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[WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only) 
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
Alex waited until Brightshield was out of earshot before he sanzaied to Beryl again.
"Beryl, what I did in the teahouse was pretty shit by human standards and you'd be entirely justified to split up with me now."

"Split up, Enzin? Why? No! I don't want that. What a horrible concept even. I thought you humans bonded longterm."

"We do, Beryl, but as serial monogamists, we also need to break off things sometimes. I am very glad you aren't taking that route. I am very sorry if my actions have hurt you or Fireblade."

"It's fine, Enzin. Don't worry about it. We aren't monogamous. That you are so worried about hurting our feelings is honestly more insulting than you having fun. Fireblade and I are just reliefed that Brightshield isn't part of our group now."

"Thank you, Beryl. You should know though that Brightshield and I did talk via Sanzai. I had to concentrate and let down my guard, but I managed it quickly. Even send to Spiral this way."

"Your training is paying off then. That is wonderful. Next you'll grow pointy ears!"

The two of them had reached Alex quarters now. Beryl hesitated for a moment as if unsure whether to come in with him or not. She seemed to decide against it however.

"You'll better get some rest, Enzin."

"You wanted to spend the free day with me, didn't you?"

"Yes, we haven't spend any length of time with each other for a while now."

"I know Berly. Hey, amongst the relics you picked up from Bellarmine, where there a lot of data pads and electronics?

"Of course, we concentrated on those items in fact. I'll show you the list."

Alex mind was immediately filled with images of various electronics of human making. Too quick and detailed for him to pick up much.

"Too fast, Beryl. Tell you what, how about we pick through them tomorrow? There should be a whole bunch of human films and music pieces stored in there. Fireblade, you and me could make a movie night out of my favourites."

Beryls excitement was impossible to miss. She lighted up immediately at the prospect of a pleasurable night of human movies. Even Fireblade became curious, even though her subtext involved her studies about human literature.

"That sounds wonderful! Let's do that after we get back from the burial, Enzin."

"Let's. I'll see you tomorrow then."

"Explain this to me again." send Stillstorm. "We now have a technique to sense Enzin and the same technique can be used on the Shell Lotai. Meaning we have a counter against their secret weapon."

"That is correct, Soshret. We don't know whether this technique has the same range as normal farsensing, so we'll have to wait and see how effective it is." came from Torimor Shadow. Tempo explained further.

"We can only sense Enzins physical location, not what is on his mind or his disposition. We also can't target him with other telepathic techniques. It also takes training to sense him with precision. On the plus side, the basics are easy enough to pick up as proven by Paset Cloud. With your permission I will distribute a lection on it amongst the crew."

"Do that, Parat. Torimor Shadow, is Tazites Duskcrown already informed?"

"Of course she was informed about a development of this importance, Soshret. The Admiral was very pleased. Parat Tempos training routine will be spread with the next courier that departs."

Shadow looked also very pleased ever since she was able to announce to the room that Captain Jardin had been approaching. As a spcialist, she had picked up on it very quickly.

"Very good, that makes the next battles far easier, Torimor."

"It is indeed very good, Soshret. Your Strike Group might have turned the war for us. Your handling of Captain Jardin may have been unconventionaly trusting, but there is no arguing with results. If this works out, your position as Soshret will be set in stone. Parat Tempo, should Soshret Stillstorm decide to bring it up with Tazites Duskcrown, the Admiral might very well judge your risky behaviour with Captain Jardin to have been a necessary and valuable part of your duty."

Stillstorm saw Tempo perk up at that. The chance of getting her hair back was rare for a dishonored warrior. She shot Stillstorm a hopeful, pleading look. As much as she felt the punishment justified, Stillstorm saw no justifiable reason to refuse that offer. It still felt like Duskcrown messing with her, again.

"I will see when I can fill out the paperwork then. Will there be a meeting of the Torrai in light of these new changes, Torimor?"

"Once we have evaluated the situation, the tactical situation might change. You will be informed about that as soon as possible."

"Good, then this meeting is concluded, Torimor?"

"Not yet, Soshret. There is a disciplinary matter I need to bring up."

Neither Stillstorm nor Tempo liked to hear that. A Torimor bringing up such a matter never meant something good. The rank and file was handled by Mizol from the SG. So with some apprehension, Tempo asked.

"What is it, Torimor?"

"I don't expect it to be a serious matter, Parat. Quite childish, really. Two of your Torrai have visited the Torrai Lounge on Nezel with Captain Jardin. While that is fine to do with a Captain, the two did talk about civil war with him."

"What?" asked Stillstorm incredulous.

"How did they even get to that topic?" an equally shocked Tempo added.

"Apparently they were very friendly with Captain Jardin and tried to impress him. Neither I nor Tazites Duskcrown believe them to be serious. Her exact words were:"If their lips must drip, at least they should keep their mouths shut.""

Stillstorm let out a groan. That sounded like Duskcrown.
"Who was it, Torimor?"

"Mazeit Moonglow and Torret Ashrain. I understand there is a bet involved."

"I will take care of it, Torimor. Will a standard loyalty check of files and mind be sufficient?"
volunteered Tempo.

While the Torimor answered, Stillstorm received a message, which she checked.

"Yes, that will be enough. And do reprimand them for talking about the Deinar files in public."

Idiots, thought Stillstorm. Using spoken language in a public place with those topics had been an invitation of trouble. Now she would have to find some way to punish two of her senior Captains. She resolved to make it a biting warning shot.
She also send. "Torimor, another matter has sprung up. Captain Jardin asked to burry the remains of his crew. Losat Brightshield just requested permission to send their remains down to the surface."

"To bury, not cremate?"

"Yes, that's the human custom."

The Torimor took a short moment to deliberate that.
"I trust you already extracted any information you could out of those bodies? Then by all means bury them and send the coordinates to the Green River. I will send a crew to cremate the bodies afterwards."

"Cremate them afterwards?"

"We aren't about to let a genetic data bank of our telepathic progenitor species lie around. Find a quiet, secluded wood. Just don't tell Captain Jardin.He'll be happy, we'll be happy."

Long years of experience had honed Stillstorms cynicism to a point where she now just nodded in disgusted resignation at the ways of the Mizol.

"Is that all, Torimor Shadow?" she coolly asked.

"One more matter, Soshret, then I won't take up anymore of your time. The recent excursion of Captain Jardin to Nezel has raised some concerns about his effect on discipline. By his presence alone he caused several scenes and gatherings. Luckily he was accompanied, but his status as an emancipated male makes many warriors hope for a quick, uncomplicated encounter."

"So what do you suggest?"

"I suggest you rethink your decision to not give him official caretakers that handle such matters for him."

Stillstorm had indeed decided against giving Enzin caretakers. Back then she had done it to annoy Tempo and stop her from controlling Enzin and to give Enzin exactly the trouble he had asked her for. Now she felt apprehensive of the idea because Enzin had shown that he could handly himself. Even outnumbered four to one, it seemed.

She answered Shadow: "Captain Jardin has made it clear that he doesn't want to be a kept male. He would resist even the attempt. I tend to agree with him on this, too."

The Mizol before Stillstorm grew visible uncomfortable. She pulled out a small data pad and pushed it across the table towards Stillstorm.
"This will convince him of the advantages of having others refuse his suitors for him. I am quite certain of that."

Stillstorm caught the sliding pad with the fingers of her right hand, never taking her eyes from Shadow. She elected to not switch it on just yet.

"Understand that this is against my express advice, Soshret. Thankfully she requested only a social encounter. Parat Tempo, for tomorrow evening you will make Captain Jardin a request he can't refuse."

"Just who made this request?" an irritated Tempo demanded.

"Tazites Duskcrown."

Sun Aug 26, 2018 5:56 pm

Joined: Tue May 26, 2015 3:33 am
Posts: 625
Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)


Loroi are nothing if not thorough.

That's what Alex thought when he woke up after full eight hours of undisturbed rest and found his tablet blinking for attention, and on checking it, a full itinerary for the coming day.

First order of business, the funeral ceremony. Since it was to be planetside and Nezel was as much of a desert planet that it would barely register as 'habitable', gear and provisions for hot weather are mandatory, and he should keep that in mind when having a suitable outfit fabricated. Usual restrictions apply, while he is free in designing an outfit for an occasion like this, if he must, it shall not resemble any warrior caste design.

Then, there was another meeting with the Farseer for further instruction and training. That one, Alex was quite looking forward to, come to admit it, Pure Sand somehow grew on him.

Stillstorm herself requested his presence 'at the earliest convenience', after the funeral as well.

I guess military jargon is the same with the Loroi, too. Best I'll go see her when I'm back on board after the funeral, even before heading off to Pure Sand.

The next block of several hours were surprisingly free, but Alex didn't really expect them to stay that way - it seems there's always something coming up in the meantime.

Curiously enough, around shipboard evening there is another allocation of his time, but without any comment, just a blocker for ... and that's strange, it shows as open ended, Alex thought.

Puzzling over that entry while going through his morning ablutions availed to nothing. Perhaps it is something else that's highly classified like those Deinar Files. Well, first order of business, hot weather suitable dress uniform...

Having decided on the first task of the day, he stepped out of his cabin, only to find Fireblade standing ramrod straight outside the door.

'Fireblade? What happened?', he sent with a note of trepidation. A guard in front of his door never meant a good thing.

'Relax, Enzin.', she sent, smiling, 'I'm here solely to protect you. It looks like your time at the station and in the tea house had emboldened some overly curious Soroin Pasets to get a piece of you as well. And as you once put it, "no two guesses about which piece". Had I not been here, I'm sure you wouldn't have had a full night of rest.'

Alex groaned. 'Why now?'

Fireblade shrugged. 'You have to thank three specific Tenoin for this who couldn't keep their thoughts to themselves. Especially Sandraker almost gave a solon-by-solon accounting of your time in the tea house, complete with graphic imagery. And Brightshield's silly, content smile didn't help any.'

Alex considered Talon and Spiral good friends... well, maybe friends with benefits now, though he hoped that it would stay a one time thing only ... but at the moment he felt he'd gladly roast them on an open fire.

'I considered entering your cabin and getting some sleep for myself under your Lotai as well - just sleep, mind you - but if my presence right here made some Soroin quickly turn the other way, it was time well spent. I felt that you were exhausted beyond measure, don't you deny it.... but really. One Mizol and three Tenoin?', she tacked on, with a disbelieving undertone.

'Two Tenoin. Talon opted to just watch, since she already had her turn.'

'Still...', Fireblade shook her head in disbelief, '... I got a copy of your itinerary on my tablet as well. I believe you were on the way to have some suitable gear for the ceremony on Nezel's surface fabricated?'

'Right in one. Uh... you're coming with me?'

'I think I'd better. Said overly curious Pasets may come around for another attempt once word goes around you're awake. And, I think Beryl has something of a surprise for you. She refused to tell, but she just went to Stillstorm to discuss something....'


It was a solemn affair, planetside.

On being shuttled down to the projected gravesite, Alex noticed that the Loroi already had done a fair share of preparations. Holes were dug out, and rows upon rows of bodies, wrapped in cloth, were already deposited in them. In addition, a pedestal had been erected on one side.

Even more surprisingly, the site was quite packed with Loroi. Alex might have expected just his close friends, but it looked like a good part of Tempest's crew was there, and he was sure he spotted Stillstorm, Duskcrown and Shadow somewhere in the crowd as well.

'Don't be too surprised.', Fireblade supplied, 'You have to thank Beryl for this - she really outdid herself. No idea how she learned of the details of this human ceremony, but I'm sure you'll find no fault in the preparations. As far as I understand, you are expected to say some words the behalf of the deceased, now?'

'As the only survivor, it falls upon me, yes.', he sent, stepping up to the pedestal, drawing every set of Loroi eyes on himself. Even if public speeches are not much of a thing in Loroi society, he felt their attention focused on him. He cleared his throat out of nervousness.

"'Never behind'. That was... still is... the motto of the Bellarmine mission. When we launched from the Mars spacedock, we all knew that this could be a trip we might never come back from. We were heading into the complete unknown, right into the war between two superpowers we knew next to nothing about, after all.

We all came from different walks in life and from different faiths. While all I can do is hope that they all find their rewards in the Beyond, there was one belief that united them together. And that was that this mission could make a difference for all of humanity. I still hold on to that belief and I'll hold dear the memory of those that traveled beside me.

Captain Carl Hamilton. He became sort of a mentor to me. He was the one who first poised me that fateful question - 'Loroi or Umiak', and I am sure it was my answer who brought me here.

Ellen Kirkland. Good friend, sometimes more than that, always chipper and cheerful. I admit, I will miss you.

There are many more names I could list, but I can say... they won't be forgotten."

With a nod, Alex stepped away from the pedestal, only to be followed by Stillstorm stepping up, much to his surprise.

"On seeing the wreck of this vessel and picking up a lone alien drifting through space, I had no idea what to make of it, even less that it would make such an impact on us. I was wrong."

She's speaking, not sending., Alex realized, completely stunned. If not for me, she could easily resort to sending. Stillstorm, you surprise me agin and again.

"This one alien - this human you came to know as 'Captain Alexander Jardin' - already changed our lives in many strange ways and still continues to do so. And ... I am quite sure he is right, we shall not forget those that came with him and brought him here. Perhaps in future this place and this moment might be known as the start of the end of this war that already took so much from us.

And might be future generations will reflect on this place, remembering this very moment, where we met ... the missing part of our legacy."

'She's skirting close to a rather dangerous topic', Alex sent to Beryl, who stepped up to him in the last minute.

'That's Stillstorm for you. But please remember that except of my caste and maybe the Torrai, many Loroi do have only little knowledge of history. And if this place will serve as a reminder on how it all started, all the better. In addition, if your people ever make it that far, am I right that they'd want to see a memorial of those who came before them?'

'Good point. If we ever get hold of a complete crew roster, I'd want to place a memorial plate listing all their names. Never to be forgotten.'


'I thought we were in accordance to have the Green River cremate the remains once the Tempest was set to leave?', Shadow sent, once they got back on the ship.

'I never imagined how important such symbols could be for humans. But it looks like they are, and I have the feeling that they are on to something which we might have forgotten. From what I gathered from Tozet Beryl, humans often enough return to the graves of people who were important to them, to keep their memories alive. She explained it as another aspect of their deep bonds they form.', Stillstorm rebuked.

'That... complicates things. But surely you agree that we couldn't leave that much genetic material around for anyone to find?'

'Perhaps we accomodate to both. How about placing thermite charges in the graves, coupled with an anti-tampering device? As long as the graves remain undisturbed, they remain intact. But if the device registers a scan or someone digging, it'd ignite the charges. In addition, such charges would only destroy the remains and leave surface structures, like the memorial plaque Captain Jardin suggested, untouched.'

'I'd rather vote for igniting the charges as soon as the Tempest leaves but you did make a compelling argument to leave this place intact as a memorial for both humans and Loroi alike, as a marker for what could be a turning point in the war and Loroi history altogether. I'll have to discuss it with Duskcrown. Speaking of which... please do remind Captain Jardin of his appointment this evening?', Shadow sent as a final note.

'You might do it yourself, here he comes.', Stillstorm sent tersely. "Enter!", she said aloud.

The door opened, revealing Alex who stopped short on seeing Shadow. "Uh... if it's currently inappropiate, maybe I should...?"

"It isn't. In fact, Shadow conveys part of the reason why I'd requested your presence here.", Stillstorm said, handing Alex an already activated tablet. "I trust you're already familiar with that form?"

Alex took the time to read through the legalese, his expression changing from surprise, to slight ire, then back to surprise again, finishing on slight trepidation.

"Let me get this straight. Duskcrown applied for and countersigned her own encounter. Purely socializing, it states, but mating could be an option, to be agreed upon during that meeting?" Alex asked, incredulously.

"That's the short of it, yes. I was the messenger. Please be advised that it would be ... unwise ... to deny Duskcrown that meeting." Shadow confirmed.

"I understand. I am ... glad ... that she made the mating part optional and not the primary purpose of the meeting.", Alex hedged.

"Ah yes, your peculiar notion about mixing professional and private." Shadow added.

"Brightshield as my liaison was already very much fringe behavior by humans standards, and I swore to myself that I'd better keep away from Torrai, because that would be very much crossing the line, with the Torrai being the commad caste. I can only ask you to respect my convictions and don't put out requests that would conflict them."

Stillstorm nodded. "I begin to see your point. You do know that Moonglow came dangerously close to spilling classified information in a public setting just to impress you and discussing matters better left unsaid? Your choice of action, if you hold that line, would remove such a temptation for sure."

"But that would put you in a dilemma, had Duskcrown applied for an full encounter. Even how it is, it could still happen that she'd test your convictions.", Shadow objected.

"Please do know that I didn't want to take that course of action. So far you handled your encounters quite well, but the recent events on Nezel Station and an application like this might make such a step necessary, so according to your current status all I can do... can anyone do ... is to ask if you would allow to take on one or two caretakers of your own.", Stillstorm stated.

"Caretakers? You mean these Loroi tasked to screen the applicants to safeguard the males in their care?", Alex asked, shocked.

"Typically their duties are much more extensive, the caretakers are the executive of the state the males are wards of, so to say, but given your ... unique ... position - you are both a recognized warrior and a male, after all - the duties of your caretakers would be much more limited. For example, just to screen and maybe authoritatively deny any encounter.", Shadow explained.

"And that helps me... how?", Alex asked with suspicion.

"Caretakers have the highest authority on who would get an encounter and who wouldn't. If they were to deny an encounter with their ward for any reason, their word is law. Emperor Greywind might be able to circumvent such a veto, but even Duskcrown wouldn't be able to. How much authority to decide to grant your caretakers would be up to you. But think of this - if they deny someone an encounter, the heat - if any - would be on them, not on you." Shadow continued.

She has a point. That might indeed solve quite a number of my recent troubles..., Alex thought.

"Suppose I agree to that. Who would be my caretaker. Or caretakers?"

Stillstorm cut in. "Usually caretakers are civilian Loroi, but they can come from all walks in life."

"Given the bonds that I already share with them - what about Beryl and Fireblade, then?"

Stillstorm blinked. That was unexpected.

"In a way, they already became de facto my caretakers since I do respect their opinions and values quite much. Were they to say 'no' to someone, that would be reason for me to stay away from her. What they would gain is the authority to tell off overzealous warriors and make it stick.", Alex pressed.

"You do know that encounters between caretakers and their charges are only permissible as long as they don't put undue strain on the males? This will not be their liberty to deny any and all encounters just to reserve you for themselves.", Stillstorm warned. "And, you would have to ask them whether they want to be burdened with this on top of their current duties."

"Good point. But for the record, I do not want someone who gets to decide my whole life. While she may screen applicants, I do wish to retain the last say over her decision."

"True.", Stillstorm relented. "Had it been a caretaker in the classic sense, Fireblade would still be the broken mess she once was. You did ... good to her ... and a prospective caretaker should keep such an eventuality in mind as well."

"I'm not sure if we can come to a consensus right here and now", Shadow cut in, "but all I can ask you is to put some thought into that matter."

"I will. And I'm sure I'll ask Beryl and Fireblade for their input on the matter, too." Alex gave in.

"Then I think the matter is settled for now? Captain, I'm pretty sure Parat Tempo is already waiting for you to another session with our Farseer?"

Taking it as a dismissal, Alex nodded in lieu of a salute and left.


"Come in, Enzin. Tempo.", Pure Sand's voice sounded.

"How did you know....? Oh, right, you can actually detect me now.", Alex said on entering.

Instead of the meditation pose she was in the first time they met, she was actually on the other side of the door and Alex got the impression that she was anxiously waiting for him and that she was seconds away from bodily dragging him into her cabin. have her wicked way with me?, Alex thought suspiciously. No. Surely not.

Still, the eagerness she displayed on making skin to skin contact was ... a bit worrying.

'So relaxing.', her thoughts came, 'The silence. Ever since I experienced it the first time I longed for this.'

Uh-oh., Alex thought.

'No worries. I know we're here for a purpose. For me, to hone this strange abilitiy to see the voids, for you, to lose your fear of them. But if you allow me the moment of peace...?', she sent.

'Actually, an additional idea came to me.', Alex sent, 'That wave of terror... is it possible for you to send emotions in a specific direction?'

'What do you mean?'

'For example, the feeling of courage to embolden our own forces, or maybe the feeling of despair... or better inadequacy ... for the Umiak to make them doubt their purpose?'

Alex felt her mind working on this.

'I'm not sure I could send to the Umiak - they're too dissimilar to us, but perhaps you're on to something. That wave of terror was far reaching, even unamplified, and I'm not sure if my amplifier would work that way. It ... could be worth a try. But perhaps we should get the go from Stillstorm or Duskcrown first before conducting such an experiment. We'd be risking two important resources on this - you and me. And, how am I supposed to feel despair or inadequacy for starters?', Pure Sand asked finally.

'Perhaps... I can help you with that. I noticed that a Loroi's acting ability ... left much to be desired, so perhaps it would me me conjuring up the emotion and for you to transmit it with your formidable power.'

'This.... sounds strange but it could work', she sent with elation.

Tempo, feeling much left out, noticed the change of expression on Pure Sand's face, gone from concentration to happiness. "What happened?", she asked.

"Tempo... if Enzin's idea works, he gave me a means to take a more active role in the effort!", Pure Sand answered giddily.

I never knew that this would be such a big deal with her - the feeling of uselessness once an engagement starts, Tempo realized.

Tue Aug 28, 2018 3:05 am
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
It took a couple of minutes for the two of them to explain what they came up with for Tempo to just shake her head before giving her thoughts about it.

