon explanation for the dialogue on pages 101 and 108.

Quote:
The smell of ozone permeated her senses as Beryl walked among the various bits of wreckage salvaged from the Human ship. The Tempest's main cargo hold stretched indeterminately around her; even with the lights at maximum illumination, the ceiling and bulkheads of the cavernous room seemed to melt away in shadow. Beryl was alone, but while most Loroi would be disquieted by the relative isolation, the Listel found comfort in both the auditory and telepathic silence.

Comfort, but also boredom. Identifying, analyzing, and cataloging the bits and pieces the Tenoin pilots had collected before the Umiak attack was anything but intellectually stimulating. The unknown plasma focus, combined with Humaniti's comparative lack of structural shielding and EM hardening had rendered nearly all data stores unrecoverable. The remaining physical components were either heavily damaged or completely reduced to slag. The only noteworthy conclusion she had been able to make was that while the alien tech was archaic by Loroi standards, it bore no hallmarks of Soia influence. Did Humaniti have no Soia artifacts or ruins on their worlds? How, then, did they look so similar to Loroi? These were difficult questions.

For the thousandth time, Beryl wished she could talk to Captain Jardin. She was confident she could get more answers from him in five minutes than she could from looking at this wreckage for five hours. But the Torrai Lashret's isolation order was absolute. As she and Fireblade had escorted Jardin from Tempest's command deck, Beryl had thought the order to be extreme and unreasonable, but in the intervening days, she started to understand Stillstorm's reasoning.

Though only a small percentage of the Loroi crew had seen the Human during his brief excursion to the command deck, the image spread through sanzai like wildfire after the battle. A new alien species was cause enough for gossip, but one so similar to the Loroi, and a male to boot? The fascination put a strain on even the Loroi's legendary discipline. Captain Jardin was not merely a topic of conversation on the Tempest, he was the only thing the crew discussed off duty. Even the long running firefight that followed the battle at Naam did little to dampen the crew's enthusiasm for the subject. No one dared approach Fireblade directly, but everyone else who had dealt with the Human found themselves at the receiving end of countless questions and requests to share memories.

'Are they some variant of us?//subtext intense curiosity,' from a fellow Listel, Beryl's counterpart on another duty shift.

'Will we get another ally in the war? How many ships do they have?//subtext cautious hope,' asked a Sorion trooper.

'I heard he's a fighter... is... is their race mostly male?//poorly concealed subtext desire,' from a young Doranzer, fresh out of training.

Because of her perfect recall, Beryl had been the primary target of the inquiries until Stillstorm had ordered her into the relative isolation of the cargo hold for this assignment. The cot and box of rations that showed up afterward conveyed the rest of the commander's intent: stay here until this all blows over.

Except it hadn't blown over. Updates from the Listel authorized to assist her revealed that Fireblade had to be assigned to something as menial as guard duty to help poor Reed with all the off-duty crew who seemed to find themselves passing through the corridor outside Jardin's cell. The fact that the Human did not possess sanzai didn't stop the rest of the crew from trying to contact him or scan his mind. Even Fireblade wasn't immune from all the curiosity. Her sleep-sending was a well known trait, and many a crewmember seemed to linger outside her quarters during her off-shifts in an attempt to discover something new about the Human. It wasn't until after she bounced a couple nosy Tenoin off a bulkhead that they finally stopped.

Yes, Beryl thought, the isolation was probably difficult for Captain Jardin, but it was better than the alternative... for both him and for the crew. They could not afford to give him the wrong impression of the Loroi.

Still, the Human would be immensely helpful in making sense of this wreckage. The Listel sighed as she peered around another cluster of debris.

Something caught her eye. A flash of bright color amid the gunmetal gray that comprised the majority of the Human ship's interior components. Heaving aside a deck plate, Beryl found a low, squat container. Much of the outside was covered in scorch marks but bits of colorful... paper?... some kind of label?... clung to the outside. The terminal on top, like all the others, was dead, but unlike the rest of the wreckage, this one had markings that seemed to be hand-carved into the case.

Personal belongings?

Beryl recognized the markings as the language Humaniti used; it mimicked what she saw on Captain Jardin's clothing. The Listel still couldn't decipher it, but she carefully memorized the characters for the day when she could.

The top line was machine stamped in the same manner as other components. Parts had been burned away, but she cataloged it in her memory all the same.

--ersonal Footlocker S/------

The bottom line was carved deeply into the metal; a quick swipe of her hand brought the characters into relief.

ELLEN KIRKLAND

The container's lock had been fused shut, but careful application of a plasma torch resolved that problem. With a careful breath, Beryl opened the lid.



Wed Feb 08, 2017 6:14 pm
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Post Re: Writing Prompts
I have to agree.
This is really once again a masterpiece. Thank you, ShadowDragon.
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Thu Feb 09, 2017 1:00 am
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Post Re: Writing Prompts
Now here are my two cents. Please keep in mind that this is my first attempt at creative writing and that English isn't my first language at all...

Quote:
Of course Beryl's findings on the wreck sparked a lot of discussion in what will come to be Alexander Jardin's closest travel companions, especially amongst Beryl herself, Tempo and Fireblade.

Amongst some items with no discernible use - maybe keepsakes - Beryl did find a device much akin to a datapad which, on pressing a button, showed a series of pictures. Some of them were garbled, and many times the devices showed a line of text which must have been some sort of error message, but many of the pictures showed the same humaniti woman in in front of different backgrounds, sometimes alone, sometimes in company of others.

And Alexander himself featured in quite a number of them, too.

Naturally that sent the young Listel's mind into overdrive, as well as Tempo's, once she got wind of it. Alexander himself was maddeningly vague about humaniti mating rituals, hinting that long-term pair-bonding is the most common way of life, but his words really left too many question unanswered, much to Fireblade's smug derision that spoken words are 'just a means to obfuscate the truth'.

Suffice to say that didn't go over too well with the others. Neither Fireblade's attitude nor Alexander's vagueness about a topic that could very much be the cornerstone of humaniti society and Loroi understanding thereof.

Surprisingly it was Beryl who called a stop to a discussion that could easily have been a source for a major disagreement. She did point out that in these pictures Alexander and the humaniti woman - which they assumed to be this "Ellen Kirkland" - seem to be pretty familiar with each other. Laughing, joking, and on some of them engaged in activities that could easily be seen as initiating a mating amongst Loroi - if for example kissing would have the same connotations amongst these aliens as it has for Loroi.

"I'd say they were indeed pair bonded and he is feeling her loss.", Beryl argued.

"Why would humaniti males would be so stricken over the deaths of their females? Simply head for another.", Fireblade... of course she would lean towards the more practical side.

Beryl might have a bubbly personality, but beneath that she does have a temper, which flared up that instant. "And what would you say if you lost your amplifier, which is very much part of you? Or didn't you feel the loss of your sisters in your diral yourself?", the sharp undertone of Beryl's sanzai brought Fireblade and Tempo up short. Both were silent for a very long time, but then Tempo brought up a quite interesting question...

"I wonder how long it takes for a humaniti male to actually search/be interested in another female after the loss of the previous one...."

"TEMPO!", shock was bleeding through Beryl's sanzai, "You can't be seriously thinking about ... that!"

"Beryl, get real.", Tempo's cool, matter-of-fact voice laced through Beryl's and Fireblade's mindscape, "You and I know that many species - including us - tend to be evasive or rather noncommittingly if they're faced with questions which are uncomfortable to them or considered a taboo in their society. If you have watched Alexander Jardin's reactions you surely have noticed that this is the case whenever the topic of discussion turns to humaniti biology, especially reproduction."

