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[WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only) 
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Joined: Tue May 26, 2015 3:33 am
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
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Willing or unwilling, that didn't matter, but both Fireblade and Beryl got front row seats to whatever Tempo did. That suits them both well, Beryl might be readily accepting of Tempo, but Fireblade was dead set on double-checking whatever Tempo did to Alex. Both of them exchanged thoughts now and then, in a tight sending, careful not to disturb whatever they were doing.

'What was that picture I picked up from him? You as a small girl, bringing in a small furry four-footed animal with a wounded leg?', Fireblade asked, with thinly veiled amusement in her sanzai.

'That's a metaphor on how he sees me. From what I gathered, it's the sort of cliche picture amongst his people, the little girl who cannot stand to see any wounded and helpless creature and trying her best to nurse it back to health... what is missing in the picture would be the exasperated mother of their home when she brings in yet another animal to care for. I'm still not sure if I should find that thought endearing or insulting.', Beryl groused.

'Well, you were quick to jump to Tempo's defense, and you were the one who took to talking to Enzin when he woke up the very first time...', Fireblade sent back.

Try as she might, but Beryl couldn't shake the feeling that Fireblade does have a point.

'Fireblade, did you notice something? I'm a Listel, and you as a Teidar are trained in mental techniques, too, but I don't understand even half of what happens between them, yet Enzin's brain seems to readily incorporate the concepts she's sending him. And remember, he has no prior training in sanzai techniques save what he got from us', Beryl sent.

'Hmmm...', Fireblade mused, 'Now as you say it... what do you think of this?'

'The Mizol only recently got a foothold on Deinar, right? And now our Emperor is a Mizol, too, the orders to bring him to Deinar, alive and unharmed, came from her desk, too, and I've spotted at least one file encrypted with a quadruple-strength key. This is only reserved for the Council and the Emperor herself. There's got to be a connection. It sounds crazy, but would you agree that the modern Mizol techniques might be heavily influenced by what they could have learned from the Deinar human... and thus humans might be even more compatible to them?' Beryl elaborated.

Fireblade fell silent, visibly surprised.

'You're right, this is crazy. But... the whole thing is crazy. We stumbled across a conspiracy that's reaching into the highest echelons of the Union! This is madness, whatever we do or don't do, we could either be hailed as heroes and saviors of the Union or executed for treason, depending on who you talk to.'

'Remember, the key is visualizing your Lotai as a separate entitiy, one you don't need to readily accept as it is, but one you can train to heed to your wishes. Much like your... dogs, is this right? That animal you domesticated to herd and protect your livestock from predators?' Tempo just concluded the session.

'Makes sense. A good and loyal dog, with the need to protect its human on its mind. Kind-hearted, but needing some training to not to bark at or attack the visiting stranger.' Alex agreed. 'Color me curious, what would it mean to transport me ... or any human ... as cargo?'

It was Beryl who answered, with a tinge of distaste in her sending.

'Either to put you in stasis or cryosleep, or to keep you heavily sedated, or failing that, secluded in the brig with no contact to the crew.'

'That... somehow makes sense', Alex admitted.

'WHAT?!', the triple-voiced outcry 'loud' enough to send a stab of pain through his head, and it was Fireblade who got a grip on his upper body - telekinetically - to spin him around and pin his eyes with hers. 'Listen to me and listen well, buster. You are NOT cargo. NOT to be shipped around like ... a piece of meat! I WILL NOT allow it and I WILL challenge everyone to a duel of honor whoever issues that kind of order!', Fireblade sent sharply, fierce determination in her thoughts and accompanied by equally strong assents from Beryl and Tempo.

'Whoa... calm down.' Alex tried to placate them. 'Remember what Cloud said? About you being bonded to me and even Stillstorm on the verge of turning around? And this is me not even trying. Imagine a human intent on subverting a ship's crew.'

Beryl shook her head. 'You have it wrong. These bonds are based on deep understanding and trust, as I see it. It shouldn't be possible if you were doing this for nefarious purposes.'

Point, Alex thought. 'You all know it. But whoever issued that orders may suspect otherwise. But... with considerations like these, bringing a human to Seren or the Emperor's flagship rather than an isolated facility would be the recipe for disaster.'

'What do you mean?', Beryl inquired.

'Remember how I told you about our fictional works on aliens? A often used trope is human exploration crew found something they should have better left alone, and this one is sort of a classic, if the images are a bit... disturbing.'

Feeling that his warning didn't deter the three Loroi, he played some pieces of an old movie in his mind. A human in an enviro suit on a stormy planet. Something attaching itself to its face. The human in sickbay, and with the ... thing ... falling off seemingly getting better. Then, in the mess hall, a ... worm-thing bursting out of his chest in a grisly manner. Fights. Hunting that creature throughout corridors and catwalks, with that thing killing the crew one by one.

A different movie. A slim, alien-looking spaceship, long, thin, with one end fanning out in long spires in the orbit of a blue planet. 'Earth', Beryl's thoughts supplied, recognizing the image from his memories. A primitive looking vessel approaching. Scene cut. Inside the alien ship, drifting in microgravity, a large number of... winged things, desiccated corpses. And in the center, a transparent casket and the shape of a ... human? ... woman inside it. Bringing the casket down to earth, 'she' waking up and starting to ... suck ... the life out of the humans, leaving dry, aged husks in her wake while escaping.

The images subsided, leaving three deeply rattled Loroi in their wake, Beryl looking much paler than usual. Alex clearly felt that she was close to vomiting.

Fireblade was the first regaining her composure. 'And humans watch this for entertainment?', she sent, disbelievingly.

'Uh... many do. It was a subgenre called 'sci-fi horror' which plays on terror and scare. But, actually, things like these make our scientists think long and hard about safety and containment procedures to ward off any possible danger we might not even find conceivable.', Alex admitted.

'I ... think I see your point...', Beryl sent hestitantly, still trying to calm down her upset stomach. 'We would be foolish to bring a human to one of our sister worlds if you are that dangerous. Perhaps that order to bring any human as cargo was intended to protect the ship's crew, yes, or maybe keep the crew ignorant about your people and your abilities.'

Tempo kept her subdued silence for a long time, but then she spoke up.

'I don't think that this order is a matter of inadequate containment procedures. I'm sure we would have directed any humans found to an isolated asteroid facility if we thought him to be a biohazard of such dimensions. Beryl might be right... it is more a matter of secrecy. A human in close contact with a ship's crew... you've seen what happened.'

'Whoever wanted to get hold of anything human wanted to do it all hushed up. But that's not possible anymore with the Barsam and the Historians knowing of my existence.', Alex stated.

'Let's hope that them knowing turns out to be for the better, rather than the worse. Please do keep in mind that they'd readily use you for their own ends... as well.', Tempo sighed. 'Can I stay for a while? Stars, I missed your touch in sanzai...', she trailed off.

Alex casted a worried glance at Beryl, remembering their earlier discussion.

'She's definitely addicted to you... is it possible that Mizol react more strongly to humans just because their ways of thinking are quite similar? Uh... no offense intended.'

'None taken, but that could explain Brightshield, too...', Alex hedged.

'Which makes it doubly important to not to let her claws get into you!', Beryl, and surprisingly Fireblade, sent with red-hot jealousy in their thoughts.



Mon Jul 30, 2018 11:52 pm
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
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Stillstorm hoped that the three of them were indeed training the alien and they were not goofing around under the cover of his Lotai. Fireblade at least had the good sense of explaining why the recently shaved Parat Tempo and Tozet Beryl were together alone with the him so soon after the Lotai incident, training him to control his powers was a good idea and she would have probably ordered them to do just that if they hadn't decided to do it on their own initiative. Allowing Fireblade to go and observe the training in person did demand a change in the shifts for the Teidar on bridge duty but Mothwing didn't seem too annoyed with having to start her shift so early. The problem however was the fact that his new liaison didn't like the fact that an obviously dishonored and compromised Mizol would be the one to train him.

"It's obvious the Parat Tempo has compromised herself with the infatuation she has with Captain Jardin, she shouldn't be allowed near him until she solves her personal issues."
Losat Brightshield protested.

"Parat Tempo has recused herself from being Captain Jardin's diplomatic liaison after her recent failures but as you are aware he is exempt from the encounter rules and as such he decides who has access to him and who gets to train him."
Stillstorm replied nonchalantly.

"But all three of them take so much of his time that they interfere with my duties as his diplomatic liaison."
Brightshield insisted.

"Perhaps you should consider the reasons he prefers their company over yours Losat Brightshield. It is after all your duty as a liaison to instill a good impression onto him, for your own shake I advise you to not to annoy him by denying him the company he has chosen for himself."
Stillstorm replied with open irritation just as Rune-Laurel contacted her telepathically.

"My Lashret the fleet just deep jumped in from Sala-128."


"This discussion is over."
Stillstorm sent to the flabbergasted Mizol as she opened up a holographic window to take in the status of the fleet.

She didn't know if it she should be glad or shocked that there were about four divisions worth of ships left from a combined fleet that should have amounted to 8 or 9 divisions. The 24th and the 36th Battle Groups were now part of the fleet as well but they had taken some losses while damage was clearly visible on many of the warships. 'Green River', Duskcrown's flagship was among the fleet but the flagships of Soshrets Rattlesword and Shortspear weren't anywhere to be found. A priority message alert blinked on her holoscreen for a few moments before she accepted it.

"Attention 51, this is Tinza Sector command." Tazites Duskcrown begun, she looked as immaculate as ever with her long orange hair caught in a braid that was loosely looped around her right shoulder, highlighting her Grey-blue skin and emerald eyes. "The fleet will proceed to Nezel jump point and dislodge the enemy before jumping to Nezel, you are to follow us and join us at Nezel. Be warned that the Shell's have been prioritizing the fleet's command ships in every engagement."

Stillstorm took in the tactical situation before replying. The jump point to Nezel was guarded by a single division, Duskcrown's fleet should have no trouble forcing the way open and by her estimates they would engage the Shells in about 12.000 solons. The 51st was about 18.000 solons away from Nezel's jump point under full acceleration but there was no Shell formation in place to intercept either the fleet or the 51st to stop them from getting to Nezel. The three divisions that had secured the jump point to Sala-128 had begun to maneuver with the arrival of Duskcrown's fleet, their new vectors would allow them to intercept any Loroi attempt to reach the resupply contingent that still lingered near the jump point to Leido.

"Attention Tinza Sector command, this is Tempest. I have received your orders and the 51st will follow you to Nezel."

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My fan fics:

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


Tue Jul 31, 2018 2:55 pm
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
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From her experience the actual wait before an impending engagement was one of the most nerve wrecking experiences for a commander. The desire to simply oversee every last preparation was always present, to micro manage everything so it would all be perfect; the greatest mental trap for any commander as it would tire both them and their crew. Seeking perfection within one's self was noble but seeking it on all others was simply foolish and counter productive. No one is perfect, one can always strive for perfection but they can never truly attain it and that's the real trap of the long wait before an engagement.

There simply isn't a way to be perfectly prepared for what is to come, there will always be something wrong, whether on one's own side or the enemy's side it matters little for there will always be something that couldn't be accounted for. In the early stages of the war Stillstorm's fellow warriors learned this the hard way, they hadn't accounted for the Hierarchy's preparations for war, they hadn't accounted for their sheer numbers or their willingness to absorb horrid loses in order to come to blows with the enemy. They hadn't accounted for their own mental failings, the belief of inherent martial superiority despite the centuries long peace; all of them unbloodied warriors who always won in their mock exercises against foes that acted just as they were expected to act. Fools to the very last one of them for thinking that the outcome of any war would always be in their favor; more so when they believed that they had finally turned the tides with Semoset only to be taught an other harsh lesson in warfighting with the disaster of the Nelain salient.

Two times they had underestimated the Shells and two times the Shells took a heavy toll out of them; two times too many to still consider themselves proper warriors. Stillstorm still remembered the frustration and grief, her daughters were lost, her ship shot from under her, wounded and broken but her long hair was still there; a mockery of honor that meant nothing for she had learned nothing from all the years she had allowed it to grow. She remembered how she gathered all the strength she had left and took a knife to them, she screamed as she cut them, not out of a sense of guilt or from the pain of cutting her scalp accidentally but because she felt that it was the only way to gather her broke self into a single whole with a single purpose. She wasn't the same warrior as before, she wouldn't allow the same kind of foolishness to befell her and she would focus everything she had against the enemy without losing herself in the pain of the past.

The others thought of her as broken and unbalanced, they still clinged to the past but the new generations needed to learn from their mistakes and she would make sure that they would learn. She toured the corridors of her ship, not to seek out perfection in it or its crew but to make sure that past mistakes were not repeated. Making sure that the warriors knew their posts and that their equipment would function as intended despite the ship's peculiarities and temperament. By the time she returned to her bridge she was confident that Tempest would weather whatever the Shells would throw at them next but for now Tempest and the 51st would have to be content on seeing Duskcrowns fleet destroy the lone division blockading the jump point to Nezel before they could jump.

Duskcrown hadn't elected to employ a fancy stratagem to engage the Shells who were outnumbered almost four to one. She had split the fleet into three formations, the main formation held two divisions of warships while each of the remaining two was comprised of a single division. The two division sized formation had raced ahead of the fleet's main body, one above and one below of the plane that marked the jump point's vector, the main body seemingly aiming to follow the vector as if it was going to jump.

Stillstorm half expected the Shells to rush ahead and try to attack the main body in order to stop them from jumping but the Shells accelerated in an intercept course against the division above the jump point's vector. Duskcrown waited for the Shells to fully commit on their assault and altered the course of her formations the moment the Shells launched their gunboats and torpedoes. The Loroi division the Shells aimed to attacked immediately dived as the main body turned into an intercept course with the Shell formation while the division from below the jump point's vector accelerated upwards and into a curved course that would allow them to hit the rear of the Shells.

The Shells tried to correct their course, their torpedoes and gunboats curving downwards in pursuit of the Loroi division while their ships tried to turn downwards in turn. The Loroi ships cut off their acceleration and pivoted in place as they kept going downwards by momentum alone, the torpedoes and gunboats now having to travel several solons more under fire before they could get in range all the while they were shot down with impunity with point defense lasers and particle blasters. Solons later the Shells found themselves in a crossfire of three divisions with a fourth closing in behind their formations, dozens of ships simply disintegrated from Pulse Cannon and Superheavy blaster fire but the Shells kept going, their formation altering its course to meet the Loroi main body head on.

More and more of their ships were destroyed in droves but at least a third of them got in plasma focus range and fired at any Loroi ship in range. Stillstorm saw two already damaged destroyers break apart, a light cruiser losing its starboard engine, two heavy cruisers getting pierced clean through by two heavy plasma foci and battleship that took heavy damage as it screened Green River. About twenty Shells ships had made it through the fleet's main body only to be rundown by the division that had looped from below.

A flurry of shuttles then traveled back and forth Duskcrown's fleet as it arranged itself for the jump, the shuttles picking up survivors from the destroyed ships and the ships that would be resigned since they would be too damaged to jump. Barely a thousand solons after the last Shell ship was destroyed Duskcrown's fleet had vectored itself into for the jump before the Tazites messaged them again.

"Attention 51, This is Tinza Sector command." Duskcrown begun. "We will see you at Nezel and I will be expecting your detailed report about the battles at Leido and Enedd as well as a detailed report about the alien male with the Lotai that you picked up."

Stillstorm couldn't help but let a crooked smile form on her lips as Duskcrown had timed her message perfectly so no response would reach her before they would jump, undoubtedly intending to let Stillstorm finish her report in the time it would take for the 51st to jump to Nezel. She turned her attention to the alien and his three teachers who were still dark, she hoped that they were indeed training him for he would undoubtedly need it for what was to come when they would arrive at Nezel. Duskcrown wouldn't dare countermand orders from the Emperor herself but she would certainly want to have him and those close to him interviewed, for both his Lotai and his newfound ability to detect the Shell Lotai.

The arrival of the Shell fleet from Sala-128 came almost as an afterthought right before the 51st jumped, about 11 divisions worth of ships many of them damaged and with their visible torpedo racks empty. They would certainly need some time, at least 3 days to resupply and reorganize themselves. A formation of 8 super heavies drew her attention, Tempest's system recognizing them as being part of the Stray's fleet back on Naam; for a moment she wondered if the Stray had somehow gotten itself killed but she shook that thought away as it would never make things that easy for her.

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My fan fics:

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


Wed Aug 01, 2018 3:02 pm
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
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She stared for several moments longer at her display, trying to discern some pattern or stratagem the Stray might be using. That was foolish, of course, since her fleet was too close to the jump point for the Umiak to even bother. Even if the Stray gave orders, it would have all the time in the world to form up its divisions any way it liked once SG51 had left the system.

So she left Rune-Laurel instructions to bring the strike group and went to her office. Duskcrown had asked for a full report on Enzin, the alien. Not giving her all she asked for was unthinkable. There were orders from the Emperor regarding Enzin and Tazites Duskcrown was the closest thing to an Emperor in the Tinza sector.
But the peculiarities of the situation and the little trick Tempo and her had played together, required careful phrasing. A care usually shown by Tempo. Yet by some cruel twist of fate, the Lorois pristine sense of duty had cracked the one time Stillstorm had relied on it not to. Stillstorm would never admit it to Tempo or herself; the countless feuds between them had not only left grudges, but also a hard won respect for the professionality of the other.

Now Parat Tempo had become unreliable. A fact that weighted surprisingly heavy against twelve or so enemy divisions close by. Since she had been stuck in that shuttle with Enzin, Tempo had become strangely soft on the alien. If Stillstorm wouldn't know better, she'd say that Tempo was downright infatuated. A ridiculous thought that turned sour as soon as Stillstorm remembered, how Tempo had beelined straight to Enzin as soon as she had found something to ingratiate herself to him again.

The message that Stillstorm found on her desk was therefore needed to lift her mood. It was reassuring to know, that at least some of the Mizol were still doing their job.

"Commander Torret Lashret Stillstorm,

as you already know, the Lotai that Captain Jardin demonstrated did not affect the whole ship. By interviewing the unaffected crew I was able to deduce that the Lotai covered a radius of approximately 350 mannas. The closest unaffected Loroi was Gallen Bastobar Wavecrest at a distance from Teidar Pallan Fireblades cabin of about 354 mannal.

Tenoin Arrir Talon was closer, but whether she was affected or the only unaffected in her sending range can't be determined anymore. No conclusive evidence whether or not a mating encounter is a viable shortcut to instinctual trust either way. Further testing required.

Since Listel Tozet Beryl and Teidar Pallan Fireblade downright refuse to partake in testing Captain Jardins range of Sanzai, it must be assumed that his sending range is at the very least ~ 350 mannal.

The most troubling fact about this incident is how it started. Listel Tozet Beryl was willing to give information she gathered from mutually voluntary skin contact with Captain Jardin to Parat Tempo. Yet parts of her memory have been blocked by a strong Lotai effect that must be assumed to stem from Captain Jardin.

At the time of the incident Tozet Beryl has been closer than the speculated sending range of Captain Jardin. As Parat Tempo tried to access parts of Tozet Beryls memory containing vital information about humanity, the Lotai effect spread across parts of Tempest.

As Captain Jardin had been soundly asleep at the time, I can only assume the manifestation of the Lotai to be a subconscious effect either to protect Tozet Beryl from perceived harm or to stop strangers from accessing memories with vital information.

Since the last option would require Captain Jardin to somehow be able to read Tozet Beryls mind at large range with great accuracy, that is a theoretical possibility at best.

Subject to further study should be Captain Jardins precise range of sending and what the triggers are for his Lotai effect to activate. Maybe the Lotai needs one of his trusted Loroi in sending range to even activate above his usual baseline.

Suggestion: First, Temporary removal of Tozet Beryl and Pallan Fireblade from Captain Jardins sending range and simulation of a believable threat scenario in an attempt to trigger his Lotai.
Second, a test run to see if drugs can control his Lotai.

Should the result be that the Lotai can not activate if neither Tozet Beryl or Pallan Fireblade are in range, keeping both of them away from Captain Jardin during battle could ensure the survival of the unique and valuable alien assett.

Respectfully

Mizol Lozat Brightshield"

Shortly after Stillstorm had finished her report to Duskcrown, she felt the fleet jump.

Rune Laurel sanzaied her quickly afterwards: "Commander, Tazites Duskcrown gave SG51 preferred resupply at Nezel. Forest has put in a course to dock at the station already."

If you asked Stillstorm or any Raider leader to name the best possible news, "preferred resupply" was somewhere on the level of total victory over the Shells. A day of rest portside for the crew and a full stock of munitions and fuel were all a Raider could ask for. Yet this close to a major battle Nezel would empty its stores to fill up every single ship in the system anyway. In this case, preferred resupply politely meant get to Nezel at once.


Thu Aug 02, 2018 9:31 am
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
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"Jumping in 5... 4... 3... 2... 1... Now!", the ship-wide announced.

Alex found himself on the bed again - and by strange coincidence, again with Tempo at his side, her hand in his.

Neither Fireblade nor Beryl did leave, and Alex was sure them being in his cabin, unsecured, was not exactly to regulation, but if they didn't care, he wouldn't be the one to remind them. Perhaps they did commence jumps under even worse conditions than simply not being secured.

Alex tried to block off the queasiness as Tempo instructed him, but it was difficult. Interestingly, the knowledge that they just jumped convinced him that he should feel nauseous... and thus he did.

'Psychosomatic', Tempo provided, accompanied with Beryl's confirmation. 'Please, let me help.'

Beryl turned to Fireblade.

'I can't help myself... It feels to me as if this should be right. Tempo, part of ... this ... as well. Perhaps it is because we spent the time in close quarters on the shuttle? That this was the moment our bonds were formed? That may explain why both Tempo and Alex took it that hard when his Lotai was up again.'

'Perhaps.', Fireblade mused. 'Do you think that Tempo might aim for an encounter with him, too?'

Beryl sighed. 'She already has that kind of interest in him. I wouldn't be surprised if she asks him quite soon.'

'And Alex would ask if that is alright with us', Fireblade sent, 'It is strange, I know he would. By all means he is a male and we'd have no say in with whom he has encounters with, but I am sure he holds our feelings in high regard. If we'd say no to her... or Brightshield ... he'd back off. He'd make up some excuse to not to hurt their feelings, but he would back off.'

'Would you say no?', Beryl asked.

'Brightshield, definitely. Tempo... I don't know. You?'

'Same here', Beryl confirmed.

'After all she has done?'

'She did it with best intentions, but her choice of methods left much to be desired. She's ... hurt, deeply. If an encounter with him would help her healing - and him, too - I'd say yes to it.'

Neither Alex nor Tempo had an idea about the silent discussion between the two Loroi.

---//---

'Mizol Lozat Lomileilar, to the ready room, at once.'

The bridge crew stared at each other bleakly. Stillstorm using the full formal name to summon one crew member usually doesn't mean something good, especially when coupled with an 'at once'.

They watched as Stillstorm stood up and headed into the ready room, followed by Brightshield who entered the bridge half a minute later.

'I've come to read your proposal', Stillstorm started without further ado. 'Your inquiries about his sending range and the peculiarities of your Lotai are well done.'

Brightshield smiled.

'But what by the stars had you make such a hopper-brained proposal?', Stillstorm sent sharply.

Brightshield's smile froze. 'What?', she asked dumbly.

'Had Parat Tempo not pulled her stunt with Tozet Beryl, she'd still have her hair, and only the fact that she could offer some training was her saving grace, else she would still not even be on speaking term with Captain Jardin, Tozet Beryl and Pallan Fireblade. What makes you think you'd fare any better if you think you can separate them and put them on a threat scenario?'

'It is to be just a simulation...', Brightshield hedged.

Stillstorm rose up sharply and slammed her flat hands down on the console's surface in a gesture of unbridled anger, making Brightshield flinch back.

'You know it and I'd know it! But for his Lotai to become active, that 'threat scenario' would have to be real enough. And if he finds out that YOU are behind all of this - and trust me, so far he had an uncanny ability to dig up dirty secrets, so chances are that he WILL - what do you think his reaction would be?'

Brightshield remained silent. No words were necessary.

'Exactly. Tempo gave him enough reason to lose much of his faith in the Union. If he ever learns of your idea, I am sure we would need to find another Mizol to liaise with him - if he would accept any other Mizol after having been burned by the second one out of two.'

'But...', Brightshield started.

'I. Did. Not. Give. You. The. Leave. To. Send!', Stillstorm cut in, enunciating every word. 'Do you know what Captain Jardin said why he preferred the Loroi? Because he was less concerned with what the Loroi do to their enemies than what the shells do to their friends. But if we are to pull yet another stunt like this he has every reason to rethink his stance on the matter! TWICE now he considered himself a prisoner of war, first time after he woke up, the second time when Tempo refused to send his message. And you have the gall to propose treating him like a lab nazil without his consent?! Come up with more ideas like these and Captain Jardin would take the only sensible choice to him and choose the Umiak over us, and I could not even begrudge him for doing so! Now, do you have anything to add to this?'

Brightshield was silent for a long time after Stillstorm's tirade. Stillstorm scoffed.

'To me it looks like the Mizol had forgotten to be diplomats and became solely political officers and spies. So far Captain Jardin has been forthcoming with information, had you ever considered asking for his cooperation while you still could?'

Brightshield shook her head.

'You may have earned a lot of credit with him on revealing the Deinar files, but THAT proposal would have put you far into the negatives when it comes to trust. I remember asking you why do you think he prefers the company of Tozet Beryl and Pallan Fireblade over yours? And your first idea would be separating them? I believe I know your motive....', Stillstorm paused.

'... Jealousy.' She finished, making the word sound like a death knell in sanzai.

The Mizol had nothing to say to this. Stillstorm felt that her accusation must have hit the mark.

'Thought as much.' Stillstorm sniffed. 'Parat Tempo had the decency to shear off her own hair after what she did. If I ever hear of something like this from you, I will take up the razor myself, and it won't be pretty for you. The only words I wish to hear from you now is, 'I understand, my Lashret', am I clear?'

Brightshield's eyes went wide. 'I understand, my Lashret,', she relented.

'See that you do. Dismissed!', Stillstorm sent with a sharp hiss in her thoughts.

Brightshield didn't need to be told twice. She left Stillstorm's ready room as fast as decorum allowed.

Stillstorm sighed. Best to give the necessary orders for the restocking. And then there's the matter of Duskcrown...

Headaches seem to have become a rather frequent occurence for her.



Thu Aug 02, 2018 1:59 pm
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
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Brightshield was not in a good mood, and it showed.

While visiting the mess hall she noticed everyone giving her a wide berth. Looking over the counter with the assorted foods, she hestitated, and then chose that Perrin dish she'd seen Alex eating.

Back on the table she tried to take a bite. Operative word, tried.

If Tempo can eat this stuff, and Alex can do so, too, maybe there is something to it... she thought, taking a heroic effort to put that spoonful of ... glob? ... into her mouth, chewing and swallowing.

It was an acquired taste, to say the least.

Much like my current situation. The proctors warned me that scruples could be a hindrance to my career. But I still wish to be able to look myself into the mirror the next morning and still keep my hair.

Stillstorm tearing her a new one made its rounds around the ship. No one knows the details - Stillstorm is honorable enough to not to air the dirty laundry in front of the whole crew - but as they exited the ready room - Brightshield subdued, Stillstorm positively livid - they put two and two together.

Which served me just fine.

