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Colliding Worlds

Discussion in 'Mixed-genre & Uncategorized' started by Silence, May 28, 2017.

  1. aryamajor

    aryamajor Curious Adventurer Benefactor

    Priscilla hadn't expected anything from Ehud for Christmas. It wasn't his tradition, much less in his religion and Calysta had informed her exactly how strange gifts were to them. Still, she opened the beautifully wrapped package to reveal a white and gold mini dress with lace at the top. It was surprisingly fashionable and Priscilla blinked in surprise before a pleased smile spread across her painted lips. "It's beautiful," she said honestly. Holding the dress up for another inspection, she nodded and then draped it on the side of the chair so she could rise up to sit next to Ehud. Before he could protest too much, she settled beside him with a flutter of her green dress and captured up his cheek to plant a sweet his on the opposite side. He smelled nice, almost a bit like after shave, except she knew he didn't shave. None of the Chippeqouti did as far as she knew and she had heard Calysta wish no leg and arm pit shaving was required for her too. "Thank you for making this a wonderful Christmas, Ehud. For everything." Her little kiss made a perfectly lip shaped mark on his pale cheek that she didn't bother to try to erase. He could do that later when he discovered it.

    The oven began to beep, reminding them that the last batch of cookies was ready to be removed and Priscilla gave Ehud an extra little peck before rising to her feet. Her heels clicked on the floor and she smoothed down her skirt in the back. As she did, a dusting of glitter rained down from her bottom to the couch, settling over the cushion and a few specks over Ehud's folded knees. "Oh," she mumbled. Her cheeks turned bright red as she turned her rear away from the man and his newly decorated couch to try dusting off the glitter. "Sorry about that. Some how my setting powder came open all in my clothes drawers...mainly my undergarments...I've washed everything a few times but it simply wont go. I'm afraid your couch might be permanently glittered." Her explanation only caused more flush to brighten her cheeks and she batted the couch cushion all the more furiously.

    * * * * * * * * * * * *

    The next month passed faster than Calysta could ever have imagined it would. Between helping Illya study and approving construction to begin on the new school facility on Pyrta and overseeing the new lake developing on the north end of the continent along with taking care of the children, everything passed in a bit of a blur. When it came to the test day, they flew the Silver Mountain out to Kinte. It was easier to do that rather than take the smaller flyer out which could only hold her and Illya since Rose had said she wanted to come along. Her father came along to enjoy the day and so did Priscilla in the hopes of finding some Terran shopping. She very much wanted to find a few non-uniform articles of clothing for Ehud. Their family would stay the night on Kinte and then return once the results were announced for Illya the next day.

    They flew out early in the morning to Kinte and Calysta saw Illya to the door. "You've worked hard for this, love," she told him as she looped his scarf around his shoulders, "No matter what happens, I love you." She kissed him on the lips and then his wrist before sending him on his way to the Skycorp compound. More than anything she wanted him to be happy with something he had chosen and if they could get through the testing and training parts he would have a job he might actually enjoy.

    While Illya was at the Skycorp compound, Calysta decided it would be a good day for her to spend some time with Rose. They hadn't had much time together recently because her daughter had been spending so much time with Sam and she had been helping Illya as much as she could with studying along with running the home planet. In the early morning before the next band of rain came through, the entire troupe went out into the floating islands to a little indoor play ground set above a restaurant. It had little patches of grass, swings and slides with jungle gyms too. Cypher had no problem running around with his little sister. "Dat not how yah slide," he told her, "Yah going tah fall when yah get to the bottom." He promptly righted her to be facing feet down and away she went down the slide. The action made her hair a staticky mess of auburn curls but that made the scene all the better as she bounded back up the stairs one at a time to try it again. Calysta held to Edgar and watched the children play while Rose held Tomas with a well practiced embrace.

    "It's weird to think that Cypher was a baby once and Lohgan too," she said, rubbing Tomas' back, "Especially when I see how small Tomas is." She couldn't say the same for Edgar who was a bit more round in the middle. It was the only way besides labeling she could tell the two twins a apart. Calysta chuckled and agreed with her daughter. "I didn't know they would grow so fast either. I remember when you were just a little girl too, you know. You hated broccoli and loved bears."

    Rose snorted a little and shook her head a bit. "I still hate broccoli."

    They laughed and continued watching the kids play until both of them were tired and a light drizzle had set in over the indoor play ground's protective dome. Stopping for lunch was easy. Cypher had worked out a good deal of his energy and Lohgan, who wasn't nearly as active as her brother, was too tired to do much fussing over her food other than to eat it before falling asleep in her stroller. Calysta put them all down for a nap under the careful eye of her father who had come back when the rain began to fall again. "Kinte hasn't changed much," he said, settling into his chair, "I had lunch with an old professor buddy of mine and went to see Henny's memorial. It's nice looking."

    Calysta handed Tomas to her father and kissed his beard shrouded cheek. "Aye, it is." When both of her Thomas' were both comfortable, she took her wallet and placed it in her pocket then stuffed her 9mm pistol into her waist band at her back. Whenever she was off Pyrta and not will Illya, she carried her weapon which she kept in serving order. She never knew when she might need it, though she would never let the kids see her carrying it. Rose was really the only one who knew she did that besides her father. When they were all ready to go, she and Rose set out in their rain coats and new boots in the steady rainfall.

    Most Kaereleans didn't care about the rain during the rainy season. It was simply a part of life they had to deal with and raincoats were a fashion industry this time of year, displayed in all the shops alongside matching boots and umbrellas. They walked into several shops until they passed by a small dress store displaying a beautiful red wedding dress with a glittery bodice and flowing skirts. Rose paused to look at it for a moment in admiration. "That one is pretty," she said, "But on Terra they wear white, according to Priscilla. I rather like the idea of a white dress. Red doesn't look as good on me."

    "You can do which ever you like," Calysta assured her, "I'm not as familiar with the Terran parts of a marriage ceremony, but the great thing about being a part of so many people is you can decide for yourself what you like." Of course, the topic of weddings had been brought up and now Calysta was curious. Shooting her daughter an inquisitive look, she smiled. "Are you and Sam thinking of making things more permanent?"

    Rose caught her mother's look and sent an equally sly grin back at her, before turning her eyes back to the dress in the window. "I don't know. I like Sam. Alot. He treats me nicely and I enjoy hanging out with him. He's funny when he thinks no one is looking and we are good together. Even if sometimes we get strange looks because he is Pithian and I'm the councilwoman's daughter. I'm not sure I'm ready to get married, but when I am, Sam would be the first person I thought of."

    Calysta gazed at her daughter and then lift an arm to wrap around Rose's waist, tugging her close. She wasn't always so physically affectionate and perhaps Rose had suffered from that lack of understanding of how important that could be since coming to live with them. All the same, it couldn't hurt to show a little now. "When the time is right for you, then it will be the right time for him too. You don't have to feel pressured into rushing anything with anyone. That's all in your control, yeah?"

    Rose looked down to her mother, who was an inch or two shorter now and returned the side armed embrace. It wasn't often Kalizda did that and it was nice just to have the time with her mother's sole attention. "Yeah, I get to choose that. Let's go see if we can find that chocolate shop on main now. That sounds good after our lunch."

    "Oh don't worry. No need to go searching for it," Calysta assured her, "I already know where it is." They laughed and turned from the window to walk own the stone paved path toward the chocolate shop. Calysta would pick up one for each of her children, her father, Priscilla, and a nice caramel for Illya to have later that night. As they stomped through a puddle, she glanced to her daughter. "If it counts for anything, I think you'd like wonderful in a red or a white dress."
     
    Silence likes this.
  2. Silence

    Silence Anonymous Me Staff Member Benefactor Warden

    When Priscilla stood Ehud saw the puff of sprinkles and he instantly felt his ears get hot. She was still dropping sparkles everywhere after Illya rummaged through her underwear. It was terrible to think that Illya wasn't even interested in her and yet he'd handled her intimate clothing. What were they thinking that day? If he'd had his right mind about himself he would never have even gone for such a wild suggestion. Instead he was sitting here feeling slightly ashamed. Lowering his gaze he saw her wiping at the couch and he caught her hand. "That's alright. I will remember you when I sit on the couch." He was trying to make this smooth, but he wasn't sure that helped.

    ******************************

    With the test finally ready to start Illya felt a bit more nervous. He'd never taken an exam like this before. Each person was to test in silence and he'd remembered that part, but he didn't expect to see a room full of desks. It was like the little school room that the Chip children first attended. How was one supposed to focus when there were so many others around them and when they were expected to just sit. Most folk thought better when they were on the move.

    Illya hadn't really practiced just sitting still when he had been studying for this exam. Many of the times he shifted around. Sometimes he sat, walked, paced, or laid down on the couch when he was trying to study for the exam. In some ways it was easier to move around when he was trying to think. If he was going to be testing in the room then he was going to try and sit in the front. It was better for one to pay attention to be sitting where others would not be a distraction. The students in front of Illya seemed to be keen on the idea of sitting in the rear of the classroom.

    Finally the students in the front of the line were seated and Illya took himself toward the center front. There was only one problem with his idea. The entire class could see the fact that the desk was a little small. Illya looked at the small desk and he frowned. It looked like the tray could swing to the side and that was just as well. It would be tight fit otherwise. A loud creak sounded as Illya's full weight came to rest in the chair and the proctor for the exam lifted her gaze slightly. She'd been busy examining her own pad and preparing the exam to be set on the student's pads for the exam. Once he was seated Illya found himself uncomfortable. The seat was contoured to be more supportive of rumps that belonged to smaller persons. Trying not to be obvious in the fact that the seat was uncomfortable Illya twisted a little in the seat to see if he could find a better way to perch on it. Instead the chair started to protest with loud screeches and the entire structure of it shook. After a moment Illya stopped and he pulled the little tray back toward himself. It stopped short when it hit his left knee. Illya had to straighten his left leg out and then his right to get the tray to rest where it was supposed to.

    It only took a few more minutes and all the other students were seated. The proctor got up and grabbed a large box full of pads. "Each of you will receive one pad and you will sign in with your name and number from your Alliance Identification Card. Once I see that all the students have been signed in, I will enable the first test. You will be tested in math, science, language and then law. You will have 2 hours to complete each section of the exam." The proctor set a pad on Illya's tray and then promptly tripped over the Chip's feet. "Oof!" Most students didn't stick their legs out like that. A clatter sounded as the box hit the ground and a few pads slid out across the floor.

    Despite the attempts to stay professional a few of the potential students snickered and then quickly regained their composure. Glancing about the room from her hands and knees the woman felt her cheeks turn red. She could hear the desk rattling and she realized the big man in the front was trying to get out of his desk to help her. "Please, just stay where you are. I'm sure that desk won't handle much more." It sounded like the thing was about to be rattled to pieces with the way the man kept shifting about.

    By the time the proctor reached her desk again she felt slightly relieved and made mental note that she would need to watch her feet when she walked through this classroom. Normally she would have asked for a student to be removed from a room and disqualified if they intentionally tripped her, but she had seen that he couldn't fit in the desk and his legs were outstretched long before she'd got there. "The exam is started." With a sigh she clicked one of the buttons. This test was starting later than it usually did and that meant that when they had lunch in the cafeteria it would be during the same time as the rest of the students. The place would be packed and it was not ideal. From what she'd overheard there was a student that actually took the time to read all the rules. That had to be a first and it was incredibly annoying all at the same time.

    Illya signed into his pad and he waited for the timer to start and then he clicked on the first category. It was math and he was sure that he could do that one without any problem. The math was easy and he flew through the first several equations. He was sure that it was near the half hour mark by now and he looked at the timer to see that only 15 minutes passed. He wasn't anywhere near the 2 hours and he was almost half way through the math questions. The further he got into the questions the more complex they became, but that meant that they were more enjoyable. When he finished the last problem it had only been 45 minutes. Since he had a while to sit he decided to see if the pad would allow him to start on the next section. Unfortunately it was locked and he had to just sit and wait for the timer. Having his legs straight out in front of himself had caused him to slump a little in his seat and his back was hurting. Pushing his tray to the side he shifted in his seat with a wince. The chair groaned and he could have sworn he heard it crack, or maybe that was his back.

    The longer he had to stay seated the more his back hurt. By the time the second test was starting Illya was distracted by the deep aching in his spine and the spasms setting into his lower back. Somehow the science section of the exam seemed to take forever though he was still done half an hour early. It was a relief when the proctor worked their way through the room and collected all the pads and then dismissed them for lunch. Illya would have gladly jumped out of his seat if he thought that it would have been alright, but he was sure his back would need a slow stretching. As he stood up an audible pop sounded from his back and he groaned, "Ugh." His cough medicine was wearing off too and Illya could feel the urge to cough start to rise in his chest. When they got to the waiting room Illya remained standing for the time. Finding the aid in the room he waited for them to finish speaking with the other student before he asked his question. "On dis break can I get some medicine from dah locker where I leave meh stuff?"

    Like usual many students had come to ask how they had done so far and the aid simply told them all that the results would be posted in the morning. One of the last ones in line to speak with him was the big guy that seemed to be making a scene no matter where he went even if he didn't try. "No. You can't have anything from it till the testing is done. Only about 5 more hours. Whatever it is can wait. You knew this test would take a while you should have planned accordingly."

    "Dat's nice. Can't plan nut tah cough all over dah place, or plan tah make meh medicine last longer. Ef yah dun mind I'll jes cough trough lunch and last 4 hours of exam den." Illya didn't expect that it would change the man's mind, but it was a fair warning. As he expected the man simply shrugged and acted as if it were an excuse of sorts.

    Within a few minutes they were headed toward the cafeteria. Illya didn't mind the short walk, but he instantly felt like he was standing in the middle of the slave market when he saw the giant room they were in. People were everywhere and a few were staring at him. There was no mistaking that. Clenching his jaw and frowning deeply he tried to remain calm on the very long wait to get food from the cafeteria. It seemed that the servers portioned out the food and they gave each person the same thing. Illya watched the ones in front of him get an odd slop sort of thing in a bowl and then a good sprinkling of cheese on top. Perhaps it was a decent stew.

    When he had his tray of food Illya took himself over to the nearest table. A few of the students scooted in and made room for him to sit on the end of the long bench. The three girls seemed to be far too absorbed in their conversation and that was fine until he sat down. The entire bench started to tip and the girls slid toward him. "Damn et." Cursing under his breath Illya scooted further in. He didn't want to sit in the middle, but he was going to have to.

    By the time the next round of tests were ready to start he felt flustered and upset. His back was hurting, head hurt from all the squinting and reading with the screens. It was too many hours with a pad. The cough was only getting worse and he was starting to sweat. He could tell his mind was starting to get the better of him. All through the language part of the test he rubbed at his head and frowned. He wanted a pad and pencil to translate some of the words. They were long and he couldn't seem to get it straight without some extra work and he practically had to memorize the sentence before he could respond to it. Glancing at the timer he saw that he only had 20 minutes left and he still had 30 questions to go. To add to the discomfort he could feel his heart start to race and he couldn't focus any better on the words. Finally, Illya set the pad on the desk and he covered his face with his hands. He just needed a moment to try and cool his head. He had to get a grip before he could finish this exam.

    With the last section Illya's guts felt like they were about to fall out of him. The food sat heavy in his stomach and his chest hurt from all the coughing. Illya was sure that he wasn't going to do well at all. He felt a bit miserable and he had to keep doing his best to slow his brain down because it was continually trying to race down the path of panic. When he reached the last 10 questions he had 2 minutes left and Illya didn't care if he got the questions right anymore. Tapping through the last ten he set his pad down on the little tray and waited for the proctor to collect the pad.

    It was the end of a long day and Illya hurt all over. As soon as he got to his locker he took more of the cough medicine and he noticed the aid had a slightly guilty expression. Perhaps they believed him now, but it was a little late. Kalizda was outside waiting for Illya and he tried to give her a smile. "I tink I did good as I feel." That was all she needed to know for now. There wasn't any hiding from her the fact that he hurt. She knew if he sat for too many hours that his back bothered him.

    That night it was hard to sleep for many reasons. Illya's back hurt more than usual. He had taken the lozenge, his inhaler, cough medicine, and even let Kalizda rub some of the numbing salve on his back, but it didn't seem to affect the ache in his spine. "I tink I jes lay on meh back." Being on his side was far too painful when his back was like this. "Dat means dat yah get tah lay on top of meh eh?" With a playful grin he tried to downplay the discomfort. Pulling Kalizda a bit closer he leaned up just far enough to steal a kiss. "Mmm...yah get closer and I can give yah anoter kiss."

    Minutes drug into hours and when morning finally came Illya was awake a while before Kalizda started to stir. She looked a little tired. "Oh, meh beautiful little bird. Yah wake now. Maybe we jes talk little bit before dah twins wake." Sitting up in the bed he grabbed a lozenge and stuffed it into the side of his cheek before he kissed Kalizda and started to tell her a little memory he had. "I remember when make first snake stew for meh on dah ship. Yah work so hard tah please meh and I dun know why." Illya's eyes lit up with a hidden smile. "I tink yah make good snake stew now. Den I was nut so sure. Dere were lots of tings I was nut so sure about. I tink I used tah wonder ef yah would want children wit meh. Sometimes I would tink dat yah maybe secretly tink I was monster and yah only go wit meh cause yah were afraid." Turning slightly he felt her slip a little from his chest and he held her close till he flipped them over in the bed and she was laying on her back looking up at him. "I know dat yah love meh now and yah nut afraid. Dis little bird sleeps in a wolf's den and she es fearless." Leaning in closer he kissed her and then moved closer to her ear where he could whisper to her. "She es fearless, beautiful, and good. Dese are tings a wolf cannot resist." Kissing her a few more times he chuckled a little.

    A bit of the cough medicine had helped and he felt much better after having his medicine the night before and his second morning dose. The twins woke a short while after the little morning relaxation. After the kids were taken care of Illya got in the shower with Kalizda. They were going to check the scores as soon as they were out. Illya slipped into his new red sweater before putting on the rain gear. He was ready to walk with Kalizda to the boards. Grabbing the star from his night stand he pushed the metal medallion from Kalizda into his pocket. "We see ef yah star es lucky eh?"

    On the walk to the boards Illya reached out and caught Kalizda's hand. It wasn't far from his, but he still liked to hold her hand. When they got to the boards his eyes widened. He hadn't realized there were so many people taking the exam. Perhaps they had more than one room of students. "Yah start second board and I start on dah first." Within a few seconds he heard Kalizda call him over. "What?" Looking at the place where she was pointing he saw that his name was in black. He had passed. It wasn't a good score, but he passed. Letting out a long breath he grinned. "Hmm...et es lucky star after all. I keep et wit meh." Sneaking an arm behind her back he pulled her closer to himself and kissed her. "Maybe we celebrate a little bit tonight. I make special dinner for all dah family and we stay one more night. Den we take dah kids to dah zoo? Maybe we make et a holiday before dah classes. We take time here wit jes us and dah kids."
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2018
    aryamajor likes this.
  3. aryamajor

    aryamajor Curious Adventurer Benefactor

    Priscilla swiped at the couch quickly, hoping Ehud wouldnt mind having a bit of glitter there. She had done everything she could think of to get rid of the stuff stuck all in her clothes, but nothing it worked. In fact some of Calysta and Illya's clothes were now glitterfied from having being washed right after her own clothes. Suddenly, a cool hand wrapped around hers pausing her work on cleaning the couch. She looked up slowly to meet Ehud's eyes as he spoke. He seemed nervous and yet so sincere as he gazed back with pink cheeks, her lip stick vanishing on his normally pale face. It made her heart flutter faster, her eyes fixed on him and only him. There was a sudden urge to kiss him on the lips. They had never done that before and she found herself leaning in closer and closer, heart pattering the whole time as her fingers held to his. Her lips grew closer and closer till she realized what she was doing. In a momentary panic, she cleared her throat and threw on a soft smile. "Considering the amount of glitter you may be thinking of me very often."

    The way that Priscilla was leaning closer made Ehud think she was going to kiss him. He was ready for that. If she was ready to kiss him then he was more than ready to kiss her and even go further if she wanted. In preparation for the kiss he puckered his lips slightly and he started to move a bit closer ad then she suddenly pulled back. "Hmmm." Clearing his throat he resumed a more normal expression for himself. "I suppose I will think of you often then. It's not such a bad thing."

    They both hovered there for a moment in a strange limbo of uncertainty before she smiled a little more and squeezed his hand. I rather like the idea of you thinking of me." She said it quietly, almost like a whispered secret then broke her gaze to glance at the oven. "I think I ought to be having those cookies on my mind," she chuckled. Letting go of his hand, she swished in her skirts over to the kitchen and grabbed a pot holder to pull the sugar cookies from the depths of the oven. It took all of three minutes to place them on a nice platter and brought them back into the living room. Offering him a fresh cookie, she waited for him to take one and then settled in beside him. The hologram was still spitting snow in delicate puffs from a nebulous cloud above them and the lights were on in the Christmas tree. She could hear Sien in his room bouncing around as he changed into his new Mickey Martian pajamas and his heavy feet thundering their direction. The boy was so excited to have them, and while she wasn't sure Ehud liked his set, she was glad to have made at least one of them smile. It was all quite lovely and she gave Ehud a quick glance before reaching for a cookie for herself. "Merry Christmas, Ehud." About that time, Sien came dashing around the corning and hit the couch cushion knees first, asking to put on the newest Mickey Martian. "I think we can do that," she said as she wiggled in close.

    They spent the rest of the evening watching the latest Mickey Martian and once that was over, Priscilla volunteered to put Sien to bed. His room was a mess, but that was to be expected from a little boy living in a house with only his father. She waited until Sien snuggled down into his sheets and then pulled the blanket over. "Goodnight, Sien," she said in traders tongue, "Sweet dreams and I'll see you tomorrow." That comment made him grin all the wider, as if he was quite happy to see her tomorrow, and she closed his door until she left just the tiniest crack for some light to shine through.


    * * * * * * * * * * *

    Sitting for the Skycorp exam was no small thing. People came from all around to take the exam, and not just from the 90 continents of Kaereal, but from all over the Alliance. There were Reylians, though they weren't as frequently applying as they tended to go into the Rey military, along with Yurians, Urians, and a wide variety of Fringers. Even an Udine had applied and come all the way through the jump gate in the Delta quadrant to take the exam. She stood tall with her thick, somewhat grey skin dull against the florescent style lighting until it was time for her to take a seat at one of miniscule desks which was a difficult task. It took a fair amount of folding to crunch herself into the tiny seat and then splay her knees in a way that would allow for the desk top to swivel into her lap. Still she managed it and sighed in relief. Some idiot had take ages to read through all of the instructions. It really wasn't that hard. Even she knew what to do and traders tongue was her 6th language and she knew the basics of the testing.

    The rest of them filed in and once again they were waiting on the brawny tan man to take his seat. The moment he wheedled into it, they could all tell that the chair was only going to hold so much. The spindly metal legs splayed slightly under the man's apparently substantial weight. The scene was only added to when the guy didn't bother to fold his legs and sent one of the test monitors sprawling along with the test-pads. Everyone looked up at the clattering sound an a few even giggled, save for one tester. He had pale skin, a bit pinkish on his cheeks, and light blonde hair but his eye color couldn't be seen. The male had his forehead rested into his hand and supposedly his eyes trained on the desk. His knee bounced nervously as he fidgeted in his seat and it only betrayed his nerves. Sure, he was 17 and by the time he was actually commissioned, he would be old enough to take it at age 18. They would still pay him for his training and his time, so it was all the better. If he made it.

    Beside him sat a smaller girl who didn't look to be much older than he did, her stark blonde hair was a pile of ringlets on her head and she stared at the back of the tan man's head. She hadn't laughed when the aid tripped and sat silently waiting for her pad to be given to her. Her eyes were bright and she had an almost fairly like quality to her that made her look for too delicate for joining a line of work like Skycorp. Despite that, she had a determined gleam in her eyes and no fear when it came time for her to take her pad.

    The man directly behind the massive tan guy was clearly Yurian. He had on a pink tunic and a silver medallion with two, flat rounded charms marking him a Moonworshipper. He had a narrow sort of face, and bit like a rat, and he snickered at the incident before slouching in his seat. This had already been a bit of a circus for them all and clearly the guy ahead of him wouldn't even finish the test on time if it took him that long to simply read the instructions. One less spot of competition to worry about in his book.

    Everyone was wordless as the test began and the only sound was the occasional wheezing from the front accompanied by the groaning of the pitifully strained chair trapped under the tan man's buttocks. When lunch was released the various testers made a beeline for the door, eager to get some sort of food before they had to return to the uncomfortable desk chairs. The raucous of the cafeteria was a nice change, though nobody made more of a scene than the tan man. All of the testers watched as he coughed and then sat down to a table, nearly upending it.

    "Good goddesses," the Yurian smirked, leaning closer to the tiny blonde woman, "Could you imagine being in a scout ship with that hulk? He'd take a shit and tilt the whole ship with it." The woman glanced to the Yurian with a curl lip of disgust and poked at her food as her only response.

    When they were gathered back together after an hour lunch by the aid, they followed him like a herd of ducklings to finish the exam. The next four hours were miserable. In what seemed to be the tan man's usual modus operandi, he managed to distract the entire room with whatever germs and sickness he had warned the proctor about. By the time the exam was over and the pads collected, the dozens of examinees left in different states. The Udine woman felt confident she had done decently as she strode out of the room and ducked under the door way followed closely behind the Yurian man who left twiddling his charm and smiling to himself. The goddesses would bless his answers. The young woman ran a hand through her ringlets and sighed before shuffling out which left only the younger man who sat in his chair, eyes wide as he stared at the wall.

    "Everyone is gone," said one of the aids, "What're you still doing here, young man?"

    His eyes flicked up as he took a deep breath and rubbed at his face. "Trying to come to terms that I might be living with my mother for the rest of my life."

    There was clear tension, but the aid chuckled and that managed to get the young man to laugh too. They laughed quietly and then the young man got up too, certain that the painfully awkward Chip had long gone from the building.

    * * * * * * * * * * *

    Calysta met Illya outside and before she could ask how it went, he was telling her. He looked awful. There was a sheen of sweat on his brow and his leg was limping a bit more drastically than it should normally. His back was hurting him, no doubt, and she gave him a small smile anyways. "C'mon," she said, slipping a hand behind his back and then kissing his cheek, "Let's get to the ship and relax." No more needed to be said about how he thought he did. It wouldn't change what had been done and now they would just have to wait. No need to work up his nerves anymore than they had already been.

    It rained on the way home, but once they arrived she fed him a nice dinner of chili made by Priscilla and then brought him to bed. Once he'd had all of his medicine, she took her time rubbing some of the numbing oil over his back. He probably needed a good work over by the Chip pleasure house, which was more than her little fingers were capable of. Hopefully, the oil would work some tension out and he might be less stiff in the morning. She worked the clove scented oil over his scared back, working a little a the tender spots and occasionally nibbling at his ear to distract him before they curled up in the bed together. Despite the fact his back was aching terribly and he'd opted to sleep on his back, Illya managed a small tease and pulled her close over his broad chest. Calysta chuckled as he kissed her then went right along with his invite to wiggle closer for another. "Mmmm..." Her fingers cupped each side of his cheeks and she gazed at him. "I can't refuse an offer like that." Her grey eyes scanned him over with pride shining in them. She was so proud of him for trying. The test wasn't easy, particularly for him, and no matter what happened she would be proud. Leaning up she left a trail of gentle kisses starting from his chest up to his neck and up to his jaw before making it to his lips. "Bird pecks," she giggled. They laid there for awhile, and she knew he wouldn't feel up to any 'hard work' given his back. That was alright. Instead, they spent the time cuddling until she managed to fall asleep for a short time. Illya was shifting around some, trying to get comfortable and hold her at the same time. She knew if she moved away he would search for her and at the same moment, she was sure he had to be uncomfortable with her weight on his chest. Whenever his chest crackled with a fresh cough, she curled over his bare torso as if that might help in some small way.

    When she woke still slightly flopped over him and her hair a wild mess from having tossed in turned. Illya greeted her with what sounded like a tone of relief and excitement that she was awake, calling her beautiful has he reached for a lozenge. If he was doing that, his back mostly likely hadn't improved much over night and she shifted out of the way to let him grab what he needed. He stuffed the medicine into his cheek then captured her up again, making it obvious he was glad she was awake. "I like that idea," she smiled before letting out a small yawn. Getting to talk with him in the mornings was one of her favorite parts of the day. Something she would sorely miss when he was on commissions. Calysta didn't dwell too much on that thought, mostly because she wanted to focus on the moment and listen to what he remembered. Just the thought of that terrible snake stew made her cringe slightly. At least she had improved some. What she hadn't known was the fact that he'd worried so much about what he thought at that time. Afraid of him? There had only been a rare few times she'd been afraid of him and those were long in the past. She smoothed down his hair and kissed him. "I wasn't sure if I would be a good wife or a good mother for you but I wasn't afraid." Suddenly, he flipped her over and she gasped some as her hair fluffed out over the pillow. Though he was settle over her, he was gentle and never bared down with his full weight, something she knew was a feat given how his back had to feel. His little whispers in her ear made her giggle from the ticklishness along with his general playfulness. "Her wolf is warm and she loves him so," she chuckled between kisses. "No matter where he is."

    * * * * * * * * * * * *

    The walk to the Skycorp compound was a wet and rainy one but it was the fastest way to get the test results. They weren't alone when they arrived at the digital bulletin board to start checking over the names. An Udine woman was staring the board and grinning while what was plainly a Yurian man kissed his moon medallion. A woman with blond curls was smiling to herself nearby. Calysta nodded as they agreed to split up the board and look for his name. Her eyes flashed over the listed names. Illya Blackwolf.....Illya Blackwolf...C'mon! She her heart was pounding in excitement for him but he had yet to find his name. Where are you?! Finally, the second to the last name stood out in beautiful, black lettering. Illya Blackwolf. Grinning, she waved at her Chip. "Illya! Come look!" He shuffle over to her as she pointed to his name stamped in black. "You made it!" His score was awful, but he'd made the cut and she beamed up at him as he grinned, the relief of having passed evident on him from head to toe.

    When it sunk in that he had passed a bit more, he turned and commented on her pin before bringing her into a quick kiss. "Of course it is," she chuckled. He was probably only half teasing about the star needing to prove it was luckily. "And I like that idea. A little holiday with all of us together would be perfect. We can celebrate with everyone." Wrapping her arm around his waist, she gave him an excited squeeze and kissed him again. "Let's get some lunch and then we can go shopping for the dinner tonight." This would be her chance to show him around Kinte more now that they would be here more often for his training. "I can show you some of the best spots for food...without corn....and the best place to study. Oh, and there is a wonderful animal preservation on Island two..."

    About that time, her pad rang and a message came through offering to meet for lunch while she was out shopping. "We can bring take home orders for the kids so they don't have to get out in all of this rain," she suggested. She had been keeping a careful eye on the twins with the Chip cough still circulating. It was all the better if they stayed indoors where it was a least warm.

    Priscilla met them at the restaurant and Calysta could smell delicious Terran food already wafting through the fancy double doors. It smelled of butter and garlic, making her stomach gurgle in anticipation of whatever sort of cuisine was waiting for them. Strange, whining sort of music played in the back ground as Priscilla walked up in her rainboots and coat while still managing to look fabulously put together. Calysta half wondered if there was a secret that all women knew when it came to looking gorgeous no matter the weather and some how she had missed out on it. Priscilla smiled broadly at them both, bags on both of her arms and they went inside to find a nicely made up table with cloth napkins. "This place just opened before Christmas by a couple of men who were living in the colony," she said brightly, "I couldn't wait to try it."

    Calysta flicked her napkin into her lap and looked around at the cozy, low lit decor then picked up the menu which was written entirely in Terran. "What sort of food is it?" She could see the word 'spaghetti' on the menu but some of the words weren't in universal Terran so it was hard to read.

