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[WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only) 
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Post [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
Originally posted here.

Zarya wrote:
Caught by the Gora Relay...

Immediately after Talon’s remark Spiral executed a series of commands, cutting off main propulsion and pivoting the Highland with 180°. The initial manoeuvre was hardly felt, yet visible by the rapidly moving scenery of stars outside. At the same time Tempo, Reed and Fireblade entered the flight deck and silently positioned themselves against the rear bulkhead. They sat down in a brace position on the floor folding their hands in the back of their necks, settling with their backs straight to the wall. Also Beryl started to reposition, clasping Alex’ arms around her waist. “Hold tight, the deceleration will be violent. This is the most secure place for both of us”. Alex responded by helping Beryl sit straighter on his lap with her back against his chest, embracing her waist and by locking his fingers. Beryl pressed her arms on top of his arms, placing her hands on his hands, clasping them slightly.

“Fourty three solons on main propulsion, brace yourselves now!”, shouted Talon.

The remainder of the Highland’s primary fuel reserve was pushed to the Highland’s engines, the deceleration pushing Beryl hard against him as it overwhelmed the inertial dampening. Breething immediately became difficult, Alex guessed that he experienced the equivalent of 7Gs, perhaps more, instinctively applying AGSM as taught in flight training. Passing out was not an option, but his vision started to blur out. Lights on the dash flashed up bright yellow, then red which in turn started blinking ominously as the airframe endured the stress. After slightly less than a minute the weight of Beryl and the momentum loss that had pushed both of them in the chair started to taper off, and this was immediately followed by metal clunking sounds accompanied by twirps coming from the flight controls. Part of the Highland’s dashboard suddenly darkened.

“Separation complete. Brace again!” Spiral called out.

Artificial gravity faltered for a moment and then felt less pronounced as if internal systems had switched to another power source. Then a series of violent whooshing sounds accompanied by additional jerks, pushed the occupants around.

‘Thrusters’, Alex realised, while still recovering from the previous manouvre.
This time the G-effect was noticeable, but not as bad as before.

Talon and Spiral were the only ones properly strapped-in. From a corner of his eye Alex could see that the Loroi in the back were firmly held in place by something. Although they didn’t have any support to hold on to they didn’t even slide during the forward or sideways jerks. Alex realised that Fireblade probably applied telekinesis to keep them steady against the wall. He even could feel that this force was extended to him and Beryl keeping them secure in the chair. Meanwhile the starfield outside appeared to move in a more or less deliberate pattern. Whatever was happening to the part of the Highland they were in, Talon was definitely piloting it.

“48 solons additional manoeuvres”, called out Talon. “Aiming for the Station.”
“Fuel for 40.” responded Spiral.

“I do it in 39!”
“Fine, just lose speed!”

As Alex parsed this, he started counting the time he heard the trusters firing. They reached about 20 heartbeats of continuous firing, when it stopped for a moment. ‘Less than 20 to spare’, he thought.

“18 solons”, said Spiral.

During the intermission Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin popped into his mind.
Running low on fuel while trying to land the LEM on the moon’s surface. Balancing on a flame with 120 seconds left, hovering over a crater by tilting forward only to spot a terrain littered by car sized boulders. Flown by the best pilot in the Earth-Moon system of that era it had ended well.

Beryl’s underarms pressed heavier and her hands tightened around his hands. Alex firmed his grip in return.
“If Talon flies like Neil Armstong, we’ll make it” he said in Beryl ear.
She moved her head slightly sideways, “I’ll ask you about Neil Armstrong later”.

“Attention Gora Relay, we’re coming in hot”.
“Affirmative, lose more relative velocity if you can”.

Sun Jul 15, 2018 7:28 am
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
Originally posted here.

novius wrote:
"Torpedo launch detected"

The synthetic voice blared the alarm through the cockpit, waking Alex from his meditative state, thoughts running around in his head.

'Of all the Loroi, must it be the red-haired harridan in the back of the shuttle?'

'I'm not sure Beryl would like that...'

His thoughts turning back to the petite Listel Tozet in his lap he got acutely aware that she did close in on him even further, her right hand around his neck and her fingertips just below his ear, just shy of a full embrace. With her face being only inches apart from his, no one wouldn't describe the scene as quite intimate... both by Human and Loroi standards.

Another stray thought, that that burned vanilla scent is quite pleasant around her, flitted through his brain, followed by the one that she still looked to be in deep trance, completely oblivious to the outside world, and that they might better get into proper positions and strapped in in case Talon wants to make good on her promise to do some fancy flying.

'But, how to wake her up?', Alex thought. Even gently shaking her elicited no reaction, and giving her a light slap would be the very last thing he would ever do to a Loroi. Figuratively and maybe literally.

Lacking further options he sent a last hopeful thought to whatever deity is listening, that Beryl might overlook that breach of propriety (well, they are already way past the point of what is considered proper for Loroi, another part of his brain added), closed in the last few inches separating their faces and kissed her.

Right on her lips.

Of course, it wasn't the soul-crushing, universe-collapsing affair holonovels would like to portray it, but still a little more that just the brushing of his lips against hers. Of course, it was only to elicit a reaction, any reaction from Beryl, he thought, but he couldn't help but notice that, were the circumstances much different, he could very much come to like it, but perhaps he may have now blown any chances, though now it's important to stay alive and that needs her to be awake and alert...

Beryl's eyes flew open and Alex instinctively jerked back, his stream of thoughts coming to a sudden stop.

"Captain Jardin! What...", she started, only to be interrupted by Highland-7's computerized voice repeating the warning. "...Oh."

Alex already half expected to be and braced himself against being slapped the daylights out of him, but Beryl seemed way more puzzled than enraged, and she still made no move to get up and a seat of her own. She did remove her left hand from his neck though, but mainly to key in some commands on the console, adding some arcs fanning out from the enemy group closest to them on the display. The projected torpedo trajectories.

One of the arcs crossed the path the shuttle would take, with an ominous red marker at the intersection. As if to confirm Alex's assumption, the computer cut in: "Incoming projectile. Time to impact: 790 solons."

On meeting Beryl's eyes again, Alex noticed something. She tried to maintain her composure, putting up a brave front, but she was scared. 'She's a scientist, for all that counts', Alex reminded himself, 'her position is one of the furthest removed from actual fighting as it could be and still in a military outfit. Chances are this is the closest she ever got to actual fighting.'

"We're not going to die here", Alex tried to reassure her, and possibly himself, "Arrir Talon might get her wish to show off some fancy flying. I've clocked a good number of flight hours myself, and one standard maneuver we had to train is dodging incoming missiles." Alex conveniently didn't mention that his flight hours were mainly in a simulator and mostly covered atmospheric flight, but, well, Newton's laws of motion are the same everywhere, right?

Beryl took a breath and nodded, slowly calming down, exhaling. For now, there's nothing they could do - evading missiles can only be done effectively if these are too close to correct their heading - and watching the display would be akin to self-torture.

Never having taken her right hand from his left, she fully turned back to him, with the all too familiar expression of curiosity in her eyes.

"It is really odd to ask that in a moment like this ... but ... did you really just kiss me?"

Alex gulped. 'I would have preferred a bitchslap to my face, this is much worse', he thought, almost wishing that the torpedoes would come in range sooner to provide a distraction...

Sun Jul 15, 2018 7:29 am
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
Originally posted here.

Krulle wrote:
"Yes. Yes I did" Alex answered, with a slight hesitation in his voice. "You were not reacting to the warning of incoming missiles, nor to anything else. I needed to know you to be aware of the current situation. And this was the easiest for me to try without slapping you awake."

"Hmm." Her couriosity shown in her eyes. "I was... away. I cannot really describe what I felt. But it was peaceful. And your kiss pulled me away from that place."

"500 solons" the shuttle's voice added.

"Everyone, take a seat, strap yourself in. You heard the computer." came Arrir Talon's voice.

With this, Beryl pulled her hand from Alex' head and moved to the seat next to him and strapped herself in.

'Pity' Alex thought. 'At least she did not go to the passenger's compartment' and I get to see the action directly over the pilot's shoulder.'

Beryl quickly checked Alex' straps, and her pleasant vanilla-scent tickled his nose again.

"250 solons"

Beryl looked contemplatively at Alexander, and then asked "What was that red smudge in the black void?"

Alex, taken by surprise, looked out of the shuttle's windows and asked backed "Which red smudge?", happy for the moment the kiss was not the topic right now, but fearing that Beryl will lead the topic back to that moment.

Beryl grabbed his head, and turned it her way, and said "When I touched you, I... 'moved away'. The more I relaxed, the further I moved 'away'. I cannot really describe it, but for the first time in the life I can remember, I heard and felt no 'voices' of telepathy. I felt no sanzai. It was so... relaxing. So quiet... empty... So ... free.
And then I saw a small red smudge, which suddenly disappeared.
Thinking back, I feel like you must've played a role in that. Maybe willingly, maybe not. What were you thinking of when we touched? And what was that red smudge in the black void?

Sun Jul 15, 2018 7:29 am
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
Originally posted here.

novius wrote:
"You said to 'clear my mind', and I did", Alex responded, slightly smiling, because he read that piece about 'clearing the mind' in an old, old story about a kid going to a wacky school and an especially odious teacher saying that to him during some sort of meditation exercise... but the hell he would tell Beryl about that, she'd surely ask for a recount of that story... all seven books, indeed!

"There are some cultures and groups amongst my people that do practise meditation. To focus on the inward and shutting out all external influences. It is a special state of mind to reach."

Beryl blinked once, twice, her look a mixture of 'pleasantly surprised' and 'impressed'. "How curious. Are you sure your people don't have any sanzai? What you described is part of the first lessons every Loroi child has to learn. To shut out the minds of other Loroi around themselves."

"Wait, what? You're telling me that Loroi grow up with an open mind and have to learn to shield themselves?" Alex tacked on.

"Why, yes - I find it hard to believe that your people have such a good theoretical grasp on sanzai, and being completely blank to it? Though...", Beryl trailed off.

"Fireblade", Alex stated.

"What about her?"

"The presence you felt. You have picked up something from me. The darkness. The ... emptiness. And the 'red smudge' as you call it."

"What makes you so sure that it is her?" Beryl asked. Alex couldn't be sure but he thought he heard a tinge of disappointment in Beryl's voice.

"Remember me waking up from being mind-probed the very first time? No, silly question. Of course you remember. Eidetic memory, correct?"

Beryl winced, her posture slumping a bit in the straps of her seat. "Sometimes it's a curse. I'm truly sorry about what had been done to you, you..."

She trailed off when Alex lightly shook his head. "You're in a war, and suspicious of enemy trickery, and there's an alien which is a complete unknown to you. You... were in the right to be distrustful at first."

"That's kind of you to say that, but it still doesn't excuse the gross mishandling of a First Contact situation.... and you. But... why do you ask?"

"It was Fireblade who ... probed me, right? When I was on the verge of waking up, I saw a .... spark, for the lack of a better word, closing in on me. I was terrified - I don't know why, but I felt the urge to run away from it, or hide, or to push it away, and then I woke up, and the first thing I saw was Fireblade."

"You said something in English when you woke up. 'Get away from me', and that you were... hallucinating?" she asked, using the English word, "What does that word mean?"

Alex inwardly wondered a moment - yes, that might have been what he said, but he said that in English... she must have remembered his words phonetically and given the primer on the English language he had to give her she was now able to tanslate parts of it. "Seeing things that aren't there. Before, I was drifting through space running out of oxygen, next thing I knew I woke up, lying on my back, almost completely naked, terrified out of my mind and surrounded by a bunch of blue elves."

"Blue... what?", Beryl puzzled over that unfamiliar word. "Nevermind", Alex waved it off, already dreading to have to delve into Earth folklore to explain the last word. "Fireblade, right. The moment she and her ilk tried to mind-rape me in earnest, the last thing I saw before I lost my consciousness was her. I... actually got a picture of her, as much as I see you right before me, but with my eyes closed. And that was the same as I saw just before.... and you as well, I think."

Beryl listened with rapt attention. "You... saw her?"

"I'm not joking. There was the blackness, and about fifteen meters away from me, there was that single outline, all bright and shiny. I recognize that hairstyle everywhere now, I think. She was sitting, sort of sideways to my view, but to me it looked like she was about to turn into my direction."

"You are implying that she noticed you, somehow", Beryl half-asked, half-stated it.

"It definitely looks..."

"100 Solons." The computer cut in.

"Everyone hold on tight! I'll have to red-line the inertial dampeners!" Talon explaimed before making a sweeping motion across one of the controls in front of her, sending the shuttle in what felt to be like a steep dive.

An idle part of Alex's brain noticed that Beryl is holding on tight to something, namely his own hand. He wasn't sure if he should find the gesture endearing or not, since he felt that Loroi must have superior muscle strength, judging by how hard she was squeezing his hand.

Sun Jul 15, 2018 7:30 am
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
Originally posted here.

Krulle wrote:
Alex tried to squeeze back on Beryl's hand, to reassure her and to lure her to grip a tad less tight.

How hard will she squeeze, once the computer and Talon will actually start their evasive maneuvers?

Beryl turned to Alex again. "Tempo has a question for you. How widespread is this meditation among your people? And why do your people do that?"
Alex, taking up the chance to distract himself while the countdown to the hard maneuvers ticked down: "Somewhat widespread. It is a good exercise when in stress. To calm down. To forget the stress, make the mind just wander freely and forget about any worries and sorrows for a short while, which helps releasing the body tension coming with stress. It is present in nearly all cultures, in one form or the other, but not practiced by everyone."

"50 solons"

"We also have quite a range of meditation techniques. Quietness. Music. Certain medications, natural and chemical ones." Alex continued, just to block out any other thoughts.
And with that, the shuttle made a hard lurch, but the gravity Alexander felt immediately ebbed down again. The inertial dampers must've kicked in. But the station visible through the window moved faster and faster out of the middle.
Then a bright, greenish flash came over the screen, seemingly from the station towards the shuttle. The shuttle shuddered violently.
Alex felt a sharp pain in his hand.

Alex heard Spiral's voice: "Gora-Relay: we can confirm hit. The missile has been destroyed. But the explosion caused a leak in our tank, we are loosing fuel fast. We will decelerate as much as possible, but we cannot land purely on our own power anymore. Can you catch us?"

"We have also several techniques, but to learn to control the Sanzai, quietness works best. How does that work, using medications?" came Beryl's curious voice.

"Highland Seven, we will try to catch you, but you need to move out of the way. There are more missiles inbound, and they are using you as a shield to prevent us from firing at them. Fly past us, and we will catch up to you."

The pain finally reached Alex' brain: "Ouch! Beryl, could you please stop pressing so hard on my hand? I think you ..."
Beryl stopped pressurizing Alex hand, but did not let fully go. She pulled his hand and arm towards her, and looked at his hand.

"Did I hurt you? I thought shaking hands is common among Humans, I thought your hands would therefore be used to being gripped?"

"Yes, we are, but your grip is somewhat stronger than most Humans can exert. And especially the small finger is prone to being broken with us Humans. I think you might've hit a weak spot..."

The station was not visible on the screen anymore.

Beryl's hand shot away from Alexander, as if it was poisoned. In her face was slight disgust. 'Disgust at us being weak to have a broken bone so fast?' was Alex first thought. He pulled over his hand and examined it.

He felt the shuttle move slightly erratically, and wished for some painkillers.

"I am so sorry, Enzin Jardin." came Beryl's voice. "Shall we meditate again to 'release the body tension'?"

Then the engine died down, causing a weird feeling of inverted gravity in the shuttle, which shortly afterwards went away when the inertial dampers stopped.

"Gora-Relay: We are out of fuel and cannot move by ourselves anymore. Please inform us of the situation whenever you can and feel it might be helpful for us." came Spiral's voice.

Talon turned around and said "Well, now we are fully dependent on Gora Relay."

"Highland Seven: We are currently targeting the missiles and have started moving ourselves between you and the aggressor. Please wait."

Alex, somewhat disoriented from the multiple conversations around him, answered: "I don't think meditation will heal my body physically. I fear you do not have pain medication for me accessible?"