"So?", Fireblade's short sending conveyed a lot of her disinterest in that subject.

"That means we cannot be quite sure about the veracity of his answers. If topics like these are considered taboo amongst humaniti, he might have glossed over some facts to avoid discussion. For example his statement that 'humaniti males can go for extended periods without mating' could be plainly wrong... or that he omitted the fact that they may be able to, but it would by no means be comfortable to them."

She has a point, Beryl thought to herself.

"Beryl, for the sake of good relations with humaniti, we need to make sure that Alexander Jardin will find no fault in our hospitality. If there are biological needs to be taken care of which he doesn't speak about, we still need to know.", and we might get even more leverage on humaniti males, Tempo mused, "Thus, and I think you do have your own vested interest in this matter, I recommend you to continue this line of questioning. I did notice he reacts ... quite favourably to your presence."



Scene skip - On board of the Highland Shuttle...

Quote:

"Say, how do your people initiate this 'courtship' ritual?"

Alexander had drifted into a fitful dozing as the journey in the shuttle dragged on. He remembered Beryl being fast asleep herself and Tempo decided to leave him to his own devices, too. Fireblade... well, she's Fireblade.

But then Beryl was awake and, true to form, full of questions again. To be honest, Alex thought, she did sort of grow on him - she might have come over as a bit standoffish at first, but she did considerably warm up. Bright and cheerful, with an insatiable thirst for knowledge...

... though with little regard for that some topics might be considered highly personal. Add to that she has an eidetic memory... Some topic of conversation may just be a hour or days ago, it wouldn't matter to her, she would remember both of them with equal clarity.

Even, or especially, the more embarassing ones.

Straight off into the deep end, Alex thought grimly. Of course, Beryl wouldn't know how loaded this question is. It wouldn't be easy to give an answer conclusive enought to not to prompt even more difficult questions.

"I better start off with how things were handled centuries - hundreds of tozons - ago. And, keep in mind, I'm talking about just mainstream. If there was a woman a man would think of prospective marriage material, he was to ask her father for permission to officially court her."

"A male having a say in his daughter's life? Preposterous.", Fireblade sent with an audible scoff.

By now Alex got keenly aware that he held the undivided attention of all Loroi in sight - Beryl with her unsatiable curiosity, Tempo with a thoughtful and calculating look on her face, even Fireblade... though her look might be like she found something particular unpleasant stuck to her boot.

"This may still factor in, but it has become less and less important over time, until today. Nowadays... it more or less just happens. The man and woman in question agree to start spending time with each other, talking, doing things together, finding common interests... this sort of thing."

Of course this wasn't enough of an explanation to satisfy Beryl's curiosity. And strangely not Tempo's either who was attentively listening in.

"I noticed you have some sort of taboo on touching, right? With humans there's something similar. We call it 'personal space', roughly about an arm's length. We get highly uncomfortable if some stranger intrudes upon it, but if we consider someone as a potential mate, we would actually welcome it. So... in a way ... either man or woman might sort of 'test the waters' with this. Tentatively, first, of course."

Now that got some sort of reaction out of the assembled Loroi. One could see Tempo filing away that tidbit of information for later use, and Beryl...

Guess she now asks herself if I did see her behavior as progressing with a 'courtship', as many times as she got into my personal space, Alex thought.

Tempo's gaze flicked towards Beryl, and she briefly got a darker shade of blue. Alex didn't dare to ask what Tempo did just send; poor Beryl seems to be mortified enough already.

Interestingly enough, it was Tempo coming up with another question, one that would be even more loaded than the previous one.

"You did elaborate on the 'how', less so than on the 'who'. I'm curious and I am sure that the answer would help lots in understanding your people. So, can you tell us what would, say, a humaniti male find to be desirable traits in his prospective mate, and vice versa?"




Thu Feb 09, 2017 4:08 am
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Post Re: Writing Prompts
Well done, very well done, Novius!
I like!

I also like how it continues the previous story of ShadowDragon.

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Thu Feb 09, 2017 4:57 am
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Post Re: Writing Prompts
I must agree All top-notch writing! I'm on the edge of my seat waiting for the next submission... {where's mah popcorn! :)}

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Thu Feb 09, 2017 6:38 am
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Post Re: Writing Prompts
Wow, novius, I did not expect that.

Originally, I was thinking of these as vignettes, but there's nothing wrong with tying them together. I figured the second would be isolated from the first because it happened before, chronologically.

I've got another, longer, prompt that focuses on Reed pulling guard duty outside Alex's cell, but that will have to wait until I have time to write it. For now, here's a shorter one:

Quote:
Beryl was tired, but took care not to let her fatigue slip out either physically or through sanzai. Doing so would only earn contempt from her companion, and the Listel did not want to look weak in front of her... or the senior officer they were going to meet. Fireblade, amazingly, looked and felt as she always did: indefatigable and disinterested. How she managed it after the battle and harrowing disengagement from the Umiak forces, the young Tozet couldn't imagine.

Beryl was uneasy; Mizol didn't normally mingle with the crew, and she only knew of Tempo in passing. Once battle condition had finally been lifted, both Beryl and Fireblade had been summoned to the Parat's office.

As they entered, Tempo stood up politely from behind her desk, bid them welcome, and gestured for the pair to sit down across from her - a courtesy someone of her rank and station did not necessarily have to extend. A Torrai would have probably kept them standing to remind them of their place. Beryl marked the difference and remembered it.

The office was surprisingly bare, with virtually none of the customization or decoration one might normally expect from an officer senior enough to rate one. Tempo was nearly inscrutable through sanzai; the room seemed to say as little about its occupant as her own mental presence.

Whatever your orders were before, she began, I am now responsible for diplomatic relations with the Human. In this regard, you two will answer to me... do you understand?//subtext genuine but otherwise absent.

Beryl and Fireblade nodded, sending affirmation.

The Mizol leaned forward in her chair, folding her hands neatly on her desk.

In order to properly represent our interests going forward, I will need to know everything possible about this Human and his race. I will be interviewing everyone who has interacted with him, but am starting with you two because you have had the most contact//subtext seriousness but otherwise absent.

What can you tell and send to me?

Beryl glanced at Fireblade, but the Teidar gave no inclination of answering first. Steeling herself, she turned back to Tempo.


By the way, just because I've been writing the prompts doesn't mean no one else can. To keep things standardized, how about we put the prompts in quotes and leave the responses in normal text?


Thu Feb 09, 2017 7:56 pm
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Post Re: Writing Prompts
Well, here you go....

Beryl sighed. To be honest, she felt a bit creeped out by the Mizol, and this one right in front of her doesn't make things any easier. The Listel did notice how carefully she orchestrated the course of the talks on the bridge, the most glaring example being how she cut off the link to the Barsam ambassador, just before the battle.

It really rubbed her the wrong way. She's a Listel, a scientist at heart. Knowledge should flow freely for the betterment of all who are concerned, not carefully dished out or withheld out as people see fit.

Still, back to the question. What does she actually know about this alien male?

"Well, for all we know, in outward appearances Humaniti is remarkable similar to us while not being a Soia-Liron species. While outwardly similar, their biochemistry and genetic makeup is completely different, so much that the only viable conclusion is -"

Fireblade scoffed and Tempo sharply cut into Beryl's sanzai with her own, laced with an aura of forcefulness.