"I don't think that the Farseer being able to broadcast your terror will offer any sort of advantage in battle; quite the contrary, it will distract Tempest's crew without affecting the enemy. They are under a Lotai which should affect telepathy within its range and even if they weren't they are not telepaths. They are not able to receive such a broadcast." Tempo explained.

"Makes sense..." Alex replied after taking that in. "I guess that it will take me some time to come up with proper proposals about the tactical use of telepathy."

"Maybe the Shells wouldn't be affected by it but what about the Voids themselves?" Pure Sand begun. "I couldn't sense any reason or emotion from the blank mind of the one that focused itself on me but perhaps it would react from sensing such a broadcast in reaction to it."

"What sort of a reaction would that be?" Alex asked. "There must be a reason as to why I am instictually terrified of whatever they are."

"They might as well launch a telepathic assault against you. If they are some sort of a telepathic predator like we suspect they may instinctually launch such an attack the moment they detect such terror." Tempo replied.

"Dangerous..." Alex said without thinking.

"Too dangerous." Tempo commented. "For both of you since you will have to be touching and mentally connected to accomplish such a sending."

"But I may be able to detect the precise location of a Void that would react." Pure Sand insisted. "To pinpoint the ship they are on."

"That could prove crucial information to have." Tempo admitted, her expression betraying the fact that she still considered the proposal to be dangerous to accept.

"Still too dangerous." Alex said at that, cursing himself for having that idea in the first place, not as much out of a sense of self preservation but out of concern for Pure Sand's well being.

"We are on a major warship at the frontlines of the war."
Pure Sand sent at that.

"You still risk your mind be assaulted by something that may be geared to hunt other telepaths!"
Alex insisted. "You may not even get the chance to report what you sense out there."

"It may be unwise to risk the Farseer who has managed to detect the Voids, I will bring this idea to the attention of the admiralty but Pure Sand is still the only Farseer who had managed to detect the Voids. The technique is simple enough to grasp but it is hard to fully master and Pure Sand needs to focus on that for the time being." Tempo said at that, drawing a silent nod of agreement from Alex despite Pure Sand's mental pout.

"So how will today's training go?" Alex asked at that, partially to bring their attention to more pressing matters and partially to occupy his mind with something different for a change because he knew that it would be a long day.

* * *

Alex couldn't decide if mental fatigue was actually worse than physical fatigue, he still remembered the instances when he was drilled to the point of walking while half asleep and he couldn't describe those times as worse than how he was after his training session with Pure Sand and Tempo; mentally taxing and stressful, delving in mental techniques that he couldn't have imagined before his telepathic 'awakening'. He hoped that the training would pay off and help in finalizing the technique that Pure Sand had come up with but all he could think after he and Tempo left the Farseer's quarters was his bed and how he needed a nap.

When he woke up he realized that he still had plenty of time before his 'social encounter' with Duskcrown and decided to use that time productively and go through everything that had been recovered from Bellarmine.

"I still can't believe no one told me that you had recovered my footlocker!"
Alex send to both Beryl and Fireblade who were helping him with everything that had been recovered.

"I didn't know that your footlocker had been among the artifacts until yesterday!"
Beryl replied defensively. "The recovery teams were certain that these containers were footlockers but they didn't know who they belonged to because they couldn't read the writing."

"Had I known that my footlocker was intact I wouldn't have requested for a new uniform."
Alex sent at that.

"The armor looks good on you."
Fireblade commented, drawing agreement out of Beryl.

"I guess that I will use my full dress uniform when the time requires it."
He sent at that, deciding to wear his armor for his visit to Duskcrown since it was a personal 'social' encounter and not an official 'ambassadorial' one.

"What's this?"
As she reached into his locker and took out his chess board.

"That's a chess board. An ancient strategy game, I had wanted to show it to you but I thought that it had been destroyed. I bought a similar looking board from the docks but that had hexes instead of squares"
Alex replied.

"That was a Crossfire board, an ancient strategy game as well; Duskcrown is an avid and highly capable Crossfire player."
Beryl replied as she picked up the mental image of him buying the game.

"I guess that I will have you teach me how to play it before my 'date' with Duskcrown."
Alex said at that.

"It ain't hard to grasp but it is challenging to master."
Beryl replied, unsure if he was going to become a good player in such a short amount of time; Fireblade's mind betraying the fact that she wasn't much of a Crossfire player herself.

"I am among the youngest recognized Senior Masters of Chess, would have been a Grand Master if I had taken part in a couple of tournaments that I couldn't attend."
Alex sent proudly at that, he knew that they didn't even know how chess was played how much to understand the capabilities of the elite players but hopefully they would get the picture that he was more than capable to master any strategy game.

"Perhaps you will be able to entertain her when you have a match with her."
Beryl said after some thought.

"I wonder what she is like, as a Commander and as an individual. Tempo had warned how she would see me as an enemy but I don't know anything else about her."
Alex thought.

"She is... controversial."
Beryl begun. "Capable but very abrasive in her manners."

"Aren't all Loroi supposed to be honest to a fault?"

"Yes but she is abrasive even by our standards, electing to be crude, rude and insulting even when it is not warranted."
Beryl explained. "She also prefers to live luxuriously, which has drawn the ire of warriors like Stillstorm who believe that luxury in the time war is a waste of resources."

"So arrogant and self-indulgent."
Alex commented with some disdain in his thoughts.

"She has proven herself repeatedly and her lifestyle is well within her rights as a Tazites."
Beryl commented. "She isn't a coward and she regularly duels anyone who may believe that she has slighted them, even non Torrai warriors. Stillstorm beat her to a duel when Duskcrown insinuated that she avoided risks in battle."

"I still can't grasp how you Loroi still have a dueling culture."
Alex thought.

"Human warriors don't duel?"
Fireblade asked.

"Not for centuries, in armies that it was tolerated it always ended in senseless loss of life and breaches in discipline whenever anyone criticized an officer's actions."
Alex replied.

"Loss of life? I have yet to witness a lethal duel."
Beryl commented.

"Humans don't know how to hold back when enraged."
Alex replied. "There was even a time when deaths in duels were almost as many as combat loses. In time dueling was seen as needless bloodshed."

"Odd... In any case Duskcrown is known to be a supporter of Emperor Greywind and her policies, support that helped in her quick rise in ranks after the Emperor's ascension to the throne culminating in her becoming the Tinza sector commander. She was a supporter of the Tithric campaign and still sees it as justifiable." Beryl continued.

"She is also popular with many of the younger warriors for not being so tied down with caste traditionalism."
Fireblade added.

"There are rumors that she jumped castes, that she was a Listel before becoming a Soroin."
Beryl continued. "I am not certain of it however."

"Jump castes, why would she do that?"

"Only Soroin and Tenoin can rise to the combat branch of the Torrai caste and lead warships and ground formations. The other castes rise to the staffing branch of the Torrai. If she wanted to become a ship captain and an admiral then she wouldn't be able to do that as a Listel."
Beryl explained.

"That's stupid, if someone is capable to captain a warship they should be able to prove it."
Alex sent at that.

"Duskcrown has often times said that publicly but the caste elders don't agree."

"There was even a small scandal when Ashrain jumped from the Teidar to the Soroin, that her family had pushed for that."
Fireblade added at that.

Alex asked.

"She is a grand niece of the Emperor so of course people say that she became a captain because of her family and not because of her abilities. Her constant competition with Moonglow is due to that." Beryl explained.

"She has certainly impressed me and Stillstorm as a leader."
Alex commented.

"Mazeit Moonglow has long recognized her martial abilities despite her frequent put downs of her."
Fireblade added.

"I just find it hard to understand that highly capable officers have to go through such lengths to be assigned to the positions they are worthy of. I know that I was among the many who despised the 'ticket punchers' in the academy and navy."

"Ticket punchers?"
Both of them asked at that.

"The officers who do the barest minimum and suck up to the superiors to ensure their promotion. Waste of space and breathing the lot of them, always trying to make themselves look good even when they are proven incompetents."
Alex ranted.

"And that's why we still have duels."
Fireblade sent with a smirk, making him chuckle.

"I often thought of that myself to be honest."
Alex commented before deciding to ask them about what Stillstorm had said about him needing caretakers."Are you two comfortable with me meeting Duskcrown?"

"I see no issue with you meeting her socially."
Beryl replied, drawing a nod of agreement from Fireblade.

"Why do you ask?"
Fireblade asked at that.

"Stillstorm and Shadow broached the subject of me accepting caretakers to screen those interested in an... encounter with me."

"Caretakers but you are not a Loroi male!"
Fireblade thought at that.

"Yes, you don't need..."
Beryl begun at that but paused as she thought thinks through. "No, you do need caretakers."

"But he is a recognized warrior and he can take care of his personal affairs."
Fireblade insisted.

"Yes but he is a lone male in the midst of thousands of warriors who want to meet him and copulate with him. Having legal caretakers able to deny access in his stead would simplify matters for him."
Beryl explained.

"And keep him safe from curious and over enthusiastic Pasets."
Fireblade thought.

"It's a good idea but who would be your caretakers?"
Beryl asked. "Most of them are civilians or warriors who screen who their family's males meet."

"I thought of you two."

"Us? But we are..."
Fireblade begun to send but Beryl cut her off.

"We both have been described as infatuated with you and that we hog you all for ourselves."

"But I also trust you implicitly and I don't want you to keep everyone away from me, I want to socialize with others but mating will be out of the picture unless I say so. I just want you to keep me out of situations where my lust overcomes my reasons like what happened at the tea house."
Alex explained.

"So we just tell everyone no to a mating encounter and yes to socializing with you?"
Beryl asked.


"And if we really don't want you to mate or meet someone?"
Fireblade asked at that.

"The final decision will always rest with me but I will take your worries and advice seriously. As I told you, I want to socialize with others but I don't want the pressure of everyone wanting to get on my bed; if only to avoid the incidents that were barely avoided at the docks."

"You do know that almost everyone will ask us to secure time with you, right?"
Fireblade reminded him.

"And I am an ambassador and military attache to the Union, my duties are important and my time is limited."

"And they will all say that we are hogging you all of ourselves."
Fireblade added.

"I am not exactly against that..."
He replied with an awkward smile, making both of them giggle.

"You are not a Loroi and you are busy so I don't see any reason not to help you with this."
Fireblade sent after some thought.

"I will help you with that as well, we have been telling everyone that you are not interested in mating with all of them ever since we returned on Tempest, us being your official caretakers should serve to convince them."
Beryl added.

"That's great!" Alex replied and looked around him dejectedly. "Let's go take care of the bureaucracy first. It will take some weight off my shoulders knowing that I won't have to worry about that anymore."

My fan fics:

Looking forward to the mirror (Delayed editing)
Reforged (Irregular updates)
The Pale Horse (Completed, could use some editing)

Sat Sep 01, 2018 3:30 pm
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
As caretaker procedures were uncommon in frontline units and not part of any basic training regime, Berly needed to look up where to get forms for that. They sat down in the commons room in the meantime. While Beryl worked through regulations, Alex received an introduction into Crossfire from Fireblade. She wasn't much of a player, but at least she knew the rules.

Crossfire was a curious game. The figures and the board had looked familiar to Alex when he bought his set. The way it was played was nothing but. Each player had several moves per turn, resulting in a focus on formations. There was also terrain to fight over, a gravity well and three neutral stations orbiting it in this case. Because movement was done simulteneously for each player and fighting was then resolved in turn, engagements would get messy, as Alex figured. His skills as a chess player would need to bend a lot, but he quickly understood that Crossfire also needed trading for pieces and strategic control of space.

Alex was considering the ramifications of command units in Crossfire, when Beryl gave up frustrated and just called in with Tempo. A moment later, Beryl addressed them.

"Tempo says one can request these forms from the commander of the unit."

"Stillstorm? She's very busy these days. We might need to wait." Fireblade sent.

"That's no problem. Sorimi Jade handles these requests now for the Soshret." an upbeat Beryl answered. "Come, let's go to her."

The Sorimi -Jade as Alex now knew- turned out to be busy as well. Stillstorm had given her the unenviable duty of handling nearly all the mundane paperwork that came across Stillstorms desk.
When she heard why the three of them had come, she eyed each of them suspiciously before sending Alex something from her data pad.

"Fine, here is the form. Send it back to me once your chosen caretakers have signed, Captain Jardin and I will get it signed by the Soshret."

"Thank you, Sorimi. We won't be long. The caretakers are close-by." Alex tried.

"Don't want to know. I have more important matters to do." and with a stack of requests for the cantina under her arm, she walked away.

"Don't mind her. She came over from Duskcrowns staff, remember." Beryl sent to quiet Alex irritation.

"Maybe she should go on that date with Duskcrown then." was Alex answer causing Beryl and Fireblade to giggle at the mental images.

Both Beryl and Fireblade had accompanied him to the boarding strut of the Green River. Joking around with them while filling out paperwork had been distracting. Yet not enough to stop his nervousness rise in him on their way through Nezel.

"Enzin, you'll be fine. With official paperwork done, Duskcrown can't do anything." Fireblade commented.

"Yes, you will be okay. You can handle her. You humans are good at talking. Remember how you taught us body language?" Beryl added.

"I know everything will be fine. The commander of a whole sector took time out of her day to meet me. She's also supportive of no neutrality. Mankinds fate may rest on my shoulders. That's all."

As reply, Fireblade took hold of his head with both hands. In direct contact, Alex felt her conviction. Her faith in him did much to calm him down.

"Thank you, Fireblade. You helped me a lot."

"It's my job now, Enzin. Now go on."

"Tell us everything when you get back!" came from Beryl.

After surprise hugging both of them at once, Alex turned and went into the Green River more boldly than he felt five minutes ago. "Never behind." he silently mouthed.

Apart from the guard at the entrance, nobody waited for him. Alex was told to meet Duskcrown in her office, but otherwise left to his own devices. Even the workcrews fixing up systems in the corridors paid him little attention. This wasn't the reception he had expected or become used to.

The Green River was a big ship and felt a lot more sturdy than the sleek Tempest. So it took him a bit to find Duskcrowns office in the corridors. It was unceremonialy close to the crew quarters. From behind the metallic door a low, rhytmic clacking could be heard. Alex steeled himself one last time and lifed his hand up to knock. Then he froze, as he remembered that Loroi don't actually knock. He debated whether to go in unnanounced, when a voice from inside called out to him.

"Come in, Captain Jardin!"

Alex entered the room with a lot of curiousity. Immediately he saw that the room was dominated by a monstrous desk made from a polished, red wood. There were a couple metal frame shelves, a tapestry showing a tranquil looking green river and two more doors leading out of the room.
Duskcrown sat behind her nearly empty desk in a swivel chair. There was a black box with a piece of paper stuck in it in front of her.

"I didn't expect you this early, Captain. Come in and take a seat. I won't need long."

Alex took one of the seats in front of her desk. The Tazites turned back to the black box and started typing on it, producing a clack with every press.

"Is that a ..typewriter?" Alex carefully asked.

"Yes?" His disbelief an obvious source of amusement to her.

"I wouldn't have thought you to be this traditional, Tazites." he ventured.

"Oh, you will find me quite open minded, Captain. This is our form of cyber security."

"Hu?" was all Alex could manage.

Duskcrown conspirationally leaned forward. Then she showed him a broad smile.

"Don't tell Shadow I showed you this. Our most sensitive files are written down. We put up only the bare minimum of those into our system. With some choice inaccuracies, too."

Mirroring her conspirationaly mannerism, Alex found himself moving closer too. His earlier discomfort forgotten in the moment.

"Does this include the Deinar files?"

"Yes, I have already sent to Seren for the original. Might be a while, though."

"What kind of inaccuracies are we talking about here?"

"Would you believe that this Nathan has been shot on three different occasions by the same Listel Tozet, Captain?"

This took him aback. Was Duskcrown joking, was she telling him a lie or was she actually serious? Alex didn't know, but he saw no reason for her to be dishonest.

"Maybe two, but not three times."

"It does sound far fetched." she agreed.

Duskcrown finished typing the page and took it out of the machine. Alex had seen typewriters only in a museum when he was a child. Nobody on earth used them anymore. Well, he had heard rumours about some intelligence agencies still making use of them. He watched Duskcrown remove the page, put it in a folder and then stow it in a locked cabinet behind one of the doors.

"Come Captain, I'll show you something." she told him.

Alex rose with his curiousity beating his caution. So far things went smoothly and Duskcrown brushing aside military protocol had defused his earlier worries. The evening looked to be informal, which suited him fine, as that meant less chance for him to cause a scene.

"What would that be, Tazites?" he asked politely.

"My bedroom, of course."

Her bedroom turned out to be right next door and just as roomy as her office, but less utilitarian. There was a large bed made from the same red wood as the desk earlier. Double sized, as Alex brain immediately told him. A comfortable brown carpet was underneath and in front of a viewscreen showing the fleet around Nezel there was a small table with plates placed upon it. If it hadn't been ridiculous in a spaceship, a roaring open fireplace would have surely been in this room too. The paper books to read in front of it were in the room, stacked in shelves around the place.

She ignored his obvious indisposition at being in her bedroom and lead him to the side table.

"Are you hungry, Captain? I took the liberty of having food prepared."

"That is very hospitable of you. I thought Loroi don't have the custom of eating together."

"It was in one of the reports on humanity. I believe you would call this a dinner date?" she said while sitting down.

"There are different kinds of having dinner together, Tazites. It depends on the intention. A date would be very personal."

She looked thoughtful for a short moment, before she answered matter of factly.

"You advertised yourself quite well in the teahouse, Captain. Many Loroi would like to get personal with you."

This was either her strongly coming on to Alex, he thought or something else he couldn't think of. Alex swallowed and resolved to take a risk. His only hope was that he could prevent a serious diplomatic incident. He just had to overcome his rising nervousness tying his tongue down.

"That's...uh, very nice of you to say, Tazites. Advertising myself had never been my intention however. I am sorry if you took my actions that way and got the wrong impression of me, Tazites."

"You can still leave the right impression." she told him innocently.

"Uh, I know that Loroi handle these matters a lot differently, a lot more like a business exchange than humans. It wouldn't be professional conduct for me. I mean, not that you aren't...I mean all Loroi are..." His trail of thoughts broke off finding nothing smart to say.

"Ha! Keep your pants on!" Duskcrown laughed. "Mating was never my intention with you."

While he worked through his embarrassment, Duskcrown unceremoniously took the cover from her plate. Alex saw a fish and vegetables on her plate, which she immediately started eating.

Under his own plate waited a large, hollowed out mushroom cap on him. It was filled with fried balls of some kind and placed on what looked similar to noodles. Judging from the smell, it was a Perrein dish. Untypically, Duskcrown didn't turn up her nose at the sight or smell of Alex dish. Perhabs he mused after trying, it wasn't just delicious to him, but also to non Perrein Loroi.

"So, what happened to Parat Tempo? You have been there, Captain." Duskcrown asked before picking up a bottle and drinking straight from it.

"What do you mean? Surely you have read the reports?" Alex ventured.

Before she answered, she handed Alex the bottle as well. It smelled faintly like wine. Remembering the last time he had drunk alcohol, Alex took a small sip only.

"The reports have been ..confusing. They either leave something important out or Tempo has changed a lot since I last saw her."

"You know her personally?"

"In passing." she said dismissively. "She was posted to Nezel, working with Umiak prisoners before I send her to Tempest. Which is why the reports on the Lotai incident don't make sense to me."

"I am afraid I can't offer much of an explanation. Tempo tried probing Beryls mind, which triggered my Lotai to go haywire. Stillstorm was furious and demanded Tempo to shave her head in shame." Alex explained.

While he had spoken, Duskcrown had looked at him intently, following his words with incredulous focus.

"There was nothing more to that? Was there any hint at all that probing Beryl would cause such an incident?"

"Not that I am aware of. Beryl told me she herself even believed the parts Tempo probed to be her own mind and not mine."

"Hm, Tempo must be very loyal to you then, Captain." she said with open acknowledgement.

"I don't understand, Tazites. In what way has Tempo been loyal to me? She tried to forcefully mindprobe Beryl to get at Intel about humanity."

"Loyal to you, she did you a huge favour when you showed that mass Lotai, Captain. Wouldn't you agree?" Duskcrown looked up in surprise.

"She caused my Lotai to react. From what I heard, it's the reason she got dishonored and lost her hair, Tazites."

"Yes, exactly, Captain. That's precisely what I mean." now Duskcrown sat fully upright. She focused him with her eyes, deliberating something. He had the distinct impression that now it was important to measure up and stop slacking.

"You know enough of Loroi customs to ask Stillstorm for the old custom of serving as Loinzer* to serve in her crew but you don't know what the authority of a Mizol Parat is?" she asked.

Thinking quick, Alex saw a way out of his predicament by playing to his humanity.

"Well, I am new to Loroi laws. I read about Loinzer and it sounded just like me. I must admit that I haven't gotten around to reading about Mizol much yet."

Alex play had apparently worked and Duskcrown settled down again.

"That explains a lot then. We do have many laws to work through and the language is difficult. Then allow me to explain, Captain."

Before she did, she pushed her mostly eaten dish to the side and moved to a comfortable, slouched position. She even swiveled from side to side with her chair.