"We have emergency kits in the shuttle, but I fear the medication in it will not be agreeable for your biochemistry. And while we have some of the stuff we collected from your ship in the shuttle, we have stored all in the storage bay, where it is currently not accessible. Furthermore we cannot differentiate your markings to identify harmful and helpful stuff. And the situations so far have not given rise to an occasion to ask you to help us identifying what is what." came Beryl's answer. Although Alexander had the feeling, this was actually Tempo's answer, and just coming through Beryl's mouth.

Alex looked at his hand, which had a distinct reddish bulb on it. And the pain was throbbing slightly with his heart rhythm.

'Okay, let's go for distractions, then.' Alex thought, and looked at the tactical screen, which showed the station moving slowly closer to the shuttle, fending off small red dots moving fast towards the shuttle and the station. "Beryl, no meditation like we just did will not help. It frees my mind from outside stimula, but usually I cannot eliminate stimula from my body." He heard a seatbelt lock click. "And blending out outside stimula would focus my thoughts only more on the pain in my hand. I don't think it is broken, though. But a stiff drink to inebriate myself would do wonders for my anxiety right now."

He heard Talon's voice over the shuttle speakers: "Remain seated and keep the belts on. Expect bumpy maneuvers from the station as we get within the range of their inertial dampening field. The enemy is also still firing on us, expect closeby explosions. And our inertial dampers will not be working at full efficiency without fuel for our engines."

Suddenly, he felt Beryl leaning over, and she kissed him.

Sun Jul 15, 2018 7:31 am
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
Originally posted here.

novius wrote:
Beryl kissed him.

Beryl kissed him.

Beryl kissed him.

And it wasn't a chaste affair, it was even more pronounced than what he did to shake her out of the trance. A part of Alex's brain noticed the weightlessness - it wasn't quite microgravity, but the gravity must have been reduced to maybe one tenth - and he noticed that only because of Beryl actually drifting closer to him, pulling herself in an even tighter embrace.

That was the moment where Alex felt his brain folding in to itself and imploding. No other words would suffice to describe it, save his brain making a complete shutdown and reboot.

Coming back to his senses he noticed that she broke the kiss and looked into his eyes, with a mixture of curiosity and a slight smile on her lips.

"Did that help? You said meditation wouldn't work, so I thought this might do."

Alex blinked. Yes, his bruised hand. There was something, right. His nerve endings may still sent some pain signals to his brain, he realized, but it may be awash with endorphins right now that they wouldn't reach the pain centers. He glanced at his hand which still sported some angry welts (which were already subsiding) with a feeling of detachment.

"Uh... yes... yes, it did." Damn, his speech centers in his brain still weren't completely back online. "But, if you ever get to meet other humans, you might try for a more standard method of pain medication, right? And, maybe Tempo and Fireblade should refrain from doing this."

Her smile got a bit wider. "Am I right that you are giving me permission to do that again when the occasion arises?"

Well, I'd say yes even if there isn't actual need, Alex thought, their closeness again bringing this burned-vanilla scent he came to associate with Loroi - and especially Beryl - to his nostrils, and nodded. After all, Alex realized that they did cross an important line when he agreed to her skin to skin touch experiment.

"I've relayed your stipulation, and I think I felt some abject resignation coming from Tempo, and...."

"And you made a fuss about me just touching his hand. If you were calling dibs on Enzin, why didn't you say so?", Talon's voice mock-scolded Beryl.

"I didn't...." Beryl started, but never finished the sentence. Truth be told, maybe deep down she actually did.

"No matter. I told you to get strapped in, but at the moment we're simply going ballistic. But brace yourselves for explosion shockfronts."

That brought up another topic. Everyone knew enough orbital mechanics to realize that the Gora Relay has to accelerate to follow first, going faster for a bit to close in on the shuttle, and then decelerate to match speed, heading and location. Even without being shot at, this is a time consuming maneuver. "Just asking. How long does the Relay need to catch up to us?" Alex noted.

Being back in his lap - Beryl surely seems to like it there! - she half-turned and typed another set of commands into the console, displaying a course projection for the shuttle - a straight line heading outwards - and the Relay, an arc intersecting the line a good distance down the estimated course. "Given our current speed and heading... 2900 solons."

"I need to scale down life support and internal systems to conserve energy", Talon noted, "It could get a bit cold."

Alex didn't want to mention that for his tastes, Loroi ships are already a bit chilly. But, he thought, Beryl might already have a good idea that he's used to higher temperatures than the typical Loroi.

Beryl looked back at him with a bit of concern in her eyes. Of course she must have had the same thoughts he had, but a sidelong glance to the back of the shuttle told him that one of the Loroi in the back might have sent (sanzai'd? Is that a word?) to her.

"Fireblade just sent me something. She asked me to relay that to you, and to quote it verbatim. 'We need to talk'. "

Well, Alex thought, that is a sentence every man dreads coming from a woman. And make that woman a six-foot, red-haired, mean-tempered blue space elf with powers to bend one into a pretzel without batting an eye, that sentence becomes doubly scary.

Sun Jul 15, 2018 7:32 am
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
Originally posted here.

Krulle wrote:
Alex hesitated a bit, but then asked "Did she ask to talk alone with me? Now?"

"Yes." Beryl answered. She then started moving fully back to her own chair and put the safety belt back on again.

"Well, the station is now between us and the attackers, so we're as well protected as is possible under these circumstances. I'd suggest you move now, while the missiles would have a hard time reaching us." Talon said while looking at Alex.

"Thanks." Alex answered, unlocked his belt and left the cockpit. While passing the front rows of the passenger compartment, he caugt Tempo looking at him, but besides an encouraging smile, she gave no hint at what he was about to expect. So he continued down the aisle towards the redhaired Loroi.

So he continued down the aisle and tried to think of a strategy that might take edges of her aggressivity. At least tactics that might help.

"You asked me to come and talk to you?" Alexander asked her when he stood next to her row.

The next few noises he heard were among the worst spoken language Alexander had ever heard, it was obvious the Teidar did not use her voice for anything other than possibly a war cry or utterances of pain. "Yes."

Alex looked at her, and asked "Since we are still under attack, may I sit down so I can buckle myself in?"

The Teidar looked at him, slightly surprised, but made a hand motion to the seat right next to her.
So Alex sat down, and buckled in. When he looked up, the redhead Loroi was looking at him intently. It seemed like her eyes were glowing. Not a pleasant feeling being scrutinized by her.

"So, what did you want to talk about, Teidar Fireblade?"

"You have.... made friends with Beryl?"

"Yes. I like her inquisitive nature. I am also very curious, and while I know it is her job to get to know me, it seems to me that there's more interest in me than just professional interest."

"You have made a friend in her."

"I gather that. Since Loroi have an aversion against touching each other, her touching me seemed to me like a very intimate gesture among Loroi. That's what convinced me she's not just professionaly curious about me."

"She is my friend too."

Alex did not really know what to say about that.

"Do not harm her." came the untrained voice of Fireblade, with an unmistakeable warning sound to it.

Alex looked in Fireblade's eyes. "I will not."

He felt a pinch against his chest. Apparently a telepathic push, sicne Fireblade did not move, and no other Loroi was seated around her, but he refused to look at his chest. "Good. Otherwise I would find you."

This was not an unexpected warning. But it was far more personal than he expected. He knew Fireblade was watching him. And that she would harm him if he ever tried to hurt any Loroi. But now he got a specific warning about harming Beryl.
But since there was no reply necessary to her statement, he waited, while the push at his chest subsided.

After a while, Fireblade said: "And I also mean no psychological games with her."

"I would never play with her." his answer came. Finally he stopped looking at the shining eyes of the Teidar, and his eyes flicked to the cockpit door. Of course Fireblade did not miss this.

"Are you thinking about her? Right now?"

"Yes." he replied. And after a small hesitation, he decided the full truth might gain him some trust fromt he redhead. "Since the kisses I do think about her." He could not suppress a slight smile on his face.

The Teidar watched his face for a moment.

"Why did you see me when you... 'mediated'?" her raspy voice asked.

"'Meditate'... I do not know." he looked back at the Teidar. "I wish I knew. I also thought of her at that moment. And wondered why I saw you, and not her. She was sitting on my lap, and touching me. Why did I see you and not her?"
He suddenly became aware that now the others in the crew compartment were looking interested towards them, where previously they had seemed so disinterested in the talk between Fireblade and him.

"We all want to know. Because something else happened at the same time. She became as invisible to me as you are and the enemy currently is." her voice became stern.

This surprised Alex a bit. "What do you mean?"

"You know I have been tasked in guarding you specifically. For your protection, but equally for ours. So of course I keep watch on the telepathic signature of those direclty around you. And if I would see alarm or perceived danger there, I would start moving to stop you. But when you both 'medi..ta..ted', she got invisible for me. I could not 'see' her. I am only sitting here again, because Tempo ordered me back, when Talon and Spiral both independently relayed what you two were doing, and that she at least seemed to be unharmed and in no pain."

"Oh. Yes, she said she experienced a 'quietness' like never before. I didn't know about that. I mean, the whole concept of telepathy is still foreign and difficult to understand for me." Alexander replied, obviously more nervous than he would've liked to be near this red-haired harpy.

When Fireblade did not answer, Alexander continued: "I mean, I have the feeling that now I am not just talking to you, but to all Loroi here, especially Tempo and you. But before, I did not have the feeling when you asked me about Beryl and me."

Fireblade gave a kind of smile. "You are talking to us now, and Beryl as our Listel witnesses these kind of conversations for the record, and before we two were talking privately."

Alex looked at her, and finally dared to say: "What has changed your mind that you did not talk through the others, as before? I feel slightly honoured that you do talk to me directly, but you must've known that I am aware of what you'll do to me if I harm any Loroi."

Fireblade looked at him, and said: "Beryl is the youngest aboard our ship. This war forces us to recruit ever younger Loroi. She is merely a child. A child so carefree, that I feel obliged to protect her. And besides the missiles outside, you are currently her greatest danger. But you have treated her well. And have not shown other signs of treason, but only honesty. So I thought you deserve this warning from me personally."

Alex looked around the cabin, and again the others seemd to be 'disconnected' from the talk. "Then I thank you, and tell you I have received the warning, and will heed it. Anything else you wanted to talk about with me?" He became aware that the expressions of the others changed again.

"They were not listening in, right, but now they are again?" he asked.

Fireblade looked at him, and said "Yes. How do you know?"

"I guessed from their reaction and facial expressions."

"There is no other reason?"

"No. Like I said, we Humans believe we do not have any telepathic capabilities. It is only for stories. Until the Orgus told us about you Loroi."

"May I test something?" the redhaired asked.


"To touch you." and she extended a hand.

Alex looked at her left hand, and gripped it somewhat awkwardly, because sitting next to each other strapped in chairs limits arm movements somewhat.
But when touching, he only felt the physical touch.
"We Humans usually use our right hands for our greeting ritual." he said in a try to lighten the atmosphere.

She pulled her left hand from him, and tried to move her right hand to get hold of his right hand. Noting it does not work without awkwardly contorting her wrist and elbow, she dropped her hands and said with a slight frustration in her voice "Why do you have so cumbersome rituals?" Also a slight hoarse crept into her voice, reminding Alexander that this voice has likely not spoken since her childhood.

Alex looked at her, then unbuckled and stood up. He then offered her his right hand and said "well, this is difficult while sitting, so usually we greet each other before we sit down. Or at least before the one who comes later sits down."

She looked at him, but then gripped his offered hand with her right hand.

He shook her hand, and then let it go and sat down again.
"Was there anything else you wanted to speak to me for?"

With that question in the room, the readhead looked over Alexander's shoulder, who only then noticed that Tempo must've used the distraction to walk down the aisle towards them both.

"Yes and no. You had your private talk with her, that's what she wanted to talk to you about." Tempo said. "But now we all, including her and me, are interested in your thoughts about Beryl's Lotai. When she meditated in your arms. This has a considerable influence on how we think about you. It may not be a coincidence that out enemy is advancing with large fleets which are invisible to us, just when we discover you."

Alexander looked back at Fireblade and then back at Tempo again. And finally it dawned on him. They were starting to consider him an enemy. Someone who is lieing to them about his capabilities, and knowledge of the enemy's abilities.

"I have told you all I know." Alexander protested. "I cannot imagine how the Umiak would be able to use this knowledge without extensive research and practical experiments when not having telepathy themselves. My mission was trying to contact either side, so at the very best, the Umiak could've made contact with Humanity only two weeks before we arrived in Naam. I cannot imagine how the Umiak would've been able to achieve this attack within that time."

"Us neither." Tempo replied. "That is why you are still sitting here. But now we desire to conduct some experiments."

Alex looked at her, slightly shocked: "Experiments?"

"Yes." Tempo replied. Nodding towards Fireblade, she said "Teidar Pallan Teinnol is our strongest telepath aboard. We would like her to 'meditate' with you, and see what happens."

Krulle wrote:
Please do not open the spoiler if you think about writing the next part yourself. Thanks.
Spoiler: show
Please do not read this if you think you might want to continue this story. It contains some of my thougths, and you would not want to get tainted by them, do you?

If you think you might want to continue this writing prompt, please close the spoiler again. You may revisit when the story has been continued.

Thank you.

Two alternative ending I wrote and dismissed:

"Us neither." Tempo replied. "That is why you are still sitting here. But we've received information that either the enemy is bound to destroy us, or capture us. They seem to know you are here, and that you are very valuable."

"What do you mean?" Alex asked.

"That the enemy battailons have started to not only secure the entry points to this system, but that a considerable force has started to move towards us. Large enough to overwhelm the station's defences." Tempo replied.

This ending is actually more a continuation, but I decided to simply cut it down:
"Uh..." Alex replied while his brain stalled.

"We are aware this is an unusual request, and we would appreciate your cooperation in this." the Mizol continued.

Alex saw no way to get out of this, without flatly refusing his hosts. And on the other hand he also wanted to know why he saw the red-haired harpy instead of the science elf.

"I intend no harm, and I will try to avoid harming you." the raspy voice of Fireblade said.

Alex looked at her.

"I promised my friend Beryl." the hoarse voice added.

Tempo added: "And I promise you, that I have ordered them all to not harm you or try to reach your thoughts while we are conducting this experiment."

Alex sighed, and said: "Okay. It's not like I have much of a choice, do I?"

"No, you haven't." came the matter-of-fact reply from Tempo.

Fireblade stood up and sat on Alex lap. She was remarkably much heavier than Beryl. This would be much less comfortable than before...

Fire blade looked him in the eyes, and then wrapped her arms around him to touch him, breathed deeply and seemed to try to relax.

Alex took a deep breath, closed his eyes, and started focusing on breathing regularly.

And then he saw her. Sitting on his lap. Extremely bright in the black nothing.
After his tenth or twelfth breath, he noticed this was not the only light shining. He saw also the black-haired Temp next to him. He immidiately focused on the cockpit. And yes, there she was. His Beryl. The black void started to shimmer slighly pinkish with these thoughts.
Next to her, Talon and Spiral.

Astonished, he tried to encompas the whole shuttle. Yes the guards were there too.
He focused "backwards" of the shuttle, and after a while, he saw a small cluster of lights nehind him. 'Must be Gora Relay" he tought.

Exhilariated by this ability, he tried to focus his attention on the remainders of the system. Nearly immidiately, he noticed the other Loroi in the system. But between them were very dark specks. If the 'void' wasn't slightly pink-tinged, he would not have seen the black specs drifting in clusters there. Correlating this with the image he saw of the system before, he assumed those are the enemy ships. He tried focussing on one of the black specs, to get more details, just as beforehand he was able to see more of the shuttle. And indeed, the focus 'zoomed in'. And then he 'saw' it. A cluster of insectile shapes touching something else, a Human? a Loroi?
And it did not look like a light touch, more like a forced connection.

Shocked he came out of the meditation.

A third possibility I had in mind was Alex "seeing" telepathic connections between the Loroi, and being able to intercept images of the Sanzai chatter.

Sun Jul 15, 2018 7:34 am
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
Originally posted here.

novius wrote:
Alex swallowed and tried to force down the trepidation he felt. He still vividly remembered the first time the Loroi - she! - tried to crack open his mind like a walnut. Him passing out, and waking up with a headache that makes a migraine look tame in comparison... and no Aspirin in sight.