Brightshield sighed. She quickly realized that getting hold of Alex alone was an exercise in futility - either Beryl was around, or Fireblade. And while they guardedly kept their tone in their sendings neutral, the incident in the mess hall made their opinion about herself abundantly clear.

Beryl is definitely jealous. No two thoughts about it. And judging by the glances they shared, Alex had very high regards for Beryl's feelings.

So much different from a Loroi male. For them, we're just an endless row of encounters. Perhaps one or two stand out to them, to be remembered fondly, but that is rare.

A pang of ... yes, jealousy, for human women welled up in Brightshield, if their men truly make them feel they're special to them.

She shook her head. She had hoped to be part of Alex's little group, but if Beryl and maybe Fireblade have some say in that, it would never come to pass. Stillstorm did peg her right, she was envious of the closeness they share, but the missive served a deeper purpose.

Only Mizol are really adept at lying in sanzai. If we really did want to conduct such an experiment, the threat must be real to Beryl, or Alex. As long as they think this is just a simulation, I'm sure his Lotai wouldn't activate. And Stillstorm is right - if Alex ever learned of it, I'd never see him again.

Well, with her actual plan she might never see him again as well, but for some reason she'd feel better, having done him one great favor.

A bleep on her tablet informed her that Stillstorm deleted the message. Or so she thought. Brightshield tagged it as 'to archive', so even if that message didn't appear in Stillstorm's inbox anymore, it's still part of the databases and sent together with the data package during the next synchronization.

Together with a little tag that would ensure the Green River's resident Mizol to stumble upon it.

Brightshield was aware that it was a high-stakes, high-reward game she played. Ingratiate herself towards Duskcrown's crew, perhaps posing as a sort of disgruntled officer - after all, being snubbed by Beryl, and by extension Alex, and ostracized by Stillstorm and her bridge crew would lend credence to this - and perhaps getting aware of anything Duskcrown may try on Alex.

The biggest risk would be trying to fool said Mizol, or working around her. Or trying to get her on her own side.

She'd definitely need to get more intel on who she'd be working with. Or against.

Surprised she noticed that she cleaned her plate, but the aftertaste in her mouth was still ... gross.

Brightshield wasn't sure if she thought about the taste of the food or the situation at a whole.



Fri Aug 03, 2018 1:53 pm
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
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Nezel was a yellow sun, with a single arid habitable world whose only noticeable feature were the massive continent sized dust storms that plagued parts of its surface for days on end, which left the two poles of the world the only places able to hold the relatively small Neridi populace that called Nezel IV its home; the hardy Neridi had planned to terraform the planet before the war but these plans fell off with its outbreak and the subsequent occupation of their world by the Umiak until their liberation at the height of Semoset. For the time being Nezel IV served only to support the war effort with its industry fully geared to supply the fleet with consumables, ordinance and spare parts.

It took the 51st Strike group more than 50.000 solons to reach and dock at Nezel's primary fleet dock that was closely guarded by the older of the twin Nezel Citadels which also served as the military headquarters of the entire Tinza sector. Stillstorm had used that time to bring her ship and strike group back into shape before its resupplying and emergency repairs begun, she still hadn't received a reply from Duskcrown about her after action report and the alien which was odd in and into itself; Duskcrown usually acknowledged the after action reports from the various raider groups, congratulating them for their successful shorties and giving out rewards and promotions to promising officers. Stillstorm knew that she wasn't particularly liked by the sector commander but she also knew that Duskcrown respected her and had even called on her to advise newly promoted Strike Group commanders on tactics and deployments. Her not even acknowledging the reports wasn't a good portent which had put Stillstorm on edge.

She had checked on the alien right before they docked, his training session with Tempo had concluded itself about 4000 solons after they jumped to Nezel. Thankfully all three of his 'trainers' left him alone to rest after that; hopefully he could be able to apply some of his lessons soon which should be enough to give her some peace of mind on that front. His 'trainers' however were somewhat disconcerting, they had somehow changed in the past few days. Tozet Beryl had grown noticeably more assertive and strong minded but this change of her outlook paled in comparison to the other two; Palan Fireblade had grown far more keen and stable, especially after she copulated with the alien. Her mind now fully focused and controlled with barely a whisper of her former barely controlled self. Stillstorm would have been ecstatic for such a change if not for the mess that had become of Parat Tempo. She had never worked well with any Mizol, especially with Tempo but she had begrudgingly respected her uncanny ability to deduce the minds of those around her; it was odd to witness her being in a greater mess than Fireblade used to be but it seemed like her mind was put at ease after her training session with Captain Jardin.

Stillstorm had heard that certain highly desired Loroi males were able to impress all females around them with their soothing minds and wiles, giving credence to the stories of unhealthy infatuation that always ended up in disaster for any female that grew too attached with a male but this was ridiculous. The more she thought about it the more she realized that all three of them had grown infatuated with him and the worse thing of all is that she realized as to what had attracted them to him. His mind was keen and sharp, easily comparable to some of the smartest males she had the pleasure to spend time with and even had the honor of bearing their children; he was also gentle in his natural outlook towards them like any male should be but there was also a mental fierceness and aggressiveness easily discernible in all his thoughts. All of the males she knew found war and warfighting distasteful, lamenting the pain and suffering that it inflicted on them but not him, for him war felt like something natural that should be mastered. She had sensed his sorrowful outlook towards them for all the suffering they went through the war but he was more than willing to turn that sorrow into hate against their enemies, eager to find ways to best them and destroy them. She had secretly lamented the fact that he wasn't a Loroi male when she realized that, he would have been an ideal father for the offspring of any warrior.

"My Lashret!"
Rune-Laurel sent urgently, breaking her line of thought.

"What is it Mallas?"


"Torray Tazites Duskcrown and her staff, they just came aboard from the docks for a surprise inspection!"
Her executive officer replied, relaying the image of the sector commander and her retinue as they were making their way to the starboard nacell.

"Duskcrown doesn't do inspections herself; not when she has to prepare for the coming assault!"
Stillstorm replied as she rushed out of her cabin, heading towards where Duskcrown and her retinue were.

"I have already instructed all department to be ready for inspection but... What about the alien?"
Rune-Laurel asked, passing along the certainty that Duskcrown's primary reason for coming on Tempest would undoubtedly be Captain Jardin.

"He attached himself as part of my staff."
Stillstorm replied. "He is to be at the bridge alongside the bridge crew. Cerulean is to be there as well." Stillstorm instructed as she took the elevator up to the deck where the main passage to the starboard nacell was; knowing that she would wait for the sector commander as she made her way there.

Stillstorm stopped as she got out of the elevator and took in everything in the telepathic network. Duskcrown had brought with her half of her command staff, Mizol Torimor Shadow, Listel Saszet Manganese, four Torrai Sorimi alongside Teidar Rozerrei Lightingcloud and three Teidar bodyguards. If the alien wasn't onboard Stillstorm would have wondered why Duskcrown would have brought along Torimor Shadow for a simple inspection; if Tazites Duskcrown was known for her impulsive aggression then Torimor Shadow was known for her calculative deliberation. They didn't work well together at first but they had somehow balanced each other out after working with each other for several tozons. If she held any shred of a doubt as to Duskcrown's real reasons for this inspection the fact that Shadow had come along had shattered it, all she could do was to play along with the charade until Duskcrown would come face to face with Captain Jardin.

* * *

"How much longer will we have to wait?"
Alex asked Beryl as they looked at each other from the opposite sides of the bridge, him standing in front of the Mizol's station; alongside Tempo, Brightshield and an other Losat he had yet to be introduced to while Beryl stood in front of the Listel's station alongside Antimony and two Listel Sininrans. Teidar Ragan Razorthorn and the other Teidar that had been part of his interrogation stood in front of the Teidar's station as Fireblade had gone along with the inspection, he could sense her fiery mind nearby but she had been stationary for at least a few minutes, probably where Tempest's mural was if he could judge the distance correctly.

"They are almost here... and please calm down, I can sense your anxiety and it is disconcerting."
Beryl replied.

"I am trying but..."
He tried to reply and nearly jumped up when the doors to the bridge slid open to reveal Stillstorm leading a parade of what looked like high ranking brass. He recognized Tazites Duskcrown instantly, she simply radiated self confident authority the way she carried herself and took in her surroundings. Right beside her was Mizol Torimor Shadow who had long black hair that reached down to her knees, porcelain white skin and ruby red eyes; he would have sworn that she and Tempo were somehow related but Beryl had already told him that they just looked alike. Next was Listel Saszet Manganese for whom Beryl held great respect for while a gaggle of Teidar lead by a Rozerrei and Fireblade followed immediately after them; closing the procession was a small group of Torrai Sorimis one of who holding some sort of a suitcase, Beryl had explained to him that the Sorimi were of the staffing support branch of the Torrai caste and that they were usually drawn from the daughters of influential Torrai who wanted to put them in positions where they could politically connect and draw favors from high ranking officers.

Alex stood at attention like everyone else on the bridge did but no one in the procession besides Fireblade and the Teidar accompanying Duskcrown paid any heed to him as they toured the bridge for several minutes before the procession ended up in front of him. He had been told by others of the so called 'Brass attention shock' but he had thought of it as them trying to pull his leg; he could understand being in awe in the presence of someone well respected and who held great personal gravitas like Captain Hamilton but what he felt was beyond awe. It was almost terrifying, him having the full, undivided attention attention of high ranking officers whose words and orders moved fleets; even worse he could somehow feel a sense of hostility that they held against him and both Beryl and Fireblade were wary of what the entire procession was discussing among each other as he felt all of their eyes staring at him. Then their attention shifted away from him, the procession making its way to Tempest's ready room without anyone paying any further heed to him.

"Enzin, come, Duskcrown wants to interview all of us."
Beryl sent as she, Tempo and Brightshield followed the tail end of the procession; Alex managing to force his legs to move to follow suit.

Duskcrown's Teidar were all standing guard in front of Tempest's ready room, with the four Sorimi off to the left side of the door; Fireblade and Stillstorm were undoubtedly already inside while Tempo, Brightshield and Beryl all walked inside with varying degrees of confidence as he tried to force the anxiety that had built up inside him to subside before following them into the ready room. Duskcrown, Torimor Shadow and Saszet Manganese had sat down at the head of the long table while Stillstorm stood at attention at the other side with Fireblade behind her and to the right. The others fell in line next to Fireblade and he immediately followed their example. He couldn't tell if there was any discussion going on via sanzai but he was certain that all three of the brass were paying careful attention to each and every one of them before Duskcrown finally spoke.

"I don't believe in coincidences 'Captain' Jardin." Duskcrown begun, putting more disdain in the word 'Captain' than Stillstorm had the first time she heard her speak. "Isn't that what you said the first time you were challenged about this, 'An absurd coincidence that is the only reasonable explanation'?"

"Yes, that's exactly what I said." Alex replied steadily.

"A telepathic race that looks remarkably like us, you have a natural Lotai that somehow expands to cover entire ships and you appear at the moment when our enemy gained a Lotai of their own. That's not just an absurd coincidence Captain Jardin." Torimor Shadow spoke with a cold, dispassionate voice.

"If only things were just that absurd." Alex replied dryly.

"Yes... The Deinar files." Shadow commented. "A very interesting read indeed; can you tell us how a lone human ended up on Deinar all these tozons ago?"

"I am afraid I cannot. My race had barely begun its industrialization period back then."

"Then how about explaining the Shell Lotai?" Duskcrown demanded with a forceful voice.

"I cannot explain it. Up until recently I didn't even know of my own telepathic abilities." Alex replied.

"Yet you can somehow detect it?" Torimor Shadow asked.

"I am not aware how or why but yes, I sensed some sort of 'nothingness' in Enedd after..."

"Your Lotai incident; yes Lashret Stillstorm's report corroborates with the analysis and reports of the Deinar files but this... this is something new entirely and yet I cannot help but find everything to be oddly coincidental. Your appearance at Naam, your apparent surprise to how we looked like, your total ignorance of your telepathic talents and then suddenly your emergence as a telepath at Gora Relay and the events that unfolded. One could think that an enemy agent had a change of mind after coming in contact with us..." Shadow said with a sincere looking smile. "The Union would understand if humanity was under duress by the Shells to supply your Lotai, our enemy is relentless and merciless in their pursuit of victory."

"Humanity never had contact with any other sapient race before the arrival of an Orgus refugee ship in our territory. We were not aware of the Umiak Hierarchy nor the Loroi Union before they informed us of this war. The contact mission I was a part of was meant to establish contact and gather information about this war we had nothing to do with. We were not even aware on how Loroi look like when my ship left port." Alex replied.

"This contact mission... What was its precise objective?" Duskcrown spoke again, her voice dripping with acidic disdain.

"The Orgus informed us that both sides refused the right of neutrality for all others. The Terran Colonial Authority wanted to learn which side would safeguard humanity's future when the war would inevitably reach our territory. Our mission was to come in contact with either of the two sides, discern who would be the most likely winner and help align ourselves with them."

"Would you end up helping the Shells if you had been 'rescued' by them?" Shadow asked.

"I don't know. Hypothetically speaking I wouldn't help them, I find the way they treat their allies abhorrent."

"Yes... you are less concerned with how we treat our enemies than how the Umiak treat their friends..." Shadow recited with the same sincere looking smile as before. "What do you think of Loroi friendship so far?"

"I sincerely believe that Humans and Loroi can work together amicably." Alex replied.

"And that despite your initial treatment?" Shadow pressed him.

"Yes, after becoming aware of the situation I have come to understand of the reasons behind everything."

"You are a very adept liar alien..." Duskcrown said with a low cold voice. "Shells with a Lotai that works exactly like yours and you expect us to believe that your race had nothing to do with this? The very files I read fully explain the potential of your abilities and your Lotai." He sensed Beryl and Fireblade tense up at that and he didn't need to imagine that all the others had tensed up as well.

"I am not lying, I have helped the Loroi war effort to the best of my abilities and I have cooperated to the fullest after I was recognized as a plenipotentiary ambassador to the Union. My actions have already tied humanity to the Union in this war and I am fully prepared to provide all the help I can offer." Alex replied with a steady voice.

"Yet you are a lone human and you have no contact with your government. Parat Tempo may have recognized you as an ambassador out of necessity but this doesn't change the fact that you hold no real say or knowledge about the actions of your government and your government has no information or say as to your actions." Shadow pointed out. "Everything you say and do could as well be a desperate attempt to save your own life." That actually gave him pause to think of how he would reply to this as Beryl passed along Tempo's warning that Shadow had the authority to retract his diplomatic status on the grounds she just outlined.

"Yes, I am not in contact with my government and yes everything I have said and done could be seen as me trying to save my own life but this doesn't change the fact that humanity has to align itself with the Union. If not due to our near identical appearance then certainly due to the fact of our telepathic potential. The Umiak are waging a war of extermination against you and humanity will certainly follow if they are successful as we will be seen as threat to them despite the disparity in capabilities between us. Humanity has no choice in the matter but to help the Union and our worlds will be in mortal danger should the Umiak reach them before the Union does." Alex replied as best as he could.

"This charade is pointless..." Duskcrown exclaimed as she turned her attention to Shadow who lost her smile at that.

"Perhaps, spoken words are great for deception but four warriors have vouched for his telepathic sincerity already." Shadow pointed out.

"Three of them compromised infatuated fools, one of them a Mizol who shaved her hair because of her incompetence." Duskcrown spat out, Beryl's and Fireblade's minds flaring up in anger at that.

"The fourth is Lashret Stillstorm, are you drawing her honor into question as well?" Shadow asked.

"The only reason I don't consider the Emperor's own order null due to recent events is because of her!" Duskcrown said angrily before turning her attention to Stillstorm. "Your ship is exemplar but some of your subordinates are fools unworthy of their armor. An honorless Mizol who allowed the Emperor's own orders to slip from her attention and grasp." Duskcrown said as she nodded to Tempo before turning her attention to Fireblade. "A broken Teidar unfit for duty that has tied herself to an alien male because he copulated with her and a xenophiliac Listel who lost herself to the wiles of a male and lets not talk about the moronic Losat who disclosed the Deinar files to the same alien before trying to copulate with him in the baths!"

"Is there something that Stillstorm didn't report to Duskcrown?"
Alex asked both Beryl and Fireblade, both of them replying that Stillstorm reported everything about him to the sector commander as she was ordered to do.

"The actions of some of my subordinates may seem dishonorable but Captain Jardin is a warrior male that has aided the war effort and elected to stay with us in order to help against the Shells. In light of this I don't consider the actions of Tozet Beryl and Pallan Fireblade to be out of line while Parat Tempo has recognized her errors and has taken the necessary actions to reclaim her lost honor. If the sector commander can prove fault with my assessment then I will resign my command, shave my head and relegate myself to a civilian caste!" Stillstorm replied with barely controlled agitation, catching everyone by surprise.

"I implied no dishonorable action from your part Lashret Stillstorm." Duskcrown replied.

"I allowed the events to take place on my ship, I have accepted Captain Jardin as a member of my staff and I gave him permission to wear an armor befit of a warrior." Stillstorm replied, catching Duskcrown by surprise.

"Perhaps there are four infatuated fools aboard this ship..." Duskcrown replied and Alex saw Stillstorm reach for the dagger that hung from her hip, drawing looks of shocked surprise from Duskcrown, Shadow and Manganese who all looked ready to jump up at Stillstorm to stop her. "My words were in error, despite the events there is no undeniable proof that Captain Jardin is an agent of the enemy to counter the vouching of four warriors who have managed to Sanzai with him." Duskcrown said to defuse the situation, Stillstorm's left hand pulled itself away from her dagger's grip and back to attention.

"Captain Jardin has helped the Lashret with his stratagem at Gora Relay and in identifying the enemy flagship at Enedd..." Manganese begun. "His analysis and reports were also tactically and strategically sound as proven by the unfolding events. Although I do have to question him about his desire to remain on Tempest and not to go to Seren as he was supposed to go, days before the Lashret became aware of the hidden orders by Emperor Greywind herself."

"Despite my recognition as a diplomat I fully believed that I am ill suited for such a position. I am a warrior, the equivalent of a mid rank Soroin, my talents are best suited for war while my habit of speaking my mind and out of turn could prove counterproductive in the Emperor's court. I assigned myself to Lashret Stillstorm's staff because I fully believed that this is where I was needed." Alex explained.

"And you came to this decision without any... encouragement from anyone present?" Shadow asked.

"Such an encouragement would be unnecessary as I believe that this is where I am needed."

"I do hope that this is exactly where you are needed..." Duskcrown begun as she exchanged glances with Shadow and Manganese. "Will you cooperate with the Loroi Union to the best of your ability?"

"Yes."

"Then I want you to disclose information pertaining to the Terran Colonial Authority. Location of worlds, industrial capacity, military assets available and any and all information an allied state is mandated to give to us, in return for this you will be fully authorized to the same data regarding the Loroi Union. Are you willing to do this exchange?" Duskcrown asked.

"Yes."

"Furthermore I want you to aid us with developing the means to detect the newfound Umiak Lotai, are you willing to do this?"

"Yes although I am not aware how or why I am able to detect them." Alex replied.

"Good, to do this I am authorizing Captain Jardin to come in contact with Tempest's Farseer." Duskcrown said and paused for effect before continuing. "I am not convinced that Captain Jardin and humanity are not collaborating with the Shells but standing orders and honor demand that I don't act on what I personally think is necessary. Don't overstep my clemency."

"We won't my Tazites!" Stillstorm replied.

"Good..." Duskcrown replied as she, Shadow and Manganese stood up from their chairs just as the doors that lead into the ready room opened again to let in Duskcrown's Teidar and the Torrai Sorimi who held the suitcase. Tempo, Brightshield, Fireblade and Beryl all looked at each in shocked surprise before stepping aside to let Duskcrown's Teidar surround Stillstorm who looked at Duskcrown and at the Teidar in obvious shock.

"What is going on?"
Alex wondered but had the good sense not to ask out loud.

"Duskcrown is promoting Stillstorm!"
Beryl replied, her mind betraying her shock and surprise. "Just stand aside and observe in silence." Alex did as Beryl said and just stood aside like the others did.

Duskcrown walked with a slow and deliberate pace in front of Stillstorm and stood in front of her, looking her from top to bottom as if she was appraising her. Stillstorm lowering her gaze momentarily before turning to Fireblade, a brief telepathic exchange must have followed and one of the four Teidar that surrounded Stillstorm left her side for Fireblade to stand in her place.Once that was done Stillstorm turned her gaze back to Duskcrown's eyes and nodded with a defiant look in her eyes. As one all four of the Teidar that surrounded her turned and reached out to her, unbuckling every piece of her armor before letting it drop unceremoniously to their feet. Her arm guards, her pauldrons, her breast plate and crotch piece, everything was soon discarded onto the floor, letting loud clanks that sounded like thunder in the complete silence of the ready room. Less than a minute later Stillstorm was left only with her shoes and body suit, while Fireblade held her sheathed dagger and Stillstorm's right leg pouch in her hands.

All four Teidar took two synchronized steps backwards as the Sorimi with the suitcase walked up to Duskcrown and held the suitcase up for Duskcrown to open. The Tazites opened it and marveled at its contents for several long moments before grabbing hold of an ornamental breast plate. Duskcrown studied it up close like a jeweler would appraise an expensive ring before Stillstorm raised her arms to allow Duskcrown to put it on her, the armor's clicks as it locked in place echoing throughout the room. Duskcrown then took a pauldron out of the suitcase, appraised it in the same way she did the breast plate before locking it in place on Stillstorm. The process repeating for every last piece of Stillstorm's new ornamental armor, Duskcrown even knelt to put on Stillstorm's armored leggings and thigh armor. After several long minutes Duskcrown was done and once again appraised Stillstorm from top to bottom before taking a step back, letting a satisfied smile form on her lips before the two of them reached out to grasp hands.

"You are now Torrai Soshret Stillstorm! May you serve well and our enemies cower at the sound of your name!" Duskcrown said after they let go of each others hands.

"I am Torrai Soshret Stillstorm! I will serve the Emperor and the Union and destroy all of their enemies!" Stillstorm replied, marking the end of the ceremony.

_________________
My fan fics:

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


Sat Aug 04, 2018 5:05 pm
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
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After the conclusion of the ceremonial part, the mood in the room shifted enough that Alex could feel it without Sanzai. The Loroi relaxed visibly and moved around. All around semi private chats in Sanzai happened.

A wave of pride hit him from Beryl; Fireblade still being busy with the other Teidar.
"We did it! We're serving under a Soshret now, Enzin!"

"We did? Isn't this Stillstorms promotion?" he sanzaied back with confusion.

"You are so human, Enzin. Stillstorm got promoted for leading SG51. She can't be better than her unit and her unit can't be better than her."

"Ah, I see. The achievement is shared then."

"Yes, Enzin. That's our way. Your achievement too, but don't remind Duskcrown."

That was exactly the kind of mischief he would have gotten in trouble for a mongh ago. The temptation did flare up again, causing some panic to flow in from Beryl. He quickly reassured her that there was o cause to worry.

During this, Alex saw how some of the adjutants busied themselfes with picking up Stillstorms former armor. Duskcrown stood alone, watching as Stillstorm put her dagger back on, spinning the blade around one hand in a fluid movement too impractical to be but ritualised habit. A curious exchange now took place. Duskcrown stepped up to Stillstorm, took hold of her shoulder, looking up straight i to the eyes of the taller Stillstorm. They locked their left hands. What they talked about, Alex could not guess. He got the impression that not many outsiders had seen this ritual.

The moment passed and Duskcrowns party left quickly after that. One of her adjutants stayed behind, rather short, green hair, ember eyes and light skin, but nobody introduced her to Alex verbally.

Tempo stepped up to his side, taking his hand with nearly no hesitation.
"Enzin, Admiral Duskcrown has authorised you to meet our farseer. Are you willing to do that?"

She kept her sending perfectly even, like when he had gotten to know her for the first time.

"Yes, I am very curious to meet this farseer. Can we send a message back to my people via farseer?"

"No, she can't send to your people. Please follow me. I will take you to her right now. We will meet you on the citadel afterwards. Enjoy your cycle at port."

The last part had been directed at Beryl and Fireblade as Alex realised. From their reaction he deduced that visits at port were rare for these space sailors.

Tempo lead him away from the bridge. It didn't take long, but it was in a part of Tempest that he'd never seen before. On the way Tempo briefed him.

"Enzin, it is a great sign of trust for you to meet our farseer. Not many of the crew are even allowed to do that. It is one of my main duties as Mizol Parat to ensure her well being."

"I didn't know that. Are farseers nobility?"

"Not often. Farseeing is a rare talent. Any cast, even civilians can become Farseers. It is draining and a strain on their well being, mental and physical. Enzin, please don't be shocked and don't speak suddenly or too loudly."

Her warning wss given verbally as they didn't walk holding hands. So he could only wonder about what Tempo meaned. W

They came up to a guarded door. Two Soroin stood guard there in full gear. Both armours ornated with apparently personalised patterns. The honeygrid like structure of the left he recognized as Rainsplatters from afar. And to think he had almost forgotten her. Alex was sure she would be around during the next battle.

A curious and lengthy exchange happened between Tempo and Rainsplatter. Tempo actually had to extent her hand at one point, presumably for security.

Then Tempo turned to him as the door opened with a hiss.

"Captain Jardin, let me introduce you to our farsensing device."



Beryl stayed behind and chatted for a bit with the bridge crew. The news of the promotion had reached every corner of the ship. SG51, their bunch of outcasts and misfits, lead by one of maybe the least liked Commanders of all, had earned a promotion, a big one. The smug satisfaction could have powered Tempest during the rest of the war if there was a way to harness it.

Everybody wanted to congratulate Stillstorm and the Lashret, Soshret now proved to be in a rare good mood.

In the midst of all that, Beryl got a tight mesage via Sanzai. Brightshield. The Lozat had asked her rather politely for a private meeting in Tempos office.

Even though that was the last think Beryl wanted to do on an off-day, she judged it better to get that nasty business over with. So she went to Tempos office. It was now shared between the Parat and Brightshield, since a ship such as Tempest usually didn't carry two senior Mizol.

Brightshield sat behind Tempos desk and rose half from her chair as Beryl entered.

"Tozet Beryl, I am pleased that you decided to meet me so soon." Brightshield hadn't succeeded, but she had at least made the effort to try to lie to Beryl.

Lacking the skill to do the same, Beryl opted for directness.

"Lozat Brightshield, what is this about?"

Brightshields answer was positively subdued. Whatever Stillstorm had said to her, seemed to have worked, though it didn't calm Beryls suspicions one bit.

"This is about Enzin. Officially I am his liaison, so my duties involve parleying with him and finding out about him and his people. Yet I can do very little, since he has elected to spend his time with Fireblade and you."

"That doesn't seem to be my problem, Lozat."

"Tozet Beryl, I ... find myself in the position of having to ask for your help. I am especially looking to find out how far Enzin can send and sense and what the triggers are for his Lotai."

Beryls suspicions had proven true. The Mizol was scheming. Beryl didn't like the implications of what a Mizol could do with triggers.

"Lozat, if your conduct has made it impossible for you to fulfill your duties, I have no motivation to bail you out."

"Tozet Beryl! My inquiry is about my duties. Stop hogging Enzin!"

"Is that it, tyou are jealous of my time with Enzin?"

Brightshield looked about ready to go for her throat, but managed to calm herself with some effort.