"Parat Tempo can declare a state of emergency when dealing with aliens, overriding orders from Soshret, former Lashret Stillstorm. Your ship wide Lotai would have easily qualified. Tempo could have told Stillstorm to piss against the wind had she declared emergency. Digging around in Beryls mind was a necessity and the Lotai unforseeable by anyone. Had she declared you cause for an emergency, Tempo would have been required to do her best to break you as potential saboteur. Mindprobes, invasive surgery, drugs, manipulation of your instincts...anything really. That she didn't do that means she valued you higher than her warriors honour. I hope you suitably thanked her for that, Captain."

"I did not. When she came to me freshyl shaven, I was still furious with her for harming Beryl."

"So? Sounds to me like your friendship is stronger than her duties conflicting with your feelings."

"I threatened her with violence and made her promise to never think of harming Beryl or me ever again." Alex said with far less conviction than he had felt back then in his cabin.

"Damn, that's harsh. The ride you gave her must have been really amazing."


"Mating." she explained.

"We never mated actually."

The Tazites looked him straight into the eyes for a moment, deliberating again. She spoke with some surprise but also a certain appreciation.

"That means she did it for friendships sake then. Good for you, Captain. It seems you made a real friend. I honestly didn't think you had it in you. She is one of those you can send to from a distance then?"

Her slight stung and Alex was still working through this revelation about Tempo. Her question took him largely unawares. He hadn't even been aware whether Duskcrown knew of that.

"No, I can only send to Beryl and Fireblade. For it to work I need to open up to the Loroi and trust them very deeply."

She gave him a look that was a mixture of annoyance and puzzlement before she answered.
"That has been several days ago. You seem to pick these things up very quickly otherwise. Why did you not capitalize on this skill?"

"I did not want to. It is a very close thing I have with Beryl and Fireblade. They expressed their wish that it stays this way as well."

"Absolute nonsense. I swear. These sailors from SG51 have been at sea so long, they're all soaking wet down to their toenails." she swore. "Captain, what you describe is normal for Sanzai. It is an intimate connection, it's what makes it so useful for communication. You'll learn to 'speak' it better, but the basic principle of extending trust remains in place everytime you connect."

"What if I don't want to extend this trust to every Loroi I meet, Tazites?" Alex protested.

"Captain, I didn't want to learn fencing either, but my big, fat mouth made it necessary. You have the chance to secure an alliance with the soon to be dominant species in the local bubble. Whether we decide to exterminate you or befriend you is still to be decided. You are in a position to learn our very own form of truthful communication. If you don't make use of this unimaginable chance, I might hang you for dereliction of duty. Just out of principle."

"You can't be serious!" exclaimed a shocked Alex.

"If only you could sanzai to me, then you wouldn't have to rely on these tools of deception." said an amused Duskcrown. "Captain, the next time we meet I want you to be able to send this way to at least one Loroi that does not want to ride you."

"Finding a candidate might be difficult." said an apprehensive Alex while he worked through names in his head. Was there really no Loroi that fulfilled that simple criteria?

"Look, you seem like a decent fellow to me. You'll fit in, you just haven't met the right people yet. Allow me to help your diplomatic mission for a bit."

There was real honesty in her voice. When Beryl and Fireblade had told him he'd be fine, he hadn't expected Duskcrown to like him. Or to enjoy himself in her company.

"That's appreciated. What do you have in mind?"

"There's a classic game. Every ship has a club playing regular games. It's a great way to meet people of all ranks and castes in a casual setting. I'll teach you the rules and then you have a reason to meet warriors for something else than riding."

"Would that game be Crossfire?" he saw her face light up at that. "I heard of it but never played it. It looks sort of similar to a human game called chess."

"You already know the rules? Then let us have a few quick games to get you into it, Captain."

Duskcrowns Crossfire set was an old one, lovingly crafted but already well played. Her figures had little hooks on the underside that rooted the pieces on the gameboard. During their second game, she explained to him why.

"Bold move. It's refreshing playing against you, Captain. Reading your opponent is usually part of the game. Your Lotai makes you a difficult opponent. You should play Torimor Shadow one day. You'd mess her up."

As he lost the second and third game too, Alex had the sneaking suspicion, that he wasn't that much of a difficult opponent. The challenge excited him, it wasn't chess, but scratched the same itch. So time flew for a while.

In one of their games, Duskcrown brought up a new subject.

"Captain, there is one matter I would like to bring up with you. It's a bit delicate."

"Don't worry. I have come to expect Loroi honesty. By now I appreciate it even."

"When you came to us you caused me two concerns. Firstly that you hold the key to breaking the Shell Lotai and secondly what your presence will do for discipline. The first concern is resolved now, the second one is also easy to resolve, if you would cooperate."

"I'd be happy to, Tazites. But..what problems with discipline do I cause exactly?"

"You are close enough to a male as to make many warriors think of mating with you. If you would be treated like a male, that would be no problem. But since you refused the privileges, a choice I can respect, you are now somewhat outside of our customs."

He understood what Duskcrown was getting at. The temptation to tell her about his new caretakers was strong, but Alex decided to leave her hanging for a bit. Duskcrowns unfiltered opinion would be nice to know and he was curious about Loroi norms.

She continued: "Mating for Loroi is not a huge deal. We meet the males, spend a few pleasurable days with a stranger and then both go our ways again. The actual mating is pleasurable but not important compared to the Sanzai connection. With your Lotai, mating would be entirely physical and nothing else. Since you expect to be treated like a warrior, some Loroi might decide to not ask for but take what they want."

His stomach fell to his knees. Duskcrown had casually punched him in the gut with her words.

"Isn't that illegal?" he squeezed out.

"Our males are protected by the customs surrounding them, which you refuse. Alien males have been wholly unappealing to us so far. You are the first time the problem comes up. I could enforce some rules, but lawmaking is not my problem. And quite frankly, I tend to agree with my warriors on this. You can't refuse the duties but accept the protective privileges."

"So what do you suggest, Tazites? Walk around armed or let my life be decided by somebody else?"

"No, no, nothing so drastic." she assuaged him with palms raised. "I suggest you take on one or two caretakers that filter your suitors for you. They would do that and be expected to arbitrate when one of your suitors and you have an argument. Caretakers can also refuse advances of Loroi you could never refuse as a diplomat, such as Shadow, senior Torrai or myself."

"You will be happy to hear that I already have two caretakers. Torimor Shadow brought it up with me and I did the paperwork today."

"You do? That's fantastic, whom did you pick?"

"Beryl and Fireblade."

As answer Duskcrown laughed heavily. She even had to hold her belly. When she had calmed down a bit, she spoke to a sour faced Alex.

"Moio sagit, you are killing me. One, Beryl and Fireblade both don't have the minimum age, two, both of them are infatuated with you, making them useless as arbitrators, three, both of them want to ride you, making them prone to jealousy, four, neither of them is particularly well respected, five, they already failed taking care of you, by jealously guarding their exclusive Sanzai with you. Consider the paperwork denied."

"You can't just deny my choice!" Alex was truly insulted for the first time this evening.

"I just did. Now can you name me a Loroi of suitable standing and experience a Loroi warrior would accept as a neutral party without challenging her to duels of honour?" she said with defeating surety.

"I can't think of one right now." admitted Alex begrudgingly. "But I also can't think of anybody challenging Fireblade to a duel."

"You'd be surprised Captain. Teidar are not invincible. A Soroin that picked up a nasty trick from a Mizol and with lightning fingers could do it. I can think of several dozen candidates in my fleet. Allow me to suggest somebody else. You know her already. She has the disposition required to be quite forceful, she is well respected and experienced, if not in a direct combat position and as an added benefit spends her days lugging around heavy metal objects. She also thinks of you as far too feminine to be attractive."

"Wavecrest?!" Alex was aghast.

"Her annoyance at having to deal with you, will also makes her caretaking very hands off." Duskcrown said radiant with smugness.

*Loinzer = Loroi for urin. It's safe to assume that there is no such position.

Mon Sep 03, 2018 6:52 am
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)

“I can think of several potential problems with your suggestion,” Alex said, his mind desperately reeling to keep a modicum of control over the roller coaster that his life had become.

“Do tell,” said Duskcrown with a mix of smug superiority and genuine interest.

Alex swallowed, remembered an old conversation with Captain Hamilton, and desperately hoped that like back then, she was verbally sparring with him to see if he’d roll over or fight back.

“First and foremost are the implications of making such a call in the first place,” Alex began, “I’m the first of my kind to visit the Union, and any further contact with my people in the future will call back to any actions or solutions we enact here and now.”

“I fail to see the problem,” said Duskcrown dismissively.

“Humans value their freedom and autonomy greatly. Assigning a caretaker without the input, approval or consent of the person being take care of, while certainly the norm for Loroi males, would be intolerable for my people. While I don’t doubt you could impose such restrictions on myself or any future visitors to the Union, doing so would likely create a significant impasse on trade and interaction between our peoples.”

Duskcrown leaned back and stroked her chin thoughtfully, mulling his point over, before speaking.

“You said that this was the first of your potential problems with my suggestion. What else do you find objectionable?”

Alex swallowed and felt like he was second speaker on the debate team in highschool again.

“It again pertains to the precedents that we set in the here and now. Assigning a caretaker that has no solid stake in the wellbeing of their charge can lead to social complications. An example from my culture would be prostitution; selling mating encounters in exchange for services or monetary gain. While I in no way am insinuating that Wavecrest would do such a thing in my case, it would only be a matter of time before something akin to what I suggested would happen in the future.”

He could see the gears turning in Duskcrown’s head.

“Do males truly sell mating encounters to others in your culture?” she asked with genuine curiosity.

“It’s the other way around for the most part, actually, females of lower education or economic status may resort to prostitution to make ends meet, usually by working on the street and offering themselves to would-be clients, but there are also establishments called brothels where they can find work in a more secure and socially controlled location.”

“And you fear that this may be your fate if assigned a caretaker such as Wavecrest?” asked Duskcrown incredulously.

“I have no qualms about Wavecrests’ integrity, but I know for a fact that you cannot guarantee that not a single person in your society would ever deign to prostitute out their charges under any circumstances. When assigning caretakers in such a fashion, it would only be a matter of time before such an exploitative situation would arise.”

“And yet our males have caretakers who have managed this with ease,” countered Duskcrown.

Alex smirked, noting himself that the retort was weak.

“As I understand it, those caretakers are vetted and have a long and well established tradition backing them. Failure to take care of a male in their charge would be socially and professionally catastrophic for them, if not outright criminal. For any humans falling under the stipulations that you suggest for me however, there are no such pressures, and given the relative commonality of human males it’s doubtful that such pressure to perform well would ever arise.”

“You’re making a rather large assumption, that whatever solution regarding your caretakers that we choose will become the norm. Neither of us can guarantee that what we decide will be such going forward.”

“True enough,” admitted Alex, “but they’re still going to look back on this watershed moment where our two species have met and they will draw their conclusions to whatever accords we come to here.”

Alex paused thoughtfully, considering his next words.

“We need an equitable solution. Neither of us have been in this position before, so taking old solutions and bashing them into place isn’t going to serve us. We need something new.”

“What a bizarre expression,” muttered Duskcrown before shaking her head and looking to Alex with a hint of respect in her eye, “What do you suggest?”

“Give Fireblade and Beryl a chance to serve as my caretakers on a trial basis. If it works, it works, if it doesn’t and disciplinary problems persist, or as you fear the two of them hoard me to the detriment of morale or ships operations, then we can try a different solution as you suggest and continue working through until we find a solution.”

Alex felt triumphant as he finished speaking, as though he’d managed to walk out of the shadow of the valley of death.

“I’m perhaps willing to allow you that much,” said Duskcrown, the smug smirk returning to her face in full force, “if you’re willing to allow me to assign two of my own choices for caretaker in addition to them.”

“What,” he said flatly, feeling that shadow catching up to him.

“It’s a solution that addresses your concerns does it not? For you, it is doubtful that anyone I assign would be able to ‘prostitute’ you without your chosen caretakers knowledge or objections, your freedom and autonomy are respected, and for me, it allows me to keep your other caretakers in check and prevent them from hoarding you and creating troublesome situations.”

“Wouldn’t a team of four be prone to deadlocks?” asked Alex, desperately flailing for a point of contention that would free him from Duskcrowns latest move to entrap him.

“A team of two is also prone to deadlocks, is it not?” she countered, “How exactly did you intend to solve that particular problem with your original suggestion?”

“I was also going to have a say in whom I’d mate with or not,” said Alex.

“Well, since you expect to be treated like a warrior, I see no problem with that arrangement with my added conditions. Of course, should you become a recluse who refuses to mate with anyone except his chosen caretakers, I will consider this a failed solution, you understand?”

“I understand,” said Alex, feeling utterly drained and defeated.

“Good,” said Duskcrown with a victorious grin, “now, on to less serious matters.”

She reached into her uniform and drew out a sleek looking silver case. A single tap and it ejected a long thin cigar into Duskcrowns waiting hand. Another tap on the case and a spark arced out and lit the cigar. In a well practiced motion it was between her lips and smoke began to puff lazily in the air.

“I don’t suppose your culture has something like this?” she asked, proffering the case towards him.

“We do, actually,” he said, remembering that Admiral Callan was notorious for his love of Cuban cigars while accepting the offer, “though it’s uncommon practice amongst the lower ranks.”

“Consider this part of the privilege of my company then, Enzin,” replied Duskcrown all the while watching Alex carefully as he took his first puffs.

Fortunately, Admiral Callan was so notorious in the fleet for his cigars that it had become common, if not outright required knowledge on how to smoke them properly if he offered them to you. While Alex had never met the Admiral, that knowledge had not failed to disseminate its way into the Scout Corps.

As such, his first puffs were a success, as he remembered not to inhale the smoke, but rather to keep it confined to his mouth before exhaling it.

Duskcrown nodded in approval, taking a few more puffs of her own, clearly enjoying herself immensely.

The moment passed, and she turned back to the interrupted game of Crossfire to regard her next moves.

“I would like to know more about your people, Captain,” she said, her green eyes glinting with curiosity and something a bit more, “It seems you had two world spanning wars on your homeworld, however did that come about?”


Spoiler: show
This is my Mod voice. If you see this in a thread, it means that the time for gentle reminders has passed.

Tue Sep 04, 2018 3:03 pm
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
"Indeed, although I have been told that this is quite uncommon." Alex replied as he studied the pawns on the Crossfire board.

"It is uncommon, most sapients go through a world war which usually ends with either a single state taking on a hegemonic position or with so much destruction and loss of life that the mere thought of an other such war becomes a cultural anathema. For your race to have two such wars? Your kind is either inept at warfare or so warlike that peace is an unnatural state of being for you." Duskscrown said at that and he couldn't help but smile at that, remembering what one of his history professors in the academy said to this regard.

"Or maybe we humans aren't good at learning from the past and we make really inept politicians. I don't want to bore you with the historical details but both wars happened because of political follies, in the first the established great powers couldn't allow a new upstart power to further muddle the status quo and the second happened because the terms of the peace treaty for the first war were so bad that madness and war was an acceptable alternative for the loser." He replied at that.

"The victors tolerated the continued existence of a previously hostile state after they lost such a war?" Duskcrown asked at that.

"Yes because the alternatives were either indefinite occupation and low intensity warfare for an extended amount of time or outright genocide. No government would survive for long if it elected to enact either of these two scenarios. Not that they were at a position to do anything like that at the end of World war one." Alex explained.

"So what was the solution to prevent an other such war? I would advocate for crippling terms of peace that would ensure that the loser wouldn't rise to be a threat again."

"That was exactly what they tried at the end of the first world war. Terms and conditions towards the loser that were so humiliating, punitive and restrictive that the losing side had to either accept extended poverty and humiliation or rise up again and deny the treaty. They did the later which culminated in them starting the second world war." Alex said at that but it seemed that it only served to confuse her.

"But if the victors had enforced these terms militarily they wouldn't be able to rise up to be a threat again." Duskcrown pointed out at that.

"They were unable to enforce the terms, not out of a lack of martial strength at first but because of politics. The general population had grown sick of war after having lost so much in the first world war. Voices were raised for a dynamic answer to the re-militarization of their enemy but they were drown out by massed outcry against an other war, the fact that the terms were widely seen as unjust even in the victor's political cycles added to that." Alex explained.

"Foolish, if they weren't prepared to enforce the terms that would ensure that their enemies stay down they shouldn't have dictated them at the first place." Duskcrown commented.

"Indeed, a human saying goes that a 'bad peace is worse than war'."

"So did the former losers win at the second war?" She asked at that.

"No but at first they and their allies seemed unstoppable and it took an 'unholy alliance' of sorts between otherwise rival powers to beat them. The war ended with their unconditional surrender, their nations occupied and their infrastructure devastated. The war was three times as deadly as the first and even saw the first use of atomic weaponry in human history." Alex replied.

"And did your leaders learn their lesson? Did they ensure that their enemies would stay down for good?"

"Yes and No." He replied and couldn't help but smile at her expression. "I imagine that by staying down you mean either annihilating them or rendering them completely unable to rise up to be a threat again."

"Of course, that's the only way to treat an enemy of such caliber." She replied matter of factly.

"Many had thought that this was the only way and human history is rife with such examples. An ancient empire had done exactly that to one of their greatest rivals, first giving them a peace so crippling and humiliating in order to annihilate them the moment they tried to rise up again. The victors didn't do that however; my nation was among those victors and we were practically untouched by the fighting due to geography, being separated by two oceans from the continents on which the war was thought. We were richer, advanced and at the position to assume overall leadership of a good part of the world. Our leadership elected to help our allies and the vanquished in every way that we could; monetary, material, technological and even military aid was given in abundance and after a decade the war's damage was largely repaired on all nations under our banner."

"Helping your enemies is foolish as they will use your help to rise up at the first opportunity." Duskcrown said bluntly at that.

"A valid concern and one many voiced at the time..." Alex begun. "But allow me to give you an example. One of the great powers that fought my nation, the United States of America, was the Empire of Japan, an island nation with strong martial traditions and a capable military. The Pacific Ocean, the largest ocean of our world, separated our territories and the distance demanded that the war be fought on the sea and the few islands dotting it. They started their war against us by launching a surprise aircraft carrier attack against our main naval base amidst the Pacific. They destroyed several battleships and plenty of aircraft but our own aircraft carriers escaped destruction. For half a tozon our fleets and armed forces were either defeated or could barely hold against their attacks, launched by veteran warriors lead by capable commanders who used warplanes, doctrines and even ships that were arguably better than ours but a single defeat marked the beginning of the end of their war against us. The United States massively outclassed the Empire of Japan in manpower, economy, industrial and research capacity and our nation was determined to fight despite the Japanese misplaced belief that we were a soft and decadent people; it took some time but our industry produced hundreds of warships and tens of thousands of warplanes while armies meant to fight across two continents were raised and sent out to fight. Soon their planes became obsolete and their veteran warriors died in droves while our own warriors became veterans in turn. They fought on, bitterly and stubbornly on every island landing operation that brought our fleets closer to their mainland; the closer we got the more stubborn and fanatic the defense. It was hopeless and they knew it but they kept at it as they lost battle after battle until our bombers came in range of their mainland. We burned their cities to the ground with strategic bombing, dropping incendiary bombs on cities made out of wooden homes to kill them and their families but they kept on, refusing to surrender. They begun using suicide tactics on the ground, sea and air. Strapping themselves with explosives and throwing themselves against our lines, using manned torpedoes and crashing their planes onto our ships; they did everything they could to stop our advance but we kept at it. The motto of one of our admirals was 'Kill Japs, Kill Japs, Kill more Japs' and our warriors did just that, killing their fanatical warriors in droves, burning them in the holes they made their stands in while many of their civilians committed mass suicide to avoid capture when we finally landed on one of their outlying home islands; it was a bloodbath of a campaign that would be only a prelude to the sea of blood that would be spilled when we would invade their mainland islands. They knew they were losing, we knew that we were winning and they were still ready to fight on until the moment we dropped two atomic bombs on two of their cities. We had made it clear time and time again whenever they tried to negotiate, they would surrender unconditionally or there would be no peace and the use of atomics was perhaps what finally made them realize that there would be nothing other than that. They surrendered unconditionally, their martial traditions broken, their territories occupied and their dreams of Empire gone. They were prepared for the worse, that we would treat them like they treated those they had conquered but we treated them fairly and we helped them rebuild. In a generation they were one of our closest allies, one of the world's strongest economies, an industrial, technological and cultural powerhouse; they held and still hold prideful grudges against us but they are still one of our closest allies and the very idea of our two nations breaking ties is unthinkable on both sides." Duskcrown frowned in thought at that.

"You have certainly peaked my curiosity about this brutal war of yours..." She begun at that. "Perhaps it is a human trait to appreciate magnanimity because I have never met any alien who would become, how much remain an ally after such a war. Hatred festers in societies for far longer than one may expect."

"You misunderstand the reasoning behind the policy; they certainly hated us for decades after the war. We were under no illusion that they hated us when we first gave them the reconstruction aid and we knew that they would still be hating us for decades to come but that was of little concern. What was the goal of the reconstruction aid was to make ourselves indispensable to them and to strengthen them so they could become an asset to use against our common enemies. We indebted them to us with the reconstruction aid and then we tied them to our sphere of influence through trade and technological agreements; they were still a fully independent nation but for all intents and purposes they had come to understand that they were far better off being our friends and allies than trying to go at it alone and perhaps face us in war again."

"Interesting, you give your kind far too little credit in your political skills if you managed to pull off such a diplomatic act..." She said while nodding in understanding but something in her expression made him uneasy as she continued her train of thought. "We Loroi have certainly helped our allies in such a way but I am fairly certain that you know how we treat our enemies."