"Well...", Alex tried to stall a bit, "... as I said once, telepathy... or any sort of psychic powers are stuff of legends, old wive's tales. Myths. It still boggles me that it really exists. Telepathy, telekinesis... Any meditation we do is just to focus our minds and clear them from distractions - we never did it with any supernatural powers in mind."

Of course Tempo picked up on Alex's hestitation, but his words had merit. "And still humans have words to describe these 'supernatural powers' and seem to have a rich lore around them. I admit, now I'm more than curious, and I think there are forces at work here we both might not fully understand, and maybe the recent discovery of The Enemy to hide itself from our farseers is just but one aspect of this mystery."

"What do you mean?" Alex prompted.

"Understand that while I ... do have had my suspicions about you, I have seen that you had been forthcoming with information and your take on things. I am not suspecting trickery by you and your people here, but I've come to think that your Lotai and The Enemy's newfound ability might be part of a bigger picture we don't see in its entirety... and that it is of utmost importance to get a clearer view. To the Loroi Union as well as to Humanity."

Alex mulled her words over, then nods. "Good point. So how shall we go from here?"

Fireblade watched the exchange, and mainly Alex, her expression slowly changing from her usual standoffish one to one tinged with ... concern? Yes, Alex was quite sure that she looked a bit concerned now.

"Try not to resist. The last ... attempt we made while you were ... unconscious", Fireblade haltingly noted, "A willing mind is more open."

'Makes sense', Alex thought, 'Hope I'll wake up without my head feeling like I've been hit with a hovertruck.'

Alex was a bit relieved to see that Fireblade made no move to unlock her seatbelt - the idea of her ending up in his lap was ... no. And the other way round would be much worse, he thought. Instead, she unlocked and removed the vambrace from her left arm and used her bare arm to reach out in what Alex idly recognized as a 'warrior's handshake'.

Pulling up his own overall's sleeve, reaching for her lower arm and feeling her fingers on his was ... again, strange. While it was barely discernible with Beryl, and non-existent with Talon, that touching-a-live-wire feeling was much more pronounced with Fireblade, much closer to the range of 'unpleasant'. Alex steeled himself, tried to calm down his thoughts running around in circles and closed his eyes.


There.... there it was. That fiery mote in the darkness he came to know to be her. And it was closing in.

The single mote got more defined, shaping itself into Fireblade's outline, brightly against his eyes... mind.... whatever. Yet, something was different - on board the Tempest he felt her pressing on, violating his self, but now... she was waiting. Like a hunter waiting for a particularly shy animal to show itself.

Then it hit him.

The fear.

The panic. The need to get away, get away, Get Away, GET AWAY THIS INSTANT....

And suddenly, it was gone. Perhaps it was Alex's subconscious arranging itself with the inevitable.

Images flooded his mind. One, two, then more and more in a faster and faster pace. Unfamiliar landscapes. Pitched battles with what seemed to be Umiak cyborgs. Trench warfare at its worst, fighting to hold the position. Broken bodies with holes through the chests, the stomachs, the heads...

...Then it stopped. And it was again only Fireblade's presence, in the darkness. He felt... chagrin coming from her, a wordless "I ask for apology."

Alex tried to concentrate on a thought conveying forgiveness, then he felt her presence ... shifting, sort of. As if she moved her attention elsewhere.

She did.

Because, in the distance - whatever that word meant - Alex felt another presence. Faint, but definitely there. No one needed to tell him, he just knew ... this had to be Beryl.

Then he was back in the physical world, meeting the faces of Fireblade, Tempo, Reed and Flint, all portraying a mix of confusion and shock. And on turning back facing forward, there was Beryl, too, at the bulkhead leading to the cockpit, with an equally shocked expression on her face.

"What happened? For a moment I thought I could ... sense you", she gasped.

Fireblade sent a pointed look at Beryl and Tempo, setting off what looked to be a heated silent debate amongst the Loroi. 'Of course', Alex thought, 'this might be too important to leave it to her sub-par language skills.'

"Uh... care to fill me in...?", he piped up.

"Peace, Captain Jardin", Tempo placated him, "I must say, this is surprising. Beneath your Lotai, you actually seem to be telepathic - and not only just so, but on a level that would allow you to easily exchange thoughts with us. This is almost unheard of, since almost every other species we encountered we just could assense... but not communicate with using sanzai."

Beryl beamed brightly as if christmas has come early, if she were human. Were he not strapped in and in a semi-public setting, he got the impression that she would be all over him in an instant... again.

"I think I have an idea how your Lotai came to be. Or, two in fact. Either your species faced some powerful telepathic foe in your evolutional past so that you had to develop such a rigid protection and an instinctive fear of mental contact, or ... someone did this to you", Beryl offered.

'Valid point', Alex thought, turning to Tempo.

"Look, Tempo. I'll be frank. I said onboard the Tempest that you seem to know more than you let on, especially when it comes to how similar our species are.. Perhaps now it is the time to come clean with it, because now I think what we don't know will turn around and bite us in the ass."

Tempo rose an eyebrow. "Do humans have more of these graphic metaphors? But, you are right, Captain Jardin. You were very forthcoming and patient with us, allow me to repay it. Please be advised, what I am about to tell you has the potential to destabilize the entirety of the Loroi Union..."

Talon's voice cut in over the speakers.

"I'll have to inform you that docking with the Relay is not possible at the moment, since the Relay is under heavy fire. In addition, Captain Mozin's Prophet's Reason arrived from the Azimol Relay. If we manage to change course, we could rendezvous with him in about 16000 solons."

"He must have followed us all the way from Naam, on a more counter-spinwards route", Alex mused. "My existence seems to stir up waves already, and perhaps it's best to prepare ourselves before Captain Mozin or whoever else drops the bomb on us. Hell, I get the feeling that I stepped into something far larger than a genocidal war between two superpowers...."

Tempo furrowed her eyebrows, then nods. "You may be right. And, coming to think of it, your lore about something you believed to be fantasy might contain some answers - perhaps relating these 'old stories' to Beryl might help discern the truth", she added, and Alex was sure he heard some amusement in Tempo's voice, "and, perhaps it might be beneficial to continue your experiments with Fireblade ... they seem to be promising."

Alex looked back at Beryl - bubbly, chipper Beryl - and a fleeting image of the horrors he got from Fireblade crossed his mind. No way he would allow that happen to her...

Already he started to dig up what he knew about the 'old stories' he referred to. Accounts of self-styled 'magicians', tidbits like old couples understanding each other without words, folk tales...

And, as a semi-unrelated thought, he asked himself if he should include the folklore about elves, too... 'No', he chased that thought away. No way!

Sun Jul 15, 2018 7:38 am
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
Originally posted here.

Krulle wrote:
Beryl came over, keeping her eyes on him all the time. All the time.
Not that he minded, since he kept looking at her too.

Then the redhead brushed his arm with her fingers. He felt he kind of sharp synaptic burst this time, and the impression of needing to talk about what happened.

He turned to look at the redhead, and was surprised to see some pain in her eyes.

"Were you close with her?" came the question from Fireblade.

"Whom?" he asked, slightly disoriented who she might be talking about.

She looked at Beryl, who was now standing next to Tempo.
Tempo stepped aside, and Beryl moved closer and sat in the chair next to him, on the other side of Fireblade. It was obvious though, that there still was an ongoing discussion between the three Loroi, Tempo, Beryl, and Fireblade.

Then Beryl touched his arm gently, and asked "Can I try sending to you, please?"

When he said failed to reply, Beryl concentrated, and an image flared in his mind, briefly, but clearly coming from Beryl. 'Fireblade showed me how she formed her thoughts and what may have triggered you reading her', then, an image that was ... unwanted. A face with a tear tatooed next to the right eye.
The image faded, and the three looked at him.

"Ellen..." slipped from his mouth. Taking a breath, he looked at Beryl, and repeated "Ellen. Ellen Kirkland was her name."

"Was she...", but Beryl left the question hanging in the room, unfinished.

"Yes, and no. Yes, she was my partner. At work, and sometimes in bed too. Human relations are complex, and while we are usually monogamous, having one partner, we are, what some psychologists call, 'serially monogamous', meaning we have one partner at a time, but after a few years, when the attraction dies, we often switch partner. " Alex tried to explain. "But no, Ellen was never officially 'my partner'. We both are ... were singles, meaning we both had no partner waiting at home. We had fun together, and she was my best friend. We've been through difficult situations together, and the Bellarmine was a packed ship, not much room, on a dangerous mission. This all lead to a build up of stress. And being 'friends with benefits' is a good way to relieve stress, in such situations."

Beryl nodded her head. Her curiousity was there, but also something else? Sorrow?... no. Maybe. But something else was there. Finally, a thought hit him 'Jealous'.

"Now is not the time to go about personal feelings." Tempo interrupted "We have more pressing concerns, and I fear Captain Jardin might need more practice how to overcome his own Lotai before he might be able to show us the 'stories of old' without telling them."

Alex consciously touched Beryl's hand, while trying to form an image of pressing on her hand reassuringly.

'Yes' came her sending. But then quietness. Beryl's face showed a smile, but Tempo showed concern.

"You are able to send aimed messages to Beryl then. But when Fireblade tried to telepathically ask you something, the connection broke." Tempo said. Seeing his face, she added "Yes, we are all party to at least some of the Sanzai you are sending to her. Partly because we three have an 'open connection' among each other right now, to share our findings and thoughts about your Sanzai and Lotai, but also because your sending is not that precise. We are able to 'listen in'."

"Again, now is not the time for personal feelings, although it seems to help you discovering your Sanzai." Tempo added. "For the immediate now, I want to know about some of your stories from the old times. The ones having telepathy as a part of it."

"Well..." Alex said. "Our stories are not that defined. We have plenty of stories, where Humans seem to communicate to each other without words. But modern scientists have made plenty of tests, and in some cases, mostly experienced card-players having played a long while with each other, were apparently able to seemingly communicate to each other without words. Modern software though used to assess body language of those involved, actually discerned that the card players were communicating through unconscious body signals. Like a slightly dropped left shoulder, and that the card-playing partner actually only picked up on that. In most other cases, the scientists actually showed, that there was nothing going on, and at best the assumed telepaths were just better at reading other Human gestures, and thus able to make educated guesses, making their 'reading of thoughts' simply slightly better at predicting what the other person was thinking."

"In some very old stories, and also in our literature, which we use for entertainment, we have stories of other sentient beings living or having lived on Earth too. We group those stories as 'fantasy', as there is no proof of them being true, or having a true core. Those other sentient beings being 'giants', Human looking people with very large bodies, 'Dwarves', also bipedal, but smaller and often living underneath the surface of our world, mostly in the mountains, 'Orcs', bipedal, but rather stupid beings loving violence and war, and then the 'dragons', mystical beings walking on four legs, having a long tail, and said to having been able to fly, although most stories depict them with wings far too small to fly."

"And all of them were said to have telepathic abilities?" came Beryl's question.

"No. No. Only the Dragons, and only in some of the stories."

"Only in some?" came a perplexed question from Beryl.

"Well, our stories are often independent from each other. And therefore properties something has in one story means nothing for other stories. For example the Dragons. In all stories those are depicted as very large lizards. In Chinese stories they were often a bright red, while in European stories they were often green or brown to better hide in the backrground of our nature."

"Lizards?" interrupted Beryl.

"Lizards are creatures walking on four legs, and having scales. Being coldblooded, they often need warm ambient surroundings to make their muscles work sufficiently." He added when he saw Beryls face. "Dragons were also in some stories only large animals, no sentience in them. And in other stories they were smart, very intelligent beings being able to talk, and in some being able to suggest you to do something, by making an image appear in your mind, which you had to follow."

"Okay, lets talk later about the Dragons. Who else had telepathic abilities in your stories?" Beryls voice came.

"Well, there were the Elves, and them some Humans, mostly in Science Fiction stories using the help of technology , so no actual telepathy."
'Oops, now the Elves slipped my mouth' Alex thought.

"No telepathy, but technology?"

"Yes. Basically, in these stories, written in a time before some of our current technolgies existed, and writing about how the author sees a possible future for Humanity, they imagined some kind of microtechnology being implanted in the brain, and being able to read your intentions. And if you intended to send a message to someone, the technology in your brain would do that for you, as the technology in the receivers brain would alert the receiver to a message being received, and actually play it by stimulating optical and/or auditory nerves directly."

"Ah, I see." said Beryl. "And how about Giants, Dwarves, and Orcs?"

"I know of no story where either of them had telepathic abilities." Alexander answered.

"Can you try to describe the mentioned races? Or try to send an image of them?" Beryl asked.

Alex thought hard of an image of Orcs, Dwarves, and Dragons. Without an Elf.
Orcs, Dwarves, and Dragons. Orcs, Dwarves, and Dragons.
He touched Beryl, and immediately felt a shock. A hard shock, and then the mental shout of 'NISSEK!' sent back to him, attached to the image of the Dragons. this time he could cleary identify Tempo's, Beryl's, and Fireblade's sending separately coming to him. He tensed at that, and immediately felt any connection close again.

'Ah, relaxation is a must for sending right now.' Alex recognised.

"What are 'Nissek'?" Alexander asked.

"Another sentient race we are formally allied with." Tempo added.

"I felt some... distrust... when you three thought that word." Alex probed.

"Indeed." Tempo added. "While they are formally allies, they have not really contributed to any war effort, yet still maintain a large fleet. We are somewhat distrustful of their motives, but since they are at the other side of our Union, we keep an eye on them, and repeatedly ask for some support, which they usually decline with a lot of positive sounding formulations, but ultimately end up being nothing more than hollow phrases. But since they are apparently fighting something in their region of space, and keep our common frontier clear from other incidents, we are hesitant to force the issue."

"Oh, and they are also known to eat other sentient species." Beryl added.

When Alexed looked in slight confusion at her, she added "We felt in your sending, that the Dragons are also known to eat Humans, and other beings, this is just an additional observation from me.
Although the Nissek do not have the ability to fly, nor do they have wings. And they walk on two legs." she commented further.

Then Beryl looked at Tempo. Alex followed her lead, and saw into that face.

"You were deliberately hiding something with that picture." Tempo said. "The picture was not complete. My guess is you've been thinking about a specific story, one with images, so that you could have a detailed image to send. But you tried to remove something from that image."

"Yes. I picked up on that." she added. "We Mizol are trained in telepathic trickery. There is something in that specific story you wanted us not to know."

Alex tensed up. Beryl tried to touch him, but there was no reaction to her touch.

"You've tensed up, and there will be no telepathy involved now." Tempo commented. "But be aware that this obviously cannot dissolve our reservations about you."

Alex looked at her. "Sorry. Yes. Yes. I was hiding something."

He took a few deep breaths, and tried to relax. He took Beryls hands into his, and looked deep into her eyes.
"Sorry" he said, and with that he thought of an image of the Elves. He was thinking of Arwen, as depicted by Liv Tyler, an actress one of the films with Elves, showing the story of one of his favourite books. The face was now against his wishes very much Beryl's face.

He heard all three of them take a deep breath at the image of the black haired, whitish-skinned female Elf with long, pointy ears.

Sun Jul 15, 2018 7:39 am
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
Originally posted here.

novius wrote:

That's one way to describe what ensued in the 'mindscape', as Alex started to call their shared consciousness.

Of course Alex tried to play down the issue, adding that there are many and wildly varying accounts about elves but on Tempo's insistence he admitted, that, yes, this one seems to be the predominant picture, one of tall, somewhat alien-looking but hauntingly beautiful and long lived people.

That was all ge got out before he was starting to get drowned out by three telephatic voices calling out at once.

Beryl, being completely mortified - though slightly gleeful, too - that his first picture would feature her. Trying to downplay a bit, Alex widened his 'view' to include more depictions of elves - male and female alike.

Fireblade as well, to the lesser extent - Alex got the impression that very rarely people would attribute 'beauty' as the predominant description on her - but only because her prowess as a warrior outshines her physical attraction, he was hasty to assure her, as he felt her picking up on his stray thought.