"I know! Let this be clear: There will be NO TALKS outside of us that Humaniti is our template species. None. Neither to other Loroi, nor to our client species. If people at large get wind of it, it could VERY MUCH be devastating to our kind. Am I understood?"

Beryl nodded, realizing that Tempo could be downright scary when she got on a roll. Do Mizol learn intimidation tactics in their training? Most certainly...

"Now, please skip the biology lesson. I'm not that much interested in over eighty dead Humaniti, but more in the live one. What do you think of him? What keeps him running? And how would he react to adverse conditions?", the last question being directed more at Fireblade, who still remained silent.

What do I think of him?, Beryl asks herself. Unbidden her trail of thought got a bit off-track. Take away the pink skin, a decent set of ears and a more delicate build, and he'd definitely look quite delectable. That he is well-spoken just adds to his appeal, and while the lack of his presence in sanzai is sort of creepy, it does add a bit to the mystique and tickles her curiosity... Though, judging the sanzai chatter on the ship there are lots of Loroi who wouldn't even care about these differences, and if they do care, suggestions like "lights off" or "cover his head with the bedsheet" were even some of the more harmless ones.

Focus, Beryl, she chided herself.

"I think the easiest way to start off is to think as their gender roles being reversed, to an extent. Even if Alexander Jardin told us that their male/female ratio is one on one, we did see a distinct bias towards males in the number of the dead bodies. More like fifty to thirty in favor of males. With him being the sole survivor we cannot say if his demeanor is par for his species or if he is the 'odd one out', but the chances for this are quite low. So I do think that their males fill the roles of fighters and protectors, given their bulkier build."

Beryl paused, a thought coming to her mind. Even their females mostly look somewhat more filled out compared to Loroi....

"He himself is well-spoken and seems to have benefit from a much broader education than many of our people. Though this may easily be that Humaniti doesn't require that much specialization in certain fields - they're not on a war footing and tech-wise are much more primitive compared to us. And it looks like they mature much slower than we do, giving them more time for a broader education - I think he mentioned that an age of about eighteen to twenty-one tozons is seen as 'mature' amongst his people. Given the same chronological age, we'd be just children if we were humaniti."

Tempo turned towards Fireblade as she noticed that Beryl came to a stop. "Your thoughts?"

Being directly addressed by the Mizol Fireblade simply couldn't not answer.

"I admit, his physique may account for a line of warriors, but... he doesn't strike me as one. I've seen veterans and young fresh out of their training, and he appears to me of the latter sort. He lacks most of the warrior reflexes and attitudes. He is far too trusting and forthcoming with information, much like a certain Listel here - "

Couldn't resist that jab?, Beryl thought to herself.

"and mostly, he did resign himself to the isolation. Any real warrior would have at least looked for a way out of the brig, yet he did nothing of the sort. With his short hair he can't be a warrior of some reknown..."

"Wait a solon", Beryl interjected, "The autopsies do show that Humaniti males do cut their hair - the natural length would be considerably longer. My assumption is that they do follow a different tradition. Or maybe it's practical reasons, like, a foe wouldn't be able to grab it and pull back the head to go for the jugular?"

"That just means they're gutless. We do keep our hair long. As a challenge. Anyone is invited to get up close to us, if they dare. If they don't, they're the worthless cowards only fit to be shot from afar."

Tempo stood up. "That's enough of you two. Beryl, you are to pump him for more information. Find out how their society is structured and how we best proceed to maintain good relations with Humaniti. Fireblade... feel free to test his worth as a warrior. Rile him up, challenge him, but don't do anything that could be construed as an official act of hostility towards himself or humaniti as a whole."

"Why is it that important to get on good terms with these aliens?" Fireblade sent acidly.

"First, the salvage of the Humaniti wreck had no signs of Soia technology. None at all. Even if this ship had been one of a kind and their other tech base would be Soia-influenced, primitive at it is, it is still a feat in engineering, research and development. If humans can be that resourceful to develop and build something like a spacefaring civilization from scratch, they might be an asset with their ingenuity.

Second, want it or not, we might have to deal with even just the possibility that humaniti may be our template species. Imagine the upheaval when word comes out. And it will come out, sooner or later. Too many people have seen him, starting with the bridge crew, and they surely come to their own conclusions. If word goes back to the Union, we'd rather be known as the ones who established good relations to their 'brothers and sisters' rather than the ones who started things off the wrong foot. Because that would definitely cause riots back home."


Fri Feb 10, 2017 12:45 am
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Post Re: Writing Prompts
For the next prompt, my thoughts on how we got to the Chapter 2 Title Page.

Quote:
Reed was tired. A Soroin Pideir like herself should be used to pulling guard duty, but this was anything but normal guard duty. The first few days of guarding the alien had been a nightmare what with half the damned crew determined to linger in the detention corridor for the merest glimpse of her charge. The sheer absence of sanzai on the part of the human did nothing to deter them from trying to raise him as they passed. At first, Reed was able to stop the lingering on her own authority, but it took her contacting the Operations Chief on the command deck to get the whole corridor placed off limits. When particularly enterprising Loroi crew took it upon themselves to attempt contact from other decks, the command staff finally assigned Pallan Fireblade to assist her in place of the other Soroin Pideir who held her off-shift.

Ordinarily, Reed would have been insulted in such circumstances, the implication being that she was incapable of performing her job, but the strain had been so great that the Soroin was grateful for the help. Let the curious run up against the Teidar's mental wall instead of her own. That would teach them.

Of course her troubles did not end there. Keep him isolated, and keep him alive were the orders passed down from Lashret Stillstorm herself. The latter was proving to be as difficult as the former.

At first, Reed thought the human's continued requests for different food were simply an attempt to force contact between them; he did not seem to like being left alone. It wasn't until she heard the groans, and upon entering the cell, was assaulted by the acrid smell of vomit that she realized he wasn't simply being picky. She was not concerned at first; as similar as they looked, surely some food aboard the ship would suit him. However, as time went by and the possible choices dwindled away, Reed started to fear that he wouldn't be able to eat any of their supplies. A desperate request to the Listel in charge of analyzing the wreckage of the human ship yielded nothing. As yet, she hadn't found anything approximating rations. What would happen should the only surviving member of the human ship starve to death on her watch? Certainly Stillstorm would be displeased, but even a Pideir like Reed could understand the broader implications. The thought was shared freely among the crew; the Loroi needed any and all help to turn the tide of this war and her prisoner might very well be able to secure it.

A new round of coughing and retching from within the cell caught Reed's attention. With a nod from Fireblade, the Soroin turned and opened the door. It wasn't as bad as she had feared; the human hadn't thrown up. He was, however, sweating and terribly pale. The fact that she wasn't greeted by some offhand quip informed Reed just how poorly the human felt.



Wed Feb 15, 2017 7:05 am
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Post Re: Writing Prompts
Just a quickie, I'm sure someone can do much better:
__________________________________________________________________________

Reed once again informed the clean-up crew to increase the air filtration of the "guest room", and brought fresh water to the alien.
Then she ordered the last available supplies the alien has not yet tested, and sanzai'ed the medical department an update.

When the supplies came, she once again placed them in front of the alien, and tried to encourage him to try them too.
She silently prayed he would be able to keep them down, and get some nutrients from them.