    "Oh, it's a Terran subculture of food called Italian. Plenty of pasta, ground beef and chicken with alfredo or tomato sauces. Garlic bread too," Priscilla smiled. With a manicured finger she pointed to the menu and nodded. "I recommend the lasagna, which is what I'll be getting. It has meat, tomato sauce and pasta. layered together and baked." Calysta blinked in surprise at how hefty that meal sounded. "That sounds good, but is there anything without meat?" Priscilla was quick to accommodate and pointed to the menu again. "Here. That's eggplant Parmesan and cheese mannicotti is great too. No meat there."

    The waiter came around and they all gave him their orders. Priscilla ordered a glass of wine with her meal and encouraged Calysta to do the same. "Italians have wonderful wine and it always compliments the meal." Considering it had been years since she had actually drank anything, she figured a glass wouldn't hurt so long as she drank water with it. "No synthetics, please," she instructed the waiter. With the order made, Priscilla wanted to hear all about the test and was pleased to hear Illya had passed. "That's wonderful! And training begins next week right?" Calysta nodded and her hand came to rest over Illya's. "Aye, so we'll be coming back and forth to Kinte more."

    Priscilla was enthusiastic about the news and nodded. "Maybe I can get Ehud and Sien to come along too. A little time off of Pyrta would be good for them."

    Their food arrived along with their drinks and Calysta cut her mannicotti with the side of her fork, allowing the rich cheese to flow out. It really was quite good and there was more than enough to fill her up. She drank most of her water and nibbled at the cheesy pasta rolls until she felt settled enough to sip on the wine. The alcohol was just as rich as the food, and Priscilla had been right about it pairing well with the pasta. "This is good," she admitted, taking another sip, "I might have to get a small bottle for my father if I can find the name of it. Purely, Terran wines are hard to come by since the embargo."

    The more she sipped, the more she felt strange however. Picking up her glass, she gave the dark, red wine a hard look. The glass wobbled in her hands as she stared, then blinked a few times. Her eyes slid to Illya was was paying the tab and she gave him a giddy sort of grin. "Hey, there you are my Chip," she said happily as she wobbled, "I wondered where you went." Everything felt like it was floating and for a moment, she couldn't figure out why the wine glass was still hovering there at her eye level. She was still holding it. "Maybe I should take that down," she commented, putting the glass down, "You never have to worry about that in space. All of the furniture is riiiveted to the ground."

    Taking a deep breath she started to get up but found that it sent the world spinning some. Sinking back to her bottom, she looked up to Illya, who was standing now, with wide eyes. "Wilds, I hope you grew taller and I didn't shrink." He looked so very tall standing up there, his head almost brushing the rafters. Finally, she rose to her own feet and began walking toward the door, nodding to the manager as she went. "Thank you, for the delicious Italians. I will be coming back, but I think you've done something terrible. I'm not supposed to have wine...uh...that kind of wine." Calysta ran a hand through her hair and opened the door, only to be greeted by the pouring rain.

    Priscilla watched as Calysta wobbled around. "Is she drunk already?" The manager certainly seemed to think so and he tried to keep her from leaving in such a state. "Wait," he said grabbing her hand from the door, "Don't go out there like that. You don't even have a coat on and clearly something is wrong." Calysta snatched her hand back and her eyes settled on the manager with a fury. "Don't touch me. I'm drunk, not an inviolate."
     
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  4. Silence

    Silence Anonymous Me Staff Member Benefactor Warden

    Kalizda seemed to be thrilled for the entire idea of making it a little holiday for themselves and the kids. It sounded good to Illya too. Her squeeze around his waist caused her little hands to dig into his lower back and Illya winced momentarily. The additional pressure on his back was a bit painful. "Mmmph...I tink dat would be good." She wanted to go out and get some lunch before they made their dinner plans. Illya hadn't quite determined what he would make for Kalizda, but he'd remembered a few pieces from some stories she read out loud to him. Girls seemed to like having a dinner with candles on the table even if it was a fire hazard. Sometimes they were strange and they liked to have little things that were more for looks despite their potential danger. However, a candle wasn't terribly dangerous as long as it sat in the center of the table.

    They hadn't even gotten a chance to determine where they would eat and Kalizda was telling him all about where she wanted to take him while they were in this area of Kaereleal. Part way through she got a message and the lunch menu was already determined. Priscilla had found a little place for them to eat lunch and get something to take home for the kids. "Italian..." Murmuring the strange name under his breath he just followed Kalizda to wherever she was going.

    Both of them barely made it into the restaurant and they were greeted by a loud man and taken to sit down in a brightly colored sitting area. It felt like a little much after the test and Illya glanced around himself quickly before he took a seat. They were in the center of the room and there wasn't anyway for him to keep an eye on the rest of the room. He especially didn't like it when he could feel the man walking up behind him. Glancing toward Kalizda he saw that she was already busily examining the menu and she appeared to be enjoying herself. With that, Illya determined that he was going to do his best to enjoy it too. There was no need to ruin this event for her. She looked forward to going out and he was going to get better at it. Nothing on the menu was familiar and he couldn't even begin to figure out what the meals were. Some of them had brief descriptions, but anytime they named a sauce it was strangely vague, like, Our Famous House Sauce. What it was famous for they never stated and it made him wonder exactly why he should try something with the famous sauce.

    When the waiter arrived to take their orders Kalizda went first and she mentioned a dish that sounded especially good, but decided on another one. The waiter turned to Illya and he nodded. "I tink I will have dat uh...Laz-ag-nuh." It was his best pronunciation as he stared at the menu and the man seemed to understand what he wanted. "Would you like it to be the spinach and mushroom, or meat lasagna?" The waiter barely finished the question and Illya answered, "Meat." There wasn't anything quite as wonderful as meat and Illya knew that.

    It took a little while to get the food, but when it came out Illya saw that he had a plate full of the thick, rich dish filled with meat. Little crumbles of the meat were falling out of the sides and sitting on top too with a layer of cheese. "I will need tree more pieces like dis tah go home eh?"

    A broad grin came over the waiter's face. They had made an impression for sure. "Certainly."

    Illya looked at Kalizda. "Well, dah kids would like et. Dis will be good for dem." Three more large pieces was probably more than the kids could eat, but Thomas would probably like to have some since it was a Terran meal. With the food as a distraction Illya was more than happy. Each bite of the food was only better and he found the sauce that the meat and strips of noodles in to be amazing. "Mmm...Dis es good. I tink I like dis very much."

    Whatever drink the ladies ordered Illya copied. It was a nice compliment to the food, but it wasn't very strong. That was to be expected with drinks from other races. Still it was satisfying for the time. As they wrapped up the meal Kalizda started to sip on her drink instead of the water. It wasn't long after she started to sip at the drink that she started to sway slightly in her seat and she kept tilting her head as if trying to see him better. "Oh aye, I'm yah Chip alright." Unfortunately she got even more strange as they wrapped the meal up. Illya paid for the tab and left a tip as was Terran custom and then he got up from the table. It was a relief to stand again. Kalizda was giving him a rather drunken grin and commenting on his height. Offering her a hand he helped her out of her seat. "Yah dun shrink ef dat makes yah feel better." Gradually they made their way to the front and Kalizda weaved along next to him. At the counter there was a bag of food ready for them to take home and Illya grabbed it with a nod of thanks toward the cook. Since it looked like his hands were going to be full, Illya passed the bag of food off to Priscilla. "Yah carry et, please."

    Illya was carefully guiding Kalizda out of the restaurant when the manager came out and seemed to be thinking he could help. While the gesture wasn't unfriendly, Illya didn't appreciate it. He could get Kalizda home just fine. Kalizda seemed to think she was fine too and she pulled away. With a smirk he glanced to Kalizda and held her coat for her. When she wobbled a bit he helped her get her arm into the sleeve. "I agree. I tink yah jes a little drunk."

    Calysta found her coat floating next to her much like the wine glass had been at the table, except this was being held up by her tall...tall...tall...Chip. Her eyes traveled up the length of her husband to his face and she gave him a winning grin when he agreed with her. Without question, she wiggled into her coat bumping against his chest some as she struggled to get her arm through. With her coat on finally, she shot the manager a somewhat smug expression for being right and then scuttled out the door into the rain. When the drops hit her she blinked in confusion, then laughed as she aimed for a nearby puddle purposely. "Oh my," Priscilla said to Illya, "they must have given her synthetic by mistake. I heard that happens to Kaereleans. Do you think she'll be okay?" Calysta weaved her way into the street, edging dangerously close to the skimmer curb before managing to right herself.

    The bump into his chest barely caused Illya to move and he helped guide Kalizda's next arm into her other coat sleeve. No sooner had he managed to get her coat on her and she was charging out the door. Tearing his jacket off the coat rack Illya stepped out after her. It hurt when he had to twist slightly to get his arms into his jacket, but he would rather that then get wet. Almost instantly Kalizda ran for the water puddle and Illya glanced to Priscilla. "Yeah, I tink she got syntetic." He barely responded and Kalizda was wobbling toward the skimmer lanes. With a few quick lunges Illya was at her side and he grabbed one of her hands gently. "Where do yah wanna go next? Maybe we go back to dah Silver Mountain and I make some nice tea for yah and we sit under blanket for a while eh?"

    Calysta felt a warm hand slip around hers, beating back the cold and damp rain. She lost focus on what was in front of her and her head swiveled up to see her Chip again. A broad smile spread across her wine slackened face and she gripped his hand. "I was going to....going to take you shopping for what you need." Her brow furrowed in slight confusion. Her words werent coming out quite right and she was sure they had come out in Qouti. Or maybe it was traders tongue? Biting her lip as if that would work she wobbled backwards, Illya's arm being nearly the only thing holding her up. "You'll need some things." Then it dawned on her he was inviting her back for cuddling and she giggled. "I'd sit under the blanket with you for as looong as you wanted."

    She was wobbling about and Illya almost thought she was going to fall over a few times. Finally she seemed to think for a moment about what he said and he grinned. "Dat's good. I tink I plan tah sit wit yah for a while." Not that sitting sounded good, but if he laid down with her on the bed it would be more comfortable for him and safer for her. "Meh little bird let meh carry her to dah Silver Mountain?" Last thing they needed was for her to fall over somewhere and get hurt. Illya wasn't sure that he would be able to move fast enough to catch her otherwise.

    Calysta liked the idea of cuddling with her Chip, but she knew he enjoyed games too. She could always make things more interesting for him so we wouldnt be bored leading up to some hard work. This was an opportunity to be more fun like Tabit was always talking about. A sly grin slipped over her lips as she let go of his hand. Taking a step backward, she wiggled her finger at him. "Only if you can...catch me first." Then she wobbled her way into the nearest store, a women's clothing boutique, hoping to dissapear among the racks.

    It seemed to take Kalizda a very long time to answer his question and Illya had half a mind to just scoop her up and take her home. Instead, she suddenly ran off around a corner and into a shop. Illya could see her through the window of the shop start to pull clothing to the side on a clothing rack and then hide in it. Looking at Priscilla he shrugged. "I guess I will go find her. She es very drunk." With a shake of his head he started for the store and walked over to the general area that Kalizda would be in. "Kalizda, I tink yah should come out."

    There was a small chortle and she poked her head around the corner, her shoulders sagging. He didnt sound like he normally did when he had fun, even though he followed. Changing tactics she gave him what she hoped was a firm look. "We can make a deal." He always liked deals. "I give up and you take me home, but we have hot chocolate instead."

    Kalizda stepped out with a most serious expression and Illya tilted his head slightly. What she told him sounded a bit strange, but if it would get her home and safe he would go for it. "Ok, we make a deal. I take yah home and we have hot chocolate."

    She shuffled over her arm outstretched to wrap around his waist and leaned heavily against him. He'd taken the deal and that was good. Negotiating with a Chip was hard sometimes, especially her Chip. Recalling something she glanced up at him. "I remember the first deal I made with you. You wanted to keep me and I wouldn't let you." She grinned and she leaned into him. "I like this new deal much better. We keep each other instead." Her head drifted to his side and she sighed in contentment.

    A smirk came to Illya's face while Kalizda murmured on. The shopkeeper gave a rather shocked raise of her eyebrows at the comment of Illya keeping her."Yah right. We make better deal now." With one arm wrapped around her shoulders Illya limped out of the shop and back to the streets. "We jes go to dah Silver Mountain and later meh little bird takes meh out tah see dah town."

    Her head nodded against his side, and despite the fact she was walking with him, she had closed her eyes. Her Chip was warm and it was cold outside making all the perfect feeling for a nap. If she kept in time with his feet then he'd take her home to her babies and her ship with him. "Hmmm...to nest," she hummed sleepily, "The chickadees need some food too." Somewhere in the back of her mind she knew she had forgotten something like that and her peeps would be chirping for food when they got back. Unless she had some how lost track of the time. One of her eyes cracked open to check and she found it was still daylight. "Then we go out flying, yeah?"

    Finally, Kalizda seemed to be a little more tired and she began to sink into him. "Hmm...Yeah we go flying later." Within a few more steps Kalizda nearly toppled and Illya bent over to scoop her up. His back started to throb, but he was going to get her home safely. Of course Illya barely got into the ship and Thomas was staring as if there was something horribly wrong. Priscilla took the bag of food to the kitchen to get it warmed up for Thomas and the kids. Meeting Thomas's gaze Illya sighed. "I tink waiter make mistake and give her syntetic wine. I get her changed out of wet tings and put her in dry clotes. She will be fine. I stay wit her until she es nut drunk anymore."

    Illya walked with Kalizda to their room on the ship and he shut the door. Taking her in the bathroom, Illya stripped her wet clothes off and dried her with a towel. He was sure to wrap her hair in the towel too and then he made sure she was stable enough in her current position that she wouldn't fall before he went and got her fluffy pajamas. She was nearly too drunk to help him get her fluffy pajamas on, but she kept on giggling and trying to taunt him with her legs when she had enough mind to tease him. By the time Illya had her ready for bed his back felt like someone was kicking it repeatedly and then torching it at the same time. Helping her into their bed he took the other side of it and laid down next to her. Pulling Kalizda a little closer he winked. "Yah drink hard meh little bird. When yah feel sick later I will hold yah hair for yah." Eventually that would come around. He'd seen enough drunk people to know she'd be sick later.

    A few hours later Illya woke to a horrible pain in his back and he sat up in the bed. Kalizda was trying to get out of the blanket and she kept mumbling. She was probably sick by now. Getting up he walked into the bathroom and grabbed a bucket from under the sink. Tossing a little bit of toilet paper in the bottom he figured it would help absorb the impact and keep Kalizda from possibly having splash back after puking in the bucket. When he got back into the bedroom he sat down next to her and held the bucket with one hand and gathered her hair with the other. "Yah jes puke now and den yah will start feeling better."
     
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  5. aryamajor

    aryamajor Curious Adventurer Benefactor

    Calysta let Illya take her home while she half dozed in his arms. It wasn't so much that she wanted to sleep, but that her eyes just wouldn't stay open. Rather than put up a fight about the tiredness she laid her head against his chest and drifted in and out as he carried her. Occasionally, she looked up at her Chip and tried to tell him something, she couldn't quite remember what, but it had to be important if she had woken to tell him. Her mouth opened and closed several times before she managed to get out a word...at least she thought it was a word. By the time they made it home the floating sensation was in full affect and Illya unclothed her with gentle care. When it came to her boots and leggings, she swayed and gave him little smiles which he seemed to ignore. Some how he put her in the bed and crawled in alongside her, pulling her close to him. "Mmmm...." she hummed, "I drank...and I feel good. You feel warm. It's good." Her little nose buried into his shoulder and she let out a contented sigh before drifting off.

    The next thing she felt was a terrible spinning. Her eyes were closed. They were closed? Yes. Closed. But the world around her seemed to be swirling as if trapped in the gravity of a black hole and she was the twirling event horizon. "Uhg...no...oh no..." Half flopping over, she reached out for something, anything to steady herself while trying to find the floor. Her stomach was already trying to crawl up the back of her throat and she had no idea in which spinning direction the bathroom was. Suddenly, she felt the bed shift and a shadow crossed across the room, settling beside her with a bucket. A gentle tug at the nape of her neck captured her hair as her Chip's voice whispered it was okay. With a shudder, Calysta couldn't hold it down any more and heaved into the bucket. A large amount of splatter hit the bottom and she kept right on heaving until her ribs ached. Throwing up was horrible and she hated it beyond other kinds of sickness. Since she was a child her body always reacted poorly to the ejectment. Once she has even been given a concoction of medicine designed to help her immune system and it caused her stomach to rebel against even water. The doctors had to feed her intravenously and give her fluids until the side effect had faded. It was days before she could manage to sniff toast without hurling.

    After another few rounds, her stomach seemed satisfied and she shivered as her damp forehead came to rest on Illya's bare bicep. "Last time I drink at a Terran place," she mumbled. That was all she could really remember beyond talking briefly to the manager. A towel was some how magically produced and she wiped her mouth down, criging at the sour taste. "Ugh...I'm sorry, Illya." He was having to deal with her mess and there was no telling what he might have heard her say while she was flying high on synthetics.

    After a few more minutes sitting up and another gagging reflex which resulted in only a bit of bile, Calysta laid down with her Chip close and tried to calm her shaking body. The spins were the worst part, eyes closed or not, and she held to Illya as a warm, somewhat sweaty anchor. She was glad he was there. Having someone close when she was I'll still felt strange but not in a bad way. There was something to be said for the human touch of comfort. It didnt take nearly as long for her body to calm down and she managed to ignore the spinning world long enough to fall asleep.

    Waking up the next day was no easy task. She had slept till mid morning, which was odd for her in general, and yet it made sense considering the synthetics poisoning. Illya was already up it seemed and whatever mess she had made the night before was gone. Slowly, she slipped off to the shower and began the hot water. She felt crusty and sticky with sickness sweat along with the general smell of vomit and synthetic wine.

    The water was near steaming when she wobbled inside and leaned against the shower wall for a long moment to get her bearings. "Never again," she announced to herself. "Never again."

    Once she was thoroughly scrubbed and her teeth brushed, she dressed and walked to the galley. Her father stood along side Illya, both men finishing up the dishes from breakfast for the kids. "Morning," she mumbled before standing on her toes to leave a gentle peck on her Chip's cheek while he did the dishes. When she turned around, her father was already pulling a bowl from the quick-heater, offering it over with a spoon. "Plain oatmeal." Her father knew her well enough to know after a bout with synthetic sickness she would want something easy on the stomach. "Thanks, dad." Settling into their little galley table, she scraped at the oatmeal with tiny bites. It wouldn't be good to eat fast and have it all come back up again. After a few bland bites, she glanced up at Illya, her cheeks reddening. "It wasn't bad was it?"

    "No, it wasn't," her father assured her, "Nobody even picked it up on the news broadcast last night or this morning."

    Her shoulders automatically relaxed and she nodded. "Thank you, Illya. I'm sorry about dinner..." Giving him an apologetic look, she took a last bite of her oatmeal before bringing the bowl over to the sink to wash it. Illya had been undoubtedly taking care of the kids all morning after taking care of her in the night an it made her feel guilty though it hadn't exactly been her fault. "We sort of missed that special dinner, yeah? Maybe we can take the kids to the bird sanctuary and do that tonight? We should celebrate."

    * * * * * * * * * *

    They arrived at the bird sanctuary on the farthest island of Kinte after taking the heavy suspension bridge between the two pieces of the continent. There were multiple foot bridges connecting all of the islands, but this one was the largest which took pedestrians from one main island to the secondary island, then on to the furthest. Air spaces and docking was limited on that island of Kinte, so it was better to just walk. In all honesty, Calysta was glad for the fresh air despite the mist settled over the area. The bridge swayed only slightly as they walked along the path with dozens of other Kaereleans who were traveling by foot. The twins were tucked into Illya's jacket while she pushed Lohgan in her stroller and Cypher walked next to Rose who kept glancing over the side of the bridge, obviously curious to see if the mist might lift enough for her to see the Wilds. It wouldn't lift in the rainy season, of course, which was just as well. Illya was always a little nervous about crossing things like this and the grey mist blocked out exactly how long of a fall was below them.

    The bird sanctuary was a place she had been to several time before and it was quite nice, even on rainy days, because it was indoors. They walked into a large, park-like area filled with trees and open meadow dotted with picnic tables and a few other amenities. Admission was free and there was a little cafeteria where patrons could purchase a limited menu of lunch items. Interspersed through the meadow and the trees trapped under the dome were small paddocks, each managed by worker wearing a uniform. There was already some sort of presentation going on down the small hill involving a large, female cryn falcon with golden feathers. Her handler was tossing her bits of meat and allowing the great bird to snap them out of the air.

    Cypher took one look at the great bird and took off running with excited puffs. "Mam! Look at dat bird!" Calysta's eyes widened and she had to pass Lohgan's stroller off to Rose to catch her son before he barreled into the crowd. He was surprisingly fast for his weight and size, but she managed to wrap her arms around him from behind and bring him to a stop right behind the crowd. "Don't run off like that, okay?" she whispered in his ear through his wild curls, "That big bird gets scared easy sometimes and you have to be gentle. She likes it nice and quiet."

    Her son nodded in understanding and she let him go to guide him around to the side where he could see the falcon better. It's sharp, golden eyes swiveled in on another piece of meat and clamped down over the flying morsel as the caretaker explained. "Juyia here is a rare Rey, falcon. These birds were quite prominent on Kaereal before the Great War, largely making their home on the Reylian continent. Once their nesting ground was destroyed many of her ancestors were packed aboard with the Rey people and brought to Reylia to breed and flourish. Juyia here stands close to 10ft tall but is very light and that is because her bones are hollow for the most part, allowing her to fly for hours on end without landing. She was born on Reylia, but was injured as a young chick and was unable to adapt to living in the wild. Now, she lives here at the sanctuary helping us learn about the habits of cryn falcons." The caretaker tossed yet another treat, then made a signal with her hands which prompted the bird to expand her wings which were well over 20ft in length. A few down feathers floated to the ground and Lohgan plucked one from her hair with a giggle. "Yellow. Et's yellow." The delicate feather stuck to the girls fingers as she marveled at it. Cypher's eyes widened when he saw how big the bird was. "Et's as big as Quoraz, Mam."

    "Juyia is a medium sized falcon and she loves her meat treats. We have them brought in from Reylia special, premium nyte beast loin and intestine pellets. Yum." Rose made a grossed out snarl, but wrote down the information in her pad nonetheless before Juyia was allowed to give a show of her flying. With her wings spread, she hefted into the air with a bouncy running start and did a circuit of the dome high above their heads before obeying a whistle to return. Her reward was a round of applause and another meat treat before a trap door opened in the hillside and the bird stepped through to take a nice nap.

    They visited several other paddocks, each with exotic and beautiful birds of Kaereal but none quite so impressive as the falcon. At the last part of their visit, Calysta got a little snack of soft breads at the cafeteria and they ate together at one of the picnic tables. Little Pykr Birds waddled around the eating area hoping for a bite to eat and Cypher watched them as he tossed pieces of his bread out to them like he would his chicks at home. They snapped up the treats greedily then watched the boy for more which he was more than happy to supply. Lohgan took an interest in feeding them too, but she was going about it all wrong. Rather than throwing it, she squatted on the ground and offered the bite before tossing it just in front of her so she could get a better look at the bird brave enough to snap up the meal. Then she would do it again, leading them closer and closer to the paddock.

    "Yah got tah throw et more Lohgan," Cypher told her, before demonstrating with his last piece of bread, "See?" It was a little too late for the warning however. The flock of tiny birds had gotten close enough to see Lohgan had extra bread in her hands and were converging on her with hungry eyes. Their little beaks wouldn't do much, but there was quite alot of them getting excited over the hunk of treat in the girls hands. Cypher grabbed his sister and began pulling her back to the picnic table where their Mam was feeding the twins. "Maybe we go dis way." Lohgan squealed in protest and that set off the frenzy. A horde of rodent sized birds fluttered toward them aiming for the bread and both children squealed in the excitement before running.

    Several patrons turned to see the two kids running from a roiling flock of fluff balls, all running over each other in pursuit. "Get tah the table!" He hauled his sister along until he reached the tables where his Mam and Dah were sitting, then grabbed the nearest piece of bread to toss at the horde. Rose's half eaten roll sailed through the air like a frizbee and landed in the center of the flock which stopped them all in their tracks so they could battle over it. "Hey!" Rose yelped, more in surprise than actual anger. Cypher smiled and pointed. "I had tah save Lohgan from the Picky birds."

    Calysta bit her lips trying not to laugh and cleared her throat carefully. "It still wasn't nice to take without asking," she tried to correct.

    His little brow furrowed for a minute and he nodded apologetically until another smile broke out over his face. "Okay, but et did work."

    * * * * * * * * * * * *

    Later in the afternoon Calysta took Illya out flying. The day was stil grey and misty, but the weather wasn't bad considering it was the rainy season and it would be the first time she could take her new flyer out with him. Rey, what remained of it, was only 45 minutes from Kinte and it would have a good view of the sunset when the time came. After their little outing and adventure, they would go home to cook and celebrate a little more. The engines in her flyer hummed perfectly and landing was not a problem on the main hunk of Rey. It was a little over two miles wide, but hardly anything woul grow besides grass and a few trees amid the shattered cracks. Once they were landed, she took off her helmet and did a quick air test to make sure the air quality was good. Kaereal didn't have smog so much as they had issues with the lower floating continents sometimes getting a little too close to the Wilds gasses. A wind could pick up and occasionally make visitors sick if they weren't careful. With a green light on the air sample, she let loose the top and jumped to the ground, excited to go roaming. "The best spot is on the north end," she admitted, "You just can't land there because the ground isn't stable, but its easy to walk to."

    They walked in silence for awhile and Calysta took the time to think over a few things. Illya was in Skycorp now and it was a good thing. He would be doing work he might actually like, maybe even going places no one had ever been depending on what commission he took . She had been trying to help him so much that it hadn't really sank in that he would be gone often when he made it through the training months. Calysta stole a glance at her Chip as he picked along the ground and felt a sort of heaviness that she hadn't felt in awhile. She had grown spoiled from having him close. Maybe it wasn't a bad thing. They had done so much in the last two years and she was irrevocably in love with him. He was her partner in life and she would feel his absence more than she had ever felt it. Yet, he deserved the opportunity to go where he wanted, if he wanted it.

    Peeling her eyes away from Illya, Calysta stepped over the deep crack in the ground which revealed bright pink strips of metals being formed in the core of what remained of Rey, They were thin, but they were there and that meant given a few decades there might be a little bit more of the precious resource. "That's the Unbreakable Metal, the Goddess' ore," she nodded to Illya, "It forms over the course of millennia, starting out as a mix of symariam and Hylstarium. The two metals press together over time caught between the gravity of the planet and stuck above the jysairum which makes the continents float. Eventually, it combines the two into the hardest metal known to date." She smiled and winked at him. "It's what I had your armor made of when we were able to find a little more." Walking past the crack, she came to a rock that had probably once been part of the Rey continent surface but had been displaced in the blast 500 years or so ago. Now it looked like any other part of the scenery, moss covered and overgrown the a determined, yet stubby Omne tree. "You'll get to be going alot of new places when you take your first commission."

    While Calysta stepped over the crack in the ground Illya knelt near it. He didn't want to get too close, but he wanted to see it better. This metal had been a bit of a mystery to him and the Elite had been most grateful for the metal that was used for the vests and armor they could. There had to be more of it somewhere, but the conditions would have to be right. After a long moment Illya got up and resumed walking with Kalizda. "I tink maybe wit dah war progressing dat et will be wise tah make unexpected trips as Council Woman. Yah become harder target tah find and den I will get commission to ride yah ship as navigator and bodyguard. Maybe I will learn more den dis." Those were things he already knew, but he wanted her to be a difficult person to find. The war was perhaps in a lull at this point, but it would be getting worse soon enough.

    The war. Her mind slipped back to that dark cloud that always hovered in the back of her thoughts, despite the relative calm of the last year and half. Her smile faltered just a little and she turned her eyes from the setting sun to her Chip. He was smart, she already knew that, and she trusted him. It didn't mean she wanted to worry him any more than necessary. Sidling over, she came to his side and slipped a hand into his. "Little birds are hard to hit already, but the tour of Kaereal and the Fringe will give me some travel time. My schedule is meant to be publicly announced and documented, but I opted not to do that this time. Only a few people know of the actual itenerary and each continent leader only knows which dates to expect me on their continent. The fringe schedule I havent released at all, except for you." Her fingers curled over Illya's much thicker fingers and squeezed lightly. "I think you will learn much more and like Skycorp. You'd be able to choose any commission you like, I bet. If you wanted it, the job would be yours." It dawned on her that he had the chance to take any job her wanted and yet he was still talking of coming aboard her detail as a navigator. It felt selfish not to tell him he was free to choose what he wanted, if it wasn't playing guard to the councilwoman, even if she wanted badly for him to stay with her.

    "Kalizda, I'm talking about oter trips. Not jes dis one. Yah need tah move around often. Dere will be times dat we stay in Pytra, but yah need tah change custom. Dis time we tour togeter like tradition, but dah next time yah dun travel all at one time. Yah make random trips. Dey will nut be able tah make target for yah at home, or traveling." Illya wanted her to know that he was already planning her future trips. "Meh first commission of choice es always at meh Kalizda's side."

    He was talking more seriously about moving around more than just the Tour. Pyrta felt more like home than ever and it was where everyone was comfortable. Comfortable. That was what Illya was worried about. If they were comfortable, someone else would be comfortable enough to try something. She didn't want to be the cause of anymore loss for the Chippeqouti or the other Pyrtans either. The other half of what he said made her smile, betraying her happiness that he did, in fact, want to choose her commission. It was probably silly to think that he might want otherwise but the world was more open to now than ever before. He should have the right to choose. Lifting his hand, she kissed his wrist gently, her smile still evident on her lips. "Then we will become more mobile. It wont be easy all of the time with the kids, but it I think I have Pyrta in good stability now. With the school and with everyone working together. And I can't think of a better navigator or bodyguard....or agreed." She said the last with a pleased lilt to her voice.

    Having her kiss his wrist was still difficult. He remembered vaguely what it meant and he kept a straight face for the time. "Kalizda, when I finish meh school yah put out standing commission. Den dah crew yah get will be always dah same ef yah accept and approve of dem. Yah make sure yah captain of yah own ship. Et would be best for yah tah hold command and commission. In dis case yah need dah power tah play dah game. Skycorp es good, but et es place for many spies tah enter."

    He still seemed worried, and admittedly not without reason, and she nodded. "I think you're right. I keep a very close eye with those coming and going on Pyrta and I will have to do the same with my own ship. I know what will happen if the Federation kills me, Illya. I know the Alliance will most likely crumble. I know the Chippeqouti won't be able to trust anyone else in my shoes and without the influence of the home planet it will not go well. I've tried my best to put us in a position so that way when the time comes, and it's tested, we stand firm. We're more powerful together. That's how I play the game. Not just for now, but for the future too." Her eyes flicked to him once more. She knew it probably wasn't easy for him talk about this after what happened to his first family, but she need to have it said now that he would no longer be the general and be in Skycorp. She trusted him with those thoughts now, her worries and her goals.

    A weak grin spread over Illya's face. "Such a confident little bird. I like et." Stepping a bit closer to one of the strange trees growing on the small continent Illya looked up the length of it and then back to Kalizda. "Yah tink I could climb dis tree?"

    His hand slipped out of hers as he managed a small grin, still somewhat watery grin slipped over his lips and he said something he'd never said before. Confidence wasn't something she would call it so much as she would stubborn necessity, but either way she would take it and she let out a small chuckle. Looking to the tree, she shifted her weight to a singular hip and tilted her head. "Aye, I believe you could, though you're nearly tall as it is without that rock."

    "Aye, but dat's nut dah point." Just beyond the tree there was a ledge and it was within leaping distance. Granted there was a considerable drop of about 50 feet if he missed, but he wanted to get to the ledge. If he got stuck there was always the flyer. "Yah come fly to dah top tah meet meh dere? I tink et would be interesting tah see eh?"