Note to self, Alex thought, Loroi can be a bit vain. Oops, he added, as he felt Fireblade taking a deep breath in mock-outrage.

Tempo... he could feel her examining the pictures and the stray thoughts attached to them closely.

Stray thoughts followed, a 'discussion' which was too fast-paced for Alex's untrained mind to follow. He could feel the beginnings of a headache forming.

It was Tempo's highly organized mind that brought back some calm to the turmoiled mindscape, by ... he felt her focusing on one of his pictures of a male elf.

That's eerie..., he heard her clear thought directed at him, this one looks even more similar to our males than you would do. More graceful, slimmer build... it is hard to believe that humans just thought this up out of nothing.

It's..., Alex started, ...look, can we continue this verbally? You've seen what you came here for, and it's beginning to strain me.

Beryl was eager to agree, with Tempo and Fireblade following suit, although much more reluctantly.

On opening his eyes, he found himself framed by the three Loroi - Tempo sitting sideways on a seat in his front, turned towards him - all of them looking at him in various state of shock and wonder, and, in Tempo's case, maybe a tinge of regret.

"I see now why you had reservations of showing this particular picture and I offer my sincerest apologies for intruding on what you consider sacrosanct." On Beryl's questioning glance, Tempo elaborated. "Given that humans have no direct experiences with sanzai, they consider their own thoughts to be a highly private matter. So much that even the thought of intruding upon then triggers an instinctive fear, I surmise. Count yourself to be honored that he agreed to your experiment from the start."

"No lasting harm done", Alex placated Tempo, "But you see why I didn't want to open that particular can of worms."

"It's still hard to believe that humans would think up a species as works of fiction that looks that closely related to us.... what would be the probability in that?", Beryl mused.

"Well..", Tempo reached for a lock of her hair, " same as us finding a species that looks as if they are closely related to us. Perhaps it is time to shed light on the other half of the mystery. Beryl, if you would?"

Unnoticed by the four, even Reed and Flint leaned forward to listen in, curious on how that alien managed to send three warriors into a profound state of shock.

And with that, history and xenobiology class was in session. Beryl proved herself to be as diligent as a teacher when it came to him learning to read and write Loroi trade, but for the next half of a hour she spun an amazing tale about an ancient spacefaring civilization, spreading life in the rimward section of the galaxy (relative to Earth), patterned after a specific peculiar biology ('Soia-Liron', Alex thought, '"Liron" means "blue", figures'), but, not designing new species from scratch, but fashioning new lifeforms after existing examples.

Tempo dug in her bag and pulled out a tablet, where she quickly displayed a picture of a Barsam and a Nibiren, side by side.

It didn't take long for Alex to connect the dots. Neither Beryl nor Tempo needed to point out the obvious conclusion.

"...that explains much", Alex concluded. Of course, were some alien to land on Earth and humans have to come to the conclusion that they were sort of rip-offs from that alien, there'd be an uproar from all sorts of religious and non-religious nutcases. "How far-spread is ... this knowledge and how would your people react to the suspicion that humans could be their 'template species'?"

"Disbelief." Tempo offered. "Rejection. For millennia, the Loroi took a preeminent place in the Union because we thought ourselves to be the holders of the Soia legacy. Your people appearing on the scene could cause the status quo to be questioned."

"Like Captain Mozin did, back on board the Tempest? Why make my existence public when it would be such a bombshell to be dropped?" Alex couldn't resist to butt in.

"It was a calculated move. We were all suspicious of you, thinking to be trickery of The Enemy, Stillstorm chiefly amongst it. She was only minutes away from having you seized and dragged off to the nearest airlock - to be blasted into pieces along with the wreck of your ship. I needed to put her into a position where she simply cannot do so without facing repercussions. Trickery or not, we were not to squander any opportunity your presence might offer."

"Gutsy", Alex admitted, "that's how you made number one on Stillstorm's hate list."

"Hate... list", Tempo tried that phrase - Alex was glad he censored his speech a bit, since he got the feeling that Tempo would much more insist on proper poise and diction than, say, Fireblade, "interesting way to put it. Given the remote chance that you are the genuine article, Stillstorm couldn't be allowed to throw away such a chance. Whatever repercussions we might face on realizing that there is a template species related to us... it would be much, much worse if there is a template species, one that achieved spaceflight all on its own and we managed to get off on the wrong foot with them. In addition, while it is easy to face a species as alien to us as the shells are as The Enemy, it would be, I have to admit, a much harder sell if it ever would have come to that with a species that looks that similar to actually be physically attractive to us."

He was grateful for the momentary privacy of his thoughts when Tempo's last words registered in his brain. It took a moment to bring his mind back from the track of teenage fantasies - and tried to bury the thought that in his eyes the Loroi he met so far were in the range from 'attractive' to 'stunningly beautiful'.

On a sidelong glance towards Beryl he saw the tips of her ears having turned a deeper shade of blue.

"Well... erm...", Alex hemmed and hawed - that conversation turned in a direction he was definitely a bit uncomfortable with - and Beryl, too, by the looks - and cleared his throat.

"I think the question whether you Loroi are bioengineered based on humans or based on human imagination might be moot at that point." he mused.

"Or your ancestors saw ours", Fireblade cut in, to everyone's surprise.

Sun Jul 15, 2018 7:40 am
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
Originally posted here.

Werra wrote:
"What do you mean, Fireblade?" replied Alex.

Fireblade seemed a bit uneasy with having to speak while every Loroi was focused on her and the creeping hoarseness in her voice reminded Alex why. "The Soia Liron was spacefaring. If some came to your planet and created Loroi then, your ancestors saw our ancestors. Yours stayed behind and became humaniti."

While Alex considered that, Beryl happily injected another of her lessons. "A pre fall contact would have been at least 500.000 earth years ago. I can see how a naturally evolved species can change over that timespan. Perhabs modern humaniti is not the template species, but the cousin of the template."

'I should have paid more attention in biology', thought Alex, but he tried answering his best with what little he remembered. "That theory could be true. 500.000 years ago there were still different humanoids on earth. From genetic analysis we know they even interbred."
Later Alex would have sworn that Tempos ears actually jerked up with that last word. But right now his attention was taken by Beryl which immediately and enthusiastically pressed him for more info on mankinds past.

Luckily for Alex Tempo interjected, before Beryl could drain him fully. „That is all truly fascinating and we will certainly want to study humanitis history in great detail, but right now we don't seem to be getting anywhere. Since we will be on this shuttle for a while still, I would like to use this time to teach you some Sanzai discipline. Your natural Lotai is formidable, but once telepathic contact was established, you were remarkably open.“

Alex regretted the sidelook he gave Beryl at this, since he could feel his face getting warmer immediately. 'How much did these Loroi read from him' he wondered. He also worried how much more Parat Tempo would learn during this training. As if she had read his apprehension, Tempo added with an emphasizing hand to her chest: „I assure you that we will handle this matter with discretion. Loroi also need to learn these lessons. We all know how being easily read feels. I advise you to practice before you meet many more Loroi and I am sure any Loroi on this ship will gladly help you. But I am the most qualified to teach you.“

Alexshrugged and looked around the room. Fireblade seemed sympathetic and Alex was reminded of the vivid and unpleasant images he had received from her. Flint, Reed and the Loroi that brought him the shoes seemed relaxed or busy with themselfes. Only Beryl looked apprehensive but she didn't say anything.

„Well, best if I learn your customs sooner than later. How do we start?“

Sun Jul 15, 2018 7:41 am
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
Originally posted here.

novius wrote:
Tempo's gaze sort of turned inward, and slight nods by the other Loroi told Alex that they had come to an agreement... or a conclusion they all agreed on.

"There are two aspects of sanzai: Power and finesse. While Fireblade is unarguably the most powerful of the Loroi present, her mental exercises mostly focused on mental combat..."

'You don't say', Alex thought.

"...and while a Listel's highly organized mind might be a boon when it comes to data collection and retention..."

Beryl beamed at that indirect praise of her abilities.

"... when it comes to the intricacies of sanzai - or telepathy, as you named it, would fall unto a Mizol. It would be no false praise when I say that of all the Loroi present here I would be the best suited for giving basic and some advanced lessons in sanzai."

"Uh... if I am to carry around even Loroi state secrets, do these lessons include editing the memories to show?"

Tempo smiled. In a way Alex likened it to the smile of a cat having eaten the canary.

"They would. But I trust you to not to use these particular lessons on any of us. After all, with me teaching you these tricks, I am sure I could tell my own handiwork in your thoughts."

"...Message understood", Alex acquiesced.

"Furthermore, your Lotai tends to make things ... interesting. At the moment, you're completely blank to us... again."

Alex looked down. True to form, his hands - and other parts of his exposed skin - were free.

"I think I have an idea. Perhaps now that I have a feeling how it works, skin-to-skin contact with one of you might open the connection... and extend my 'Lotai' to the other person, unless it's Fireblade - she's the strongest around, right? Perhaps she sort of acts like a booster to my signal so that others would pick me up when I'm in contact with her."

Fireblade blinked, completely taken off-guard, and looked askance at Beryl and Tempo, who nodded, then she reached out with her hand.

Just before closing his eyes and touching Fireblade's cool skin, Alex could make out Beryl's slightly disgruntled expression - much like a child would look when she had been told that she would have to share the piece of cake with her sister.

Again, darkness. A single mote of light, forming into Fireblade's outline.

A stab of feeling uncomfortable, but not the episode of overwhelming fear.

Slowly but surely he started to 'feel' the other Loroi around him.

Beryl, a softer glow. Alex felt her being positively giddy at the prospect of learning all she could from him, and more.

And then, Tempo. Where Fireblade was an outline, bright enough to wash out any details, Tempo's ... mind-image? Avatar? ... was richly detailed.

Further away, he felt some stirrings in the distance. Reed? Flint? Talon? Spiral? Alex couldn't be sure.

'We're not touching you', he received a thought, unmistakably Tempo's.

'Seems you're right. Perhaps it takes considerable power to transmit Sanzai through your Lotai, power Fireblade provides', Beryl added.


Figures, even using Sanzai Fireblade seems to be very much the strong, silent type.

Bouts of sputtering, one indignant, two rather mirthful, told him that that thought was not as private as he guessed as he was jolted back into the material world, meeting a glare that promised painful retribution, and two other Loroi who tried best to not to burst out laughing.

Tempo took a deep breath, slowly regaining her composure, and then offered her hand in the same manner as Fireblade did, making her intent clear.

More hestitantly, Alex reached out for Tempo's hand and closed his eyes and plunged into the darkness again.

Tempo was already waiting for him, and Alex idly wished that would happen with Beryl, too, in the future.

'You are attracted to her, are you not?'

There's no evading that direct question. Especially not with Alex's skills, or lack thereof, compared to Tempo's.

'Yes.... yes, I am', he admitted.

'Fear not. In fact, that could actually turn out to be a boon. I have the theory that your Lotai is a subconscious defense that you can choose to lower if you are familiar with the other person and implicitly trust her. If you don't, your Lotai would be the first defense, and if it is in danger to be breached, the panic episode you felt is the second line of defense. To get away from the offending telepath. It remains to be seen how far your consciousness can lower your Lotai, especially if you get intimately familiar with someone.'

Even in sanzai her diction is nothing less than flawless, Alex thought.

'Why, thank you', he felt a wave of amusement coming from her.

'Uh... my pleasure. And... makes sense, in a strange way. Wait, are you telling me that I ... and Beryl...', Alex tried to chase away the mental images Tempo's words conjured up, images that featured Beryl and him, in various situations and equally various states of undress. Of course, whoever tried not to think of the proverbial pink elephant...

'Now that's an original way to divert your thoughts. I gather this is a large land mammal native on Earth, and its coloring is decidedly off?'

'Uh, yes...' Pink elephants, think pink elephants, think.... Beryl, in pink lingerie.... damnit!

'Anyway, let's start with the lesson - this one seems a bit redundant, giving your Lotai, but it is something every Loroi child starts out with: Trying to shield your own mind, deciding which thoughts to send and which are kept private, as well as not getting flooded by another mind....'

Beryl noticed Alex's face turning red. Puzzled for a moment, she remembered that humans bleed red, not blue, so him going red would mean....

'What did Tempo made him think to make him being that embarrassed?', she asked herself.

Sun Jul 15, 2018 7:42 am
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
Originally posted here.

Werra wrote:
To her relief the moment passed quickly and Alex face returned to its normal colour. In fact his face proved to be a most promising object of observation in the following few hundred solon. After a while Beryl was able to guess from his mimic when Tempo made him try something out or when he let something embarassing slip again. Apart from a few stray thoughts escaping from Alex here and there, the Mizol kept word and the conversation between the two private. So Beryls curiousity couldn't be sated until they were off this crowded shuttle. Though he had a most curious look in his eye when he opened them again.

„As you have already found out with that lightly dressed elephant of yours, it is of no use trying to not think of something.“ At this Alex was certain that Tempo was mocking him, but almost as soon as he thought it, he became aware of the playful undertones that seeped through.

She continued: „That just pushes whatever you're trying to hide into the forefront of your mind. Instead, try to emphasize other impressions and memories. Allow me to demonstrate.“

After that Tempo seemed to concentrate for a moment before Alex received an image of a large bonfire with several dozen young looking Loroi surrounding it. The mood was festive yet also strangely sorrowful.

„This is the day my diral passed the trials to adulthood. What you received is my general mood of that evening.“ Now that she mentioned it, Alex realised he saw the scene from behind the eyes of one of the Loroi, apparently Tempo.

„If I don't want others to hear of my grief that night, I can focus on other aspects of that memory, like the happiness.“ And Alex could not pick up any negative feelings in the images he received anymore.

„Here is what it looks like to us when you concentrate on not thinking of something.“, this time Alex picked up playfulness as soon as Tempo said that. She reacts quickly, thought Alex in a hopefully hidden part of his mind.

This time Alex saw a young, blonde Loroi with short hair running a few meters from Tempo over a ..giant, slimy mushroom. He heard Tempos voice saying:“Don't think of her fall.“ In the humid air Tempos clothes stuck uncomfortably to her sweaty body.“Don't think of it.“ They had been chasing a prey animal for a while now and then the young Loroi, lost her footing and went right over the edge of the mushroomhead. Panic, fear, then sharp pain and finally nothing anymore. She was gone.

Tempos voice shook him out of his morbid fascination:“ As you can see, Captain Jardin, the thoughts do get through and once they do, they often carry inappropriate details with them.“

Like your chest heaving against wet clothes was Alex first association to that, which he could not stop in time. Tempos next words made him sharply feel that.

„Indeed, our communication is thus very direct, truthful and open. Every Loroi learns a certain amount of tact and discretion. So I do hope that you keep this particular memory intimate between us.“

Sun Jul 15, 2018 7:44 am
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
Side branch, originally posted here.

Krulle wrote:
Spoiler: show
'Does your humaniti meditation techniques also have some stories for quieting down your minds? Tempo's sending came.

'Yes, although not many come to mind.' Alex replied.

'Try them, one after the other. I'll be listening in, and tell you what makes your sending clearer, quieter, louder, or other effects.'

Alex took a deep breath. 'One.' He slowly exhaled. He inhaled again. Two.' And then he heard it. Tempo was giggling. He opened his eyes, and she really sat there giggling.

"Sorry," Tempo said, "but this came unexpected. Your sending became less cluttered, clearer. Less stray thoughts, but you also caused something I last experienced when I was a lot younger."

Beryl looked astonished at her superior, who was still not able to suppress the giggling. Tempo looked back. Alex felt them communicating, although he was not able to understand anything. And then Beryl started laughing. Loudly. Very loudly.

She gasped while gulping down air, and between her laughter she said "Stop, Enzin. Ha ha ha! Stop kietza us!"

Alex looked dumbfounded at the two Loroi, giggling and laughing, and apparenly slowly losing control.

Fireblade concentrated obviously, and then said to Alex: "Kietla is a childrens game. They poke fingers at each other until one starts laughing. Kietza basically is the same, just using Sanzai, without physical contact. If succesful, the loser usually automatically starts reflexively to kietza the others too. Often resulting in whole playing groups laughing until they are exerted. I'm currently concentrating hard to embolster my Lotai."