"I do..." She smiled crookedly at that, her expression sending shivers down his spine.

"Good, what do you think of the Mannadi and Tithric affairs then?"

"Nasty business the both of them..." He begun but it was obvious that she wouldn't be satisfied by that. "The Mannadi, I think that the way you treated them was wrong; they are aliens for whom I have little to no knowledge about but from what I know I believe that the sad events that followed would have been avoided if the Loroi had treated them like we treated the Japanese. Not as a vanquished foe to be held down but as a potential ally to be cultivated and propped up."

"A reasonable reply considering your history... But what about the Tithric?"

"The Tithric, I think that it was a sad affair; unable or unwilling to understand what was really going on around them." Duskcrown didn't seem happy about that.

"So you believe that we were at fault then?"

"I... believe that I would be a hypocrite if I thought like that about them." He said at that and for a moment he thought he caught her by surprise.

"How so?"

"Humans have a strong disdain towards genocide; not because we find it incomprehensible but because we know that we are more than capable to commit one and we have been committing genocides against each other for most of our history. It pains me to admit it but I haven't read anything about the Mannadi, the Tithric and even how the Shells treated you and your allies that humans haven't done to each other. It would be hypocritical to denounce you for the act of genocide because of this fact but it would also be hypocritical because frankly I may have been tempted to do the same. A so called neutral state allowing your enemies to attack you while your Farseers sensed the dwindling populations of the occupied territories? I would be beyond furious, I would have seen the first attack through Tithric territory as an act of war, one either enforces their neutrality with all means at their disposal or they are complicit. I would have taken all steps necessary to protect my people as soon as I would have learned of such a development, I wouldn't have warned or attempted mediation. Neutrality that is not enforced isn't neutrality and the Tithric had picked a side by just being passive to the military use of their territory by a combatant." Duskcrown just smiled at that.

"So you believe that we were in the right in that affair?"

"I don't... I don't even want to imagine having to give any kind of order under such circumstances." He replied at that and Duskcrown just nodded in understanding.

"The weights of command are heavy, cursed and unalienable. It's good that you understand this basic truth." She said as she casually lit an other one of her cigars. "Fools try to dictate actions from the safety of hindsight but they never even try to contemplate how they would act if they were taking part in what they are bemoaning."

"An other human saying goes that 'opinions are like assholes, everybody has one.'" He commented at that and Duskcrown burst out in laughter once more at that.

My fan fics:

Looking forward to the mirror (Delayed editing)
Reforged (Irregular updates)
The Pale Horse (Completed, could use some editing)

Last edited by dragoongfa on Mon Sep 10, 2018 1:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Sun Sep 09, 2018 12:07 pm

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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)


Meanwhile, Beryl had about the best and worst time of her life, all rolled into one.

As per her promise, she and Fireblade filed the necessary documents, only to be put "in consideration", since, technically, both were too young to fill such an auspicious role.

'Can you name anyone else having the same experience with dealing with a male for an extended period of time, save other caretakers, let alone dealing with Enzin?', Beryl tried to reason, but to no avail.

'That's the only reason why your applications - both of you - aren't outright denied just right now. Everything beyond that is up to deliberation.'

Seeing no recourse, Beryl left, silently fuming.

'See it this way', Fireblade sent to the ticked off Listel, 'if we're deemed ineligible, Brightshield would have even less chances to succeed.'

'True that. For Enzin's sake I have to be cordial around her, but she and I won't be best buddies anytime soon. What did the mean with up to deliberation, anyways? If it's a matter of age, we'd be in or out?'

Fireblade shrugged. 'Perhaps Duskcrown or Stillstorm could allow for an exception. I don't know.'

'Duskcrown. It's so frustrating that Enzin is out of range. I got ... used to know what he feels and the state he's in, now I'm lost, and I fear what she does to him. Just before Stillstorm's promotion she said she still had doubts about him, but she trusted him enough to allow him near our Farseer. And now he's ... alone with her.', Beryl elaborated, her thoughts drifting to the minor detail that Duskcrown requested for an encounter with optional mating.

'Beryl...!', Fireblade stopped her ramblings with a slightly more forceful sanzai of her own, 'You worry too much. I have it on good authority that Duskcrown prefers her males to be on the more masculine side. Enzin would surely be too large and too muscular for her tastes. And, mind you, she's more of a traditionalist than Stillstorm had ever been. No way she would be interested like that in an alien.'

'Yes, but...', Beryl tried to object.

'I'm sure Duskcrown added that optional part to underline Enzin's need for caretakers. Earlier he did tell me that he decided to stay away from Torrai, because that would definitely cross his line of 'mixing private and professional', he said. But can you honestly believe him denying Duskcrown if she chose to insist on this? I can imagine easier forms of suicide.'

'True. And... we may have to disabuse him of that notion. Summarily denying members of a whole caste would be wrong. It would be as wrong as denying all Teidar, just because they're powerful telepaths and telekinetics.'

Fireblade shook her head. 'They feared we could hurt their charges, and we...'

'Tempest's tits!', Beryl interrupted vehemently, 'They never even gave you the chance to prove that you could control yourself. Piss, a strap with an electrostun device on your arm might have worked too, to knock you out if you would get overzealous. And ... I've seen you and Enzin, right during the Lotai crisis. You both were badly hurt, and you have proven that even an Unsheathed can have a healing hand.'

Fireblade was taken aback. It's rare for the mild-mannered and cheerful Listel Tozet to swear.

''re right. We might have to convince him that accepting a Torrai or a Mizol to his bed does not need to pull him into the quagmire of politics or conflicting loyalties.'

'Still, he's with Duskcrown right now. I'm sure politics are heavily involved in that. If we get to be his caretakers... we will have to seriously screen his applicants. Most of them won't see his concerns right away - for us Loroi a male is just a 'done and gone' thing, we meet, have a good time, and go our separate lifes again. Not so with Enzin. He honestly tries to stay in contact with the women he mated with - even loose acquaintances like Talon or Sandraker. It would be in our duty to warn the hopefuls that they might get much more than they bargained for.'

Beryl could feel Fireblade mulling some thoughts in her head. After that episode with Ellen Kirkland's tablet, or the contents on it, Fireblade almost demanded that Beryl copied her her knowledge of the English language, dictionary and script, and she took to reading these books like a fish to water.

Who would have thought that side from Fireblade... the things you learn about the people you serve with... though her choice in reading might leave a bit to be desired.

'I have no idea if this is just Enzin or if it's a general trait of his people. Enzin did say that these novels Kirkland had were ... exaggerated ... but often enough they depict males with the same attitude as Loroi females - not spending much thought on the females they mate with after the deed is done. And some of the books depicted females who sell themselves for encounters - both on their own volition or coerced into this.'

Beryl blinked. Females selling themselves? This is too outlandish. But that would mean that while human males don't die from the Flames, they do experience serious discomfort, enough to actually pay for this? Enzin, why didn't you tell us?

'This sounds much like a hopper-brained idea Tempo had, back on the shuttle. When we discussed about how humans may help the war effort, she had the thought of keeping a number of human males on the ship for morale support. She never voiced it, but the thought was there, and I happened to pick it up.'

'That... Mizol!', Fireblade burst out.

'She learned her lesson. So... what do you think? If we get to be Enzin's caretakers, should we expect an application from Tempo, first thing?', Beryl tried to soothe the somewhat riled up Teidar.

'She's in deeply for Enzin, that's a given. Perhaps this is one best left to decide for himself. She's still feeling very much remorseful, perhaps it would do them both some good... But from what you told me, I think our Farseer could be even quicker than Tempo.'

'True. Though, for her we might need to refer to Stillstorm. Safety of the ship, and important asset in this war and all that. Though possibly she might see it beneficial if they actually mate...', Beryl sent.

'Good point. Brightshield, if she wants to go for an encore?', Fireblade sent with a hint of amusement.

'Tempest's wrath, NO!'

More seriously, Fireblade tacked on the question. 'On what reason could we deny her? After all, it must be beyond doubt that it's not out of personal animosity.'

'We could give her Enzin's line. She's his liaison, and once she satisfied her curiosity, he would rather keep it strictly professional, without further ... entanglement. My turn... Ashrain?'

'Ashrain? Are you serious?'

'Well... I happened to be there at one of the briefings where Ashrain and Moonglow were present via holo. And rumours have it that they met up with Enzin on Nezel Station once Brightshield let him loose again. Anyway, it seems they do have some sort of bet running between them, and the way they kept coming back to a certain video doesn't leave much room for interpretation, right?'

'Point. Oh, that's a difficult one. And you're right, we might have to have a serious talk with Enzin about his 'No Torrai' rule...'


Stillstorm would never admit it to anyone - after all, commanding officers have to exude an air of confidence - but if anyone had watched her closely, she would have noticed Stillstorm's eyes repeatedly wandering to the clock.

Five thousand solons since Captain Jardin left to his 'dinner date' with Duskcrown. That so far there hadn't been an order to have his possessions and the artifacts seized, his cabin sealed and several Loroi arrested could be a good thing.

'Dinner date'. That was the expression he used. Tozet Beryl told me that interactions between genders seem to be so much more complicated and varied with humans. We meet, we mate, we separate, and sometimes we do remember the time we had. Easy, straightforward. To interact with a male for a prolonged period of time - that's something almost exclusive to the caretakers.

Yet, Captain Jardin said that what this encounter application said would fit the description of this 'Dinner date'. A social occasion between male and female, in a high-class or luxurious setting, where the consumption of food is sort of secondary to simply enjoying each other's presence and conversation, and where mating would be possible, if both agree on, but not expected to be mandatory.

I have to hope that since Captain Jardin or his people seem to be familiar enough with this setting that they have a dedicated expression for it, that he and Duskcrown could get along and hopefully not start a war between his people and us.

Though... Duskcrown is crude, and crass. Captain Jardin is sometimes rather outspoken, too, but he
does have a sense telling him when a tactful approach is warranted.

But on the other hand, some of the Captain's more colourful examples of his grasp of Trade do sound very much to Duskcrown's taste...

No idea what I should fear more: Captain Jardin ticking off Duskcrown, or Captain Jardin actually
teaching her an even ruder language.


When people think of running an Empire or even running its military, they rarely think of the paperwork involved.

Requests for material and troops. Deployment. Cargo manifests. Mission briefings. Mission debriefings. The list itself goes on and on.

Sorimi Jade, recently transferred onto the Tempest was a dutiful adjutant. Sign request, pass, deny, file away, forward, route to superior. It's not the most glamorous task for a Torrai, and more often enough a downgrade of influence and responsibilities when they freshly transfer from their originating caste, but it's the task that keeps the gears turning.

Jade opened the next document, and halted in her tracks.

Huh... An application to be a caretaker? For this alien? But I thought...

Reading more closely she saw that the charge's name was indeed listed as 'Alexander Jardin', and the name of the prospective caretaker was already pre-filled - as well as the digital signature denoting the grant of the application. What was missing was...

My own digital signature? Why should I be... And who decided this?

That question was quickly answered by looking at the attached note. And the signature. It came from the computer of none other than Duskcrown herself.

Shaking her head she tried to remember what she could about this alien. She recalled having seen him in passing. Cute, she would admit, though his size and his pink skin is a bit unsettling... but not overly much.

But why would Duskcrown want me to be his caretaker?

Mon Sep 10, 2018 3:21 am
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)

"Moio Sagit Captain! 'Opinions are like assholes!'" Duskcrown managed to say as she laughed. "'Everybody has got one!' I wish I would have said that at my last meeting with the Emperor!"

"It's a saying that applies itself on many situations." Alex said as she managed to control her laughter.

"You say that but I am certain that you have no idea Captain..." She said with a smile before leaning back on her chair. "Speaking of opinions, I have come to read your analysis and suggestions while you were in Stillstorm's staff. A straightforward and accurate analysis as it turned out but I am curious to ask what you would do if you were the one commanding the enemy operation."

"All out attack on Nezel regardless of the position and status of the sector fleet, punch as many ships through as possible even if that meant bypassing defensive infrastructure. The breakthrough forces would then scorch everything and everyone that doesn't unconditionally surrender, no mercy, no quarter and no consideration for later potential use. Demoralize the enemy by laying as many worlds as possible to waste as a warning that any further resistance will mean death. This would cripple both the defensive industry and the political unity of the Union since the worlds that would be destroyed would be of the Neridi." Alex replied after thinking about it a little.

"That's what I would do..." Duskcrown admitted. "And the Shells are aggressive and ruthless enough to do it but they didn't follow through with such a plan. Can you guess as to why?"

"I don't really know, my best guess is that they intend to fully exploit the populace, infrastructure and resources in Union territory. The world must have been prohibitively expensive for them and they may need to have something to show for it other than irradiated wastelands of worlds that would require centuries to be of use."

"A reasonable assumption, we know that the Hierarchy has internal tension of its own. The Shells may be harsh and efficient taskmasters that don't concern themselves with the well being of their subjugated races but there is only so much that their slaves can tolerate before rising up even against seemingly impossible odds, offering them a part of the spoils of war could alleviate their protests and stabilize their Empire after such a lengthy and expensive war; the masters would of course take most of everything but a few concessions here and there should be enough for keeping their slaves at bay while they strengthen their chains and locks." Duskcrown commented and paused for a moment to smoke her cigar before continuing. "I am also interested in your opinion about our side, what you believe to be our strengths and failings in general."

"That's..." Alex paused at that and thought things through before continuing. "I will be honest Tazites, that's a simple question with a complex answer you may not like at all."

"I am someone who often gave others answers they didn't like at all Captain, I know of my blunt and over exaggerating tendencies." She said bluntly at that.

"A friend of mine once joked about me by saying that 'annoying superior officers is what gives me life..." Alex replied, causing Duskcrown to laugh again at that.

"Human males do have a sense of humor after all!" She said as she drowned out her laughter. "I have plenty of officers who are like that, I am even in the habit of promoting those who are annoyingly good."

"That's good to know... In such a case allow me to begin with the Union's failings in the war. By far the greatest failure is the fact that you were unprepared for it. Unaware of the enemy's preparations, their strength as a state, their war doctrines and their disposition towards you. The Union failed in knowing its enemy and with failure would have cost you the war if not for Loroi tenacity." Alex begun, Duskcrown actually paying close attention at that.

"Indeed, although the Mizol caste was advocating for an information gathering campaign since our first contact with the Hierarchy."

"This makes this failing even worse, if the Union didn't pursue gathering information because of warrior pride then your worst enemy is simple folly but if it didn't do so because of internal caste politics then your worst enemy is your own command structure." Alex replied. "Resources and personnel should have been invested into researching and monitoring any and all newly discovered alien states. To evaluate their threat, gauge their potential are enemies or partners and lay the groundwork for future external policy making."

"That's more or less what the Mizol have been pushing for all our neighbors..." Duskcrown said at that.

"I am guessing that the other castes objected to everything that the Mizol suggested out of principle alone." Alex commented.

"Indeed, although that is not only tied with the Mizol caste." She admitted.

"And that's your second greatest failing; I have come to the conclusion that you Loroi are not truly united. At first I thought that your way of doing things was simply complicated and would get some getting used to but the more I learn about you the more I have come to believe that you are all still wary of one an other, diverting precious time and resources in internal politicking rather than focusing all your efforts in the enemy just because of the different colors of your armor and the different ways they represent." Alex continued.

"Captain... I expected more from you than a variation of the usual anti-caste tripe we Loroi have been hearing from aliens ever since we managed interstellar flight. We have even beat the fools who really believed that our caste divisions made us weak enough for them to beat us." Duskscrown said dryly at that.

"I don't doubt that the caste system has been beneficial for you in the past and that your society has been so acclimated in operating under it that changing your ways would cause widespread societal upheaval but this doesn't change the fact that the system does not serve you as well as you think it does. I don't mean this as flattery but you Loroi are a warrior ideal with your fast, precise and uninterceptable communications over distance; your ability to detect your enemies over great distances and even your ability to wrest information directly from the minds of your enemies. Even your inherent truthfulness in communications since it ensures that a commander always gets a clear picture of the battlefield. It all comes natural to you while we humans can barely imitate all this with the use of technology and that only after extensive training; you Loroi grasp the command, control, communication and information aspects of warfare as naturally as breathing and yet I can not help but wonder: Why do you have trouble with this war?" Alex replied.

"A nice mix of flattery and criticism captain, you are a better diplomat than what you have given yourself credit for..." Duskcrown begun. "Many of us are aware of our failings but still, the problem is primarily a matter of internal politics coming in the way of proper planning, I imagine that all races have such issues."

"Of course, we humans have far more than I care to elaborate on but the issues the Union exhibits surpass the scope of mere politics as we humans define them. By denying the Mizol the mandate to fulfill their purpose the Union crippled itself on the strategic level, forcing you to be on the strategic defense instead of pursuing a position of strategic advantage. Worst of all these political games of yours hinder your war effort on even the tactical level." Alex insisted, drawing an annoyed frown from Duskcrown.

"My memory is good enough to remember that you were present when I promoted Stillstorm, a well known political enemy of the current Emperor." She said at that.

"It's not just the issue of delaying and hindering the promotions of capable officers that are considered troublesome by the government. No, I have come to realize that caste politics hinder the war effort itself."

"That's a bold statement to make captain..." Duskcrown said dryly as she eyed him intently. "I hope that you have something tangible to back it up with."

"The fact that you have been using starfighters and carriers is your war doctrine is proof enough. Every spacer knows that maneuverability in space is all down to the 'mass to thrust' ratios of a given ship. Fighters may be more agile and maneuverable from lumbering battleships, able to dance around them at will but against frigates and destroyers? One could just throw them away for all the good they would do against a proper screening force of light combatants. The concept behind their use was for them to be used aggressively as stand off weapon platforms in your previous wars, your enemies then undoubtedly put as best a fight as they could but if they didn't know how to counter starfighters then it wouldn't matter who they would be facing, they would have fallen regardless. Now you are facing a determined and capable enemy and the starfighters have shown their limitations to the point of them now being relegated to glorified point defense turrets." Duskcrown nodded in understanding and just smiled at that.

"I wonder if you told this to the Tenoin you have copulated with..."

"I am not stupid enough to do that." Alex replied before continuing. "I have read the reports and we all know the horrid attrition rate for starfighter pilots in this war. Talon and Spiral are the last two survivors of their batch of replacement pilots and they are both young for your standards. The pilots tasked with protecting the Gora Relay fared even worse, their counter charge at the first Shell assault on the station blunted the attack but not one of them escaped from the gimlets and plasma point defense weapons. All of them brave warriors who died in the line of duty to the last. I am certain that the resources and lives spent on those fighters could have been better invested in something better." Alex replied.

"Let me guess, something like the Shell gunboats?" Duskcrown asked.

"I have already told Stillstorm that the Shells don't know how to use the gunboats they bring into battle; their doctrine of use is too limited and doesn't allow for the flexibility necessary to properly field them. Gunboats should have the speed and endurance to be an agile and stable threat during a battle as well as the firepower to punish careless opponents. The Shells use them as mere distraction when they can be used like a dagger aimed at a weak spot." Duskcrown frowned in thought at that for several moments before picking up her tablet and punched in a few commands.

"Using gunboats instead of fighters isn't a new proposal but aggressively and creatively, that's not something I have heard often." She said as the hologram of a small warship suddenly appeared over the crossfire table between them. "What do you think of this?"

My fan fics:

Looking forward to the mirror (Delayed editing)
Reforged (Irregular updates)
The Pale Horse (Completed, could use some editing)

Thu Sep 13, 2018 1:34 pm
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)

"It certainly doesn't look like a Loroi design." Alex commented as he took the image in, it reminded him a lot of certain old sci-fi designs that were shown in some of the more theoretical of his academy classes that tried to predict how warships would end up evolving into the future. The main body of the ship was dominated by its singular engine and the four wing like pylons that extended from it and ended up in what looked like two way thrusters. If he recognized the weapons correctly it came a equipped with 4 forward firing medium particle blasters and had four point defense laser turrets with three barrels each; it also looked like it came with external mounts for missiles and torpedoes on its 'wings' and the hull itself. It didn't have the prong like prow that most Loroi warships he had seen had.

"That's the 'Avenger' class gunboat whose prototype actually passed all of the requirement for when the fleet looked into adopting a gunboat design for close point defense and gunboat hunting duties. It was a Neridi design and by all accounts it easily outclassed a blaze class frigate in terms of firepower, speed and protection during its trials and arguably beat destroyer class warships in terms of cost effectiveness in point defense duties." Duskcrown explained.

"What kind of acceleration and screens does it have?"

"It has an acceleration rating of 38G and class II screens as well as an ECM rating similar to the Warhammer class destroyers." Duskcrown replied.

"Why wasn't it adopted? It practically is a pocket destroyer with the agility of starfighters!" Alex said without thinking.

"It wasn't adopted for several reasons, most of them political. As a Neridi design it was seen in disdain by the well established military industrialists in the procurement department who favored the Loroi designed fighter craft and the Warhammer class destroyers, the Tenoin caste had panicked that they would lose their reason for being and several high ranking Torrai voiced concern of towing gunboats into fights like the Shells do." Alex couldn't help but groan at that. "The test crews also hated the cramped interior and the severe lack of amenities but those concerns weren't mentioned in the reports."

"Warships are meant for killing the enemy not making the crew comfortable!" He said without thinking.

"Haven't you enjoyed our baths Captain?" She teased him at that but he just ignored her.

"And how expensive was to procure?"