---

When the order came to open the door and escort the alien to the shuttle, Reed pressed the button of the intercom and informed the alien:
"Captain? Are you awake?"
When she opened the door, it was obvious, that the alien finally was able to keep something down, although he still did not seem to agree with the food. She quickly checked which ration it was, and was shocked. The only delicacy aboard the Tempest, the one thing that was worth being named "food" was the only thing that wretched alien could keep down?
A telepathic groan reached her from the whole ship as the other Loroi replied to her dismay, that apparently all remaining rations of Yilderai would now have to be reserved for the alien, to ensure his survival.
That telepathic reply to her slipped telepathic dismay from all ship also earned her a quick telepathic reprimand from Fireblade, who seemed undisturbed that the only food that was worth going to the mess was now reserved for that "male".
That would not help morale. First an obviously weak male as representative of a new alien race, then this race being obviously so similar to the Loroi and having an absolute telepathic immunity, and now they even have to stop enjoying their food?

Quickly she told him to pack his stuff and move, while she got the reply from the mess, that the rations for the trip of the shuttle have been packed, and that no Yilderai would be left onboard the Tempest when that alien leaves.
She needs to offload this "thing" to Listel Tozet before her anger of having to eat the bland nothings the supply depots call "ration" will be all she has for the next half tozon, as out here the supply group they are to rendezvous will have nothing worth to be named "food".

_________________
Vote for Outsider on TWC: Image
charred steppes, borders of territories: page 59,
jump-map of local stars: page 121, larger map in Loroi: page 118,
System view Leido Crossroads: page 123


Wed Feb 15, 2017 9:08 am
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Post Re: Writing Prompts
My turn to try this.


As the Two Listel entered a meditative state, one that would allow some semblance of rest as well as to trade “notes” or more accurately the memories on the subject, the first thing that came to them were the results of the many attempts to feed the alien. Tempo and Beryl were invested in Jardin’s many faceted tidbits of his biology, but what had entering their ears for what felt like an entire day-night cycle a day cycle earlier was not it. Reproduction, yes. Strength, yes. Mental Capacities, yes. Dietary needs, problematic but none the less yes. The inevitable outcome of said dietary needs, well sometimes the Listel’s perfect memory could be a curse sometimes.

Chief Science Officer Bloom was going over the facets of Jardin’s excrement. Most of it seem to be sludge, the after effects of some of the standard food the crew ate. The sight of what was allotted to the officers ended up as nearly made the young Loroi vomit on the spot. It didn’t help that the Bloom chose to expound about the needs of more fiber into the diplomat’s diet right after breakfast.

“Can we continue on past this point?’ Temp asked, her skin turning a far paler shade of blue then was healthy.

“Um, yes.” Bloom Paused, the tone of her Sanzai and her face more than plain on her irritation to pass up her hours of study and findings. “In closing, It seems we need to limit his dietary intake of the following foods. I have an extensive list.” She plopped a data module the size of a combat plasma caster onto both Listel’s laps, nearly bruising their legs as she went. “I have also spoken to the chefs to try alternatives still available.

“As is, we need to run some tests to see how well he uses his calories.”
“You mean, you want us to exercise him?” Tempo muttered. “Besides the fact he must be severely weakened from the interrogation, seeing the his ship blown up for a second time, the lack of food he has kept down, and the rounds of tests, he may not be up to it.”

“He is also not a pet to be walked around on a leash.” Beryl chimed in.

“Right, and I am the grand Shell Admiral.” Fire Blade Blurted out with a rare smile. Both listel chose to ignore it. It was no secret she had little kindness for the creature. Beryl could only think of maybe one point, and that was seeing his ship get blasted; an event she once had herself survived though she will say not wholly.

“Of Course Not.” Bloom continued. “From the maintenance crew’s reports, it appears he is not house broken, although finding the toilet in those cells is problematic…never mind. Between him probably needing to be somewhere not claustrophobic for a few hours, and we need to see if he is actually war ready.”

“I can help with that.” Said Fireblade.” All three not of the Unsheathed turned to face her as she leaned against the wall with casual disregard. Unlike the Listel, she maintained her typical stone face. Either she ignored most of the technical parts or she has a much stronger constitution; Beryl did not know what to be more jealous of at that moment.”

“No, putting him in a combat situation would be a bad idea.” Commanded Tempo, afraid she would have to pull rank.

“My squad usually has the exercise deck to ourselves this afternoon.” Fireblade continued. If she cared about Tempo’s remarks, she did not show it. “I have my own reports to turn in to Stillstorm at this time…Have him take my place while they exercise. If the pink menace lives up to his new name we will know it.

“Splendid!” Bloom squealed happily and vocally. It was a tell she was both excited and unable to be told no by anything short of a ship captain and a plasma caster to the face.

“Shall we take turns actually sleeping while Jardin Moves around deck?” Beryl asked, back upon the smooth ride of the shuttle.

“You sleep fist.” Tempo commanded. “I have a few hundred years more experience in diplomatic situations then you. Besides I need to have a chat with Fireblade.”

It was then the snores of the little Listel were not faked. “That was fast.” Fireblade chimed in happily. So, what do you want to know.

“Among other…where is Captain Jardin going?”

“I think make awkward conversation with the pilot.” Said Fireblade neutrally. “He might be male after all.”


Mon Apr 17, 2017 2:37 pm
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Post Re: Writing Prompts
Resurrecting this because the last few comic pages have been an inspiration.

ShadowDragon8685, care to continue it?

Quote:
Alex was hungry. Not hungry enough to risk waking his companions, but just enough make sleep a difficult proposition, no matter how tired he felt.

He looked about the dim crew bay on the Prophet’s Reason. Except for the fact that the cabin’s bunks were installed perpendicular to the bulkheads, instead of being set inside them, it could have easily doubled for any of the crew bays on Bellarmine. Alex would have luxuriated in the size of the bed – built for the hulking Barsam physique - if not for their apparent penchant for rock-hard mattresses.

Still, Alex noted, he was hardly in any position to complain. Captain Mozin had come out of nowhere after their shuttle had been left stranded by the retreating Clearbrook. Tempo had not been… happy… with the prospect of transferring the Highland’s crew and cargo to the Barsam vessel, but the Umiak were bearing down on them and there weren’t any better options. He would have been fine with a hammock in the cargo hold, but the Barsam double-bunked enough of his own crew to provide the eight Loroi and lone Human a bay to themselves. Of course… that was after Tempo had emphatically turned down Mozin’s offer to ‘let the little brother stay with other men.’ Apparently, she cared less about the co-ed bunking arrangement than she did about letting the Barsam have direct access to him. Alex hadn’t even been given a chance to voice his own opinion on the matter.

The Highland’s cargo… Alex’s stomach felt hollow as he thought of it again. He should have expected the Loroi to send their salvage from the Bell along with him, but seeing the cargo containers full of wreckage alongside the capsules that clearly housed the bodies of his fellow crewmates took the young man by surprise. In the rush that had been their hasty transfer over to Prophet’s Reason, he had even helped the Loroi move it all. Had one of the capsules he floated contained Ellen’s body?

Alex resolved himself to ask when the moment presented itself.

The human glanced across the cabin at the rows of double bunks. He was on the top bunk, all the way to the left of the room from his perspective facing the door. On the opposite side of the bay, the top bunk was empty, Tempo having claimed the bottom with no one willing (or allowed) to share with her. To her left were the two Loroi on the shuttle that Alex didn’t know, Tempo’s aid and the third guard that had joined Fireblade and Reed’s detail. Next to them, he could see the lime-green outline of Spiral’s hair backlit by the room’s dim orange standby lights. She, along with Talon, had tried to take the set of beds next to his, but a quick glance from Fireblade sent them to their current location, while Fireblade and Reed took up residence close by, presumably to keep an eye on him. His eyes softened as they alighted on Reed, who was sleeping almost perfectly at attention on the top bunk next to his. Stolid though she was, she had been a constant presence during his time in Tempest’s brig doing what she could to keep him as comfortable as possible during their harried retreat from the Umiak. Jump sickness and worsening indigestion had not been easy on Alex, and Reed helped where she could. He was grateful for the kindness. He noticed that her expression did not relax, even in sleep. The ensign chuckled softly to himself at that.