    She chuckled at the proposition and then raised a brow. In reality, she might have wanted to climb with him, but the other part of her wondered if he might just need a minute to climb on his own. Tomorrow was a big day after all. As nervous as it made her for him to go climbing and vaulting, it would be a good warm up for what lay ahead. "Aye, I will meet you at the top," she agreed, "And that's a steep drop on the other side. You're under orders not to fall, Cadet." With the said, she shot him a somewhat playful look, then slipped off to go get the flyer.

    "What yah mean ca..." Stopping himself short he grinned and shook his head. That was going to get some getting used to. Illya was used to being addressed by his name, or as General. Some of the Elite still called him General and in a way he liked it. That had been a big part of his life. Turning toward the tree once more he started to climb up the thick, stubby tree. Near the top of it he could see the edge of the ledge he wanted to catch. With a leap he caught onto it and the rest of him slammed against the stone face of the cliff. In a way it felt good to try something a bit more like he was used to. Climbing up the rest of the way he found himself looking into the eyes of a large black wolf. "Oooh." Illya made sure to stand up straight. It was like this was a different layer to the floating island. He was on top of a massive field that had been hidden by the clouds and hidden from view when they flew over. He could see the ledge plainly from the ground, but they couldn't see it from above. If she was looking for him and where to land she would be hard pressed not to crash. Glancing back down he saw that the wolf was sniffing curiously at him, but keeping a cautious distance. "Yeah, yah keep away and mind yah own business. I tink dere es enough trouble." Above, he could hear ship engines, but all he could see was the thick haze. It almost appeared that he had found a high valley. There were a few mountains beyond this and he could make them out from here, but they hadn't seen those flying over either.

    Calysta went to the flyer and grabbed her helmet before wiggling it on to her head. With a few quick steps, she was in the flyer and the engines were whirring. Anyone would have gone for something sportier, faster, but the twin engines of her flyer purred like kitten tyrei and the sound made her smile every time. With the engines going, she lifted off from the small patch they had landed on and took a gentle impulse over to where Illya would be emerging . There was a heavy bank of mist lurking on the steppe where they had been, growing thicker the higher she climbed, but that was no problem. She had been here before. It was harder to navigate in such whether for someone inexperienced but she was able to bring her flyer down slowly, causing the fog to swirl around. She searched for Illya, waiting for him to pop over the ledge. Just when she debated making a pass over the valley a form came through the mist and she called out. "Over here!"

    With the sound of the engines the wolf started to cower and it scuttled away a few feet and then ran when it heard Kalizda yell. Illya followed the sound till he reached the flyer. There was something unusual about this spot and it made him want to explore, but they didn't exactly have the gear to do that safely. "Kalizda, I tink we should come back and explore anoter time. We need some equipment tah make et back to dah ship safely eh?" A compass wasn't much good around these parts. The metals seemed to mix a compass up and it would require a little different set of navigational tools. "Yah ever go to dah mountains out dere?" Illya pointed to the black looming figures in the distance.

    Finally she saw Illya appear from the fog and she tilted her head when he mentioned wanting to come back and then asking about mountains. "Mountains?" her brow furrowed and she glanced to where he was pointing. "Oh. Those aren't mountains. When the attack on Rey happened, it was a blast strong enough to shatter the continent. The metal core cracked into several uneven and unbalanced pieces. Somewhat like you saw on Kinte when the ship displaced one of the islands. The unsupported pieces of land fell to the wilds below us, the parts that had enough ore to keep afloat stay up but are so displaced that they can't be used. They're just raw dirt and ore kept together on vines and whatever else grows now. They look like mountains in the mist mostly because what you're seeing are fragments of what was once the underbelly of Rey. Eventually, the rain will wear it away and there will be nothing left but the small bits of ore."

    "Can yah climb dem and mine for dah metal?" If the metal was part of what held the continents together then it might prove to be an excellent source of the metal. They may have to use some specialized crews, but it could be worth it. "Yah ever go see dese pieces of Rey?"

    "I've flown around them and seen them, but never landed on them myself," she admitted, "Mostly because it's illegal and that's because the underbelly are sheer cliffs and there's not much to grab on to, much less set a line in for roped climbing. Some people have tried poaching what ore might be developing on them. A few have died and others only came away with a little strip or two, which is probably all that's been able to develop over time. There was a more radical proposition offered about 50 galactic years ago that Henaiah's predecessor proposed. He offered to purchase what was left of Rey and they blast it apart to reach any remaining ore inside, but it would be a one shot deal. No more ore would develop on Rey ever again once that was done. Not to mention, Tikan's father refused to sell. This land is considered somewhat of a memorial and funeral grounds now. They didn't want anyone touching it. So, the idea was down voted substantially. Of course, these are different times."

    It sounded like there were only a few pieces that had been explored. "Et's illegal?" Illya couldn't see how it would be. As for blasting the chunks of Rey apart he couldn't see the sense in that. "Es et illegal tah be here n..." Pausing he focused on the fog. It looked like something was moving in it and he started to step to the side to block Kalizda from whatever it was. "I tink yah better get in dah flyer."

    She started to reply. It wasn't illegal to visit the main part, though strongly discouraged, only those pieces that were impassible were illegal. On occasion, a wealthy Reylain could visit the main portion that remained. Before she could tell him that Illya was stepping in front of her and ordered her into the flyer. She didn't hesitate. If he thought something was up then she needed to be in the cockpit to get the off the ground. "What is it?" she asked climbing in. As soon as her butt hit the bucket seat she readied to take off and pulled out her pistol.

    As soon as Kalizda was in the flyer Illya jumped in behind her. "I tink dere's someone here. We need tah go now." Whatever it was happened to be strange. Part of him was curious, but another part of him knew it could be dangerous. It might not be worth the risk to stay behind and find out. The figure in the mist moved closer and closer. It looked like a man carrying a sword and at his side there was a black wolf. Illya couldn't help leaning closer to the flyer's edge. Somehow it looked like a Chip, but there weren't any down here. "What dah hell es dis. Yah see dat Kalizda?:

    Calysta's stomach steeled and she clicked the slide of her pistol into place as Illya spoke. She could see whatever...or whoever...was coming toward them. They were large and accompanied by an animal stalking along beside them. It could have been anyone, another Rey, though they would be a rather large one if they were and they didn't carry much in the way of swords. They stuck to their scythes. "I see it alright," she said, "I don't think it's a Rey or Kaerelean unless they are very large." Keeping her pistol out of sight, she gazed at the figure coming closer. "Who are you?" she asked loudly. Friend or foe, they were going to find out. If he was only carrying a sword he couldn't get to them so fast as she could take off and if they were Tannas it would be hard to combat them at best, but she had a contingency for that too.

    The figure stopped a short distance off and then sheathed the weapon. "I've been waiting for this for a long time." Calling out in Quoti the figure still remained in the mist. Illya looked at Kalizda and he nodded to her. "Yah jes make sure yah ready tah leave ef I tell yah too." Making sure his gun was cocked and ready to go he slipped out of the flyer. "Yah tell meh who yah are or I will spill yah guts for dah wolf tah eat." A chuckle sounded and it was strangely familiar sounding. Illya crouched and raised his gun. Whoever it was he couldn't quite place, but it was entirely disturbing. "I ask yah one more time." Finally the figure answered. "I died so you could become the man I raised you to be."

    She felt her jaw clench as Illya slipped out of the flyer again and this time she let her weapon be seen, since Illya was already out and couching for a steady shot. If Illya missed, which she doubted he would, she could put a bullet in the strangers head as a last resort. There was no way she would let the man close to Illya with that sword or otherwise. The voice was familiar and chuckled wryly, a bit too pleased with itself. It sent a cold shiver down her spine. "Stop," she said, "Halt and state your name. Last warning." Whoever it was they were playing games with riddles, perhaps stalling for time and she didnt much care for it.

    Whoever it was never answered back in Trader's Tongue and Illya wasn't about to play their game. Hearing Kalizda yell again made him feel slightly more on edge. It was only a reminder that if this was a Tannas they were in danger. "Ef yah claiming tah be dah man dat raised meh, den yah tell meh one ting." It was only something that Markus would know the answer to. "What was yah order on dah day I lost meh men?" There was a strange silence and then the man sighed. "My order was to accomplish the mission, or die." The answer was entirely unnerving. No one knew that order except Illya. It had been a verbal order and one that they both regretted in time. "Step out where I can see yah!" Finally the man stepped closer and he made no move to draw his sword. It was indeed Markus and a black wolf with him.

    Calysta felt her stomach knot for the second time as she stared at what should have been a ghost. Markus had died on Uria in the same blast that had almost killed her 7 years ago. She didn't move her gun or her gaze off the man in front of him, despite his answer, disturbing as it was. "That doesn't make sense. Yvonne and Illya saw your dead body," she said firmly.

    Markus sighed and answered in Quoti. "A body so mangled they only identified it by the sword." He waited for a long moment. It didn't appear that his son trusted him and he wouldn't blame him. "I'll wait here for as long as it takes for you to summon the guard to come pick me up."

    Illya was being stone dead quiet in the matter and Calysta swallowed hard. It all seemed far too convenient and she didn't trust him as far as she could throw him. And if he really was a Chip he weighed close to three hundred pounds or more, so that wasn't even an inch of trust in her book. Who she did trust was Illya, and he needed to trust her. Rather than directing any sort of action to Markus, she stole a glance at her Chip who had yet to move. "Illya...lets go. I will have guards come to escort him till we can determine what's going on. Please."

    It was a lot to try and process. He hadn't been able to tell it was his father after that blast with the exception of the sword. They all knew it was his father's sword and how it got on someone else was a mystery. One that if this was Markus, only he would know. Kalizda was trying to talk in the background and Illya cringed. He wanted to stay here and make sure this shadow didn't move. Someone had to pick him up and they had to find out if he was truly Markus. If he was not they still needed him. He knew things he shouldn't if he wasn't Markus. Things that were never recorded. "Yah stay here wit dah wolf." Somehow the black wolf with the man was entirely disturbing too. This wasn't a coincidence. Slowly backing up Illya felt the flyer behind himself and then got into it. "I'll be back wit dah guard tah pick yah up."

    She felt the flyer shift again as Illya retreated slowly. Her pistol's position didn't move until he was fully on board and able to cover them until the glass top covered them. Once they were sealed inside, she clicked the air circulator to internal only. No Tannas would get in without difficulty and if they did, she would vaccuum them out with a blast of outside air. When it seemed they were ready to go, she placed to shaking hands on the controls and lifted them into the air, sending a whirl of mist and the gray hair of the man claiming to be Markus' hair wisping in the breeze. It took 30 minutes to reach the nearest airbase and the entire ride was silent. She wasn't sure what to say, but all in all, she wanted Illya away from that man, whether he was his father or not. They were given permission to land with her counselors code and she pulled her helmet off as several Kaerelean hangarmen came around. She ran a hand through her hair and shooed them off for a moment, so Illya could have a minute. Whatever was happening, it was cruel. Her Chip looked blank faced and colder than she should too. After a long moment, she dared to meet Illya's gaze, her eyes filled with concern. "Illya...I'm..." She almost said she was sorry, but that wouldn't change matters. Stepping closer to him, she offered a hand out to him. "Whatever is going on, we can deal with it together, yeah?"

    For the ride back to Kinte Illya remained silent. He wasn't sure what to think of all this. If it was his father he had to go back to get him. If it wasn't his father he had to find out who it was. He didn't want to do this, but it was necessary. Without even realizing it Illya got out of the flyer once they reached the port and he stood next to the ship only long enough to reach back in to grab his jacket. Slipping it on he took his first step to go get some of the guard and then Kalizda was standing in his way. A couple of men were vacating the area as she spoke to him. "We'll deal wit et. Right now I need tah get dah guard and go get dat man and his wolf."

    He was gruff with her and refused her hand. She let it drop by her side and gazed at him, knowing he was probably freaking out on the inside. "I'm going with the transport too. I don't want you to have to go alone."

    "No." Illya shook his head and then met Kalizda's gaze. "Yah stay here for now. Et doesn't matter who et es. Right now et would be dangerous for yah tah go wit meh. I will come right back to yah after dis and den yah ask meh what yah will." Illya didn't need her to be so close to danger.

    Her jaw clamped down and this time her hands started to shake. It wasn't anger though. It was fear. She'd heard those words before and the last time she heard them he had come home with a shattered brain an no idea who she was. A different man. Knowing what she did about Markus, it felt like the same thing all over again. A visible shudder echoed through her despite her attempt to control it and she gazed back at him, searching him over. "Then you'd best come back fast. Please be safe."

    Kalizda looked beyond upset and Illya could only guess why. For now he had other things to take care of and he nodded to her. "Dun worry. I be back before dinner eh?"

    He was acting like this was some easy thing to do rather than being Markus, the second most dangerous man Calysta had ever met and it bothered her. Still, she managed a slow nod then leaned up to kiss his cheek and whisper in his ear. "I love you. Be safe." She didn't care who saw her do it. He didn't walk out the door without having heard that from her now or ever. It would probably sound dumb if she explained why to him and so she didn't. Instead, she let him go and sent him off to gather whoever he wanted.

    Making her way to the control room, she opened the door and immediately the commanding officers along with the staff stood up, saluting. "Madam Councilwoman?" They had cleared her landing and knew she was here, but stood at attention nonetheless. "At ease. And it's just Calysta or Monroe, if you will." The officers relaxed some, but still looked at her waiting to see what she wanted. "My husband is cleared to take a team of men to the old Rey ruins to pick up an individual of interest. I need eyes on the transport ship and links to the comms ready. I want back up to ready to respond if this mission goes south. I also need you to prepare a detention room. One with a bed and toilet access but no other additions. This person is to be treated with respectful caution until we can verify his identity or unless Illya states otherwise." None of the the men bothered questioning her about the orders. The councilwoman looked pallid and her mouth was set in a straight line, but there was a look of storm in her pretty grey eyes that everyone knew to avoid setting off. Their only action that wasn't a direct order or part of their work was a young man slipping out of his flight control chair and returning with a steaming cup of lemony tea, offering it to the councilwoman without a word. Calysta's eyes softened for a brief moment, and she gave a nod of thanks before turning to the screens to see what would happen.

    * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    When Illya returned Calysta allowed him to do whatever he deemed necessary with the man and then checked the time. They would be getting home very late to the children who would be wondering where they were. Cypher was at the age he would begin to question such things just as Rose had. Illya came into the hangar with a reddened and quickly growing bruise along his jaw causing a flare of absolute anger to wash over Calysta. How could Markus have done such a thing. She knew he wanted an empire, but this was...she wasn't even sure there was a word for it that didn't make her sound like she was some fainting old lady. It horrible. Unthinkable. If that man really was Markus, didn't he know the pain he had caused Illya with his passing? His wife? Yvonne had died in the attack on Pyrta and he didn't even seem to know it. Was an empire truly that desirable and worth what he had done? The thought was further compounded by what the man was capable of and it was obvious he could vie for the favor of the remaining imperialists within the Chippeqouti. They might even hail him as some sort of hero. That idea combined with the image of Illya's bruised face was enough to make her sick.

    Illya came up to her quiet, but he had the look in his eye like he would talk to her right then if she asked. Instead, her expression softened and she held out his helmet so he could board the flyer. "Lets go home, yeah?" She didn't know what else to say or do just yet other than take him home, take care of the children, and let it process for awhile. The flight home was silent, save for the hum of the engines, and they kept that trend until the ramp of the Silver Mountain opened up allowing Lohgan and Cypher to come running down to greet them after they landed.

    "Mam! Looket!" Lohgan waved a paper sporting a very crooked and colorful rainbow she had drawn after dinner. Cypher held up his own drawing to Illya which consisted of big, mean monster eyes and pointy teeth. "Papa said et looked like'em when he had no coffeh," he grinned. Calysta met both of her children with an easy smile and chuckled. "Oh, aye. That's about right. Papa likes his coffee just that much. C'mon, lets go inside, yeah?" As they walked inside together, Cypher had to be the one to ask. "Where did yah go? We ate all dah food wit out yah."

    "We had to take the big flyer out and we had a little trouble," Calysta said. It was as close to the truth as she could make it without ending up with more questions. "But Dah and I took care of it as fast as we could so we could come home, yeah?"

    That seemed to satisfy him for now and they went inside to listen to their son give more tales of what happened over dinner. She met them all with smiles, genuine ones, and when the time came she and Illya tucked them into bed. Once all the children and babies alike were snoozing, she heated up the left over meat pie in the food warmer, giving Illya their biggest bowl and ate with him before taking him to bed too. There were a thousand questions running around her mind coupled with fears and yet she pushed them all to the back of her mind to focus solely on her husband. With a slow start, she undressed him and he didn't question the idea of hard work. There were bruises on his torso and the sight made some of those fears flare up, if only for a moment. Staring at him for a second, she continued and took him through a long session of love making, with special care not to hit his bruises. He didn't seem to have any objects with her taking as long as she wanted to treat him with little caresses over his chest and shoulders or nibbling playfully at his ears. Between gentle kisses here and there, she finished her work and stayed beside him, one leg laid tiredly over his and her fingers playing at the hair near the nape of his neck. Her eyes met his and she smiled a little. "Tell me what you're thinking," she said, kissing him once more. He didn't have to, but she hoped he would. More than her fear of Markus, she worried about her husband she wanted to know what he thought.

    * * * * * * * * * * *

    The next morning, Calysta walked with Illya out into the drizzling rain. His packed lunch was in one of her hands and her jumbo sized umbrella was clutched in the other. She kissed him, her breath leaving a smokey trail of steam and then smiled. "Good luck, love. You will do well and I'll see you tonight, yeah?" With Illya on his way to the Skycorp compound carrying his lunch along with a sack of the overnight items he would need, she watched him until he disappeared from view, then went inside. It would be a long wait until tonight when they could talk and work would be a passable distraction.

    The entire class turned to look at the big man as he entered the gymnasium with a dripping raincoat along with his bag. Many familiar faces were standing there, all staring at him, including the Yurian man and the Udine woman, until the instructor cleared his throat. "You're late..." -the man checked his pad- "Cadet Blackwolf." It was easier to call him that than to figure out what in the Wilds his last name meant. A few of his class mates shuffled to the side, allowing him room to join the staggered row formations and the instructor continued. "Since roll call is complete, finally, I suppose some introductions are in order. I am Commander Swyft, 45 years strong at Skycorp and you are the newest recruit unit placed under my instruction. I expect hard work, both on the training field, flights and in the class room. You give me your best, and you'll get that from me." He spoke in clearly enunciated traders tongue, then examined the pad once more. "You've been assigned team mates through the training process. Let me just go ahead and say this now: Yes, they were assigned randomly, no you may not swap, and yes, your ability to work with your team will determine part of how well you score in training.When I call out your name, step up and meet your partners for the next 8 months."

    With that out of the way, Commander Swyft flicked his finger over his pad. "Group One..." He began to list out names and those individuals steps forward, giving each other curious looks. "Group two.... Uzia, Rymnan, and Karlsson." The Udine woman took one giant step forward, nearly blocking her other two teammates from view which consisted of the rat faced Yurian man carrying a fancy leather satchel, and skinny, tall boy with blonde hair and blue eyes with nothing but a tiny sack. They exchanged looks, each vastly different, then stepped to the side.

    "Hyzn, Blackwolf, Smith." Woman with blonde ringlets and not much larger than Calysta stepped forward with her carpet bag along with a man with perfectly combed hair and manicured goatee. "You are team three. Welcome. Now, follow the other teams through the double doors at the end and down the hall. There you'll find your quarters for the next week." Swyft gave his orders and then moved on to the next set of names, calling the out to meet their new members.
     
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  6. Silence

    Silence Anonymous Me Staff Member Benefactor Warden

    Once Kalizda was over her little bit of an alcohol overdose Illya decided to take the next few days slower. She would need to make her own pace. He didn't know how much the alcohol would affect her and if it made her feel sick for days, or not. There were a lot of things he didn't know about her body and how it worked. Drinking was just something that she was not well suited to.

    It seemed that most of the bad effects wore off in a short period of time. Kalizda was back to herself by the next day and they were able to resume with the plan of a special dinner. For the dinner Illya decided to make a soup. It was cool rainy weather. The soup by the time he added all the ingredients of soft vegetables, meats, noodles, and bits of savory bark from the desert shrub was more like a stew, but he figured Kalizda would like it. This was a recipe that he had not cooked for her before, but it was a very healthy food to eat. On the side Illya mixed some of the dough for the sweet grass bread and he flopped a flap of it into a pan to cook while he stirred the soup. By the time the bread was done he was ready to set the table.

    For this special meal he had Kalizda and the kids go for a fun outing to a park with Thomas. Thomas would watch them and be sure they were safe. Illya just wanted to try and surprise them all with the meal. Just as he was finishing setting the last of the dishes on the table he heard the ship door open. They would be a few moments taking off their shoes and jackets and that would give him the time to serve the kids' dishes and be sure that the stew would be fool enough to eat when they got there.

    When the family came in he could tell Cypher and Rose were following their little noses. The twins were still napping and Priscilla was reading somewhere. At least Illya assumed that she was reading on her pad. Like usual, Cypher charged into the dining room and then remembered that he was supposed to help his sister. By the time to the kids were seated Kalizda, Thomas and Rose came in too. Illya grinned and finished serving the last few bowls. "I make yah special stew. Dis es someting dat Chippequoti make for special days." If there was one thing he was proud of, it was the bread. He was good at that and he knew the bread would be good.

    Sitting down with the family Illya took a piece of bread and tore it into nice sized bits and then dipped one in the broth to give it a try. The stew tasted right and then he tried the consistency of the vegetables and meats. They were all right, but the bark was a little tough. "I guess yah jes take dah bark out. I dun remember tah put et in early enough, but we get good flavor from et."

    *************************************

    There were still plenty of days to try some new things in Kinte and Kalizda seemed determined that they should try a few new things. One of those new things included the bird sanctuary. The worst part about the entire experience was the bridge, but otherwise it was fine. Illya held onto Cypher's hand for most of their walk. Cypher had a tendency to want to wander off the path to go see the birds. It was almost impossible to keep him away from the creatures. When lunch finally came around it was in an area with a broad range of possible places to run and play. Surprisingly they even had a little playground for the kids.

    The playground was primary event until the kids decided they were so hungry that they had to eat some food. Even then, the munching was just to sustain them while they ran around the general picnic area. Illya leaned over slightly in his seat as he watched Cypher and Lohgan feed the little brown birds. It didn't take a genius to figure out that very soon the birds would give chase.

    Just as he thought the birds started running toward them and Cypher panicked instead of holding his ground. It was a little something Illya was going to have to teach him about animals. Animals would chase if you ran and the were less likely to attack if you faced them. Facing your opponent was always the first and most important lesson in a fight, or when you were facing an animal. Chuckling a little he watched as Cypher stole Rose's roll and tossed it out to the birds. The chuckle stopped short when Illya saw that Kalizda was taking this more seriously and she even went on to correct his son. Despite his best efforts not to smile, Illya ended up with a lop sided grin on his face. His son had that same fast thinking mind with the bit of smarm. It was kinda funny. However, this was not a time to encourage it. "Well, even ef et worked, yah listen to yah mum." When they got back to the ship Illya helped put the kids down for their naps and then went out with Kalizda to go see the Old Reylia.

    ********************************

    Markus was waiting on the bit of island with his wolf just as he said he would be. The group of men with Illya seemed to be willing to follow his orders even if he wasn't the General anymore and that was relieving. Illya didn't need anyone to get hurt. "Yah get out dah Tannas detector." One of the men held up the wand and he waited for the readings.

    "We're not getting anything unusual. Just..." Pausing the man frowned, "Just a top level clearance."

    A top level clearance was easy enough to figure out for Illya. He knew that they were getting a reading from him. "Ok, den et's Markus. Yah stand by and yah dun do anyting else unless I tell yah eh?" The men nodded and Illya went ahead a few more steps till he was nearly eye to eye with his father. "I have little holding cell for yah until we get some back ground finished."

    Glowering at his son Markus waited for a few second before he grabbed the hilt of his sword and slid it out of its sheath hard and fast. The butt of the sword slammed into Illya's stomach and Markus slid the sword back in place before he punched Illya and then kicked him in the shoulder. "You should know better. Ought to watch yourself. Did you forget your duty when you became General? The people suffer because you don't fight anymore?" Before he could swing again Illya moved out of the way and countered his attack. "That's more like it." Markus narrowed his eyes slightly. "Putting me in a holding cell too when we return. I'd do the same. Glad to see you haven't forgotten everything."

    Illya didn't say anything further. He simply motioned for his father to move and get into the ship that he brought for him. For the ride back to Kinte, Illya remained silent. No matter what Markus said, he refused to answer. For the time he knew his father would let it slide, but in time he would have to answer the man. Thankfully Markus was willing and cooperative when he was shown to his little cell that had been prepared.

    Once he had his father put away Illya walked himself back home. It was later than he had intended, but he walked very slowly. He knew Kalizda would see the bruises and she'd be worried. There was a lot to worry about.

    **************************************************
    [I][/I]
    "Tell me what you're thinking." That little phrase with the gentle kiss was more than enough to prompt a response. With a lopsided grin Illya kissed her back. "Dat was great sex."

    The first thing he did was kiss her all over again and then tell her exactly what was on his mind. She apparently done a good job at relaxing him because he had a lopsided grin and was all ready to kiss on her again. It was such a blunt and pleased statement from him that she smiled a little wider and giggled. "Aye, you think so," she hummed. Her fingers played in his hair and down to his cheek, the back of her fingers playing lightly just above the dark bruise. "What else do you think?"

    Kalizda's giggling caused Illya to pause for a moment. Apparently he'd answered the question wrong. He didn't know there was a wrong way to answer that question. If someone asked what you were thinking about and you told them, how were they to know any different. After a moment she asked what else he was thinking about and it seemed that this was the serious sort of talk that she wanted to have. "OOoh, yah wanted to know what I tink about dat. Yeah, I tink about what will happen wit Markus."

    She kissed him a little more and laid her head on his shoulder, her eyes meeting his. She wasn't going to force him to talk if he didn't want to. "I wanted to know what you thought," she smiled a little, "And I'll never complain about thinking on great sex." She shifted her head and kept right on petting. "What do you think will happen with Markus though?" Her eyes didn't waver from his as she asked.

    "I dun know." Illya mumbled a little and he readjusted himself so he could see her better. Resting an arm over her hip he continued, "When we go back tah Pytra for small trip I take him wit. Sometime I have tah tell him dat moter es dead. Soon enough he will know dat I am nut dah General anymore and dat when I did have autority over all dah ground forces in Alliance I give et tah Kirit. Den he will find dat dah Chippequoti give a lot of money for dah Alliance and we live wit people in dah Alliance now. Dere are a lot of tings I tink he will nut like."

    She felt him put an arm over her hip and she shifted along with him, allowing herself to be pulled close. He was speaking about facts she really already knew or had deducted, but perhaps that was just the easiest place to start. "I'm sure he won't," she told him quietly. Her fingers curled into the warmth of his chest and she took a small breath. "I don't understand why he did this." It was an admittance that bothered her because Markus had never seemed so extreme in the past and she wasn't even sure Illya knew fully either. Looking into his eyes, she gazed at him for a long moment. "I don't exactly know how to handle what he might do when he does find out. I do know this. I don't want an empire, Illya. Only keep the council position to protect all of my people that includes the Chippeqouti. All I want is to make it safe for them, and then to step down. I know...I know your father expected something different from you...but I don't think what he did was right. Especially this. Maybe he had his reasoning. Whatever it is or whatever happens, I love you, Illya and I trust you which means I stand by you too." She knew she was rambling and being eloquent with expressing emotions was never a talent of hers, but she wanted him to know she was there.

    A little talk on his part brought out a lot more on Kalizda's side and Illya listened. "Someday dere will nut be a war and dah Chippequoti will be safe. Den yah step down and we live like yah want." Closing his eyes for a moment he almost fell asleep, but opened them again. "Dun worry about dah way Markus acts. I will take care of et and I tink dat dere are nut so many imperialists now. Most of dem died when dey refused tah leave dere new refuge." It sounded a bit callous, but he didn't know how else to say it. "He will be angry and I tink dat he will maybe want tah talk to meh more about dis."

    She wasn't entirely sure if he was saying it to be reassuring or to tell her simple fact. Live like she wanted? This was his life too and she wanted him to be happy in it. He was starting to fall asleep and she was tired not just physically but mentally too. He grew quiet and she opted to leave him alone to rest until he opened his eyes again, greeting her with two bright green orbs. At his words, her little head nodded against his shoulder and she whispered. "His style of talking had better not include more fists," she mumbled back, "I don't want you hurt....I just wanted you to be happy." She give his collar bone a little peck and took in a deep breath before curling up a little closer.

    "I tink next time ef he talks wit his fists meh fists might say someting too." Illya smirked a little and he winked at Kalizda. "We jes handle dis togeter eh?"

    He smirked a little and winked at her and it earned him another smile along with another gentle peck on those same smirking lips. "Aye, we'll take care of it together. You'll always have me and we make a pretty good team," she replied a little playfully. He was her lover, her best friend and more, something for which she was forever grateful.

    ********************

    When Illya first woke up in the morning he felt a little excited and a bit nervous. Kalizda was awake and miraculously none of the kids were up yet. "Kalizda..." Normally Illya wouldn't have thought to suggest his morning thoughts, but he was definitely going to try today. "When I go to dah classes I dun get tah be wit yah for a week." Even if they were married he felt a little guilty about asking. "Yah tink work hard a little bit dis morning before I go eh?"

    It was a bit surprising that Kalizda agreed and Illya got out of their bed long enough to lock the door. They didn't need the kids walking in on them. Having a little bit of morning love making before having to head off to school was nice. That was until his alarm went off, the one that told him he should be leaving the house. For the moment Illya paused and he looked at Kalizda. There was a brief internal debate. He could finish and have a fast shower, or be on time.

    Despite the fact that being on time was important, it was one morning that Illya didn't mind being late. Outside the gates at Skycorp he leaned forward slightly and kissed Kalizda before he headed inside. There he found out he was late, missed role call and got handed a hideous adult onesie. By the time arrived the instructor was ready to call out teams and Illya quickly found out who his partners were going to be.

    From the looks of it Illya figured he got an agreeable set of partners. They didn't stick out particularly and neither of them had a look of trouble. Perhaps the one that would cause the most trouble would be the one with the manicured beard. When a man was that careful with his face it sometimes meant he was a bit of a vain sort. Since they had a short walk Illya slung his duffel bag over one shoulder. "Where yah bot from?" To start it would be good to know if he was going to be working with any undesirables.

    The blonde haired woman pulled her carpet bag to her shoulder and walked along side them, not pausing or replying at the big Chip's question. The neatly trimmed man adjusted his back pack and gave Illya a nod of recognition. "Terra, originally at least," he replied in accented traders tongue, "I've lived in New Terra since the evacuation though." He caught the door and offered for the Chip to duck through behind their blonde companion. "You're from Kaereal or somewhere else? The Alliance is fairly diverse from what I've seen."

    When the man mentioned he was Terran Illya closed his eyes briefly. Of course it was his luck to be paired with a Terran. When they reached the door Illya ducked slightly and stepped into the buck room. There were names on the bunks and Illya glanced at a few of them. Finally, he turned slightly toward the Terran. "Not from Kaereleal, but part of dah Alliance." Grumbling under his breath he followed his partners till they found their bunks. Seeing that his was a top bunk Illya rolled his eyes. "Yah dun want meh on dah top unless yah want meh tah fall trough and crush yah."

    He couldn't quite figure out why the tan man was acting so big or grumbling under his breath when he mentioned where he was from. Sure, Terrans weren't entirely popular on the home planet of the alliance, but he usually didn't come across too many that objected. At least not on this continent. They made it into the bunk room where the blond woman had already found her bunk next to the others and he looked up at the assigned bunk between himself and a large man that was to be his partner for the next eight months. The man mentioned not wanting the top bunk and Tiberius allowed himself small smile at the corner of his mouth. "Yeah, that might be the best way to go. Not to mention you're one of the tallest here. I have a feeling your feet are going to be hanging off the end. Might as well be closer to the ground that's the case. I'll take the top instead. The name is Tiberius by the way. Tiberius Smith. I didn't catch yours, besides the last name. Swapping his bag from one hand to the other he offered his hand out to shake.