"Fairly inexpensive, it was designed with systems and weapons already in widespread use and since it doesn't have a jump drive its production costs were at a minimum. The official reason for the gunboat concept not being adopted was the reasonable assumption that it couldn't contend with the swarming numbers of Shell gunboats." Duskcrown replied.

"A superior design with greater speed, firepower and range..." Alex said dejectedly at that. "And the Tenoin complained for it despite the fact that it was tailor designed for them?"

"With a crew complement of 40 it would fall to the purview of the Soroin caste to command." Duskcrown replied.

"Such a ship class would require daring commanders who would be flying them as fighters and strike craft!" Alex replied. "This is exactly what I would require from a gunboat, a fast, inexpensive and well armed weapons platform to screen the fleet, harass the enemy battle formations and destroy vulnerable ships with a concentrated barrage of particle beams and torpedoes. The Shells don't know how to use gunboats but fighter pilots like the Tenoin I have met? They already know how to use them properly, they just have to get their hands on them and let loose on the enemy!"

"The Tenoin I had talked to in the past didn't agree." Duskcrown said dryly.

"Of course, pilots want to be the sole command voice of their birds and you just said that crewed warships fall to the purview of the Soroin. They knew that they wouldn't be allowed to be as aggressive as they would like with someone above them giving orders but a fast gunboat such as this requires daring commanders ready and able to make snap decisions on the spot." Alex replied. "If such a warship is to be of proper use then the Tenoin have to be the ones driving it as they see fit."

"Treating a warship like a starfighter in terms of tactics and aggression; I understand your point." Duskcrown commented after thinking about it. "I had a couple of officers mail me similar proposals in the past but they were trying to promote themselves as much as the gunboat concept in their messages."

"I doubt that anyone would go far in such a politicized command structure as yours without looking out for themselves and making themselves look good to their superiors." Alex said at that.

"True... Lets say that we Loroi adopt the 'Avenger' class of gunboats and give them to the Tenoin caste to do as they see fit; what use would the gunboats offer in the situation the Tinza sector as a whole is in?"

"In sufficient numbers? Buy time with ambushes and hit and run actions until reinforcements arrive from the other sectors. I don't think that the forces currently at Nezel can stop a determined assault once the enemy regroups and reorganizes after undergoing field repairs. We should still have a week until the Shells would be in a position to continue their offensive, more if they elect to attack Azimol to fully secure their rear before attacking Nezel." Duskcrown raised her eye brows in amusement at that.

"An extra week captain? From my experience the Shells could be launching their attack tomorrow or the day after it; depending on how many ships they would cannibalize after declaring them unfit for further combat."

"Four or Five days? After such and extensive battle that depleted their fuel, ordinance and with such widespread damage on their ships?" Alex asked in disbelief.

"The Shells are like that, toiling till exhaustion for their cause; taking a small nap and then continuing from where they left off until their task is done. Time and time again they have surprised us with how quickly their forces can return to full combat status even without the use of dock facilities." Duskcrown explained. "Thankfully the docks at Nezel have managed to render most of the fleet combat ready already and should have the rest finished by tomorrow morning."

"Four to Five days..." Alex muttered at that as if he hadn't heard her.

"Maybe three if we are unlucky." She teased him at that. "Although we seem to have gained a lucky charm lately as far as the rank and file is concerned."

"That's what I needed in my life, to be considered a lucky charm..." He commented at that before turning his attention to the bigger picture. "What is the plan from here on out?"

"We will make our stand at Nezel, to either repel or delay the enemy. We have already significantly hindered their plans but we are still at a strategic disadvantage. News of the offensive have certainly reached the Emperor and the fleet headquarter at the Seren and Maiad sectors as well as the mobile Tellai Reserve but the bulk of their fleets will take at least 30 days to begin arriving in numbers sufficient to counter this offensive." Duskcrown replied. "This of course if the fleets aren't tied down in their own sectors repelling Shell assaults there."

"I see, with the current forces available our best case scenario we will be able to repel the initial assault and hold the Shells at bay for a few days before their follow up forces arrive." Alex thought out loud, drawing a nod of agreement from Duskcrown.

"Indeed, I am under no illusion that Nezel will be held for long. We may be able to beat back the 20 divisions at Enedd but we will not be unscathed and their follow up exploitation forces will be fresh and well supplied, probably geared for a take and hold mission. I have already ordered the evacuation of critical personnel and equipment from the docks and the planet, I also gave orders for the Neridi on Nezel to declare their world as undefended and to surrender when we abandon the system, for all the good it will do for them." Duskcrown said, her expression making it clear that she didn't like that.

"The Shells will certainly see the evacuation when they arrive..." Alex thought out loud. "Do you have perhaps have a misinformation campaign underway to fool the enemy?"

"Misinformation campaign?"

"To misdirect the enemy of your intentions and abilities. Messages in regular traffic that hint for impending reinforcements, false fleet movement orders, false orders for the shipping of materials and personnel to a 'ghost fleet' that was being marshaled in the interior for an 'offensive operation' that was put on hold for the duration of this enemy offensive." Alex explained. "All this in order to give the enemy a false image of the forces and assets that are available to the sector."

"No, nothing like that. Some of the more creative Mizol caste agents have been sending the enemy false intelligence through known Hierarchy sympathizers and fake 'anti Union agents' but nothing like what you describe; generally speaking our doctrine has been to maintain communication discipline when enemy contact is expected to maintain critical information from leaking out even from innocuous transmissions."

"Then the enemy will not be expecting receiving false intelligence from open channels when they jump in." Alex commented.

"What they will be expecting is for us to keep our mouths shut and communicate only when necessary, they are not stupid enough to realize that something is off when our warriors will suddenly start broadcasting critical information for them to intercept." Duskcrown cut in.

"True... being good and discipline warriors would make such a deception hard to believe but... what about civilians? Nezel hold major naval facilities but there is plenty of civilian shipping in system, more so now with your evacuation orders. Do your civilians regularly maintain such discipline?"

"No, not really but they know that they have to obey orders in emergencies such as this." Duskcrown replied.

"Here is what I propose then, have the fleet's Mizol agents come up with fake civilian message traffic; regular looking messages expected to be sent back and forth in a system but hide fake information in this system. Civilians complaining about their freighters being commandeered to ship cargo, rumors about fleet movements, that sort of thing. Not openly broadcasting critical information but plenty of bits and pieces out in the open that will create a false picture to whoever tries to tie them all together; even better if the picture they will be getting through that false intelligence holds some collaborating points with intelligence the enemy is bound to know." Alex explained, making Duskcrown frown in thought.

"Shadow once told me that the best intelligence the Mizol secure comes from intercepted innocuous communications, civilians and regular crew letting out minor tidbits of information without even realizing it. I will talk with Shadow about this and see if she believes that it can be done in the time we have available."

"If you go with it make sure that the false picture is complete and that it is within the realm of possibility for Loroi abilities." Alex added. "The best lies always come with a backbone of truth."

"Shadow would agree with that..." Duskcrown said while nodding. "You have certainly given me a few things to think about about on how to make life harder for the Shells and I appreciate that Captain. Is there anything you would like from the Union? Other than the issue pertaining to your caretakers that is."

"I don't have anything in mind at the moment..." He replied as he thought about it. "You are probably aware of my request for the Union to send a ship to the relay vessel and I am certain that it is a priority for the Union to come in proper contact with my government after everything that has happened."

"Indeed, that was in Stillstorm's report about you but an expedition 10 jumps beyond Naam is not something that we can afford right now."

"Of course but other than that there isn't anything I can..." He caught himself in mid sentence as he remembered something that had bothered him when he skimmed through the Deinar files with Beryl. "Now that I think about it there are a couple of things that I found odd in the Deinar files. One was the obviously falsified research data about a possible Human-Loroi hybrid."

"That shocked both me and Shadow when I run across it but as you said the research data is falsified, there was no reason written as to why it was included in the files but perhaps such a reason will be with the copy I requested from the Imperial cabinet. Shadow theorized that the data was included as a test of character for the warriors that would come in contact with a human, to see if they would become so dangerously infatuated with a human male that they would pursue on what the data alluded to."

"The other was the distinct lack of information about the final days of 'Natan' as he was known. I know that he lived well into old age, far longer than the expected lifespan of the era in which he was born as a matter of fact but there is little to no information about his health in the later stages of his life when I know for a fact that there should be, considering the multitude of health issues that arise in old age for humans. Do you have any reason as to why such information was redacted?"

My fan fics:

Looking forward to the mirror (Delayed editing)
Reforged (Irregular updates)
The Pale Horse (Completed, could use some editing)

Sun Sep 16, 2018 12:39 pm
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
"That's a valid question, Captain. The answer lies in our history. Have you heard of the Neridi succession war?" she asked him over folded hands.

"That was a Loroi civil war, wasn't it?" he said before making his last move.

"Yes, it started in 1336, eighteen years after Natans arrival. Emperor Nerosi had split imperial power between several provincial governors and in 1318 the conflicts that caused already expressed themselfes in inter-caste strife and powergames amongst the governors. Natan came into contact with a group of mid-level Mizol stationed on Deinar, who recognized the value of this asset. In the upcoming turmoil they somehow found themselfes on the winning side of Emperor Lazesi Neie. As her hold on the throne remained tenuous for decades until she finished her reforms, Natans involvment was hidden and never committed to writing." she said and made her moves in one fluid motion, waiting on him again.

"Then how come we have the Deinar files now?" Alex said in the direction of the gameboard which he studied.

"The files aren't as old as you think. They were written early in the 17th century when imperial power was firmly restored. One of the Mizol that stood out in the Natan matter was getting very old and the rest of the Loroi involved were less than a century behind. So with no contact to humanity in sight their memories were aggregated and put into a written report as not to lose them. It might be that Natans health issues in old age were judged too sensitive to be put in electronic form or the Doranzer taking care of him had already died. You'd need the full files to be certain."

"I see. That makes sense. I had no idea Natan took part in a civil war. When do you expect the files to arrive?"

"Risky move, Captain." she commented. "The files should arrive in one or two weeks. Maybe sooner if they were converted to digital and passed along couriers. Maybe never if they were lost with the Loimollei or the fall of Seren."

"The Loimollei?"

"Flagship of Emperor Lazesi Neie, lost in 1834. If the files are lost..." something made her halt mid sentence and mid move. Mild annoyance danced on her face. "Captain, we need to cut this game short. I am needed elsewhere."

Alex rose with Duskcrown. He experienced a moment of desorientation as his inner clock had to restart. He had no idea how much time had passed. Nevertheless he did remember his manners, a courtesy imprinted upon any member of the scout mission.
"Of course, Tazites. I thank you for entertaining me for so long."

"My pleasure, Captain. You have left quite a good impression of mankind on me. I am looking forward to our rematch." she said broadly smiling.

On the way to her office door, Alexs curiousity made him stop again. "Tazites, you wanted to say something about if the Deinar files are lost." he remined her.

"Oh yes. The files might not be the only source of information about the first contact. The careers of the officers involved might yield something if you know about Natan."

"Might be. The only names I remember from the files are those of the Diral, all Soroin. That makes finding them not easy."

Alex saw Duskcrown retract her hand from the door control again. Then she seemed to deliberate something, playing with the fingers of her right with the hair on her shoulder. It didn't last long before she spoke again.

"True. Enzin, you're lucky that I have special sources. For sporting so well with me I'll break confidentiality a bit more. If you keep it internal to the Mizol caste."

"How could I say no to that?" said Alex.

"The Listel Tozet I told you about? Her name was Coral. The Mizol that got involved in the Neridi war and cleanup? Nelonial and Songbird."

She then pressed the door control and let him out of her office. Alex turned around, expecting to hear the Loroi version of goodbye. He was suddenly accutely aware that he had no idea how Loroi bid their goodbyes in Trade. Laughter and a torpedo didn't seem proper here. The problem solved itself, as Duskcrown closed the door on him without any farewell.

Before she did, he heard her say something that made him nervously wonder. "When we rematch, I want to know what Sedels price turns out to be."

Sun Sep 16, 2018 4:00 pm

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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)


After all, it could have gone much worse... Alex thought while trying to backtrace his steps off the Green River.

He had to admit that he had an enjoyable evening with a Loroi, one that was obviously not intent on talking her way into his bed - or rather, him into hers - and, come to think of it, he wouldn't mind much repeating, given the occasion.

And, given the Loroi inherent truthfulness, he was reasonably sure that he could expect another invitation soon enough. Perhaps to continue the interrupted game.

Alex blinked. Lost in thoughts he must have missed a turn.

Frak, he cursed.

Looking around, he spotted a Loroi in uniform, but no armor - Paset, if my memory serves me right. Duskcrown's aide? I think I saw her when I came aboard. - but hestitated to ask for directions. She looked rather young, as far as he learned to discern a Loroi's age. Definitely around Beryl's or even Cloud's age, and seemingly having noticed Alex's lost look.

"You all right?", she asked him in a rather stilted manner.

Alex sighed. "Looks like I've lost my way to the boarding ramp. And no deck plan in sight..."

"Oh. This way. Then left." She directed, pointing in the direction where he came from.

"Thanks", Alex nodded, but noticed her curious looks. Were the looks curious in a wary sort of way when he arrived, if the Loroi spared him a glance, this Soroin seemed to be curious in a friendlier way.

" something the matter?", Alex probed.

"No... yes... Tazites Duskcrown is not ... easy, sometimes. But now she seems... more relaxed?"

I should keep in mind that almost the entire crew of the Tempest started to take language lessons in spoken Trade. I think it was Talon who told me that... No matter. Give that poor thing some leeway for having difficulties to express herself.

"I'd say so, yes. It was an enjoyable evening, even though we had to cut it short - something seemed to have come up that required her immediate attention."

"Oh. I see."

The Soroin looked as if she wanted to ask something else for a moment, but then she nodded tersely, gave him another short measuring look and headed off.

Phew, Alex breathed in relief, I was sure she was about to ask me whether we mated or not. Would there be any good answer to this question? Perhaps only the truthful one given how Loroi strongly discourage even white lies.

That brought another thought to his mind.

And I asked myself if there is one Loroi who wouldn't instantly want to bed me, given Duskcrown's call to task to train remote sending and receiving. Sure there is. Duskcrown herself. And maybe Stillstorm fits the bill, too - she made her proposals out of her idea of necessity. But... This is difficult. Keeping them at a distance, and I could only exchange thoughts with them on touching. Too close, and perhaps I'd bond them to me as I did with Beryl and Fireblade.

Not that he regretted the events that brought these two females into his life - bright and cheerful Beryl, as well as fiery and determined Fireblade - and they repeatedly told him that they have no regrets as well, it feels wrong to risk it on to another, perhaps even unfamiliar, Loroi.

Perhaps there is little choice in that matter. Pure Sand seems intent on latching herself on to me, and Tempo....

His thoughts turned to Duskcrown's last words. What her price would be, and what she actually did for him... or rather didn't do for his benefit, and he felt a wave of guilt welling up in him.

Beryl told me in no uncertain terms that she wishes to fight her own fights, and she has chosen to forgive Tempo what she did. Perhaps, in turn, it is me who has to ask for her apology. She lost her hair, and she feels having lost her honor because not only by her own actions, but by mine as well. Gods, she did put much of herself on the line for me and this is how I chose to thank her?

'Thank who?', Fireblade's sanzai interjected.

Startled, Alex regained his bearings and noticed that he indeed made his way out of the Green River, partway through Nezel Station's docks and aboard the Tempest, completely lost in thought, and more interestingly, not being harassed or held up by more curious Loroi. Fireblade is an impressive telepath in herself, so it's reasonable that she's in range now.

'Tempo. Duskcrown helped me put some things into perspective, and I think I do owe her an apology.', he tried sending back. Perhaps he was in her range, but she might not be in his...

'I might have picked up something wrong, did you mean Duskcrown helped you...?', Fireblade's thoughts came back, laced with a feeling of disbelieving surprise.

'Please, let me fully arrive - my cabin? Perhaps together with Beryl? I don't wish to have to explain it twice over.'

Amused flames danced in his thoughts. 'Your cabin. I told Beryl, she will be there shortly, too. And, by her words, she might have skinned you alive, had you dared to tell anyone else before she hears of this, male or not. I can't remember her having that much of a vicious streak...'

'Best not to keep her waiting, then.'

Alex felt Fireblade starting to divert her attention away from the sanzai when he tacked on another question.

'Uh... just curious. Is it really that unusual for Loroi of both genders to meet in person on a purely social occasion, something where mating is not required or even discouraged?'

He felt her being sort of startled by this non sequitur. 'Now that you made me think of it... it actually is. Many males do pick up something to pass their time and divert their thoughts - they become scientists, philosophers, artists and they can become quite famous being this. But still they tend to live a rather secluded life, shielded by their caretakers. They do not have to work for a living, since the state offers them a stipend to live a comfortable life... You feel some sort of displeasure with this arrangement?', Fireblade tacked on.

'Yes... No... I don't know. It is not my place to judge. For all I know, Loroi males might feel themselves comfortable with that, but it wouldn't work in general for us. Sure, there might be numerous men who'd want nothing beyond a lazy life with a string of beautiful women coming and going, but on the larger scale, we'd be too restless to stay idle for long. There's a saying that goes like "A gilded cage is still a cage". But, I was asking for a different reason.'

'Oh. Why, then?', Fireblade's sanzai was openly curious.

'The "Dinner date" with Duskcrown. On the way back I came across one of the Green River's crew, a Soroin Paset, I think - no matter. I am sure she was about to ask me whether we mated or not. I know you Loroi would expect a truthful answer to any question. But would it be dishonorable to her if I say that we didn't, especially since you confirmed that purely social occasions are rare between both genders amongst your people? It might sound like I'd have denied her.'

'You think too much. It is rare, but not completely unheard of. Perhaps the best answer would be that both of you agreed on not to mate... you should ask Tempo or Brightshield, putting uncomfortable truths into sugary words is their domain, after all.'

Alex smiled. 'True. But this was something where I preferred the unvarnished, straight-out, sucker-punch-in-the-guts truth. See you in a few.'

Fireblade tried her best to contain her mirth, but Alex was sure he felt her bursting out into laughter when she faded out of his mind.


Duskcrown frowned while she was browsing the reports. The evening had been quite enlightening for her - there is an alien, similar enough to a Loroi that she would instantly peg him as a male. Well, not quite her type, but still - and she spent a, let's admit it, enjoyable time with him. The males of her people all disdain this war, so much that they're almost Barsam-like in their attitude. And here there was some male who actually thought along the same lines she did.

Sure, there were marked differences in their outlooks. The idea of the biggest enemies becoming the staunchest of allies was definitely one completely new... and let's say it, alien to her. But she couldn't deny that his words did make sense in a strange way.

Still, she cannot see herself vouching for a rebuilding effort for the Tithric or the Mannadi anytime soon.

His people understand war. He said his mission was one of peace, one of reaching out to one of the combatants, but his personal choice fell unto the Loroi, because, he said, they... we... are that similar to the humans.

And, come to admit it, she had the creeping suspicion that humans may understand war even better than the Loroi do.

Sure, we raise our daughters in dirals, we teach them survival and tactics. Every one of us is prepared to defend the own words with the blade and the Union with their lives, if there is need to, but where are we now? One of the most promising warship designs is not of our make, and we didn't even go far enough thinking about its effective deployment. It does not just require a change of battle doctrine - something this alien almost instantly recognized - but a change in politics and society.

And his use of deception as a tool of war... it was an integral component of the success at the Gora Relay, and could actually shift the tides in the oncoming battles. No Loroi would ever think of this, and I am
sure Captain Jardin knows it.

It is almost scary how quickly he understood our shortcomings, and those of The Enemy, and came up with suitable ideas to overcome the former ones and exploit the latter ones. Giving Cerulean stimulants to make her distress call even more convincing, my hiney....

Her eyes went back to her Crossfire board, still displaying their interrupted game.

I can't imagine that he played this game for long - I'm pretty sure I played this game for even longer than he lived. The first two bouts he made a lot of beginner's mistakes, but he learned quickly. Though... even if his moves seemed somewhat chaotic, and sometimes rather haphazard - I'm pretty sure he could throw Shadow in a loop. She has a rather ordered approach to the game, and if she's unable to read him, the outcome could become quite interesting.

Is this his approach to war? Controlled chaos? Perhaps this is just what we need against The Enemy. As rigid as the Hierarchy is, they might not be able to adapt well to such a thing.

Is this something unique to Captain Jardin, or is it something that is a general trait of his people? Countrary to popular belief, we did
not completely exterminate the Tithric and the Mannadi, though it was a close call with the Tithric. I dearly hope that there would never, ever be the call to subjugate and quarantine humans on their own planet, because I'm sure they won't take it lying down. If Captain Jardin is any indication, they'd try to rise up, again and again, even against impossible odds, and only completely wiping out his species would ever be enough.

And that'd be a shame. They really need to learn to properly send to us, else it'd be always an uphill battle for them to garner a Loroi's trust and understanding.

Turning back to the Crossfire board she noticed that she'd still need to place down her intended actions and commence the turn. After having a closer look at the setup, her eyes widened in surprise.

You sneaky..., she thought in silent admiration.

He brought his missile boats in position to unleash a barrage on her battleships, fairly standard and easily countered by ordering said ships to hunker down for point defense. Pretty much a picture she had seen often enough in this war against The Enemy. What she did miss were the carriers coming rather close - and she commented on how risky this move was! - and now unleashing their wings of fighters, intent on swarming her battleship division.

With her point defenses focused on whittling down the missile barrage his fighters would have come into point-blank range, sneaking under her defense screen and would hammer on the weapon mounts of her battleships, leaving them defenseless.