"Tozet....yes, I am jealous! Piss artistry! I am jealous. I tried and he hadn't had an encounter with me but several with you. Are you happy now? Can we do our jobs now?"

"Your job involves hurting Enzin, Lozat. I will not help you!"

"Hurting Enzin?! Beryl, I am trying to find out how to stop his Lotai from activating in battle. Do you think I want Rainsplatter to shadow Enzin? Do you know that her squad has planned to colour a streak of each of theirs hair for the first human killed by Loroi?"

"Enzin is training to control his abilities right now."

"You know that will take years. Right now the squad can't decide whether to use red dye for his blood or yellow dye for his haircolour!"

The Mizol collapsed back into her chair.

"I don't understand. We are faced with the first telepathic species we have ever met, expressing abilities from legends and you don't try to find out anything. Are you sure you are a Listel?"

Now it was Beryls turn to get angry.
"Don't talk to me about what Listel should do. I am a Listel Tozet. Same number of promotions, a third of your age, Lozat!"

"If you are such a fantastic Listel, then why aren't you trying to share that Intel Enzin blocked up in your head?"

Beryl had no answer at the moment. Even now she felt displeasure at the thought of spilling some parts of what she knew. She was certain it was because of how dishonourable such a breach of trust would be.

"You tried giving Tempo that information willingly and you couldn't. What good is a Listel that can't spread her knowledge? Doesn't that worry you?"

"Shread this tilted field!" Beryl stormed out.

Five minutes later she was in her cabin, changing into her off duty dress. That irritable Mizol had dared to insinuate she wasn't a Listel. What did she know? There were important reasons for why she didn't share her knowledge. Not even worth to try. And she didn't know why Tempo couldn't get the answers out of her.

"Piss!" Beryl swore out loud.



Twenty minutes later she had boarded Duskcrowns flagship, moored at Nezel. Even now countless Gallen and technicians were all over the ship, repairing the battle damage.

Beryl asked a Paset for Mizol Shadow and was directed to a meeting room. In front of the meeting room, one of the adjutants came up to her and sanzaied with some surprise.

"Tozet Beryl, is this about the alien?"

"Yes, this is about Captain Jardin."

A short moment passed as the Loroi sanzaied Shadow.
"Go in, you are expected."

Inside the meeting room there were only two Loroi. Shadow and Duskcrown. Both eying her with suspicion.

Duskcrown spoke first, cutting short Beryls formalities.

"Tozet Beryl, what a coincidence. We were just talking about the Deinar files and wonderey which Listel to involve."

"Tazites Duskcrown?" Beryl sent back.

"You are already familiar with the Deinar files. " Shadow now sent. "What you will see now is under strictest secrecy. Nobody outside thid room must learn of this. That is a direct order of the admiralty."

Without waiting for a reply, Shadow threw some of the files on the wall. These ones were entirely unfamiliar to Beryl however. It wasn't much, but the header alone shocked Beryl already.

"Health and safety concerns?"

Duskcrown answered. "These files were locked separately and required admiralty level clearance to unlock."

Beryl read. She was a quick reader and a nice advantage of an eideti memory was that she could read pages she hadn't read virtually anytime. But the text here was quite short, so she understood immediately.

The other human, Nathan had expressed abilities similar to Enzin. He had learned to sanzai and lower his Lotai. Trouble started when he learndy to control his abilities. A few tozon after he had first expressed large scale Lotai and worked for several missions with the Soroin diral, his health had started to deteriorate. A Doranzer had included a detailed description of physical deterioration, loss of endurance, strength, hair loss, sagging skin and then after about tozon head aches, delusions, insomnia, leading up to his death after fifty five tozon. The conclusion was clear.

"Nathan suffered from amplification sickness?" she askes more to herself.

Shadow answered.
"Yes, it seems like it. Just in his case, physical ailments came before mental health problems became apparent."

"The physical problems are normal signs of aging for humanity. Enzin said the oldest humans alive are around 240 tozon old now." Beryl explained.

"That makes more sense then. But that would still be an early onset case of amp sickness, cutting a lifespan by about two thirds." Shadow continued.

"It's worse, Nathan expressed his big abilities onyl for a few years before problems arose." Beryl deduced more as an authomatism than as anything else.

"So this alien we have won't last long? Good that we put him into contact with a farseer early." Duskcrown sounded dispassionate.

"En...Captain Jardin needs to know this, Tazites. He doesn't know what danger he agreed to."

"Why does he need to know, Tozet?"

"Tazites, Captain Jardin has fought with us and does everything he can to make humanity a trusted ally."

"So, I spent lives every day in this war?"

"It would be dishonourable to keep him unaware."

"He might refuse experiments. Right now he is our best chance to counter the Shell Lotai. We know it works."

Beryl pleaded now. "Tazites Duskcrown, I am certain that Captain Jardin would willingly help us even at this great cost to himself. He is honourable like that."

"I don't need to take that risk, Tozet. The files remain secret." Duskcrown ruled.

Beryl was despairing. She had nothing else. A Tozet would not be able to change the mind of a Tazites. She had nothing to offer. Coming here had been futile. Or was it? A memory of Enzins floated up in her mind. A deception. She had come here to do her Listel duties afterall.

"Tazites Duskcrown, if you reveal these health concerns to Captain Jardin I will personally request transfer to your ship."

"Why would the Tazites agree to that, Tozet Beryl?" Shadow asked.

"I carry a lot of valuable, unique intelligence on humanity. Captain Jardin revealed nearly everything to me."

"We don't need that, the alien already has agreed to sharing that info."

"I know what he'd never tell you willingly. I can answer questions he would never."

"Such as?"

"He will tell you how to treat humanity nice enough to gain loyalty. I can tell you how to enforce loyalty."

The Mizol looked at Duskcrown. The Tazites stood up and adressed Beryl.

"How very devious of you, Tozet Beryl. It is agreed then. Stillstorm and her staff will receive these files. Let us hope you are right about the aliens willingness for sacrifice. Get settled in. We depart presently."

"Welcome aboard the Green River." Shadow added.


Sun Aug 05, 2018 12:50 pm
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
Quote:

The meeting with the Farseer was... interesting to say the least.

Had he expected her to be the 'wise woman' sort - going the whole cliche of wizened, withered, white-haired old crone, perhaps in a ritualistic circle in the center of a darkened room or bedecked with shamanic garb, he was sorely mistaken.

But, in all honesty, the very idea of psionics as an essential strategic resource was still a novelty to him.

Following Tempo into the room, the first thing he noticed that it was indeed darkened, with just enough light to find the way around and not bump into things. Some dim lights, and the display of the nearby console showing a tactical overview were the only light source.

And the room was positively spartan. Sure, neither Fireblade nor Tempo kept a lot of things in their rooms, but they had the look of being 'lived in', so to speak. Especially Fireblade's, while she's not being a total slob, her room tended to be a bit on the unkempt side.

Though she did start to tidy up, as of late, Alex thought, If the state of their personal space represents a state of their mind, what does it say about this Loroi, then?

Then there was said Loroi herself. She looked young, but Alex did learn - to his everlasting shock - that it still could mean any age between twelve and almost four hundred, only their ears and their hair giving any sign of aging. On closer look, he'd rate her somewhere between Tempo and Stillstorm in age.

She was sitting on the floor in the classical yoga position, eyes closed, seemingly meditating, or rather, assensing the enemy positions, Alex thought. Even sitting, Alex could see that she's one of the taller Loroi, perhaps almost as tall as Fireblade is, with dusky blue skin, and, he couldn't help but notice, a quite lovely face, framed by sapphire green hair which is tied together in a single braid. She was clad in one of these form-fitting body suits, but hers must be in a lighter color, perhaps tan, rather than the usual black.

Tempo stopped a few paces into the room and gestured Alex to wait as well. He didn't need to touch Tempo to see that she was in awe, as if she'd treaded onto hallowed ground.

I never learned if Loroi have a religion or not... but sure they do hold their Farseers in high esteem, he thought, tugging his collar and straightening himself up a bit.

Then she opened her eyes, and Alex got a good idea why.

Comparisons to shamans and spirit-seers didn't do her justice, Alex added, as her blue-green eyes wandered over Tempo and then finally homed in on him, slightly widening. These are the eyes of a person who could see beyond what us ordinary folks could see, far beyond the veils that separated the visible from the invisible world.

And still these eyes showed a good deal of surprise.

"I see you, yet I don't see you. Parat Tempo, would you do the honors?" She said, fixing her gaze on the Mizol while rising to her feet.

On seeing her rising to her full height, Alex could see that she was a just a little bit curvier than the other Loroi he had seen - though the extra body mass was added at just the right locations.

Alex shook his head. Damnit, Alex! Get a grip! He chided himself. No hooking up with the Farseer, as gorgeous as she is - Stillstorm would take strips out of your hide if you do.

Luckily, Tempo's words cut off his line of thought.

"Captain Jardin, may I introduce you to Innalmezan - her spoken name means 'Pure Sand'. Innalmezan, this is Captain Jardin, the human envoy you likely have heard about - and as we recently discovered, the one who can see the invisible Shell divisions", Tempo introduced them in a decidedly reverent tone of voice.

"...My pleasure...", Alex added, rather tongue-tied, nodding, partly because he felt decidedly uncomfortable under her compelling gaze.

She smiled, addressing Alex directly. "So it takes someone invisible to spot something invisible. It makes ... sense, in a strange way. And Soshret Stillstorm tasked you to convey your ability to detect them unto me, then?"

"Uh... that she did...", Alex added.

Pure Sand pulled her lips in a slight frown. "Parat Tempo, I already heard many things about him. But not that he is that monosyllabic. Did you issue your warning of 'not speaking out of turn' again?"

Tempo took a startled step back. "I thought that you would..."

"Not you, too. No matter...", Pure Sand turned back to Alex, "... We surely won't use speech for long when we are going over mental techniques."

Alex dearly hoped that it would only mean linking hands with her at most. To Loroi it might be a deeply intimate gesture, and he was intent on burying his prior thoughts in the deepest, darkest recesses of his mind.

"Come closer. Don't be shy. As I've been told, we need to touch to make an initial contact, right?"

"Uh... you do know, that if we touch, it most probably happens that you'd be blinded to other minds around you?"

Pure Sand smiled. "Such gentleness. They simply don't do you justice. Do you know that I sometimes long for moments where I don't feel the minds of everyone in this and the neighboring systems? If you could give me these moments of peace, I'd be eternally grateful."

Tempo blinked.

Alex suppressed a groan, feeling the impending sense of dread rising up in him.

---//---

Beryl started to regret her decision. How could it have come to this? She wasn't even sure she could tattle on his secrets even if she wanted to. It already failed once, how could she think that it would work this time?

Trying to organize the knowledge in her mind in preparation to build up a dossier, she wanted to start out with the structure of the human government and military ranks...

...only to find out that she couldn't.

Terrified - her mind and memory was her defining asset, after all - she tried on checking more memories. This thing about minefields that started all that fuss.... Her thoughts were there, but not with the usual clarity.

When she scanned Enzin's mind for Tempo's 'little extra', she came across several of his memories. These memories are crystal clear, she concluded.

So what is going on?, she thought.

Searching further, her other memories were as clear as she was used to, only the ones around Enzin and not her personal experience were either blurred... or she was simply drawing a blank when she tried to retrieve some knowledge about a topic Enzin surely would know about.

Sending so much as a by-your-leave and the reason that she needs to get back to the Tempest for a medical checkup, after all, they still have all her files and her medical baseline, she made it back onto her old vessel.

Not to search for the ship's Doranzer, but the one having already a good idea about human physiology.

Namely Doranzer Mazil-Toza Pabetpeio.

'I need assistance', Beryl opened. This sanzai was almost ritualistic - when someone asks for help in a matter like this, it is highly private and very sensitive. The Loroi asked could decline, but if she agrees, both are bound by secrecy.

'I am listening. Explain', Winterbloom responded, according to tradition.

Beryl relayed the last moments to Winterbloom. Her troubles with her memory, her inability to form clear thoughts, or thoughts at all.

'I have a good idea what it could be, but I need to conduct some brain scans. I could hold off inquiries on the base of patient confidentiality, but it holds only for as long as it wouldn't impair your duty as a Listel.'

Which, in a bad case, wouldn't mean 'very long', Beryl realized.

The sickbay was fortunately deserted, and Beryl made herself comfortable on the scanning bed, the scanner arc positioned around her head, and the display already showing a map of her brain activity.

'Hmmm... So far I don't see any abnormalities. No trauma, no pathogens, no toxins. By all accounts, you are in perfect health. Try to focus on a 'human' memory you know you remember.'

Beryl picked up a particular thought. Alex, seeing himself in the foggy reflection of the improvised shower cabin back on the Highland-7. One of her favourite memories.

Winterbloom chuckled. 'Behave! I don't know what you remembered, but your hypothalamus lighting up like a diral bonfire is very telling.'

'Sorry', Beryl sent sheepishly.

'No big deal. Try it with some more memories, maybe something less... intense?'

Beryl racked her brain over the memories she picked up from Alex. A test he took, some childhood memories, and a jumble of other things - the ones she could remember from scanning for Tempo's 'little present'. So far these came back at her with the clarity she was used to.

'Hmmm.... Nothing out of ordinary. Now the moment of truth. Try to remember the events on the bridge, when you noted that these locations would be good for minefields.'

Beryl tried.... and blinked. The thoughts came back, even clearer than before.

'Interesting', Winterbloom commented, after looking at the scans.

'What?'

'Not telling yet, just one more. You said you couldn't recount the human's military structure, too? Try it now.'

Beryl nodded an assent, and tried to pick up the thoughts.... and they were there. Army, Navy, Scout Corps, ranks, military traditions... everything came to her.

'Got it!', Winterbloom cheered.

'Care to explain?', Beryl sent with a tinge of annoyance.

'Easy. You're a Listel. So you should know how long it would take to copy the whole contents of a singular mind?'

Beryl blinked dumbly. This was unexpected... but true. The time she spent searching in Enzin's brain would have never been enough to copy his whole knowledge, especially not since she was searching for something specific.

'...Point.', she grudgingly admitted, 'But, what is actually happening?'

'I see it this way: You're not remembering these things per se, unless that knowledge has been explicitely imparted on to you. So if you're asked about something you don't know yourself, you must have sent a query to Enzin's brain and downloaded the necessary knowledge. See how your paracortex lit up the last two instances? And that would explain why you 'lost' that knowledge once you were out of his range - because you never had it yourself.'

'That.... makes sense...', Beryl admitted.

'In addition, that would explain your inability to disclose the information as well - your mind queried Enzin's for the intel, but was met with a negative response.'

So what value I have for Duskcrown and Shadow... is virtually nothing. I'm only good for it as long as I stay near Enzin.

For some reason Beryl found that thought.... liberating.

'You helped me lots. My thanks. There is one more favor I need to ask. Please, do watch over Enzin's health.'

Winterbloom stopped short. 'Do you have any reason to be concerned about his state of health?'

Beryl shrugged and felt like on the verge of crying. 'I am not at liberty to say.'

---//---

"This is ... regrettable.", Shadow stated over the comm. "So this is your final decision, staying onboard the Tempest?"

"It is.", Beryl stated.

"See that it is. The Union has no place for officers who change their minds on a whim. I do not need to remind you that our agreement has been rescinded and that disclosure of these 'issues' would be considered an act of treason?"

"I understand."

"Good. In any case, I'll equip Losat Brightshield with the codes necessary to unlock this specific section, only to be used if and only if she receives this specific piece of intel from you. She'll be instructed to send off your data package as a priority message, if it comes to that.", Shadow simply said before cutting off the connection.

Beryl blinked. Of course she heard Shadow stressing the word 'disclosure'.

Did she mean it would be permissible to find out the health risk on our own?, Beryl thought, flabbergasted, What is going on here?



Mon Aug 06, 2018 1:43 am
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
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Stillstorm's promotion to a Soshret was both liberating and sobering; liberating because her efforts and accomplishments were finally recognized and sobering because of Duskcrown's own admission that the situation was such that she had no other choice in the matter. With Rattlesword and Shortspear both dead the Tinza sector fleet had been left without a Soshret and Duskcrown couldn't hope to command the upcoming battle on her own; she needed someone to stand by her side and Stillstorm was the only one she could trust with command of the fleet. Stillstorm knew that she had been intentionally sidelined for promotion to a flag rank, her breakdown after the Tasinei ways being the official reason but she knew that it was all down to politics and the trouble she would cause for her views. Normally the Imperial cabinet would have shut down any formal proposition for her promotion but Duskcrown was desperate and even Shadow, the Emperor's own leash on her, had agreed on the necessity. The cabinet won't like it once news of Duskcrown's decision reach them but it was done and they couldn't take it back from her, not even the Emperor could without just cause.

Still Duskcrown had left Stillstorm a present to remind her to behave if she would somehow live through the coming battle. Torrai Sorimi Jade, her new adjutant and aide wasn't exactly thrilled about her new position but she was loyal to Duskcrown, who had promised that a second Sorimi would be assigned to her as well when she could find one.

"Sorimi Jade!"
Stillstorm finally addressed her.

"Yes my Soshret?"


"I want you to find and list all surviving Strike Group fleet elements in Nezel in order for me to reform them. I want the list with all the ships, their current status and the status of their commanding officers to be ready in 2000 solons." Stillstorm ordered.

"Right away my Soshret!"
Jade acknowledged and immediately went to work to one of the ready room's consoles. Stillstorm hoped that there would be enough ships and experienced commanding officers to form a Strike division but for now she had more immediate matters to attend to.

"Mallas Rune-Laurel, Seinen Forest and Torret Cerulean to the ready room!"
Stillstorm ordered and all three of them reported in less that 50 solons, congratulating Stillstorm for her promotion as they arrived. She looked at all three of them in turn before explaining how things would proceed from then on.

"With my promotion to Soshret I am no longer able to be in command of Tempest but it shall remain my flagship and the 51st shall remain the flag formation under my personal command. Mallas Rune-Laurel, you will ascend to the Torrai caste and assume the rank of Torret; I won't trust anyone else with command of Tempest. Seinen Forest you will ascend to the rank of Mallas and assume the position of Tempest's executive officer." Stillstorm sent to both Rune-Laurel and Forest.

"We are honored by your trust, Soshret."
Both of them replied.

"Good, inform Arclight, Ashrain and Moonglow that they are to report on Tempest for Rune-Laurel's ascension to the Torrai caste and to discuss command issues in person."
Stillstorm ordered before turning to Cerulean.

"Torret Cerulean, I still fully intend to back your ascension to the Torrai caste but you are not ready for it. I want you to be Tempest's acting Operation's Chief to gain the experience you lack."
Stillstorm sent, passing on the understanding that the position of operation's chief was beneath the rank of Torret Cerulean now held but that she deemed the experience necessary for her to mature as a commanding officer.

"I understand my Soshret, I will not fail you."
Cerulean replied.

"I know you won't."
Stillstorm reassured her before addressing all three of them again. "The next days are going to be chaotic, be ready for anything."


* * *

"I am sure that Parat Tempo has already told you that my Lotai opens up to those I subconsciously trust. She has begun training me to better control but I don't know if I can trick my mind to open it yet." Alex managed to reply.

"Yes, she has told me all about the alien male that has caused so much mental ruckus throughout the ship the last few days." Pure Sand replied with a smile. "In such a case lets get comfortable before we try to contact each other mentally." She turned on the spot at that, giving him a good view of her back and the line of finger nail sized electronic sockets that run down her bodysuit's spine. He quickly looked at Tempo who just shook her head in a clear sign not to ask about them.

"Is there a problem?" Pure Sand asked as she turned back towards them and sat back down on the meditating map she used before.

"No... no problem..."

"So that's how lying looks and sounds like." Pure Sand commented as she tilted her head towards him.

"I am sorry... I was just surprised and..." Alex made to reply.

"Don't worry, just sit down and relax before we start." Pure Sand reassured him and both he and Tempo sat on the mat in front of her. "Very few Farseers appreciate the implants but they are a necessity if we are to be of use to the war effort." Pure Sand begun after closing her eyes. "We need to connect to the machines in order to fully visualize what we sense when in the amplifier. The flesh that used to be where the implants are now still itches sometimes."

The Farseer extended her left hand as she said that and Tempo nodded for him to touch her.

"Yes, indeed nothing..." Pure Sand commented a moment after they touched. "But warm..."

"Humans have a higher body temperature." Alex replied.

"It's pleasant..." The Farseer commented before her felt a feint electric current in his head like the time Fireblade tried to force herself inside his mind. "Still nothing, I could try to use more force but it would be dangerous."

"It would be best if Captain Jardin simply focused on allowing you inside. He is somewhat strong beneath the Lotai but he lacks the basic mental discipline of us Loroi." Tempo commented.

"I will try..." Alex said before focusing his mind and breathing.

It's part of me but with a mind of its own and it wants to protect me...
Alex thought as he recalled Tempo's training. Like a loyal dog that protects its master, it needs to be taught who is friendly and who is the enemy... He visualized Pure Sand as a long time friendly acquaintance before trying to send to her.

"Hello?"
He waited but there was no response, he changed his approach and visualized her as someone he respected, a beloved teacher of his childhood whose lessons were always pleasant.

"Hello?"
Still nothing, for a moment he contemplated if he should try to picture her sexually but instead elected to associate her with motherly affection, visualizing her not as his mother but motherly nonetheless.

"Hello?"
This time he sensed something, it was feint but it was there, close but yet far. He shifted his visualization a bit, a pampering motherly figure, a respectable pampering motherly figure.

"Hello?"
Then she was there, all around him and every where; her essence felt like the lukewarm sand of a sandy beach on his skin but without the irritation, instead it was gentle like velour.

"There you are."
Pure Sand replied as he sensed her sizing him up and taking in everything there was around them. "Indeed almost everyone else is gone." She sent with clearly felt surprise. "Your Lotai the other day had the same effect but this time... Yes two others. feint but there; always there in your mind."

"Beryl and Fireblade..."
Alex realized and he sensed Pure Sand peeking at all three of them.

"You are not... just sensing them, you are connected with them; like a mutual sending but subliminal?"
Pure Sand wondered as she focused herself at him. "Not intentional... not harmful..." She thought as she peered into his mind, for a moment he wondered if he should close the connection but Pure Sand's mind asked him not to and his curiosity got the best of him a moment later.

"What do you mean? Connected?"


"It's not something I have sensed before..."
The Farseer replied. "Sensing and sending combined as one, without control... subliminal, instinctual." Her mind lit up at a realization and he sensed her send a subconscious query like Tempo had done during his earliest training. "What are they to you?"

"Mine..."
Her mind became confused at that and his own instantly tried to explain it, his affection towards them, his caring, his lust, his love, his devotion, his craving, his...

"Madness."
Pure Sand sent without thinking. "Females shouldn't be this important to a male!" His mind recoiled at that, as if she had just denounced its right to think.

"They are that important to me!"


"You are a male! Females will always be there for you! You shouldn't be wasting..."
Pure Sand protested before he sensed her realize something crucial. "Instinct, primal, pure... uncontrolled..."

"What am I to you?"
An other subconscious query that his mind instantly replied to.

"Motherly protector..."
She instantly understood his visualization of her gentleness, protectiveness, affection and wisdom.

"Not a mate but a motherly figure, that's why..."
He sensed her momentary dejection at that before she pulled her hand away to break the connection.

Pure Sand opened her eyes and took a deep breath before looking at Tempo whose expression shifted from curiosity, to shock and then to contemplation.

"What's going on?" He asked after a few moments of silence.

"Enzin I..." Tempo begun to say before pausing to recollected to herself. "Pure Sand has realized something fundamental about your telepathy that none before us has. Your subconscious is actively connecting you with the Loroi your considers as your 'mates'. It's subliminal on both ends but the connection is there."

"What? Connected?" Alex asked.

"Yes, connected. A constant connection, both in sensing and sending that is subliminal and instinctual." Tempo explained.

"I thought that it was because I truly accepted them and trust them." Alex commented.

"It plays a part but it's more than that." Pure Sand said at that. "Your whole subconscious, your instincts, your very being has geared itself to consider those two your bond mates. As if your whole life is naturally supposed to revolve around them."

"That's... Love..." Alex blurted without thinking before noticing the incredulous look from Pure Sand. "That's natural, I care for them and I know that they care for me. I enjoy their company, their presence and their..."

"Males shouldn't be that attached to females." Pure Sand cut in.

"No." His denial must have caught both of them by surprise if he was to judge by their expression. "Love is natural, an ideal; it's complicated and sometimes painful but it's natural. I can't bring myself to think of them as anything less than that!"

"That's..." Pure Sand made to say something before realizing something important. "I thought of you as a Loroi male when you aren't. Is such attachment truly natural for humans?"

"Yes it is." The Farseer frowned in thought at that.

"Then... You have to understand something Captain Jardin. When our minds connected I instantly recognized you as a male, both in mind and body. You did the same with Tozet Beryl and Pallan Fireblade, you recognized them as females, both in mind and body. However you are not a Loroi male, our males are primarily geared for reproduction; they care for us in the brief time we are together but they don't attach themselves to us. We are just one more female to them. You however don't see your 'mates' as just one more female. Your subconscious values them and you attach yourself to them, you want them to be 'yours' and they accept the connection because their subconscious recognizes your desires and wants and reciprocates with their own desires and wants." Pure Sand explained.

"Human males and females pair bond to have offspring." Tempo commented at that. "Could this be a manifestation of this pair bonding mechanism?"

"The connection is subliminal and instinctual, if humans naturally pair bond then their subconscious is geared for it with everything that entails and since the female Loroi subconscious is geared to be acceptive and receptive to a male then it's only natural to reciprocate." Pure Sand replied before tilting her head. "I find it odd that you didn't see me as a potential mate, I am sensitive enough in order to pick the subliminal sending you would let out."

"When I tried to connect with you I thought it best not to visualize you like that." Alex replied.

"Why?"

"It wouldn't be appropriate." The Farseer looked at him incredulously for a few moments before she and Tempo burst into laughter.

"Moio Sagit..." Pure Sand said as her laughter subsided. "A male who considers mating not to be appropriate despite the fact that it is clearly at the forefront of his mind and essence." She said before turning her attention to Tempo. "Perhaps this is why you were so affected the past two days. You were connected with him but the connection broke."

Tempo just frowned in thought before turning her gaze at Alex, her desire to ask a question was clear on her face but it disappeared a moment later.

"That's irrelevant for the task at hand. I think that it would be best if we focused on finding out how to detect the Shell Lotai."

_________________
My fan fics:

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


Mon Aug 06, 2018 3:23 pm
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Posts: 625
Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
Quote:

Pure Sand gave Tempo a short compassionate look, but said nothing. Words were not necessary, after all.

"I think I see how your and our minds differ so radically. Loroi minds start out open - when they awaken telepathically, children start to send and receive uncontrollably. They start hearing each other's thoughts, wild and chaotic. It is ... worse for those with stronger sanzai."

Like Farseers, Alex's mind added.

"In fact, every Loroi child has to learn to 'close off' to other's thoughts and filter and shape their own sending to not to clutter everyone around themselves with stray thoughts. You humans, it looks like, come from the opposite end of the spectrum.", she finished.

"I think I see what you mean", Alex continued, "Our minds start as closed off to everything and everyone, and we would need to learn to consciously opening them up to select individuals, unless our subconscious deems them trustworthy enough to let thoughts pass... and that is indeed quite rare."