Looking down, however, Alex saw that Fireblade looked nothing like she did during the day. Her face was pained as she twitched ever so slightly. A nightmare, perhaps? Despite their differences, Alex felt for her; he had lately been having them as well.

Alex didn’t lean over to look at Beryl below him, but he could hear her soft snores readily enough. She had offered him the bottom bunk – the preferred Loroi option based on the pattern he had witnessed among the others – but he declined, stating he preferred the top. It wasn’t entirely untrue, but the real reason was that this position offered him at least a little privacy. On the left side of his bunk, closest to the wall, he was nearly invisible to everyone but Reed, and she had conked out almost as soon as her head hit the pillow.

The hours had not been kind to the group. Even with the Barsam ship’s help, their escape had been a narrow one. In the time that it took the Reason’s drive to recharge, the Umiak were nearly on top of them. Moreover, the flight through Gora had offered no rest; lead Umiak echelons rode their tail and they had to dodge fire through nearly half the system until Clearbrook and the local forces she had marshaled were able to provide cover. They had left Gora to the sound of even more system incursion alarms.

Was he witnessing the end of the war, before Humanity had even chosen a side? Would Umiak enslavement be their only option now?

A soft rustle from below drew Alex’s attention. Beryl’s snoring had stopped, and now it appeared that the little white-haired Loroi was getting out of bed. Laying down slowly so as not to arouse suspicion, Alex watched her out of the corner of his eye.

Beryl hunched over as she got up, hugging herself as she maneuvered the wide space between the side of the bed and the bulkhead. She leaned her head against one of the wall lockers that presumably held the personal effects of the room’s usual occupants.

Suddenly, Alex heard a sound he never expected from the bubbly Listel.

Beryl was crying.

It started first as ragged breathing, but evolved into pained, harshly muted sobs as the Loroi brought up one hand to cover her mouth, bracing herself against the bulkhead with the other. She hung there, shoulders rocking as she tried to keep herself as quiet as possible.

Alex was moving before he realized it, softly crawling over the long bed and down the ladder at the end. His thick woolen socks muffled most of the noise he made on the ladder and the deck, leaving Alex standing next to the distraught Loroi with little idea as to how to announce his presence.

What the hell am I doing? he asked himself. As similar as they looked, Beryl and her kind were not Human, and he had no idea what was culturally, or personally, appropriate in cases like this. Still, he couldn’t just slink back to his bed and pretend nothing was happening.

“Beryl,” he whispered softly, “you all right?” Alex barely changed the ‘OK’ English idiom to the Trade ‘all right’ before making himself look like even more of an idiot.

The Loroi looked at him fearfully, surprised by his presence. She wiped hastily at her eyes as she straightened.

“Captain Jardin,” she started, her voice cracking as she whispered, “I’m sorry, I did not mean to wake you.”

Alex shook his head. “I was awake anyway, besides, this is much more important… what is wrong?”

An expression crossed her gray eyes that he had never seen before.

“I… I…” She slumped away from the locker, swaying slightly as she looked side to side, fighting for words. “I can’t see any way ahead. The Umaik are coming… stronger than I’ve ever seen or heard of before, and we can’t see them.

Alex stepped forward, raising his hands to draw her attention. Sure enough, she focused on the movement.

“I… can’t pretend I’m an expert. I’ve only seen a tiny bit of this war. But Beryl,” he caught her gaze directly, “your ships are unlike anything I’ve ever seen, and you were able to take out so many Umaik with so few losses. They may have a few tricks now, but surely they’ll be at a disadvantage against your main fleets… after all, how long can you supply that many ships in enemy territory?”

The Human knew he was grasping at straws to make her feel better. Even with his limited time among the Loroi, it was clear how reliant they were on far-sensing. To have that trump card taken away from them must be terrifying. Still, logistics were logistics, and if these were the Loroi picket fleets, he could only imagine how big the home fleets were. Surely even the Umiak couldn’t sustain a fight against overwhelming or even similar numbers so far removed from their supply centers… or could they?

Beryl looked at him with something like pity. “You haven’t seen the Umiak on a real offensive. Even I have not seen it directly. But through… through shared Listel memory, I have.”

Her head slumped and she began to sob anew.

“Yes… yes they can lay… waste to our home systems… and it is a… a… terrible thing to behold.”

Beryl simply hung there, as if suspended on strings, crying. She didn’t even try to cover her face or turn away.

For Alex, the act was instinctive. He was moving to hold her even as alarm bells started going off in his head. Loroi did not touch one another casually, that much he had observed in his short time with them, though he was not sure why. But the sight of Beryl sobbing uncontrollably was too much for him. Before he knew what he was doing, he had enveloped the Listel in as comforting a hug as he could give.

Beryl’s reaction was instantaneous. She stiffened as if touched by a live wire. He could practically feel her eyes widen.

“Wh-wh-wh-what are you doing?” Her voice rattled between a whisper and a whimper.

Alex let go immediately, but did not withdraw his arms, torn between the urge to comfort and the urge to back away. His body twitched at the indecision.

“I-I’m sorry!” He whispered fiercely, willing his arms to pull away as he started to step backward. It was a slow and deliberate process. “It’s how… it’s how we comfort one another, and I just-”

Before he could finish, he felt Beryl’s arms unsteadily come up to encircle his waist, stopping his movement away from her. She didn’t pull him close, or grip him tightly, but it was something.

“It’s… it’s no problem. I think I understand. I was simply not prepared.”

“No,” he replied, “it’s a Human thing. I did it without thinking. I’m sorry, I’ll…”

Alex tried to disentangle himself, but she moved closer, now mimicking his original embrace.

“It is all right, Captain Jardin. Your touch does not carry the same… impacts… as ours, and besides, I believe I am starting to see why you do this.” She rested her head on his chest and began to hold on in earnest. “It is indeed… comforting.”

Blinking in shock and surprise, Alex relaxed, and returned the embrace. Resting his cheek on the top of Beryl’s head, he murmured, “I don’t know how it will turn out all right, but I have to have faith that it will. I can’t believe that after surviving the attack on the Bell, and seeing all that I have, that it would all just end in a wave of Umiak sweeping over everything.”

It was an empty statement, but it seemed to work. Beryl relaxed against him, squeezing slightly in her embrace.

Suddenly, she lifted her head to look over his shoulder. Her expression was intense as he felt Beryl raise one arm away from his back to wave behind him.

“What’s wrong?” Alex asked, a sudden feeling of dread rising from the pit of his stomach.

“I’m just telling them that you were trying to comfort me, and that everything is all right,” Beryl replied matter-of-factly.

A shiver ran down his spine as Alex realized that Beryl’s initial shock also probably included a telepathic component that he hadn’t been aware of.

Slowly, ever so slowly, the Human shifted his body and turned his head to look behind him. Seven sets of Loroi eyes stared back at him through the dim light of the cabin, one of which was already glowing green.


Sun May 13, 2018 7:15 pm
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Post Re: Writing Prompts
Guess it's time for me to pick up the slack...