We'd definitely need more people like him. More humans. More voices who could speak up against well-entrenched politics which start to hinder the war efforts. And more open-minded Loroi to actually try out new, promising ideas. Perhaps this Tenoin of his might be willing to spearhead a new movement inside her caste - she might be young enough to not to be too set in her mind, and she's definitely curious and adventurous enough, if mating with an alien would be an indication.

Having two immediate objectives in mind, she turned back to her computer console.

First, finding the best way to get an approval for a scouting/contact mission about ten jumps beyond Naam, through contested space and into the unknown. Though, simply crashing through the Shell's forces may alert them that we're searching for something, and they'd be not that stupid to not to connect the dots to the wreck we fought over at Naam.

Second, ask the Neridi if they already built prototypes of this new gunboat-class vessels or if there are some already slated for construction.

Another missive caught her attention, courtesy of Shadow.

Hmm... Looks like Tempest's Farseer gets quite attached to our resident human as well. Normally this could be reason enough for a reprimand, but ... these aren't normal circumstances. Perhaps I should advise Stillstorm to tacitly allow this attachment to form - if there's another tie that binds the humans, or this human, to us, all the better.

Wed Sep 19, 2018 12:56 am

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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)

On his way back to his cabin, Alex grudgingly had to admit that Duskcrown has a point.

Ever since he was able to, he rarely spoke to Fireblade and even Beryl but preferred to send, unless situation demanded that he has to speak, for example if someone else is around as well.

Loroi customs, he learned, have it that they stick to a mode of communication, unless all participants agreed to switch or the situation demanded a change. If someone starts with sending, it was expected to respond likewise, and on the other hand, if someone starts a conversation vocally, it was expected from the others to speak as well. Of course, that part was a sticking point with Teidar who usually don't speak out of principle.

Yet, when Alex enters a stateroom, for example, the Loroi engaged in sending would have to switch to speaking if they wish to include him in the talks as well, and especially since spoken words are sort of frowned upon in Loroi culture, it is usually considered a breach of etiquette.

This, in addition to the other advantages of sending. It can contain a whole subtext of emotions, additional explanations, pictures and impressions. What takes me one minute to explain vocally, I can convey in about fifteen seconds of sending, Fireblade might need five to ten, and Beryl might do that in two. She might not have the raw sending power of Fireblade or Tempo, but the bandwidth she's packing is amazing. And I still think she'd be slowing down for my sake, else perhaps my brain would go into shock because of information overload.

So yes, Duskcrown is right that I should learn remotely sending and receiving at-will, pronto. The advantages are just too many, and as it is a common courtesy to learn the language of the country if one is travelling abroad, it would be the same to learn the Loroi's preferred mode of communication if one is able to.

Same principle
, Alex admitted in his mind. But how should I go for it? Start trying to send to random Loroi and hope they pick it up? Perhaps Tempo might give me some clues...

Further thoughts were put on hold the moment he arrived at his cabin, only to find it not empty. Fireblade was already there, in full armor.

Perhaps her shift just ended or is about to start, Alex thought absentmindedly, just as the door opened again, admitting Beryl, clad in a white/black bodysuit.

'So... good news or bad news?', Alex prompted, only to be greeted by two Loroi looking askance.

Alex shrugged. 'Guess it's another habit that comes with vocal speech. What I mean is, what would you want to hear first, the good news or the bad news?'

'Since you're here and not, say, in a brig or on an examination table surrounded by strong telepaths, I think that counts as good news in themselves?', Fireblade countered.

'Tell me about it. I expected a Third Degree by Duskcrown, not a rather enjoyable evening. She has a rather salient mouth, though, and likes her luxury life, Stillstorm was spot on with it, but we talked about several things over some bouts of Crossfire... but for the record, you better not place any bets on me against her anytime soon.'

'You do know that Duskcrown may have played the game for maybe two centuries or more? Perhaps she used an advanced or master-level setup and ruleset on you rather than the entry to midlevel you chose to buy. These are far more complex and varied and more difficult to play', Beryl cut in.

'That's news to me. But, figures. There are variations of chess, too, but competitions are almost exclusively held on the standard 8 by 8 square with sixteen white and sixteen black pieces.'

'Don't fret on it. I'm sure no one expected to actually win against her in your first games, and in addition to a relaxing pastime, she certainly gauged your play style to discern your mindset as well. And, she might have been curious about playing against an opponent she cannot read in any way.' Fireblade added.

'No matter. Apart from that, she brought the matter of caretakers on to the table. It was a surprise to me to learn that there is an age requirement, and she was about to dismiss you two as too young and foist Wavecrest on to me.'

'Wavecrest?', Fireblade asked, flabbergasted. 'Gallen Ranzadi Wavecrest? Where you had to clean out the filters after your escapade in the baths with Talon? She would simply put her stamp of approval on anyone save the most unsuitable individuals just out of principle!'

'So that's what Duskcrown meant with her having a laid back attitude... Anyway, long story short, she agreed to grant you your applications, but...', he cut in the moment he felt their budding relief, '... first, on a trial base. Second, you would be accompanied by two more Loroi of her choosing - expect one to be Wavecrest, no idea about the other, and third, I paraphrase, If I choose to become a recluse and refuse mating with anyone besides my caretakers, she considers this setup to be failed. And that's her final, take-it-or-leave-it word on this.'

Both Loroi winced.

'And there's a second matter, that's even more difficult. She tasked me to actually learn sending and receiving to Loroi who are not ... as familiar to me as you two are. She said the next time we meet, she'd expect me to name one Loroi where I accomplished this, and despite her tone of voice, I am not sure she was in a joking mood.'

'At least you have proven that you don't always bond to the ones you mate. Even Stillstorm would see it now.', Beryl tried a bit at levity.

Fireblade cut in. 'I think I figured it out. With Talon and the others, it was just to satisfy their curiosity. With us... it was quite different. The time we did it, we already had a connection to each other, and the physical side was just an extension of this. Perhaps this allowed the connections to strengthen for the bonds our Farseer has seen to form?'

'This sounds plausible....', Alex hedged, '...maybe Tempo can add to this. And that reminds me, I should apologize to her as well. And thank her that she did not screw me over from here to Sunday during the Lotai crisis as it had been in her right to.'

'What? Why?', Beryl sent, startled.

'Duskcrown told me that the Mizol in charge - Tempo - could have invoked all sorts of emergency regulations to override even Stillstorm's authority to get the Tempest back into operation. If that includes putting me under or even killing me, it would have been within her rights to do so, and by all accounts, within her duty. Yet, she chose to let things play out as they did, at the cost of her personal honor. Duskcrown hinted to me that she might exact her own idea of compensation from me for this, and I do feel that I owe her that much.'

'As long as it's not too unreasonable...', Fireblade sent hestitantly as she started to remove her armor pieces, one by one.

'Uh...', Alex sent hestitantly, '...what are you doing? Scratch that, I see what you are doing, but...'

'The last few free shifts before a battle are the worst. Anxiety levels rise, and I receive the brunt of it. If there are times where your Lotai would help me most, these are them. And...', there she hestitated, '...I wouldn't say no to a reenactment of what we did at the Lotai crisis.'

Worse, Fireblade did send that openly, no way Beryl wouldn't have picked it up.

'Come now', she interjected jokingly, 'it isn't as if I haven't already seen everything there is to see here?'

Alex's warning glance didn't deter her. 'There's the saying that three's a crowd.'

'A human saying. Thing is ... we aren't human.' Beryl countered, her sanzai laced with a lewd undercurrent.

These females are going to be the death of me. Alex thought as Beryl reached for the controls to lock the door.


'But so far we still have only conjectures about the nature of the Enemy's Lotai, and we have at the moment three Loroi being able to detect foreign presences under a Lotai, be it The Enemy or Captain Jardin. Me, Soroin Paset Cloud, and our Farseer.' Tempo reported.

'Why Cloud?' Stillstorm asked.

'Before having our Farseer try something completely new, I needed to make sure that it would be safe, and that the basics could be conveyed to about everyone', Tempo smoothly responded.

And to give your own loyal aide the means to track down Captain Jardin, isn't that right? Stillstorm added in her mind.

'Anyway, if our assumptions turn out to be true, we might be dealing with a telepathic predator with still largely unknown capabilities. It could be that this Lotai might only be one of its capabilities, and we might be facing something else if ... when we choose to engage them.' Tempo pressed after a pause.

'So what do you propose?'

'A covert ops. The moment we track down the source of their Lotai, or one of their sources, to a single vessel, a small boarding party will be tasked to retrieve their device, or the alien, or to commandeer the vessel if extraction proves to be not possible, given the resources. If possible, the operation must be commenced early on, because the moment the battle turns against them, they may choose to self-destruct to protect their secret. Failing that, the target vessel has to be disabled early on and then protected against The Enemy scuttling it as soon as they realize they lost control.'

'Sounds plausible. Anything else?', Stillstorm sent in a neutral tone.

'Yes. It ... might be beneficial if Captain Jardin is part of the retrieval team.'

'I think I misread you. Do you really propose to send Captain Jardin on to a high-risk operation like this?'

'I can name two reasons right on the spot - his Lotai might be able to hide a small infiltration/extraction team on its approach and when they board which would add to the element of surprise, and second, he may be the one who comes to actually recognize what we're looking for. He reacted the strongest to the enemy Lotai, or its source, so it's reasonable to assume that he may find whatever we may overlook.'

'I will consider it. But only if Teidar Ragan Razorthorn deems his performance in the drills adequate, our Doranzer wouldn't be completely helpless if he comes back injured, and he agrees to the mission. If just one of these conditions is not met, this is off the table, am I clear?'

'Clear', Tempo agreed.

'Better you wait until tomorrow to state your case. I'm sure you already know that he went straight to his cabin after he returned from the Green River, and that he's not alone right now. If he's anything like our males he'd be more amenable to your proposal come next morning.'

'Convincing him might be the least of our worries', Tempo mused.


Whether Alex had feared or wished for all of them to engage in a threesome - sure, two beautiful women at the same time is purported to be the secret dream of many straight males, but come to think of it, the hassle involved usually makes it more trouble than it's worth - it turned out to be a moot point.

Sure, Beryl was right, she wouldn't have seen anything new to her, thanks to his sending, yet it gave her a rather useful idea.

The idea that he should practise keeping his thoughts in check when it's especially difficult. Like, when he is stressed.

Or, for this training session's sake, aroused. Beryl was quick to get Fireblade agree to her plan, and soon they started something Alex would describe as outright torture for the oncoming hours.

Again and again, Fireblade's ministrations got more and more heated, and the display of exposed blue skin more and more tantalizing, only for her to pull back after a sharp glance from Beryl, the signal that Alex started sending to her again. They took a minute or two to cool off, and then she'd come on to him, even stronger than before.

Some time later - Alex already lost the track of time, the two Loroi switched their roles, and Alex's wordless question was met with Beryl's answer, her sanzai laced with curiosity.

'We have to know if you would send to Fireblade when we're at it the same you would send to me.', she supplied, while closing in for a kiss.

Fireblade audibly clearing her throat might have been the confirmation that he started to send to her, and Beryl reluctantly pulled away from him.

'This is harder than it looks.' Beryl groused.

'Surely you're meaning having to stop on command and not a specific part of his anatomy?', Fireblade sent with a decidedly ribald undertone.

'Um... both?'

'Ladies, you're not making it any easier with comments like these....', Alex interjected.

'Remember, no sending. If you could make it through the night without your thoughts leaking, there's one special treat for you...', Beryl teased.

'Or two', Fireblade added.


A brief scan confirmed Tempo's suspicion that Alex is in his cabin - thank the Stars for her newly gained ability to pinpoint him - and that both Beryl and Fireblade were curiously absent from the mindscape at a whole... again.

Perhaps they do something else than what I think they're doing right now. Seriously, both at the same time? I'm not sure what to think after he claimed humans to be serial monogamist. He may not have outright lied, and there are exceptions, or we do have quite an effect on his set of morals. Or those two have...

Well, Stillstorm was right, perhaps she should wait until morning, and perhaps for a time to catch him alone. Inadvertently her imagination tried to come up with possible images of the activity she suspected Alex to be currently engaged with.

The beds are barely large enough to accomodate two, no idea how they would fit three persons, especially with one of Enzin's size.

She tried to shake the thoughts from her mind with a mixture of puzzlement and a slight pang of envy.

It could have been me too in his cabin, if things had gone differently. Slag that bet with Fireblade, I admit it, I miss him. And, there her thoughts turn to a quite selfish slant, Brightshield may amuse for a while, but Enzin definitely needs someone more lasting, and maybe more experienced, in addition to Beryl's youthful exuberance and Fireblade's vigor.

Fri Sep 28, 2018 9:05 pm
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
They are really going to be the death of me. Alex thought after waking up. He shook his head and stood up, all the while trying to forget the almost torturous training he was subjected to for half the night. I should have told them early that no good would come out of their plan, the two of them being so distracting and all that.

He yawned and looked at his datapad, his inbox flashing to highlight the messages he had received and his eyes immediately went to two of them. One from Bastobar Wavecrest and the other from Sorimi Jade, he skipped opening Wavecrest's message, guessing that the message would probably contain an inordinate amount of profanity amidst her demands for him to exclude her from the whole caretaker business, and just opened the Sorimi's message which just requested a meeting with him at his earliest possible convenience. Thankfully he had thought up a plan after Beryl and Fireblade left him to cool down and catch some sleep after blue balling him for so long.

"Let's get this over with..." He muttered as he replied with a simple 'please meet me in my cabin in 20 bimas to discuss the issue'. That should give him plenty of time to get himself dressed, fix the slight mess that was his cabin and iron out the kinks on the plan he had thought off while trying to sleep.

Jade arrived first and he had barely opened his door to greet her when Wavecrest came into view, seething with rage and undoubtedly ready to break into a long and colorful angry tirade but Jade's presence must have stopped her as she simply just glowered at him with murderous intent.

I guess having the ear of both the Soshret and the Tazites makes people behave around Jade. He thought as he silently bid both of them inside.

"I believe that we are all extremely busy and with no time to waste so lets get to the point." He begun the moment the door closed, both Loroi just turned and stared at him as he begun. "The Tazites was adamant on you two becoming my caretakers and there wasn't anything I could say or do to dissuade her from the matter; I know that both of you were extremely busy with your official duties already but I think that there is a way to turn this from an unwelcome burden to a boon for all of us." Both Loroi seemed to be taken by surprise at that and glanced at each other for a moment before turning they full attention back to him, Jade seemed curious and Wavecrest's anger seemed to have somewhat subsided.

"Sorimi Jade, correct me if I am wrong but I have come to the understanding that it is under the discretion of each caretaker to deny 'access' to a male for anyone interested?" He asked the adjutant as he gestured to the two Loroi to sit at the two chairs in front of his desk.

"It is but not arbitrarily, a valid reason must be given and those usually involve the safety, health or status of the male. A denied female has the right to lodge a complaint if she believes that she was unjustly denied her due rights to meet with a male and the caretakers will be severely punished if their reasons weren't valid." He nodded at that, he already knew that after having talked about this with Beryl the previous day and his plan hinged on exactly that.

"In my case there are no concerns about my safety and health but my status is a completely different matter. I am a foreign ambassador and military attache to the Union. I am currently a member of Soshret's Stillstorm's staff and I have been ordered by Tazites Duskcrown to help with the Shell Lotai. My time is extremely limited and valuable which is the reason I have accepted to be assigned caretakers." Alex replied and Wavecrest just scoffed.

"And telling everyone that is still a waste of my time. I can't be held back from my duties from the horde of aroused idiots that want some time with a male!" Wavecrest snapped at that, Jade became momentarily shocked at the Gallen's outburst but she too nodded reluctantly at that.

"And that's exactly where my plan hinges on. I don't want you to just deny everyone with the excuse of my truly limited time but to have those interested earn my time through the both of you which is where the boon for us all come in. Let's say that a possible way to earn some time with me is by assisting in the maintenance of the ship in their free time or by having being exemplar in performing their duties, I am willing to allocate some of my free time each day for those you two deem that they have earned said time. Do you two think that we can setup a system where those interested can earn my time and attention?" The two Loroi first looked at each other for a few long moments before turning their attention back to him.

"We can come to such an arrangement but..." Jade begun.

"It's still going to be a waste of time!" Wavecrest cut in. "Do you even know how many in the crew want to mount you?" He just smiled at that.

"I think that I have an inkling on their number but I remember my time cleaning the water filters and how much work there is to do each passing day. Perhaps it is time for Tempest's crew to devote themselves in making sure that their ship runs as smoothly as possible regardless of their caste and rank." He replied and understanding finally dawned on both of their faces.

"So have them fix the mess all of them are making each and every day?" Wavecrest asked.

"More or less. Those who work the hardest should of course be given a priority. I am pretty sure that the Soshret woulf be extremely pleased with having the crew of her flagship devoting their time in keeping it clean and pristine."

"I certainly have plenty of work for everyone interested..." Wavecrest said with a grin.

"It certainly is an amicable solution considering your status and limited time." Jade begun at that. "But will you truly devote your time to those who earn it?"

"Of course." The two Loroi looked at each other for a moment before Wavecrest spoke again.

"I don't think you understood what the Sorimi meant; will you copulate with those who earn your time?"

"I... am not going to lie. Mating is something really important to humans. I will certainly spend my time with those who have earned it and I will try to be pleasant and accommodating with them but I would like to avoid mating with someone out of necessity or obligation. If we both want it then it will happen, if not then it won't."

"Then this whole farce won't work and the idiots will still waste our time." Wavecrest replied.

"Indeed, the warriors won't accept such an arrangement." Jade added.

"Then..." He sighed at that and tried to think of something else before realizing something. "I would like to ask you two something, has there been talk among the crew about how things will turn out when the Union comes into proper contact with the TCA?"

"Not really..." Wavecrest begun. "Warriors don't think that far ahead, it's bad luck." He nodded at that and smiled.

"Let me tell you whats going to happen then and you can tell this to everyone that is interested in meeting me. When we contact my people the problem won't be about having a human male agree into spending time with a Loroi; the real problem will be in trying to keep human males away from you." The two of them just stared at him in disbelief at that.

"Keeping the males away?" Jade asked. "What do you mean?"

"Exactly what I said. The vast majority of crew and warriors on any human warship are men and mating between crewmembers is highly frowned upon when deployed, I assure you that human men will find the average Loroi to be extremely alluring and will waste no opportunity into making sure that any and all Loroi learn of their interest towards you."

"And how does this help us in this situation?" Wavecrest asked.

"It's simple really. If they just want to mate with a human all they have to is be patient until we contact my people. There will be ample opportunity for everyone once that happens but until then my time is extremely limited and valuable, they will have to earn said time and even then mating will not be guaranteed but it will be guaranteed once proper contact is established. I even plan to suggest to my superiors to ignore protocol and regulations in order to allow our people to freely intermingle in order to better understand each other."

My fan fics:

Looking forward to the mirror (Delayed editing)
Reforged (Irregular updates)
The Pale Horse (Completed, could use some editing)

Sun Mar 17, 2019 3:26 pm

Joined: Tue May 26, 2015 3:33 am
Posts: 625
Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
"You do know that patience might not be a warrior's strong suit?" Wavecrest injected with a doubtful voice, "And you're banking on quite a number of 'what-if'."

At least she's considering the option, Alex realized, It may need just a little bit more to drive home the point.

"Let's take Tempest's crew roster, for example. It's about eight hundred, you said? Now, first, how many would even consider mating with an alien, regardless how it looks like?" he asked, starting to tick off his arguments with his fingers.

Both Loroi looked at each other, most likely discussing numbers via sanzai.

"I'd go out on a limb and say 'not too many'...", Wavecrest hedged.

"Let's be generous and say about half of them. All others might find my skin color repulsive, or I'm too large and too muscular for their tastes, or just plainly because I'm of a different species. Now... I'm sure there'd be some Loroi who simply don't do this for recreation, but only for the sole purpose of procreation? Since I simply couldn't sire your children, I'd be out of consideration."

"Good point...", Jade cut in, "Maybe there'd be three hundred left out of the four hundred, then."

"Still quite a lot!", Wavecrest added.

"But, I'm not finished yet", Alex countered, "Then, how many of these three hundred would be willing to wait until we made proper contact with the TCA? Especially... if the only way to shortcut it would be by fulfilling a task put ahead of them?"

Here, Wavecrest's expression turned into a slight smile. A rather devious one. "Depends much on the task, I admit. But you are right. Waiting, or cleaning out the water filters... Perhaps fifty or one hundred might decide it's worth to wait."

"And, last but not least... Remember, there is four of you. You, Jade, Beryl and Fireblade. You wouldn't need to decide everything by committee, only if there are some objections. And add to that, if you drive home the point that my time is indeed limited - everyone is invited to look over my roster - some more might decide that it isn't worth the hassle."

Wavecrest looked thoughtful.

"And... let's just say there are still too many applications to simply fit into my schedule. Maybe lay down the law from the start that I intend to honor, say, three requests per week. Or four. Maybe we need some time to find the right number that would satisfy everyone concerned. But, let's say three -- no more. Whether you want to do that as a first come first serve base or just picking three at random and placing the rest of them on the pile for the following week, that's up to you. But if you make these numbers public for them to realize that the waiting list gets that long, they may decide that waiting for proper contact with the TCA would be their better bet... and then it's off your table."

Another side glance and silent discussion, this time a bit longer.