Pure Sand smiled. "Exactly. And, without sanzai and its added subtext, you had to resort to different methods to keep social interactions smooth, right? What you did, just prior, it was a so-called 'white lie', correct?"

"Yes. I don't exactly know who, but I got told that Loroi deem implants to be ... distasteful. I wished to evade that line of questions to spare your feelings rather than pointing them out."

"I see. Your intentions are honorable, but please keep in mind that we do prefer the harsh truth over a noble lie, then?"

Tempo cut in. "Might be we should get back to the task at hand?" Yep, there's definitely a tinge of annoyance in her voice, Alex noticed.

Pure Sand's eyes met Tempo's with a small smile. "But we are, already. I am quite sure his ability to sense the invisible Shells is not a separate entity, but tied to his Lotai - and that one is tied to his very being. So, to learn this ability, I have to learn about him."

"Huh, much like my old martial arts instructor told me. 'It's not enough to learn the fighting style, but you need to learn the whole philosophy and mindset behind it.'", Alex quoted.

"I am sure it would be much easier if we share a connection like you, Beryl and Fireblade share.... I did sense your desire, there's no need to deny it, so why do you think it would be 'inappropriate'?", she added, turning back to Alex.

Here we go again..., Alex groaned.

"As I've told Stillstorm, having intimate relationships up and down the chain of command is strictly forbidden by regulations. Even amongst crewmates it is heavily frowned on, but somewhat tolerated, especially on longterm missions. The biggest rule would be to have such a relation not influence the work. Now, you've seen yourself how tightly we bond to each other - more than we actually realized. Stillstorm had told me that there are no such regulations in Loroi service, but that's because there was no need to enforce them."

"I think I see what you mean... please continue", Pure Sand prompted.

"Right. The point is, imagine me in a command position, and bonded to a subordinate. Now imagine me having to issue an order that in all likelihood would cause her death. Even if I manage to give such a command - and that could be a big 'if' - it would very much be that the grief would make me unfit for duty."

Pure Sand's eyes flicked to Tempo who lowered her head.

"'Enzin', that's what they all came to call you? Don't doubt that you earned that name in its own right. You are a protector at heart, fighting for those you're caring for. This is a quality our males decidedly lack...", she chuckled, "... Count yourself lucky that we're biologically incompatible, else you'd be swamped in requests to sire our next children. Pity."

"Please, I already fear being debriefed by my superiors when... if ... we ever come into contact with the TCA, having to explain away kids would be a complete nightmare."

Pure Sand laughed again. "True. I'm beginning to see how this could be problematic. But enough banter. Shall we see what you see?", she asked.

"Sure.", Alex agreed.

To his surprise she didn't extend her hand like he has seen numerous Loroi doing so far but getting back onto the floor into her previous position, looking up. "It might be best if you either sit across me or behind me, and get hold of my forearms."

"Alright...", he aquiesced, taking a similar position directly facing her, reaching for her wrists and closing his eyes as soon as he felt her fingers get hold of his wrists in turn.

Pure Sand's presence materialized in his mind's eye, and having no distractions this time he noticed that she felt even brighter than Fireblade was... though, again, not with the fiery passion of said Loroi, but with a gentleness that is.... pure. Angelic, he would say. Yes, this is what an angel would feel like. Powerful, yet gentle. Bright, yet not blinding.

'I think I only understood half of your thoughts, but... thanks. If you try to keep me out of your bed, it's definitely not working.', she sent with a mirthful tone, 'Now I think you have something to show to me?'

'Oh... right', Alex gathered his thoughts, 'Bear with me, it could get scary.'

And then he shifted his perspective outwards, far away from Beryl and Fireblade. Pure Sand, linked to him, was sort of taken with him for the ride.

There it was. There they were.

Against a dark background, he 'looked' at the dark spots, these ... holes in the void, blacker than black, as if the definition of anti-light. Whereever it would shine, sight was impossible. They looked... wrong, as if his mind refused to focus on them, because if he would do that, he would be overcome with terror and madness.

'Please, focus.', Pure Sand urged.

Alex tried. But these ... holes, his mind refuses to follow through, his 'gaze' sliding off of them, the very idea of gazing into the abyss provoking a primal fear in him. Memories popped up in his mind, about a set of stories he read, featuring age-old entities, where even looking at them would rend a human's mind to pieces because of sheer terror, as they were even too alien to comprehend.

And then he felt something else. He was being watched.

It was that indescribable feeling of someone's eyes on the neck, hundredfold enhanced, like the gaze of an entity too large, too strange, and too terrifying to fathom.

And it was not quite focused on Alex.

It was focused on Pure Sand, shining like a star in the mindscape.

Panic overtook Alex. 'We have to leave, NOW! They see you.'

Pure Sand sent a short assent and Alex was jolted back into the waking world, facing Pure Sand, her hands pulled back as if electrocuted, eyes wide in fear.

Alex felt at a loss, but on seeing a distressed female, he simply couldn't help himself. Propriety be damned, he thought as he scooted closer to her and gently pulled her into an embrace, her head coming to rest on his chest and her shivers taking a moment to subside.

Tempo, understandably terrified by the scene unfolding, urged: "What happened?"

Alex took a moment to formulate his thoughts.

"We stared into the abyss... and the abyss stared back at us."



Tue Aug 07, 2018 2:35 am
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
Quote:

Tempo's armor communicator buzzed urgently a moment later and without thinking she accepted the call.

"Parat Tempo! What just happened with the Farseer?" Stillstorm demanded.

"She and Captain Jardin... they connected and they; sensed something that terrified them." Tempo replied as she saw Pure Sand try to calm herself down in Enzin's embrace.

"Are they alright?"

"They are both fine but... How far was the Farseer's terror sensed?" Tempo asked.

"Certainly throughout the ship, she couldn't be sensed for several solons and then suddenly she broadcasted seer terror everywhere and..." Stillstorm replied before the channel was cut off for a few moments. "Yes, half of the docks picked it up; I got Duskcrown asking what happened to our Farseer on the line."

"She is shaken up but fine, I am certain that they sensed something out there but they haven't been able to elaborate yet. I will report on their findings when I have them." Tempo replied.

"You do that." Stillstorm replied and closed the channel, leaving Tempo to stare dumbfounded at Enzin and the Farseer that was trying to recollect herself in his embrace.

"Pure Sand; what did you sense out there?" Tempo asked when she thought that the Farseer had managed to calm down in he embrace.

"It was... I don't have the words..." She replied as she reluctantly let go of Enzin.

"A living void staring straight at me, it was strong..."
Pure Sand sent as she reordered her thoughts. "Enzin... was terrified of it, an instinctual terror like the vertigo someone feels when in the precipice of a bottomless pit. His mind couldn't allow itself to focus on the void but I did and the void focused back at me; his terror overwhelmed me and we both pulled back away from it." Pure Sand explained.

"A void?"
Tempo asked, drawing an instant nod from Pure Sand.

"Living voids in the nothingness of space, blank spaces that don't let life's light to pass through."
Pure Sand replied as she recollected the experience. "Big enough to cover entire fleets and... somehow living and with a mind of their own. I don't think that the mind that focused on me was aware of anything before I got its attention. Enzin was terrified of it but I didn't sense hostility or even reason, just an instinctive acknowledgement that I existed in the nothingness of space."

"Can you recall their approximate location?"
Tempo asked.

"Far beyond the edge of my regular range, it wasn't a normal sensing but... a detection through Enzin's Lotai, like being able to see something through a filter."
Pure Sand explained. "I think that it was at Enedd's direction."

"And it focused at you?"
Tempo asked.

"One of them, there were several but the one I tried to make out in the distance stared back at me but..."
Pure Sand begun. "Enzin became terrified of it, instinctual terror, the kind one feels when facing death; in panic he implored me to go back, his mind certain that we would be trampled by a monstrous force if we lingered. His instincts... they knew of what we sensed and they connected it with the terror of death; the exact terror prey animals feels when faced with an apex predator. I didn't sense hostility or even reason behind the void but Enzin, he was certain of it."

"Predator and prey..."
Tempo thought as she turned to look at Enzin. "Tozet Beryl and I wondered why humans would have evolved a natural Lotai. It would make sense if they were hunted by a telepathic predator but no hostility and reason?"

"No, nothing, just the existence of an empty mind that merely acknowledged my existence... Like the way I acknowledge the existence of minds when I am sensing but without any emotion or acknowledgment of friend or foe, just that I existed in the nothingness of space."
Pure Sand explained.

"A Farseer?"
Tempo asked without thinking.

"No... I am not certain. The range of the Lotai of the one I tried to focus was enough to cover a fleet but... no it wasn't focusing its effort, it just existed."


"How strong was it?"


"I can't really say, Enzin was terrified of it and it's attention on me alone was enough to panic him and me but the size of the Lotai was many times his expanded one"
Pure Sand replied and Tempo nodded in acknowledgement.

"We need to try detecting these Voids again, do you think that you can do it without Enzin?"


"No, not as I am now. Enzin's mind and Lotai acted like a filter but maybe I could adapt to emulate it after some time with him."
Pure Sand replied, Tempo realized that it was an honest assessment but the Farseer also betrayed her eagerness to spend some more time with him.

"It will be best if you two cooperate in trying to properly detect these Voids but it won't be any good if Enzin reacts like this every time he senses one with you."
Tempo commented before turning to Enzin.

"Pure Sand explained what happened and described what you two sensed. It's a promising start but it seems that your subconscious recoils when sensing the... Voids in space." Tempo finally said.

"It was... I don't know what it was but... strange, large and somehow familiar; terrifying." Enzin replied after a few moments.

"Yes, Pure Sand said that your instincts were terrified of it; I think that we may have to adapt your subconscious training before we attempt to detect these Void's again."

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My fan fics:

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


Wed Aug 08, 2018 3:09 pm
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
Quote:

Alex could sense how shaken both Beryl and Fireblade were as he and Tempo walked out of the Farseer's quarters; the two guards right outside the doors looked unaffected despite the looks they gave him but both Beryl and Fireblade were still somewhat agitated.

"Are you two okay?"
He asked them, both of them affirming that they were fine and that they were extremely worried about him. "I think that we need to discuss something in person, the three of us with Tempo."

"We need to discuss something?"
Beryl asked in an instant. "What is it?"

"It's about our connection, I barely understand this... maybe Tempo can."
Alex replied.

"Our connection?"
Fireblade asked in turn.

"Yes, the three of us are all somehow connected subconsciously, not just because I 'trust' you. We need to talk about this and figure it out."
He explained as best he could.

"Is something the matter?" Tempo stopped and asked at that.

"I just told the others that I want all of us to talk about our subconscious connection." Alex replied a moment after Beryl and Fireblade agreed on discussing this in person. "I would appreciate it if you could explain things to all of us."

"I have to report our findings to the Soshret and the Tazites but I would like Beryl's input on some things." Tempo replied. "Are they both on their way?"

"Yes, my cabin."

"Good, I will explain things to all of you and ask Beryl some questions before making my report." Tempo replied as they begun to make their way to his cabin. "It seems that we will all have to alter our schedules in order to continue with your subconscious training as both Stillstorm and Duskcrown will make detecting these Voids an absolute priority."

"All of us?" Alex asked.

"Training one's own subconscious is not an easy task, the fact that you managed to allow Pure Sand through your Lotai despite the fact that you had just met her is a huge accomplishment for the single session we did. You will have to do some mental exercises on your own under supervision and there is no one else who can sense if you are doing them correctly or not." Tempo explained.

"What happens if I don't do these mental exercises correctly?"

"You would be wasting your time and perhaps affect your subconscious in unforeseen ways. During my training I accidentally convinced my subconscious that I needed to sneeze every time I drunk water, it took me two days to undo that." Tempo replied without breaking stride.

"That mustn't have been fun."

"My teachers and classmates found it extremely funny but in your case you will be trying to affect the primordial mental conditioning; your very survival instincts. What you sensed affected you on that subconscious level and you will need to combat that primordial fear if you are to help Pure Sand detect the Voids." Tempo said.

"Survival instincts? Like the fear of heights and the fight or flight reaction?" Alex asked.

"Yes, exactly that. Your survival instincts warned you of the extreme danger these Voids represented which is why I want to talk about this with Tozet Beryl before I make my report to Soshret Stillstorm and Tazites Duskcrown." Tempo explained making him think things through for a few moments.

"If my survival instincts were triggered by these Voids doesn't this mean that humanity was attacked by them in the distant past?" Alex asked.

"That's what I want to discuss with Beryl. The two of us had theorized that your Lotai was an evolutionary defensive measure against a predator when we were in the shuttle, you reacting like you did means that the Umiak have secured whatever hunted your distant ancestors, or something that is so similar that it would trigger such a response from you." Tempo explained. "I want Beryl to try and theorize on the nature of such a predator with the few hints we have available."

"Everything will be pure speculation."

"Speculation from everything we have observed will be all we have until we manage to properly detect these Voids and perhaps secure whoever is producing them." Tempo replied as they reached his cabin, right before Beryl and Fireblade arrived.

"What is it that you want us to discuss about our connection Enzin?"
Fireblade asked once they were all in his cabin.

"It's complicated."
Alex replied as he offered his hand to Tempo so they could connect, Tempo grasping it after a moment of hesitation. "Please explain what Pure Sand discovered."

"Enzin has subconsciously connected himself with both of you, a mix of sensing and mutual subliminal sanzai. This is not just because his subconscious has allowed you through his Lotai but far deeper and it is directly related with his feelings towards both of you."
Tempo begun. "Pure Sand was shocked with how Enzin feels about you once she inquired his subconscious about the connection and I think that Enzin was shocked from her reaction."

"If you can describe her reaction as mere shock..."
Alex commented.

"We are aware of Enzin's feelings towards us."
Beryl sent at that, drawing a silent agreement from Fireblade. "We both know that he cares deeply about us and that he knows we care about him."

"The issue is this connection and its nature."
Alex cut in at that. "It explains the incident with my Lotai acting up since my subconscious is always connected with yours but what are its effects on you?"

"Effects?"
Fireblade asked.

"Pure Sand commented that Tempo's behavior could be explained if we were connected the same way and then the connection was cut."
Alex explained. "I don't want you two to end up the same way nor do I want you to sense... whatever it is I sensed with Pure Sand."

"We both sensed your terror at it, moments before the Farseer broadcasted her own terror throughout the ship."
Beryl replied.

"That was Enzin's subconscious bringing forth a primordial fear to the Voids he and the Farseer sensed together. She described them as blank spaces that don't let life's light to pass through, one of them focused itself on Pure Sand and Enzin panicked."
Tempo explained.

"And I don't want them to be in danger from them."
Alex added without thinking.

"We are all aboard a warship in the middle of a warzone, these... Voids are just one of the things that we have to worry about."
Fireblade scolded him.

"You don't understand, they are..."


"We both sensed your sheer terror at them and half the docks sensed the Farseer's terror moments later. We know how terrifying they seem to you but whatever they are, they are working for the enemy and we will have to face them when the time comes."
Fireblade interrupted him, drawing assent from both Beryl and Tempo.

"I still think that it is dangerous for us to be connected in such a way when I will be trying to detect them with the Farseer and I don't want you to be negatively affected by me either."
Alex insisted.

"How exactly is this connection affecting us?"
Beryl asked at that and Alex just looked at Tempo.

"It's subconscious and instinctual with both of you because he considers you to be his 'bond mates'. Pure Sand was shocked because of how deeply attached he now is to the both of you. Your own subconscious responds to this connection or else it wouldn't be active."
Tempo explained.

"You were affected and we weren't on the same level as I am with Beryl and Fireblade."
Alex added.

"Not everyone is the same Enzin."
Tempo replied. "I also care for you, I have cared for you from the moment we first connected and I knew that you cared as well, losing that was..."

"That's exactly what I mean!"
Alex pointed out at that. "You became a mess, an emotional wreck from something so simple."

"It wasn't so simple! Can you imagine how it feels to be distrusted by everyone around you? For everyone to be on guard for every single thing that has to do with you? Fellow warriors, diral mates, superiors, subordinates even the males that fathered my children! Everyone always tried to protect themselves from me because they couldn't trust me but you weren't like that, not at first!"
Tempo snapped at him. "You cared for me and I felt you wanting to trust me despite everything that had happened until then. For once I felt the touch of true trust and then the Deinar files happened!"

"I am sorry..."
Alex sent at that, his training session with Fireblade flashing momentarily in his head.

"I had figured that this is what you and Fireblade had done when you said that you two hadn't mated. I sensed that your mind had been better guarded and I deduced at least that much. You had a right to distrust me if only a little after my mind foolishly sent you that message."
Tempo replied and paused for a moment before continuing. "Your reaction when I told you about Duskcrown, it shook me. I was already terrified that the Tazites would order for you to be interrogated with any and all means regardless of what would happen to you. I fully intended to help you in every way I could but your message... I later understood your reasoning but I couldn't allow it to be sent, not only because of what it would do to the Union but because it would be your death sentence if Duskcrown had learned of it being sent. Then your Lotai returned..." She sobbed at that as she tried to maintain her composure.

"I am sorry..."


"Don't be, you trusted me implicitly and I betrayed that trust!"
Tempo snapped back at him.

"I was unreasonable, I shouldn't have put you in such a position; to choose between your duty and our friendship."


"You were desperate, I knew it and that's why... I was the cause of everything that ensued."
Tempo sent.

"Don't worry about it."
Alex replied, drawing a silent assent from both Beryl and Fireblade.

"That's why I was affected so much, I hadn't realized this until after the fact. I truly mean it when I say that I am compromised with you; I am compromised because you offered me something that I wanted more than anything without even realizing it."
Tempo explained as she forced herself to calm down. "Beryl and Fireblade are both different. Beryl was always overly curious, single minded, impulsive and charitable; even somewhat agoraphobic but she has grown more assertive and headstrong ever since you opened up to her. Fireblade was always tumultuous, deeply traumatized by the war and borderline fit for duty but she has become self confident, keen and stable with your bond. You have been good for both of them, don't minimize that."

"That's good to know..."
Alex replied without thinking.

"I think that it would be good if we could somehow regulate this connection."
Beryl begun as she suppressed an embarassing memory . "Enzin sends when mating and it is disconcerting."

"Perhaps with some subconscious training you will be able to open and close the connection when necessary."
Tempo commented at that. "But an other thing I need to talk with you Beryl is about the Voids that terrified Enzin. In the shuttle we had theorized that the Lotai was an evolutionary necessity against a telepathic predator and Enzin's instinctual recognition and fear response corroborates this. He sensed the Voids but his mind didn't allow itself to focus on them and when Pure Sand focused on one she realized that the Void focused back at her. She didn't sense any reason or emotion from it, just an acknowledgements of her existence. I want you to work together with Enzin on the possible nature of the Voids because it is highly likely that what he recognized is related with the predator that induced the Lotai on humanity."

"Hmm..."
Beryl sent as she thought about this new problem. "The existence of the Lotai as well as the ability to detect when someone is mentally focusing on them is not a sign of a defensive measure but rather a predatory adaptation. Depending on the telepathic abilities this could be an anti-telepathic predator."

_________________
My fan fics:

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


Last edited by Guest on Sun Aug 12, 2018 3:29 am, edited 1 time in total.



Sat Aug 11, 2018 3:22 pm
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
Quote:

'This begs the question... would humans or Loroi be their intended prey?', Alex mused.

His thoughts were met with three wordless queries to explain.

'Just think of this - you yourself told us that you were searching for another telepathic race since long, and given the size of the Union and the space you know, it means that telepathy is a very rare trait amongst the different species. And that we can talk this way is by your own belief that you Loroi were patterned after us humans.'

Fireblade interjected with a rather undignified thought, something Alex picked up on.

'Rather than feeling shame over it, how about looking at it that you're the stronger, more durable, improved version of us? Your biochemistry operates much more efficiently, you need less sleep, less sustenance, and every single one of you ladies could give a seasoned marine a run for the money.'

'...True.', Fireblade admitted, somewhat mollified.

'Anyway, here's the rub: We already suspected that the Soia had an influence on Earth in prehistoric times, and that maybe our species, or rather the ancestors of our species, had enough contact for you to earn your place in human mythology', Alex continued.

'Right. Your elves, as you said.', Beryl cut in.

'And, second, our pictures of dragons made you think of these Nissek, as I remember?'

'Right on two. What are you getting at?', Tempo asked.

'The Nissek may just have been coincidence, but now I'm thinking less so. Once, it's a fluke, Twice, it's an oddity, but three times, it's a pattern. There is something out there that my subconscious recognizes and reacts to with a primal fear, the fear of a prey animal facing an apex predator. But if we assume that you Loroi and we humans have a shared history, it could be that they were designed to prey on you, and we humans would just be by-catch.'

'And why wouldn't we react the same as you?', Beryl challenged.

'Perhaps for you the evolutionary pressure wasn't strong or persistent enough to make an imprint on your genetic makeup. And I think the Soia might have equipped you with a more stable genome to have it affected less by mutations. After all, they wouldn't want anything to mess with perfection?'

'Charmer', Tempo ribbed Alex.

'...be it as it may....', Beryl started slowly, and Alex could actually feel her embarrassment, '...that doesn't bring us any closer to identifying this mysterious species.'

'Let's assume that this is a common enemy. One that preys on humans and Loroi equally. Likely sapient, because a base animal wouldn't be much of a threat to anything above a single Loroi or human.', Alex started.

'It must be a species which we had little to no contact to in historic times, something which is part of our myths and legends, if at all', Tempo mused.

'And it needs to be a species the Shells had subjugated on a large scale. We're not talking about single invividuals, but enough to supply a whole Umiak strike force. This would require quite a population base', Fireblade added.

'Let's start with the first and second one... a sapient species in Loroi lore which is most likely feared or at least respected by the Loroi at a whole', Alex interjected.

That got the three Loroi thinking.

After a moment, the picture of Tempest's mural popped up in the mindscape, courtesy of Beryl, accompanied with the word 'Bedein', supplied by the three Loroi.

'?', Alex queried.

'Bedein... that's we call a sort of avenging water spirit. As the lore goes, Tempest managed to secure their service to exact her bloody vengeance on those who betrayed her.', Beryl supplied.

'We have something similar. Furies. Or Erinyes, if you use the Old Greek name. These were described as vengeful spirits, living under earth to take vengeance on men who have sworn a false oath or committed an act of betrayal', Alex provided.

Tempo's eyes went wide. 'Not an exact match, but close. Very close.'

'Wait, that mural showed only parts of these 'Bedein'. Do you have depictions how they'd look like in full?', Alex asked.

'Sure do.', Beryl chipped in, showing them another picture of slender creatures with features looking even more elfin-like than the Loroi themselves do, with long, thin arms ending in webbed, clawed hands and, more importantly, their torsos widening into hips, but then tapering off in a single, slender tail adorned with a single fin on its back and two more fins near the end. Everything in the picture conveyed the feeling of the weightlessness felt in the water, and while the creatures looked peaceful, Alex felt some trepidation while looking at them.

'What is it?', Fireblade asked, somewhat concerned.

'Mermaids.', Alex simply sent. 'Creatures of another of our legends. Mermaids, or sirens. Head, arms and torso of a woman, but below the waistline the body of a fish, with a single, strong tail. Aquatic, but some legends have them be able to transform and walk on land for short times, but more importantly, their voices mesmerizing the seafarers of old so that they steer their ships into dangerous waters, or have the sailors simply jump overboard, crazed with lust, only to be drowned and preyed on by these creatures.'

Beryl paled visibly. 'You humans can surely conjure up a lot of horrors...'

'Especially when it comes to the sea. Even today, much of the sea is still unknown to us, and not knowing leaves enough room for lots of stories. If you really wish for nightmares, there's the Chtulhu mythos, conjured up by one author named H. P. Lovecraft. It talks about ancient beings, slumbering throughout the world - and, mind you, seventy percent of the planet is covered with water - beings so old and powerful and uncaring of humans, that we would simply describe them as 'evil', and just a single glance at them would rend a human's mind asunder.'

Beryl's eyes went wide. 'I ... think I'll pass.'

'But how would the Umiak fit into this?', Fireblade asked.

'We know of an aquatic sapient race in Historian space, something the Historians really hush up, to protect them, they say. And, we know the Historians only fully committed themselves to our side because the Shells invaded their space several tozons ago. Perhaps... that invasion served a purpose to abduct a breeding population of this race, the 'Pol'?', Beryl put up.

'Beryl.... you're talking about events thirty tozons ago! This would mean that the Shells had planned for this since almost the beginning of the war!', Fireblade sent, visibly shocked.

'This may be a lot of 'if's, and while the conclusions may seem plausable, something we might have had overlooked could easily topple everything we've built. Perhaps we won't have any definite conclusion until we manage to board one of the ships of an invisible division and we find a tank with one of these beings in there.', Tempo tried to soothe the riled up minds.

'And for that, I need to overcome my phobia', Alex concluded, 'Human psychology has about two tried and true methods of dealing with phobias.'

'Oh. And they are...?', Tempo asked, and Alex was sure he picked up a dejected tone in her sending.

Smooth move, Alex. You just told her that you don't need her overcoming your fears, he chided himself.

'First way of doing this would be to directly confront oneself with the object of the fear. For example, if someone fears heights, it would be transporting him to the top of the tower and have him looking down. The idea behind this is that a human has only a limited capacity for fear, and once it's exhausted, acceptance of the inevitable sets in.'

This was met three-voiced outcry in sanzai and a vice-like grip by Tempo's hands.

'What? NO WAY! The shock could KILL you!', she sent sharply, while looking deep into his eyes. 'Promise me. PROMISE ME that you won't go that route! I couldn't.....'

She didn't finish that thought. Instead, she pulled him close to herself and gave him a rough kiss on the lips, a kiss fueled by her desperation to convey her feelings to him.

'....', Alex was completely taken by surprise by Tempo's reaction, more so than Beryl and Fireblade, it seemed. It took quite some time for his brain to kick back into gear after she broke the kiss.

'...I'm sorry.', she sent guiltily.

'Don't be.', Alex tried to soothe her. 'And, you could help me with the second method.'

'Anything', she stressed. 'EVERYTHING!'

'It takes longer, and is a step by step thing. When I first sensed them, the panic gripped me as well, but not as strongly. How I would go is to ... desensibilize myself to them. As in, if I have a fear of fire, it would be like looking at a candle flame first, and when I can do so without getting a panic attack, it would be a lantern, then a campfire, and so on.'

'I see. And what do you need me for?'

'To watch me. Keep a lookout that I don't overreach myself. And edge me onwards to the next step. I will be stubborn, I will resist, but I need you to give me the needed push. And it has to be you, with your insight into Loroi - and human - psyche. And, maybe we need to repeat that when we're together with Pure Sand - because that thing looking at hear triggered my protective instincts.'

'I see. This is ... somewhat different.', Tempo acknowledged.

Beryl turned to Alex with a somewhat serious expression.

'You like her, don't you?', she asked.

Alex sighed. 'I'd lie if I would say no. And I felt that she's attracted to me as well, even after she discerned the depth of the bonds we share. It is ... improper. I shouldn't feel that way for her.'

'Why? Because she's the Farseer?', Tempo queried, and Alex nodded, 'Nonsense. Let me tell you, as a Farseer only few crewmembers ever get to see her. Her life is a lonely one, almost completely seeing other Loroi minds from afar.'

'And', Fireblade added, 'they face about the same difficulties ... as I do.'