    The Terran was overly friendly and Illya clenched his jaw slightly as Tiberius gave up the lower bunk without even so much as a protest and then offered his hand. Illya dropped his duffel bag on lower bunk and he met the man's gaze for a long moment. Staring at the out stretched hand he decided to pretend he didn't know what that was supposed to mean. "What dah hell are yah doing?" Glancing down to the man's hand he waited for a moment and then chuckled. "I dun shake any hands. Dun trust yah kind much."

    Blackwolf stared at him like he had three heads, his eyes flickering between his hand and meeting his gaze before chuckling as if he found something overly funny about the gesture. Perhaps he was one of the alliance Folk who preferred the Bowing instead of the handshake. Then he announced why he didn't want to shake and Tiberius raised his brow. "My kind?" He said it questioningly, gazing at Illya with the same amusement back. "Male? Tall? Devilishly handsome? I am all of things, but I'm not entirely sure those qualify me as being untrustworthy."

    Apparently the game of playing stupid went both ways and Illya shrugged. "Ef yah have dream dat yah all dose tings den keep right on." Sitting on his bunk Illya felt the entire thing shudder slightly. "Dey dun make anyting heavy duty around here." Was everything going to just make him feel this giant? Normally Illya didn't feel self conscious about it, but he did when he was surrounded by only small people. "Hey." Looking toward the girl he tried to get her attention. "Where yah from?" This time Illya spoke a little louder. He couldn't tell if she'd ignored him before this, or if she couldn't hear.

    Tiberius smirked and tossed his pack onto the top bunk. "My girlfriend seems to think so and that's enough for me." At first, he thought his pack had caused the bunks to wobble but it was his partner's weight which had caused the frame to quake. "Damn." Was the man carrying bricks in his boxers or something? The reply was met by the tan man trying to get the woman's attention. She was holding up a grey jumpsuit with a sky Corp patch emblazoned on the arm, trying to inspect how well it would fit when she felt eyes upon her and the inevitable mechanical screech lit up her ear. Wincing, she turned to see her two partners staring at her. Giving a small wave, she wiped the grimace from her face to focus on what was being said. "Me? Kaereal. Kinte to be exact," she said. Her words were very precise and very slowly pronounced to make sure they were clear. "It is nice to meet you," she nodded to Tiberius, "And I have met you before General Illya, but I do not think you would remember me."

    At long last the girl turned around and she spoke slowly. That was fine by Illya's standards. He found it hard to concentrate on words if people spoke too quickly in languages beside Quoti. However, what he didn't expect was for her to know who he was. For a brief moment his eyes widened and he couldn't manage to think of anything intelligent to say for the time. "How would yah figure dat meh name es Illya? Yah Right I dun remember meeting yah."

    The woman laid the jumpsuit to the side and stood on her toes to reach into her carpet bag, digging around until she found a larger than normal pad. A few flicks of her finger and she turned the device where the men could see it. On the screen was a picture made some years ago, there was a crowd and confetti falling like rain. A man, obviously Illya stood tall among the people with a small girl on his shoulders, a look of triumph on her face as she held up a trophy. "Me," she pointed simply, "You met me when I was young. Then you saved me when the Federation attacked my home."

    This seemed to spur a bit more action and Illya shifted on his buck slightly. The bed shuddered a little more. After a few moments the girl presented a picture. Somehow the scene seemed familiar and Illya struggled to remember the exact happenings from that day. While he was still trying to place the time frame of that picture the girl went on to talk him saving her. He didn't remember saving her at all. Then it occurred to him that she was talking about Kinte. "Eh, how many people know dat dah Chippequoti went down wit dat ship?"

    He was speaking in traders tongue, but reading his lips was proving difficult and she bit her lip, shaking her head. "He's asking how many people know there were Chippeqouti that went down with the ship," Tiberius piped in when he realized the woman couldn't understand. Then, he looked to the bigger man curiously. So that was a Chippeqouti. He thought they would have been taller. The woman tilted her head and gave a small, uncertain shrug. "Kinte knows because you and your men are honored here for the lives you saved. You were the General of the Alliance after all."

    When the Terran repeated what Illya said he looked at the man. It was a bit irritating to have someone try and talk for him, but apparently the girl didn't understand him that well. He didn't think his Trader's Tongue was that bad. Once the message was relayed the girl responded and it sounded like everyone on Kinte knew that the Chippequoti had gone down on the ship to save the island of Kinte. Illya sighed, "Well, jes keep dat to yahself. I dun need everyone knowing who I am."

    The woman frowned some gathering enough of what he said to have a basic understanding. "Why?"

    "Because I dun like et when people know tings about meh work. I like privacy eh?" The last thing Illya wanted was for people to start asking him questions about the battle and then get curious about other things. He knew that many people recognized him now, but they didn't have to know other things too.

    "Fair," she said simply, "It will still be an honor to be on your training team." She have a small bow, which Tiberius returned, albeit awkwardly. "I'm Tiberius, and you are?" Nobody had asked her first name yet, so he figured he might as well ask her. "Wynry," she replied, her voice slow and clear. Behind them, the first group had paused to watch them. The Udine woman looked amused and the Yurian man was snickering. Shuffled off to the side with his sack still in his hand, stood the blonde haired boy. His blue eyes were wide open and staring at Illya a bit like a twitchy bunny would freeze in front of a fox.

    There was hardly a way to keep it from getting awkward and Illya quickly bowed to match that of his partners. It could be a long while with the Terran, but so far he was staying out of the way and that was good. About that time Illya heard the snickering and he turned to see a blonde boy that he recognized. "Sam, what yah doing here?"

    The younger man swallowed, his adam's apple bobbing as he did so and he tried to square his shoulders just a little. "I, uh....passed the test too," he said. Realizing he was stating the obvious, the Pithian sighed and put down his bag on his bunk. "I needed a job and I didn't want to join the Alliance fleet. So, I applied to get in here." He wasn't gong to mention his entry exam score was higher than the former General's.

    "Huh." Illya let out a huff and he stared at the boy for a long moment. "Yah dun want tah join Alliance fleet cause yah afraid, or es et because of Rose?" He knew either way the question would probably intimidate the boy, but he wanted it that way. For now he was going to be seeing how the boy responded and then he would watch to be sure that Sam did as he said.

    Sam bristled when Illya challenged him a bit, essentially calling him a coward, or at least trying to out him about why he joined. Half of him wanted to tell the old man to shove it, he didn't want to play that game, but that little sing-song voice Rose used to remind him to be nice danced in his head. Damnit. "I wasn't afraid," he said firmly, "I couldn't do what I needed to do if I joined the fleet and got stationed too far from Kaereal. I needed work because that's what a man does. Rose is part of that."

    Nodding some Illya grinned. "Fair enough. I jes keep an eye on yah now. Rose wants yah tah come home to her eh?" It seemed that Illya barely finished the statement and someone was beckoning the first three groups to move along and the next three stepped into the bunk room.

    Somehow or another he found himself facing a grinning Illya. Rose's father was actually smiling at him. Hald the time, he heard the man grumbling under is breath about Pithian's and now he seemed almost pleased that Rose would want him to come home. His confusion was cut short when one of the other instructors poked their head in to the door to hurry them along. Sam turned to his bunk and grabbed up his jumpsuit, sliding into it easily while the rest did the same. When all of the groups were at their assigned bunks and changed into their uniforms, muster was called. Commander Swyft came into the room and began inspecting each cadet as they stood near the end of the bed. He paused by Illya, looking him over doubly, then did the same to the Udine and Sam who hardly looked like he could stand still under the scrutiny. "These are the house rules for the bunkrooms. They are to be kept clean by you. Bed made, tables wiped, floors swept and clutter free. On training days, muster is at 8am and then you will have breakfast in the cafeteria followed by your beginning coursework. Then you will have PT in the afternoons. Until you complete a half of your course in flyer basics you will not be allowed to fly an actual craft. Once you pass the first test in that course sufficiently, you will begin using the flight grounds." Swyft smoothed down his salt and pepper hair as he looked over the newest batch of recruits. "Your first classes for the next month will be Alliance law and history, Traders Tongue, Basic Flight Mechanics, and Basic Navigation in that order. This afternoon after class you will meet in the training field obstacle course which will be a team relay assignment. Any questions?"

    The instructor wanted them all in their jumpsuits and Illya frowned when he looked at the hideous looking thing. He wasn't usually concerned about fashion, but this thing looked uncomfortable. Many of the students seemed to be in a hurry, but Illya took it like he did everything, at one pace. "Yah dun rush. More yah try tah be fast more mistakes yah make." Mumbling to whoever was in ear shot he simply sat down on his bed and had his boots off faster than most of them even though he appeared to be in no hurry. The greatest dilemma he faced was whether the jumpsuit was supposed to be worn over his clothes, or by itself. Illya watched a few and it appeared that they took their pants off, but they wore their boxers and a t-shirt on underneath it if they wanted. Illya took his pants off and he slipped his feet into the pant legs. What he hated was the fact that he would have to take his sweater off. Pulling at the red sweater he felt it pull his shirt up with it. His scarred back was on display for a few seconds before he had the sweater flopped into his duffel back and he quickly pulled his t-shirt down again. Within a few moments he was dressed the same as the rest and he had his boots back on. Before the instructor made a walk through Illya zipped his duffel and it appeared as though he'd simply walked into the room in his new jumpsuit. Sitting again so soon sounded horrible and Illya stared at the instructor for a moment after he asked if there were any questions. "Sir yah dun mention ef dah recruits get any food besides breakfast." If breakfast was the only meal Illya wasn't going to be caught off guard. He was going to eat an outrageous breakfast every day.

    The entire cadet class turned their heads slowly to look at the large man who had piped up with a question about lunch. Swyft turned to look at the Chip as well, his grey eyes measuring up the man to see if it was a joke of a question or a legitimate one. Finding a truly curious expression, the commander walked over. "Feeling hungry Blackwolf?" he asked, "Lunch is served between class and PT. You have one hour to eat in the cafeteria or where you like off compound so long as you're back to your training on time."

    It sounded like the question from the officer was rhetorical, so Illya remained looking straight ahead. The man didn't offer to answer anymore questions, so Illya simply waited for them to be dismissed to start on their next phase of the day. He couldn't remember what the man said, but he would find out soon enough.

    Illya was quickly reminded of the process when they headed for their first class. This onesie was the most uncomfortable bit of clothing he'd worn in years. It was a little tight across his chest and shoulders and when he sat down it hiked right up his legs and managed to make him feel like the crotch of the pants were about to emasculate him. There wasn't anyway to get comfortable when he was sitting even when he stood up enough to get some slack in the pant part and adjust himself. After a few failed attempts he finally unbuttoned the top and then slid it down till the arms of the jumpsuit were at his waist. Tying the suit in place he sat back down. The back of the seat on his desk chair was cold and he had a feeling he was going to want his sweater by lunch time.

    All through the first class he tried to concentrate on what the teacher was saying, but he felt a little cold and his back was only starting to tighten up more because of that. When the class finally let out he ran back to the bunk room and pulled his sweater on before heading to the next class. It looked ridiculous to have his jumpsuit only half on, but it was uncomfortable to have it all on. His shoulders were too thick, the suit stretched over his chest and pinched in all the wrong places. When Illya sat down in the second class he instantly knew it was his most hated subject, language. He'd got through the Alliance Law and History with only half a dozen times that he lost focus. This class was one that required every inkling of his concentration. With his study book open he tried to follow along with the lecture and take notes in Quoti at the same time. There was a pause and the teacher asked if there were any questions.

    The room was quiet, but Illya scanned over the page. There was one section that he really didn't understand and he wanted a more thorough explanation. "Yah talk more about dah sex section." In that moment the entire class had gone strangely silent and the teacher looked at Illya intensely. Perhaps they were having a hard time hearing him. Wynry had. "I like et ef yah explain dah sex section more." This time Illya repeated himself a bit more loudly and the class started to burst into little chuckles around the room.

    "There is not a section on sex." While the class was busy trying not to laugh the teacher stared at the problem student in the front row. He wasn't even wearing his uniform properly.

    Illya's eyebrows raised. "I dun say sex. I say sex." After a few moments of exasperation and trying to say the word right he finally gave up and held his book. "Dis es sex, dat es what I want yah tah talk about." Finally the teacher seemed to understand and Illya set his book down. He had never realized there were so many ways for a single class period to go wrong. As if the day couldn't get worse, when he got to his third class and went to sit down in at his desk again, the chair creaked loudly and started to tilt to the side before it gave way. Just before the desk crumpled under his weight he jumped up and walked himself to the back of the class room. "I work here for now." During part of the class he stood and wrote with his notebook pressed to the wall and then he laid on the floor for another part of the class. Apparently the furniture they had really wouldn't support him even for a day. It made Illya wonder how long the bunk would last.

    Lunch time everyone watched to see if he would possibly tip the entire bench and table again, but Illya knew better this time and he went to a quiet table in the corner of the cafeteria. There he consumed the contents on his tray and then opened the large bag of food from Kalizda. If they were going to have PT next, then he wanted to have plenty of food to run on.

    By the time the day was over he was irritated with himself, a little paranoid feeling, and sore. Plenty of students were staring at him when he got back to the bunk room. The class time was disastrous with the exception of the navigation. That was all easy. The mechanics part was mostly easy and Illya had outdone all his classmates in the physical activities. Still, it was hard to tell what people thought and Illya wasn't too concerned about their personal feelings, but he was concerned with their motives. What was worse was that he didn't get a bunk in the corner, he had bunks on either side of him and it made it all that worse.

    When the room was mostly empty Illya gingerly laid on the bed to talk with Kalizda. When the rest were done washing he'd go wash up in the showers. Illya didn't care for everyone to see his back and chest. The scars were still noticeable and it was better if folks didn't see it. Since there were a few in the room Illya spoke with Kalizda in Quoti. "I don't think the day went so well. Tomorrow I will know more eh?" With a grin he tried to cheer himself up and put on a good face for her. In all honesty he thought it sucked.

    As the main group of students piled back into the room Illya finished his call with Kalizda, set his heated blanket on his bunk and turned it on before he took himself to the shower room. The people left were mostly the ones that wanted to have early morning showers and he didn't care if they wanted to get up earlier, he would sleep in later. Part way through his fast shower someone walked in and Illya just rushed through the rest of his shower and then took himself out to the main changing room and got into his pajama pants and his t-shirt for tomorrow. By the time Illya got back to the bunk room they only had 2 minutes till lights out. Settling into his bunk he sighed with a bit of relaxation. His blanket felt good. Grabbing his anti-seizure pills he washed them down with a quick sip of water, took his inhaler and then shoved a lozenge into the side of his cheek.

    Part way through the night Illya woke up. He felt like someone was watching him and he knew that everyone was probably sleeping, but he hated that feeling. He turned a few times in his bunk and the bed wobbled some all the way to the top. His back was even more sore than he thought it would be after he had his lozenge and a few hours of sleep. The mattress felt very thin and a bit wiry. After several minutes Illya fell asleep again only to wake up 2 more times before the final wake up call jolted him awake. Illya stumbled out of the bed and changed into his jumpsuit again and tied it around his waist before putting his sweater on. Reaching into his bag he grabbed a lozenge and popped it in his mouth on his way to the breakfast line.
     
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  7. aryamajor

    aryamajor Curious Adventurer Benefactor

    Calysta woke the next morning feeling good somehow. She curled against her Chip where it was warm and sighed as his hand loped lazily over her waist. When he started to stir and gave his sleepy request for some morning love making. They really wouldn't see each other for an entire week and she wasn't about to miss out on sending him off properly. Out of the all the times she had watched him walk out of the door, this was one of the first times she knew he was coming home and she could treat him right. "Mmmm...aye..." she hummed into his ear. He got up to lock their bedroom door leaving her cold and burrowing under the covers with a grin of anticipation.

    They had a little fun while the kids were asleep and it was far too soon when the alarm went off for him to leave to the compound. She could see the debate in his his eyes as the alarm blared and she also knew that the decision would only take a few seconds to make. He would finish what he started with her. They kissed their way into the shower and then right back out again for him to grab his bag and go.

    By the time he was walking away from her in the rain she was still rosy cheeked and smiling at his retreating back. He would do well at Skycorp even if it was hard at first. Waiting for the misty rain to entirely blur him from sight, Calysta sighed and went back inside to their office room. Illya's big wild wood desk was still there and she sat down in his chair. There was a report waiting for her on the pad and she plucked it up, hoping to finish some work before the kids woke up and breakfast would be needed. She thumbed through the minor report regarding Zkree. The Federation friendly planet had increased production of their population and had increased their medical outfits. It could be nothing, since Zkree was always expanding, but it could also mean they were preparing for something to support the Federation. The report was only a preliminary report and the spies on the ground would send more when they knew.

    Her mind wandered to Illya and how he was doing. He would be in roll call at least by now and she hoped he would have a good day. Given the discovery from the day before she wondered if he would be able to focus. It would be hard for her to focus if she had been in the same position. Markus was alive. Even saying that out loud made it hard to fathom but it was no less true. From what she knew, he expected an empire from Illya and the things he had wanted weren't what happened at all. The man would be in for a shock when they went back to Pyrta and while his exile had been self inflicted, then man was still Alliance. It was complicated and frustrating to think of Markus having done this.

    Calysta nearly jumped when her father knocked on the office door carrying a cup of steaming coffee in his hands. He scratched sleepily at his beard and his eyes were focused on her. "You've got that surly look," he said, taking a sip of coffee, "He'll be fine."

    Her father automatically assumed she was worried about Illya, and while she was, his reasons weren't quite right. "I know," she sighed, "It's not just that though."

    "It's why you were late last night then?" Thomas surmised, "I was worried."

    Calysta's eyes traveled to her father and she tucked her feet underneath her bottom in Illya's wide chair. "Markus is alive." There wouldn't be any point in hiding it when they returned to Pyrta, as the Chip would have to be riding along with them.

    Thomas blinked in surprise, his hairy lip hovering over the rim of his coffee cup before he sat down the mug on the table. "You mean Markus. As in-" he made a bit of a grumpy face and waved his hand at the approximate height of the Chip man. "Illya's father?"

    She nodded slowly in response then let out a long breath. "Aye. He faked is own death in some sort of...idea that Illya would be General. He expected things of Illya that haven't come to pass and they wont. I'm worried, dad. Not just for what Markus could do to the peace but he did to Illya too. It was cruel and I would be lying if I said I wasn't angry. I'm just not sure what the right thing to do here is."

    Thomas stood there tugging at his beard and scuffing with his slippers as he thought over what his daughter was saying. It was a mess for sure. His daughter and son in law had mourned the loss of the man and his sweet wife, Yvonne had died believing he was dead. What on Earth the man could have hope to gain from faking his own death was beyond his comprehension. He knew one thing for certain, his daughter looked worried and a little at a loss. She would be questioning herself on how best to help her husband and what to tell her children on top of what was expected of her as a council woman. She was scared.

    He leaned against the desk and crossed his feet at his ankles as he looked over his little girl. "Hmm..." he thought aloud for a moment, "I'm not sure there is a right thing to do here, Caly. I can't pretend to know how you feel or the decisions you have to make. I do know you have made it this far by being who you are. Not the council woman, but Calysta Marie Monroe. She was never afraid to face the things that scared her and did her best to overcome them in her own way. Follow your gut, Caly." Leaning over, he smoothed down her hair and kissed the top of her head. "Either way, I'm proud of you and it will be alright."

    Calysta closed her eyes as her father kissed the top of her head. He may not have understood everything that was going on, and that was alright. Perhaps that was what made his comment helpful in the moment. Smiling up at him, she put her hand over his and squeezed. "Thanks, Dad." About that time, she could hear one of the twins beginning to chortle from down the hall. It was most likely Edgar, given he was apt to wake up first and demand his morning bottle. Calysta rose to her feet and walked along side her father into the baby's room which was shared with Lohgan's for the time being. Sure enough, it was her chunkier twin which had started to stir and she picked him up to hold him gently. "Shhh...don't wake your sister....we'll get you a bottle, yeah." Edgar bobbed his head into her shoulder and grabbed a fistful her hair, happy to have her close by. If she was close, then food was surely on it way.

    While Calysta fed Edgar in the kitchen, she thought over what her father had said. She had been afraid and hurt over Markus' sudden appearance. Who wouldn't be? Yet, she knew the only course of action for her to take was to talk to the man herself. Facing what scared her was always the best course of action and trying to understand it was even better. Markus was still family, whether or not he had done something terrible, and maybe she should try to speak with him.

    Slowly, the inhabitants of the Silver Mountain began to stir. Rose walked in first and went straight to the coffee pot with her mug in hand while Cypher shuffled into the kitchen shortly behind her hoping for berries. "Dah went to work?" he sniffled sleepily. "Aye," Calysta replied, "He'll be gone for a few days but then you'll get to see him and we can make pancakes together, yeah?" Her boy just looked at Illya's empty chair a bit dejectedly and took a mouthful of berries as he pouted. Dah never left him like that, not for a very long time, and he didn't like it.

    Lohgan's little voice came echoing through the hall. At first she was giggling, hoping to catch her parents in their bed where she could wiggle into the covers where it was warm. "Daaah!" Her little girl waddled into the kitchen where Cypher summarily told her Dah wasn't coming home for awhile with a sad look on his face. When that news set in, fat tears rolled down her caramel colored cheeks as she chewed on her hand wailing for Dah to hold her like he always did in the mornings. Calysta traded Edgar over to her father and scooped up Lohgan without a second thought, wiping at her tears. "It's okay...we'll see him tonight on the pad, yeah? Oh, he didn't leave forever. I promise."

    It took most of the morning for her to get all of the children fed and playing outside for a little while when there was a break in the rain. When nap time rolled around, she made a big blanket fort in the living room and they all fell asleep watching Mickey Martian's new episode. Cypher and flopped out on his belly beside her, while Lohgan had nestled into a spot between her knees. Tomas was tucked to her chest and Edger dozed in the crook of her arm quite happily. Calysta dozed with her children and didn't bother moving her leg when Lohgan's heavy bones began to make her feet go numb from sitting on top of them. She simply didn't have the heart to wake her daughter who was sleeping so soundly. Instead, she stayed perfectly still and rubbed Tomas' tiny back as he let out tiny puff breaths in his sleep. He was still so small in her arms and he fit perfectly to her chest, nuzzling close to her collarbone. They all missed their Chip father and she missed him too, but this was his new work and something he wanted because it would teach his children the value of working too. All they needed was some time to adjust.

    That night they all crowded around the screen when Illya video called in. Cypher waved, a big grin on his face as he plodded all over her lap trying to see everything. "Dah! I see yah! I caught a hopper for yah tah see when yah come home. Except my Monster ate it. I'll catch anoter though." Lohgan grabbed the screen and pulled it closer, giving Illya a wonderful view of her mouth which was ringed with a chocolate stain that Calysta had yet to remove. "Dah! Come home?" Calysta kissed the top of her girl's head, pulling the pad back just a little so Illya could get a better view than Lohgan's snaggled baby teeth coming in. "Aye, he'll be home soon. When you got to bed and wake up like you're supposed to he'll be one day closer." That worked and suddenly both of her children were rocketing off of her bed to go climb into their own. "I think they miss you," Calysta chuckled, "I have someone here who wants to say hello too." She held up both of the twins, one in each arm, and wiggled their little hands to make them wave. "Edgar and Tomas miss you too."

    Illya was smiling the whole time they spoke, telling her he didn't think it went well. Maybe it would go better tomorrow. "The first day is hard," she nodded, "Tomorrow will be better and each day will get that much better." She could tell that he wasn't quite pleased with it, and she hoped he would like it better with time. If he didn't, and he decided he didn't want to continue, she wasn't going to force him even if she thought he really would make a wonderful Skycorp Cadet. "I'll see you tomorrow and I love you."

    * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    The next day, Calysta took Priscilla to Pyrta in their two seater flyer. The woman had volunteered to go home and watch over the house as well as prepare her class room for the new school while they were away on Kinte for Illya's training. Calysta suspected that she also missed Sien and Ehud as well, but she wasn't going to call her out on it. The trip was no trouble and it would work out nicely with everything. Their flight lasted a little over four hours, which was average given the rotten weather, and Calysta settled them down in the airfield before helping Priscilla pull her bags out of the storage compartment. The woman hadn't entirely emptied her room on the Silver Mountain and she wouldn't be expected to do that until she was ready.

    "Thanks, Calysta. I'll have one of the guys fly me from here." Priscilla smiled with her perfectly painted lips, "I can send you updates on the school house while I'm here and I'll make sure the house is well-kept. You wont have to worry about a thing. "

    Calysta smiled back at the taller woman with a bit of a wry smile. "I looked forward to it. Tell Ehud and Sien I said hello." That comment made the woman's cheeks flare into a pretty pink and Calysta felt secretly pleased with herself.

    With Priscilla in a skimmer and a helped along by one of the hangar workers, Calysta left Pyrta once again and changed her flight plan to Kinte's airbase island. It had been a very long time since she had flown alone. She wasn't sure she liked flying solo as much anymore. It gave her the chance to put her new flyer through more paces, cutting drops and cork screws around in the misty rain, but when she saw a corona of the sun just barely peaking through the clouds in a brilliant display, she had no one to show it to. No one to share that it meant the rainy season would end soon and the sun would return. The rest of the flight was quiet and she landed on the base with her entry codes and no fanfare.

    "I'm here to see Markus," she said simply to the commander. Her reasons weren't questioned and she followed them through the corridors deep into the island core. The path was lit by white lights and the place was tidy. Very clinical and functional. She was lead to the holding cells. "He's been cooperative? Well fed and comfortable?" Her questions were all met by firm 'yes' replies and she nodded. "Good. Leave us for while, please. I want to speak with him on my own. Keep the camera's on of course, but otherwise, please leave." The commanding officer looked as if he might argue but caught the look in the councilwoman's eyes and deferred to it, leaving her alone in the corridor.

    The holding cell door buzzed slightly and she stepped up to the frosted double window as it slowly faded to clear revealing Markus. He looked well enough so much as she could tell. Still tall, tan and now that he had cleaned up some, a reminder of how handsome Illya might be at that age. His grey streaked hair had been combed and he had been given fresh clothes. "Hello Markus," she said in Qouti.

    Markus turned to look at the little figure of Kalizda. "So, you've come in place of my son? Maybe as the council woman?" Markus was a bit surprised to see her instead of Illya. Perhaps he would not speak with his son again until Illya chose to forgive him

    "No, I've come simply as myself," Calysta told him. There was no way he should have known she was council woman unless he had been spying on then while they were on Rey or he overheard one of the men say it. Unfolding her hands, she held up a newly embossed book of red and gold. "I brought you something." There was a little door on the side, a one way trap door that allowed food and clothes to be passed through. She opened the panel and placed the book inside, then closed the hatch so Markus could receive it. "It's a collected work of Chippeqouti history and stories written in Qouti and Traders tongue. I thought you might like it while you were here."

    Somehow the woman was surprising Markus yet again. There was no official business. She had come to see him just because. For a moment he stared at her dumbstruck and then walked over to the hatch to collect what she gave him. When he pulled his side of the hatch open he saw the book. It was a lovely book. Running his rough hands over the front of the book he smiled a bit to himself. It was good to see a book written in Quoti again and especially when it was printed in such a fashionable manner. "You brought this here for me." With an almost confused twist to his mouth he looked at Kalizda. "Who would...." Stopping himself short he opened the front of the book and saw the name of the translator written in Trader's Tongue and Quoti. "Ah...my grand daughter." With a smile he glanced to Kalizda. "You will bring my grandchildren to see me." He knew about Rose and Cypher, but he was not certain there were others. Rumors were unclear on that.

    Calysta watched as he looked at her with an expression she hadn't seen on the man's face ever. He actually looked surprised. Watching him look over the book she waited to see what he would say. It was really rather beautiful and Rose had designed the cover herself. "Aye, your granddaughter." When he flat out said she would bring the grandchildren, her stomach tightened at the idea of it. She wanted Marcus to see his grandchildren but she didnt trust him and it was heartbreaking to think of it that way. "I want to," she said, her expression as gentle as it had been before, "I wanted them to know their grandfather several years ago too."

    "You want to, but..." There was that question hanging in the air and Markus didn't know what she was getting at. There was nothing wrong with what he did. They were safe and they were powerful because he made sure he disappeared when it was time. If he hadn't stepped back his son would never have stepped up to be the man and General. Markus could see why Illya would be angry, but why would she hold back from him.

    He was trailing off and she couldn't tell if he was genuinely confused as to why that would be a problem of if he was playing games. He wasn't the gaming sort, at least the Markus that had known, but then again...the man had faked his own death in some sort of sick gambit for Illya. "But frankly, I'm not sure what to tell them about where you've been. Rose watched what she believed was your body burn that day at the moon shadow. Cypher was born the day you died. His middle name is Markus in honor of a grandfather that he was never going to be able to meet. Yvonne cried for you and Illya mourned you. Even I lost someone I felt was a father to me and I cried for you too." She looked Markus in the eyes, her grey searching his blue orbs. "You abandoned the people who loved you most and nobody understands why."

    Markus stared at Kalizda long and hard. "You say I abandoned you. I left with a purpose." Staring her back in the face he held her gaze for a long moment before he spoke again. "I know I couldn't get the Alliance to follow me. They were far more accepting of Illya and he has the personality. People want to like him. I was never that man and I know that. The only way for Illya to do what he had to, was for me to die. Now the Federation is closer to destruction than it was before. I did this to protect my people and my family." No one knew, or hated the Federation like Illya either and Markus knew that his son could talk almost anyone into using his creative methods of destruction. Soon enough they would stand on a battlefield of victory..

    "You could have stepped down any time you wanted. Why was it you had to die and what was it that Illya couldn't do with you alive?" Calysta replied, her eyes never straying from Markus. She wasn't going to discuss what Illya was or wasn't in front of the man. She was proud of her man, but telling Markus information wasn't something she would do. She had told him a few things, only what she deemed necessary. "I know that you care for your people and your family. Its one of the reasons I respect you, but I also think this was wrong, Markus. I've never been afraid to say what I think and that hasn't changed."

    Clenching his jaw Markus narrowed his eyes and stared at her for a long moment. "Because as long as I was here he would ask for my advice and he wouldn't learn to make the hard choices on his own."

    He was giving her the steely eye and she met him back with a simple gaze, betraying none of her anger or sadness over the entire conversation. With a long look at him she finally spoke in an even tone. "Then I ask that you trust and respect his decisions, the ones he's made and the ones he will in the future." It's all she could do not to be furious with him after he'd caused Illya so much heartache and that's the least Markus could do after the entire affair. She still didn't trust him, but she wasnt going to slam the door in his face either.

    Without a word Markus took himself to the bed in his cell and laid down to read the book. He had no intention of speaking further with Kalizda. She was here about something to do with his son and he wasn't going to listen to her about it. If Illya wanted to say something, then he would have to come tell him for himself. "Good, then let him talk to me. If you don't have anything more to say for yourself then I'll get to reading."

    She wanted to slap him and had she been in the room she might have done just that. "I am speaking for me, Markus," she said evenly, "Illya is my agreed and I stand beside him. That is my choice and my honor. I didn't come to argue. Only to give you the book and to talk with you in earnest rather than at gun point in a flyer. If that's not something you're wanting, then I will go and you won't be forced into any more visits from me."

    "Seems we've both run out of things to say." Looking up blandly from his book he nodded to her and then resumed his reading. "I'll tell you what I think when I finish it. Then we'll have something to talk about instead of this strange questioning."

    "This wasn't a questioning," she said, "It was a reunion which I was hoping to understand better. I suppose we both leave disappointed in each other." She gazed at him, though she knew he wouldn't look up at her. "I do hope you in enjoy the book. It's the first of many she is writing for the Elders and the Alliance archives. That one is a first edition for you to keep."