Alex looked dumbfounded at Fireblade. "You mean I accidentally tickled them?"


"How do you stop that?"

"How do you stop, when you're being 'tickled'?" she asked back.

'Forcibly stopping the other', he thought. But that would maybe work, except that he did not do anything. Knowingly at least. And he was not physically tickling them.

And if someone was in a laughing fit, you need to calm them down.
But how?

Counting to ten actually caused this. So what else? Sitting down and holding still. Letting your eyes wander across the visible landscape, while taking deep breaths....

He closed his eyes, and thought of a small glade he once visited with his parents. Long ago. But the small, quiet lake, the tall trees, and the general calmof the place.

He grabbed Beryl's and Tempo's hands, and tried to keep that quiet image in mind. And it seemed to work.

Then he remember why else he loved that place so much.

It was where he and his first girlfriend first discovered each other's body.

And how much he'd love to see Beryl there.

Well, that image made them all stop giggling.

"Mission achieved" a bright red Alexander said, and looking at a deep blue Beryl.

Sun Jul 15, 2018 7:46 am
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
Originally posted here.

novius wrote:
The veiled warning did not pass by Alex. Especially since it was delivered directly to his mind. Slowly but surely he realized that it is nigh impossible to outright lie - misdirect, varnish the truth a bit, but telling a falsehood via sanzai would require to actually believe the falsehood oneself.

'Astute observation. Only highly trained individuals would be able to ... brain-wash... themselves to such a degree that they could convincingly pass on a lie. Brainwash - your idea of spoken Trade certainly has some interesting idioms.'

Alex snorted, trying to suppress a laugh on Tempo's mental image of a naked human - and possibly Loroi - brain, covered in soap suds.

'I promise that I do not want to tell on my own volition and it needs your lessons for that to not to slip out.', Alex answered, with a flicker of guilt that he actually got a closer look at another Loroi than Beryl.

'Say, did you choose that particular picture for a purpose?' Alex tried for a light-hearted tone in his thoughts.

Tempo was silent for a long moment, but then she spoke out.

'I might have... Even when you described these 'elves' and likened us to them I could see that you considered us to be an attractive species. And, capitalizing on base impulses... fear, curiosity, attraction ... is a good way to test the mental equilibrium.'

Attractive? No. Downright stunningly beautiful would be a much better description... Alex had no regrets letting that thought slip through.

'Well, judging from your reaction I even underestimated that - but where did that guilt come from?'

'Because I'd hurt Beryl if I start looking for other women. After all, she almost chewed out Talon when she caught me introducing her to a handshake', Alex sent, accompanied with a reenactment of a particular scene just after he entered the cockpit with Talon.

'Right. 'Serial monogamy', as you explained. Beryl already told you about our female-to-male ratio and that our males cannot affort not to mate for prolonged periods. Add to this that male encounters are highly regulated and you can see that the concept of such commitment to a singular female is rare, very rare. Come to think of this...'

Alex felt Tempo pausing and sent a wordless query.

'It is a rare occurence for a warrior to actually see one male, less talk to him. In a way, we're already the odd ones out, with our prolonged contact to you. Although other warriors might act shy around you at first ... I wouldn't be surprised if you start receiving applications for mating encounters, and, please note that Beryl's reaction was almost completely out of place. The concept of 'jealousy' is not unknown to us, but heavily frowned upon. After all, reserving exclusive rights on a male is only a thing for truly deserving Loroi. To put in perspective, Stillstorm might be eligible for this, being a decorated war hero, but people do rest more easily that she never showed any inclination for this.'

'Come again?!', Alex spluttered, incredulously.

Wordlessly, Tempo conjured the scene he showed her up again, but put an emphasis on one detail.

"Pilots have a natural feeling for each other", Talon did say, and, wasn't that a slight smile playing around her lips?

'Understand that you are an attractive species to us in turn. While the concept of male warriors seems ... strange ... to us, I admit I do find the thought quite interesting, and by the looks of it, Talon might, too.'

Alex let out the mental equivalent of a groan. He didn't care that he leaked that thought that it would sound like a hormonal male teenager's harem fantasy, but there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.

He felt Tempo smiling. Just the sort of smile before giving the dagger between one's ribs another twist.

'And, I don't know how Teidar judge their prospective males, but as for you, I think she's starting to measure you by warrior standards. Earn her respect, and you might be in for a surprise.'

In the material world, Fireblade looked over to Beryl, a question on her mind. 'You should know - is it healthy for a human to turn such a color?'

Sun Jul 15, 2018 7:48 am
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
Originally posted here.

Werra wrote:
Beryls answer came instantly: „In the last 500 solon he has reddened 4 times so far. This is the reddest he has gotten yet. His colour returned to his normal skin colour in an average of 140 solon. I can not exclude a possible health risk, but as long as his colour reverts, the risks should be minimal. What do you think Tempo is doing with him?“

„I think you should take a deep breath.“ came Fireblades answer.

The Listel winced at the implicit and explicit reprimand in that: „How can you remain so calm? You are responsible for his security, Fireblade. Don't you want to know what the Mizol is up to?“

„Whatever she is doing, it's not going to be a security concern of a Teidar. Nor am I worried about him or her. Do you wish to return to his safe, manly arms so soon?“

„Pallan Fireblade, it is my duty as Listel to learn as much about Alex and humaniti as possible! His discovery is likely the most important in the history of the Union! Personal feelings are secondary at best here.“

As an answer Beryl received only a large dose of scepticism and two raised eyebrows from Fireblade. Beryl sighted audibly and returned to her duty of observation. These would be long solons before they could finally leave the shuttle.

After Alex succesfully fought down the mental images of Fireblade his brain had combined with shreds of some stupid kids show about mankind in the third millenium, he tried saving himself further embarrassment by changing topic.
„It will take some time for me to get used to Loroi culture, Parat Tempo. In the meantime I would like to work on establishing professional diplomatic conduct. Can we please get back to the lessons about Sanzai?

With an apparent change in demeanour Tempo returned to her well trained, seamless diction and remarked: „We have never stopped, Captain Jardin. The best way for you to learn is to experience situations you'd rather not be in. Beryl already remarked on your quick ability to learn.Your embarrassment is an excellent tool to discipline you.“
From the various associations his brain came up with, Alex managed to concentrate on Beryls praise of him. Tempo surely caught on to his relief, but Alex hoped she missed the why. He couldn't however supress the growing fatigue this lesson had caused.

„See, she was right, you do learn quickly, Captain.“ At the same time as he heard Tempo say that, he felt something strange. The only way to descripe it was as a non verbal query by Tempo about his fatigue while she was sending something else. To his surprise some part of him automatically answered. In place of an explanation he received an assurance from her that this would be a lesson for another day. His worries about plucking his mind at will were passed over by releasing his hand.

Sun Jul 15, 2018 7:49 am
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
Originally posted here.

novius wrote:
Well... that was enlightening, Tempo mused, after releasing his hand, leaving Alex to his own thoughts.

It wasn't an idle boast that Tempo would be the best suited for sanzai training - what she lacked in raw power - though she's no slouch by any means - she knew she could make up with finesse, and with some tricks which were guardedly held secret by the Mizol.

Like the subchannel query. It doesn't work for complex questions, but for many things it is enough to route a simple question directly to the subconscious of the receiver. In Loroi - and as she saw now in Humans, too - it elicits a reflexive response, much like kicking when a hammer strikes the tendon just below the kneecap.

Interesting. How very interesting. One more example on how similar Loroi and Humans are in their anatomy and basic psychology, if not their biochemistry.

Glancing at Alex she saw that he closed his eyes, possibly having fallen asleep. Figures, she admitted, after all she did put him through the paces, and maybe it might be beneficial to give his subconscious some time to process the images she implanted in his mind...

'What did you do to him?' Came Beryl's question.

'No need for alarm. But keep in mind that I have to compress lectures Loroi normally take months to learn into a much shorter time frame. Of course he is exhausted. By my estimate, his nap would last around 900 to 1200 solons.' Tempo reassured the young Listel.

'Right, yes, but what about...' Beryl sent a picture of Alex going beet red, '... what did you send to him for him to do that?'

'That's for me to know and for you to find out.' Tempo retorted, with a decidedly smug tone in her sending, but then relents. 'I'll give you a hint. He gets easily flustered over certain aspects of Loroi culture, especially compared to his own.'

Damn Mizol, Beryl thought, how could someone so easily send answers which just leave more questions behind?, she quietly grumbled.

Of course Tempo sent Beryl the unvarnished truth. Captain Jardin - Beryl was quick to adopt a shortened version of his given name as an appellation, she herself might do so in time, too, especially given what she had in mind with him.

Originially intended to put his equilibrium to a stress test, she found out quickly that he easily got rattled when thoughts even touch their customs around male encounters, and, curiously enough, when he was to entertain the thought of Loroi warriors as potential mates for an encounter. He might already have broadened his view about that when it concerned Tozet Beryl, evidently so, but him singularly focusing on her could be ... problematic, and her acting in kind could become quite an issue.

Another thought made her check something on her tablet. Ah, there...

Normally it would be technically illegal for her to have the Tempest's crew manifest on her mobile device, but no one would ever be able to look, as it is heavily encrypted by keys the Mizol conveniently didn't share with the rest of the Union.

She quickly found Listel Tozet Beryl's entry and scrolled to the section denoting her origin.

Derrin Plains, West Shei-Lan, Maia, Tempo read. Maia, well, that explains much. Maiad Loroi were, on Tempo's personal scale, distressingly lax in the regulation of male encounters, sometimes to the point of allowing attachments to form, even if they still heavily frown on a male and female getting exclusive to each other.

That could actually work in our favor, she thought, We need him to have a reason to stay on our side, despite the odds, and a simple Listel Tozet might be an acceptable sacrifice to achieve this. Though in the long run it might be advantageous for him to be acquainted and comfortable with the Loroi way of doing things.

She would never tell Captain Jardin that she did pick up on a particular image when he thought of 'harem fantasy'... Though, what by the stars is a harem? Sure, the image conveyed a good idea what it is, and it looks as if one-on-one pair bondings might not be the only form of relationships between genders known to humans. This.... yes, this could really be beneficial.

Neither would she tell him about another, more recent image she picked up from him when she used the word 'discipline'.

Really. Her in a tight-fitting shiny black leather suit that does NOTHING to hide her figure, a stern look on her face and a ... whip? ... in her right hand?

Looks like human culture is much, much more complicated than she originally imagined.

Whatever. Captain Jardin ... Alex, she corrected herself, seems to think that a professional relationship would exclude any male encounter. This might be true for Humans, but it would be beneficial to see things the Loroi way.

Beneficial for whom, that was a thought she didn't dwell on overly much.

Just in time she noticed a certain overly curious Listel reaching out to sleeping Alex's bare hand and quickly sent the mental equivalent of a sharp rap on the fingers.

'Let him sleep. This must have been much more mental contact than he ever experienced in his whole life. His mind needs to rest and sort out impressions.'

Properly chastised, Beryl withdrew her hand, leaving Alex alone with his dreams.

Dreams Tempo wouldn't want for Beryl and Fireblade to see right now, not at the current stage of her designs. Dreams based on some images she put in his mind to let his subconscious dwell on.

Sun Jul 15, 2018 7:50 am
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
Originally posted here.

Krulle wrote:
Alex woke up with a groan. But a least no headache.

Fireblade has, in the meantime, moved away, but Beryl was still sitting close. Snoring slightly.
It's been way too long I woke up next to a girl snoring... he thought, with a slightly longing look.

Tempo was also gone. But the guards were still present, even if they moved over to the shuttle's doors.

Then he noticed that the lights of the shuttle have been dimmed.

He smiled at guards and asked "Is everything all right?"

One of them said "Yes."

He looked at her and waited for more information, but no elaboration came.

Ah, yeah. Not used to talking....

The door of the cockpit opened and closed, and Tempo came down the aisle towards him

"Captain Jardin, while you were asleep, the enemy has made the next steps. They have sent another six divisions coming from Rallis, and this time it's a gatecrasher force."

"Gatecrasher force?" he asked.

"That's what we call a minimum supply convoi they use in their attack missions. This group also contains tankers and transport ships." Tempo added.

"Uh... That does not sound good."

"No, it does not." Beryl interjected. Tempo must've nudged her telepathically awake.

"What the Enemy commander said... bypassing Azimol citadel.... What is beyond Enedd?" Alex asked, while his head did start to feel slightly headachey.

"The reserve fleet base at Nezel. If the enemy could break through there, beyond lies largely undefended territory." Beryl answered, with a clear worry in her face.

"Yes. And we've started to observe the Umiak refuel and resupply their vessels." Tempo added.

"Ugh." Alex groaned involuntarily. "How long have I been asleep?" He asked.

"About 400 bima." Beryl replied. "How long is a Human sleep cycle anyway?" She immediately asked.

"Uff. I thought we already talked about that. Aboard the Tempest?" Alex answered, and he felt his throat to be really dry.

"Marginally." Beryl replied. "We talked about Earth, and your time measurements, but not about your physiology."

"Well, it's too early in the morning for that." Alexander replied. "Can I have some water, please. And I'm hungry, so breakfast would be nice."

Beryl looked away, towards the shuttle's doors. Turning back to him, she said "Water, and something to eat will be brought shortly. In the meantime: how long does a Human sleep, on average?"

"I'm sure you've observed me while keeping me safe aboard the tempest, but about 8 hours a night, in a total cycle of 24 hours a day." Alex answered.

"So, as we thought, your home planets rotation also dictates your daily rhythm. About 400 bima in a sleep cycle." Beryl calculated.

"Where are we now?" Alex asked.

"Aboard the station Gora-relay. We had to find a safe spot, and the enemy stopped pursueing us. They are apparently content in blocking the Gora jump point outside our weapon range. But the station's commander has commanded that you are not to exit the shuttle." Tempo said. "The backdraw is, that we cannot move away for now. The station's commander did extend courtesy to us and has refueled us though, even if only as a last-ditch emergency exit. But also she made clear that should the shuttle try to fly away from the station while the system and the jump point are in the Enemies hand, she will destroy us."

"Those are not the news I want to wake up to." Alex commented.

"Neither is this the news we wish to share with friends." Tempo said.
She took a short look at Beryl, and left. Clearly, there have been comments, observations, maybe instructions, using Sanzai.

Alex looked at Beryl, who was apparently always observing him. "Does the shuttle have a sanitary station I can use?"

She pointed backwards, and said "To the left."

He went back, and found a small sanitary room, and something like a hand washing basin. He relieved himself, and then used the basin to spray some water into his face.

Meanwhile, he thought about the lesson the Mizol has given him. Culturally. Apparently, the Loroi do think differently about relations. And apparently exclusivity is slightly frowned upon, especially with lower ranks like active military.

Man, this whole blue-elf space amazon story started to become a male-fantasy trope.

Oh yeah, the Mizol also picked up on the image of Harem.

He flushed slightly.

He saw his ears turn red in a mirror.
And I need to stop getting red every time. I'm not a child, and certainly not a virgin anymore. he thought with a smile.

What else? Yeah, that last question and image. And the reply his mind reflexively gave.

Fatigue, was the question, and what was his reply. yes, no? Both. Ah, the subtext. No, being fatigue can get in the way of mating; was one question/answer set, and the other was "Yes, fatigue activates the Lotai. How would he know that? Yet that was the answer he gave, and he felt it was true. So, lowering the Lotai would have to be a very conscious, active decision. That's advantageous in protecting his thoughts. Yet the last few times Tempo or Beryl touched him, his Lotai was apparently down right from the start.

He finished refreshing himself, and went back into the cabin.

Beryl had rearranged some chairs at the front, which now included a small table. Some water, and some different dishes with food were there.

Time for a small experiment before I get food I don't like he thought. He walked to the front, deliberately choosing the side closest to the shuttle doors, where the guards stood.

When passing by, he reached out and touched one of them deliberately on the naked hand.

"Hello" he thought.

No reply, but she pulled her hand away, and the other guard had her handarm drawn.

He raised his hands, and simply said "Sorry, I wanted to test something regarding my Lotai." He lowered one hand slowly, and put it forward, and said "This is a human greeting ritual. Hi, my name is Alexander."