Fireblade didn't need to elaborate what she meant. Farseers, as exceptionally powerful telepaths may be barred from male encounters as well, just because they could possibly hurt the males, too. Or maybe the males hurting them, since they're that sensitive.

'If it happens... and it's a big if, mind you! ... it's up to you to tell Stillstorm about it before she decides to take it out of my hide.', Alex groused.

'I wouldn't be too surprised if Stillstorm already entertained the possibility of that happening', Fireblade sent matter-of-factly.



Sun Aug 12, 2018 2:50 am
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
Quote:

'But still. Pure Sand's abilities are mission critical, and we're dealing with a largely unexplained phenomenon here. I cannot consider bonding with her in good conscience, especially when it had such a strong effect on you all', Alex tried to reason with the three Loroi.

'What effects? Me, I felt calmer and more focused than... well, since a long time. Beryl, she got more self-assured and ready to put her foot down when there's need to', Fireblade sent.

Alex focused on Tempo.

'I made a grievous mistake. And I turned into an emotional wreck the moment the connection was broken. It wasn't the presence of the connection, but its sudden absence that made me despair so much', Tempo admitted.

She does have a point, Alex relented.

'Why are you so intent on pushing me into Pure Sand's direction, anyway?', he asked.

'Other than that she is lonely and deserves something good in her life, too? Even if she might never pick up on your trick to see through the Shell's Lotai, because it could simply be a 'human thing', I'm sure a union between you two, combining your and her abilities might be beneficial to all. You're no slouch when it comes to sanzai, and you detected these invisible divisions on a range where she would have to use her amplifier - so imagine what you two can do together!', Beryl sent with a passionate note in her thoughts.

'Be it as it may, I need to brief Stillstorm on what happened', Tempo sent with a note of finality.

'You do that. Uh... do you plan to include this discussion in your report, too? I'm not sure if we should - this was all highly speculative and we were taking some wild-ass guesses about creatures of legend here.'

'Do I need to remind you that some legends turned out to be true to you as well?', Tempo countered with a mischievous tone.

'She's got you there...', Fireblade added for good measure.

Alex sighed, realizing that arguing further would avail to nothing besides riling up the two Loroi. 'Alright, alright. But make it clear that so far all we have is conjecture.'

'Will do', Tempo sent before leaving, presumably to find Stillstorm.

'Well, I don't know about you, but I'm starved. Anyone up for a bite in the mess hall?', Alex asked.

---//---

Sadly, neither Beryl nor Fireblade were free to tag along. Beryl had to sift through some data and prepare after-action reports - docking at a larger port always included exchange of large amounts of information on top of everything having been sent over the open channels, and Fireblade needed to deal with some changes in the security setup on the Tempest, especially after Stillstorm's promotion. New personnel, new clearance levels - that sort of thing.

So it was with a good amount of trepidation when Alex crossed the threshold into the mess room, alone. Best he could hope for was that he'd find a friendly face in there, because eating alone would be a complete fauxpas in Loroi culture, if he wished to retain his recognition as a warrior amongst equals, and mixing up with a bunch of unfamiliar Loroi could get awkward pretty quick.

Already he could feel numerous stares on himself, judging every single one of his moves, but he was given some reprieve when he headed towards the counter to check the assortment of dishes... Ah, there...

He picked up something he recognized and where he was sure his stomache didn't act up upon, and a moment later it came back to him - this was a dish Tempo introduced him to.

Now, where to sit...?

"Enzin! Over here!", an upbeat Loroi voice sounded out, and on turning in the direction he quickly singled out the speaker's sapphire blue hair and her tattoo, flanked by two other Loroi, one with her unmistakably emerald hair.

Feeling mightily relieved, Alex made a beeline to her table the moment Talon motioned Spiral to scoot over and make room for him, too. Alex felt that it might get a bit cramped with four persons on the bench, but the Loroi surely don't seem to mind, much the opposite - even Spiral was eager to for him to join.

Placing his tablet on the vacated space was met with some rather pointed stares ranging between questioning and disapproving.

"This looks much like the stuff Tempo eats, right?", Talon asked, her tone carefully neutral.

"It is. Perrein tazim mushroom caps. I know, I know. Perrein quisine is somewhat ... special, but I've had a hard time finding stuff I can stomach, so I'm countinmg my blessings."

"True.", Spiral said, "And Tempo eats much more pungent stuff, I'll grant her that."

Well, Loroi and their innate honesty..., Alex thought.

"Speaking of which", the third Loroi - Sandraker, Alex remembered just then - cut in, "What happened with her? Stillstorm read her the riot act and the next we see her without hair!"

"I'm not sure how much is mine to tell. Almost nothing, I think. Let's just say... she made some bad choices out of good intentions."

"This is not much." Talon groused.

"She tries to atone for it and even Beryl thought she deserved a second chance.... But, this makes me think of something different. The question may sound odd to you, but do you feel... changed, or different, after we.... well, did it ... in the baths?"

Alex's voice dropped several levels so that even Spiral and Sandraker had trouble hearing him.

"Changed?", Talon grinned broadly, "besides from completely filled, satisfied, utterly exhausted and as blissful I could ever be? Let me tell you, what you did just begs for an encore, but Spiral, Westwind and Sandraker already called dibs."

"Damn right we did! You almost had us going right by just watching you two.", Spiral added in.

"...Right...", Alex gulped, trying to keep his calm under the three sets of positively hungry Loroi eyes, "this is ... not ... quite what I meant - the biggest change would be that I could send to you over distance, and you to me."

"Sending without touching? That's something you do only with.... oh. Oh, I see! You mated with them, now you can, and now you want to know if I'd keep with the trend?"

"It's ... a bit... no a lot more complicated, but that's part of it, yes.", Alex admitted.

"Sorry, Enzin. Still completely blank to me, unless we touch. But if you're up for a retry...?", Talon winked.

"Feel free to keep that in mind. But you helped me tremendously. Just imagine. Our newly-promoted Soshret had about the same idea as you did, and was making plans to have me mate with her, and perhaps some of the bridge crew, just to allow them the convenience of sending to me and vice versa."

"She what?", Talon laughed. "Now that explains some of her latest orders. Perhaps you should quickly tell her that things might not work that way she envisioned."

"Explains some of her...? No. I don't want to know. But I have the feeling that wouldn't quite deter herself."

"Why that? You did deny the request for an encounter she made for herself on the Relay?"

"..." Alex remained silent.

"You didn't?"

"I refused to play her little game, and thus she practically declared me free-for-all, sort of. You got that memo, now you know how it came to be."

"Gutsy, trying to pull one on Stillstorm. But if it means we don't need to go through the paperworks, I wouldn't complain...."

"Uh... Talon, there's another thing you should know. Beryl witnessed everything we did. And I mean everything. I heard it from her only much later that I unwittingly sent everything to her. She ... well, she bade me to bring my sending under control before I continue distracting her."

"So sorry ladies...", he turned to a slightly dejected Spiral and Sandraker, "...no encounters save a select few until I get my mind in shape."

"But tell us when you do!", Spiral insisted.

"Too bad. Since 'private time' is out... We're docked at a major port and it would be gross negligence if we don't make good use of it and get off the ship for the time being?", Talon suggested.

"Uh... I'm not sure if I'm free to leave. Think Gora Relay...", Alex hedged.

"Let me check...", Talon busied herself with her tablet, "...there are no standing orders limiting your movement, save that you have to be accompanied by at least two of Tempest's crew at all times, and your schedule says 'free for the time being' after the meeting with... our Farseer? Truly?", Talon ended on a disbelieving note.

"Truly. And her spoken name is Pure Sand.", Alex felt the need to stress that she indeed does have a name besides 'Farseer'.

"Careful.", Talon laughed, "Many Loroi would see it as almost breaching a selan to actually use her spoken name. But I'm sure a male as unique as you can get away with it."

Talon, you have no idea...., Alex thought glumly.

"But, since you're here and not in her quarters or at her amplifier, I guess the business with our Farseer is concluded? Wait... does it have to do with the wave of terror felt throughout the ship?"

"For the time being, yes. And yes, it had. Suffice to say, we looked at something we shouldn't have completely unprepared.", Alex stated.

"That bad?", Talon asked with a worried voice.

"I'm not sure if we aren't making mountains out of molehills, but we'd better err on the side of caution."

"I have no idea what a 'mole' is, but I think I get your word picture. Giving something much more importance than it deserves, right?"

Alex nodded. "Right in one. Anyway, Tempo might be bringing Stillstorm up to par about everything that happened. So... why not?"

"Splendid!", Sandraker beamed, and before Alex knew what happened, all three Loroi almost took him into an arm-lock, leading him out of the mess hall and to the gangway connecting the ship to the docks.

Luckily Alex had the presence of mind to give Beryl a heads up.

'Beryl, you're there?', he tried to send.

'Always! What's up?', her bubbly sanzai came back.

'Talon and Spiral sort of gang-pressed me into visiting the docks. Chances are I might move out of sending range. Given the connection... Beryl, promise me, if you or Fireblade feel any discomfort, call me on my communicator, or try to take your leave and join me?'

'I see. But perhaps you worry too much. Tempo fell into that deep hole because the connection was violently broken. Maybe just moving out of range won't have that much of an effect. But... thanks for the heads up.', Beryl tried to send a soothing thought.

'I'm a human male, it is my prerogative to be concerned about the females I consider important to me, as much as you Loroi females are geared to protect males from harm.', Alex tried at a bit of leeway.

Laughter came through the sanzai from her, and a second 'voice' cut in - Fireblade.

'I heard you. And as a Loroi female I do have to ask you, are you really sure to head out into port with these three troublemakers? Remember the last time you were with Talon...', she sent, and Alex was sure he recognized a humorous undertone.

'What's the worst that could happen?', Alex sent back.

'Enzin, you have no idea', Beryl answered.

'Famous last words', Fireblade added.

Alex wasn't sure whether her closing words or the decidedly mischievous tone they were sent with worried him more.

What have I gotten myself into, now? He sighed.



Wed Aug 15, 2018 2:11 am
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
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"So the Farseer's broadcast of terror was because of whatever it was that she and Captain Jardin sensed?" Duskcrown asked, her hologram clearly depicting her skepticism at that. "Are you certain that it wasn't a form of mental manipulation from his part?"

"Tempest's Faseer is a highly capable, focused and sensitive telepath. I am certain that she would have realized if anyone was foolish enough to try any sort of mental manipulation trick. What the two of them sensed was real." Tempo said bluntly.

"And they sensed 'Voids' in space?" Torimor Shadow asked in turn.

"Indeed, that's how the Farseer explained them: Voids in space that don't allow life's light to pass through them. She sensed a blank mind behind the Voids, without sentiment or reason but a mind nonetheless. Captain Jardin was gripped by an instinctive fear of the Voids and when one of them focused on the Farseer he panicked and pulled both of them back." Tempo recited again.

"Focused... As in a Farseer focusing on a life sign?" Shadow asked again.

"The Farseer wasn't certain, it was an emotionless aknowledgement of her existence; she was certain that the mind wasn't searching for life signs but rather focused itself on her when she focused herself on it. Captain Jardin's panic at it didn't allow her to discern anything more than this." Tempo replied.

"And how strong of a mind was it?" Duskcrown asked.

"The Farseer wasn't certain but she described it as strong. Captain Jardin's Lotai encompassed most of the ship but the Void she managed to study was large enough to cover a fleet and it was one of several." Tempo replied.

"A singular mind covering an entire fleet, that's a Farseer level potential or a heavily amplified human like Captain Jardin." Shadow begun. "And he was terrified of the Void?"

"Indeed, an instinctual terror; the Farseer described it as the kind of terror that a prey animal feels when faced with an apex predator. I and Tozet Beryl had theorized that the human Lotai was an evolutionary adaptation to hide against a telepathic predator. Captain Jardin's reaction corroborates this." Tempo replied, Shadow nodding in understanding at that.

"Makes sense... and has Captain Jardin voiced any concern about trying to sense these Voids again?"

"No, it is his belief that with some mental training he will be able to sense them again and without him panicking at their sight. The two crude techniques he proposed match the most direct approaches to combat one's phobias. I denied the most expedient one out of concern for his mental and perhaps physical well being, we will commence his training after he has rested and relaxed."

"We have only a single human to work with so ensuring his well being is paramount untill our Farseers manage to detect these Voids on their own." Duskcrown said out loud. "Do you have anything else to report Parat Tempo?"

"Only theories and conjectures about the nature of the Voids based on common themes between Human and Loroi historic legends." Tempo replied.

"You work quick Parat..." Duskcrown commented. "What have you figured out so far?"

"It was Captain Jardin's theory that if the minds behind the Voids were an anti-telepathic predator then such a predator would be known by both of our races and I enquired him and Tozet Beryl about the possible nature of such a predator. The Bedein from the Legend of Tempest fully match a seaborn monster of human Legend called 'Mermaid', monsters with a female's torso and head but with the tail of a fish instead of legs that mesmerized and lured sailors to their doom so they could feast on them. If the anti-telepathic predator was aquatic then it matches the nature of the fourth Soia-Liron sapient race we are aware of, the Pol." Tempo replied.

"That's... not anything we can work with, Parat Tempo." Shadow commented.

"It's all we have at the moment. The nature of the Shell trick and how they secured it will be made apparent after we manage to physically secure a specimen from a Shell ship. Nevertheless the information that the Hierarchy has secured telepaths strong enough to produce a fleet sized Lotai is of paramount importance. I will ensure that Captain Jardin will be fully able to aid in developing the means to at least detect the presense of these Voids in the future."

"Indeed, it is far more than we had before." Duskcrown begun. "I entrust Tempest with this matter and I am authorizing the use of any and all means and personnel necessary to bring forth the results that we need. Torimor Shadow shall be overseeing the developments in my stead. That is all." With that Duskcrown's holographic window closed, leaving only Shadow's to float in the middle of the ready room's table.

"I trust that this has been a good learning experience for your command staff and your trusted circle Soshret Stillstorm." Shadow said at that, drawing flinches from everyone inside the ready room. "Nevertheless I trust your most trusted commanding officers to be discreet about the matters pertaining the human ambassador and the research about his and the enemy's Lotai. I will be in touch." With that Shadow's window disappeared in turn and everyone turned to look at Tempo.

"I didn't inform the Torimor about the presence of the 51st's Torrai in the ready room."
Tempo sent and everyone turned their attention to Sorimi Jade and Losat Brightshield which made her jump into their defense. "As part of the Sector Commander's staff Torimor Shadow has the up to date locations of all personnel in the fleet. Both she and the Sector Commander know that everyone of you is aboard Tempest and it isn't a stretch to assume that the most trusted subordinates of the newly promoted Soshret would be present in sensitive briefings. They should also be aware about the preparations for the ascension of Rune-Laurel to the Torrai caste."

"I wanted to avoid playing the usual political games but it seems like I won't have any other choice than play them"
Stillstorm broadcasted exasperately before turning her attention to Brightshield.

"You are now up to date with the importance of Captain Jardin to the war effort and I am certain that all three of the warriors that usually take up his time are busy with other duties. Go and liaise with him."
Stillstorm sent to the Losat who happily acknowledged that before leaving the ready room. "I wonder how she will react when she realizes that he went to the docks with three mischievous Tenoin combat pilots about 600 solons ago."

"She is a Mizol, she probably already knows." Torret Arclight replied at that.

"I just hope that no one tries to copulate with him in an other public place while they are touring the docks."
Rune-Laurel commented dejectedly at that. "Just in time as I assume my first command."

"I am fairly certain that Captain Jardin will take extra care to control himself after the latest revelations about the depth of his bonding with most of the Loroi warriors that his Lotai allows through it."
Tempo replied at that.

"This bonding, could it affect the Soshret?"
Ashrain asked at that.

"I can't say for certain but probably not. It is not an effect of the bond itself but the psychological reaction of each individual to it. We Loroi are geared to be subconsciously acceptive of males yet we all know that we are all just an other female for them. To be... appreciated and... treasured by a male to such a degree is not something we are mentally prepared for and our subconscious will respond in earnest to his if he considers someone to be his mate."
Tempo replied.

"He has made it plainly obvious that he doesn't intend to mate with me and I don't consider myself to be infatuated with him."
Stillstorm added. "And out of the three who are infatuated only Parat Tempo was negatively affected."

"I allowed myself to be emotionally compromised with him, if I hadn't I wouldn't have made the grievous errors I did."
Tempo replied at that.

"Is it prudent to allow such bonding to continue?"
Arclight commented at that. "Sooner or later the loyalty of the warriors bonded with him will come into question."

"And it's up to Arclight to find reasons to stop warriors from having fun..."
Moonglow cut in with a mischievous smirk. "But my guess is that she wants to discuss tactics and strategies with the human ambassador in person." Stillstorm saw Arclight's expression turn sour at that, Moonglow wasn't an easy warrior to work with but it was rare for her to pick on Arclight who never really appreciated Moonglow's sense of mischievous humor.

"Arclight's comment isn't without merit. Captain Jardin is a friendly ambassador but he is still a foreign agent. The warriors who associate with him must always remember that their loyalties are to the Emperor and the Union. So far I haven't seen signs of anyone forgetting that."
Stillstorm cut in at that. "Furthermore the association he has with Palan Fireblade and Tozet Beryl has had beneficial effects on their outlook and work performance."

"So they needed someone to copulate with them to get their minds straight, I know plenty who could use that if Tempest can spare him for a few thousand Solons."
Moonglow commented, drawing a chuckle from Rune-Laurel.

"Are you including yourself in that number?"
Ashrain sent teasingly.

"Maybe but I am certainly including you."


"Enough with the sillyness about the alien male."
Stillstorm interjected at that. "We have other matters to attend to pertaining the 51st and overall command. As you are aware I fully intend to promote Rune-Laurel to a Torrai Torret to assume command of Tempest. I trust that you all will have no problem with participating in her Ascension ceremony."

"I have no issue with the Mallas, she has been dully professional in her duties on all accounts."
Arclight sent.

"I have seen no fault in her."
Ashrain sent in turn.

"We all know that she has been running Tempest in Stillstorm's stead for tozons now while the Soshret looked after the rest of us."
Moonglow added.

"With this we have four Torrai vouching for Rune-Laurel. The Tazites has already approved of her promotion provided that no one has an objection." Stillstorm begun. "Mallas Rune-Laurel. I want you to find four trusted Soroin to remove the armor you have out grown. I and the Torrai who have vouched for you will dress you with your new armor and welcome you among our ranks."

"It will be an honor my Soshret."
Rune-Laurel replied and left the ready room to make the preparations.

"I feel cheated for not being present in your own promotion my Soshret."
Moonglow sent respectfully surprising even Arclight.

"I didn't trully expect it, I had planned for it but hadn't expected it. I knew that Duskcrown needed a Soshret and that I was the most experienced commander she had available but everyone knows that I am not a supporter of the Mizol Emperor and that's why Parat Tempo was assigned on Tempest." Stillstorm begun as she stared at Tempo who still sat at her chair.

"Your political positions are well known and have been an issue for you in regards to your delayed promotion. You have been difficult but you have been loyal in all your duties, you would have been promoted in due time regardless of the situation."
Tempo commented.

"Be that as it may, I didn't expect it and Duskcrown took the decision on her own with input from her Mizol. It was a limited battlefield ceremony without the usual fanfare that a Soshret would require."
Stillstorm continued.

"Still, the Tazites dressed you in your new armor as is befit of a Soshret. Even without the fanfare it must have been a sight to behold." Moonglow instisted.

"It was."
Tempo added.

"To more important issues..."
Stillstorm sent to change the subject. "I have had my new adjutant, Sorimi Jade, to catalogue the Strike Group elements in Nezel. I want your input in how to reorganize everything in a Strike Division comprised of three Strike Groups lead by the 51st." Stillstorm explained and all of them went to the painstaking work of trying to form a division from the remains of several Strike groups that had fought at Sala-128 and 101

_________________
My fan fics:

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


Last edited by Guest on Thu Aug 16, 2018 3:04 am, edited 2 times in total.



Wed Aug 15, 2018 1:05 pm
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
Quote:
The three Tenoin took him, happily chatting amongst themselves and audibly with him, to an airlock out of Tempest. The Tenoin chatter drew the looks and smirks of the guards on duty there. It looked like his last outing with these Loroi hadn't been forgotten.

That Alex had thought to get the okay from Beryl and Fireblade for this jaunt assuaged his worries quite a lot. If he kept his wits about himself and didn't drink this time, the worst that could happen to him, Alex was reasonably sure, was another apprenticeship with Wavecrest.

His thoughts got quickly absorbed by the sights of Nezel station however. Tempests airlock ended on a metallic walkway, approximately 30 meters above the floor. A huge hangar stretched out before them. Racks of interceptors were stacked in the hangar and Tenoin, Soroin and Gallen worked busily between the aircrafts.

He must have stared, since Talon explained: "Nezel has space for hundredfourty interceptors, but only carries sixty. The rest of the space is filled with cargo shuttles."

"They seem busy." he said, indicating the Loroi below.

"Big battle soon. Come Enzin, we don't have forever. Let's have fun."

Proving that even alien women are still women, fun consisted of shopping. Talon and friends took him through crowded hallways and sections to a passage in which an invasion force of street vendors had liberated a part of the station from the oppressive and orderly military regime. The hall was crowded with market stalls of rather earthly appearance. They were ladden with all manners of goods but mostly foodstuffs, odds and ends and equipment which a soldier might have use for. A large part of the wares consisted of all manners of entertainment. Videos, games, even music were being sold by an assortment of traders to various Loroi warriors. The traders, Alex noticed with some interest were mostly Loroi with short hair, but several Neridi and even one Barsam had stalls too.

Alex took the sensations of this space age bazaar in, content to smell and see even though he had no money to spent. That is, until Spiral stopped buying tiny sausages long enough to show him that he did have money. His position as advisor came with a rather average salary, the first month of which was paid in advance. A fact that had undoubtedly been hidden on some of the forms he signed. So Alexfound himself able to join in the fun. Since he had nothing else to go on, he decided to largely copy what Talon, Spiral and Sandraker did.

The order of importance for experienced raiders went like this. First, they bought a copious amount of food, snacks, extra rations, sweets.When questioned, they told him that they spent months on missions with resupply in the field, so bulk shopping was only sensible. Second, all three of them stocked up on entertainment. Books, magazines and videogames all sold on digital storage chips. Bulk shopping was opportune here as well, since most of the time onboard was spent traveling, battles being comparatively short. The least important point on their shopping list was all the rest. If they had money, they spent it on memorabilia or whatever took their fancy.

Alex himself found a board game that looked broadly like chess. Since he had saved by necessity on food, he bought it. Perhabs Beryl would like a game with him. Alex had forgotten about chess, but now he itched for a match. He turned back in time to see a few suspicious bottles vanish into Talons bag. She winked at him.

The four of them met up at the end of the hallway again. Everybody was ladden with bags full of loot.
"What now?" asked Alex.

"Now we put this stuff in a locker somewhere and then make the most of our time." answered Talon.

"How so?"

A wicked grin spread across Talons face.

"Enzin, have you ever flown an interceptor against the Mannadi?"



As Tempo had next to nothing to do with the reorganisation effort, she excused herself quickly after her part of the briefing was over. She was on leave now too, but scratching over the regrowing stubble on her head made her decide to go back to her office. All the better, she supposed, as the new revelations from Enzin and Pure Sand had the potential to be huge. Cracking the shell Lotai was still the most important task and she was perhabs in the best position in the whole Union to achieve something.

She sat down at her desk and pulled up any report or story on Bedein she could find. Most of it was entirely unusable. Old legends in which any shred of truth had been lost to time and boasting. The files on Pol were more recent and written by Mizol, yet also annoyingly inadequate. The Historians had not once allowed a Loroi to get close to a member of that species. Only the report of a Barsam bard contained anything useful. Religious metaphors and flowery language made it hard to decipher what was real and what was fanatic conjecture on the part of the Barsam.

A sending from Pure Sand thankfully broke her concentration. "Tempo, where is Enzin now?"

"On Nezel with Arrir Talon and Narrats Spiral and Sandraker." Tempo didn't even bother to phrase the obvious question, as her subtext was clear enough for Pure Sand. Enzin had been a blindspot and the topic of the enemy Lotai always annoyed Pure Sand. It was better to let her speak on her own terms, Tempo decided.

"It is strange, I can detect the Tenoin as easily as ever, Tempo."

"But?" Tempo prodded.

"Something irks me. Ever since I send to Enzin, my mind can't come to rest. It's as if a grain of sand is caught in my eye that I can't shake out."

Pure Sand wasn't talking about her physical eyes, Tempo knew. So she bade her to show her what she meant. After Pure Sand had finished, Tempo knew almost exactly as well what Pure Sand experienced as the Farseer. Such is the advantage of Sending.

While Pure Sand was of terrific potential and had undergone a rigorous training regime, she wasn't a Mizol and therefore not as well versed in defensive techniques of subterfuge and hiding as Tempo. This discrepancy in abilities was the reason Pure Sand had asked Tempo for help.

"Strange indeed. I understand what you mean. Now that you pointed it out, I can feel it too. Wait a moment, Pure Sand."

Tempo stood up and went to a securely locked cabinet. Out of it she produced a slender piece of headwear. This wasn't an amplifier as Teidar used them. Instead of increasing telekinesis, this one improved the wearers telepathy. Wearing it enabled Tempo to listen in on nearly any Sanzai on board Tempest; a draining ability, which she only rarely made use of. Now she put it on and concentrated. Her own sensing got doubled in reach and strength. Where before she had been barely able to detect the Tenoin, now she clearly perceived them in her mind.

A moment she stared, while Pure Sand waited with forced patience. Strangely nothing happened and yet, there was a sense of wrongness about her focus. Like some instinct caused her to perk up her ears in total silence.

At last she saw. With that came a realisation about the human Lotai and by extension its cousin the Bedein Lotai. Their minds are obviously there, so some effect needs to hide them then. That was to make the mind appear just as the backdrop in which all Sanzai is nestled. It couldn't in itself affect the backdrop however and so the waves -for lack of a human term- were still there. Usually these ripples would be covered by the iridescent mind and not perceptible. So no telepath was used to picking up on them. Pure Sands subconsciousness must have noticed though, once it knew what to look for, annyoing the conscious part of her to no end.

Tempo shared her insights with Pure Sand, who devoured it all eagerly.

"I see." was the undertone ladden answer Pure Sand sent back.

"What about the Shells?" asked Tempo.

"I see!" the Farseer roared in triumph a moment later.

Tempo left her to it. A wave of happiness washed over her. Now that she knew what to look for, she was able to make out Enzin, or rather his negative even without her amplifier. True, it was an unusual method and required concentration, but that was now a proper skill to improve instead of magic. It was actually quite simple.

"Cloud, you won't believe it. Come here, I have to teach you something!"



Still in front of the door to the meeting room, Brightshield checked her data pad for Enzins position.
With the battle coming closer and closer, what she had in mind with him became ever more urgent. Of course, Enzin wasn't on Tempest anymore. He had left the ship with Tenoin company shortly before Brightshield had been dismissed. At least he wasn't with Beryl or Fireblade this time. Getting some variety would do him good anyway.
Enzin on Nezel station also afforded her the chance to combine the useful with the pleasurable. Brightshield had to leave most of her personal stash behind on Gora Relay, including her Crossfire set.

Nezel wasn't that big and Brightshield had a good hunch where Enzin would have been taken. She'd inject herself into their group easily enough. Once inside, she'd finally have the chance to broach the topic of finding out how to avoid triggering his Lotai to Enzin.