    Calysta left feeling frustrated with Markus and his coldness, but no less deterred. He was a man who thought what he did was a necessary sacrifice for his people and for an empire. She couldn't fault the man for his dedication, but there had been better ways. He was too stubborn to acknowledge that and he would be in for a shock when he arrived on Pyrta no matter what happened. That left her with two options: help him weather the blow or leave him as he had left them. The second option was still cruel and she couldn't do that no matter what he had done.

    That night when Illya called, she sat down with the pad in her hand and let all of the kids talk to their father for a long time, then curled up in the bed with him on the line. If she put the pad on his pillow and stayed on her side, it was comfortable and a bit more like he was actually there. They chatted for awhile, and she asked about his day. It sounded like there were somethings he was adjusting too, and it was expected. "Keeping trying," she said with an encouraging smile, "I'm proud you're my husband either way. The first Chippeqouti in Skycorp and the best looking one of the bunch too,"

    Shifting on the bed, she pushed her hair from her neck with a sigh. She dreaded bringing up Markus. It still had to be done though. "I wanted to tell you. I went to see your father today." She relayed her conversation with Markus to her agreed, telling him what was said. In truth, she wasn't sure if telling him would stress him out more, but she felt he should know. Keeping things from him like this wasn't something she did anymore. "He wouldn't talk to me after that," she explained, "I'm going to try again tomorrow, I think."

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    Priscilla stood on Ehud's door step and rang the bell. She knew he would be home, he'd told her that it would be his day off in a message, but he didn't know she was returning. She wanted it to be a surprise. Her suitcase had been dropped off Illya and Calysta's house and she had taken the big bag of goodies for both boys with her to their small cabin. In truth, her home was here on Pyrta now as was her work with the new school. It gave her purpose and a way to involve herself in the community again. It felt good to be back into life as it should have been, even if it was different than the life she had conducted with Harry. The basic principles were still the same and she felt more like herself than she had in a long time. Not to mention she had missed Ehud and his son while she was on Kinte, though the vacation had been quite nice.

    The bell chimed and she heard footsteps echoing from what she suspected was the kitchen. Quickly, she smoothed down her hair with her free and tried not to look like her heart was patter quite so hard in her chest. When the door opened, she smiled brightly and gave a small wave to the Chip man standing in front of her. "Hi, I hope I haven't come at a bad time," she smiled, "But I brought some things for you and Sien."

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    It was the end of a long day for all of the Cadets and most of them retired to the bunks ready to crash. Tiberius and Wynry had watched their partner struggle through the day with no small amount of trepidation. His accent had caused more than one confusing question over the course of the day and more than once the small Kinte woman had to lean over to Tiberius. "Did he just say sex?" The Terran man stared wide eyed at their mountain sized team mate and nodded slowly. "I think he's trying to say six."

    Wynry watched him struggle for a minute, then licked her lips before shooting her hand into the air. "Sir, I want to know more about section six!" She said it loud, and awkwardly. Part of it was done on purpose and in earnest, considering she could hardly hear her own voice. She knew the instructor wouldn't argue with her, given what was in her file. Sure enough, the man sighed and rubbed the bridge of his nose before turning them all back to section 6 for a refresher. It only seemed to get more awkward when the man broke a desk in the front then shuffled himself to the back.

    By the end of lunch, more class and PT, they were all tired. Tiberius showered and then retired to his top bunk to talk to his girlfriend. She was a sweet woman he'd met back on the colony and it would be 2am where she was, but he called anyways. She would want to know how the first day went. Wynry waited until lights out was called, then removed her hearing aids in the dark where no one could see before setting her vibrating alarm to be up before the others. A quick shower before the others got up would give her plenty of time to put them back in without anyone else seeing.

    The next morning they all went to classes like they had the day before except there were some marked changes. Tiberius had dark rings under his eyes, contrasting against his otherwise impeccable appearance while Wynry stuck closer to Illya than she normally would have. He looked like he needed the help. Sam looked less than rested, his blonde hair a scattered mess as he shifted uncomfortably in his jumpsuit. The morning classes passed without incident and lunch gave them all the chance to uncoil their brains from law, navigation and all the rest.

    Wynry sat across from the big Chip and nearly jumped when the Udine woman plopped herself down next to her. "Well, isnt this the happy little crew," the tough skinned woman grinned, "Mind if I sit here?" The blonde woman shook her head and shifted over slightly, allowing their visitor to sit with them. "I'm Rezna, by the way."

    Wynry winced slightly and her hand fluttered by her ear as the feed back from her hearing aid screeched. "Nice to meet you. I'm Wynry."

    Tiberius looked up from the coffee cup he was clinging to and nodded. "Tiberius. It's a pleasure."

    Rezna stretched her legs out under the table with a satisfied sigh and picked up her fork. "Hmm...you three look so serious. Lighten up, will you. No use in looking like a scared rabbit since we all made it in, huh? You know on my planet, you look grim like that, a warring clan will see it like a challenge. Cut your throat. It's a lovely place." Wynry's eyes were bugged out of her head with the volume the woman used and she scooted a little further way as the Yurian man came over carrying his tray.

    "Oooh, I'd better not sit here," he smirked, "Not sure the table could take all of us at one time with Blackwolf's luck when it comes to furniture. It might collapse with us all." Laughing at his own wit, he chose an adjacent table and propped his feet up on chair casually.

    Wynry ignored the man, rolling her eyes and Tiberius kept to his coffee while Rezna snickered. "Heh, you make a good point. See you on the field," she said, nudging Wynry. All through lunch the two snarked and snickered at their table, then it was off to PT where Commander Swyft was waiting for them. After setting them up in a formation, he inspected each of them and noted Illya's jumpsuit tied around his waist. "Cadet, is there a reason you aren't dressed properly," he said, "Fix your uniform and we can continue with the training. Your team waits with you." He had let it slide yesterday, giving the man a chance to say any issues he might have had with the suit regarding size, but being out of dress code was not appropriate.
     
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  8. Silence

    Silence Anonymous Me Staff Member Benefactor Warden

    Getting to talk with Kalizda at the end of the day was the best part. It was strange to think that he wouldn't have her in bed with him. There wouldn't be any little scampering feet in the morning and no early morning snuggles from Lohgan, or the twins. Somewhere along the way Cypher had outgrown the outward expression of wanting snuggles and instead he would throw himself at Illya and try to tackle him, or he would ask for food. Another favorite ploy for attention was to try and scare the person he wanted to be with. They were all normal things for a boy, but Illya was a bit surprised to discover that he had missed Cypher growing past that phase of pure cuddling.

    Along with Kalizda came all the kids and they were saying hi and waving. Lohgan took the pad and pressed it to her face. Illya could only guess she wanted to give him a good night kiss. "There's my little troopers." Speaking to them in Quoti he waited for a moment. It took Lohgan a few moments longer than the others, but she understood the language just fine. He spoke it around her often enough that she knew what he was saying if she took a moment. After a few seconds she nodded and smiled. All the girls' wild little brown curls bounced up and down as she nodded. Cypher was yelling in the background about his monster eating a bug that he'd captured and wanted to show him. The call was utter chaos and Illya couldn't help loving every minute of it. He wanted to be in the middle of the mess and let the kids tackle him.

    Once he was set back where the kids could all see him Illya grinned. "I miss all my little ones. You be good for your mom and I'll be home in a few days. She's gonna write a report for all of you and I'm gonna read them." He knew that Cypher would understand the report and Lohgan always wanted to get one. It would be easy enough for him to work that out with Kalizda.

    ****************************************

    The officer stood in front of Illya and he started to ask about the uniform. Illya stared at him for a moment and waited for the final sentence to finish before he answered. "Dah uniform says dat et es large and et's nut large enough. I can wear et right sir, but et will nut be dah same ef I do dat on dah obstacle course."

    Swyft raised a brow at the man, unsure if he was trying to be funny about his uniform being 'wrong' in both senses of the word. "Aye, you should have said something yesterday about your uniform," Swyft replied, ignoring the snickering sound from the udine woman. "You'll have to make do. The uniform serves a purpose. Its designed to protect in the Wilds and its important that it fits properly. If your equipment isn't proper it needs to be addressed. It could be small as a uniform or as big as a safety issue on a ship. As it is, Blackwolf, you'll have to run the course with the equipment you have. Your team is waiting."

    It was strange. Illya had never trained with anyone that was this lax. With the Chippequoti they made sure that what you were given was right during training and if it was not it was usually a test to see if you could remedy the situation for yourself. If there was a chance that you got something defective it was simply unfortunate. The only time a man had a right to complain was if he was issued something after training and it was not right. "Yes sir." Illya quickly untied the sleeves on his uniform and slipped his arms into them before he zipped up. It looked alright till it got to his chest and shoulders. The zipper was straining and it nearly pulled apart just with him standing. When he started to run Illya knew exactly what would happen, but at least he'd have an idea when he took the uniform to the exchange to know what size to ask for. Large had always fit before and they must have measured things differently because large was not nearly big enough around here.

    Swyft watched as the Chip fixed his uniform, causing it to strain. He would learn to speak up when it was necessary. He released them toward the obstacle course where they were to all line up. "First team to complete the course entirely gets to return to the bunk early for leisure time. On my mark, three...two...one..." He brought a whistle to his lips and sent out a shrill call allowing them to start. Wynry took off running along side Tiberius. The small woman was faster than the looked as she grabbed a swing rope and flew over the mud pit obstacle. Tiberius followed and Rezna was close behind. The next obstacle was a large wall with a single rope to use for all the teams. It was close to 20 feet tall and the Yurian man reached the rope first, climbing up without hesitation.

    Racing for extra leisure time wasn't such a bad idea. Illya wanted to be sure that he got a few extra minutes to talk with Kalizda. So far being Skycorp was only hard when they were in classes, but he wasn't nearly as tired as some of his partners looked. Lining up he stood at ease while the rest looked like they were ready to pounce. He could see the wall ahead and he already knew what he was going to do about that. There wasn't much point in waiting for his team mates to do every little thing one at a time when he could do something better. Illya let them get a head start and then he watched for a few seconds. He could see the Yurian man was fast, but not for long. Illya took off at top speed. There was a distinct rip sound, but he wasn't worried about that. A little rip in the crotch of his pants would be fine. He still had boxers on underneath. Once Illya's partners went across the swing rope Illya swung across ahead of a few others and then jerked the rope out of place and dropped it in the mud. The rest of them could wade behind him and his team along with the few competitors that weren't quite as fast as Tiberius and Wynry. As they reached the stone wall there was one man that was already climbing the rope and the others were trying to crowd in and knock him off. There wasn't much point in that. Illya grabbed Wynry and tossed her toward the top of the wall. "Grab et and go over." He did the same with Tiberius and then started up the rope after the Yurian. Near the top Illya caught the man and pushed him back over the edge he'd just climbed up from. Grabbing the rope Illya pulled it all the way to the top of the wall and dropped it down the other side so that both his team mates could crawl down faster. "One on each rope eh?" Jumping off the wall Illya waited on the ground for them to catch up.

    Wynry felt a wind at her back before a strong hand lifted her off feet. She yelped as she grabbed the top of the wall and clung to the ledge. Tiberius let out a solid 'oof' as he got the same treatment. "Hi," he smirked at her as they scrambled over to the top. A squeal caught both of their attention and they watched as the Yurian tumbled down to the mud, half taking Rezna with him as they tumbled. Illya fastened the second rope and pulled up the first so no one could follow. Wynry exchanged a look with Tiberius and then scurried down her rope while the Terran man followed, grinning from ear to ear. They met up with the Chip and made a dash for the third obstacle, a watery mud pit with stones to step across. On the other side of the wall, Rezna called foul and Commander Swyft shrugged. "Figure it out Cadet. You're smart." The woman growled and grabbed up the Yurian, heaving him to the top then did the same with Sam. For herself, she took a running start and scaled up the wall. Dropping to the other side, she made a dash for the mud pit and came up behind Illya, making to push him off the stones with an angry growl.

    The third obstacle was a little harder because it was more reasonable to go one at a time. Illya had to wait until he was sure his two team mates had a good head start and he grabbed the Yurian and anyone else that got close to the pit behind his team mates and threw them in the mud before he started across. Shortly after he got started he could see his team mates were almost to the fourth obstacle. He would catch up. Suddenly he felt himself sliding on the rock and he tipped off of it and fell into the mud. It was deep. With a lunge he grabbed for the other side of the pit and pulled himself out just a few feet behind Rezna. He wasn't particularly fond of her kind. They seemed to think they were so tough and practically the only ones that suffered and lived to tell the tale. With a growl he raced up behind her and kicked her hard with his prosthetic leg in a side sweep. With her on the ground he ran around her and went for the next obstacle.

    Rezna didn't pause to enjoy the Chip dropping into the mud. All she heard was the solid splat when he dropped into the pit before she was racing along with her sights set on the other two. Suddenly, something hard slammed into her ankle. It didnt hurt but it did cause her to tumble to the ground. Wynry began climbing up the ladder leading to a platform. Above them was a heavy cable meant to be scaled down to a lower platform. Most tried to inch downward but Tiberius joined her, his toes stuck on the edge. "I dont know if this will actually hold the big guy." Wynry studied the cable for a moment. It wouldnt hold if he stayed on it too long in one place. Whipping off her tool belt over her jumpsuit, she looped the leather around the cable. When Illya made it to the top, she held it out to him. "We are lighter. Go."

    By the time Illya reached the fourth obstacle he was tossing only about 1 or 2 people to the side before he got to his team mates. They had waited for him and he sighed. "Yah hurry down and when part way down I drop dah rest of the dah way and make dah platform unstable. When dah Udine follow she'll fall trough." A semi evil chuckle sounded and Illya rushed his partners down the cable and then he went down after them. About 10 feet from the bottom he dropped and the wood splintered in a few areas and he felt it sink as he ran off the plat form and toward the final obstacle, a small pond. He'd never make it across by himself, he'd have to run around it as fast as he could. "Yah bot go, swim fast. I run around."

    Wynry didnt hesitate. She used her tool belt like a zip line and flew down the wire once Tiberius relayed the gist of what Illya said. The Terran gave him a nod of approval, the scurried down the wire himself before making a beeline for the pond. Both Wynry and Tiberius hit the frigid water and he yelped. "Good god that's cold!" Illya it seemed had opted to run around. Why? He had no idea, but as they came up on the shore for the last leg to the finish line, a distinct crack could be heard followed by a shriek. Renza had fallen through the platform and was hanging by her armpits 20 feet above the ground. The Yurian man yelled at her and she bellowed back as Sam still waded through the mud, entirely left behind. Rezna hauled herself up and half leapt to the ground from the ladder. Rather than going into the water, she followed Illya at top speed. Tiberius and Wynry made it to the finish line before Illya, and they called out to him. "Look out!" The Udine woman had scooped up a hard pack of mud and lobbed it at Illya's head.

    The last of the run was all uphill and Illya could feel his right leg was getting a little sore. It had been a while since he'd run this many days in a row and he was sure during all this fun that he probably took it a little rougher than he should have for a first couple of days of getting the leg back to being used to working. He was only a few feet from the finish line when he heard Wynry and Tiberius yell for him to watch out. It was better to just make a quick angle during the run and then keep on going. Illya pulled hard to the side and he felt a tough bit of mud and rock skim along the side of his head. It hurt a little bit since there was a rock packed inside and the rough edge of the rock scraped along a scarred portion of his skull. The sudden sharp turn was hard on his knee too and Illya half stumbled across the line just a few feet ahead of the Udine. He was going to have to get in better shape fast if he wanted to keep out running her in the future. Now that he was at the end Illya started to peel his uniform off. It was ripped out in the shoulders and there was now a very large hole in the crotch of his pants. The seam didn't hold when he was running. The zipper had broke in the front and he almost had to tear the uniform off. By the time Illya was done he was left standing, dripping mud, wearing only his sweater and boxers with his boots.

    Wynry and Tiberius cheered when Illya stumbled across the finish line while Rezna came wheeling in behind him, slinging mud as she attempted to stop in front of the commander. Her eyes were looking wild at the disrobed Chip and her mouth was set in a hard line"Team three wins," Swyft said simply, "Go get cleaned up you three." The Yurian man came up behind them, and doubled over to brace his elbows on his knees, panting hard. "You've got to be kidding...." he wheezed, "They cheated." Renza growled and pointed to the second obstacle. "He shouldn't have been able to do that. He cheated and rigged the bloody course like a mine field." Swyft's eyes flicked from Illya to Renza. "Aye he did. And what did you do about it? Their team worked together. If I'm not mistaken one of yours is still in the mud pit struggling to get out. You're Skycorp Cadets and in the field, problems are going to happen. It's how you overcome them as a team with your crew that makes the difference. Now, you have two options. Run the course again and help your team mate through, or stand here at attention in the cold rain until he makes it. I'm willing to bet the first option is a bit faster." Rezna fumed, her fists shaking until she turned on her heels and marched toward the start line, hauling the Yurian man with her. Once that was done, Swyft turned to the three winners. "You get your rest tonight and extra leisure time. Tomorrow you will have the special honor of fixing my course to working order. Blackwolf, get that uniform issue resolved with the commissary in building B. You are dismissed." Wynry nodded and began walking away, her fingers pulling at her ears slightly. Her aids were a bit water logged and it was make a terrible warbled sound any time someone spoke. Still, she managed to glance up at Illya. "Maybe you should get your head patched up," she said loudly, "You are bleeding."

    There were plenty of complaints from the losing team and Illya knew better than to argue in front of the commander. He'd only say something if the man took the victory away from his team. There weren't any rules to this race and Illya played it to the best advantage of his team. They did sabotage the majority of the course, but that was the point. It was good to see that Swyft wouldn't make them give up their victory and Illya answered the order to get his uniform problem fixed, "Yes sir." On his short walk back to the building he glanced at Wynry and sighed. "Ok, jes dun say anyting ef yah see meh agreed later. She es going tah pick meh up after dis week and she gets upset ef she tinks I hurt meh head."

    Wynry caught about half of what he said, including the word 'agreed' but it didn't quite make sense to her. Tugging at her ear, she furrowed her brow and glanced to Tiberius who was rubbing his arms to keep warm as they walked. "Did he say agreed?" she asked quietly. "I dunno, I think so?" the man said through chattering teeth. His perfectly quaffed hair had been soaked and now sat flopped over in his eyes. Pushing the hair from his face, he glanced to the tall man whose head was dribbling just the lightest bit of blood. He'd gotten lucky the mud clod hadn't beaned him full on or they might have had to carry him off the field. "Ah...agreed..as in...a woman? Girlfriend?" he asked curiously.

    It seemed that Tiberius was frequently translating what Illya said and he found it a little frustrating, but this was all the better he could do. His companions were clearly confused by the term agreed and Illya sighed. "She es a woman. Agreed es same as Terran say married. Meh wife gets upset ef I hurt meh head. Dat's all." Reaching up he rubbed at his scalp and grumbled before he brought his hand down and flicked the blood off his finger tips. "I jes ask dah clinic doctor tah make little stitches and no bandage. Et will heal in a few days anyway."

    Wynry stared at his mouth trying to piece out what he was saying and he already appeared annoyed from what she gathered. The important words she caught and she was able to somewhat get what he wanted. "Married. Your wife will worry," she nodded. Tiberus grabbed the door for them all and held it open, enjoying the rush of heat from inside. "Ooh. So, that's who you were smiling like a fox to while you were chatting last night," he smiled, "Is she Chippeqouti too?" He secretly wondered if she wasn't Chippeqouti, how on Earth a woman would deal with the large fellow. There was big and then there was too big, right? "I know what you mean, though. My gal would freak out if I ended up hurt too. Sometimes it's best not to tell them." Wynry scowled and rolled her eyes before walking into the corridor where it was nice and toasty.

    Glancing to Tiberius Illya walked through the open door of the building. "She es Chippequoti and she es dah one I talk wit. Dere es reason I dun speak in Trader's Tongue wit her when yah all around." With a nudge he shoved the Terran half way across the hall. "Yah make trouble like dat." Once they got to the room Illya started to peel the muddy sweater off and his t-shirt was sopping wet and stuck to it. Both the sweater and the shirt came off and Illya knew by now that his team mates had probably seen his back. From here it was best to just drop his clothes in a bag and take them to the shower with him. He could wash them out and put on something fresh before he got his head stitched up and then got a new uniform.

    Tiberius couldn't quite figure out what he had said to deserve a good shove across the hallway, other than simply being Terran of course. The man had already made it clear he didn't like Terrans but Tiberius had brushed that aside. Not many people did in certain areas. All he had done besides that was give the man a bit of ribbing about his Chip woman. "Jeez, I was only talking," he grumbled as he rubbed his arm, "If I wanted trouble, I would have told you to shove it up your ass when you said you didn't like my kind."

    His Terran team mate was getting offended and Illya grabbed a bag to shove his muddy sweater and shirt into. He'd strip the boxers in the shower room. Snatching his towel he glared at the Terran. "Yah have yah toughts and I have meh own. Yah stay away from meh agreed and meh people. We're team here, but dat does nut make us friends. We work and dat es all." Taking his towel and bag of muddy clothes Illya started for the showers to get cleaned up.

    Where this had all gone south, he couldn't begin to guess other than day one when the man learned he was a Terran. "I don't want anything to do with your agreed or your people. Your people helped fix what the councilwoman screwed up as far as I'm concerned. Most of the Terran colony likes the Chippeqouti, so I'm not sure what special stick you've got swirling around in that pucker of yours but you need to get over it." With that, Tiberius shirked off his shirt with less than gentle ripping sounds as the wet fabric clung to his pale skin marked with reddish pockmarks. Tossing his shirt with a wet flop to the side, he peeled off his jumpsuit down to his boxers and marched past Illya brushing past him on the way to the shower. Wynry stared at the both of them, shaking her head.

    Illya made his trip in the shower a fast one. He didn't like to shower without Kalizda anyway and he would have happily used a bucket, but he knew that wouldn't be quite acceptable here. When he finished the shower Illya felt the usual uncomfortable pinching sensation in his back. The water and the soap made the skin tight and the scars would get irritated. Reaching his back was tough work and Illya rubbed a little oil between the palms of his hands and then did his best to reach all the spots on his back and then rubbed the rest on his stomach and chest and up the right arm. His leg was mostly fine by itself.

    Once Illya was showered he took himself to the little clinic and had them look at his head. "Yah dun need tah tell Kalizda about dis. Jes break dah skin a little." The doctor gave Illya a long hard look. He wasn't about to let the man walk away with a small head injury without saying something. Especially if it was a concussion. If it really was just a little break in the skin he could put it down in the file and leave it alone without saying much. With a nod the doctor grabbed a small light and checked the pupil reaction time. Everything seemed to be alright. With one hand he started to make a small part in Illya's hair where the injury appeared to be. There was plenty of hair to work through. In fact it seemed that for the lack of hair on the rest of the man's body he had more than made up for it on his head. Once he could see the injury the doctor wiped it gently and then worked along with the cleansing cloth before he sealed it up with a little glue.

    It only took a few minutes for the glue to dry and Illya grinned at the man before he stood up. "Tank yah. Now I go get a new uniform." Stepping out into the hallway outside the clinic Illya looked around for a few moments before he found the directory board and he followed the directions to the store. It would have to come out of his account to buy another suit, but it was needed. This time Illya walked through the store and he tried on a few sizes before he discovered the XXL tall was the best fit. With the new Skycorp uniform folded over one arm he started back to the bunk room.

    Within a few minutes the bunk room came into view and Illya walked over to his bed before he flopped on it and he grabbed his pad. He wanted to have the extra time to talk. The kids were all there again and the twins would hop on their mother and gurgle with glee when they saw him. However, there was always that moment of disappointment that came over their faces when they tried to touch the hologram and found that he wasn't actually there. "I know, you'll see me in a few days. Getting closer." Little Tomas' face turned to a pout and Edgar let out a whimper. Neither of them liked having dad in hologram version. Illya couldn't help chuckling a little. "Oooh, you don't like it when I'm a fake me."

    There was a certain sense of privacy when he could speak to Kalizda and the kids on hologram in Quoti. Nobody actually knew what he was saying. This time when Kalizda asked how his day went Illya grinned. "Well my team won the race. I liked that. We get extra time off tonight. That's why I called you early. Tomorrow....well," Illya reached behind his head and sighed, "We get to fix the course. I might have torn it up to make sure the other runners couldn't keep up." He was sure that a little grin came to Kalizda's face when she heard what he had done. She knew he would do something like that and if she didn't, she did now.

    Gradually the conversation turned toward her day and Kalizda said something about visiting his father. It was good of her to think of him and she took a book to him too. Illya was secretly pleased that she was watching out for his father at this time. Nodding along he smiled until she mentioned what Markus did. Suddenly the smile faded and Illya growled. "Bastard. You don't have to go see him if he's gonna treat you like that. I'm gonna be having a talk with him. He won't treat my agreed like that, ever again." Meeting her gaze Illya made sure she knew he was serious. "You tried to do something good for him and I know that. It makes me proud when my Kalizda does these things for our family and people." A brief smile came to his face and he rolled over in his bed so that he could turn away from Wynry and Tiberius. "Makes me want to hold you close and kiss you. I think this is hard because I don't get to be with you. All that time I had my Kalizda and I like it that way. I want to get commission for your ship only when I leave Skycorp." If he could have a commission for her ship and be reserved for her ship then he would be able to have a job and show his children what it meant to be agreed. Both people worked and if they had jobs that were compatible, they worked together.

    Before the end of the call Illya blew her a kiss and winked. "I love you. Be home soon." He missed her much more than he thought he would. Somehow Illya had thought that this wouldn't be as difficult as it was. About time the others were finally dragging in from training Illya pulled his covers up and decided to go to sleep.

    It wasn't a restful night in the least. Illya could hear bombs going off and he sat up in the bed a few times. He knew Tiberius wasn't sleeping well because he could hear the man gasp a little whenever he started to try and take cover. Apparently the bunk was a bit wobbly. "Ugh..." Turning over in the bed Illya tried to feel along it for Kalizda and she wasn't there. In half a daze he mumbled to himself and started to get out of bed to go find her only to remember that he was in the Skycorp bunk room for training. Rolling back into the bed he tried to settle down.

    All the sitting in class had started to bother his back enough that it was spasming badly even when he laid in the most comfortable position he could find. The lozenge had stopped quite a bit of the spasms and pain, but he knew he would need another in the morning. Off and on Illya moaned in his sleep and he finally started to rest a little better and then a loud bang sounded. Without even waiting to discover where it had come from Illya rolled out of his bed and shoved all the bags underneath it to the side. With his hands over his head he curled himself into as tight a ball as possible. After a few seconds he realized it was the bang of the door opening and the wake up call sounding. Immediately Illya rolled to his knees and pulled his bag toward himself. He hoped nobody had seen him. Within a few minutes he was dressed in his uniform and racing out the door toward the breakfast hall.

    Illya stared at the bread on his tray. It was part of his breakfast and he tore it open to stare at the odd brown chunks. Poking one, he felt it mush a little and he pulled his finger back. It left a little brown slime on the tip of his finger. Wrinkling his nose he put the nasty bread aside and decided to eat his oatmeal. To Illya's dismay he found more of the little brown droppings. "What es wrong wit dah cook? I eat a lot of tings, but I dun like tah eat shet."

    Wynry had her nose buried in a legal theory book and absently chomped on her omne fruit as she read, not paying any attention to the table or her neighbors, mostly because she couldnt hear enough to follow along anyways. Tiberius on the other-hand leaned over slightly and looked at the Chip's plate with a raised brow. "Oh surely your constitution is tougher than that. Terrans eat that all the time when they have to. It's good for the digestion."

    Looking over at the Terran Illya frowned. "Et has noting tah do wit meh stomach and everyting tah do wit meh pride. I've had meh share of dis kind of treatment. I dun eat shet tah please anyone."

    Tiberius rolled his eyes and plucked a 'turd' from his bread, popping it into his mouth with a satisfied sigh. "Ah, so you're better than a Terran because you don't eat shit," he mused calmly. Wynry looked up from her book and looked at the two of them in confusion for a moment. She'd only caught a snippet of the conversation. "Eating shit?"

    The man seemed to be eating it like candy and Illya narrowed his eyes slightly. "Ef yah tink et makes meh better, den yes." After a few moments Wynry looked up and asked her question. Illya nodded. "Yes, dey put little shets everywhere in meh oatmeal and meh bread. I dun eat et."

    Tiberius couldnt help but smile a little as he plucked away at his food, consuming them with great joy, then he turned to Wynry. "Are you going to eat your turds? Terrans love'em and they are especially fresh today." Wynry picked up a blackened little nuggest and flicked it at Tiberius, beaning him between the eyes. "It isnt rat droppings. It's a raisin. A Terran dried fruit made from a grape. Tiberius is the only one being a little shit around here because he is mad you do not like him for being Terran." She said it loudly and bluntly, then went back to her reading as she added. "And a shame for you both to be so thick skulled. We're a team."

    As tempting as it was to eat the breakfast, Illya wasn't going to touch it. He wasn't going to starve, but he would be hungry when it was time for lunch. Thankfully the hard classes were first and then he could do the easier ones after he had lunch and he would feel more relaxed. Then Wynry spoke up and it turned out the little brown things weren't poop. Plucking one from his bread Illya held it close to his nose and sniffed it before giving the little dried fruit a careful lick. It didn't taste like crap, so he put it in his mouth and chuckled a little. Illya glanced at the Terran and grinned, "Yeah, et's a shame. Yah shouldn't tell meh dat Terrans eat shet."

    Tiberius saw the man grin for the first time and grinned back as he chuckled. "You shouldn't be so ready to believe it. Though, I have to admit, it would've been grand fun if you'd have asked for your oatmeal the non-terran way tomorrow morning. Heavy on the sugar and hold turds." The Terran man kept on chuckling as he took another bite of his raisin toast and even Wynry began to giggle a little, hiding her smile behind her book.

    "Et's too easy tah believe bad tings about Terrans." With his smirk still on his face he took a bite of his bread. "Suppose I say dat loudly tomorrow? What would yah do?" It was a harmless enough joke and Illya already had an idea half the class thought he was stupid. It was fun to play the part.

    "Probably laugh and move over when the higher up Terrans come marching over to ask why you think they eat shit," he smirked, "Then again Rezna over there would probably get a good shock out of it. She's been eating scoopfuls of them and I'm not sure she knows what they are either. And that's a little joke I could get behind." Wynry's eyes flicked between the two men and a knowing smile curled to her lips. "She has no idea what they are. I watched her point to them for the Yurian man."

    With a chuckle Illya nodded. "Good. I will stand behind Rezna tomorrow. When she get her breakfast I will be next and den yah will see how loud I can be ef I tink someone es about tah put shet in meh food."

    "See," Tiberius smiled to Wynry, "We can get along for a good cause." The small blonde giggled and turned the page in her book. "Just give me a little warning before you start to yell, yes?"

    "Yah dun need a warning," Illya smirked, "All yah gotta do es know dat when I get meh turn et will be different den dis morning." A few minutes after he finished the rest of his breakfast there was the usual roll call. It was something he was more than familiar with after the military days. Perhaps it was one of the more comfortable parts as well. With a few minutes before their first class was going to start Illya went back to the bunk room and got the morning lozenge.

    The first class was barely starting by the time he slipped into the back and stood in the corner with his books and pad. One of the staff at the school had been kind enough to set up a tall standing desk for him and it was helping with some of the back pain, though he doubted that was the reason they gave him a standing desk. It was more likely that they didn't have anything sturdy enough for him to sit on.

    By the time lunch came Illya was ready to eat again. He found that they had small servings and that was a bit frustrating. Illya liked to eat far more than what they gave him. While he stood in line he looked at the cook and decided to ask her nicely if he could have two servings the first time around. "Yah give meh more. I always come back for more anyway and yah save yahself time eh?" Somehow it seemed that she didn't quite understand he was being polite. Instead the lady gave him a snotty look and gave him a slightly smaller portion than before. "Fine, yah act like dat when I was making good deal wit yah." With a grumble he walked back to his spot and shoveled the food in as quickly as possible before getting up for more.