"You throw around words like a Mizol", Jade said in a thoughtful tone, "but I see what you mean. The remaining workload could be ... manageable."

"And I'm sure Duskcrown wouldn't have named you if she has no faith in your abilities", Alex added.

That got them. Wavecrest drew in her breath for a sharp retort, but exhaled after another sidelong glance by Jade.

I have no idea what Jade just sent to her, but I guess it appealed to her pride and sense of duty. Alex thought.

"Alright, I guess it could work out....", Wavecrest relented.

"One last thing, though.... It might be that some Loroi would get ... preferential treatment. I know that the idea is highly unusual and controversial to you, but let me tell you, that's the way humans are. Well, most of them. They are important to me and have earned a special place in my heart. Hell, even your own Farseer picked up on this and saw tangible evidence. And ... this remains between us. I don't know if other Loroi would be able to earn that place as well, but it won't be simply by a romp between the bedsheets. And ostracizing said Loroi I do share the bond with wouldn't help at all, quite the opposite."

Jade blinked, visibly trying to connect the dots in her mind.

"Is that... the cause of the recent changes in Tozet Beryl and Pallan Fireblade?" She half-asked, half-stated.

Faced with the direct question, Alex couldn't do anything else but nod. "Yes, it is."

"And is that something only you have or do or is it like this with every human?" She tacked on.

"I... would not say with every human, but with quite a good percentage of us." Alex answered, hestitantly.

"I think I see now why you need caretakers, but as it is, it won't make our task any easier." Wavecrest gave in.

"I take it means you agree to this?" Alex asked.

"Of course it does!", Wavecrest added, heatedly, "And I expect you to hold on to your end of the bargain as well and do not try to send away those who we have permitted to meet you!"

"I might do that if there is someone I find completely objectionable. But...", Alex held up a hand as Wavecrest was about to launch into another angry tirade, "... so far I have yet to find any fault within any of you, and I promise to make their experience as ... enjoyable as they want it to be."

"Are you lying? What happened with Parat Tempo, then?" Jade asked.

"I...", Alex started, "it was a mix of horrible misunderstanding and bad circumstances. I never found her repulsive, if that's what you're looking for, but some of her actions were reprehensible, but understandable in hindsight. We ... both share lots of regrets, but maybe ... I hope ... we can move past that."

Jade nodded. "I understand.... I think. Do you know that there are already some applications in my inbox?"

"What? How?" Alex exclaimed, flabbergasted.

"Rumor must have gotten out that you have to take on caretakers. With no one to file the applications to, they were routed to me. Count is already at four."

Alex blinked. "Do I dare to ask, who?"

"You know them all. Torrai Mazeit Moonglow and Ashrain, Farseer Pure Sand, and...."

"Pure Sand? Never mind.... who else...?", Alex asked with a bit of trepidation in his voice.

"Mizol Parat Tempo.", Jade finished.

Tempo, Alex thought, Why that? You know you could have simply asked, or is your shame that great that you think you need to be treated like everyone else and completely lost our friendship?

"I see..", Alex stated, voice carefully held neutral.

Wed Mar 27, 2019 2:34 am
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
After a moments pause Jade continued. "Moonglow and Ashrain are well known for their rivalry. Likely that they want you on their ship amongst their crew before the other gets you. They are both Torrais in good standing, but Moonglow has the higher rank and seniority."
"That is very ..uh political for something so private. Yet I suppose it makes sense." Alex remarked.

Jade and Wavecrest exchanged a quick glance over the human. Then the Gallen looked to him again. "It's official, the opposite of private. The common soldier, she wants to meet you out of curiousity and to parade you around before the other units. The commanders want to show off with you to their equals and get their crews a good look at you. Maybe they're curious themselfes too. I advise you to stay clear of the feud between our two Torrai. That caste is no fun anyway."

"Gallen Wavecrest gives an acceptable assesment of the situation, Captain." Jade had to agree. "If you don't want to meet with one of the Torrai, Pure Sand seems to be your only option. At least until more requests come in."

"What about Tempo? She made a request too." Alex asked matter of factly.

"Parat Tempo was seen very often with you. After her recent public rebuke by Stillstorm, it wouldn't be proper to host her." Jade explained. "I don't know why she even tried."

Compelled to answer the contempt in Jades voice, Alex opened his mouth, but Wavecrest profed to be quicker. Her eyes went narrow as she spoke, dubiously evaluating Alex.
"Captain Jardin here is serving as Acting Sorimi, is he not? Torrai commonly deal with Mizol and the Mizol host them regularly. That changes a few things. Meeting a male -officially- would reinstate Tempos honour somewhat and would say something about Soshret Stillstorms recent promotion."

Jades eyes went wide as she heard that and Alex became the audience of another quick and silent discussion between the two Loroi.

"I don't want to be involved in any rivalry between Stillstorm and Tempo either." he remarked to the room.

Quickly Jade reassured him, despite obviously still deliberating herself. "Don't worry about that. I'm sure Tempo intents to get you into nothing dubious. Besides, you're an alien, you're not expected to heed such details. This is nothing special. For you it just means you can consider all offers freely."

"That's..good. It still feels weird making such a choice from a list. If the women back on earth had to file an application for a simple date, they'd go crazy. How long can I delay a decision for?"

"A few days usually. But we're expecting battle, so please be prompt about it. I imagine you will be getting a lot more interest for the next days." Jade explained.

Wavecrest added. "Especially since the whole sector fleet is currently in system. That's a once in a lifetime chance right before a major battle for many."

"In any case, " Jade interjected," you don't have to decide right now. You will be very busy for a while anyway."

"Why is that?" Alex asked.

A datapad was pressed into his hand by Jade. Upon switching it on, a list of tasks and notes jumped out at him. A little bar on the left side promised, that busy had been the right word. While he scrolled, Jade spoke up again.

"Acting Sorimi Enzin, since being docked is rare for a raider, Soshret Stillstorm has ordered a full diagnostics and servicing of all of Tempests systems. Your fortuitous task is to be the coordinator between the section chiefs on Tempest and the efforts from Nezel."

"Seriously?" came from Wavecrest.

"To facilitate this task and its expedient completion, one senior Listel and one Gallen from Tempests crew will be allocated to you for the duration. The targeted length of the whole operation is three days. Any questions, Acting Sorimi?"

"Yes, of course. Who will be assigned to me and when will the operation start?" Alex asked after only a moment of vertigo. It was true, Tempo had given him a posting equivalent to a Sorimi, mere days ago.

"When depends on you. I suggest you give the go as soon as you finished your preliminary overview and met the section chiefs on Tempest and Nezel. Listel Tozet Antimony will accompany you, as well as Gallen Bastobar Wavecrest. Direct all technical questions regarding Tempest at her." Jade said.

Leaning back so that the Sorimi couldn't see her face, Wavecrest grimaced dreadfully, before she quickly caught herself and rocked forward again. "I must override those orders. As Bastobar in charge of a crew critical system my duties don't allow me to take on this much extra effort, Sorimi Jade."

The Sorimis counter was frosty. "Acting Sorimi Enzins first order of business will then be to organize substitute Gallens from Nezels workforce. I trust your section is prepared accordingly." A further complaint Jade cut off. "We are not here for fun, Gallen."

While Wavecrest was still fuming, Alexcouldn't help himself. "Uh...shouldn't Beryl be assigned to me? I already know her, it would propably speed up the operation."

His remark only earned him a weird look from Jade and a curt explanation: "Tozet Beryl is tasked with helping Nezel staff with humaniti."

Then Jade stood up and rudely or just strangely, left the room without a word.

Alex turned back to Wavecrest, expecting to see more grimaces or hear one of her outbursts again. She proved a disappointment however, as she was taking deep breaths. After several, she said. "Get me when you've picked up Antimony. I'll have to prepare my notes."

She too left a nervous Alexwithout a word.

Tue May 07, 2019 9:24 am
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Location: Athens, Greece
Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
The first question that came to Alex was a simple one.

"What is the proper procedure for running diagnostics, servicing and upgrading the systems of a Loroi warship?" He had asked as the three of them walked towards the office of the Torrai Torret whose team would run the process from the port side. An obviously defeated Wavecrest simply glanced at the equally defeated Antimony who simply sighed before replying.

"The proper procedure is for all sections to first give a prepared electronic report of their status and performance since the last time the ship was at port. Then the port authority's systems would analyze the report and then proceed to create and provide authorized patches to all systems that may require them."

"Sounds straightforward enough, and how long does this take?"

"It is mostly automated and it takes just a couple of thousand solons after a ship docks." Antimony replied.

"A couple of thousand solons? But Jade said that this should take days!" Alex replied.

"Not for Tempest, our ship is... a unique case." Wavecrest said dryly.

"What do you mean?" Alex asked and Wavecrest sighed and drew a deep breath before replying.

"Tempest is the last ship of the Vortex-Mk2 class of ships, her last sister ship was destroyed 4 Tozons ago and the last authorized system template for the class dates to back then. All of the authorized patches are based on the latest authorized system template for each class of ship."

"The patches are outdated?" Alex asked in disbelief after processing that for a few seconds.

"Mostly yes." Wavecrest let out with a sigh. "Tempest's system specialists have been keeping the systems up to date with unauthorized patches drawn and adapted from the updates of other ships in the squadron and any warship that Tempest comes in contact with. The problem is that they are all unauthorized and as thus there are communications issues with other ships and systems since the authorized security definitions see the unauthorized patches as inherently 'compromised'."

"How..." Alex begun to ask before realizing something. "Are Tempest's systems compromised?"

"No!" Wavecrest said as she shook her head. "We are constantly running tests and intrusion drills in conjunction with the rest of the 51st, Tempest is by far the most secure ship in the squadron. The problem is that the custom made patches and various system modifications that the ship has undergone are all unauthorized and as such the communication security systems don't like them. The ship's system administrators manage to regularly trick them but the systems aren't working optimally with their tricks activated and the communication systems have the occasional glitches."

"So can't we just ask the dock's system's specialists to just give Tempest a security certification that would avoid that?"

"Not while the ship has an unauthorized version for its operating system installed." Wavecrest replied.

"But the ship is a unique case, if the last system template is so out of date then it is bound to be below specifications by default." Alex pointed out.

"Doesn't matter, regulations forbid unauthorized tampering on a ship's systems and the Commanding officer and all personnel guilty of it will face a court martial, the last time Tempest was forced to have the systems updated in dock Stillstorm managed to avoid this by 'gifting' her male visitation rights to the dock's systems administrator who overlooked the discrepancies on Tempest's systems and simply purged the systems and reinstalled everything." Wavecrest's expression betrayed the fact that she didn't want that to happen again.

"Damn and I guess that's a bad thing?"

"Tempest's systems administrators have been upgrading the operating systems non stop for the last 4 tozons, they have patched exploits, repaired catastrophic failures and improved on all of the systems according to input from the ship's crew. Losing all that will be a detriment to the combat effectiveness of the ship. There is also the fact that we were forced to use borrowed parts from other ships because there were no ship specific spare parts left from the Vortex class, they were mostly minor stuff but we had to rebuild the bridge's augmented reality holographic system using parts meant for the 'Swift Vanguard' class of battlecruisers." Wavecrest replied.

"You mean the bridge's projector and the holograms?"

"Yeah, they are not considered crucial for the operation of the ship and everyone can work without them but Shoshret and the rest of crew are used working with them..."

"And they won't be at their best if they will have to make due which means that the ship's performance will suffer as a result." Alex commented.

"That's the best case scenario, the worst case scenario is if the systems that have been adapted to work with the new equipment lock out since they are suddenly connected with equipment that shouldn't be there. We avoided this the last time we run official updates but we have more new equipment installed now, there is no way to predict how things will go." Wavecrest explained.

"Damn..." Alex replied as the three of them finally reached the office of the Soroin Torret in charge of the port authority's systems administration.

Why did Stillstorm put me in charge of this mess?
Was all Alex could think as he followed Wavecrest into the, seemingly busy, office of the Soroin Torret who was head of systems security for Nezel's docks. For some reason unique to the Loroi the positions for section leaders of the various engineering departments on Loroi warships and stations were held by high ranking Soroin or Tenoin instead of a senior Gallen, he figured that this was some short of ticket punching in preparation for ascension to the Torrai caste branches. It seemed much like the officer rotations on the TCA navy where officers of the ascending path were expected to have a wide range of experience and knowledge the higher they went but the Loroi system was tied mainly with the castes instead of the mostly meritocratic Human systems; it was alien in that regard but it made sense to them so he just had to work with it.

It took a moment for the handful of Gallen and Soroin to notice the arrival of his group and a handful more of startled and curious glances at him which were undoubtedly accompanied by telepathic queries and chatter but it all ended when everyone but the single Soroin Torret present flinched and hurriedly went back to whatever they were doing.

"So you are the alien 'acting Sorimi' of Stillstorm?" The Torret addressed him first with an appraising look. "Would certainly work in other circumstances..."

"What would work?"

"Nevermind, I don't have time for all this nonsense." She said as she reached down to one of her armor's leg pouches and pulled out a small Loroi datacoin. "Here is the standard update package for Tempest, do with it what you will." She threw it at him and he caught it in mid air, surprising her from the looks of it. "Now go and get out of my way."

Alex first looked at the datacoin and then at Whitecrest and Antimony, who both looked surprised and perplexed, before managing to say the first thing that came to him.

"Thank you, Torret..." He waited for a few awkward moments for her to say her name but she just went back doing whatever she was doing. "... will this package work properly on Tempest's systems without any issues?" The Torret just scoffed at that.

"Of course not, this package is fully adherent to standing regulations and security updates for the Vortex Mk2 class of ships. I don't know and I don't care what Stillstorm has been doing with that ship but it hasn't passed muster for 4 tozons and never will again due to the illegal modifications that have gone into it."

"So you just knowingly gave me an update package that won't be applicable to a flagship of the Loroi fleet?" Alex asked accusingly at that.

"I gave you an update package that is in accord with standard regulations and security procedures. Any issue with its applicability on a ship's systems lays solely on the commanding officer and systems administration of said ship." The Torret said matter of factly.

"Excuse me Torret but you surely understand the unique situation that Tempest is in as the last of its kind, I am certain that if we worked together we could find a way to properly apply the updates in time for the upcoming battle."

"There is no way to properly apply the updates to that mess of a ship!" The Torret spat back and Alex could swear that he sensed anger flaring up from both Whitecrest and Antimony.

"So you are telling me that you won't help with bringing a flagship of the fleet to full combat status?" Alex asked again, making sure to emphasize the fact that Tempest was a flagship.

"My duty was to provide an update package that is fully aligned with standing regulations, you are now holding said package and all three of you are loitering in my office instead of trying to fix the mess that is your ship!" The Torret said with barely containted angrer.

"No Torret, your duty is to ensure that all warships currently docked are fully combat capable!" Alex pointed out.

"A male knows nothing about duty!" The Torret snapped back angrily. "Stop wasting my time and get out of my office!" Everyone seemed to just freeze at that and for a moment Alex thought that he saw a tinge of regret on the Torret's face before he came to a decision.

"If that's what you want..." He said at that and turned to the others. "Let's go." Both Whitecrest and Antimoney exchanged glances before falling in right behind him. "Before I decide how to ruin that moron's day I need to know one thing; what was she in a hurry for?"

"Her section is under orders to evacuate once they have completed the process of updating and patching the fleet's systems." Antimony replied and both she and Wavecrest nearly crashed onto him.

"That's..." Alex failed to find the words to say what was in his mind as his anger flared up, he tried to control it but a moment later he felt something familiar reach into his mind about it.

"Beryl?" He sent without thinking and received a reply almost instantly.

"Yes, what's going on? Who angered you?"
She asked and it took but a moment for him to mentally replay his discussion with the Torret for her anger to flare up in turn.

"Ticket punching bitch that wants to pack up and run!"
Alex vented mentally at the end, drawing an equally angry agreement from Beryl.

"I will tell the Torimor about this and that cowardly moron will be busted to clearing latrines for the rest of the war!"
Beryl replied.

"You are with Shadow?"
Alex asked at that.

"Yes, I have been tasked to transfer as much information about you and the TCA as I am able but... we think that we will need your help with that."
Beryl broke off at that before focusing her attention back to him. "The Torimor knows, she said she will handle the moron."

"No, she is mine to deal with!"
Alex replied instantly and he felt Beryl's surprise and curiosity about it. "I hate ticket punchers and that coward endangers the proper running of a flagship so she could run away. She is mine to deal with."

"The Torimor and I are curious about how you would do that?"
Beryl asked at that.

"What would it take for Tempest's current Operating system and various section subsystems to be deemed as the current authorized system template on which all patches are based on?"
Alex asked and Beryl instantly let out a mental sigh.

"The commander had tried that but both Soshrets Rattlesword and Shortspear refused to sign on a system template not created by an authorized team of system experts."
Beryl recalled and instantly realized that things were a little different now.

"Captain Jardin?" Antimony drew his attention back to where he was at that.

"I am sorry I am sanzaing with Beryl right now." Alex replied and focused himself back onto Beryl.

"So yes, things are different right now and Stillstorm is a Soshret. Do we need anything more to get a template approved?"
Alex sent to Beryl.

"The final approval for it would have to come from the Tazites's staff and Stillstorm is known to be politically antagonistic to the Emperor."
Beryl replied but she instantly realized that this wouldn't be a hindrance for what he had in mind.

"Duskcrown herself promoted Stillstorm not so long ago and there is no time for politicking."
Alex replied drawing an instant agreement from Beryl who immediately explained the proper procedure for getting a system template authorized for updates.

"Alright, here is what we are going to do." Alex begun as he turned to Wavecrest and Antimony. "Bastobar Wavecrest I want you and the rest of Tempest's Gallens to prepare a system's template file for the Vortex Mk2 line of warships for authorization by the admiralty based on Tempest's current configuration. Tozet Antimony I want you to petition Soshret Stillstorm to recognize Tempest's systems administrators as an authorized development team for the Vortex Mk2 line of warships, then I want you to petition her to sign on the template file that Bastobar Wavecrest will forward you for final authorization. Once the Soshret does that forward the template to me and I will petition the Tazites's staff for final authorization. While you do that I will be briefing Torimor Shadow about humanity and the TCA with Tozet Beryl." Both Wavecrest and Antimony looked at each other for a moment before saying anything.

"How did you Sanzai with Tozet Beryl? She isn't in range." Antimony asked.

"She is for me."

"Where is she now?" Antimony asked and Alex paused in order to ask Beryl for the reply.

"She is at the Tazites's staff offices, about 400 mannals away."

"That's well beyond her range; and you communicated with her?" Antimony asked again.

"We don't really understand how this connection between us works but that is beside the point. Can you two do what I asked you to?"

"We can but how is that going to get back at Torret Shortleaf?" Wavecrest asked.

"That's her name?"

"Yes." Wavecrest replied.

"Well it's really simple... As it turns out the update package will be proven outdated when I get the template approved; I will get creative from that point on."

My fan fics:

Looking forward to the mirror (Delayed editing)
Reforged (Irregular updates)
The Pale Horse (Completed, could use some editing)

Sun Oct 06, 2019 1:50 pm

Joined: Tue May 26, 2015 3:33 am
Posts: 625
Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
Beryl was not having a good shift.

Sure, Torimor Shadow was easy enough to deal with, for a high-ranked Mizol after all, but ever since Tempo's fall from grace Beryl had become the first and foremost source of information about the humans in general. She still felt her ears heating up when she finally realized that "humanity" is more used as an adjective than a proper noun - how long did they make the mistake with no one bothering to correct her?

Of course Shadow was highly interested in the latest addition to Tempest's crew manifest. For Stillstorm to accept someone in an advisory position and grant that person a goodly amount of leeway and responsibilities is already a big thing.

If that person is a male, even doubly so. Stillstorm has just recently proven again that she's ready to answer any accusation that she's guided by something else than her brain with her blade.

Make that person an alien on top of it... well, things definitely got more than noteworthy.

Add the 'Natan files' on top of it and, well, you got the picture.

So Beryl was facing a highly curious Mizol wanting to know everything, really everything about what Alex has said and done since he was picked up from space. Though, Beryl wasn't sure if Shadow's interest in Beryl's second-by-second recount of their 'private time' was a professional or a more personal one...

As if on cue, the moment Beryl was discussing the common factors and differences between Loroi sanzai and Human telepathy, she felt a bubble of pure, unadultered anger rising up in her mind.

Of course, Shadow picked up on her distraction as well. 'Something amiss?', she sent askance.

'No... Yes. Something must've really riled him up for him to send that strongly.'

'I see', Shadow's eyebrows shot up, 'So it isn't just arousal, but maybe all kinds of heightened emotions which open up that link you have? Go ahead, ask him what happened. I'll wait.'

Beryl didn't need to be told twice, though it took her several tries before she was met with a fully formed sending.


'Yes, what's going on? Who angered you?', she prompted.

That triggered another stream of half-formed thoughts featuring an unfamiliar dark-haired Loroi - a Soroin Torret, by her uniform - in several positions and situations, all of them rather degrading. Beryl felt her ears heating up, again.

'I'm ... not sure the last one is physically possible', she cautiously replied, 'What did she do to earn that vitriol?'

Beryl could feel Alex taking a deep breath before replaying the most recent solons, starting with her insinuation that he's been sent to her for a different purpose than the ship upgrades up to her decision on taking the cowardly way out with just handing him the data and washing her hands of this.

Beryl blinked at the last thought. What has personal hygiene have to do with that situation?

'Ticket punching bitch that wants to pack up and run!', Alex finished up that rant.