So Brightshield was in high spirits as she went to her cabin to change into her off-duty suit.


Wed Aug 15, 2018 5:44 pm
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
Quote:

Of course their 'shopping tour' made some waves.

It isn't every day that the people saw a new sapient species around, so it was quite understandable that he was met with surprise, curiosity, hestitation, sometimes distrust, all rolled into one.

Alex tried hard to stay serious when he was facing Neridi, but it was very difficult for him.

They look like floppy eared gnomes, but get a grip. They're sentient beings in their own right and deserve your respect.

It helped very much that the Neridi as individuals were quite matter of fact with him. There is a pink loroi-like alien male, but it's a customer, so let's do business, seemed to be their motto.

Though after one or two near accidents Alex quickly learned to look down a bit, lest he dearly wished to avoid tripping over a Neridi passersby.

That wasn't a problem with the Barsam, though, far by not.

Suddenly coming up face-to-chest with a Barsam was quite a sobering experience. And it was more of a reaction his presence elicited from them.

Alex excused himself with a quick. "My apologies" and stepped out of the way, but the Barsam didn't seem to be annoyed, but more or less surprised. His eyes went from Alex to the three Loroi in tow, then back to Alex, then the Barsam shook his his head in obvious disbelief and moved on.

Where the Nereidi shopkeepers are all business, the Barsam as a species seem to be a quite jovial one. At about every stall they stopped which was manned (if that is a word with Barsam?) by a Barsam, they always got into a bit of smalltalk, and of course it sooner or later turned towards Alex and who, or rather what he is.

Very soon he had his answers down pat. Last survivor of an exploratory vessel, thanks to these fine ladies here (which earned him a beaming smile from Talon and Spiral, everytime), yes, this is the first his species made official contact (smooth concealment of the truth, as his is not the first contact ever), and yes, he is aware that his arrival might throw the Loroi into a loop, probably being the template species and all that.

Quite unsettling though that some of the Barsam told him that his arrival had been foretold in their scriptures as a herald of large changes.

Talon's fingers slipped on the back of his resting hand, subtly trying to make a connection. Given that he already got some practise with connecting to Loroi at-will, with Pure Sand, and he and Talon... well..., it was easy for him to find her presence.

'Don't mind them. Barsam are very religious people by default and they do take their scriptures quite seriously. The bigger issue would be that in their eyes we'd be downscaled to being 'just' another Soia-Liron species with our templates - you - rather than something special like the Loroi doctrine liked to profess.', Talon explained via sanzai.

Alex nodded and tried to send back an 'understood', at which Talon smiled and removed her hand again.

Yet, the strongest reactions and the biggest difficulties he had, strangely enough, with other Loroi.

About every Loroi he met, once she (always a she, there were no males in sight), got sight of him, her eyes went wide, then a side glance to Talon, Spiral or Sandraker, perhaps coupled with an exchange in Sanzai, and then said Loroi moved on, seemingly more or less shaken.

Things got a bit dicey with the two Teidar, though.

Alex was already past them when he felt a rough shove on his left shoulderblade, forcing him to turn around, facing the compelling gaze of one of these Teidar - Teidar Ragan, judging by her armor, same rank as Razorthorn.

"Hey! If you have a problem with me, say it out loud!", Alex stated angrily, knowing all too well that Teidar by default would only speak to issue a challenge.

Again the stare, most certainly laced with sanzai, which would naturally be lost on Alex. Especially on a riled up Alex.

"Forget it, lady. Warriors larger than you tried and failed." Alex answered the unheard sanzai with conviction.

The second Teidar - in white armor - cast an imploring look at her superior, at which she turned her attention to Talon.

A heated discussion ensued, one Alex was not privy of, but a shift in Talon's and Spiral's stance told him that they very much expected things to become physical. He wasn't sure whether he should feel endeared or insulted when the two Tenoin instinctively moved into a protective stance towards him.

The Teidar gave an audible huff Alex interpreted as a 'not worth my time', and ushered her subordinate back on their previous path.

"That was close.", Alex breathed.

"You handled it quite well. I guess you made her world collapse - a male that would not meekly roll over and take what is dished out, but was intent to meet her blow by blow, when things had come that far.", Talon smiled.

"She had the makings of a schoolyard bully. Throwing her powers around, intimidating everyone who is weaker than her whenever she got away with it. Such people are best met with equal force, else they won't relent."

"I am not sure what a 'schoolyard' is, but I think I get the idea."

"Nevermind. Let's beat it before they decide we are worth a second round." Alex suggested.

"Good idea."

Sadly, trying to purchase things when the vendor is a Loroi turned iffy at best as well. Most of them didn't speak and all of them got the wide-eyed look Alex recognized as the realization that they cannot sense him at all, and many of them became too intimidated and tongue-tied to deal with him. Usually it was Talon or Spiral who had to conduct the business in his stead.

"Don't mind them. They're civilian, and only those in administrative or public relation positions actually speak. And they have seen even less of a male than we ever did."

"That's a bit disheartening", Alex moped.

"It's the way it is", Sandraker shrugged.

Of course, many males would fear the prospect of going on a shopping spree with a single woman, let alone three, but Alex saw the chance to purchase some stuff for himself, once he realized that he does have some currency to spend at all. After all, his possessions limited to the clothes on his back and everything that had been issued to him so far, which was so far limited to another change of clothes, his armor and tablet.

Even if the gender roles were reversed in many aspects from what Alex was used to, Loroi females were women when it came to one specific aspect - they are quite vain. So many of the stalls dealt with beauty, healthcare and fitness in many varieties, and especially haircare products were almost ubiquitous.

No wonder Wavecrest was railing about the crew not using the 'regulation issued' shampoo for their hair. Alex thought with a small chuckle.

One larger shop caught his particular interest. A Loroi was half-sitting, half-lying in something resembling a dentist's chair, with a stretch of paper covering half of her face and a slab of brown goo on top of that.

The purpose became clear when he looked at some pictures laid out in front - cheeks, arms, legs, covered with intricate patters, some simple like Talon's tattoo, some much more intricate.

A Tatoo parlor, Alex concluded.

"You interested in getting one of your own?", Talon asked in a jocular mood.

"Uh... not quite. It looks like your method is different from what I know."

"Different how? This brown goop destroys the pigment in the cells in the affected skin and prevents new pigment to form, thus the design looks paler then the surrounding skin itself. Of course it works only on those of us who tan - Tempo for example would be very much out of luck.", Talon explained.

"Huh. Our way of getting tattoos would be using sharp needles to bring pigments right under the skin, blot by blot"

Talon winced. "Sounds painful."

"It is. Some see it as a test for themselves to endure the procedure without wincing. And yes, there are people who get ink even on the more sensitive parts of the body."

Alex's words were met by three wincing Loroi. "Humans must be gluttons for punishment, did someone already tell you that?", Talon laughed.

"Fireblade did", Alex shrugged.

"Why would she.... no. I don't ask. But speaking of which - that gives me an idea what to do later, when we stowed away all of this. I'm sure you'll like it."

---//---

Following Alex's trail was easier than imagined.

Of course that pink Loroi-like alien would be the talk of the station, and thus it was fairly easy to trace his steps. Brightshield originally intended to catch up to him, but changed her mind.

It might be easy to watch him. Behavioral studies, sort of..

So she decided to just follow their footsteps for the time being, and listen in to the sanzai chatter that followed in his wake. So far, it turned out to be rather boring. Purchasing foodstuff, some knicknacks... a Crossfire set? Interesting. Perhaps...?

Then she stopped short on receiving the tail end of a positively riled up Teidar's rant.

'...the nerve of that ... thing! I cannot believe its audacity...'

'What happened here?', Brightshield queried, bringing said rant to a grinding halt.

'What happend here? WHAT HAPPENED HERE? Three Tenoin brought that ... thing ... along, and I decided to have a better look at it. It took offense and dared me to speak to it. And on sending to it, it had the gall to say that 'even better warriors' tried and failed'. The nerve!, And who might YOU be?!'

Brightshield's smile turned positively feral.

'Mizol Losat Lomileilar, at your service. Are you in the habit of accosting every alien menfolk you encounter?', she sent with a faux-sweet note in her thoughts.

'Only if they DARE to look like us!', that Teidar huffed.

'Do you know that this alien is a duly appointed ambassador of his species with plenipotentiary powers?'

'...' the Teidar sent nothing, the look of dawning horror slowly creeping into her face.

'And that you did insult the strategem of the Gora Relay miracle?'

'It... that.... was him?', she sent, her companion casting another sorrowful look at her.

'This, and he was instrumental in more victories over the Shells in the recent debacle and he WILL be the key to more, rest assured. And, given that he spars with the likes of Teidar Ragan Razorthorn or Teidar Pallan Fireblade', here she took a slight liberty with the truth, especially her definition of 'sparring', 'I'm pretty sure he could tear you to pieces if you had ever decided to duel him.'

'I... didn't know...', the Teidar sent meekly.

'Remember this before you waylay another unknown alien and decide on such a career-limiting move', Brightshield sent with a final note before sashaying off, following Alex's trail, leaving two truly shaken Teidar in her wake.

The trail came to a close at a simulator arcade - a typical watering hole for young, hotshot Tenoin - and the growing crowd around two of the simulator booths quickly clued her in where she'd find her intended prey.

Switching her tack, she tried for the 'innocent passersby' mode, addressing one of bystanders.

'What's going on here?', Brightshield asked.

'You just arrived? These three Tenoin came in with this large, pink alien male and booked a round in the 'Sortie over Mannadi' sim. And they racked up one free game after another, see for yourself!', a white-haired Loroi answered, pointing at a large holodisplay.

Sure enough, the holodisplay pictured the tactical situation in a planet's orbit, highlighting two blue, several green spots... and numerous red ones, though those were decimated in droves. Below, a split-screen showed the view forward out of the simulated cockpit, together with the name tag of the pilot. "Talon" for the left, "Enzin" for the right screen. Speed, acceleration forces and kill/loss counts were included in the display, but these were of secondary interest.

She took her time to watch Alex flying and fighting - Stars, he's more of a daredevil than Talon is, she thought as he once initiated reverse thrust, causing a structural integrity warning from his simulated fighter and let the foe that tailed him pass. One fireball later, and his kill count racked up one more.

Brightshield briefly scanned the stray sanzai of the crowd and quickly concluded that Enzin had quickly captivated the crowd. He might be less effective than Talon - she had no losses to her count, Enzin already two - but still his score was quite impressive. Already several of the assembled Loroi were eyeing him with some rather lewd ideas on their mind, others were bemoaning the fact that he was an alien, because he'd be bound to sire good, strong warriors.

Best I'll leave them to their fun, but if they have to leave, they might need me, or their egress could turn into a riot...



Fri Aug 17, 2018 2:16 am
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
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As all things came to an end so did his time in the simulator; it wasn't too hard to get into grips with the controls, they were naturally intuitive and at the ideal places for human use after all. His only gripe was with the displays being in Trade and with the octal rather than the decimal system, the lack of numerals and a zero was also an issue which hindered him on more than one occassions, costing him a life at three of them. Still he thought he did well enough when his time was up, Talon had of course scored far ahead of him, with no loses while he barely passed Sandraker and still lagged behind Spiral but he was satisfied with his first attempt at this game.

What he didn't expect to see was the crowd that had gathered inside the arcade. The previously sparse shop was now packed and considering how spacious Loroi interior spaces were that was impressive in and on itself. Worse of all, all of the Loroi present were looking at him with expressions ranging from mild confusion, curiosity, interest and even... lust if we was to judge by how some of them looked at him.

Uh hoh...


He quickly looked at Talon who was getting out of her pod, she eyed first the crowd and then him before giving him an expression that could only be translated as 'oh shit'. He quickly searched for Spiral and Sandraker who were undoubtedly lost somewhere among the mass of Loroi before something happened, everyone's expressions became confused and irritated as the familiar figure of Brightshield came out of the mass, flanked by both Spiral and Sandraker.

"Captain Jardin, it's good to see you enjoying your leave among us warriors but I would have preferred it if you had informed me as to your whereabouts before doing so. I am your appointed diplomatic liaision officer after all." Brightshield said loud enough for her voice to reach throughout the packed arcade. Alex looked first at her and then at the gathered warriors who eyed both him and Brightshield questionably, irritably in the case of Brightshield.

"My apologies Losat Brighshield, I merely wanted to see the docks without having to adhere to a schedule." He replied at that.

"I can understand that..." She replied with a chuckle, that looked more genuine than theatrical. "Since your duties in service of your nation and the Union are so demanding of you. In fact I would like to discuss them with you if you would allow me to join your company." He looked first at her and then at Talon, Spiral and Sandraker, all of whom giving him an unmistakeable 'just roll with it' look.

"Of course Losat..." He replied and she happily walked up to him and gestured for him to follow her.

"If you wouldn't mind, I know a nice and discreet place where we can all sit, relax and talk about everything." Brightshield said with a seductive smile.

"Lead on." Alex said and followed right behind Brightshield as Talon, Spiral and Sandraker screened him from the gathered Loroi who looked at him and Brightshield dejectedly as they made way to let them pass.

"I trust that you enjoyed your games?" Brightshield begun as they exited the arcade. "You did quite well from what I gathered."

"Yeah, it was fun; very much like the games back home although not as realistic as the ones I usually play." He replied.

"Not as realistic?" Talon asked. "They fully simulated the interceptors and the tactics of the time."

"Our mainline arcade simulators simulate temperature and atmosphere variations with some slight g forces for maneuveres, the newer more expensive models fully simulate both positive and negative g forces when maneuvering." He explained.

"You like your games simulating the g stresses of maneuvering?" Spiral asked. "They are games, not training programs!"

"Tastes differ but many prefer the full simulation over the more arcade approach."

"But that's dangerous!"

"Of course there are safety measures in place for when someone tries to do some crazy stuff." Alex explained. "Still people like the thrill of the experience."

"Temperature and Atmosphere variations?" Brightshield asked at that. "Why would those need simulating since the cockpit's internal systems would ensure that they would remain stable at all times."

"Not at first and certainly not for the warplanes of Earth's two world wars and simulator junkies want the full experience."

"Two world wars?" All four of them asked at that before looking at each other.

"Yeah, I gathered that it is something unusual to have more than one when I discussed this with Lash... Soshret Stillstorm. We had two World Wars on Earth and there were plenty of instances where we were close to having a third one but that didn't happen because of the global catastrophe that the mass use of atomics would bring." Alex explained.

"Yes, it is very unusuall to have more that a single global conflict. Most races concluding that a single such conflict was more than enough and agreeing on the diplomatic settlement of issues if a clear victor hadn't been decided through the fighting. Deinar's world war ended with the full domination of the nation of Zaral on the planet. Perrein's world war was... catastrophic due to the use of atomic weaponry that destroyed much of the planet's infrastructure and regressed the world technologically. Taben didn't have a global confict due to its nature as a waterworld." Brightshield explained.

"I see..." Alex begun. "The two world wars didn't end with a clear and decisive victor, their resolution only serving up to set the foundation for the next conflict."

"That's odd..." Brightshield commented at that.

"It would b a long historical lesson to explain properly but most combatants had suffered grievous, society altering loses in battle. The one power suffering the least eventually emerging as a hegemonic superpower until some of the other powers recovered and advanced to reach their level." Alex explained.

"When you say society altering loses, do you mean that their warrior class lost control?" Brightshield asked.

"No, not that way. At the time it was seen, and is still seen in many nations, as the civic duty for all able bodied men to become warriors when needed, either voluntary or through mandatory conscription. Some nations practically lost entire generations of men in the fighting, not counting the damages to civilian centers and populations when the fighting reached them or when cities where devastated in massive bombing campaigns." Alex replied, only catching the looks of shock from all four of them.

"And what did the females do during all that?" Talon asked in an instant.

"Most took care of their homes, hoping that their husbands and sons would come home safely, others partook in industrial effort, a few helped with auxiliary duties and even in frontline service." Alex replied matter of factly at that, only belatedly thinking to add something he thought important. "Understand that even now the vast majority of human warriors are male, as a rule human women find war distasteful and horrid and hate seeing their men and sons being killed in battle."

"For all the similarities there are indeed many differences between our races..." Brightshield said as she pointed forward to a particular establishment. "That's our destination."

"A tea house?" Talon asked dejectedly, her expression mirrored onto both Spiral and Sandraker.

"Indeed, a perfect place to discuss matters discreetly until everything calms down." Brightshield begun, nodding at the various loroi who were studying him and the others, some of them had even followed them from the arcade. "It also has private baths if Captain Jardin wishes to drink some relaxing tea with us while we all relax in a nice hot pool, hidden from prying eyes and ears." Brightshield said with a smile that sent shivers down his spine.


_________________
My fan fics:

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


Sat Aug 18, 2018 6:15 am
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
Quote:

Beryl wasn't sure how to describe her current state of mind. She was content, save for that nagging feeling...

She turned towards Fireblade, trying with a worldless 'are you there?', enough to draw her attention if she wouldn't be busy with some task, but easily overlooked if she concentrated herself on something different.

It took a while for Fireblade to answer, and given the 'informal' feeling of Beryl's sanzai, she responded in kind. 'Beryl? What's the matter?'

'You feel it as well, I guess?', Beryl asked, not elaborating on what 'it' is.

'I guess you mean that strange feeling like someone numbed a part of my mind?'

'Yes, exactly that!', Beryl exclaimed.

'I guess this is our connection in the state when Enzin got out of range. Though, I got it from one of the Soroin guarding the gateway that his shopping tour made quite the splash on the station.'

'What? How so?'

'Well, it might be that it isn't everyday they see a pink Loroi-like alien, but the biggest uproar they seem to have caused in the simulator arcade. Are you sure that he never sat in one of our fighters before? By the sound of it he could give even Spiral a run for the money with some decent training... They gathered quite a crowd and it sounded like about half of the assembled Loroi were ready to drag him into a private cabin.', Fireblade reported.

Beryl groaned. 'Of course....'

'That's where Brightshield caught up to them. I'm not sure if we should thank her or hurt her, but she managed to extricate Enzin and our three wayward Tenoin, but only by dragging him into a tea house to conduct some private business.'

Beryl hissed. 'That slag! Of course she would swoop in and seize the chance.'

'Beryl, get real. It would have happened sooner or later. And... maybe it would be for the better to let things play out as they do.'

'What? You're not suggesting...', Beryl huffed.

'Face it, she's relentless. She'd continue to hound him until her curiosity is satisfied. Mind you, Talon had that curiosity as well, and it looks like she turned out to be good friends with Enzin, but nothing more. Perhaps Brightshield will calm down as well once she got her wish.', Fireblade sent matter-of-factly.

'I don't like it.', Beryl grumbled.

'You and me both. But we would like it less if she'd continue to butt into what we and Enzin have, I think.'

Beryl sighed. '.... I think it's almost better that Enzin is out of range. I'm sure I wouldn't want to see him and her mating.'

'Good point. Though, now that we're both connected to him... would it mean that if he could, he'd send to both of us, too?'

Beryl blinked. 'That's actually a good question.'

Fireblade chuckled. 'Now I hear a Listel talking. I bet you wouldn't be averse to a bit of experimentation if it involves Tempo or Pure Sand?'

'I'd take Stillstorm over her, too.', Beryl stated vehemently.

'That gives me an idea. Enzin stated that he considered Stillstorm and Pure Sand off-limits because he considers himself having a working relationship with them, especially Stillstorm, since he rates her to be his superior officer. Perhaps he'd put Brightshield into the same corner, since she's his assigned liaison now?', Fireblade suggested.

Beryl paused, then burst out laughing. 'Oh, that would be the irony! She actually having blown her chances by her own doing.'

'Makes me wonder what we should be rooting for.... Brightshield getting her chance just that she'd give us a moment's peace thereafter, or Enzin spurning her', Fireblade mused.

'She still measures him on the same scale as any Loroi male, where he is so much different, dare I say more than that', Beryl groused, 'I think even Stillstorm finally got the idea that there's more to him.'

'Be it as it may, there's nothing we can do now... Don't be too harsh on him if he actually does mate with Brightshield. I know he'll put your feelings first, but if he has no other choice to act like a Loroi male to not to sour the relations between him and us, he'd better.'

'He deserves more than that', Beryl sent dejectedly, letting the connection fade out.

Left to her own thoughts, Beryl mulled over the idea just what Alex would deserve, and then it came to her - there might be a person who can answewr that, or maybe her memories.

Making the way to the Tempest's cargohold she showed the guards the authorization to inspect the salvage of the Bellarmine wreck, something everyone on board seemed to have forgotten about. Looking around, silently thanking herself for her attentiveness to the language lessons on board the Highland-7, she deciphered the alien ... English, she corrected herself, writing on various odds and ends.

Still, many of the markings didn't make much sense to her, but in the corner, there were stacked some crates.

Footlockers, she concluded on having a closer look. After all, there are only so many ways for a warrior to stow away their private stuff.

There, the writings looked definitely like names and Beryl started scanning the stacked footlockers. "Captain Carl Hamilton"... "Ensign Jeremiah Byrd"... "Ensign Ellen Kirkland"... Got you!, Beryl cheered to herself in silent triumph.

Just to be sure, she continued looking for another locker of particular interest....

Ah, there you are: "Ensign Alexander Jardin". I'm sure you'll like some of your stuff back. I'll just have to get the go to hand it out to you..., Beryl mused.

Turning back to Kirkland's footlocker, she tried opening it by lifting the lid, but it didn't budge.

Figures, after all, it didn't spill its contents when the ship was blown to pieces and while drifting in space...

It took some time, but eventually she found out that she needed to push on the latch to unlock the lid. Smiling, she took in the contents of the footlocker, especially that flat device that rested on a pile of clothing.

Well, that does look very much like our tablets. I wonder if it works like one, too...



Mon Aug 20, 2018 3:04 am
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
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"It would be nice to relax and talk about things while letting things calm down but I don't think that I need to take a bath." Alex said after thinking about it for a moment, realizing where Brightshield was getting at with the 'bath' part of her proposal; hopefully she would get the hint about that part and would just be professional for a change.

"Understandable..." Brightshield replied without losing her smile as she and the three Tenoin had a telepathic discussion about this. It was obvious from their expressions that the three of them didn't like the idea of going at the tea house at first but it only took a few moments for Brightshield to convince them, to the point of them becoming outright enthusiastic about it.

Why do I have a feeling that I just walked into a trap?
Alex thought as he followed them inside, the Loroi clerk at the entrance obviously surprised when the small group entered the premises; moreso when she actually laid eyes on him, more out of curiosity other than shock. Brightshield must have quickly explained things and the clerk typed something on her console before leading their small group down a roomy corridor before standing in front a double electronic door that opened for them as they approached.

Brightshield and the others walked inside but Alex became disoriented the instant he stepped his foot past the door; his mind trying to convince him that he was suddenly on a planet's surface,with a clear blue sky over his head and with a slight breeze blowing while birds chirped and even flew from tree to tree.

"This is like Tempest's bridge..." He muttered as he took in the surroundings. They were amidst a forested mountain range, on an open air veranda that sported a long table with several chairs with a large cupboard nearby whose back rested in front of a small, modern looking cabin while right below the veranda was a small hot spring whose water run into a lake where several seats were seemingly carved into the rock. The illusion was indeed breathtaking.

"It's the same technology." Brightshield begun at that as the others fanned out to examine everything. "The walls have also been designed to act as minor telepathic suppressors to cut out casual telepathic chatter."

"And all this on a military dock?" Alex asked without thinking.

"The room is about as big as Tempest's bridge and the teahouse only has two of them. In times long gone by both rooms would have been booked far in advance but the younger generations don't really seek the tranquility that these places offer." Brightshield replied.

"You ain't that old yourself." Talon said teasingly at that.

"I am somewhat of a traditionalist in such things..." Brightshield said with a smile without even looking at Talon who giggled a bit before she, Spiral and Sandraker walked to the edge of the veranda to study the lake a couple of meters below them. "Would you like some tea Captain?"

"I don't know if I am able to drink anything..." He replied dejectedly as he looked at the distance, the simulation perfect in his eyes as even the tree leaves moved in accordance to the artificial breeze that blew and there were indeed at least a couple of real birds that chirped between them as they flew from and to a handful of real trees around the veranda and the spring.

"I have read the biochemical reports that Tozet Beryl has meticulously prepared about you and I am certain that certain blends of tea would not be an issue for you, although I don't know how they will taste to you." Brightshield replied and traced his eyes to the birds he was looking at. "They are specially trained to not bother the guests as robots would be disconcerting to a Loroi."

"Trained?" He asked before the answer came to him. "Telepathically I wager."

"Indeed, the mind of an animal is an easy student for those who know what they are doing." Brightshield replied as she opened the cupboard and took out a couple of jars and what looked like a water boiler, after putting them on the table she went back to the cupboard for a set of tea cups and a bottle of water. "Let's start with a variant that we Loroi find both relaxing and tasty."

Brightshield then quickly filled the boiler with water and threw a pair of leaves into it before activating it. Less than a minute later the boiler beeped and she filled two cups with a dark red tea whose fragrance tantalized his nostrils.

"That smells like tea..." Alex commented as she offered him a glass that remained cool to the touch despite the obviously hot tea. He took a good whiff of it before tasting it. It had a gentle sweet after taste, much like that Chinese Oolong tea one of his academy classmates prepared every day. "Yes, it is tea."

"I am glad to hear it." Brightshield said as she sat down next to him, taking a sip from her own cup before turning to look at him while giving a genuine looking smile. "It has been some time since the last time we relaxed together and we never had a talk ever since I became your official liaison officer."

"It has been hectic..." Alex commented at that as he realized that the others had disappeared somewhere.

"They are in the changing room preparing themselves to take a dive in the lake." Brightshield said as he traced his eyes.

"But I said..."

"That you don't think you need a bath." Brightshield cut in, without losing her smile for a moment. "But we would like to relax a little even if you don't join us."

You got me...
Alex thought as he frowned at her.

"It isn't a spectacle that you haven't seen before." Brightshield said at that. "You have seen all of us naked already, we two have washed each other's back and you even found your necessary release with Arrir Talon."

"That was a lapse of judgement from my part and it won't happen again." Alex said with a forced steady voice at that and Brightshield must have picked that as her smile wavered for a bit.

"A poor choice of word from my part and I apologize, Loroi males require release with females for both their mental and physical well being. It's obvious that Human males are different." Brightshield replied.

"Probably in more ways that you can imagine." He replied as he took an other sip from his cup.

"Perhaps but I do believe that your encounters with Loroi have been pleasurable and consensual for all parties involved." She said with the same smile as before, somehow disarming the anger that had flared up before.

"They were but I don't want anyone to presume that I am actively pursuing to have more encounters with others, if I want to mate with someone I will make sure they know." Alex said at that and Brightshield just nodded as she took one more sip from her cup.

"I expect nothing less from a warrior who has proven himself." She said as she turned towards the cabin, its door opening a moment later to reveal the robed figures of Talon, Spiral and Sandraker who smiled as they walked up to the table while Brightshield didn't waste any time pouring some tea for them in turn.

Yeah, she really got me and the three of them are in it too...
Alex thought as all three of them sat down, their robes just loose enough to offer him a good view of their naked bodies beneath.

"If you will excuse me, I would like to prepare myself as well." Brightshield said as she stood up to go to the cabin.

God damn it...


"Do you like the tea Enzin?" Talon asked at that.