    *******************

    Instead of getting to run Illya had to fix the obstacle course with his team mates. It made for an interesting project, but they weren't under too much supervision and Illya was quite tempted to rig it again. "We could make et look innocent, but et would be much more difficult in dah next run for dah oters." Looking to his classmates he grinned. "What yah say dat we make dis course more challenging?"

    ******************

    Priscilla had been gone for what felt like a long time. Ehud knew that she hadn't actually been gone that long, but he did miss her. A few times he had thought about calling her, but he decided against it. Instead he sent her a little message. Missing you. When you come back we should plan a few things. Her culture was slightly different than the Chippequoti and he'd read a few things about Terrans and the pre-marriage customs. Some of them he knew and they had been doing, but there were some important details that were missing and he was ready to try and fill in the gaps.

    Just a few days after he sent the message he heard a knock on his door and Priscilla was standing outside his house staring at him. For a moment he stared back at her, dumb struck with his mouth hanging open. With a few seconds to gather his thoughts he managed a somewhat intelligent response. "This is a good surprise. Come in." After she was inside he offered her a cup of tea. "I'd like to ask you....well I want to know if you'd be my friend, lady friend. I know they say girl friend in Terran culture, but you're not a girl." Some of it didn't quite make sense even though he had lived among them for some time. "Then I wanted to know if you'd be alright if I gave you a kiss. Preferably before Sien gets home from school."

    ************************************

    It had been another rough night and Illya found he wasn't sleeping well at all. This time he didn't have dreams, but he certainly had a horrible mattress. There were all kinds of little things inside of it that poked at him whenever he moved. They were likely springs that hand sprung and he hated the spring mattresses for that reason. The little ornery streak had grown with Illya's discomfort and irritation. Somehow the idea of making the Udine second guess her breakfast was appealing and more so than usual. Not to mention, he knew that the cook who did the serving would be in for a good surprise, it might be fun to see her jump too. The woman had been most uncooperative even when Illya had been nice to her.

    Stepping into the cafeteria Illya spotted Rezna a few people behind himself and he decided to cough a few times and step out of line. By the time he returned the line he stepped right in behind Rezna. She was perhaps a little taller than himself, but he figured that was alright. Now he could watch to see if she bought his story. Illya wanted to her to get the little shits in her food first.

    When his turn at the tray table came Illya calmly grabbed his tray and set a napkin and spoon neatly on the left side of the tray and filled a glass with some juice and then Illya set a bowl neatly in the center. He liked it all to look orderly. So far he followed the same routine as usual and Illya slid his tray along the little rails provided. When he got to the spot to choose a fruit bowl Illya set that little bowl on his tray and then stepped behind Reza and handed the fruit bowl to the first cook. Glancing ahead Illya could see that Rezna was now to the spot where she would get her oatmeal and she let the cook sprinkle the raisins in her bowl. She was done now and started to grab her tray off the rails as Illya handed his bowl to the cook.

    The woman met Illya's gaze for a brief moment and then served an unappetizing glop into his bowl. Kalizda's oatmeal usually tasted better. While he watched the lady sprinkled a little brown sugar on top and then she sunk her spoon deep into the serving bowl of raisins. Just as she lifted it and almost had it to Illya's bowl he yelled, "Wait! I dun want dah little shets in meh food. Jes no shet. I like dah sugar, tanks." The woman jumped visible and a spray of raisins flew into the air. Illya reached over the glass and snatched his bowl from the startled cook and set his bowl back on his tray. With a curl to his lips he reached into his bowl and took out the 2 or 3 raisins that had fallen into his bowl. There were still raisins on the floor and all around the general area.

    Quickly grabbing his tray Illya stepped to the side and he hurried over to his table like usual. As he passed Rezna he could see her staring at her bowl of oatmeal with an expression he had not seen on her face yet. It even sounded like a few students were losing their appetite in the cafeteria and a broad grin spread over Illya's face as he poured the fruit from his little fruit cup into the bowl of oatmeal. "I tink dis looks much better witout dah shet in et."
     
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  9. aryamajor

    aryamajor Curious Adventurer Benefactor

    Priscilla wasn't sure he was happy to see her at first. His mouth was hanging open for a second in sheer surprise and she waited for what seemed like the longest second she had ever felt before he invited her in. Smiling, she slipped inside and left her muddy rainboots at the door before following the man to the kitchen where she was offered a cup of warm tea and the most awkward invitation to date and furthermore to kiss that she had ever received. Her cheeks turned a little pink and she put down her tea cup on the small kitchenette table. He was nervous and she was a bit shy. She had't kissed anyone at all in nearly two years, not since she had told Harry goodbye the morning she left from Terra. Her smile grew some and she replied. "It is a little strange. I never knew why they called it girlfriend after a certain point. It makes it sound like we're two teens, hm?" Slipping out of her chair she walked over to where the man was standing at the counter and slipped a hand into his, meeting his gaze. "I would like to be your lady, so long as you're happy to be my gentleman." It felt strange saying that, and she was nervous, but not because of the reasons she had experienced before. It wasn't guilt or sadness, it was the desire to be the right one again. Her thumb played over his knuckles before she mustered up the courage and leaned forward kissing him on the lips. She wasn't in any hurry. If she was going to do something like this, she wanted to make sure it was right.

    An audible sigh of relief sounded as Ehud heard Priscilla accept his offer for her to be his lady friend. When she grabbed his hand he grinned a little. "I think I can be a gentleman." He was almost ready to say more when he saw that look in her eye. She was studying him intently and then she leaned forward. Ehud carefully met her half way. The kiss was wonderful, but he wondered if he could have put his hands on her waist. As it was they were still just holding hands. Perhaps he would have to talk to her about a few things because he didn't want to push her boundaries.

    Ehud was surprisingly warm. Not just his hands but his lips too and she couldn't help but lean into him more. Her free hand slipped up his chest, tickled at his neck, and lightly cupped his cheek, encouraging him to go further if he wanted now that she was practically molded to the man. It had been what seemed like an eternity since she had been so close to someone. For someone to kiss her and touch her with intent. The thought of it made her get a little more impassioned and she smiled under his lips.

    There was a little tickling at his neck and Ehud almost thought it felt like she was pulling him closer to her. Cautiously he leaned in closer and kissed her again. Gradually his hand slipped from hers and it wrapped around her lower back. While he held her close he was about to move in for a third kiss when the front door swung open and Sien came walking into the house. A slight jolt went through Ehud's entire body and his face turned red. "Oh, uh..."

    When Ehud jumped, so did Priscilla. She hadn't really heard the door opening between the sound of her own heart fluttering in her ear and the tingling of his hand at her back. She pulled away from him to look at why he had jumped, and saw Sien standing there in his raincoat, his tiny back pack on his shoulder. Her cheeks were all pink from a combination of things mulling around in her head and she swallowed hard before clearing her throat. "Hey there," she said, "I think you've grown an inch in a week." She reluctantly pulled herself from Ehud a little further and offered out her hand to the boy. "Do I get a hello?"

    Sien stared at his dad and Priscilla. He had not expected to see them kissing. Blinking a few times at Priscilla he finally grinned. "You kissed him!"

    That was one way to say hello. She couldn't exactly tell him no either considering he had walked in on them both and Ehud's face had her red lipstick painted all over his mouth. "W-well, yes," she said, casting a look at Ehud before turning back to Sien. "Sometimes people who like each other do that."

    "Does that mean you're gonna marry him?" Sien was sure that he'd never seen his dad kiss anyone and that had to mean something.

    He was obviously very excited over his little discovery and her cheeks were growing more and more red with each passing question. Ehud was entirely silent on the subject and she wasn't sure if it was because he was dumbstruck or just entirely at a loss as to what to say. How on earth did she go about explaining this? He'd already asked her to be his mom once. Her delicate fingers left Ehud altogether and she crossed the room, motioning for Sien to turn around so she could help him out of his drippy backpack. "It means I like your father very much and maybe one day we might, hm?"

    "I knew it!" Sien almost started to bounce in place and he threw his backpack on the floor and raced away toward his bedroom. Ehud wasn't too sure what to do and he stood blinking dumbly for several seconds until he saw Sien dart from his own bedroom toward his dad's. "Oh no." Ehud carefully moved Priscilla aside. "I gotta do something." Catching Sien he shook his head. "I am not ready for that yet. Besides, it's my job to give it to her. You go out there and don't you say a word about the ring."

    The boy was definitely far too excited and any attempt she had to calm him down had failed in full measure. If anything, it had made him more exuberant and she had to side step Sien as he dashed off before being gently nudged out of the way by Ehud on his coat tails.After some furious whispering and shuffling, Sien appeared looking a bit sullen and Ehud followed afterward, his face still pink and her lipstick nearly blending with the shade on his cheeks. Reaching over, she grabbed a kitchen towel and handed it to Ehud, pointing quietly at his mouth. "Is..um...everything okay?"

    At last they came out of the room and Ehud had a bit of explaining to do for Priscilla. "Uh yes. Things are fine. Sien wanted to uh....well he wanted to make sure we were getting married and he was getting ahead of the proper process for Terrans and Chippequoti. I think he has learned too many bad manners from Cypher and Uncle Illya."

    Proper process? She couldn't quite figure out what he meant by that at first and her blush was further deepened by the prospect of Sien being so intent on them getting married. Did Ehud love her? He hadn't said as much yet and she hadn't declared her affection yet either, which made her wonder more about this process. Maybe t was because he was a general and process was preferable for him or maybe there was something she didn't know about Chip culture yet. It happened frequently, and she'd just become accustomed to asking. "Is there something I should be doing...for the Chippeqouti tradition I mean?" As far as her opinion on 'Uncle Illya's' way of doing things, it was different and sometimes Cypher did get a little wild. "I think that Sien is just excited," she added, "He's a boy who wants his father to be happy too."

    Ehud glanced to Priscilla and he sighed. "In Chippequoti culture the woman chooses the man she thinks will provide the best for her and then he must answer yes, or no." Some of it was very strange to try and interpret and mix with her culture. "We don't date in Chippequoti culture. I uh...I read some books about Terran culture and relationships. It is very different from my customs."

    She remembered him saying that at some point, or so she thought, but she had been under the impression that was a marriage of sorts. Chippeqouti didn't date it seemed, and that concept was bizarre to her. How could you marry someone without at least getting to know them a little. Sure, it happened widely in Terra's past, but it simply wasn't the way she was raised. Still, that was his culture and she could see why it would be difficult to coincide the two. Stepping towards him, she allowed a soft smile to creep to her lips. "It is different, but maybe, if its easier we take it one step at a time then?" Maybe that would make it easier. She didn't want to flat out tell him she would choose him if Sien was listening because it would cause a whole new host of things to explain.

    It sounded like Priscilla understood some of the conundrum this had caused and Ehud smiled. "Yes, we will take this a little step at a time." Glancing back toward Sien he gave his son a warning glance. Lately his boy had started to get wild about things. "I happen to know he learned this from his Uncle, Illya. Illya didn't follow tradition and he asked both his women to accept him."

    Priscilla couldn't help but grin at that thought and she quickly covered her mouth so she could hide a bit of her amusement. "It did seem to work out well for him in the end. I don't think Kalizda minds very much," she replied with a small chuckle, "But I think it's more along the lines of wanting a mother. He's looking to you to follow when it comes to ladies and other things. Though he might have gotten the running thing from Cypher. I don't think that boy walks anywhere."

    "Illya never walked anywhere as a kid, but at least Cypher wears clothes. He was never very proper about anything." With a slight hint of disgust Ehud sighed. "You might think its fine to break all the rules, but he doesn't even follow Terran tradition. At least I picked a tradition to try an follow for the process."

    Now, he just sounded annoyed and Priscilla glanced to him carefully. "Hmm...No, I don't think it's fine to break all of the rules. I just think it's important to look at it from Sien's view. As far as what Illya does, I can tell you that I do tend to prefer a little more order than what he provides Kalizda. Whichever tradition that might be and sometimes propriety is a good thing." She offered him the towel again so he could wipe the lipstick off of his face. "In my tradition we would date for awhile and become accustomed to each other, something I find preferable to the Chippeqouti style in this case, I think. If it's the Chip courtship you want to exemplify for your son though, I can adjust."

    Priscilla was trying to be diplomatic about it and Ehud wasn't sure where she got the idea that he wanted for his son to see the Chippequoti style. "I don't mind if he sees the Terran fashion of dating and marriage, I just want him to know there are rules. No matter what set of rules he chooses he needs to follow them. Since you are Terran it would be acceptable for me to follow your rules even according to Chip custom. You are the woman and it is alright for me to adopt your standard."

    "Then maybe we can explain them together with him when it's time," she said tentatively. Sien was Ehud's son and she wanted to help with the boy but she also didn't know her boundaries of what he would allow or expected. Mostly she had been fumbling through and as far as what Sien learned, she didn't want to make assumptions. Then she gave him a bit of a side smile, trying to be a bit playful. "And that's one Chip tradition I don't mind so much."

    Slowly Ehud nodded in agreement. "We'll tell him in a few days. Every Chip knows the custom when they begin asking questions." It wasn't anything that they hid from their children and he was going to have his son follow the Chip tradition as closely as he could. "Sien will learn to follow the customs of a woman outside the Chippequoti if he chooses not to accept a Chip woman and that is just the way it is."

    Priscilla smiled in approval and glanced to Sien, gazing at him for a long moment. He was a good, sweet boy for the most part and much like his father in ways that Ehud didn't seem to see just yet. Ehud himself was a good man and she was glad that they had come together in such a way, even if it was nerve wracking for the both at times. Offering out her hand, she nodded. "I think it's a good idea. In the mean time, since I'm here...maybe we can relax and all watch a movie together?"

    The offer of a movie was nice and Ehud already knew what it was going to be. Sien immediately raced to get his pad and he set it on the table. "Micky Martian, please?" Without much deliberation Ehud nodded. "Alright we'll watch Micky Martian."

    She walked over to the couch and with her now Chip boyfriend...or gentleman as they had established...and let Sien watch the continuing exploits of Micky Martian. Even she had to admit the show was better than the last Wild Ways flick they had seen. After the movie, they cooked dinner together and this time Priscilla offered to make something she had picked up from Chippeqouti tradition watching Calysta. Not to mention the fridge was dreadfully empty besides a few basics. So, she made some of those pan breads with all the little herbs available and then sandwiched them together with cheese. "Hmm...grilled cheese and Chip bread sandwiches with soup," she chuckled, taking a bite. The cheese strung out between her lip and the sandwich making her use her finger to capture up the bits.

    Sien seemed to like it well enough and she vowed tomorrow she was going to go grocery shopping for the house while she was at it. "Oh, and before I leave, there are a few things in that bag for both of you." Inside he would find several shirts, sweaters, and pants. She had guessed on his sizes. He was a fair bit bulkier than Harry had been in certain areas and she hadn't exactly been able to measure the man's waist or inseam. Hopefully, at least her favorite outfit would fit which comprised of jeans along with a handsome navy blue with kelly-green sweater. For Sien she had bought similar outfits along with several Micky Martian t-shirts for summer play.

    Ehud walked her to the door and she looked at him with a smile. He'd had her lipstick smeared on his face the whole time, despite her efforts to tell him quietly. The way she saw it, he might not mind her adding a little more. Gently, she leaned in and kissed him as her eyes fluttered to a close. She let the kiss linger with her hands gently playing at his shoulders and neck. It was better not to tempt things further until they were ready. When they both needed air, Priscilla peeled away and slipped into the house, giving him a final happy glance.

    The next day she dressed in jeans and a warm flannel shirt before trekking into the rain to the market. Now what did Calysta always pick up for Illya and the kids? She had never been shopping quite like this so she wandered the market with her basket. Sien was pretty plain in his tastes and so was Ehud, but she wanted to try filling the fridge with some interesting things too. She picked up nyte beast and vegetables, breads of all types, eggs, icecream, omne fruit and what few Terran fruits were available which were berries and grapes. She picked up snake meat and chicken nuggets along with spaghetti fixings...the list went on and on. By the time she went to go pick up Sien at school, the entire fridge was stocked and waiting for Ehud to return home.


    * * * * * * * * *

    Hearing that Illya had made the other cadet's run a wrecked course didn't surprise her so much as it made her want smile. Swyft was probably having a wild time trying to contain her husband on that point, but she knew the man wouldn't necessarily discourage it either. Illya was smarter than most people gave him credit for and the Commander would see that. Biting at her lips, she hid a small giggle at the idea of him showing them all up. That was her Chip through and through. "It sounds like it was a good day," she told him, the bemusement telling in her voice. When he asked about her day, the tone changed slightly. Illya seemed more than a little upset about Markus' behavior and Calysta wished it had gone better. He seemed intent on talking with the man at some point about things, which given the way the formerly dead general was acting might not have been a bad idea. He certainly didn't want to talk to her about anything. Maybe only Illya could get through to his father. Still, she would try again tomorrow. Smiling to her Chip, she gave him a little air kiss back and nodded. "I miss you too. Love you."

    When the screen went dark, she realized how alone she was in their big bed. His side of the bed seemed so lacking. There was nothing to do for it except try to sleep though. Tugging over his pillow, Calysta wrapped her arms around it snugly before burying her face into it. The material smelled distinctly of him, the soft scents of his cedar wood oil and leaves. While it was somewhat like having him there for a moment, it wasn't warm like him and she couldn't bury herself under it either. Tossing and turning, she tugged his pillow along for the ride until finally she sighed in frustration. It was hard sleeping without her man beside her and she was without a doubt spoiled to having him close. Pouting slightly while no one could see, she got up out of bed and tried to figure a way to make having her bed so empty decent to sleep in some how.

    She tried reading first to grow sleepy and that didn't help, not even while cuddling his pillow. Counting tyrei's was useless too. She tried listening to nature sounds on her pad after that. Nothing worked. Finally, she got up and snagged a long roll pillow off the couch the wrapped it up in Illya's heated blanket before turning it on full blast. When it was good and toasty, she stuffed Illya's usual pillow into the top of her creation and snuggled up it. The roll was warm and smelled like him, plus she was able to hook a knee around it to cuddle it further, just like she would her Chip. It felt odd to be doing such a thing with a bizzare, homemade surrogate for a bed mate, but it worked for the moment. With her head buried into Illya's pillow, she took in a deep breath and slowly began to drift off.

    Something cold hitting her leg jolted her awake and she rolled to feel something wiggling it's way into the covers. It was still early yet and the twins weren't awake according to the monitor on her pad. She knew who it had to be. "Oooh," she mumbled sleepily in Kaerelean, "Something is getting into my bed and it has cold toes. I wonder who it is?" Patting at the lump wobbling along under the blanket, she heard a playful giggle. "Is that my....Lohgan?" Flipping back the covers, she revealed her messy haired little girl. Her curls frizzed out from the static built by waddling around in the blanket and she gave a pleased grin as she squealed. "C'mere little girl." Calysta pulled Lohgan up to be laying side by side, accidentally pull twisting her shirt in the process to reveal her round, tan belly. "And what is that?" she chuckled to Lohgan. "Belleee," her green eyed girl giggled. Grinning, Calysta took a single finger and lightly traced a finger around Lohgan's tiny belly button. "As I draw this magic circle around this little girl's belly, I'll sign it with a D...O...T!" On the last letter, she tickled Lohgan's tummy making the child squeal with giddy delight. It was an old rhyme her father used to do when she was able to play. Something his mother and grandmother taught him on Terra. It may have been silly, but it was great fun for her kids. "Again!" Calysta did the little rhyme a few more times before Lohgan snuggled up to her and kissed her on the nose. "What was that for?" she asked , curiously.

    Lohgan's green eyes gazed into her mothers and she giggled. "Love yah, all better?"

    Apparently, Lohgan was far more observant than Calysta gave her credit for and she couldn't help but hug her little girl close. "All better. I love you too." They played a little word game back and forth, naming all her body parts like eyes and ears along with her nose and mouth until Cypher woke up and crawled onto the bed asking for berries with an extra 'pwease'. It was about time Calysta got up anyways and she took both of her babies into the kitchen to get breakfast started. By the time the elder two had eaten, Tomas and Edgar had woken up expecting a bottle which she had ready. Rose helped her feed both at one time, taking on Tomas and holding him with a gentle hand. "There you go. Drink it all so you can catch up to your brother, huh?"

    Once the twins were fed, she started to take care of the animals. Feeding Keysha and Cin was easy, though the bear was in a sad sort of pout because lllya hadn't been the one feeding him. "Oh, he'll be back. Don't give me that look," she said to Cin. She put out the kibble for all of the dogs who happily munched away. It was a little less crowed with the dogs because Priscilla had taken Yujin with her. The hardest part was feeding the chickens. She started to look for the feed bag and found it sitting on a high shelf in the storage compartment. "Hey, Illya. Can you reach-" Her words cut off and her shoulders sagged some. Illya wasn't there and he had put the food in the highest place possible. Frowning, she fought back the annoyance at the feed being so far out of reach and the little pang of lonliness that shot through her chest too.

    The best way to get it down was to grab a stool and pull it down. It was a great idea in theory, but when she went to hoist the heavy bag, the canvas ripped causing a cascade of bird feed to tumble out of the storage unit which the chickens quickly capitalized on. The rooster along with all the chicks and hens alike fluttered into the open door of the small closet and she started frantically sweeping it up. They would eat an entire weeks worth of food in one go, making themselves sick if she didn't get some of it up.

    By the time she had all of the feed up and the chickens herded back into their coop Rose came to the animal bay and smiled. "I was wondering if you would want to do some of those flight training hours I mentioned yesterday." She was eager to get started on learning to fly a flyer as well as a skimmer on her own, but Kalizda looked sweaty and slightly at a loss. "Are you okay?" Calysta nodded. "Aye...just...feeding the chickens. Sure, we can go. Just give me a minute to clean up."

    It didn't take long to clean up and she took Rose out to the small practice field at one of Kinte's remote islands. "Alright. First you'll learn the skimmer first. You wont fly over the wilds until you have a certain amount of hours over the continent." That seemed to make Rose a little more comfortable, and Calysta handed her the info pad. "Now, there's a 17 point inspection for a basic skimmer. It sounds like small things, but you don't want to be flying and have your equipment fail. So, lets walk through them together."

    Rose was wonderful when it came to details, but when it came time to sit in the cockpit, she flashed Calysta a nervous glance. "Okay, so this is the thrust, altimeter, and these are the dampeners." Calysta confirmed she was right and gave her an assuring smile. "That's right. And your engines are all warmed up. So give us a little thrust. Just enough to east forward." The girl bit her lip and did just that, but apparently she was having trouble gauging how the thrust felt with her metallic hand. The skimmer shot forward with a violent lurch causing Rose to squeak and she suddenly hit the dampeners rather than backing off of the thrust. They both jerked forward against the restraint and Calysta's pad bopped her in the nose as it flew free from her hands. "Ow." Her pad flopped to the floor board and a cracked eggshelled over the screen. Rose looked to her mother, her brow pinched together. "Are you okay?"

    "I'm okay," Calysta said, her voice nasally. The hit with the pad was going to leave a bruise for sure, no matter how hard she rubbed it now.

    "I didn't mean to break your pad," Rose added, looking sheepish for once.

    Calysta kept rubbing her nose as she leaned down and plucked the pad from the floor. "It's okay. Nothing that can't be replaced. Besides this is minor compared to teaching some of the Chippeqouti."

    That got a laugh from her daughter and they both chuckled before Calysta nodded. "Try it again, this time take a deep breath and let it out slow when your accelerate. It will help."

    * * * * * * * * * *

    The next day, Calysta took care of the kids as usual and then made a nice pot of snake stew for everyone. Rose and Thomas volunteered to watch the children while she made a little flight out to the Alliance base. She wondered if Markus would be willing to talk with her today. She wasn't sure if he would or not. The man was stubborn to a fault and still didn't seem to understand what he did wasn't right. The commander at the base welcomed her quietly like last time and showed her down into the underbelly of the base to see the sequestered Chip.

    Calysta stepped up to the window holding the big, lidded bowl braced carefully from underneath. Once the guards had left her, she watched as the reinforced window slowly defrosted revealing Markus in much the same state she had seen him last time. Clean and with his new book in his temporary quarters. "Good afternoon," she said with a nod, "I brought you something today. " Whether or not he wanted it, she stepped to the side to the little one way hatch and wiggled the warm bowl through before closing the door so the contents could be passed into the holding room. "It's no where near as good as the Yvonne's snake stew, but I've managed to make it passable, I think."

    The little council woman came to see him again. In a way it was disconcerting to find himself being subject to random visits like this. Slowly he got up from his spot only to see that she had brought a bowl of stew for him. It was snake stew and he nodded. "Nobody makes it like Yvonne, but thank you." He was half expecting that Yvonne would be waiting for him to get home and she would make him lots of the sweet grass bread that he liked so much and maybe some scorpion legs fried with herbs.

    He was quieter this time, more distant, and she couldn't help but feel like it was something she had done, though this of his own doing. She sat down outside the window on the cool tile floor and folded her legs to sit cross wise. "You're welcome, Markus. It's a favorite in the house nowadays. Cypher likes it as much as Illya does." A little moment of quiet passed between them and she noticed he hadn't made a move to retrieve it. "Did you like the book?"

    Markus took the bowl and he opened it and breathed in deeply. It smelled very good. Better than anything he had eaten in a long time and he took a few bites before she asked her next question. Setting the bowl aside for a moment he nodded. "It was done well. The Chippequoti have waited a long time to have their stories written again."

    "Rose will be pleased to hear that," Calysta replied, "They have waited a long time to have their stories written again and I'm proud of Rose and her work." Bracing her elbows on her knees, she propped up her chin comfortably and looked to Markus. "Personally, I like the stories about the Little Bird, but perhaps I'm a little impartial on that account." Smiling some, she nodded to the stew. "If there's anything you'd like me to make or bring for you while you're here. I can try."

    "No, I don't need anything." Markus picked his bowl of stew back up and took a few more bites. It was strange to eat like this when someone was watching, but he did like it and he wanted to eat the stew while it was still warm. The only thing he wanted now was to speak with his son and get things cleared away there. Then he could get home and relax.

    Calysta had a pang of guilt and slight uncertainty. He didn't even know what to ask and she wasn't sure if it was more cruel to let him be isolated in ignorance or to simply tell him. She didn't think it was her place to tell him. Rising to her feet, she dusted off her hands, though the gesture was needless, and looked to Markus. "Alright then. I hope you like the stew. It should only be a few more days before we go to Pyrta for a small visit. "Would you like me to come visit before then if there's nothing I can bring you?"

    "Its not necessary to visit. When Illya forgives me he will come let me out and I will go home." Markus nodded to her slightly and took another bite of the stew.

    What the man thought was so far beyond simplistic that she couldn't even muster up an answer at first. It struck her as a sad comment in its own right. With a small sigh, she looked to Markus. "It may not be necessary, but you are family, Markus. That's what family does. Enjoy the stew and I will see you in a few days if not before." Then she left, the window frosting over behind her to obscure the hallway and her route of exit from view.

    That night, she cuddled up to her Illya-Pillow and talked with her husband in whispered Qouti after the children had said their goodnights. Lohgan showed him her latest masterpiece with green and red crayon while Cypher displayed his first loose tooth to his father with pride. "Lookf dah! Mamf says et will fall outf and I get a bigger onef." He used his tongue, waggling the tooth back and forth until Calysta prompted him to say good night. Then it was her turn to talk too. Illya looked tired, even after the extra rest day. It almost made her feel bad about telling him anything regarding Markus. "My day was good," she smiled sleepily, " Rose's flying is...getting better... and Cypher has been trying to get that tooth out all day. It's not ready yet, stubborn little tooth. The school will be opening within the next month or so and I ordered my costume for the New Year Ball. Also, I went to go see Markus again today. I know I don't have to but I want to bring him some snake stew. He still wants to talk only to you. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it I suppose. How was your day? Are you feeling alright?"

    * * * * * * * * * * * *

    Tiberius had no qualms about rigging the course. It would make for a far more interesting run of things and it would be worth it to see the rat faced Yurian man and the Udine stumble a bit more. "Sounds like fun," he grinned, "I'll get to work." Wynry hesitated and stared at the both of them before Tiberus sighed. "Look, we live or die by the teams. If you don't participate you lose a great opportunity and if we still get caught you didn't at least get to have a little fun while you were at it." The blonde Kaerelean glanced between the two of them and sighed. "Fine. My suggestion would be to loosen the second and second to last stone stone in the mud pit. Everyone skips he first and tries to leap from the other to avoid jumping onto the last. It will work."

    Tiberius grinned at the woman's suggestion then picked up a heavy hammer. "That's actually kind of brilliant. Remind me never to piss either of you off." Then he stalked off to go do just that. They rigged the entire course, noting where each issue would occur. It would be easy to avoid them for themselves but nobody else had to know that the stones were loose, or that the first rung on the ladder to the platforms would pop off, or that some of the ropes were not secure in the slightest.

    When their handy repair work was complete, they headed back inside to enjoy what little leisure time they had left. Tiberius showered and tended to his prim beard with the towel wrapped at his waist before climbing into his pajamas. Wynry cleaned off faster than their Terran team mate and was relaxing back on her bed reading. "Has anyone ever told you that you read alot?" Tiberius mused. The woman didn't answer. She had taken out her hearing aids and was enjoying the quiet. He could hear Illya below him mumbling into the pad in his own language and the entire bunk shifted slightly. It was going to be another long night. The man was constantly moving and taking the entire bunk with him when he did. Neither of them had slept worth anything in four days because the Chip couldn't hold still. Though, he understood a little bit about that himself. He'd seen the man's scarred back and it wasn't comfortable to have damage like that.

    The lights went out and they all shut down their devices. For awhile, Tiberius thought the Chip was going to sleep better, but he was wrong. The entire bunk began rocking like a ship at sea until Illya stumbled out of bed, before getting back into it. Wouldn't he just hold still?! Tiberius groaned and wrapped a pillow around his head in aggravation.

    Morning rolled around and they each had planned on making Rezna think that the raisins were shit in her food. It was a wonderfully devious plot to which Tiberius was fully dedicated to at this point. Rubbing at his tired eyes, he got in line behind his other two counterparts and waited for his cue. It didn't take long before a spray of turd-like raisins exploded over the counter and Illya was yelling about 'shets' in his food.

    Wynry snatched her own bowl back, having to stand on her toes to reach behind the bar. "You told us that was fruit!" she yelped angrily. Her voice was loud and staccatoed after having her hearing aids turned all the way down in an effort to keep from getting blasted when Illya made his scene. Dumping her little bowl's contents in the garbage can, she walked back over and sat down next to Illya, keeping to her eggs and nyte beast slice for breakfast. Tiberius plucked up a raisin fro the floor and clamped his lips tightly together with a look of disgust. "You've got to be kidding. Disgusting!" By this point, Rezna was looking rather green, her grey skin turning the color of a mossy rock and she stumbled to her feet. With large strides she left her tray at the table and went over to the nearest trash can to heave up all the raisins along with the oatmeal she'd taken in her first bite. She wasn't the only one. Several of the others were looking sea sick, including Sam whose eyes were bugged out at his own oatmeal before pushing it to the side and scurrying off to privately throwup. The food line workers were facing some angry looking patrons at the same time. "What're you talking about? It's not...we're not feeding you..." After a minute of general chaos, Commander Swyft came walking in to get his breakfast and his face fell at the scene he strode into. "What in the Wilds is going on?"

    There was something to be said for the reaction of his team mates too. Illya continued with his breakfast as if nothing happened and he saw that his team mates had resumed eating as well. Over all there was a ruckus in the cafeteria and it more than satisfying. "I tink dis es dah best br...." Before Illya could finish Command Swyft came marching in and he demanded an answer of sorts. Illya slowly turned in his seat to look at the commander along with the rest of the room. He wasn't going to say anything until the cook did. It would be fun to hear what kind of story the woman would make out of all this.