One of them looked at Beryl, who was already on the move towards them. The other guard answered "My instructions do not permit me to touch you, or talk with you. You are to stay aboard this shuttle."

Alex shrugged his shoulders, and said "Sorry for the interruption", turned and left for the front of the shuttle.

When Beryl and him met him, they stopped, and without asking he touched her "Hello".

Beryl looked at him, and replied "Uh, hello? What was that?"

"Just wanted to test something. How much effort it takes to pull down my Lotai to Sanzai with you." Alex replied.


Her curiousity obviously has won her over again. He started walking down the aisle, forcing her to let go of his hand, to turn around and walk next to him.

He reached out and held her hand. "Nothing." he replied. "I thought of the same 'hello' as I did to you, no further efforts, yet you could understand me clearly, she could apparently not."

She looked back, and when she turned to him again, he saw a smile on her face "Indeed. She confirms she received nothing from you. Interesting."

"Yes indeed. My Lotai is apparently also depending on whether I trust you." Alex commented.

"Don't you trust them?" Beryl asked.

Alex could certainly noticed the mental satisfaction in her reply. Yes, Beryl was apparently very... territorial of him.
"I trust them not to shoot me without reason, but that's about it." he replied. He imagined playing kids on the street, holding hands while running somewhere, and sent that image with a thought of laughter to her.

The reply came faster, much faster than he expected, and included an image at night, of adults, walking hand in hand along a shoreline with a moon glittering over the water.

She let go of him, and he noticed her ears turning a much darker shade of blue.

Ha! he thought. Apparently I can incite reflexive answeres too. One trick learned, Tempo!

He smiled at her, and sat down at the table, which included two sets of dishes, as he noticed. While she sat down, he took a sip of the water. He pointed at the different dishes, and asked "Would you care to explain to me the food we have in front of us?"

She smiled at him, and said "Since we are docked at the station, we are not limited by the recently rather drained stock of the ship, so I had a larger selection brought over, in the hope we could find something more suitable for you. The medical computer of the station here proposed based on the scanned data some foods, which it thought would be most agreeable to you. Most of the stuff actually comes from my home world, Maia. Maia is a planet that has been extensively transformed several times, and most of the transforming empires left quite a range of organisms on the planet. Maia itself apparently never got to multicellular organisms. But we have sea life transplanted from at least 12 different planets, trees from 17 different planets, grains from at least 4 different planets, and so on... On top of that, there is life which has apparently been specifically created for Maia, as well has a large range of Soia-Liron organisms." She started pointing at different dishes, and explained briefly if that was sea food, fish, animal, bird, plant, fungus, (from which planet it was trasnplanted, if the Loroi knew, or whether it was unknown) and how it was processed to achieved the current state. One slice of something caught his attention, because it was made from a grain, soaked in water, mixed, some fungus was used to alter the grains properties, and finally heat was used to dry it again. Next to it was a small dish of a whitish creamy stuff, which apparently was made from maternal milk of an animal.

He took a slice, and took a bite. Hmm. he thought. Finally something bread like.

Beryl looked at him, and seeing his relaxed facial muscles, commented "Finally something to your liking, Enzin?"

"Yes, this is actually close to something we have on Earth we call 'bread'. Whether my stomach will agree remains to be seen, that could take up to 10 hours to find out, but at least it tastes good. Would you care to show me the customs of your world, by joining me for this breakfast? And show me how you on Maia eat this stuff?" Alex asked with a smile.

Beryl also took a slice, and a knife, and showed him.

In the cockpit, Tempo observed the situation in the passenger cabin on a small screen, and with a telepathic command ordered the two guards to leave the cabin and guard the shuttle from the other side.

She took a look around. Yes the shuttle's cockpit has changed, but they've had more than enough preparation time while the totally exerted Beryl caught up on her sleep deficit, and while Alex had a complete Human sleep cycle. But it was the only smaller room available, besides that rather cramped sanitary room. When he had to sleep aboard, this room would have to do.
Whether Alexander would be as goal-oriented as a Loroi male remained to be seen, but she would not have that Listel have 'first contact' (as Alexander's mind playfully described on of the situations) all alone. This would definitely teach him differences in their societies on a practical scale, which is more useful than just telling it theoretically.
His mind has proven to be a very rich source of entertaining on this subject.
This time aboard could become very entertaining, and if that happened, well, this cockpit would have to be much more comfortable than sleeping in the chairs in the cabin...

She continued observing the two, so she could interfere if something happened. And if nothing would happen, she would interfere too.

But apparently Alex was hungrier than a Loroi male would be in his situation, or he was stronger resisting her suggestions than she expected him to be.

Luckily for her, Alex and Beryl did not use sanzai now, so she could hear everything.
But for most parts it were rather boring elements. She explained the food, usually several times, and showed him how the inhabitants of Maia combined them. But clearly, both became aware of the setting. 'romantic dinner' was what Alex' mind has said. Interesting concept, but not unheard of in the kind of literature any military does not want aboard, but invariably is always aboard a ship. And it was obvious that the Listel was revelling in the attention he drowned her in.

Alex finally put down his cutlery.
Using her Mizol clearance, Tempo made one last check whether the systems of the shuttle have not been infiltrated by the station, and that anything said and done inside would not be monitored from the outside.
Tempo stood up, and indeed, Alex put one arm with his hand towards Beryl over the table for Beryl to be taken.
She pressed a button, which switched off the monitors and the audio feed from the cabin.

She left the cockpit. "Sorry to interrupt" she said. Just in time. she thought, noticing the two have not touched hands yet. "Captain Jardin, I must remind you that you are not to leave the shuttle. As the commanding officer of the diplomatic convoy, I have been tasked by the station's commanding officer to keep an eye on you, which is her way of saying she wants no Mizol on her station now. Beryl here will continue to be your primary contact, as her experience as Listel will be most beneficial in having a picture as complete as possible about humaniti when we get somewhere where decisions can be made. As such, I give you now the option to either enjoy our presence and have ask us about whatever topic you wish to learn more about, or whether you would desire to continue your training regarding your mental disclipline and your Lotai?"

Sun Jul 15, 2018 7:51 am
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
Originally posted here.

Werra wrote:
Tempo entered from the cockpit. The sound of her voice made him halt his hand reaching for Beryls. Turning his head he watched as Tempo made her way towards their table. Now that he was used to her sight he noticed things about her. Her agile walk, her slender frame, the way she searched for his eyes mentioning enjoyment, her offered hand promising more of her memories. Her whole body was an invitation. While a part of his mind registered and categorized the meanings of her words, Alex attention shifted through this situation like it did running wargames with Mazeys boys. (page 93)

'How untypical of Tempo to be this clear. She kept me guessing even in Sanzai.' thought Alex,'and now she isn't even taking a look at what is on the table.' Then as Beryl next to him literally scowled at Tempo it dawned on Alex. Loroi use Sanzai and Sanzai is truthful, direct and clear on the feelings. They rarely use body language. Alex knew that just as a Loroi could run circles in Sanzai around an untrained human, a human could take advantage in nonverbal communication. Memories and tidbits of information now connected in his mind, forming a clear picture of this Mizol in front of him. He was angry with himself that he did not realise what it meant when Tempo cut off Beryl from explaining the duties of a Mizol.
'Fine, if you want to play a game with me, then you shall have one', resolved Alex.

He was done with his thoughts when Tempo reached their table, so as an answer he gave her a smile and a friendly wave of his hand motioning for her to sit. Alex beamed at her: „Ah, Parat Tempo, please join us. Beryl was just telling me about the food from her home planet Maia. I was pleasantly surprised by how well Beryls tastes sit with me. I'm feeling remarkable.“
'Give Beryl a verbal compliment and keep smiling at Tempo. Make her second guess herself.'

Tempo answered his smile with one of her sly ones, but her eyes darted over to Beryl, whose sour expression revealed their Sanzai. To him she said: „I am very pleased for you, Captain Jardin. Maia is famous for its foodstuffs. If you can stomach some of our food, that solves most of our concerns for your health.“

Alex replied: „It also helps me replenish my energies after you drained them yesterday. There were some intensive impressions in your training.“
'That got a reaction from you. I know exactly what you are remembering now, Tempo.' Though Alex had to admit that he now also remembered her agitated breathing. Well, that was the price he paid to see her eyes flashing for a moment, confirming his suspicions about Tempos intents.

Beryl anxiously interjected herself: „You looked very strained. I am concerned this training is stressful to you, Enzin. Loroi have years to learn these lessons. Perhabs you should take it slower in future.“

Beryls face showed genuine concern for him at that. Alex remembered something she had told him the first time they met. Loroi take care of their males and keep them safe. 'I wonder how Beryl will react when she realises that I volunteered for the most dangerous duty in the human fleet.'

So to both Loroi he said: „My health is secondary to my mission. Now that Earth and Loroi have established contact, it falls on me to parley mans part in the war effort.“ To Tempo he said: „I can ask you about any topic I wish? Then let us talk about ways humanity can help you kill Umiak.“

Sun Jul 15, 2018 7:52 am
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
Originally posted here.

novius wrote:
For Beryl it was a rollercoaster of emotions. Not that she had any idea what a 'rollercoaster' actually is.

She was aware that something new had been added to their little talks. Well... come to think of it, it might have been already there even before, but just now she got acutely aware of it.

Yes, I'm attracted to him, she admitted to herself with a breath of relief. A sidelong glance over to him, seeing how relaxed he looks, casually letting her remain in his private space...

And the sanzai, just before.

He did it without even touching her. And just right now.... yes, she thought with elation, he is here. Faint, but there. He said.... sent! He sent that his Lotai seems to react on the level of trust he has towards one of us.

The realization that he had that level of trust in her that even his subconscious would lower its defenses warmed her heart.

Beryl lacks the words to describe her emotions, Trade is rather inelegant to do so, so she was never able to put into words that she has fallen for him, hard.

Their private moment was rudely interrupted when that damnable Mizol showed up.

Alex gave her a sidelong glance, seeing her face, and just a solon later she felt a wave of reassurance. Not quite fully-framed sanzai, just a feeling that could be translated to 'No worries, I'll handle this', followed by him directing her (mental) eyes to Tempo. 'Watch.'

Either it was Tempo's presence distracting him or having his Lotai up, or he tried to send quietly, for Tempo not to pick up on his sanzai.

But, watch she did. She listened to Alex's spoken words, and took in the reactions they elicited in Tempo. Without his direction she'd surely have missed it.

Beryl tightly sent a question to Alex, emphasizing on how she did it in a way for eavesdroppers not to pick up on her thoughts, hoping he would catch up on it. 'It feels as if I'm missing large parts of it.'

His response came almost immediately, somewhat clearer. 'You do. I'll explain.'

"There were some intensive impressions in your training.", Alex just said. There it was, again. Tempo tensing up for a fraction of a solon, and a slightly hardened look around her eyes.

Though, his spoken words elicited a reaction in her. The feeling, that has been drummed into her by genetics and culture. The need to protect the precious, rare male. Coupled with a raising ire on how Tempo could even dare to run him down that much?!

She had to do something.

"You looked very strained. I am concerned this training is stressful to you, Enzin. Loroi have years to learn these lessons. Perhaps you should take it slower in future."

Of course her words were more directed at Tempo rather than Alex himself.

His answer made her heart bleed even more. There was a male, someone every decent Loroi warrior would just feel the need to protect and he had been mistreated, mindraped and stuffed in a brig. And still he held out for her people and actually trusted her on a level that they could actually send to each other.

She felt ashamed. This alien turned out to be a far, far better warrior than many of her own kind.

That brought her thoughts briefly to a certain red-haired Teidar.

Eat that, Fireblade! You think he has to live up to your expectations, but you got it wrong. It is us who have to live up to his., she grimly thought to herself, and she swore to herself that she'd stay true to him in good and bad.

'Huh.', came Alex's stray thought, 'you just quoted one traditional marriage vow'

A vow? Well, it was one, true, but that unfamiliar English word? Marriage? What's that?

And, she was not even aware that she sent to him.

What by the stars is happening to them?

In the waking world, Tempo was, for a lack of a better word, unsettled. She had to admit, she overestimated the impact of her subliminal images on him - well, most Loroi males would be mush by now - and grossly underestimated his conviction to 'the Cause'. His sense of duty would even rival Pallan Fireblade's, for sure.

And yet, there was something else.

Captain Jardin and Tozet Beryl never touched each other during their experiments with the foodstuffs, but they acted around each other with a familiarity one can only see if they are around each other since a long time, like being part of a diral.

Or having an active sanzai.

I'd commend you for progressing that quickly that you could send to her without having to touch her, but it seems you wish to keep it under wraps. Might be the idea that singling her out would be met with repercussions did take hold. Tempo thought to herself.

Time to try a different tack. If he values duty that highly, perhaps....

"I... admit ... that I haven't thought that far, since your original mandate only covered to negotiate a peaceful existence with any of the parties involved, didn't it?"

That barb wasn't lost on Alex. He could have easily ended up opening talks with an Umiak and they all knew it.

"It did, but you made it clear that we could either coexist with the Loroi or with the Umiak, but not both of them. And if siding with one of you puts us in a state of war with the other, it is our lot to make sure the side we pick wins."

"And it is just by chance that we happened to find you drifting in space."

"True, but I am sure that any peace talks with the Umiak would have been doomed from the start."

Now that got Tempo's attention. She leaned forward, intent on capturing any word he may say - and maybe think.

"How so?"

"I could say it started with having a good look at an Umiak, the one that contacted us. Many humans do have an instincive fear and aversions towards insects. We are ... repulsed by them on an almost instinctive level. Second, what you described of their society fits the picture we have of insects. A society where the individual counts nothing, but the Hive as a whole everything."

"Surely you noticed that we put the Union's welfare before our own as well?" Tempo challenged.

"I did, but correct me if I'm wrong, but you do choose that career? You could have dropped out into civilian life, but it was your own free will to do your part for the Union?"

"It is a bit more complicated than that, but I see your picture. We are allowed our choices in life, the Umiak and their vassals are not, you mean?"

"Exactly. Insects are born, ... hatched ... whatever ... to a specific task and role in life and they're bound to it. Sentient insects may expect the same level of self-sacrifice from their servitor species."

Tempo rose both eyebrows, mirroring Beryl's equally surprised expression.

"For a species you never had contact with you know them pretty well. Did these Orgus tell you all of it?" Beryl interjected.

"Well... no. They only described Umiak in general, and it just pulled up the picture of insects in us. There's the thing - we do have many fictional works on how encountering alien species could have worked out for us. They could have been benevolent, they could have had their own hidden agendas, and they could have been completely alien to us, as in, the motivations driving the hypothetical alien species would be completely different to ours, that they evoke fear and loathing."

"So you actually simulated how First Contacts could play out? A fascinating idea, please continue." Tempo prompted.

"Thing is, the insect's way of life squarely falls into the latter category. There is a whole trope of entertainment media where the hypothetical aliens is a species with insect-like characteristics. Both in looks and behaviour. And only in very rare cases the story ended peacefully.... More often than not the encounter with such a species resulted in a war, in the story."

Tempo went silent for a long time, then nodded. "I see what you mean. Humans have fictional war stories as entertainment? And wars with species similar to The Enemy on top of it?"

Alex's left corner of his mouth rose. "If you ever get the chance, look up 'Starship Troopers' and the 'Alien' series. Age-old, but it popped up right after the Orgus landed and described the lay of the land. Though... maybe better not. Especially 'Alien' is not for the faint-hearted."

Beryl huffed in annoyance. Faint-hearted, indeed! She'd show him faint-hearted!

Although, she had to admit, that it's mightily cute that he in turn actually cares for her wellbeing....

Tempo noticed Beryl's ear tips getting a deeper shade of blue and inwardly grinned. Now you're in for it..., she thought to herself.

"Now I am curious enough to have a look. But I see what you are saying. Coexistence with the shells is something humans would consider repulsive, and the chance for peace with them would be a remote one at best." Tempo summed up.

"The only reason the Umiak had been on the list was because we knew literally nothing about you. From our perspective, the Loroi could have been even more repulsive to us, and what the Orgus told of the Tithric's and the Mannadi's fate didn't help your case."