"Yeah, it is nice." He replied absentmindedly as he tried to avoid taking a glance on her breasts.

"Spending some time in a tea house was not how we imagined we would spend our time here but it is nice." Spiral said at that, her robe at least covering most of her breasts.

"I didn't imagine it either, especially in a bath."

"You should join us." Spiral said at that. "It wouldn't be nice if you don't bathe with us."

"I know where this is going so I am going to be blunt: I am tempted but no." Alex said firmly.

"Uh..." Spiral said dejectedly at that.

"And you spent so much time learning how to speak properly." Talon teased her at that.

"Everyone did!" Spiral protested.

"I noticed that you are better at expressing yourself vocally from the time we were at the shuttle." Alex said at that.

"Most of the crew of Tempest has been taking extra lessons in vocals ever since the commander lifted the limitations about you." Talon said as she let her cup down. "Only the Teidar and those already fluent in Trade haven't done so."

"Damn..." Alex let out without thinking.

"There have been even some formal classes after your time with Talon." Sandraker said teasingly.

"Especially after I bragged about your performance." Talon added.

"I would appreciate it if you hadn't..." Alex said with a low voice.

"I couldn't just lie with sanzai you know." Talon said defensively but it was obvious she would hold no remorse for that. "Besides it was indeed a very pleasurable experience, the Doranzer said it was because of the difference in temperature and all that."

"Doranzer?" Alex asked. "You had to see a medic?"

"Didn't have a choice, copulating with an alien and all that. The Doranzer needed to run tests about everything down there for posterity." Talon said dejectedly. "Still worth it though and I doubt that any more tests will be needed afterwards."

"Damn..."

"Turns our that your warmth makes us more sensitive and that our body lets out the same euphoric reaction as if a Loroi male had filled us up, the joke always was that some warriors need to copulate in order to be less irritable but I didn't know that it was medically proven!" Talon continued unabated and seemingly oblivious to his dejected expression. "No possibility of impregnation or even ovulation though, too different for that. The body just accepts it at first and harmlessly absorbs it a couple of days later."

"Do you know if the others went through the same tests?" He asked at that.

"I am certain that Beryl did, don't know about Fireblade." Talon replied.

"I guess that I will have to apologize to them afterwards..." Alex said without thinking.

"For what? Beryl would certainly be curious about the tests and trust me when I tell you that Fireblade must have found the trade off worthy, perhaps even more than me considering that she hadn't copulated before!" Talon said, drawing giggles from both Spiral and Sandraker.

"Fireblade had told me that she hadn't been allowed by the caretakers..." He managed to say at that.

"Yeah, they tend to be over protective. I swear that I spent far more time being drilled on how to behave towards the males by the caretakers than with the males themselves." Spiral said at that drawing a nod from the others.

"Still Fireblade was a mess, always on edge and with her nightmares being broadcasted sometimes." Talon added. "You were good for her, she was unlucky being raised on Seren when the Shells had control of the planet. She was already a true warrior even without formal training when the planet was retaken but already a mess."

"She never... talked about that."

"Never truly has with anyone. It wasn't a good time for any of the survivors." Talon added.

"I have read the history reports..."

"Then you have an idea of what she went through but no one can truly understand it unless they either go through something similar or if she shows them the very memories that give her the nightmares." Talon said as she turned to look at the cabin as Brightshield came outside. "In any case you will have to talk with Fireblade if you want to dwell on it."

"I hope that the tea and the company is good Captain Jardin." Brightshield said as she sat back down next to him, surprisingly her robe was properly tied up and revealed no skin beneath it.

"Both are indeed good." Alex said.

"I am glad to hear it." Brightshield said as she exchanged a couple of glances with the others. "Because I would like to talk with you about official matters pertaining you and the Union."

"Of course." Alex said as the others stood up and casually disrobed in front of them, leaving their robes onto the chairs. For a moment he caught himself gawking at their naked lithe bodies, something inside him cursing his previous choice not to join in with them but he pushed that aside to control himself.

"We are going to relax a little while you talk about the boring stuff." Talon said with a smile. "Come join us when you are bored." With that the three of them raced to the artificial lake, diving into it before sitting on a spot to relax, a spot which incidentally offered an ideal view over them; not that there was a place from the terrace that didn't offer a good view to the lake but now he had to actually fight his impulse of stealing a look of them.

You are all certainly working together on this...
Alex thought as he caught Brightshield smiling mischievously at that.

"Now, if we may begin. I was part of the briefing that Parat Tempo gave about your time with the Farseer and what you found out. Concerning both your connection with Tozet Beryl and Pallan Fireblade and about detecting the Voids." Brightshield begun. "Torimor Shadow will closely follow the developments about the Voids under the orders of Tazites Duskcrown who has finally admitted of your value regarding this matter. She may even come aboard Tempest to observe directly until the matter is settled."

"Makes sense, such an important issue would draw the attention of the high brass." Alex said at that. "What is the Torimor like?"

"She is an influential Mizol and is known for being calculative and deliberate, widely acknowledged that she was placed in Duskcrown's staff to balance out the Tazites's well known aggressive tendencies. So far it seems that she and the Tazites have formed a working and respectful professional relationship." Brightshield replied.

"So she is someone I can count on for stability in regards to diplomatic matters?" Alex asked.

"Yes, she doesn't take rushed decisions so you can count on her for stability, provided that you provide what the Tazites and by extension the Union has asked of you and by extension the TCA." Brightshield replied.

"I haven't forgotten that but I don't think that I will be able to find the time to write all that with my training regarding the Lotai and in order to help detecting the Voids." Alex replied.

"True..." Brightshield replied, her expression turning sour for a moments before she took her previously pleasant visage. "Perhaps Tozet Beryl could prepare it for you if you give her permission."

You really don't like Beryl do you? That's not a way to get on my good side...
Alex thought of saying but elected against that.

"I will, although her schedule might be tight at the moment." Brightshield actually beamed up at that.

"Nonsense, a warrior always has time for her duty." She said cheerfully.

"You really don't like her do you?" He asked without thinking and the sudden shift of her expression from cheerfulness, to shock, to anger and then defeat was actually worth it.

"Yes, I indeed don't like her!" She said at that.

"You do know that I do like her, right?" Alex said at that, hoping that he managed to say that with a straight face.

"It's because of that, she is always hogging you like she owns you; she and the Teidar." Brightshield blurted angrily before composing herself.

"Who owns me and who I spend my time with, is my own personal business Losat Brightshield." He said sternly at that.

"A male shouldn't be tied to a female, it isn't right." Brightshield said at that and all he could do was to rub his forehead and wonder if he was back at junior high-school because she was definitely acting like a spoiled schoolgirl.

"It isn't right for a Loroi male Losat but I am not a Loroi and I am not part of the regulations. I enjoy the company of almost all warriors I have met so far but who I take to become friends with and who I elect to have an encounter with is strictly my personal choice and although I understand Loroi social norms you have to understand that the sanctity of my choice of company is an unassailable social norm. Good or bad I made my decisions, I acted upon them and I will accept any and all consequences that may come from my actions." Alex said with the same stern voice and Brightshield simply scoffed and pouted before standing up to open her robe. He had seen her naked before on Tempest but he had almost forgotten how beautiful she was, tall, athletic and tanned like Fireblade and with a pair of sapphire blue eyes that could mesmerize any man.

"Am I not intriguing?" Brightshield said as she brought her half naked body in front of him. "I remember how you reacted to me in the baths and I know that I am alluring, so what do they have that I cannot offer you?"

"A sane mind would be a start!" He blurted out and Brightshield just eyed him angrily, something in him finally snapping at that. "If it is an encounter you want all you had to do was to ask when we were alone, hell I had agreed to one when you came to my cabin uninvited!"

"What?" Brightshield said while staring at him with a shocked expression.

"There was no misdirection from my part because of the classified matter, I really did meant it that time and I was ready to satisfy both of you." He reassured her before deciding to twist the knife a little. "Even if Beryl wasn't there with me, we would have certainly enjoyed each other's company anyway."

"I..." He just smiled crookedly at her shocked expression, enjoying her sight as she tried to come up with something to say. "But you said..."

"I was just about to have two beautiful warriors to myself and you made me look like a fool, of course I said something stupid to cover myself!" He said bluntly and Brightshield finally collapsed back on her chair, her open robe revealing everything she had to offer at that.

"Enzin is there a problem?" Talon called out from below, she and the others still offering a perfect view of themselves to him.

There would be a problem if I still wore my jumpsuit and not the armor...
He caught himself from saying that and just said the next best thing he could think of.

"No, nothing, just diplomatic misunderstandings." He replied and Talon just laughed at that.

"Seems that you both should relax here with us." Spiral said.

"Maybe later..." He said and part of him really wanted to do that just to spite Brightshield but he managed to control his adolescent desires at that.

"What if I ask you now? Would you accept?" Brightshield finally said with a defeated voice.

God damn it woman!


"You are my official Union Liaison, it would not be appropriate." He said bluntly, Brightshield just staring at him in shocked disbelief, her mouth opening and closing as if to say something before standing up again.

"You are a good liar Enzin." She whispered right before she walked towards him and sat astride on his lap, staring down in his eyes with her captivating sapphire eyes; something inside him screaming at him to admit it was a lie and just take her then and there but he stubbornly refused to give in.

"I didn't lie Losat." He said with the same stern voice as before.

"You are a male, you are lying." Brightshield said and Alex could hear the others giggling like fools in the lake, making him realize that there would be no help from their side, not unless he actually screamed at Brightshield to get off him; he was ready to do just that but he was damn well sure that he would try everything he could before burning yet an other liaison who grew infatuated with him.

"So you want me to convince you I am not lying?" Alex said as he reached our and gripped her arms tightly. "Just wait a moment."

Alright, how to picture her?
He thought as he brought up the procedure he followed to allow Pure Sand in. He contemplated in picturing her the same way as he did the Farseer but he knew that his subconscious wouldn't buy that, not when a certain part of his body was vainly trying to pierce through solid armor plate. Fuck it, just admit it that you do want to fuck her but that doesn't mean that you will. He relented and pictured her just as his body wanted to, a lover that he wanted nothing more than to pin down and have his way with her until he was spent and then some.

She was there an instant later, almost blindingly bright and strong; her essence just oozing lust towards in her brilliance. She was momentarily shocked in the connection, her mind trying to reorient itself as it suddenly lost everyone else around them but she focused herself fully on him and what she sensed from him and leaned onto him for a kiss. It took everything he had to actually hold her at bay and push every thought aside other than a simple.

"NO!"
Her mind actually recoiled in shock at that.

"But you want it!"
She replied as she recalled the raw desire she sensed from him.

"What I want and what I do are totally different things!"
He sent coldly. "Now get off me!"

She reluctantly relented at that, standing up and breaking the connection while doing so; that must have shocked her even more if he was to judge by her expression.

"Distance requires far more than what we have at the moment." He sent bluntly and she opened her mouth to say something but was interrupted before she could do so.

"Is something the matter Enzin?" Talon asked again, this time her voice carrying genuine concern in it.

"No, I think that we finally have an understanding about something critically important." Alex replied without taking his eyes off Brightshield's

"That's... good isn't it?" Talon asked.

"It is and it isn't, complicated stuff..." Alex replied as Brightshield pulled her chair closer to his, sat down and offered her hand to his without saying a word. He returned the gesture, certain that she wouldn't be satisfied with anything less than sanzai after that point.

"Why?" She asked, her mind wavering as if she had lost the ground beneath her feet.

"You are my liaison officer, I have to have a strictly professional relationship with you."
He replied while trying to keep his eyes in hers and not on her naked breasts.

"But your desires, you are a male who wants it, it isn't right!"
She sent, understanding of his reasons but not thinking of them as good enough to overcome his base desires and even... needs.

"I told you already, I am not a Loroi male. I don't need to mate. I could go my entire life without touching a female and be healthy and functional all the way to old age."
He replied but he still sensed that it was not enough for her, a male's pure desire for her; outright impossible for her not to act on it. "What I want and what I do are totally different things. I have wanted to copulate with every Loroi I have seen but I still shouldn't have acted on these wants. I shouldn't even have mated with those I already have!"

"But a male who desires..."


"Desire means nothing!"
That actually shocked her even more, he needed to explain things properly to her. "Understand this, Human males and females are about half and half. Ideally each one of us needs to impregnate one female to fulfill our biological drive to procreate but it is not that simple. Nature programmed us to care for our chosen females but also to be ready to procreate with any other female given the opportunity, whether she is willing or not. Many male animals of Earth force their females to procreate and we humans have that drive as well."

"But females can fight back and..."


"You idiot, females are weaker! They can resist but they cannot stop a determined assault. Rape is a heinous crime, among the worse examples of my kind but the impulse is there in everyone but we control ourselves. Control is paramount for all of us, we are stronger, sturdier and disposable."


"Males are not disposable!"
She sent out of reflex.

"You idiot! Take 50 men and 50 women, kill half the men and the group recovers in a generation because the females are all alive. Kill half the women and the group loses half its strength in a generation. We know this instinctively, evolutionary psychology; if we die another male may impregnate the female we would have and the species will live on. We are disposable, we are stronger, sturdier and take risks to benefit the whole. We have to control ourselves to be of use to the whole or we are nothing less than maddened animals to be put down. We will work for the group, we will fight, kill and die for the group. We will even do all kinds of heinous crimes if it benefits the group and our females; that's why we have to control ourselves! Do you understand now?"


"Yes."
Brightshield relented reluctantly, still not fully convinced but understanding that he wouldn't budge from his position as he was now.

"You Loroi are beautiful, you all are. You are females, I recognize you as such in both mind and body and I know that you do the same. In fact you are too much alike our females in many aspects, fears, hopes, lust, vanity and how you compete with each other... I can name all the things that are human on you and not be done for days. I know that I seem the same way to you, I have seen it in your actions and sensed it in your minds but we must both understand that we are not the same. Human females are weaker than us, far more social and compete with each other for their position in their social ladder but rarely do they outright fight. You Loroi are about as strong as a human male and you are not afraid to beat each other up. I have come to understand this. Please understand how different I am to your males in turn." Alex sent and Brightshield finally understood.

"You are beautiful, I don't know about the other males of your kind but you are beautiful. You care about us and I have seen it through your words and actions long before your thoughts. You are gentle towards us like a male should be but also fierce and steadfast like a warrior should be. It's... endearing and not off putting at the slightest, an ideal father for any warrior's offspring."
Brightshield sent.

"Not what I expected but it's a start..."
Alex replied. "Now please close your robe if we are to discuss diplomatic matters and tell the others that your trick has failed because I am stubborn or something to that effect."

_________________
My fan fics:

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


Tue Aug 21, 2018 6:37 pm
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)

Quote:

'I admit, I was much in error about measuring you on the scale of our males. Perhaps Fireblade and Beryl got a better insight into you than I did. To see such roiling emotions and desire outside of a mating.... Stars, even during a mating ... is a very rare thing indeed. And that you can actually resist them rather than simply acting on impulse - I see it now that this speaks of a mental discipline even a Teidar would be hard-pressed to match', Brightshield admitted.

'It is how we are. I see it now that the concept of 'rape' is completely unknown to you. It is nigh impossible for any of your males to physically overcome you, and that situation would never arise, since about the only way for you to meet would be in the context of mating, so consent is already implicitely given. And a female with dangerous tendencies... is denied access. Sometimes for the wrong reasons...'

'You're thinking about Fireblade and Tempest's Farseer? Pure Sand, that's her name? Even facing a sight such as this', there she slid her fingers along the seam of her robe, allowing him to see a bit more of her skin, 'your concerns are with them', Brightshield sent with budding respect in her sanzai.

'Maybe to a lesser extent, but human males are geared to care for the females they consider important in their life. They carry and raise their offspring after all and have a very important role in its formative years. And it looks like that this, coupled with sanzai, makes you Loroi females resonate very strongly to it.', Alex sent.

'I think I see what you mean. Both Beryl and Fireblade turned out ... well, better ... for it, and it makes me wonder how it would have turned out for Tempo, if not.... You do realize that this just makes you even more desirable to us, on top of how much you already are?', Brightshield sent with genuine concern.

'It's ironic that Fireblade, of all things, got it right. If it happens, it happens, she said, or something close to it. I admit, it happened as well that I had a fling with Talon, and she didn't come to be hooked on me. I ... denied myself ... to Stillstorm and you because mixing business and pleasure is heavily frowned upon in human armed service - and Duskcrown herself started to cast aspersions on Stillstorm for her being 'another infatuated fool' - something Stillstorm could have fought over just because we stayed away from each other.'

'That makes sort of sense... She would have had much less justification if you had actually mated. But, Talon is the best example that you may or may not form such deep attachments, and that you don't always do. What made you decide that Talon was a bit of passing fun, which makes you more similar in outlook to our males, and let such a deep connection form to Beryl, Fireblade and Tempo?', Brightshield asked with genuine interest.

Alex suddenly noticed two more cool hands slipping on his arms and chastised himself. Of course Talon and Spiral must have felt left out, since his Lotai pretty much shielded Brightshield and him from the others. Talon almost instantly popped up in his mindscape, but it took him a bit of effort to 'invite' Spiral into it as well, despite all that practise he had with passingly familiar Loroi so far. Interestingly, he felt a bit of strain on his mind.

'I think this is your brain struggling with maintaining three active connections now. You don't do broadcast sendings, as I come to see it, but you send your own and relay our thoughts individually to all of us. That must put quite a load on your mind', Brightshield cautioned, then replayed her last question for the new arrival's sake.

'I'm not sure if I can explain it myself. Beryl might be the easiest to see - she is smart, very smart, curious, inquisitive, cheerful, attentive... Everything I'd find highly desirable. It was actually her who started testing the boundaries of propriety when she asked me to allow her to touch me, back on the shuttle, on the way to the Relay. Then there is Tempo. Mind you, I never mated with her, but she always had that interest in me. And, without her lessons I still wouldn't be able to connect to you... So I guess there's that bit of intimacy involved.', Alex summed it up.

'I see. And Fireblade? As far as I know, you and her started out to be quite antagonistic to each other.'

'You bet. Her not speaking and me not sending very much put us at odds. For her I was that suspicious alien, and for me she was that harridan bent on making my life miserable since day one', Alex sent, replaying that infamous scene in the elevator on his first waking hours onboard the Tempest.

'And what changed?'

'Well... It started out as a sort of mutual respect. Actually, respect to each other is essential for a long-lasting relationship between humans. She started to see me as a warrior in my own rights, and I gave her some leeway because she was torn between being my personal guard and her obligations to the ship. In addition, I did ask her to give me lessons in mental defense. And then we ... found each other during the 'Lotai crisis' on the ship. She was in distress, I was in distress, and riled up enough that I didn't connect to her on touching, when I should have... Perhaps it was the way to prove to ourselves and each other that we still remained on good terms.'

'What? Lessons from a Teidar? Humans must like pain...', Brightshield sent, surprised, 'Why, though? Your Lotai is impressive enough.'

'You're not the first one telling me this - both things. And, the Lotai may be the first line of defense, I'd like to have several more.'

'I see. And now there's Talon...', Brightshield's thoughts trail off.

Alex was preparing his answer, but it was Talon herself who beat him to it. 'Simple. That strange ritual that involved touching the hands - the 'handshake', you call it? - sort of tickled my curiosity. His skin was that warm, and he does look that similar to our males, so I was intrigued... and given that every sortie could be our last, I was content to let things happen as they would. And no, I don't regret it one bit', Talon sent with conviction.

'Just saying, did it occur to you that we actually do have a meaningful cultural exchange now... and that I actually didn't need to close my robe for this? In the last several hundred solons I learned more about you or humans in general then I did since... well, ever!', Brightshield sent with a rather mischievous undertone.

'...', Alex blinked. 'Daughter of a ... I walked right into that, didn't I?'

Spiral let out an audible giggle, and Brightshield smiled. 'We had just proven to you that we can have meaningful discussions in a relaxed atmosphere. And... I think I see your concern that you would bond to every Loroi you get personal with, and that you don't wish to put the burden on any of us, especially after what happened with Tempo. But, see Talon here, she's the proof that we can have a bit of harmless, consensual fun and go our paths afterwards. And... let us do that for you. As a human male you are geared to cherish and respect your females, and we as Loroi females are geared to treat our males as precious. You are that close to our males that the same drive applies to you as well.', she sent with a heartfelt undertone.

'And... you don't fear that you might become bonded to me like Beryl and Fireblade are?', Alex sent hestitantly.

'I admit, the prospect is a bit ... daunting ... but if it happens... these two turned out better because they did connect to you, and Tempo fell into the hole because she lost that connection. And if that connection would allow us a deeper understanding of each other, I'd be all for it. And if it doesn't... it would be another example that you are free to have a bit of relaxation without needing to worry overly much.'

She makes a compelling argument, Alex thought, The way she puts it it could almost become a recommendation for diplomatic staff to have encounters with their Loroi counterparts, if it's consensual, of course. This would be hard to swallow if it ever makes it back to the TCA. Though I think I remember that there actually had been cultures on earth where sex was a required part to seal a deal, too....

'What have I gotten myself into...?', he sent.

'Not yet, you didn't', Spiral sent with a decidedly ribald undertone.

'And none of us would think less of you if you do. Rather the opposite.', Brightshield added.

Alex's human moral values and Brightshield's passionate words warred in his mind. It felt wrong to him to give in, but on the other hand, her words tugged very much on his heart. She needed it almost as much as she says their males would need mating, and he'd feel like a scoundrel to a leave woman hurting. Hell, he even gave Tempo a chance for redemption, and she deserved far worse...

Feeling that Alex just needed a little push now, Spiral rose up and slowly guided him to the changing room. Talon must have 'disconnected' earlier, because she was to be seen completely immersed in the lake, together with Sandraker, their robes neatly put together on the bank.

Trying to get a grip on his libido, Alex tried to imagine that in Japan on Earth it is still quite common to make serious business deals in a tea house, maybe under similar conditions, but the persons conducting said deal are usually quite overweight business men, not.... stop right there!

Thankfully, Spiral let him have some privacy while pre-cleaning himself and donning the single robe that hung there in exchange for his overall. Surprisingly though it was actually the right size for him.

Guess they must have fabricated that one the moment Brightshield booked this place. Figures that she knows my measurements.

Properly cleansed, he was greeted with the bright smiles of the three Tenoin already lounging in the water. It was clear enough to see quite a good portion of blue skin, but the waves they and the nearby spout made had the water stirred up enough to blur out any details.

Of course there was that moment where he had to actually disrobe again to get down into the water, with the Loroi once again proving that they have little to no concept of modesty, as they unabashedly raked their eyes over his anatomy, though, judging by their smiles, definitely approving of what they saw.

"See?", Spiral asked, "Isn't this so much better in the water?"

Where's Brightshield?, Alex wondered.

His question was answered just a moment after he lowered himself into the warm water, across the three Tenoin, as he felt a hand creeping up his shoulder blade from behind, then joined up by a second hand, coming up the other side, and the feeling of two firm globes pushing into his back.

'Just let me stay like this for a moment', she sent, 'I know we Loroi can be a persistent lot, but we can take a no for an answer. All I wish is... please don't deny it to me, or to yourself.'

'Two conditions, though... Or rather, one condition and one concern.', Alex stated, trying to maintain a grip on himself, despite having a beautiful woman practically hugging him from behind.

'Name them', she sent.

'First, make peace with Beryl. If we end up being connected... Hell, we may already be by now, come to think of this... I do not wish either you or Beryl to be quarreling over me. If I ever would have to choose between those two... I guess you can see the outcome.'

'I understand.', Brightshield sent dejectedly, 'And your concern?'

'I do not wish to trigger another contaminant alert. The last time I did I just had to help cleaning the filters together with a rather hacked off Gallen Bastobar. And just think, something like that alert might trigger ... something else.'

He could feel Brightshield smiling, and encircling him into a closer hug. 'You do have the mind of a Mizol. But no worries. These locations are made with relaxation in mind, more so than the baths on any ship, and usually have their own, separate water circulation, disconnected from the rest of the station. Any contaminant alert would remain contained and won't trigger a station-wide alarm. And given the affected systems for this part are highly specialized, it's very unlikely that they contain ... surprises. Now hush. Let me just feel you, and if you feel it right, you can surely make this warrior very happy....'

---//---

It was a very happy Beryl who brought back her 'treasure' back to her cabin. Of course she wasn't that foolish to carry around an unknown artifact through the whole ship - while it looks like a data display device it may be something completely different, so she made a detour to the scanners in the ship's small science lab, but was relieved on seeing the results.

There is a moderate concentration of energy in it, but that must be the device's power cell, but the rest looks like it's mainly made of silicon, ceramics, plastics and a plethora of other compounds... and nothing resembling explosive, bioactive or toxic materials (or possible compounds to make some), so Beryl was reasonably sure that this device is exactly what it looks like.

While the Loroi tablets are almost see-through, this devices seemed to have a dedicated front, sporting a glass pane and a single button on of the shorter edges along the rim, and a casing protecting the whole of the back. This device looked rather ... rugged, as if to withstand even rougher treatment.

This looks much like a trend in human design, that they build things to be practical and made to last, design comes secondary., Beryl mused.

Now how to turn this thing on?

Lacking options, she tried out that single button. A short push did nothing, much to her chagrin, but a longer push made the glass pane - the display, she concluded - light up with a logo resembling what she saw on one of Enzin's overall patches and a long, narrow rectangle below slowly filling from the left to the right.

Looks like a progress indicator...

True to form, as the bar completely filled up, the display changed and showed her a number of symbols, arranged on a grid, in front of a picture showing a landscape that resembled Perrein's shadowlands quite much. Beryl couldn't make heads or tails of many of the symbols, but she could read the English names below them.

"Gallery".... does that mean pictures? The icon pretty much looks like one. "Camera"... "Music"... "Games"... "Books"... Sounds pretty much straightforward, Beryl mused.

Beryl found out (by chance) that this device seems to be solely operated by touching on the display. Tapping on "Gallery" brought up a collection of pictures, and she quickly found out that tapping and moving the finger to a side would leaf through the pictures forwards and backwards.... and that icon on the bottom, depicting an arrow making a U-turn brought her back to whereever she were earlier, even all the way back to what the display pictured at the start.

I have to hand it to the humans. They seem to know how to build devices even people having no experience with them would quickly learn to operate. Perhaps these 'tablets' were explicitely designed with aliens in mind?

Emboldened by her experiments and her curiosity, she went back to the Gallery and browsed the pictures.

The pictures mostly featured a number of humans in front of varying backgrounds - some of them wouldn't look out of place on Maia or Deinar, even, but more interestingly, many of the pictures did feature Enzin together with one human female with brown hair, a slightly darker complexion than him and a teardrop shaped tattoo right at the corner of her right eye.

Ellen Kirkland, Beryl concluded, feeling a slight stab of jealousy.

Shaking her head, she exited out of the gallery and aimlessly browsed around, happening to come across the books section, scanning the list of files.

"Nights Of Desire"? "Endless Pleasure"? "Feel Me"? "Fifty Shades Of Grey"?, Beryl blinked, confused by the titles. Even more confusing, the little pictures next to the names had quite a common motif - one with a rather curvy human female in quite revealing or see-through garb, together with a solidly built human male, more often than not quite tightly embracing each other.

Given what we've seen from the few bodies we salvaged, human females do seem a bit more ... curvaceous ... than we are. But, Stars, these do make me look as flat-chested as a youngling... No wonder I saw Pure Sand flitting through Enzin's mind, then, the way she looks like...