    Swyft's eyes scoped the room and as his eyes scanned over, those who werent throwing up frozen in place with looks of disgust mixed with uncertainty. The cafeteria manager, a frizzy haired woman with freckles came marching from behind the food line and scowled. "Someone started some mess about us feeding them rat droppings in the food! It's nothing but raisins!" She looked furious and pointed with her serving spoon at the commander threateningly. "I've never heard something so ridiculous in my life! Never once have I served something like that in my kitchen!" Commander Swyft kept a straight face as the woman screeched then cleared his throat. "And who was it that made that complaint?" The serving spoon swiveled over to Illya along with his three team mates who were waiting silently to see what was going to happen. "Those three, that big bulky one being the trouble starter right there! He caused an entire scene and now I've got to clean everything before I can even start on lunch!" The squat woman was huffing at this point as she glared at him. Swyft's grey eyes turned to Illya. "It's funny how rat shits were perfectly fine for yesterday's breakfast," he said evenly, "All three of you. My office. The rest of you put yourselves together."

    Of course the woman was going to point Illya out and he opened his mouth and widened his eyes as if he was equally indignant. "Et was nut fine, but I was hungry. Today I jes I dun want dah shets in meh food." While the others were getting themselves together Illya quickly drank the rest of his juice and then grabbed his bowl of non-raisin oatmeal to walk with while he went to the commanders office. It was such a small thing to get called in over.

    Wynry looked confused for a moment but the serving spoon thrust in her direction along with Swyft's face told her they were being singled out. She got up with Tiberius as they walked over to the door. She held her book in one hand and put on an innocent face as possible, which was easy because she couldn't hear anything and gave Tiberius a small shrug. Swyft's office was in the adjacent building and it was a nice one though, simplistic in nature. A well kept desk, book case, and comfortable chair sat at one end while two chairs sat on the opposite side of the desk facing the window. They all stepped inside and Swyft followed looking a bit grumpy over the fact he hadn't gotten his own meal yet. Coming behind his desk, he surveyed the three of them again before raising a brow. "Now, I don't know why you felt the need to make a scene, regardless of what you say, and even if you don't know what raisins are...which at least one of you does"- his eyes shot to Tiberius knowingly "-Frankly, I don't care what practical jokes you play one people here. We're all adults but of the love of the Goddesses there are two things we don't mess with here. People's food. There are two reasons for that. One, you've just pissed off the person who makes your food which wasn't a wise decision. Helya is a little devil when it comes her kitchen and she's going to take it personally. Two, I'm missing my own breakfast deal with the three of you and lunch will likely be later now two."

    While the commander was talking Illya scooped the rest of the food from his bowl into his mouth and he frowned. "Hmmm...I dun like et when people mess wit meh food eiter. Maybe Skycorp tink about making ingredient list so dat dere es nut mistake about shet being put in dah food again." Maintaining innocence was one thing, but he could make a helpful suggestion for the future. "Mmm." Setting the empty bowl aside Illya waited for Commander Swyft to say something. Specifically he was waiting to get assigned to clean up duty in the kitchen. It would be far better than having to last all the way through the first two classes.

    "You'll have more than plenty of time to make that suggestion to Helya while you are all up early tomorrow helping to cook and serve the food at breakfast. I'm sure the help will be more than appreciated and that way you can report to class. It should be a good educational experience too since Helya will be glad to tell you all the effort and ingredients that go into making our meals here on the compound." Swyft met Illya's gaze with an even look and then nodded. "The kitchen opens up at 4am galactic time, and do yourself the favor of not being late." Helya would be more than happy to let him know since she came to him with all of her complaints.

    It sounded like Illya was still going to get to go to his classes and he would get even less sleep than he was already getting on that miserable little bed. "Ah, I see. We help cook tomorrow morning." Illya rubbed his head and winced when he hit the little spot that had been split open just the day before. "We are dismissed now?"

    Swyft nodded to the three of them. "You are dismissed." Wynry and Tiberius headed to the door with blank looks on their faces until they were in the hallway, the door to the office closed behind them. Then, the Terran man smoothed down his hair before puffing out a breath and grinning. "It was worth it. Never thought I'd see an Udine turn that shade of green before."

    "Aye, et was interesting tah see. I will tink of more ways tah shock her. Udine are nut meh favorite." The more Illya thought about it, the more he realized he didn't really like any race as a whole except his own.

    Tiberius chuckled. He was beginning to think the man didn't like anyone at all but himself and anyone he was stuck with for a longer amount of time than a passing moment. They went about their day as usual, going to classes and then PT considered of endurance running this time. Once they had finished their miles in 8 minutes or less they were free to have their leisure time along with dinner.

    The next morning it was hard to wake up at 4am, but the three had to roll out of bed and stumble their way to the kitchens. When they arrived Helya was waiting for them was an angry scowl. "Aprons, gloves and hair nets. Now," she barked pointing to the equipment table. "Pretty boy, you're going to be on the serving line. Get to working on that oatmeal. Instructions are above the pot. Blondie, you're on bread baking duty with Shet's Mcgee here. Instructions are on the counter with the ingredients. Lets go. Oh, and don't for get the raisins in my bread."
     
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  10. Silence

    Silence Anonymous Me Staff Member Benefactor Warden

    Priscilla returned for a visit and Ehud found himself the proud owner of several new items of clothing. He hadn't really looked at anything until after she left. What he was looking at he recognized, but he always thought that they were clothes university boys wore. At this point he was about as far away from university boy as one could get, but he would try it on for her anyway at their next date. Suddenly it struck Ehud that he had no idea how long Priscilla would be staying and what he should do for a date. That was something he hadn't quite thought about far enough in advance.

    While Ehud was still busy thinking about what he would do for a date little Sien came racing out of his room donning one of the new shirts from Priscilla. "Look! I got a Micky Martian shirt." Puffing his chest out the boy did his best to show it off for his dad to see. "Do you think I can wear it to school?"

    "No." Ehud stared at his son for a long moment. "It's too cold and the shirt is too big for you right now anyway. It will be for the warmer weather." He could see that Priscilla was clearly planning on this relationship lasting a while if she was out changing both of their wardrobes and making sure to buy things in advance for Sien. "Just wear the nice sweater that Priscilla got for you when it is cold outside."

    Reluctantly Sien agreed, but he was still eyeing his Micky Martian shirt. On his way back to his room he had an idea. He could put on his Micky Martian shirt and wear the sweater over it and his dad would never know. With a grin Sien changed into his pajamas and put himself to bed. It was time anyway and he wouldn't get to stay up late. That was just the rule. Early the next morning when his dad came in to wake him up Sien groggily sat up and rubbed at his eyes and yawned as he pulled his blankets back. It was cool in the room and he grabbed the front of his pants before he danced his way to the hallway bathroom. When he came back out the boy went to his room and got into his school pants and put on one of his new Micky Martian shirts. The one with Micky holding his stun ray gun was the best one and he knew the other boys would like it.

    Just to be sure that he could wear the shirt without Ehud knowing, Sien slipped his sweater on over it and he shuffled into the kitchen with his jacket on and pack over one shoulder. Reaching for his hot breakfast roll on the counter he met his father's disapproving gaze. Had his dad discovered he was wearing the Micky Martian shirt? Surely he couldn't have.

    Ehud saw Sien come out of his room and the boy was walking extra cautiously. It was like Sien was trying to hide something. He was a little unkempt and his undershirt was poking out over his pants. At least it was a long shirt and he could tuck it in and be proper. Most of the time Sien forgot to pair sweaters like this with longer shirts. However, there was something suspicious about the walk and Ehud watched as Sien grabbed his breakfast roll. "You taking toys to school again?" His son was supposed to be learning and not taking toys to play with.

    Meeting his father's gaze Sien shook his head, "No." He already knew that Ehud would want to search his pack, so he took it off and let Ehud search through it. A few moments later he got his bag back, but his dad was still giving him an odd look.

    Since the search proved to be unfruitful Ehud gave the pack back and then he nodded. "Get going. If you're late cause you were busy playing with Cypher on your way to school then I'm going to have to start walking you like you're a little boy. Gotta act big if you want me to treat you big." Looking at Sien's shirt he nodded to it, "Tuck that in before you get to school. Won't have you looking like some hoodlum."

    It wasn't until about lunch time that Ehud realized the shirt was not the right material to be under the sweater and it was extraordinarily long for a t-shirt. His son had worn the shirt under his sweater. He had gone behind his back and disobeyed. Ehud couldn't help grinning a little. It was a somewhat ridiculous little infraction, but at the same time it was still like lying to him and he disobeyed a direct order. There wasn't room for that when it was so dangerous. Ehud didn't have an agreed to simply send his son to hide with if something happened. His son would have to learn to follow safety drills and protocols for himself. Ehud couldn't always be there and Sien sometimes was home alone. These kinds of things were the sorts of moments that showed his son had to learn to be obedient at all times, not just when it made sense, or when he wanted to obey.

    When Ehud got home there was a wonderful smell of food in his house and he saw Priscilla was already there cooking. "Oh, hi." Momentarily he was distracted from the task at hand and he wandered into the kitchen to give her a little kiss on the cheek. "It smells good." He'd almost forgot that Priscilla had made arrangements to go pick up Sien from school. "I'll come back in a few minutes. I need to talk with Sien about something first." Turning toward his boy he beckoned with a finger and Sien got up from his chair in the kitchen. He had been working on his homework, but this was a dreaded moment. Whenever his dad beckoned him like that it meant there was trouble.

    "Go to my room." Ehud waited for Sien to walk ahead of him and once they were in the room Ehud took his belt off. "You disobeyed me. I told you that shirt was for the summer and you tried to be sneaky. For that you get one swat." Ehud folded the belt in half and brought his arm back and then let the leather belt crack across his son's rear end. "You'll remember to obey me. I've told you before that we are not safe just because it feels safe." Turning his son around he saw the boy was fighting to hold in a few tears. "I'm going to start training you on safety drills and you'll have to learn to listen very carefully and do exactly what I say. If you're with Uncle Illya, or Aunt Kalizda you listen to them, but if you're home alone and bad things happen you need to know what to do when you're alone. You hear me? It is not safe and you have to know how to obey. Even little things could get you hurt, or maybe someone would kill you."

    Sien nodded again and he sniffed a few times before he was finally dismissed and he took himself to his room to take off the Micky Martian shirt and put on an appropriate under shirt and then go finish his homework. He still wanted to wear the shirt and he didn't know why his dad was always telling him it wasn't safe. None of it really made sense.

    Returning to the kitchen Ehud watched to be sure that Sien was finishing his homework and then he nodded to Priscilla. "What do you need help with?"

    **************

    That night Illya opened his pad. He was going to have to get up early, but he could still talk with Kalizda for a little bit. It wasn't like he was going to sleep all that well. What Illya was prepared for was Kalizda's face to be bruised. Even while he was visiting with the kids he could feel himself getting angrier by the minute. Had Markus done that to her? Did he throw something at her? Surely Markus would know better than to hit her and even then he shouldn't be throwing things at Kalizda. When the kids finished telling him all about their day Illya grinned at Kalizda. They both knew this was their chance to talk alone before he had to turn out the lights.

    "Kalizda," now that they were alone he wanted to ask her what happened. "You got bruises on your face. What happened?" After she answered he nodded. "You're sure that Markus didn't do it?" If his dad had done it he was going to beat the man to a bloody pulp. There wouldn't be any telling him that he didn't remember his training. Apparently it was just part of the dangers of helping their oldest daughter learn how to fly. "Maybe you shouldn't hold the pad so close to your face next time" Illya offered.

    Eventually the conversation turned toward his day and Illya chuckled. "Well, I do have to get up extra early because I got in a little trouble, but it was worth it." There was only so much he could do to keep from laughing. Kalizda wouldn't be able to hear him if he kept up his nearly maniacal chortling. "I call the little brown dried fruits poop and my team played along. We got a good number of cadets feeling sick." Taking a deep breath he chuckled more and did his best to continue, "You should have seen....seen their faces." Widening his eyes some he tried to imitate them. "Even got the Udine to turn green." Because he was speaking in Quoti Rezna couldn't possibly know what he said, but she likely heard him laughing and she probably knew he said something about her. Udine was something that the Chippequoti didn't really have a name for and it was a word that Illya had no trouble pronouncing.

    After they finished up talking and Illya even got in a few teasing remarks about her legs he had to say goodnight. It was almost lights out and he knew that Tiberius would be wanting to sleep. Somehow the fellow managed to look more tired each day. This wasn't a good thing since they were barely started with training. Illya turned the pad off and he shifted a bit to nestle into his heated blanket before drifting off into an un-restful, and fitful sleep.

    **********************

    Getting up at 4 a.m. was only semi miserable. Illya hadn't slept well on the wobbly bed and he was already half awake when it was time for him to get up. "Uuugh." Illya rolled to his side and sat up. Digging underneath the bunk he grabbed his bag and got dressed before he opened the bottle for the lozenge. It was probably a few hours early, but it might be what he needed to help get ahead of the pain that was becoming constant in his back. They had horrible beds at Skycorp. Glancing at the bunk over his he shoved at Tiberius roughly with one hand. "Get up yah slug."

    Tiberius rolled over and yawned as a heavy hand shoved him, causing the whole bunk to sway. "Good morning to you too," he grumbled. He hadn't had but a few hours of decent sleep between his own mind and the man on the lower bunk causing issues. Tiberius fumbled, giving a broad shoulder a nudge then rolled off of his bunk. "Uhg...its already 4 a.m..." With his eyes half closed he grabbed for his shirt, covering himself quickly and then rubbed his face. "You look like you slept..."

    Staring at the man Illya smirked. "Sure, I sleep, but nut well. At least I dun look like I crawl out of dah ground like fresh little worm." He was going to have his fun mocking the Terran's pale skin for the time. "C'mon hurry up. Yah never have tah get up dis early in yah life?"

    Tiberius shot the Chip a look as he scratched as his head. He probably did look a bit like a worm right now with the bags under his eyes and his hair a mess, but he was certain the man meant it because he was Terran. "Heh. Beats the alternatives," he said, "I've been up plenty of times before and I will again. Terran ground Army doesn't care what time you wake up so long as you do." He shoved his feet into his shoes and ran a quick comb through his hair as Wynry's alarm began to vibrate. Silently the woman woke and padded her hand over her small table before pushing back her hair.

    Instead of cracking a joke about Illya looking like something brown Tiberius decided to divulge a little bit of his life and Illya nodded. "Yah in dah army doing what?" Somehow it didn't surprise him considering the fact that the man did have some pock marks. Marks like that usually were the result of something nasty. Perhaps a little ground bomb that had gone off a short distance from him. It wouldn't have been a direct hit.

    "Bomb squad," he said grabbing his cap, "Specifically deactivation and disposal. Feds on terra like their mine fields." He twisted from side to side, cracking his back with each twist and let out a satisfied groan. "You get up whenever they need you." Wynry yawned, having put in her hearing aids and turned them on.

    "Hmmm." Illya eyed the man carefully for a moment. "What yah mean by Feds?" If he played like he was uninformed then he might get a little more out of this. Perhaps he meant that he fought the Federation and in that case Illya wanted to know why they failed to even notice Federation presence when it was the most obvious on Terra. It would take a blind man to miss it. However, most Terrans seemed to be oblivious to many things hat were obvious.

    Tiberius stole a glance at Illya and raised a brow. He would have thought that would have been obvious. "Feds...federation..." he said. Maybe his accent hadn't made that clear or the man's traders tongue was shoddy. "Federation? You fought them?" Wynry asked with her clipped sentences. "Yeah," Tiberius shrugged, "Most of the forces on Kaereal have too from what I gather so its not something that matters really."

    "Et matters because now yah nut quite so filty. I can work wit man dat fights Federation." Illya offered his hand to Tiberius. "Ef I find out different and yah lied to meh et will nut be good. For now I like yah. Yah tell meh why Terrans nut see Federation. Et was obvious on Terra no?"

    The Terran man's brow nearly wrinkled with the curiosity on his face as he studied the outstretched hand. There wasn't much point in lying about those types of things. He couldn't go back to that life anyways. So he wasn't as filthy now. That was good to know. With a firm but friendly hand, he gripped Illya's hand and shook. "Not always. It was obvious to those who did the ground work. The leg work and got to see the damage done to people. But the government was riddled with them and nobody knew who was what. It changed substantially with Harry Kaito as president, but it was a little too late I think."

    "Ef yah knew yah history et was too late for Terra over 100 years ago." Illya released the handshake and he nodded to his team mates. "Well, we go work now." It was good to know that the team mates he had were decent. Wynry was a good person to have around. She knew who he was and hadn't said enough to give him away to anyone and Tiberius turned out to be one of the few Terrans that was worth anything. As soon as they got to the kitchen Illya was instructed to put on a hair net, gloves, and an apron. The gloves were tight on Illya and the hair net wasn't quite large enough for his head, but he could get most of his curls in it. Finally, the apron was pathetically tight with the strings only a few inches below his armpits and the pockets at his stomach. "Dis looks stupid."

    Wynry tied her apron on and loathed the idea of having to pull her hair back with the hair net. It still had to be done and at least her aids were clear silicon. They wouldn't be overly obvious and maybe nobody would notice. She heard the word 'stupid' and turned to find the big Chip wearing a tiny apron and a hairnet. The hairnet stuck his curls out in odd places but it was the apron stretched over his chest and far too small that made her burst out into genuine laughter. "Aye, you look like you are wearing something for a child." Her giggling filled the kitchen and caused everyone to glance over.

    "Ets because all yah people seem tah tink dat small es normal." Grumbling a little Illya stepped over next to Wynry to make the bread. Glancing at her he saw a strange thing on the side of her head and in her ear. "Yah have someting in yah ear." He thought it might have been a hearing aid. He'd seen them before and he made it quieter so that others in the kitchen wouldn't be privy to the comment.

    Wynry didn't catch any of the grumbling and moved over to allow the man access to the counter. Checking the first step, she saw that it involved buttering the bread pan and she started taking the basting brush to the room temperature butter. With her head turned away from Illya's face she didn't hear or was prompted to listen to his comment about her ear other than to hear the words 'have something' faintly. Turning her head, she gave him a quizzical look. "Hmm? You need the butter?"

    Naturally because he was trying to be quiet she couldn't hear him. Illya nodded, "Yep, ef dat's what dah recipe says and uh....What's dat?" Pointing to his own ear he decided to let her answer as she would. Nobody would think much of him asking what something was in this kitchen. It was filled primarily with foreign foods.

    Her eyes lit with understanding at his question the second time. "Oh," she said carefully, "It is just my hearing aids." It was always better to answer that quickly, though it still made her feel awkward. Usually, she hoped nobody would notice them, not because they were ugly, but because people treated her like she was stupid when they found out. She was deaf, not dumb. Finishing the pan, Wynry pulled the bowl closer and nodded to the bag of flour. "Two scoops."

    Illya reached into the bag and started to get the two scoops of flour. "I know some doctors that might be able tah help repair dat. Had work done on one of meh ears long time ago. Et hurt, but I could hear wit it after dat." Just thinking about that surgery made him want to cringe. It more than hurt because they had to drill into his skull to repair the deeper tissue in his ear and put in a few new pieces including a complete ear drum repair.

    He seemed to think it could be repaired from what she gathered. His accent was hard to parse through sometimes and she often had to guess at things. He'd had work done himself. The thought of trying something like that made her turn pale and a frown twitched on her lips. "Tried before and it rejected," she explained. It was horribly disappointing and painful on top of that. Her fingers fumbled as she tossed water, spilling some. "What was wrong with yours?"

    It sounded like she'd tried to have a repair done and it failed. Illya could only imagine how disappointing that had to be and frustrating too. Since he had brought it up it was only fair that she decided to ask about it. "Had tah have some ear parts replaced. Some of dem are natural tissue and some of dem are nut. Dere was uh....blast dat was too close to meh ears. Right one was bad."

    Wynry paused and studied the man for a moment with her blue eyes searching over his right side. She could see the scar under his jaw on the right indicating as much and she wanted to know more. Of course, he was under no obligation to say anything. "This happened on Kinte? Your back too?" She had seen the scars assumed that it happened on the continent, a tyrei attack in the wilds after a battle could result in that but she could be wrong. "Yeast next. 1 spoonful."

    A slight frown came to Illya's face. He hated talking about this sort of thing. "No, et was long time ago. Nut Kinte. Meh back was before Kinte too." For the time he left it a little vague and he nodded as he grabbed the yeast and served a large spoonful of it. "Dis much?"

    She knew enough by the look on his face she had found a line and managed to hear 'long time ago before kinte' and assumed that meant both injuries. In a way that made her respect him more so. He had obviously been hurt many times over and he was still out trying things. Doing things like saving whole continents. He held up the large spoon and her eyes widened for two reasons. One, she was reminded of the ring on his finger and his wife which made her feel guilty for even thinking he was handsome and brave, then at the spoon's size. "No, the tiniest one. Use that much and it will rise to the size of a flyer."

    "Maybe I want et tah be big bread." With a chuckle Illya changed it out for the little spoon. When he had the yeast in it he could start preparing the 'droppings' to go into the bread too. Taking the serving of the raisins Illya mashed them all together and started to roll them into a log. "Dis es easier for people tah pick out of dah bread now ef dey still tink ets shet."

    Wynry started to knead the dough once the yeast was in. It was a big batch for alot of people and it already would be big. She put it to the side, covering it with a towel to rise, she watched Illya with a small chuckle. "One big log for big bread?" She smirked, "The cook will have a fit, but she did tell us not.to forget them." She watched Illya at his work, then checked the bread which had risen quickly in the heat of the kitchen. "Here," she pointed, "Punch the bread."

    By the time Illya finished rolling his log of raisins Wynry wanted him to punch the bread. Chip bread wasn't made with yeast and he'd never heard of punching bread before. "Eh, how hard do I punch et?"

    "Hard enough to make it deflate, it won't take much," she giggled a little. Apparently he had never made yeasted bread before. "The more times you let it rise and then deflate, the more tender the bread is when its done." Stepping aside, she let him have at the bowl.

    Illya nodded and he made sure the fist of his glove was clean before he pushed the bread down. Since she said it didn't take much he wanted to be careful.

    Wynry watched as he took a fair amount of care in pushing the bread down and the puffy dough slowly sank letting out a puff of escaped gas in the process. "We do that one more time and then we'll knead the dough with that big log of raisins." She covered the dough up to let it grow again, then looked at him curiously. "Why did you apply for Skycorp, Blackwolf? You could do anything you like. You were one of the most important people in the Alliance. So, why?"

    Following the instructions Illya pushed the bread down again and then he looked at Wynry with a questioning gaze. Knead was a word that he hadn't used in Trader's Tongue before and he had no idea what she was talking about. He knew she didn't mean need the dough, but he couldn't figure out what the word was and what it would refer to. Stepping aside he let her cover the dough. He'd figure out what kneading was in a few minutes. Suddenly the girl was asking him a strange question and Illya looked at her for a moment. "Yah jes call meh Illya and I answer yah question." Looking at her for a moment he shrugged. "Dere es time when leaders need tah let oters learn tah lead too and den we step down and stay humble. Dere es also oter reasons. Some of dem I cannot say, but one of dem is dat I will work commission wit meh agreed. I need work tah be closer to meh family and den I can monitor oter tings."

    Wynry listened and knew there were somethings he probably couldn't say and somethings she couldn't understand because of his accent in traders tongue making it difficult to lip read. The word 'agreed' was said and she remembered that meant spouse...more specifically for him it meant wife...He wanted to be close to his family and some how skycorp was a good way to do that. Her eyes scanned him over and she smiled. "That is one of the sweetest things I have ever heard, Illya," she said in her clear pronouncing tones. Fighting an onset of blush, she slid the bowl over and punched the dough before flopping it out onto the table to work over with her hands. "Hurry and get your raisin log before the cook sees us," she said quickly.

    That little squeak from Wynry almost sounded like she was saying things like Kalizda. Still, it was probably just the issue with hearing that made her seem to have an uneven inflection in her voice. The girl wasn't crazy like many of them that recognized him. So far he was lucky that nobody had really noticed, or recognized him yet. With that momentary panic passed Illya grabbed the log of raisins and flopped them into the center of the bread. Wynry rolled it all up and set it on the massive pan before they finished the other rolls and set them in the oven.

    There was a little more work to be done and Illya was sweating, but it was good. Being close to the oven had been a nice thing. At least he wasn't feeling chilled. In fact it was nice enough that he wished they would put a table near the ovens for people to eat at. About time Illya felt like it was time to take a nap the bread had to come out and the first round of early risers started to drift in. In some ways being stuck serving food was so much worse than sneaking in and out of the cafeteria to eat. Illya felt like he'd somehow managed to avoid most of the people that would recognize him and today he was going to probably see every one of the Skycorp cadets and officers.

    With the first few that started to walk through the line Illya kept his head down and just focused on the bread. Even if he knew that it wasn't a bunch of little rat turds he thought it looked gross. What was worse was that the center of the bread was filled with the raisin roll and some of the color from the fruit had seeped out to the bread that surrounded it. Despite how it looked Illya couldn't help grinning.

    ****************

    The last day of the drills for the week felt like it was taking forever. Illya stared at his text books during the classes, but he wasn't really able to focus. Just to try and focus he would shift on his feet frequently, or lean against the wall. At one point he laid on the floor in the back of the classroom to try and keep his attention focused on the book and that didn't help much either. He found himself watching how the other students shifted around and he noted the ones that seemed to be more of the nervous sort.

    Illya ran round and round on the track with the others. They had to put in a few miles each before the end of the day. With his back being sore Illya limped a little more and the run was a bit awkward at times. Almost as soon as the run was over and they were dismissed Illya ran back to the bunk room and he grabbed his bags and jogged to the front gate. "I need a pass tah get out. I'll be back when classes start again next week." He would only get a few days at home, but he needed to get to the ship and then he would buy a costume for the party and he would make a few other little arrangements. As for the rest of the weekend, it would be spent with Kalizda and the kids on board the ship, or someplace quiet. He'd had enough of the noise and attention.

    Whoever it was at the guard house ran his id and gave him the permission to leave. Illya stepped outside the gates and he didn't see Kalizda yet and he wasn't going to wait for her either. Slipping his bag over his shoulders Illya started looked around the general area and he still didn't see the familiar little head of black hair bobbing about. Since he figured she would still be docked at the same bay with the ship Illya started to run down the side of the streets. Most people didn't bother to really look. He must not have been the only Skycorp cadet that ran down these streets judging by the reaction.

    Turning the corner Illya knew he was not quite half way to the ship and then he saw her. Kalizda was there in the crowd. Dropping his bag Illya raised a hand and yelled. "Kalizda! I'm over here." Just to see her again was good. He was tired of being in the bunk rooms and not being able to share a bed with her.
     
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  11. aryamajor

    aryamajor Curious Adventurer Benefactor

    Illya, Tiberius and Wynry were treated to the full menagerie Skycorp and its officers had to offer bright and early. They were assigned to different stations along the food line, starting with Tiberius at the oatmeal, looking ridiculous with a hairnet topping his head and wrapped around his mouth. The cook insisted his facial hair be covered too and that was annoying. Wynry stood alongside her massive Chip counterpart and sliced the bread before he served it over the glass sneeze screen with big, tan hands. She had to admit their creation of 'shet bread' was pretty gross looking. The fat log of raisins stained the inside the bread making it look noxious with every slice she served up. The early risers stared at it in confusion, too sleepy to really comprehend what was wrong, but when things got busier the looks become wilder.

    An officer stopped when he got his slice of shet bread and stared at it before looking back to the Chip before prodding the raisin log. "What is that?" Wynry pointed to her ears and shrugged her shoulders with the most meaningful apologetic look she could muster. The Ewenian officer's eyes softened and then he glanced to Illya before letting out a long sigh. The guy was a Chip, but judging from all of the commotions from yesterday, the man was a bit backwater. It wouldn't do him much good to even ask what it was. Sighing, he took his plate and walked onward to the protein station, sidling along behind Swyft who had forgone the bread altogether. "Bloody newbies," he grumbled, "I swear all of the good candidates have been pulled to the Fleet in the last year or so."

    The Commander raised a thick, grey brow at the junior officer and a grunted in Kaerelean. "That so?"

    Nodding, the officer offered over his plate to get himself a slice of thick, cured nyte beast. "Aye. A deaf girl? A Chip who can barely speak traders tongue? It's got to be some sort of fluke they passed the test right?"

    Swyft casually moved over to the beverage counter, pouring himself up a stout cup of coffee. Since the embargo on Terra, coffee had been hard come by for awhile and when it was available, it was shipped from the new colony on Delia or from the outlying, Alliance friendly Terran colonies on the fringe. These brands of coffee were stronger than the original source on Terra and he quite liked it. Sniffing his mug he glanced to the officer. "Hmm...perhaps. But you'll get your chance to test that out, Isyn. The navigation and flight simulators are coming up in the next few weeks. If you're worried about his ability to read and navigate. Stick him at the console and give the woman the controls."

    The young officer and instructor looked to his commander with a small smirk. "It's one way to weed them out if they can't keep up, I guess." The big man wouldn't be able to keep up with the calculations and the reports from the engines and the woman wouldn't be able to hear or process fast enough to fly them through properly.

    Swyft shrugged a shoulder and wandered his way through the rest of the cafeteria, intent on picking a table near the back where it was peaceful and he could observe the rest. He'd already caught sight of the bread produced by the Chip and he couldn't be seen laughing over it. The man was wild but he knew more than most about him. He settled into a chair and glanced at Isyn who was still smirking to himself over the idea of getting the Cadet's to fail out. Isyn wasn't so much bad as he was just a bit judgemental at times and it was would certainly put the awkward little group to the test. Not only would a few people get to see what the Chip could do, but it would make it clear where the man's strengths were. He did earn one of the highest mathematical and navigational scores to date. In fact, he had surpassed his wife along with the other record holders. The woman had scored highest in sciences and diplomacy out of any of her counterparts, she would make a good pilot if she managed to over come a few things. Taking a sip of his coffee, Swyft smirked to himself when he imagined the look on Isyn's face when the testing began in the coming weeks.

    * * * * * * * * *
    Like clockwork, Ehud came home and she smiled as he kissed her on the cheek. "Hi there," she said as she stirred the spaghetti sauce. For the briefiest of moments, it felt like things were normal. That this was her family and she would be taking care of them as she always had. They were happy, food was bubbling away and her 'gentleman' as he called himself, was home from work with all in order. Then Ehud switched gears and inched a finger at Sien with a serious sort of look. The boy slipped from his stool and disappeared to the back with his father. There were solid but indiscernible words exchanged and a loud crack which was familiar enough. She had been on the receiving end of a leather belt to the bottom when it was deemed necessary. Still, she wasn't sure what the infraction was and she felt like she should. Had it been something he neglected to do? Something she should have reminded him of?

    Priscilla turned to Ehud has he came back into the room and asked what she needed help with. Her azure eyes studied him for a moment before sliding over at the stove and nodding to the bubbling pot of freshly made spaghetti sauce. "Stir this for me so it doesn't stick?" Once he was stirring, she stepped over to the chopping board and began peeling garlic cloves with a practiced hand. The thin little papers fluttered over the cutting board before she swept them to the trashcan near the end of the counter. Then she used the flat of her blade to mashed the garlic into a nice paste. Clove after clove met its end under the heal of her hand and as she worked, she talked with Ehud. "Was everything alright with Sien?" she asked curiously without looking up.

    Stirring the pot was an easy enough task and Ehud stayed quiet for the time. Naturally, Priscilla was ready to chat and he nodded slowly before he realized that she asked him a question. "Oh uh...it's fine. He just wasn't listening very well today and we had to have a little meeting about it."

    "Sounded like more than a meeting," she said evenly as she mashed another garlic clove. Her eyes flicked to the sullen little boy with his nose to his homework at the dining room table. "Is there something that should have been doing?" Navigating what her place was when it came to Ehud's son was becoming difficult and she didn't want to overstep her bounds. Whatever had happened sounded serious judging by the swat she'd heard, even if the boy didn't cry. "I was raised in a house when smack to the bottom was given when it was well deserved, so you're not exactly going to shock me."