"So your choice had been between a complete unknown, but with a horrible reputation, and a species that elicits a reaction of revulsion in you." She concluded.

"And I chose the complete unknown."

"Even before you met us?" Beryl asked.

"Even before I met you. I stood ramrod straight in front of Captain Hamilton, he let me wait for what felt like an eternity, and the first thing he asked was - 'Loroi or Umiak?'. I said 'Loroi'."

"Why so?", Tempo cut in.

"He asked the same. And my answer was that I was less concerned with what you do to your enemies compared to what the Umiak do to their friends."

Tempo smiled. A real, genuine smile. "I'm relieved to hear that, while you being here happened purely by chance, that we would have been your conscious choice. But I bet you only thought to make contact and leave the rest to the diplomats, and now you have little other choice but getting ... deeply immersed ... into Loroi culture."

There it was again, Alex thought. Tempo still couldn't resist but lace in some innuendo.

Beryl's thought cut in.

'I picked that up, too. And ... maybe you better give in a bit to her. I think I have a good idea why she does these things.'

Beryl's sanzai was laced with a subtext of quiet resignation. She didn't like what Tempo did one bit, for sure, but for some reason she thought it important for him to ... what? Give in to Tempo's suggestions?

"But, let me come back to your original question. What humans could contribute to the war effort. I'd wager the best assets your people have are ... yourself", she finished after a dramatic pause.

"Come again?"

"Not what you think I mean, to be sure." Well, maybe not entirely so..., Tempo added in her own thoughts. "While your technological base is, forgive me for saying it, inadequate I have to commend you for your efforts and determination to reach out that far in hopes of finding us, facing a journey that could very well turn out to be one of no return. Trust me, that kind of dedication is a rare thing. But, there's something even more tangible your people can offer. Allow me? And, please, Tozet Beryl, do join in."

With the last words she offered her hand, and Beryl, after a moment of flustered hestitation, followed.

Having enough practise, Alex felt out for Beryl's and Tempo's minds and found them quickly enough. Beryl was already asking what this is about, but Tempo's focus was ... outwards, for a lack of a better word.

'Now I'll let your hand go. Please don't be alarmed.', Tempo sent.

"...I've confirmed with Arrir Talon. Let's just say she became quite unsettled when the two of us 'dropped out of sight', so to say. I've suspected as much, but now I know - whoever is in close contact to you benefits from your Lotai. But, given that it didn't happen all the time - you touching Arrir Talon didn't make her invisible to us - I think it requires some trust between you and us."

Alex silently asked Tempo to elaborate.

"Given the most recent blow we might need to pick up on asymmetrical warfare. Our fleet and strike group battle doctrine ... bought us time, but now The Enemy is starting to drown us in numbers we simply cannot match. We need to strike them where it hurts. Infiltration. Sabotage. Espionage. Information warfare. What I have in mind are Human/Loroi deep infiltration squads where the human's part is to make the whole squad invisible. Because, if The Enemy can become invisible to Farseers... it wouldn't be a stretch to think that they have Farseers on their own, too."

"This actually makes sense, in a wierd way", Alex admitted.

'Not quite what I had guessed. I'll explain later', Beryl's sanzai cut in.

Tempo didn't mention that she indeed had another set of ideas to employ humans in mind. Since the regulations around male encounters were introduced to fight overpopulation but kept as a reward scheme, a group of human males on board a ship could doubly serve for ... morale reasons. After all, if her suspicion is correct, such infiltration squads she had in mind would need for the Humans and Loroi to actually bond to each other. On what level, that remains to be seen. And, perhaps, in time, they could bridge the biochemical differences between Humans and Loroi. Introducing a nigh impenetrable and selectively active Lotai into the Loroi gene pool... yes, that could be a goal the Mizol might pursue.

That Humans and Loroi do find each other attractive could be beneficial for, well, research.

It just remains to see what it takes for a human to act on said attraction.

Tempo smiled inwardly. I'm sorry, Captain Jardin, but I won't let you off the hook that easily.

Sun Jul 15, 2018 7:53 am
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
Originally posted here.

Krulle wrote:
Beryl was frustrated. She had to admit it. There was no other word for it.

The "day" started so fine. She had a wonderful "breakfast" with Alexander, which was a real morale booster. Alexander was curious for her, her world, and whatever she said. He listened. And he posed the right questions, too.
For all intents, this was a male who was interested in her. And she was interested too.
It felt so familiar, sitting at one table and just chatting. That was so enjoyable.
But that damn Mizol!

How did she know just when to appear and butt in between us?

She practically denied us all telepathic contact, but for the most simple one, because Tempo appeared whenever there seemed to be a chance to do so. Since the morning food this has been the case.
When he placed his hand on the table, more like across the table. She had wanted to put her hand on top, when the <-argh-> appeared...

Also, Alexander praised me at nearly all possible times, in front of my commanding officer for this mission. But he was in such cases nearly always looking directly at Tempo, and not at me.
What does that mean?
Obviously, he is interested in me, why else would he praise me like that?
But he seems to be interested in Tempo only, because he's looking at her.
Does he want to make me jealous?
Well... I am.

She sighed, and tried to turn a bit.

That damn Mizol denied her permission to leave the shuttle to find a bed on the station. She had to remain close to Alexander "for the complete record". But Alexander was sleeping in a make-shift bed in the cockpit after his last training session with Tempo, while she had to sleep in one of these... chairs.

At least the Mizol was also not aboard right now.

Alexander conceded that Humanity was simply too far behind technologically, and industrially, to be of any real help. Their solar system with locally grown food they could use as refueling base. But it was too far out for effective use. And without contact, nothing was possible right now, but they did learn that Humanity as a whole would likely side with the Loroi instead of the Umiak, for the looks of the Loroi and Umiak alone. Humans seem to have a nightmare of being subjugated by "insects", and would squish a bug. They apparently fear genocide less, but would fight being enslaved or destroyed with all they have available.
Also, Humans valued "individuality" to a degree, that their society would likely collapse under the uniform rule of a "hive mind" like the Umiak's. They were disgusted by The Enemy.
Seeing that Earth is considered to be "overpopulated", they could help bolstering their own planets and industries with more manpower, but Tempo refused this as unnecessary. If the Loroi would need more "hands", they could just loosen access to males for a short while.
They've been discussing this for quite a while, but the constellation of the Human worlds being so far out, and also "backwater worlds" for their technology, just gave no obvious advantage. The few things for them was the speed of their development. The Umiak did not seem to develop technologies of themselves, they just adopted conquered technologies. The Loroi were close to stagnation, as since unification the guilds have basically controlled research to a degree that only minor improvements were made, but no new developments. But Humanity went from steam powered to star faring with only their own imagination within only 400 of their years.
Well, some Loroi leaders are older than that...
Yet only the war has changed the Loroi culture considerably within that time.
Humans could therefore bring a fresh view on things.

And there was Tempo's idea. Of covert deep missions of mixed crews.
But without contact, there wasn't much they could actually do right now.

With the short telepathic connection between Tempo, Alexander, and herself, she also learned that the Mizol was having further plans. Something beyond using Human Lotai for their own purposes. She grinned [i]You must be as frustrated as I am.. Morale boosting.... Hah!

To pass the time, Alexander tried to introduce the Loroi to a game called "chess", which he quickly sketched with some paper and a pen.
The rules were simple, it didn't take long for her to understand them. But as Alex said, understanding the rules is not understanding the game.

And Beryl did not understand the game he was playing. He was so obviously attracted to her and Tempo. But he did not move. He made appearances of moving, but then stopped moving. And he strictly kept it off-Sanzai. Why?
And apparently Beryl also did not understand the rules of this game.

At least the damn Mizol was at least as confused as she was. Beryl thought with a grin.
That poker game he made was fun, at least when we played without Sanzai as Alexander suggested.
Whatever move the Mizol was playing, Alexander apparently had a countermeasure ready.
While the Mizol was much better than me (did she really not pick at my mind when we played?), but Alexander trumped us both easily.
It was as if Alexander was able to read the cards from the backside.
Even the new card set they had the station manufacture. There were no markings a Loroi eye could discern, yet once I or Tempo held our cards in our hands, Alexander knew if we would win (and which one would win) or if he would win. And the grin in his face when he predicted that, while looking at Tempo.
And that frustrated the Mizol! Hah!
Beryl concluded with a grin.
During that game, Alexander had tried to reach out to Beryl telepathically a few times, especially towards the end of the game, and indicated some minor body or facial movement Tempo did in certain situations.
That was unexpected for her, but his thoughts were there. Definitely. He wanted her to see something, and she was barely able to receive him.
Well, the body language he is teaching me to read is indeed helpful. Never knew the Mizol disclosed so much of her thoughts in her body language.

Alexander kept contacting her, and the connection got better and better.

In the few moments she and Alexander were able to talk without Tempo's interference (which apparently only happened after they've somehow been arranged to not sit close together), she tried to give him all kind of cues that she's interested, and as decorum demanded, she waited for his signal to commence. But besides quite a few signals that he's interested as well, he made no signal of allowing her to pick him up. But he kept smiling at her.
And whenever she managed to close the distance, Tempo appeared again, stepping up to separate them, and subtly indicating her rank priority over Beryl.
Weirdly though, Alexander also made no signs to Tempo either, beyond showing a lot of interest.
And rank was on Tempo's side. Rank prohibited Beryl from starting without approval from the male and/or her superior. So frustrating.

Then she thought back to the second training session between Tempo and Alexander. This time at least his face seldom turned red. But Tempo's face did turn blue several times (coinciding with the few times Alexander turned red, she observed).
She needed to find out if Human faces turn red from exhaustion. Wait, she knew that. Physical exhaustion can Alexanders face turn red, as he proved when he did some "exercises" (if jumping and running up and down an asile can be called "exercise"). Clearly the human physique was not as efficient in staying in peak condition as the Loroi physique was. He asked them for access to physical training apparatuses. Tempo didn't promise him much in that regard, just the usual "We'll see what we can do". (And both Loroi agreed some kind of shower and clothing cleaning would soon be necessary for Alexander. - She wondered if he could smell her as clearly as she smelt him...)
But mental exertion? Can that make his face turn red too?
She needed to find out.
But how?
She oh so wanted access to his telepathy/Sanzai as well, but the Mizol was very clear on that. After their training, Alex retreated to the make-shift bed, where he was still sleeping.

The Mizol commented only, that Alexander is learning fast. "He learns control of his mind's capabilities much faster than anticipated." And there was a slight chagrin present.
Even pointing out, that her orders were for Beryl to record everything around the human, Tempo just looked at Beryl and sent "not this" with a very strict undertone of keeping other mental undertones away.
But her body languaged betrayed her. That Mizol was "dense". The training did not go completely according to her will.

Ah well. Damn. I cannot sleep anyway. Beryl stood up from her uncomfortable chair, and went to the cockpit door. She stood there undecided, but finally did not knock on the door or open it. She went to the sanitary room, and refreshed herself. With a lot of cold water to her face.

When she felt slightly refreshed, Tempo and a small service crew from the station was present with some exercise equipment, and a mobile decontamination shower unit. They apologized, but since the station had been evacuated, no crew was available for a more elegant solution.
Then the cockpit door opened, and Alexander stepped out. The whole service crew froze and stared when they became aware of Alexander, apparently not having been forewarned why some passengers were not allowed to debark the shuttle. Even Beryl had to admit that the sight was something to behold.
Alex stood there in his orange jumpsuit. But the jumpsuit was open at the front, down to his firm, musculous stomach, and his usual clothing beneath the jumpsuit was in his hands.
She looked again at Tempo and the crew, and save for Tempo, their faces have turned quite a darker shade of blue. The envy of having a male aboard their shuttle was very... thick.
Alex looked first at Tempo, then at Beryl, and with a smile he asked "Sorry to interrupt, Beryl. I'm feeling somewhat uncomfortable in my clothing, which I find has been worn for far too long and has become somewhat smelly. Can you provide me with some alternative while I try to wash this?"

Sun Jul 15, 2018 7:54 am
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
Originally posted here.

Werra wrote:
It took a mental prod from Tempo for Beryl to answer. For once the Mizol seemed content to let her do the talking.
„Yes, of course Captain Jardin. Just give this Soroin Paset your clothes and they will be washed for you.“

While Alex handed his bundle to a young Loroi with the biggest eyes Beryl had ever seen a Loroi make, she continued: „We will also supply you with some new clothes, Captain. How inconsiderate of me. I must be distracted today.“

Telepathically she told the Paset to fit some clothes from the stations stores to Alex size before sending her off. An interjection of Tempo send the Pazet to the stations Mizol for civilian clothes.
A quick and not entirely controlled sending regarding Alex sizes from Beryl was met with strong embarassment from the young Paset already outside the shuttle.

To her credit Tempo had quickly collected herself and with a gesture indicating the Loroi in the shuttle said: „Captain Jardin, we have just finished installing the items you requested. Training facilities for your health and something more comfortable than the sink you had to use.“

Alex eyes wandered over the equipment and Beryl was happy to pick up gratitude from him. Only as Alex saw the shower, his brow furrowed.

„Is something wrong with the shower, Enzin?“ asked Beryl via their private Sanzai.
„No, it's great. I just realised why you installed it on your own initiative. Sorry about that.“

While Beryl guiltily tried to reassure Alex, Tempo spoke to the other Loroi: „The Captain thanks you for your help, but I am sure he will appreciate some privacy now“ In Sanzai Tempo added: „At least you have a more pleasant topic now to gossip about than the Umiak besieging us.“

In reaction to a wave of questions Tempo sanzaied: „Listel Tozet Beryl is on duty and will gladly answer your questions regarding Captain Jardins health and safety in depth later.“

Looking away from the shower Alex saw most of the Loroi leave. As he had expected, Beryl and Tempo stayed behind. The daggers Beryl stared at Tempo looked extra sharp.

„Is there a problem?“ Alex asked.

Beryl answered with a strained look on her face: „No cause for worry, Enzin. You are perfectly safe. There are just some Listel duties I will have to deal with. But that does not need to concern you.“

Tempo swooped in from the side with a clear look of satisfaction on her face. „These duties won't come up for now. Please feel free to make use of the new facilities. When you're rested we can continue your Sanzai training.“

„I'm very happy to take a shower now.“ said Alex before expectantly looking at the two Loroi.

A moment passed, then a wordless look of puzzlement passed between Tempo and Beryl.

Then Beryl asked with hesitation: „Is there something stopping you, Enzin?“

„ two are watching me.“

Beryl was visibly confused. „I don't understand. You didn't seem uncomfortable in the slightest showing skin to even a group of Loroi strangers.“

„That was different. I only have a bare chest.“

„There is a difference for humaniti? Skin is skin for Loroi.“

And then with his face beginning to turn deep red, Alex realised that all the Loroi he had seen had always worn full body suits that even covered their necks and showed very little skin.

„You mean I just...“ he trailed off and Tempo finished his sentence. „showed yourself to a group of Loroi women in a way reserved only for intimate encounters.“

The looks on their faces reappeared before Alex eyes. Had he only known what he was doing. Now the whole station would be talking.

„Well, I would like some privacy now, while I shower please.“ Alex managed to say at last.

Tempo and Beryl gave each other another look. Thankfully they seemed to agree to a temporary ceasefire.

Tempo answered: „We have duties on the station elsewhere. Perhabs after several days you would like to be alone for a while anyway. We will return later, Captain“

Before Beryl left she gave him a reassuring smile and snuck him a Sanzai: „We Loroi are relaxed about these things.“

Finally alone in the shuttle Alex took a moment to breathe freely before he turned to the shower. It was a lightweight construction with semi transparent doors. A watertank on the back and some machinery were visible. He stepped out of his remaining clothes and into the shower. The taps had unfamiliar symbols on them, so it took a bit of experimenting until he got a pleasurable temperature.

It felt good being able to finally take a shower. His cell had serviceable but spartan facilities and the shuttle on which he was kept for days now had only a small sink to wash himself. The water washed away the grime from his body and massaged his chest very comfortably.

Alex closed his eyes and considered his situation. The Loroi were a friendly bunch, if strange in lots of regards. They seemed very forthcoming to him and he knew that his decision to stick with the Loroi all the way back with Captain Hamilton was the correct one.