Curiosity piqued, Beryl tapped on one of the titles, making the tablet display what looked like the middle part of a longer text, prompting Beryl to read.

"Marian felt swept off her feet, his strong arms effortlessly carrying her bridal style, and soon, very soon enough she was lowered on to a soft bed. She shivered with anticipation...", Beryl read, and blinked. It took a while for her to connect the dots, but once she did, she felt the color rising to the tips of her ears.

Humans write about mating encounters? Is this a real account or a fictional story?

Intrigued, Beryl reclined on her bed, scrolled up to the start of the story on the tablet and began to read.

---//---

You should have put a stopper to it., a part of Alex's mind argued.

She does make a good argument. She thinks this is a good way to foster understanding between our species. And so far she had proven herself right. And on top of it, neither Beryl nor Fireblade nor Talon think less of you because you did it with them., the second voice in his head countered.

In the meantime, Brightshield did loose her embrace and floated around him, coming face to face, and... yes, he felt her placing herself astride on his legs again, but apart from that, she still kept just an inch of water between them, except her hand resting on his wrist.

His brown eyes met her sapphire ones, and he saw the doleful look in them.

'You're still arguing with yourself, aren't you?', she sent.

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

'Let me prove to you that there is really nothing you should worry about', Brightshield almost-pleaded, then slowly, very slowly, her half-open lips closed in on his. She shivered in anticipation, expecting Alex to jerk back any moment, but at last, as they met, Alex felt a wave of relief and joy coming from her, washing over him.

---//---

Fireblade wasn't sure, but ever since she got that close to Enzin, and by extension Beryl, she was sure that she got more sensitive to her general condition and her moods.

Is this a side effect of the connection we share with Enzin? Unlikely, he's out of range. I guess it is because she sort of became a more important part of my life by proxy.

While Fireblade usually wouldn't put much stock in it, she noticed that there could be moments where it might become important.

Or in this case, annoying or rather distracting.

'Beryl!', she sent sharply, backed up by her impressive telepathic power, 'Whatever you are doing now, cut that out!'

'Wha...!', came her response, and Fireblade noticed that she really had been distracted.

'It is about six thousand solons, give or take, that Enzin is out of range, and while we both sort of miss him I'm sure that it isn't long enough for you to resort to that', Fireblade sent, omitting what she meant with 'that' - explanations were not needed after all.

'No, I don't...', Beryl hedged, 'I've looked through the artifacts of the wreckage, and I found a data device with a set of stories....'

'Stories?', Fireblade sent flabbergasted, 'Stories did that to you?'

'Well.... yes.', Beryl sent sheepishly, 'If you wish to see for yourself, I could give you a primer on Enzin's language and writing.'

Well, if even their writings could elicit such an effect in us, it is my duty as the chief of security to assess the dangers..., Fireblade reasoned.

---//---

Joining with Brightshield had been a slow, heartfelt affair.

Had she been rather forward in the past, her demeanor changed much over the last hour, letting him set the pace. Their kisses turned more and more heated, and at last he gently pulled her closer to himself, her eyes widening in realization what they were about to do.

It wasn't the heated mating she remembered from her times with the males. This was different. Vastly so. And at last, she began to understand how Beryl and Fireblade could become so infatuated to him.

Is this how I become connected to him as well?, she asked herself, basking in the post-mating relaxation. I told him... no regrets. And I still don't have any.

Try as he might, but Alex felt sort of relieved as well. Perhaps, it was after all, the right thing to do, even if his human moral standards say otherwise. Looking at Brightshield, lounging in the water, he went into himself, searching for his feelings.

And they... didn't change. She was still the desirable female she was before - Hell, all the Loroi are - but if he would describe his relation to her now, it would be ... well, a "colleagues with benefits" style. In a way, that there wouldn't be awkward silences in the stateroom, because if he wouldn't mix business and pleasure, she wouldn't do so as well.

And that actually separates most human women from Loroi females, he thought.

In a way, Beryl and Fireblade still held their own special places in his heart, that didn't change. But the lesson Brightshield imparted on him was that he is indeed free to explore. No way he would go for every Loroi in sight, but if he is friends with one and she expressed a certain interest, that he could go for it without risking their working or personal relationship. In fact, something like this seems not to be unusual amongst close friends in Loroi society, irrespective of gender.

Stop right there before your thoughts completely turn into teenage fantasies., Alex chided himself.

Brightshield rested next to him, eyes closed, still a hand on his right arm, basking in the afterglow. So it was a surprise when he felt another cool hand lowering itself on his left arm.

Turning towards the Loroi in question, he was mildly surprised on looking into a set of deep blue eyes.

'Spiral?', he sent, after making the connection, 'What is it?'

She lowered her gaze. Whatever she was about to ask, it seemed to be difficult on her.

'I dearly wish....', there she hestitated, '... I wish to ask ... would you allow me a turn as well?', she sent, lifting her eyes to meet his gaze with a hopeful look.



Thu Aug 23, 2018 2:06 am
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
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Alex let himself float in the water, his eyes staring towards the sky. It was now filled with marvelously furrowed clouds and a large moon had come into view. The moon was so close and so detailed, that roads and towns were visible on its surface.

Brightshield leaned over him from behind, dripping water on him from her wet hair. "Enzin, our time is up. We need to leave the teahouse."

"Thank god." he groaned as Sandraker rolled from his chest. Refusing only her he had felt, would have been impolite. Now she had evened the score after being outskilled in the flight simulator.

It took him the longest to wade to the edge of the pool. The Loroi were more lively, invigorated even. Where the Tenoin had regarded Brightshield as an annoyance at first, they were now far more friendly with her. They left him alone to recuperate and soon they all were dressed again in front of the teahouse.

"I didn't think teahouses could be this fun!" said Talon.

"So what is next?" asked Sandraker, who had already started to inch closer to his side again.

"We need to be back soon." mused Talon.

Alex decided to use that opportunity. "You don't have to stick around just for me. I'm pretty weary anyway."

A chipper Brightshield cut in. "Then let's go to the main observatory deck. It's not far and you can relax watching the fleet marshal, Enzin."

"That's not what I meant and you know it, Mizol. You just want to delay me from talking to Beryl." thought Alex to himself. But she had also presented him with a once in a lifetime chance to see a fleet this size. "That sounds like a great idea, Brightshield."

"I knew you'd be interested. You always are with warships."



The observatory deck was a rather small room with rows of seats placed in front of a room filling screen. The view was from one of the outlying nacelles of Nezel and showed most of the docking ports. The whole station was busy with shuttles darting from ship to station. Freight containers were constantly send out on trajectories to outlying ships. There were even work crews in space suits working on the outside of Nezel and several ships. The view was captivating. Alex recognized much of the ship types and understood the purposes. Those red pods surely contained supplies, as they were so numerous. The long ones contained munitions or even blisters. The shuttles carried personel to and from. He barely noticed Brightshield pulling him gently towards a chair.

The spectacle showed a degree of organisation only a well drilled army was able to muster. A few weeks ago it would have looked to him too like chaos, Alex realised. But since he had signed up with SG51, he had learned enough about Loroi doctrine to make sense of what he saw.

"Tempest, Tsunami, Green River, Black Razor..." Sandraker was busy naming the ships arrayed before them.

"Which one is Green River?" he asked.

"The one where the armor plate is being welded into place right now. See."
Sure enough, at the far side of the dock, a huge armor plate was just now being floated into place on the outside of a rather bulky looking warship.

"It looks far more massive than Tempest."

"That's because Tempest is from the Vortex class. Big guns, big engines but little armor and shields. A primary target in battle." explained Talon.

"Is the Vortex class that feared?"

"The wave loom is.Tempest is the only ship remaining of that class. Stillstorm kept her alive for two decades of raider duty."

Alex let out a respectful whistle at that. That meant that Tempest had been longer in this war than much of the Loroi fighting it. Serving in high risk raids, all the time carrying around a weapon that trades in shields for the benefit of being the most juicy target in any system.

"Is that why the Stray called in Naam?"

Brightshield answered that: "That's likely. Stillstorm has earned a reputation, with us for what she survived, with them for what she destroyed."

A bleep from her datapad made her pause. She took a look and then rose, even while still reading the message.

"High priority message. A new development with Pure Sand. Enzin, please find me on Tempest as soon as you are able. We need to talk about your abilities. Tenoin, it has been a pleasure."

"Likewise, Mizol." was Talons reply. With a last naughty smile to Alex, Brightshield left.

Alex returned to his observations. A wing of fighters had appeared and was landing in the hangars of several ships.

"Arrows." remarked Spiral.

"Excuse me?"

"Those fighters are Arrows. The brass thinks we need more point defense for the fleet."

"These fighters help with that?"

"Oh yes, they are there to shoot down missiles and torpedoes. Quick enough to fill gaps in our point defense on the fly. But no shields, so we need to hug our formation."

The door Brightshield had left through opened again. A sideglance showed Alex that Ashrain and Moonglow had entered. His sideglance turned into a longer look as the two evidently surprised Torrai recognized him.

"Captain Jardin!" Ashrain proclaimed as the two walked up to him. A moment of awkwardness passed as both stretched out their right hands to him. Recognising what they were doing, Alex quickly rose and shook their hands.

"Mazeit Moonglow, Torret Ashrain. It's my pleasure to finally meet you in person."

"We're pleased to see you too, Captain Jardin. You have been the subject of a lot of gossip on my ship." declared Ashrain.

"Have I? I am getting used to that by now, Torret."

"My crew is talking about it too, Captain. It must join us both. My crew will want to hear my firsthand account of it. Videos won't do."

Alex distinctly remembered a bet between these two. He also remembered what they had commented on during their first call. He was too tired to be called an it, so decided to find a diplomatic way out.

"I would gladly accept but I can't be away from Tempest for very much longer."

Talon cut in from the side. "That's okay. We'll go ahead and tell Stillstorm you have duties as a diplomat."

His options were dwindling rapidly. Alex began to form an excuse out of his tiredness in his head.

"Would it like to visit the Torrai Lounge with us?" Moonglow asked.

"There is a bar." Ashrain added.

Somewhere in the list of mission goals they had been given back home, having a beer with the leadership cast was featured. Thinking it over, Alex decided that it must come quite close after ensuring humanities survival.



The Torrai Lounge was more spartan than anticipated. Had he expected velvet and luxury, Alex was disappointed. It was mostly chairs and tables in a large room with low ceiling and dim light. The room was segmented by walls into different areas. Alex recognized the bar area, an area set up to eat and several tables with games on it. One of which he recognized from earlier today. Through a side door, Alex saw a kitchen. Compared to the bleak quarters of Tempest, this was comfort though.

There were several groups of Torrai present. Most of which paid him only a passing interest before returning to their topics at hand. Ashrain and Moonglow lead him to the bar. A Paset was behind it and she was actually in the process of polishing a glass with a piece of cloth. For every strange thing Alex learned about the Loroi, there was something familiar as well.

The orders were given via Sanzai and soon enough Alex had a glass of a dark liquid with foam on top of it before him. It looked like a beer, but smelled different. He turned the glass suspiciously in his hand.

"What is this? I need to be careful with what I consume."

"We have heard, Captain. Don't worry, this is from Perein. It has no alcohol." Ashrain told him.

"Neither do our drinks. We need to return to duty soon." Moonglow said.

"The whole station seems to be on duty. Are the preparations coming along well then?"

"Somewhat. There are a lot of ships that need to be resupplied at once and we have several that need urgent repairs. SG51 now also. We just finished integrating the rests of the other two strike groups into 51."

While Ashrain spoke, Alex tried the contents of his glass. The taste was bitter, with a smoky note and a mossy flavour. It left a faint aftertaste in his mouth.

"Will SG51 then be mobile during the battle?"

Moonglow shook her head. "No, the enemy is too strong for that. We can't attack their main column. They'd need to split. But there are only three jump points in Nezel. One is behind Nezel, one leads coreward and the last is the one the Shells will use."

"But if the Shells split off a division to supress the coreward jump point, couldn't SG51 not take out that division?"

"We'd have to accelerate towards the main thrust then, Captain. We'd be cut off and attacked on our way back."

"Then why not just bolster the number of the front line divisions?"

"Ah, Soshret Stillstorm wants to appear as if we are willing to sorty. We will still fight in the defensive battles. Our mobility means we can quickly reinforce where the enemies local thrusts will be. With as little as a single wing, need be." This time it was Ashrain who answered his question.

"Then the battle will be a firefight to see who can take more?"

"It is correct. We are facing a massive fleet, but Nezel is tough to crack. It has a waveloom integrated, plus the other weaponry and most of the Tinza sector fleet protecting it. The biggest concern in this battle is the contigent of super heavy ships."

"The information I have on them is very sparse. I thought they only appear in numbers in the defensive fleets?"

"So we thought too, Captain. Their presence can mean that the Shells put a lot of their defenses into this push. These ships are floating fortresses. Only a waveloom can reliably destroy them."

"Nezel has two of those and Tempest. How many else do we have, Torret?"

"Only those three, Captain. Blisters should also work, if they're not screened by smaller ships."

"That doesn't sound good."

"The battle after the next will be worse. It'll see."

"Have you spotted reinforcements coming in, Mazeit?"

"No, but the Shells will send more divisions to capitalize on a breakthrough or hit our weakened lines again. They're likely already underway. Without farsensing we can't be certain."

Moonglow leaned close to him and mustered him very close at that.

"It is frustrating. It is here in front of us, yet we can't sense it at all. It's like there is no mind at all in its head."

Alex had to snort at that. "Thanks, Moonglow. I appreciate your honesty."

Confusion passed over her face as she porecessed how it had sounded like. Then she laughed loud.

"I apologize, Captain. Spoken language is difficult when I have to use it so awkwardly."

"You have to call me it?" he asked with genuine curiousity.

"Captain Jardin, Loroi males are never warriors. Moonglow and many Loroi fear that you might take offence at the implication."

"Oh, I see. In human culture most warriors are male. I would never even think of that implication. Please don't trouble yourself on my behalf."

Moonglow beamed up at that and lifted her glass to him. "As you wish, Captain. I will think of you as a male then."

One of these days, Alex hoped, he would learn to spot these traps beforehand.


Thu Aug 23, 2018 10:47 am
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)

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"I am curious, this would be a matter your Mizol should have told you?", Moonglow asked, her smile still in place.

"The ... matter of personal pronouns never popped up with her, but truth be told, she did give me quite an insight into Loroi social mores... and I hope that she realized that we think and act quite differently in certain things. But, I do have to ask - do you refer to males as 'he' only when it comes to ... well, intimate matters?", Alex asked.

"Not always, but typically. This is different with you, I gather?", Ashrain queried.

"It is. There is no... underlying connotation when we refer to each other by our gendered pronouns. In fact, 'it' is usually reserved for objects or non-sapient creatures, and thus many humans would find it highly offensive being called an 'it'. I am still not sure if Soshret Stillstorm actually gathered that much and addressed me that way on purpose to rile me up, the first times we had to deal with each other."

"I see. But how do you handle it with species you've never met? These ... Orgus? Or the Barsam, for that matter?", Moonglow tacked on, leaning forward, genuine interest showing in her posture.

"It's a bit complicated, I admit. With you, it was pretty easy for me and purely subconscious, since you do look that similar to us, and even on a closer look your two genders fulfil similar roles when it comes to procreation, and actually see no fault in using 'he' and 'she' to describe them, since, as said, 'it' could be seen as demeaning."

"Ah. So you refer to the gender donating the gametes as 'male', and the gender carrying and bringing life to the world as 'female'? But what about, say, the Barsam? They only have a single gender.", Moonglow pressed on.

"You're right... when it's not that clear cut, we usually go by other characteristics that strike similarities with us. Like, the pitch of the voice, size, muscle mass, their societal role... the Barsam look pretty much intimidating, and their voices are more similar to male ones rather than female ones, and while they claim to be pacifists now, they do have some warrior tradition in the past, as I've learned... so we'd more commonly associate them as 'male', in that regards, and would relate to a Barsam as 'he'.", Alex elaborated.

"I see. How complicated.", Moonglow said again, "Rest assured that no disrespect is intended when we refer to you as 'it'. Much the opposite, it is intended as a sign that we don't wish to reduce your role to a Loroi male's primary function. But if you wish to be referred to you as 'he', we'd happily oblige.", she finished with a rather mischievous smile.

This time, the warning bells in Alex's brain just rung right on time.

"Uh.... please do as you deem it best. Now that you clarified that bit, I'll try not to see any offense when you continue using the gender neutral form of address."

Ashrain turned to Moonglow, seemingly for a quick exchange via sanzai, then both of them again focused on Alex.

"Very well", Moonglow assented.

"Frankly, it would be easier for me as the lone human to accomodate to your social customs... well, to an extent, of course... rather than expecting all of you to conform to mine. And the form of appellation might be one of the easier things to deal with."

"'To an extent' - well said", Ashrain cut in, "had you not said it, you might have found yourself with some caretakers on your own, expecting to face one warrior after another in mating encounters, and little else. But, as you refused to be pushed into that role, you saved the lives of the Gora Relay crew and I'm sure several of our Tenoin here. Rest assured, now we do expect more great things from you."

"Hopefully Duskcrown will see that as well. I still have to put together a dossier about humanity's political state, sphere of influence, military power and all that for her, as required of me. Though... the last may be a bit of a letdown."

"How come?", Moonglow asked with genuine concern.

"You know I have been on the bridge during the battle of Naam, around the Bellarmine wreck? I've seen the tactical display. Let's just say, that single Strike Group 51 has more ships than the whole TCA put together. We, with just six planets, four or five of them little more than colonies, at the ass-end of the cluster, never expected to come into the crossfire between two superpowers. Our very survival depends on that neither the Shells nor the Loroi would turn their eyes on us. But, with the likes of Duskcrown in charge, this could very much be an uphill battle at the very best, or a futile effort at worst."

Another exchange via sanzai between Moonglow and Ashrain, this time considerably longer, before they turned back to him.

"No need to sell yourself short", Ashrain told him, looking straight into Alex's eyes, "Rest assured, you did make some influential friends and allies. Even Duskcrown honored your achievements in an indirect manner, by promoting Stillstorm, and I'm quite sure you do have some receptive ear with Mizol Torimor Shadow, too. And never forget about these Deinar Files... their influence goes even beyond Duskcrown's, if it comes to that."

"This still doesn't answer the question whether you'd do another Mannadi on us when the threat of The Enemy is passed. I think I'm telling no surprises when I say that you might deem us to be too dangerous to be around", Alex hedged.

"I admit... your Lotai is both vexing and fascinating", Moonglow admitted, "vexing, because by all intents and purposes I could send to this wall, and it's disconcerting, but ... alluring, since I ... yes, I do see you, and not instantly know what you think, what you feel. This process of 'getting to know you' is ... very much intriguing. But your sanzai beneath that Lotai... is very much the answer to our legends and our secret wishes. So, if there'd be someone ordering any hostile action against your people.... rest assured that you'd find many friends amongst the Loroi, too."

"You mean civil war amongst the Loroi?", Alex was shocked.

"If 'civil war' means Loroi fighting Loroi... yes. Let's hope it never devolves to that. But how did we end up with such grim talk? Let's just relax and rejoice that we remain here to live and fight another day", Moonglow tried to end up on a brighter note.

"Amen to that", Alex lifted his glass with the strange brew in a toast.

Noticing the lingering gazes, coupled with small smiles, of the two Loroi on him Alex had some thoughts on his own.

Oh, you're good. Very good. The Tenoin go in straight for the kill, the Mizol must have learned seduction during their training, but it looks like it's the Torrai I should be really wary of. It's all about subtle hints and allusions with you. I know of your little side bet, but I don't know the details, though I think I have a good guess on what it might be. Brightshield may have been in accordance to Loroi customs and I could explain it away with 'when in Rome', but no way I could justify that when it comes to the command caste.... Sorry, ladies.



Fri Aug 24, 2018 1:19 am
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
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I am too tired for this...
Alex thought as he made his way to Tempest's ready room; he had barely made his way back to the ship after his time in the docks, hoping that he would be allowed some proper sleep for a change but apparently there had been a short of a breakthrough in regards to the Umiak Lotai.

"I can actually sense that!" Fireblade sent in turn, her mind beaming slightly for being able to sense him again. "So you really did have a good time at the tea house!"

"I am pretty sure that you will learn the details soon enough."
His mind knowing that the Tenoin would certainly be bragging about everything at every opportunity the could.

"Oh everyone already knows the details! You have far more stamina that I thought!"
Fireblade teased him, passing along the regards from a certain troublesome Tenoin trio.

"Damn it..." He thought as his mind raced to Beryl who was busy in the ready room.

"Beryl was a little conflicted but she hopes that the annoying Mizol has had her fill."
Fireblade sent at that.

"She is not going to get a repeat..."
He replied as he picked something in Fireblade's mind.

"Ah... Beryl had been examining the artifacts recovered from the wreck of your ship. She found some interesting stuff there."
Fireblade sent the moment she realized that he picked that up. "Your females are really perverse."

"What?"


"I glanced through certain stories that your... friend had in her personal tablet. I trust that all those stories are fictional."
Fireblade replied.

"What? Ellen's tablet? Beryl went through that?"


"Yes, she was curious on how human couples interact. I truly hope that those stories are fictional in that regard."
Fireblade sent again.

"Yes, they are fictional; don't know how our women like some of that stuff."
Alex replied as he remembered the kind of books Ellen had elected to take for entertainment. "I had even joked that the man would end up in prison if they did that in real life."

"Really perverse females...
Fireblade commented just as he reached the ready room.

"I will be in the ready room."


"Have fun in there."
Fireblade replied, passing along the message that she thought he would need it. That gave him a moments pause but he managed to steel himself before going inside, hoping that Beryl would have announced his arrival.

"Ah, Captain Jardin, it is good that you finally joined us." Torimor Shadow said as everyone else turned to look at him as he entered. "We have been discussing a discovery made by the Farseer after she came in contact with you."

"A discovery?" Alex asked as he took in who was in the room. There was Stillstorm and the Sorimi that Duskcrown had left behind, Beryl was sitting at one of the consoles while Brightshield, Tempo and Shadow herself were looking over her shoulder.

"Yes, it is quite amazing as it revolves around the very foundations of telepathy." Shadow begun, she seemed upbeat about everything as she went on. "I don't want to bore you with how much this may affect research and the mental techniques surrounding telepathy but suffice to say that it wouldn't be possible without you."

"That's good, I guess..." Alex said at that.

"My apologies, I forgot that you weren't even aware of your own telepathic abilities until very recently. We Loroi had thought that we had mastered our telepathic abilities, that we wouldn't able to further improve on them until we would attain the technologies necessary to scientifically detect and measure the phenomenon that is telepathy but the Farseer has been able to confirm some theories surrounding it. We had long since theorized that telepathy took place in a far higher dimension than ours but we never really observed something tangible in regards the existence of said dimension, the Farseer has managed to detect a mental 'ripple' that your mind leaves at its wake on that dimension. It is extremely faint and impossible to detect if someone isn't encompassed by an impregnable Lotai such as yours but the Farseer has managed to detect it and she is certain that with some experience and some practice she will be able not only to detect the 'Voids' but to also safely deduce the size of the fleet hiding beneath the newfound Umiak Lotai." Shadow explained and Alex couldn't help but glance at Beryl briefly.

"It is highly complicated and theoretical stuff that isn't really the purview of the Listel caste. There are highly talented Farseers, Mizols and male Farseers who delve into this kind of research."
Beryl sent dejectedly, unhappy that she couldn't properly explained this.

"So the Umiak Lotai can be countered?" Alex asked at that.

"Yes, indeed. We don't know yet if our Farseers will be able to detect Shell fleets in the same distances as before but it is not an insurmountable obstacle anymore." Shadow said at that. "However the Farseer will require some more training with you to fine tune the technique."

"I will help with that in every way I am able."

"I never doubted that..." Shadow said with a smile before glancing at Tempo. "Parat Tempo will arrange for your next session with the Farseer which I will be observing as well after you..." She turned and glanced at Brightlshield at that. "...have rested from your eventful leave."

Damn it...
He thought but he was actually at a loss for words at that, fortunately there seemed to be a telepathic dismissal as Beryl stood up to leave as Brightshield walked up to him.

"We have been dismissed Captain Jardin." Brightshield said at that and lead the way outside while Beryl followed suit, leaving Tempo and Shadow behind to discuss matters with Stillstorm.

"Beryl I am sorry I..."
He begun the moment they left the ready room, knowing that postponing the awkward conversation for later wouldn't do much good.

"It's fine, she isn't here with me and Fireblade..."
Beryl replied, her mind conflicted; both glad that Brightshield wasn't in their closed group and dejected that this... rival of sorts got what she wanted.

"I trust that she... behaved when you learned about this."


"She didn't gloat for her accomplishment although she was satisfied... She even said that she wanted to make amends about our previous misunderstandings."
Beryl replied.

"I told her to stop antagonizing you and Fireblade."
He informed her at that, annoying her more about that than the fact that they had sex.

"I and Fireblade can manage our own social affairs."
She chastised him although Fireblade's mind seemed kinda amused at that.

"And she is my diplomatic liaison, I can't have you and her being on bad terms."
He patiently explained to her.

"Fine, I will try being professional with her."
Beryl relented, although still clearly annoyed about everything.

"Captain Jardin, is there something you would like to discuss before you retire to your quarters to rest?" Brightshield said after a few moments of awkward silence, he was certain that she and Beryl didn't discuss anything via sanzai but he had a suspicion that the two of them would have a discussion to settle things sooner or later.

"As a matter of fact there is..." Alex replied after thinking about it. "I would like to discuss the issue pertaining the... artifacts recovered from Bellarmine and the remains of the ship's crew."

"Yes, I had intended to discuss this issue with you as well as many cultures value the proper treatment of their dead." Brightshield replied as she slowed her pace. "Do you a particular request regarding your honored dead?"

"Were any of them... dissected?" Alex asked at that and Brightshield actually had to pause to think about it.

"Unfortunately yes, learning as much about your kind was a priority when you were first discovered." Brightshield begun. "I apologize in the Union's behalf if the mistreatment of your honored dead is an affront to your kind."

"I understand..." Alex replied as he tried to push the thought of Ellen's body being dissected out of his mind. "I would like to arrange for the funeral of Bellarmine's crew."

"Of course, are there any particular procedures to be followed?" Brightshield asked.

"Yes..." Alex begun to say but he realized something important. "...there are but... I will make due."

"The Union will provide all necessary assistance for their cremation ceremony." Brightshield said at that, surprising him.

"We don't usually cremate our dead." Alex said at that. "Some cultures do but most elect to bury their dead in a graveyard."

"You bury your dead?" Brightshield asked absentmindedly. "Yes it will be tricky but I will come in contact to the Neridi authorities of Nezel for it."

"I would appreciate it." Alex begun. "I would also like to search the artifacts for anything that may help me with my duties."

"Of course, we can go and review them right away if you want to." Brightshield said at that.

"That would be inappropriate. Rummaging through their personal belonging before seeing to their funeral." Alex replied after some thought. "It has been a matter I have overlooked for far too long and I can't in good conscience postpone for much longer."

"Of course, I will see into making the necessary arrangements right away. I will contact you for the details." Brightshield said before leaving him and Beryl alone.


_________________
My fan fics:

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


Sun Aug 26, 2018 1:34 pm
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