'That must've been quite a sending', Shadow interjected, unspoken question included.

'You heard?'

'No, but the expression on your face is quite telling. Bad news, I presume?'

Being given a question that straightforward, Beryl just had to relate everything to Shadow. Slightly redacted, with much fewer expletives, but still the factual truth.

Still that had the effect of Shadow taking a deep breath before promising bloody retribution.

'Wait, it seems like Enzin has something different in mind for her...', Beryl hastened to assure the Mizol.

'If it doesn't involve her on a spit, roasting over an open fire, I'm willing to listen.'

'It is an idea of him. First, the Tempest's systems administrators know the ship inside out and kept it running for tozons right now. Second, Stillstorm is in a position to certify crewmembers as authorized personnal to perform systems upgrades, as long as a Tazites adds a second signature, so...'

'So in essence it would allow Tempest's Gallen to perform necessary patches themselves, given that the ship would remain up to specs in communication protocols and systems security... and then, what?'

'As Enzin says, they would in turn provide an official update package for the Vortex Mk2 line of ships, no matter that the Tempest is the last of its kind, and that would render that Torret's update package outdated.'

Shadow smiled. 'I think I'm beginning to like the way these humans think. Depending on how we place it, that Torret could face charges for negligence, as in, not providing the correct update, or even hindering the smooth operation of the ship, the station and the war effort as a whole just by forcing the Tempest being away from the combat theatre for longer than absolutely neccessary.'

Beryl leaned back in her chair. 'I know Enzin well enough by now to say that he'd like a more personal touch on her humiliation....'

Both Mizol and Listel continued with their debrief for some time after this interruption, but after Beryl took her leave, Shadow didn't hestitate to pull up a specific file from the Tempest crew roster, double-checking its entries.

Interesting. 400 mannals are well outside her sending range. Which begs the question - is it just with the human or had her sanzai become stronger in general? There is a marked change in her behavior as reported in the file, hers and that Teidar's... Pallan Fireblade, right?

Pulling up Fireblade's file she continued to read.

More stable, efficiency rating up, better reaction time, fewer complaints about sanzai spillover... No matter the past history with humans, or their strange Lotai, or their ability to see these invisible Shell divisions. Granted, every single item on the list would merit investigation, and now it looks like having a human or two on board has some stabilizing influence on the more troublesome crewmembers as well as some general boons.

All good reasons to make a move towards getting an expedition to the human worlds together, if not for the small detail of the biggest invasion since ... well, ever ... currently underway.

Tue Oct 15, 2019 1:47 am
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Joined: Mon Jan 26, 2015 2:26 pm
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Location: Athens, Greece
Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)

Apply directly to the scalp and gently massage for 100 solons
The directions read and Tempo gently run the long nozzle down to the very roots of her newly regrown hair, gently pressing the tube in order to apply the cream before beginning to massage her scalp, the annoying burning sensation quickly gave way to a pleasant coolness which meant that the cream was doing its job and her new hair wouldn't be in any danger of falling off any time soon.

Once done she studied herself at the mirror and sighed, her shoulder length hair brought back memories from before the war and she quickly pushed them aside.

"The fact is that you messed up but not to the extent that we previously thought; make what you wish out of that."
Stillstorm had told her and Tempo decided to regrow her hair to a quarter of what they were before, an adequate penance for her mistakes, a reminder not to repeat them and an acknowledgement that she wasn't without honor despite them. She proceeded to put the cream away and absentmindedly tried to comb down the still crazed parts of her new hairdo before her armor's communicator buzzed for her attention.

She brought up her right wrist and glanced at it, the armor's system's recognizing the gesture and brought up the personal holographic system which informed her who her caller was.

"Enzin?" She asked, surprised that he managed to work the armor's systems since he hadn't had the opportunity for the orientation training.

"Tempo? Yes it's me, damn thing is a mess to figure out, what's up with the holograms that only work if you look at them right?" Enzin was obviously annoyed if she was to judge by his voice. "At least Beryl managed to explain how the system works, I am surprised that it doesn't have a camera installed."

"The armor's communicator and other systems are only for emergencies, not for regular use." Tempo replied.

"Figured as such." Enzin grumbled at that. "Listen, I need to ask you for a favor."

"A favor?" Tempo asked, something inside her leaping up in joy at that.

"I have a feeling that Torret Shortleaf will depart from Nezel shortly, I want her to remain on Nezel until I finish what I am planning for her." Alex replied.

"Torret Shortleaf?" Tempo asked, remembering that she was the head of system's security for Nezel and that she had 'convinced' Stillstorm to gift her male visitation rights to her in order to keep quiet about Tempest's operating systems; not that the Admiralty would have pressed charges but it would have been a huge waste of time trying to short that mess out. "Yes, I know of her."

"As I said, I want her to remain on Nezel. Can you keep her here until I finish my surprise for her?"

"What kind of surprise? And why are you even preparing a surprise for her?"

"The kind of surprise that will teach her a lesson. I am still working on how it will pan out, ask Tozet Antimony for the details." Enzin replied.

"I can find plenty of reasons to stop her from leaving..."

"Great, I appreciate it! I will be with Torimor Shadow and Beryl to straighten some things out." He said at that. "Ahh... and before I forget; would you like to go out with me once I am done with this mess? My schedule should be clear for today."

"I... yes, of course!" Tempo replied without thinking.

"Great! See you later then!" Enzin said with an upbeat voice and closed the channel, leaving Tempo to absentmindedly stare at the mirror for several moments before resuming her efforts to comb her new hairdo into submission with a renewed vigor.

* * *

It had taken Stillstorm some time to realize that the admiralty would always find ways to make her life difficult, she had learned to live with such an arrangement as a Lashret but she would make damn sure that this wouldn't continue to that extent now that she was a Soshret. She had hoped that some of the hindrances would resume after the whole mess with the Shell Lotai and the gatecrusher force would be resolved but now she cursed herself for the fool she was as she called the Tazites to make her displeasure about the recent developments known.

First came the orders for the emergency transfer of 32 veteran Tenoin pilots from the strike division she had almost finished forming to Nezel itself, an order that was followed immediately by an order to have Torret Ashrain report for an emergency briefing at Nezel as well. She didn't know what would follow next but she would put a stop to whatever nonsense Duskcrown had come up with.

"Ah, Stillstorm, good; I wanted to speak to you about something I am preparing." Duskcrown said the moment her hologram appeared in front of her.

"Yes... I have seen your orders, perhaps you will explain to me why you are crippling the strike division I am forming?" Stillstorm said accusingly at that.

"It's an idea that a certain alien staff member of yours gave me." Duskcrown replied nonchalantly as she brought up a hologram of a ship next to hers. "I don't imagine that you are aware of the Avenger class of gunboats?"

"Not really, I thought that the gunboat concept was abandoned a couple of tozons ago." Stillstorm replied as she glanced at the hologram of the ship which looked like a large engine with a plethora of weapons strapped on it.

"Yes, it was dropped but only after the Neridi had come up with a ship that actually passed all of the requirements that the requisitions department had come up with, requirements that I have now learned were meant to actually make the concept untenable at the first place. I won't humor you about the reasons behind that decision." Duskcrown begun. "Captain Jardin gave me an idea to look into, in the hopes that the Neridi would somehow be in a position to manufacture as many of these gunboats as possible in order to somehow hinder and slow the Shell advance; I was quite surprised that the Neridi conglomerate behind the Avenger managed to salvage the design by modifying it and selling it as a fast system patrol craft. The Neridi administration ordered a couple of hundred of these patrol craft and had them dispersed throughout their worlds in Tinza sector, sixteen of them are in Nezel and I have commandeered them for the war effort and I am having them refitted back to their gunboat specifications."

"And what do my pilots and Torret Ashrain have to do with any of this?" Stillstorm asked. "I know that Ashrain was in favor of the gunboat concept and she even devised some tactics for them but I can't afford to lose her, not before the battle."

"Captain Jardin made me realize that such a ship would require daring commanders that would be able to make on the spot decisions about how to best employ their ships; he described the Avenger as having been made for the Tenoin to fly and I want to see what they will think and do with it when I put them in command of these gunboats. Torret Ashrain will brief them about gunboat tactics and maybe they will come with some new tricks of their own." Duskcrown explained.

"You will give the command of crewed warships to Tenoin pilots?" Stillstorm asked in disbelief. "They have been trained to fight, they haven't been trained to lead a crew!"

"I agree, the Tenoin will be in command of their ships during combat but crew management and the day to day running will be done by a ranking Soroin. We want the Tenoin to fly the gunboats as fighters and fight as skirmishers, not as warships of the line." Duskcrown replied.

"That will be interesting to implement..." Stillstorm said with a frown. "And you think the gunboats will help in the fight?"

"At the very least they have the firepower to rival a Warhammer with the agility of a fighter; their endurance is low and their expendable ordinance is limited but they are a threat to be reckoned with." Duskcrown replied. "And I plan to attach them to your Strike Division."

"An untested weapon platform manned by crews unfamiliar with it, thrown in battle against a gatecrusher force that heavily outnumbers our current forces..." Stillstorm commented, unsure if Duskcrown would catch her apprehension about the whole setting.

"I am sure that Captain Jardin would have a human saying to say about our situation but we need every potential advantage we can field." Duskcrown replied. "Which brings me to the other surprise I am planning, an old trick from the siege of Seren."

"Missile freighters?" Stillstorm asked absentmindedly.

"Indeed. I have commandeered all freighters that aren't required for the evacuation and I am having them prepared like the missile freighters from the siege of Seren, they will be a nasty surprise for any Shell ship that gets too close." Duskcrown explained.

"At least Nezel's missile stocks won't be wasted but I doubt that the Shells will fall for this old trick." Stillstorm replied.

"It depends on if the Shells have been briefing their new crews and officers about Loroi tactics from that early on the war; you know how the Shells work with their training and how insular their sectors are with one an other." Stillstorm frowned in thought as Duskcrown explained. "What do you think?"

"I am thinking of how the Shells got tricked at Leido, if we want them to get close enough to the missile freighters to ensure a kill then we have to make them look like targets to be destroyed instead of weapons to be avoided." Stillstorm replied.

"Great idea..." Duskcrown duck nodded at that. "Can I trust you with managing this trick?"

"Yes, if we convince the Shells that there is an important convoy under regular escort they may detach a force to destroy it before it jumps out. I can have my Strike division move in to reinforce the illusion."

"I will leave it you then; and I will arrange for replacement pilots for the ones that went to the gunboats, unfortunately most of what we have are raw arrivals." Duskcrown said.

"I am not at all surprised about this." Stillstorm replied.

"Speaking of surprises, I found it odd that you didn't put any of your own in charge of a Strike group; the others always installed their own in command positions whenever they had a chance." Duskcrown commented.

"None of mine are ready for the burden; Mazeit Moonglow is a competent and experienced squadron leader but her leadership abilities are still lacking, making her unable to inspire the necessary confidence to her subordinates; Torret Ashrain is a gifted commander but still inexperienced while Torret Arclight is steady but inflexible due to inexperience. Mazeits Starfall and Lowtide are experienced, they were both highly recommended by their commanding Lashrets and showed great promise in how they managed and led the remnants of their Strike groups in Sala-101 and Sala-128; it is my belief that they are ready for the burden of being in command of a Strike Group." Stillstorm explained.

"I should have promoted you sooner!" Duskcrown said with a chuckle. "You would have been a good example for the others to follow." She abruptly closed the call at that, leaving Stillstorm to stare at the empty space where her holographic window was but a moment before. She could already feel the headache for the whole situation starting to form but at she could at least find some solace in the thought that Duskcrown wasn't intentionally hindering her, it was just the desperate situation they were in which demanded them to do everything within their power to stop, or at the very least slow down, the Shells.

"My Soshret, Torret Rune Laurel, Tozet Antimony and Parat Tempo are here to see you. It's about the proper running of Tempest!"
Sorimi Jade announced and Stillstorm let out a mental sigh. She had hoped that the alien would have managed to annoy the leg spreader known as Torret Shortleaf into doing what's right for once in her life but he obviously failed in doing that; she had expected that but she found it odd that he hadn't come to report on the failure himself.

"They may enter."
Stillstorm replied and it didn't take more than a few moments for all three of them to stand in front of her desk, she spent a moment studying Parat Tempo's newly regrown hair, she wasn't among the warriors who looked appreciatively on those who regrew the hair through technology but the Mizol had at least the good sense to have it far shorter than before as penance for her folly.

"What do you have for me?"
Stillstorm asked and it didn't take long for Antimony to recall what happened between Captain Jardin and Torret Shortleaf and how he planned to circumvent that waste of a good armor entirely; it would be funny if it didn't highlight the infuriating fact that made itself known with her very own broadcasted thought once she realized it: "Why didn't I think of that?"

"We have been extremely busy with the formation of the Strike Division and the transfer of Tempest's command." Rune Laurel replied, passing along the sentiment that the failure also fell on her own shoulders as Tempest's new commanding officer. "I am having the ship's system experts prepare the system template for your approval. After that we will have to convince the Tazites on signing it off as official."

"And after that we will be able to update the security definitions on our own without any help from Nezel."
Antimony added.

"The Tazites will sign it off the instant I bring this to her attention, especially after she made my plans more complicated than they previously were."
Stillstorm replied before turning to Tempo. "And why are you here Parat? This technical issue doesn't really concern you."

"Captain Jardin brought this incident into my attention after asking me to delay Torret Shortleaf's departure from Nezel until all this was done and I see merit into pursuing an in depth investigation into Torret Shortleaf's conduct and loyalty after learning of the facts from Tozet Antimony. It is my personal belief that her professional competence and loyalty are in question due to this incident, she could be excused if she simply hadn't thought of this now obvious solution but her denial to even consider any short of alternative while also being in obvious hurry to vacate her position casts doubt on her person."
Tempo explained.

"He asked you to delay Shortleaf's departure?"
Stillstorm asked.

"Torret Shortleaf really angered him my Soshret."
Antimony added at that.

"And did he promise anything in return for this favor?"
Stillstorm asked again.

"He did ask if I was free to spend time with him later today but he didn't connect the two issues."
Tempo replied truthfully.

"He is learning to play games too..." Stillstorm broadcasted with a mental sigh before recollecting her thoughts. "You may start an official investigation under my authority as a Soshret, not only because of this incident but because I truly believe that Torret Shortleaf isn't fit for her rank and station."

"Thank you my Soshret!"
Tempo replied at that.

"And does any of you know where Captain Jardin is now?

"He should be at Torimor Shadow's office with Tozet Beryl to brief her about Humanity while waiting for the system template process to finish."
Tempo replied and for once Stillstorm was pleasantly surprised with the news.

"At least the odds of him making a mess with Shadow are nill."

* * *

For once Alex didn't know if his 'gift' of making Loroi laugh was a boon or a very subtle curse as Shadow was laughing her guts out in front of him while Beryl did the exact same next to him. He did expect some form of reaction on his reply to her question of "What was your worst case scenario of us Loroi and our abilities?" but to have them actually burst into laughter when he explained that the worst case scenario had the Loroi being a parallel to the Mind Flayers from Dungeons and Dragons was far from the top of his list.

"Moio Sagit Captain!" Shadow said between fits of laughter. "I have read and heard numerous ludicrous rumors and suppositions about us but this is ridiculous!"

"People didn't come up with the Mind Flayers as a Loroi equivalent, they came up with the concept to create an evil race for a type of role playing game. Then when people started asking 'what's the worst case scenario about the Loroi' someone dug the concept up and the mission planners went along with it." Alex explained.

"A role playing game?" Shadow asked, curiosity clearly visible on her expression.

"It's a type of board game where players assume roles in various fantastical adventures. The settings and enemies tend to be very detailed and sometimes even extremely so. Some players take the games seriously, others just for laughs." Alex explained as best as he could without going into details.

"Intriguing..." Shadow said just as she restored her composed composure. "And does your military frequently base their planning on such games?"

"Well, Military wargames are very widespread and certain niches are extremely detailed and realistic; to the point of having military personnel calling them 'better than the simulations' but the fantasy role playing games are just that, fantasy. It's just that the very concept of Telepathy was so out of the ordinary for us that when we were informed of a telepathic race we didn't even believe the Orgus at first; but we couldn't simply discount their information so the planners took everything plausible into consideration and the Mind Flayers were the most plausible 'worst case scenario' for them." Alex explained.

"Mind Flayers... Plausible..." Beryl said with a chuckle at that.

"Best not to dwell into the implausible stuff then." Alex commented at that.

"In any case." Shadow said to draw his attention back on track. "An other issue we had when Tozet Beryl tried to pass along whatever information about Humanity she could was the rank structure of human military forces, in particular the distinction between the enlisted and officers classes; it's a somewhat alien concept to us Loroi so it's best that we have an authoritative explanation about it."

"That's a good point." Alex said as he thought about it. "The quickest way to describe it is that officers have the commissioned authority necessary to give orders which enlisted personnel are bound by law and honor to obey. It's a lot more complex than that of course."

"Interesting... and how does one attain a commission to become an officer? Is it something voluntary, hereditary or something else?" Shadow asked.

"It is strictly voluntary on modern military outfits although it used to be bound with the nobility classes of certain societies centuries ago. A volunteer has to partake into a quite demanding officer school in which they learn all they need to know in order to command their subordinates in their chosen military field; military tactics and history, technical and specialized knowledge, psychology and everything else that is needed. Once they successfully pass the school an officer gains their commission and are assigned to a unit. As they ascend the ranks they will have to enter other more specialized schools to advance in rank; one of my teachers said that an officer who stops learning is either dead or a failure." Alex replied as best as he could.

"Sound reasonable and you, as an ensign, are a commissioned officer, is that correct?" Shadow asked.

"Yes, that is correct." Alex replied, realizing where Shadow was getting at with her line of questioning.

"And what's the extent of the authority that an ensign would normally wield?"

"It's a fairly junior rank; I would either lead a section of a ship, pilot and command a shuttle, I could also be put as the second in command of a gunboat equivalent vessel." Alex replied, drawing a nod from Shadow.

"A really junior rank then, are your actions in any way binding to your government?" Shadow pressed on.

"My commission binds both me and the government while the nature of my mission is such that my government cannot ignore any of my actions and reports. Understand Torimor that there were no enlisted personnel aboard Bellarmine for just such a contingency, to ensure that personnel with legally binding authority would come in contact with a foreign government. Although I never 'truly' had the plenipotentiary authority given to me in particular, Bellarmine's mission was such that if a beneficial agreement could be reached with a foreign government then we had the discretion to agree to it and bring a delegation to the relay ship for a properly binding clarification and ratification. I am the sole surviving officer of Bellarmine's crew and I am beholden to fulfill the mission that was given to us." It felt almost surreal to give an answer that he had been mentally planning for days and now that he had given it he couldn't do anything but wait for Shadow's reply with a bated breath.

"The Union can work with this." Shadow commented with a nod before speaking again. "Now, in regards to the Humanity's current military assets; are you aware of anything more than what you have already told us?"

"No, not really. I am aware that there was a widespread ship building effort but I don't know the classifications and numbers of the hulls laid down; only baseless rumors and scuttlebutt. We certainly don't have any technological edge that would be of benefit to the Union." Alex replied.

"No edge other than your telepathic potential that is." Shadow said at that and smiled at his reaction. "It may surprise you Captain but the fact that your kind is telepathic under your Lotai would mean that we Loroi would see your kind favorably after the initial shock and political upheaval; if the war wasn't an issue I wouldn't have been surprised if humanity was given a preferential invitation to join the Union, even certain concessions."

"She truly believes that but... She is a very skilled Mizol."
Beryl sent at that.

"That's good to know but the war can't simply be ignored." Alex said at that.

"It's unfortunate but that doesn't mean that we can't work around it for now, I have gathered that your training has stalled for the time being and I think that this is because our training methods are not fit for your kind of telepathic talent." Shadow said as she typed something in her holographic keypad, a holographic text appearing over her desk a few moments later. "It may surprise some but we Loroi have been imagining about meeting a fellow telepathic race ever since we begun roaming the stars; it was a theoretical and fringe field of thought that almost none of the younger generations ever dabbled upon. I was once curious about, this long before the war started even, and I am not surprised that it has fallen from the notice of those around you."

"And how does this help?" Alex asked as he tried, and failed, to read the floating text in front of them. Beryl on the other hand seemed completely engrossed by it and must have asked for more from Shadow as she pulled her datapad out and started reading something that Shadow sent to her.

"As you humans used your imagination to 'predict' the future in your own way so we Loroi used ours to predict how a fellow telepath would be, no matter how alien they could be. The primary line of thought was that the telepathic abilities of an evolved telepath would be directly tied to the evolutionary path of said telepath." Shadow replied. "Tell me, in all your training have you ever sat down and thought about how your ancestral species made use of their telepathic talents? How evolution shaped both your bodies, your minds and by extension your telepathic talents?"

"I am not an anthropologist but now that you mention it... Humanity's primary evolutionary field was as a hunter-forager species in vast open savannas, evolved to stand up straight and run for extended periods of time for persistence hunting and to throw projectiles at targets." Alex thought out loud.

"That does sound like the basis of a complex familial setup for a pre-sapient species; now add a telepathic potential into the setting and try to figure out how such a species would use their telepathy to the best of their ability. Your body and mind are a direct derivative from those times after all, there is no reason for your telepathy to not be the same."

My fan fics:

Looking forward to the mirror (Delayed editing)
Reforged (Irregular updates)
The Pale Horse (Completed, could use some editing)

Sun Dec 29, 2019 3:40 pm
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