Quote:
Alex felt his throat constrict. Thoughts about what the Umiak may do to him suddenly dropped very far down on the list in favour of what the assembled Loroi may do in the face of that perceived breach of propriety and professionalism. Loroi don't touch each other, and here he just did... granted, it wasn't the first time, not even Beryl literally dropping into his lap back on Highland-7 was the first time, but, well, this is definitely different.

He half expected to be flung away again, courtesy of another one of Fireblade's telekinetic tricks, but the seconds ticked away... Beryl still in his arms, and, perhaps to Loroi eyes even more shockingly, responding in kind, all laid out in front of what looked very much like the judging stares of a Loroi tribunal.

Beryl's breath finally stopped hitching, giving Alex the chance to meet their gazes eye to eye. 'Best face the music now...'

Fireblade would have tossed him into the next bulkhead - 'without touching, of course', Alex mused - in an instant and still looked moments away from doing so, if not for Tempo's slightly outstretched hand, barring Fireblade in a warding-off gesture, and Tempo herself was difficult to read, but the expression on her face seemed to be one tinged with curiosity.

As for the other Loroi - their expressions ranged between curiosity as well - Reed - over one of matter-of-fact acceptance - Talon - to somewhat akin to bewilderment and mild revulsion.

Of course it would be Tempo being the first to direct words at him.

"Talon just filled me in on that ...bizarre greeting ritual of yours. Are your people always that tactile?"

Alex wasn't able to completely suppress his wince. Her tone of voice wasn't outright accusatory, but still laced with a bit of criticism. It was clear to him that his next words may decide whether Tempo would continue to reign in Fireblade... or not. Curiously enough, Beryl still had her other arm around his body, and she gave him a slight squeeze in response. 'Looks like she's catching on very quickly', Alex thought, 'now think carefully...'.

"It varies on culture and setting. For example, Japanese are about as much on tact and propriety as you might be..." - prompting a side glance from Beryl, surely she filed away that name in that eidetic memory of hers, for later reference - "... and usually we only do that to people we consider close friends. Rarely to strangers, and then only if we perceive them to be in great distress."

That had an effect. Fireblade's eyes dimmed, ever so slowly, and look of grudging respect crept into her face, coupled with the dark promise that she will watch him closely from now on.

Tempo's eyes flickered between Alex and Beryl, and by the focused look on their faces Alex guessed that they had another fast-paced thought-talk between them, then Tempo nodded, her mien of curiosity increased tenfold. "Perhaps you should know by now that we do guardedly keep what you would call 'private space', touching between strangers is deemed ... highly inappropiate ... and almost only deemed socially acceptable during male encounters."

Alex blinked. Once, twice, while his thought processes came to a grinding halt and needed to back up the last few seconds. Surely she didn't mean...

"You mean... you thought I'd make a pass on her...?", he asked, once he was sure his voice would remain steady.

"If that idiom 'make a pass on her' indicates a sexual enounter, then yes.", Tempo clarified.

"Stop it, all of you!", Beryl bursted out, shocking everyone, including Alex, "Just look. We'll never see the Tempest and our friends on board again. The Clearbrook deserted on us, and the Enemy is bearing down on us from all sides. It all... dropped down on me. Alex was there, and what he did, it helped me."

Complete silence. The assembled Loroi shared some glances amongst themselves, looks ranging from surprised to slightly guilty, and, one by one, they filed out. Tempo being second to last, giving Alex one last measuring glance, an unspoken 'We'll talk later about that', and lastly Fireblade. Even without her going glowy eyes the sharp line on her forehead promised retribution if Alex would ever do something to Beryl she deemed unacceptable.

Being left alone, Alex turned to Beryl, who never completely separated herself from him during that encounter. Come to think of this, facing them it was her giving support to him as well...

"You feeling all right now..?", he asked softly.

Beryl closes her eyes, then nods slightly.

"If you don't mind.... Can we stay like this, for a little longer?"


Mon May 14, 2018 2:29 am
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Post Re: Writing Prompts
You guys are damn good. Reads like parts of a canon novel. Do go on, if I was more creative, I'd continue or fill in some gaps between past pages, sadly I'm not :)


Mon May 14, 2018 2:58 am
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Post Re: Writing Prompts
orion1836 wrote:
“What’s wrong?” Alex asked, a sudden feeling of dread rising from the pit of his stomach.

“I’m just telling them that you were trying to comfort me, and that everything is all right,” Beryl replied matter-of-factly.


Shouldn't the Loroi be upset by Beryl having a unlawful body contact with a male ?


Mon May 14, 2018 3:54 pm
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Post Re: Writing Prompts
Onaiom wrote:
orion1836 wrote:
“What’s wrong?” Alex asked, a sudden feeling of dread rising from the pit of his stomach.

“I’m just telling them that you were trying to comfort me, and that everything is all right,” Beryl replied matter-of-factly.


Shouldn't the Loroi be upset by Beryl having a unlawful body contact with a male ?


It was Beryl sending out a wordless "distress call", much like a shriek of surprise, I think, using her sanzai the moment Alex tried to encircle her into a hug. So they arrived and the first thing they saw was a Beryl who looked like as if she's been through the meat grinder in close contact with that pink alien who by all means just had a terrified/guilty look on his face.

So, given that tableau, what would the Loroi most probably come to think what happened?


Mon May 14, 2018 8:24 pm
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Post Re: Writing Prompts
Quote:
"Of course," Alex replied softly. "Take as long as you need."

As Beryl let her head fall back to his chest with a sigh, the human looked up to the door that had just closed behind the rest of the Loroi.

"I hope they didn't leave on my account... we all just got to sleep."

Beryl shook her head, a muted movement against the fabric of his jumpsuit.

"It's a normal Loroi reaction to something like this. Your kind apparently closes in, our kind spreads out."

Barely out of an emotional roller coaster, Alex noted, and she was already back to observation and analysis.

"Sanzai is less effective over distance," she continued. "They're both giving me privacy, and protecting themselves from what I am feeling."

The Listel squeezed her arms around him, shuddering slightly.

"Besides, I do not think any of them are anxious to get back to sleep. Fireblade was sending during her dreams again... and her dreams are not pleasant. That is why I woke up, and was in the state that I was in. Everything came crashing down at once."

"You... you can do that?" Alex wondered. His own dreams were bad enough. He could not imagine living through the nightmares of everyone around him.

Beryl pushed back slightly to look up at him. "It is not common. Fireblade is a powerful telepath, but lacks certain aspects of control. She sends in her sleep. Normally it would make for an amusing diversion, and perhaps some teasing over meals from shipmates, but in her case, Fireblade has experienced some... terrifying aspects of the war and relives them in her dreams."

"PTSD," Alex muttered. He'd learned plenty about it in training, but had never met anyone afflicted. He suspected that would change when Humanity eventually was rolled into the Loroi-Umiak war.

The Loroi looked at him curiously. The expression swept away nearly all trace of her previous tears. "What was that?"

He smiled softly. "An acronym, like ECS from earlier," he replied, raising the shoulder where his Bellarmine patch rode. "It means post-traumatic stress disorder, though the letters don't match up in Trade."

Beryl smiled. "Another puzzle. So is the disorder common among your people?"

Alex shook his head. "Generally? No, thankfully, but it can be among soldiers or those who care for others during accidents and natural disasters. We've become better at understanding it and treating it over the years."

She looked away. "We... know what it is, but don't have a spoken name for it. Serious cases must be removed from the fleet as it can be detrimental to a crew. Fireblade's cabin mates try to have opposing shifts." Beryl paused, patting his back as she looked back to him. "So is this how your people treat it?"