If only there was some way for humanity to be actually useful, he mused. Perhabs they could send personel like engineers, technicians, medical people to help? Specialists that needed time to train. At that he had to think of Loroi and humans working together.

His mind wandered to Beryl and the kind of looks she gave him in the past few days. A shame there was a war going on. The air in the shower became humid and so his thoughts wandered to Tempo also. Alex didn't like how complicated his situation had turned out to be, but for now, he could relax contemplating how to avoid diplomatic incidents with Tempo and Beryl.

He heard the door and then a Loroi said: „Oh, hello Enzin. Don't mind me, I just need to check the diagnostics of the shuttle.“

Alex turned around in surprise and shock. There Talon stood on her way to the cockpit. They locked eyes and in a second flowing like tar, her eyes wandered downwards.

Eyebrows went up, then her eyes followed, a mischievous smile on her face.

„Do you want to meet with hands again?“

Sun Jul 15, 2018 7:55 am
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Joined: Mon Feb 06, 2017 4:38 pm
Posts: 328
Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
Originally posted here.

Krulle wrote:
Damn! Tempo thought. The alarm went off, and Beryl was clearly in range.
who could be entering the Highland then?

"Beryl, do you know where Talon and Spiral are?" she sent, while switching off the alarm she had installed.

"No, why?" came the reply.

Tempo concentrated, and reached the guards in front of the shuttle. "Is someone inside the shuttle?"

"Yes, Tenoin Arrir Tesin, Parat." came the swift reply.
The guard flinched when the wordless reply came, reminding her of the explicit order that, bar for emergencies, no-one save Baeyl and Tempo were allowed to enter the shuttle.

"Beryl, move to the shuttle, now. We need to get that Tenoin out!" she ordered Beryl.

Thankfully, Beryl did not reply but was quickly on the move. She tried to reach out to Talon, but she was apparently not on the shuttle. Nor on the station...
Hmm, that human is more trusting than any Loroi would be... Good I installed that alarm, or my plans might've been shot.

Shortly afterwards, Beryl and herself arrived at the shuttle, and the guards confirmed, that the pilot was still aboard.
So they both entered.

Alex was outside the shower, trying to wrap himself in some towels when he heard the doors open.

"Where is Tenoin Arrir Tesin?" Tempo asked.

"You mean Talon? She's in the cockpit. She said she needed to check some systems." he replied.

Tempo immediately went to the cockpit, and barely noticed the look Beryl gave their charge. She was too focused and busy right now.

When the door opened, she nearly got a fit.
"Tenoin, what are you doing?" she mentally screamed.

Talon looked very caught, and immediately got up and scrambled for her clothes and armor.

"I... I... Well.., he invited me into his bedroom" Talon tried to defend herself.

"You purposefully lied to him that you needed to check systems and purposefully misinterpreted his answer for your own access to a male!"

"No, I really got something to check." a cowered Talon replied, while gesturing at her watch. The image conveyed showed indeed that the system has called to the pilot to check some abnormal energy readings.

"Get off the shuttle now" Tempo commanded, and left the cockpit.

Outside she closed her eyes and leaned to the wall next to the cockpit door, and took a deep breath.

"I am sorry for the intrusio..." she started to say when she opened her eyes, but stopped when she saw the shuttle's passenger cabin was empty.

"Has someone left the shuttle since I came aboard?" she asked the guards.


"Give me a signal when Tenoin Arrir has left the shittle." she commanded, and spread her mind in search for Beryl, but she could not pinpoint her.

She stayed and observed the shuttle telepathically, barely noticing the pilot slipping out, and receiving a short statement from the guards confirming the pilot has left the shuttle.

You sneaky white-haired girl. Where are you?

Then she felt a triumphant primal telepathic shout. Clearly Alex and Beryl's signature attached (is that the sanitary room? Thankfully they are not visible in the mirror....).... She hoped the shout did not carry far, but she already got a signal from the station's crew room section.

"She got to him before you!" Fireblade sent triumphantically "I won the wager!"

Sun Jul 15, 2018 7:56 am
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Joined: Mon Feb 06, 2017 4:38 pm
Posts: 328
Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
Originally posted here.

Werra wrote:
Tempo fumed, but she could see no way of breaking up the two. Not without directly claiming the privileges of rank. That she would not dare in front of Enzin Jardin. In fact she could name only one person in the system jaded enough to do that. And when Fireblade sent again, Tempo turned even paler.

Finally they had managed to sneak away. While Tempo was busy chewing out poor Talon, Beryl had grabbed his hand. He didn't even need her Sanzai to read her intent. They had pressed each other into this tight side cabin and wouldn't come out even if Tempo were to hammer on the door.

Beryl had her hands on the side of his chest and mentally directed his fingers how to open her uniform. Just as Alex had overcome his clumsiness and supple blue started shining through, Tempo did bang on the door.

„Get dressed, now! Commander on deck!“

Military protocol wasn't his strong suit, yet even he knew recognized Tempos meaning. The tone of this negotiation would take a turn downwards.

They broke out of the restroom; Tempo threw him his jumpsuit before instructing them both.
„Get your thoughts in order. No mention of any of this now. No Sanzai. You're not good enough at it, Enzin.“

Besides him Beryl had already begun nervously fidgeting her uniform back together and ordering her hair. Alex barely had time to get in his jumpsuit and button it up when the shuttle door opened and in came Stillstorm.

„Captain Jardin, how convenient to meet you here.“ she sneered.

Tempo and Beryl both stood to attention in what he assumed was the Loroi way. By instinct he followed suit his own way.

„This system is contested and I am acting system commander. So I am as brief as I am busy.“ Her tone was icy. No doubt she knows, thought Alex.

„You have been the object of gossip on all ships, Captain Jardin. Therefore, as system commander I have just approved of a mating encounter with you.“

„Come again?“ Alex heard himself say. Beryl drew in a sharp breath, while Tempo credited herself by remaining perfectly calm.

„Your presence is bad for discipline and therefore I have decided to have things proceed in ordered circumstances.“

Tempo now spoke: „Who put in an official request for an encounter?“ Alex asked himself the same thing. He tried remembering which Loroi he had even met.

„I did.“ came Stillstorms answer.

„Come again?“ said Alex again.

„Tozet Beryl, explain to the Captain how requisition of an encounter is handled.“ ordered Stillstorm.

Dazzled Beryl explained: „A mating encounter in the military is filed with the ranking Torrai who then usually forwards it through proper channels. In an active warzone the highest authority is the system commander. Approved mating encounters are fulfilled according to rank, from highest to lowest when convenient for both parties.“

Disbelieving what he heard Alex asked: „Don't I get a say in this?“

„Of course you do, Captain Jardin.“ came Stillstorms response. „By Loroi law you can refuse approved mating encounters as they're redeemed.“

Hearing this Alex relaxed slighty, yet still tense he wondered something: „I am not a Loroi. Do I fall under your laws, Commander Stillstorm?“

A sardonic tone crept into Stillstorms voice: „You do not, Captain Jardin. But they do.“ She indicated the two Loroi next to him. „An unsanctioned mating encounter is grounds for a court martial.“

„I see, so you can deny their mating encounters.“ replied Alex.
„Yes, but I hereby preemptively approve one mating encounter for each of them. One for Talon too, she is 51ths best pilot.“

„Then you just want to be first?“ asked Beryl aghast.

A look from Stillstorm drove poor Beryl back physically.

„I didn't lie. I am very busy. There is a war to wage.“

Even in his confusion and resentment Alex had to admire Stillstorm for her pracmatism. Still he could not keep a certain bitterness out of his voice as he spoke: „You awarded yourself a mating encounter, which I can deny once you redeem it. Which won't happen as you are too busy to do so. Which, since you are the highest ranking officer means all lower ranks have to wait on you. How convenient.“

„Indeed. It understands quickly. Palan Fireblade and the Soroin assigned as your guards will be responsible for keeping discipline.“

With that Stillstorm turned, leaving Alex, Beryl and Tempo behind speechless. After the shuttle doors closed again Alex taught the two Loroi a bit of earth dialect.

„What a bitch.“

Sun Jul 15, 2018 7:57 am
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Joined: Mon Feb 06, 2017 4:38 pm
Posts: 328
Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
Originally posted here.

novius wrote:
It took a while for that turn of events to sink in.

After a few seconds, Alex was secretly happy to actually be able to stay 'tuned out' of the sanzai, since the glances of Beryl, Tempo, even Fireblade and her guards bespoke of a veritable storm of sending going back and forth. And since sanzai, he came to know, can cover quite some distance he was sure the news were already spreading like wildfire around Gora Relay's skeleton crew.

Thanks, Stillstorm. Many thanks. If I hadn't been the talk of the system just before, now I surely am, he thought grimly.

His brooding came to a stop when he felt Tempo's fingers in his back, sneaking themselves under his overall shirt, touching his bare skin.

'Fret not', her thought came into his mind, 'I will not allow her spitefulness to endanger your health. Feel free to send back now - quietly, and only at me - your Lotai should cover us. And don't move. You are amongst friends here, right now, but bet on Stillstorm or her underlings checking the video feed. They shouldn't see me touching you.'

'Sneaky...', he let his admiration bleed into his thought which was answered by a warm glow coming from Tempo. 'Why, thanks.'

'...but what do you mean with health issues?', Alex tacked on. He had a suspicion on what Tempo is referring to, but ...

'Loroi males cannot go without mating encounters for an extended period of time. What counts as an 'extended period' varies between one-sixth and one-half of a tozon. But, serious discomfort ensues even way before ... they expire. Given our physiological similarity, I deem it possible it would be the same with humans, too?'

'I remember. Beryl asked me the same and actually offered to accomodate to any health issues that may arise. But, no, human men don't need to mate, but many do find it rather uncomfortable to go for long periods without', Alex decided for a truthful answer.

'I see. Pity. So we cannot countermand Stillstorm's antics simply based on a medical emergency.'

'I'm pretty sure, were Ensign Byrd right here where I am now he would have put up a heap of bullshit that human men would need frequent mating encounters as well, the more often the better, just to get some.'

'If your colloquialism means 'telling an outrageous lie', then I see what you mean. And, I count it highly in your favor that you chose to stick to the truth, even on the risk of experiencing personal discomfort, rather than telling a lie to gain a short-term advantage. Though....'

Alex felt a series of images flitting through his mind, coming from Tempo, too quick to follow them. Perhaps this is their idea of 'thinking out loud'. But, a particular thought caught his attention.

'Tempo, bear with me for a moment - if she'd do that to a Loroi male - awarding male rights to a specific male to herself and then intentionally not going through with it for, what? Half of a tozon? - and since being the ranking officer and having first dibs, effectively cutting off the male from any other female in her own domain - wouldn't that be akin to slowly murdering him?'

'...', Alex could feel her surprise cutting through the mindscape, prompting him to elaborate.

'I'm sure she wouldn't be the first one to pull such a stunt, and given how you safeguard and protect your men I am quite sure your laws do have provisions in place to offer him a way out of a situation as dire as this.'

' may be on to something', Tempo slowly admitted, and Alex felt something like grudging admiration coming from her. 'If you are right, that would be a move worthy of a Mizol. But, have no fear, your status as an envoy might come with its own benefits as well. So we have several angles to work on... but, your idea has some merit...' Tempo added, her last thought laced with vengefulness.

'But, I am wondering. Why would Stillstorm ever sign male rights for you, Beryl and Talon, too, where just signing some for herself would do the trick, too?'

'As a bait. She tempts me to try something, anything at all. That's her way of pouring salt in the wounds. And, it would be oh-so-much sweeter if we actually get to enjoy the selfsame male rights she countersigned. It would irk her that she'd have actually paved the way to enjoy some benefits without risking court martial.'

'Jeez, all that because of me?'

'Not entirely. Stillstorm and I were ... already at odds, even before you entered the scene. Your presence and your Lotai made things much, much worse. Though... without your Lotai it could have been possible, albeit only remotely possible that she would have followed through with her own male rights.'

'Thanks, Tempo, that was a mental image I could have done without', Alex groused. 'But... why are you so intent on getting that ban lifted? It surely isn't just for one-upping Stillstorm.'

'To protect you and Tozet Beryl', came her reply. 'Come again?'

'Allow me to explain. Tozet Beryl's growing infatuation towards you didn't escape my notice. Even back on the Tempest she went through great lengths to not let your condition worsen, but as a Listel, her influence was limited. Here, on the shuttle, being in close quarters, her attachment to you grew to dangerous levels.'

'Dangerous? How so?'

'Were she to go exclusive on you, and you on her, Tozet Beryl would be considered an outcast and mentally unstable, unfit for duty. Without any immediate access to a correctional facility, she would easily have been court-martialed and expelled from the warrior ranks. As for you, it would have been likely that you would face serious repercussions for 'corrupting' one high-ranked officer, and dealt with accordingly.'

'I see... why not telling me that beforehand, before everything went that far?'

'I didn't anticipate how quickly your ... relationship, that's the word? ... evolved. It took literally less than one of your days to go from a chance encounter, by her falling into your lap, to a point where it was just solons away from crossing a line set by law. Tozet Beryl is young, curious and impressionable, but every warrior is mature enough to see the consequences of her actions. Yet she went that far, on your mutual consent.'

'Then, again, why going through that scheme to outwit Stillstorm rather than simply telling us to keep our hands off of each other'

'Captain Jardin. Just because she didn't keep her hands off of you is a reason why we could talk to each other the way we do now. Regardless how you managed it, you and Beryl... and by extension, me and Fireblade included, I presume... do share a special bond that surpasses everything we would have ever suspected when it comes to Humans. What we have is unique, and could turn out to be a valuable asset. I don't wish to squander it because of ... trivialities...', there Tempo's scorn shone through, 'or you facing derision. So since I actually encouraged you to follow that course of action, I wanted you to become comfortable with the thought of being around other Loroi warriors, so that you and Tozet Beryl would not face the stigma of going exclusive on each other. And since I was the Loroi second most familiar to you, I thought myself to be an appropiate choice.'

'That ... makes sense.' Alex admitted. 'You taught me more than just sanzai, I guess?'

Alex felt Tempo smile. 'I hope that it won't make you shy away from future lessons.'

Would it? True, Tempo played her cards close to the chest, but he grew accustomed to it - that's just her - or a Mizol's? - way of doing things. She might have her own agenda, but so far she was always supportive of him.

And, since he actually uses fully formed sanzai with her now, his own Lotai seems to agree with trusting her.

'No.. I don't think so. It may take some time for me to wrap my mind around the other issue, besides sanzai lessons, though.'

'I concur. In the meantime, please stay ... discreet ... with Tozet Beryl. I might be able to make Fireblade and the guards see things our way, but I do not wish to try our luck without dire need. Wait, there's some commotion outside....'

Alex felt himself being shocked to his senses, just the moment the bulkhead slid open, revealing a Loroi in dark armor, similar in the make to Tempo's, but with dark green highlights rather than Tempo's red ones.

'A Mizol Losat - technically I outrank her, but...', Tempo supplied, but he distinctly felt as if Tempo was sizing her up as a possible threat, just before she removed her hand from his skin.

"Greetings. I am Mizol Losat Lomileilar, meaning 'Brightshield'. I came on behalf of Station Commander Cerulean, since she is busy with coordinating the station's defenses, as you might be aware. I understand we need to limit ourselves to spoken words since there is one individual unable to respond to sanzai?"

There Brightshield's blue eyes stopped on seeing Alex, and they slightly widened. "I see. She bade me to find out what sent the whole station's skeleton crew into a frenzy, as well as the rest of the Loroi detachment throughout a contested star system and not being The Enemy, as have one exalted Torrai Lashret Stillstorm pay us a surprise visit, despite having to fight The Enemy left and right."

"So, you are the alien this fuss is all about?", there she looked him up and down with a glance Alex became all too familiar with since his encounter with Talon, but thankfully she refrained from commenting. Because, judging by that look and her stance, any comment she would have made would have been at least a rather lewd one.

On a sidelong glance, he saw Tempo's eyes sending one unmistakable message back. Look, but don't touch.

Sun Jul 15, 2018 7:59 am
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