Alex laughed softly, the image of a psychologist offering hugs leaping unbidden to his mind. "Professionally? No, but otherwise between friends and family, yes, depending on the situation."

"Is that how you view me?" she asked.

From a fellow human, that might have been a loaded question, but there was no expression other then open curiosity in Beryl's face. Alex shook his head.

"I hardly know you, though it seems like we've been through a great deal together, even in this short time. I just... felt protective. Honestly, it was more instinctive than anything. I'm sorry - had you been not as distraught as you were, I would not have dared. I did not mean to upset you."

She gave a small smile. "Protective... strange to hear that coming from a male. But, you need not worry, I understand your intent, and it was surprisingly helpful."

Beryl sighed, withdrawing her arms from around his waist as she took a half step back. She did not, however, completely break contact. Reaching across Alex's body, she took his right hand into her own, mimicking the handshake she had witnessed earlier.

"So I thank you, but would not recommend trying that with anyone else."

He laughed. "No kidding. I'm glad it wasn't Fireblade who was down here crying... not that she would."

"Don't be so sure." The Listel grew serious, withdrawing her hand and resting it on her chin. "As I think of it, such an embrace... what do you call it?"

"A hug," he volunteered.

"A hug," the English sounded strange from her, "would likely be beneficial for her."

Alex raised an eyebrow. "You mean the stress relief from killing me for touching her would be beneficial. You... do realize she hates me, right?

Beryl gave him a look. "She does not hate you. Where do you get that idea?"

His eyebrow went higher. "Fireblade's never said a word to me, glares at me every chance she gets, and she had no problem bouncing me off a bulkhead when I was about to stumble into her."

The Loroi rolled her eyes. "She is wary of you, hence the glare. It's not every day Loroi encounter someone so completely immune to sanzai. Not speaking is a Teidar trait; do not take it personally. She would only speak before a challenge, which means she would then kill you. I thought the incident in the elevator was a bit extreme, but mind you that we were under attack, and Fireblade, as well as a portion of the crew, were still convinced you were a threat. I think she was trying to provoke you to see if you indeed were."

"And am I still a threat?"

The question caught her off guard. "No, certainly not... and I see your point. Perhaps it is time for Fireblade to see it that way, too."

"Even so, I don't think I'll be... embracing," he chose the Trade word, "her anytime soon. I like being alive."

Beryl gave him an exasperated look as he smirked. "I wasn't joking... it makes sense, now that I think of it." The Listel's eyes looked through him, thoroughly engrossed in the matter, now that it had her attention. "Her problem is in sending. Fireblade is... loud, for lack of a better way to explain it. She's constantly having to restrain herself and given her history, guard her thoughts. With you, it... wait, they're coming back."

She straightened, self-consciously brushing herself off. Alex sympathized with Fireblade, and admired Beryl for thinking of her at such a time, but he was in no rush to test the bounds of Loroi propriety, especially with that Loroi in particular. Not missing an excellent opportunity for a tactical withdraw, he wished Beryl a good night.

"Better get to bed before we create any more diplomatic incidents."

She laughed softly and nodded as Alex hustled up the ladder to his bunk. He paused, a finely-honed self-preservation instinct kicking in.

"Oh, and Beryl?"

"Hm?" Her eyes popped over the side of his bunk.

"Maybe hang onto the Fireblade idea for now?" From what Alex knew of her, he doubted she'd let it go, but maybe she could be persuaded to keep it to herself.

"Tempo and Fireblade have been inquiring as to my well-being this whole time. Distance does not mean we cannot communicate; it just lessens some aspects of the sharing. I was passing my thoughts as I had them. Fireblade vehemently disagrees though Talon says..." she trailed off as her eyes widened. "Never mind what Talon says," she added quickly before disappearing back down to her own bunk.

Alex mashed his face into the hard Barsam pillow. Maybe he could knock himself unconscious before the rest of the group got back.


Tue May 15, 2018 7:55 pm
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Post Re: Writing Prompts
Quote:
Well... no such luck.

Not that he really tried, but that Barsam pillow wasn't be rigid enough to give him a concussion. So he was still awake and had a clear mind when the door slid open again to let Tempo pass.

Alex's sigh of relief that it would be only her stopped short when Fireblade slipped in a moment later, just when the door was about to close again. Though, he noticed, she didn't send him her usual glare, her expression was, for a lack of better word, pensive, and slightly chagrined.

To see that tough-as-nails Loroi in such a vulnerable state unsettled Alex, very much so.

"Captain Jardin, a word if I may?", Tempo's cultured voice broke through his reverie.

"You wish to talk about what happened earlier, am I right?"

Tempo nodded. "Yes, though I'd like to pose a question just beforehand: While you explained us how human names are formed, I'd like to know the context of the different forms of appellation."

'Well, that should be safe enough...', Alex mused. "Please be aware that even amongst us there are wildly different naming conventions. You know, 'Captain' is the provisional rank I hold by default, as the last surviving officer of the Bellarmine, but 'Ensign' is the rank I got throughout my career and which is how I'm listed on payroll..." 'If they don't list me as MIA:PD by now...', Alex's mind interjected, "'Alexander Jardin' is my full name, without any rank, where 'Jardin' is the name of my family, and 'Alexander' the given name. Though...", Alex paused, "If you wish to be formal, you can use 'Captain' to call for my attention whenever I could be sure you'd be addressing me and no one else. 'Captain Jardin' if there'd be more similarly-ranked persons about, to avoid confusion, and 'Captain Alexander Jardin' would be reserved for highly official functions."

Tempo watched him through her red eyes, slightly nodding, but still attentive.

"With Arrir Talon, it is a bit different. Technically, I'm still closer at home in a pilot's seat than at an admiral's desk, so I could sort of relate to her. It was... an offer of comradeship if you will. Typically, in a squad of human soldiers they'd address those of the same rank with their last name - it would be 'Jardin' for me, then - and the squad leader, holding the superior rank and command, with the title. Though, when referring to others, like in reports, the name and rank would be used. Leaving out ranks and titles is only permissible in informal settings, and using the given name indicates that things do become personal."

There she lifted an eyebrow, her gaze almost piercing Alex's eyes.

"I see... you noticed she referred to you as 'Alex', just before?"

He blinked, recalling the previous confrontation and Beryl's outburst. And blinked again. He's been had. "Uh... yes, she did." There was no way he could evade a question as direct as this.

Tempo gave him a slight smile. One Alex thought it to be the proverbial cat-got-the-canary smile. "And did things become personal?", she drew out the question Alex silently dreaded.

"No... Yes. I don't know...", Alex shook his head. "I don't know her for that long, but..." - "But a hug is quite a personal thing, am I correct?"

Alex noticed that she readily used the English word. Of course, Beryl must have relayed it to her. And who knows what else.

"We've been through so much in so short time. I admit that it is ... agreeable to have her around.", Alex dug a bit for an appropiate word - Not sure where he heard it, but it could have been on an old movie 'vid... No matter.

Again that slight smile. Alex realized that Tempo must have planned the whole conversation from start to end - that minx! - to make him admit that ... yes, Beryl might have her sights on him.

And, if he's truthful to himself, she is bright, almost scaringly so, she has a sense of humor - a strange one, but still, is excitable, attentive, caring.... if she were human, she'd be a woman in a million, and if he wouldn't be having nightmares over Ellen....

'Stop right there!', Alex forced his thoughts back to the present.

"Throughout travelling through space, we encontered a number of different species. The Barsam, the Neridi, Golim, Pipolsid... Your people do stand out in the list. Not because you're different - all of the species are vastly different to us Loroi - but how similar you are to us in appearance and behavior. I look at you and see the same signs when you are exhausted, angry, curious or agitated as I would on any Loroi. And you saw Tozet Beryl crying and reacted much like a Loroi male would - with comforting her. Your approach was ... unique, but the intent and motivation was the same."

Now Alex lifted an eyebrow in return, prompting a slight 'Told you so' smile from Tempo.

"And that has just proven my point. Your wordless gesture was one to prompt me to elaborate, I gather? Yet, with all the similarities, our differences stand out even more so. Your Lotai... and our Sanzai... sent us down different paths in evolution. Tozet Beryl said it, your kind closes in, where ours would spread out. Though I admit, your hug had been surprisingly effective for her to regain her equilibrium. That told me that we do need to learn more on our differences... and either how to bridge them when it is warranted or learn to respect them."

Now Alex was a bit puzzled. That sounded both like an encouragement and a warning, rolled into one. Unbidden, another thought about Beryl came to his mind. 'Dangerous territory here...', Alex decided to divert the topic.

"If that had surprised you, imagine how it baffled me. We humans had a wild imagination how alien life would be. Similar to us, human-hating insects, globs of protoplasm, pure energy... Name it, and my people most likely imagined it up.... well, almost everything. Then our very first contact was with the Orgus, and we thought that aliens would look ... alien. And now here you are, looking like a play on ancient earth myths and fairytales. And I ask myself the same question as you do: Is it just coincidence that we are that similar?"

Tempo sighed. "Rest assured, all will be explained in good time. But let it be said that we, the Loroi in general, are very much eager to learn about you, though your people's very existence could ... have quite an impact on us and the Union at a whole. But...", Tempo waved away the topic, "... there is another matter I'd like to bring to you, on behalf of Pallan Fireblade."

Alex's eyes flicked over to Fireblade in the back. Holding herself straight, she met his eyes - to his slight surprise not with her trademark glare, but again with the rather pensive look in her eyes. If he didn't know better, she looked much like she wanted to broach a subject, but was hestitant to do so.

"I'm sure Tozet Beryl told you that Teidar only rarely speak. That they only speak just to issue a challenge ... is a misconception prevalent amongst Listel. Teidar do speak when the situation necessitates it, but whenever possible, they prefer sanzai over speech. While I now understand your ... hestitation to embrace her, Tozet Beryl's suggestion gave me an idea."

'That can't be good...', Alex dreaded.

"Fireblade's sleep-sending is ... distressing, to say the least. For us, ... and she just admitted it ... moreso for herself. While your ... non-presence ... in sanzai is strange to us, it may actually be of help. Typically I wouldn't ask that of a Loroi male, but ... would you agree to a switch in sleeping arrangements to bunk with her? Please note that I - both of us - ask this of you only for her calm of mind."

"Uh...", Alex tried to interject, "... you do know that I have nightmares on my own? I could end up waking her in return..."


Fri May 18, 2018 10:43 am
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Joined: Wed May 20, 2015 2:14 am
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Post Re: Writing Prompts
Wow.
This... request at the end caught me off-guard.
Well done.
Very enjoyable reading, thanks to you both, Novius and Orion.

Please continue.

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Fri May 18, 2018 1:56 pm
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Joined: Sun Aug 14, 2016 7:32 pm
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Post Re: Writing Prompts
Yes, awesome!
Next question, how to spoon with a Teidar Pallan.


Fri May 18, 2018 8:16 pm
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Joined: Tue May 26, 2015 3:33 am
Posts: 498
Post Re: Writing Prompts
Couldn't resist to tack on this little bit :)

Quote:
"I commend you for your concern, but Tozet Beryl told you that your ... 'PeeTeeEsDee' is no stranger to us, too. By now most of us saw fighting and have memories to deal with. Even a certain cheerful, upbeat Listel you most certainly grew to care about..."

'She doesn't even need her telepathy to read me like a book', Alex's mind interjected when Tempo paused for added effect.

"Whatever. I'm quite certain it wouldn't be the first time Pallan Fireblade would wake up to someone else thrashing in her sleep. But ... she agrees that it might be beneficial to her to be around a person she wouldn't need to constantly guard her sending around. Where she can relax for a lack of a better word."

Alex couldn't help but glance in Fireblade's direction again before returning his attention to Tempo.

Having her back towards Fireblade, Tempo only saw where Alex's eyes went and his resolve waver. "I still don't know whether your Lotai evolved naturally or was the result of some genetic tinkering - the task to find out would be one for the Listel - but I don't want to squander the opportunity that has arisen. I've come to believe that without Sanzai, your species had to develop a higher level of empathy towards others. To be better equipped to decipher subtle cues where we would simply come to rely on what is sent to us. If you could help us... then I ask you.... please, do so."

With the last words, Tempo slowly stepped closer to him, her voice dropping a bit, her whole appearance projecting the gravity of her plight. But that was not what Alex moved. Tempo herself told him that she was trained in the art of negotiation - 'and most certainly persuasion', Alex added. No. It was the look he had seen in Fireblade's eyes when his glance met hers.

And he was most touched to see a look in her eyes he saw only once before, right at the moment where she and Beryl urged him to leave the Tempest's bridge. That single moment where she actually reached out and touched him, too.

That pleading, almost desperate look.



Sat May 19, 2018 12:19 am
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Joined: Fri Jan 12, 2018 4:53 am
Posts: 291
Post Re: Writing Prompts
@novius - excellent writing, except that Tempo being unsure of how to formulate her proposal for Alex to bunk with Fireblade, looking for words and pausing, doesn't sound like Tempo :) Talking to foreigners about uneasy topics is her daily bread and butter.


Sat May 19, 2018 7:19 am
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Joined: Thu Jul 07, 2016 3:54 pm
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Post Re: Writing Prompts
Unless she is manipulating him like he is a Loroi male.


Sat May 19, 2018 8:00 am
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Joined: Tue May 26, 2015 3:33 am
Posts: 498
Post Re: Writing Prompts
entity2636 wrote:
@novius - excellent writing, except that Tempo being unsure of how to formulate her proposal for Alex to bunk with Fireblade, looking for words and pausing, doesn't sound like Tempo :) Talking to foreigners about uneasy topics is her daily bread and butter.


While Mizol are trained in diplomacy, negotiations and rhethoric their usual field is to broker good relationship between clans and tribes, and lastly species. Speaking on behalf of a fellow Loroi's rather private matter might be a bit outside her expertise. And, when it comes to diplomacy, people usually silently agree to put sensitive (read: taboo) subjects aside at first to not to have tense talks go haywire from the very start. Only on creating a good understanding (and granted, the one between her and Alexander is still a bit shaky) people are free to move to rather loaded topics.

I gather that Loroi usually do have an even stronger sense of taboo than humans might have, and it took Tempo much to overcome what could be seen as a breach of protocol by touching such a sensitive subject right early on.

A second reason for her to pause is to let her words have an added effect. Asking that alien to spend an extended amount of time with a Loroi he's definitely uncomfortable around and actually having been violated by her is definitely something one cannot do with an offhand remark.

And yes, one can say she is manipulating him - to an extent. After all, she is using all she has to her disposal - intonation, choice of words, pauses, body language, to have the desired effect, namely having Alex agree to something he's definitely not comfortable with.


Sat May 19, 2018 8:14 am
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