    It was Ehud's gut reaction to tell her it wasn't her business, but she was going to be family soon. "I told him to wear appropriate clothing for the weather and he chose not to and he tried to hide it from me. These kinds of things are not acceptable."

    She could see the hesitation. It was an ever so slight feeling of pause and she wondered if he was going to tell her off for asking. Instead, he gave her a straight answer and she nodded as the last clove was mashed under her hand. Quickly, she picked up the cutting board and slid the savory bits into a bowl of melted butter before stirring the mixture up. Without reserve, she took up the bowl and poured it over the slices of thick bread waiting on the pan. "Mmm...that will do it." It was hard to tell if she was talking about the bread or Sien's actions at the moment and she glanced up to Ehud with a small nod. "No, disobeying isn't acceptable and he should have listened to you because you are his father." Plucking up the pan, she scooted Ehud over momentarily so she could slid the garlic bread into the oven to toast. "Sometimes I think kids don't understand we worry about them and we do things for a reason because we love them. My mother always told me that after she would pop me for something when I deserved it. She was a tough woman, but I remember understanding how she felt about it when I grew older."

    Ehud listened and he nodded again. She seemed to be supportive. "It's more than that. I want him to obey because with the war I might have to ask him to do something that seems silly, but it could save his life."

    Walking over to the sink she began to wash her hands with lemon oil soap to rid the smell of garlic from her fingers as Ehud replied. When he mentioned the war, she looked up to him and gazed at him for a long moment, the water growing increasingly hot over her hands. A myriad of emotion passed over her face and she jerked her hands out of the steaming water with a wince. "It's important that he listens to those things and all the more important for him to understand that you do it because you love him." She would have given up just about anything to be able to tell Harry goodbye one more time before she was shipped off to Kaereal and even though she followed his order for her own safety, it made it easier knowing it was for a reason. Waving her hands slightly to cool them off, she changed the water to cool over the sink and thrust her reddened hands over the faucet with a clear look of relief.

    "He knows I love him." Ehud stated it simply as if it were just a fact. Glancing at Priscilla he saw that she was still running water over her hands. "I don't think garlic smells that bad. I won't protest if you decide to give me a hug later."

    She glanced to Ehud and his small joke, a little smile curling at her lips as she dried her cooled hands on a nearby towel hanging from the counter. "Hmm...glad to know I wouldn't offend," she chuckled. When her hands were dry, she sidled over to Ehud and kissed his cheek gently. "Then hopefully you wouldn't mind if I steal a kiss too." Glancing away from her boyfriend, she fiddled with her sleeve a little and took the spoon from Ehud's hand gently. "I can do this now, its almost done. Maybe sit with Sien and you guys just hangout together, hm?"

    Ehud's eyes widened slightly and he gave a small grin. She looked pretty when she smiled like that. Freezing in place he waited as if she would scare easily and change her mind when she moved in to kiss him. "I don't think it's called stealing if both parties are willing participants." Priscilla almost seemed shy as she played with the sleeve on her shirt and then stole the spoon from his hand and directed him toward his son. "I could do that, but I'd like to give you a little kiss to." Leaning in he placed a gentle kiss on her cheek. "Now I'll go sit down with Sien."

    Her cheeks turned warm when he kissed her back and she nodded, letting him go on his way to Sien. Ehud was sweet and she could see it as easily as she could see the worry over his son. Maybe it would take awhile for him to understand what she meant, or maybe he was just clueless. Either way, she would show him and perhaps that would help. Finishing up, she listened to see if they would talk together and then brought the entire pot over to a prepared space in the table next to the noodles. "Alright, gentlemen. Spaghetti and meatballs are served and the bread is on its way. Just put the noodles in your plate first and get as much sauce as you want. The meatballs will be at the bottom." Turning to the stove, she grabbed a rag and pulled out the now toasted garlic bread, sliding it gingerly to a plate in delicate fan before presenting it to the boys. "So, what do you the think?" She smiled, "It's my father's recipe "

    By the time Ehud was settled in with Sien it seemed that Priscilla was serving food. She was setting a giant pot on the table and Sien sat up on his knees so he could peer inside of the pot. "Oooh." The boy was grinning and his eyes flashing with delight. Ehud breathed in deeply and he smiled. "I think it smells great." No sooner had he answered and Sien piped in, "Yeah it's great!" His little voice raised some and he rubbed his hands together with eagerness. "Can we eat now?"

    She thought she had been clear that they were free to get their plates all piled with foot, but apparently she wasn't, or maybe it was some Chip tradition of waiting for everyone. "Of course you can," Priscilla smiled. Without hesitation, she plucked up some noodles with a set of tongs and curled them expertly onto both of their plates, then ladled a healthy portion of sauce along with the meat balls over that. "Get as much bread as you like too." When her hands were wiped off, she sat along at the table with them and listened to see what interaction Sien and Ehud actually had for the sake of her own curiosity. When dinner was done, she helped clean up and put away the dishes as they should be. "There's a container in here with the left overs," she said holding up the box, "All you have to do is take them with you to work tomorrow and make all the other men jealous with the smells, huh?" She said it playfully and she could hear Sien snickering a from his spot on the couch.

    * * * * * * * * ** * * * *

    They were running late and she hoped Illya would wait for them at the gate. She carried Lohgan against her hip and held Cypher tightly by the hand as they traversed the busier than usual streets of Kinte and turned down the short road to the Skycorp compound. Some of the building were insight, but not the gate yet as her son half dragged her through the streets. "Easy, easy....slow down...stop." She pulled him to a stop at a cross walk as he strained against her hand. "We'll be there in just a minute and I promise Dah will be there." They were given the go ahead by the light and with Cypher leading the way they crossed thoroughfare with quick steps before turning right. Suddenly, she heard her name being called by a wonderfully familiar voice and her eyes snapped up to the crowd. Illya was more than easy to spot. He stood out like a tan, robust sore thumb among the must shorter pedestrians. A big smile stretched across her face as he waved at her and Cypher redoubled his efforts to make her walk faster. "DAH!" Calysta scuttled across another street, heading straight for her Chip and when she made it to his side of the road she released her son who went barreling over to his father like a plump cannonball. The boy wrapped himself around his father's knees with utter joy and grinned up at him. "Dah! I missed yeh! Do yah get to come home now?" Lohgan kicked her little feet, and squealed for happiness at the sight of her father and in an attempt to get Calysta to put her on the ground. "Okay...okay. Go!" Calysta let her girl's kicking feet touch the ground and she took off running to her father the rest of the way and followed in her brother's footsteps. Her tiny hands were held up, grasping at the air to be picked up by Illya. "Dah!" By the time Calysta puffed over, her Chip was covered in half their kids and she laughed. "I think we missed you."

    Illya could just make out that Kalizda had the kids with her. She was holding Lohgan, but he assumed by the way she was jerking slightly that Cypher was pulling on her. There was a brief moment when he could see Cypher pulling his mother across the street. Illya stayed where he was at with his bag at his side. As soon as they were safely on the walkway Cypher came running for him. The boy knew to grab the left leg now and he aimed straight for it. Illya swayed slightly with the impact and he looked down at his son. "Yes, I come home now and den I will come home at nights after meh school." About that time Lohgan came running up and she held her little hands in the air. A grin came to Illya's face. "Yes, I pick yah up." Grabbing her under her arms Illya lifted Lohgan up and then held her with one arm and made room to hug Kalizda with the next. "Mmmm...I missed yah all." With his spare arm Illya pulled Kalizda close and he felt Cypher wiggle a little while he was getting squished between his parents. Ignoring the grunts of annoyance from his son he grinned and kissed Kalizda. "We go back to dah Silver Mountain now eh?"

    Calysta's grin grew ten fold when he wrapped an arm around and kissed her without hesitation. She kissed him right back, ignoring the grumbling from her son mushed between them, and grazed her fingers over Illya's cheek with soft little caress she knew she could get away with. "Aye, let's go home, love. The twins are waiting and will be just waking up from their nap. Dinner will be ready soon too." She couldn't help but look at him and smile like a fool at the sight her Chip. "I missed you," she said, kissing him again. With one arm slipping to his back she stood to the side to release their son and tucked under Illya's arm happily. The sun had poked out for the first time in weeks and he was coming home after a week away. "Let's go home." Cypher let out an excited whoop and began tugging on his father's leg encouraging him to move all the faster.

    In all the hustle Kalizda and the kids seemed to forget that he still had a bag of stuff to carry home. "Eh, jes a minute." Illya stepped back slightly and he leaned over to grab his bag. "Maybe I jes stuff Lohgan inside and I carry her home eh?" The girl giggled and she immediately lunged for the bag. Illya unzipped it and plopped her inside and then Cypher jumped in the bag too. Since it was a large Chip duffel bag it could take the weight. With a chuckle, Illya picked the bag up and let the kids bob about in the bag. Illya carried the bag with one hand and he wrapped the other around Kalizda's shoulders. "Now we can get home proper and I have dah rascals confined."

    There had to be close to a hundred pounds of Chip kid sitting in his duffle bag, but the tote seemed perfectly capable of taking the weight. In turn, the children seemed to think this was the ride of a life time and giggled wildly with their heads bobbing around outside the bag. From their vantage point they could see much more and it was fun to be so tall over the ground in their Dah's sturdy hands. Calysta let them settle in before allowing herself to be drawn in with an arm over her shoulders. She giggled and laughed into Illya's side when he comments about their rascals being confined. "Aye, you've captured them perfectly," she smiled, "They won't be going anywhere and I dare say they'll want to ride like this the next time too." He had probably started something with this spot of fun but that was alright. It was good to see her babies and their father wanting to have fun together and the walk home would be a well-deserved one for all of them. With a playful tug, she pulled him down for another quick kiss which made the kids squeal with excitement when the back jostled. "Now, we're ready." With that, she started to take her Chip home through the busy streets of Kinte.

    When they made it home and the rascals were released from the duffel back, they raced around the living room with the flurry of dogs romping with them. They were simply excited to have their father home. Thomas grinned as he turned the corner with Tomas in his arms and nodded. "Welcome back." It was a clearly warm greeting from the younger, yet older man, "We've got dinner on the table for you." Calysta rounded up the kids and lead them down the hall to the dining room where dishes of all kinds waited for them. "Each of the kids picked a dish they wanted to make and so did Dad and I," she smiled as she hoisted Lohgan to her seat with no small amount of effort. Edgar was sitting up in his little chair and grinned as soon as his eyes settled on his Dah. Cypher climbed into his seat of his own accord and plopped down, ready to tell his Dah all about what they made.

    "I picked dah blueberry pie," he grinned, pointing a fat finger at the steaming pie in the middle of the table, "Lohgan likes deh macaroni and cheeses. Mam made yah mashed potatoes and graveh. Papa picked dah biggest nyte beast butt at dah store and I helped. Tomas likes carrots and Edgar picked dah broccoli." The boy made a face at the idea of herb roasted broccoli, but quickly recovered when he grinned up at his dad. "I wont tell him if yah dun like that one."

    Calysta chuckled and winked at Illya as she set out a fluffy bowl of fresh whipped cream to go with the blueberry pie. "Cypher made sure you had plenty of cream to go with the pie," she added. Once all the kids were seated, Rose came in with Sam in tow. The teen looked tired, but no less pleased with himself when Rose was holding his hand. "I picked the herby rice," she said. Rose knew Sam would like that and she had picked it just for him.

    They all sat down to dinner in the Silver Mountain. It was loud as the kids tried to talk over one another and wiggled in their seats while the babies laughed. Rose kept giving Sam sweet, secretive eyes and Calysta laughed as Sam managed to tell a little bit about the on goings of the week including the incident revolving around the raisin bread. "If you'd believe it, that Udine woman turned a shade of green I've never seen." The 'shet' bread incident had gone down as Skycorp rumor and legend now, with all sorts of tales over the truth of the matter. Calysta bit her lips, bit her bemusement was clear as she looked to Illya with laughter in her eyes.

    "Kalizda," Rose giggled, "Show Wolf what the twins will do now."

    Calysta chuckled and picked up Tomas, placing him on one knee while Rose plucked up Edgar and hefted him to the other so they were side by side. With spidery little fingers, Calysta began to tickle Tomas, making him squeal and laugh, his little fists flailing with the thrill. Without even being touched, his brother began to laugh hysterically. Then they began making each other giggle without any sort of stimulation other than his brother's laughter. Tan, chubby little cheeks gasped between peals of chuckles and Calysta wiped at her eyes from her own unstoppable laughing. "They'll go for an hour," she told Illya between breaths."

    When they came to dessert, Cypher sat down to his pie piled high with whipped cream and took a greedy bite before swallowing. Suddenly, his eyes went wide in shock. "Mam...mam!" Calysta's eyes swiveled to her oldest son. "What's wr-"

    The boy launched out of his chair and pointed at his mouth, his feet dancing on the floor. "My toof! Et's gone! I swallowed et!"

    Calysta reached out and captured his chin, using her thumb to pull down Cypher's little lip to reveal a nicely sized gap where his loose tooth had been. Tears pricked at his eyes as he looked absolutely disappointed. "Why are you crying? It didn't hurt, yeah? It's okay if you swallowed it. Eventually it will come out and you'll have a nice, big boy tooth where it was." She couldn't understand why he was so upset when yesterday he had been quite excited about getting that stubborn little tooth out. His chin trembled and his shoulders slacked. "I was gonna use et to meet dah tooth fairy. Papa said if I put et under meh pillow she would come and give me a coin. I was gonna catch her and show her tah Lohgan."

    * * * * * * * * * * *

    Later that night, she showered with her Chip and took her time cleaning out the considerable amount of gunk that had gotten into the joints of his false right leg. He looked like he had practically gone swimming in mud, which if his story about the obstacle course was accurate, was entirely true. Still, she took the time to clean it properly along with the rest of him between quiet, teasing kisses. When she turned off the hot water after they both had washed up, she smiled and gestured toward the bedroom. "Go get comfortable, yeah? I'll be out in a minute."

    After a long debate on what to do earlier that day, she had gathered up a few things he would like and now it was her chance to test them out. Calysta stepped out their bathroom wearing a nice little slip of a nightgown made of red silk and black lace stockings. She hadn't had a chance to use this little get up yet and it was exciting to think she could make things special this way. In her hands was a small vial of cinnamon oil and she looked to her Chip with a smile. He looked eager already from what she could tell and it made her smile all the more, though her cheeks were turning pink from the gaze he was giving her. Sashaying, albeit somewhat awkwardly, over to the bed, she scaled their tall mattress and wrapped her arms around him from behind, laying a gentle kiss on his neck. "My turn to take care of you, hm?"

    She took a long time rubbing oils on his back, loosening the skin and what muscle she could underneath. His back was tight and she could feel knots forming in some places. Though she didn't have the real strength to work those out, she could relax him more and that was important. When they went back to Pyrta she would go with him to the pleasure house to have a real massage. In the meantime, this would have to work. While she rubbed at his shoulders, she tilted her head and gave him a kiss. "I missed you," she told him in Qouti for probably what was the thousandth time, "And I am so proud of you. You're my husband and agreed. My best friend and I love you naughtiness and all, you know."
     
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  12. Silence

    Silence Anonymous Me Staff Member Benefactor Warden

    The food smelled good as it was served on their dinner plates. Ehud carefully accepted the first plate and handed it to Sien. With the second plate served he set it at Priscilla's place and then waited for a final plate to be served. Once everyone was ready he nodded to his son. "Now you may eat. Everyone is ready and there is no one left to want." It was poor manners to dig into the food while there were still others that could be hungry and watching. Sien seemed to be behaving just fine until Priscilla mentioned the fact that they could have as much bread as they wanted. Immediately his son sat up straighter and reached across the table to grab the bread. His little fingers were outstretched and he managed to grab a few pieces while mashing some of bread.

    Ehud glowered at Sien and let the boy set the bread on his little plate before saying anything. "You don't grab food like you're some primate. Is that what Uncle Illya does?" It was one thing that Ehud was certain Sien hadn't learned at Illya's house. After all, it was a little habit that every boy developed at some point whether it was demonstrated, or not. Slowly Sien shook his head and Ehud reached for the basket and brought it closer to himself. He didn't have to reach far, but he was going to demonstrate the proper way to serve one's self. "You grab the serving bowl if it is close enough and if it isn't you ask for it to be passed." Pulling some of the cloth back he looked at the savory herb bread. It had been a long time since he'd had this and he missed it. "Then you select one to start with. It does not matter if you want 3. You always start with one to be sure that there is enough for everyone. A Chippequoti does not consider only himself. Taking too much at one time shows a man's character. It shows that he is impatient and greedy. Do you want to be these things?" Again his son slowly shook his head and Ehud nodded toward the bowl with the bread. "Then return the unmangled pieces and ask for more bread after you finish eating what has been served to you. You may have more then and you will remember to ask because you cannot reach the bread properly from where you sit."

    There was such a thing as manners and he wanted his son to have them. When Sien finished everything on his plate he reached for the bread again, but he caught himself and sighed, "I want more bread." Ehud looked toward him and nodded before he grabbed the bowl and passed it to the boy. "That was much better." It was said perfectly, plainly, and clearly. That was the main point. It couldn't be said with too many extra words because they cluttered the conversation unnecessarily. He watched as Sien carefully plucked a single piece of bread and then held his plate up and asked for more noodles and sauce with meatballs.

    When dinner was done Ehud got started with clearing the table and preparing to do the dishes. He tasked Sien with getting the living room ready for them to watch a movie and getting ready for bed. While he and Priscilla were in the kitchen Ehud carefully set a hand on Priscilla's shoulder. They were almost done and he could hear Sien thumping about in his room. More than likely the boy was looking for his favorite Micky Martian pajamas. "Priscilla I took some time off work and I uh..." He took a deep breath before continuing, "I wanted to take you with me to visit the Terran colonies. They have a few commodities there that I thought you might like to shop for." Shopping was something he somewhat missed doing with Haza. Shopping and hosting parties were some of his wife's favorite things to do and she was marvelous at it. So far he'd seen a few similar things with Priscilla. "If you'd like we could have a small party at the house one of these days. I'm thinking of inviting Illya and his family to the cabin. We'll wait for the warmer weather and have a tent in the backyard. I don't think we have quite enough room to get them all inside."

    **************************

    The whole walk home was nice and quiet. Illya had time to just be with his family, but not say much. He needed a few minutes to let his brain try to slow down. There had been a lot and he found himself sleeping worse and worse in the bunk room and he was having more dreams. Even if he didn't want to admit it, the constant buzz and being surrounded by non-Chips was getting to him. Just to have a few days with his family was good.

    When they arrived in the ship Illya let the kids out of the duffel bag and he watched them scurry off. He wasn't sure why, but when he stepped into the main part of the ship it looked like a party of sorts. At first he froze in place and he stared at the entire table of delicious foods. "Uh..." With a nervous chuckle he looked at Kalizda and then the rest of the family. "Dis es good surprise. I never come home tah someting like dis before." When he walked over to the table to take his place Cypher immediately took it upon himself to explain the entire thing and describe all the foods. Patiently Illya listened to his son talk about them. These were all things that they ate at some point and he liked them all. "Ah, I see. Et will be best meal I eat in long time. Meh family takes care of meh..." Swallowing hard he tried to hold back the slight bit of emotion. It was hard after such a long week and feeling completely stressed out with the constant fear of those around him. "Dey take care of meh even when I tink I should take of dem. Tank yah all." Shaking slightly he grabbed the first plate and served some food onto it.

    After everyone was served Illya served himself and then the family meal began. There was plenty of lively conversation. Even Sam managed to come up with a topic and Illya smirked. Sam had been one to turn green too, but he'd leave that alone. The boy needed some sense of pride in what he was doing. He had miserable team mates and even Illya could see that. "Aye, she turned a lovely shade of green. Never seen anyone quite dat color mehself." Cypher piped in after his dad, "A lovely shade of green!" Immediately after he gave a good hearty laugh. The boy tried very hard to imitate his father and he noticed the many smiles around the table and grinned right back.

    Kalizda showed him how the twins could keep each other going in laughter and their little giggles were a good sound, it was soothing. There was nothing quite so comforting as knowing that his family was safe, happy, and fed well.

    Nearing the end of the meal with the pie and whipped cream Cypher started to wail about his tooth and Illya stared at the boy in confusion. What was this all about? He had thought the boy was excited to get a man tooth instead of a boy tooth. As it turned out the boy thought that some little demon would come to collect it and he wanted to capture the demon to show to his sister.

    Illya's gaze shot from his son to Thomas and then back to Cypher. "No, yah dun worry about dis little demon. Et will nut come here and yah will nut try tah capture any little demons. Dese fairy are jes demons and dey are bad omens. Yah keep yah toot ef yah dun eat et. I count dis one because I know yah eat et by accident. When yah lose two toots den I take yah tah get special present for Chip boy. Yah starting tah become man and yah will need tah learn how tah use a sword eh?" At that Cypher seemed to perk up. Somehow the idea of getting a sword because he lost two teeth sounded a bit more appealing than getting money, or capturing a bad demon though he was still curious about the little fairy.

    For the rest of the night Illya sat in the living room with his family and played with the kids. The twins got to play with him first because they were little and needed to go to bed first. Both of the twins were starting to wiggle about more furiously at this age and Illya turned into a jungle gym for them. While Kalizda helped one boy balance on Illya's shins he lifted the boy up and down. Edgar laughed with each up and down motion and Tomas squealed with delight when he was lifted into the air far above Illya's head and then lowered to his dah's chest. After a few minutes the boys switched places and then Illya shifted to sit with them on the couch. With a boy under each arm he held them while Kalizda got the bottles ready and then he held the twins until they started to doze off with their bottles. Edgar's little fat double chin poked out and Tomas nestled into his father with a contented little grunt. It only took a few minutes more and they were safe to transfer to their cribs.

    Playing with Lohgan and Cypher was a little more wild. They wanted to play hide and seek and he was expected to crawl around and growl and be a monster. It was a good game and it wore the kids out. Long before he reached them Illya could hear Lohgan and Cypher giggling in anticipation. Just before he would reach their hiding place they would scatter like little beetles and giggle all the way. Crawling after them and growling Illya would capture them one after another and grab them in tight and wrestle them gently while growling and pretending to be a monster. Each time the other sibling would rescue the other and they would run away again. When it was finally time for bed Cypher and Lohgan were a pile of breathless little Chip.

    Despite the fact that he was a little tired out himself, Illya wanted to stay up a bit later. He wanted to have some time with just Kalizda too. She seemed to know he was tired and they took a shower together before she worked on cleaning out the joints on his prosthetic leg and foot. Illya worked at the top of the prosthetic to get some of the nasty build up near the top. It hurt when it managed to get in next to his skin even if he did wear the protective band to help keep stuff out.

    Finally, Illya got in bed and he almost sighed in relief. It wasn't that nasty mattress with the springs gouging his back. While he laid in the bed he couldn't help wonder what was taking Kalizda so long. Most of the time she just left her towel to dry in the bathroom next to his and joined him in bed. Within a few minutes his question was answered. She stepped out in a terribly scandalous outfit and she was wearing stockings! "Oooh...yah look better den meh dreams. I tink about yah in day dream during class sometimes. Dis es..." Grinning broadly he made room for her on his side of the bed, "Dis es very good surprise."

    What happened to be difficult was when she wanted him to turn his back to her and let her rub in some oils. Periodically Illya would try to turn over and look at her, but she kept on making him wait. "Yah know how tah make a man feel wild for yah." At last she was done and Illya pulled her a bit closer so she'd have to straddle him. Sitting up some he kissed her and rested a hand on each thigh near the top of the stockings. "I love yah." Leaning in for another kiss he worked his hands up to her back. He wanted to try and take this slowly instead of letting the stockings lead him down the tempting pathway too fast. He would get to the stockings in time. For now he wanted to try and tease her a little bit in return.

    *****************************

    At one point during the night Illya started to tense with the beginning of another dream. He barely started mumbling and he heard a soft reply. Opening his eyes briefly he could make out Kalizda's shape in the dark and he nodded his head. "I'm here wit yah." Settling back in he rested a hand on her hip and moved a little closer to her. In the morning he woke to gentle fingers combing through his hair and he gave a lazy half smile. "Mmm...dat feels good." She was always gentle and even when her fingers brushed over the scars it wasn't painful because she didn't apply much pressure. It was just enough massage his scalp.

    Having slow mornings like this was a favorite thing and Illya let her love on him for a few more minutes before he pulled her in close with a playful growl. "I captured yah." Gazing into her eyes he grinned, "Beautiful." It was a word he could say without flaw in Kaerelean and he was going to try his best to get a smooth Kaerelean phrase out. "Yah beautiful like a spring after dah winter. Yah touch es warm like sun and yah words soft." Whispering sweet nothings in Trader's Tongue next he continued with some of the new phrases he had practiced and a few he translated before he fell into speaking to her in Quoti. There were some things he couldn't quite express without using his own language and if he wanted to tell her how he really felt and include the deeper words then he needed to talk to her in Quoti. "Kalizda, you're my heart. It is very good with you. My heart has joy and I am happy that you agreed with me. When I say that you're my heart, in Quoti this means that you have my deepest love. There are many loves in Quoti, but only the love that changes someone is when you have their heart. I know that you've changed me, but I like the change."

    The two of them stayed in bed and they were lazy for a good part of the morning before they had to get up. It was nice to get time to just talk with Kalizda. While Illya was getting dressed he remembered that he still had to talk to his father. "Kalizda?" Turning toward her he frowned slightly, "I go talk wit meh fater tahday. Yah like tah come wit meh?" If she wanted to be there when he told his father what the expectations were when she was spoken to, then it was her right. She ought to be able to see this situation put to right. Kalizda deserved to know that Illya would demand his father treat her with respect and especially when she had acted in kindness.
     
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  13. aryamajor

    aryamajor Curious Adventurer Benefactor

    Priscilla enjoyed the meal with Ehud and Sien. She would use a spoon and fork to twirl up the spaghetti into delicate bite as if she had been doing it all her life. Sien had been eager like any boy would have been and Ehud paused to teach his son how to ask for food around the table as well as the importance of waiting until everyone had a share. That was something she was curious about. He spoke as if this was a common thing among his people. Those types of ideas weren't always taught on Terra. Harry was one of the few who had always made sure she was taken care of and stayed to manners. Others she had dated weren't that way and she couldn't help but approve of what Ehud was teaching his son even if he was a bit stern overall.

    When Sien asked for more noodles and sauce, she was surprised he didn't say please along with the request and Ehud didn't require him to. Maybe it was another Chippeqouti trend she didn't know? Ehud had said he wanted Sien to know the Terran traditions too and she waited until he was served the bread. Taking a small bite, she chewed and swallowed before reaching for the noodle pot."On Terra we say, please when we want more. 'Please may I have more bread?' And when it's passed around, we say 'thank you'. It's considerate to say those when you ask. So, if you're with someone from Terra, you'll know." He seemed to understand, even if it was different from what he knew and she gave Ehud a soft smile after ladling more food for his son.

    The food must have been good because not only did Sien eat seconds but so did Ehud. It pleased her to see that they liked what she made and it had been a long time since she had been the caretaker for an entire household. Once she had shown Ehud the leftovers and placed them in the fridge, she heard Sien dash off to his room with thundering little footsteps. She had gotten used to that sound three fold in Illya and Calysta's house and she couldn't help but chuckle as she worked on the dishes. There wasn't much to do, thankfully and the chore took little time.

    As she dried off a plate, Ehud came over and set a warm hand over her shoulder. He looked as if he had something to say, but was also hesitant in saying it. Had she said something he didn't approve of at dinner? Nothing overt came to mind, though she still had the idea that she would work on the two boys being a little softer with one another. That was a project she would endeavour to work on over time. Instead of some criticism, he managed to surprise her. He wanted to take her on a trip to the colonies? For fun? Not only that but he also wanted to have a party. Priscilla blinked at him, trying to ascertain if he was serious, and then she remembered who she was dating.

    A glowing grin arched to her red lips and she beamed up at Ehud with excitement. He had taken the time off for her and wanted to travel with her some. If she was honest, it felt like a very good idea for everyone. Ehud needed time away from work and Sien could travel some too. She was sure the boy had never been of Pyrta before and it was important to explore the world when the chance arose. Not to mention she could see the new colony and shop a little too. "That sounds fantastic," she replied brightly, "We could travel some, shop, and Sien could see some things from Terra too. A party would be wonderful and I can find some things for it while we're there." Putting down the dish, she turned to face Ehud and leaned back against the countertop. "We can spend some time all together too." With deliberate moves, she inched her fingers up to Ehud's sides and framed his waist in an easy going embrace. "When did you want to leave?"

    Apparently, he wanted to leave within the next day or so, and Priscilla leaned forward to kiss him with a quick peck. "Perfect. It will give me time to arrange my class room and give Professor Monroe notice. Then I can pack up my things along with Yuji and help Sien pack too. I heard Delia was nice and temperate most of the year. Should be beautiful weather."

    * * * * * * * *

    The next day she spent preparing her newly built class room, taking measurements and dimensions accordingly. Over the summer it would be furnished and completed, then opened just in time for the new school year. The Chippeqouti and Kaerelean architects had done a marvellous job of making each wing like stepping into somewhere else from the accompanying culture. The Terran wing had a hallway that was reminiscent of New York, with beautiful paintings of tall buildings with sparkling lights to match, including the Empire State Building. Further down the hallway were similar depictions of Paris, France's Eiffel Tower, the Great Pyramids and more. Her classroom was decorated to resemble the Parthenon with little alabaster columns. Across from the Terran wing was the Chippeqouti wing which looked a bit like a desert, stone-hewn temple. It was beautiful and a bit mysterious in its own way. The Kaerelean wings and Pithian wings differed as well. A corridor had been made for the Tannas from what she gathered, but it sat dark and plain in the middle of the circular hub. No expense had been spared by the Alliance and it was wonderful to see.

    When what set up she could do was completed, she made her way to Ehud with her suitcases in tow and Yuji trotting alongside her. The puppy, now full grown dog, stayed by her side constantly and enjoyed coming over to Ehud's when Sien was home. They arrived and she had gotten used to letting herself in at this point, though she still announced who she was. "It's just me," she called out as she opened the door, "Are you packing up?"

    She didn't hear a reply, so she shuffled in and left her baggage by the door along with Yuji to go inspect what was happening. Walking quietly down the hall, she poked her head into Sien's room and her mouth fell open. It was a wreck. There were clothes everywhere with the closet door splayed open spilling out a mixture of underwear, pants, and toys. There was laundry scattered on the bed, and a pair of blue Micky Martian boxers half tossed over the lamp. In the midst of it all was Sien sitting on top of a straining suitcase as he fumbled with the zipper. "What on Earth," she managed to say. Wading through the mess, she scooted Sien off of his suitcase which caused it to spring open. It was filled to the brim with piles of clothes, all of them Micky Martian, and further jammed with every toy he thought he might need. "Oh no," she said, shaking her head. He'd never been on a trip before and he looked disappointed when she plucked out his ray gun from the pile of underpants. "I'm going to teach you to pack like a pro," she told him, "And we'll have to get the room cleaned before we go. Is your father home?"

    Apparently, Ehud had gone to the airfield to secure their transport and take care of a few final work details from what Sien told her. Sighing, she nudged herself a path from the door to the bed and began damage control. "Alright, we'll be gone for a week. So you need 1o shirts. Yes, ten. That way you have some spares. We'll be having a nice dinner or two...so two of them need to be button up." Priscilla taught him step by step how to pack up properly for a trip which included nice clothing, pajamas, underclothes, belts, and shoes along with play clothes. When it came down to the toys, she held up two slim fingers. "You can pick 2 of them. You'll get to have some fun while we're gone and you won't need a lot of toys. So, pick your two favorites and that will do."

    Of course, he picked his favourite Micky Martian action figure and his ray gun which was perfectly acceptable. "Good job," she told him, "Now, let's clean your room up. We're not leaving it a mess. That isn't good to do." He swiftly began gathering all the clothes up and trying to stuff them in the closet. "Uhuh. We're going to fold them up." With that, she helped him sort the clothes and showed him how to fold each of them as they should be, though he seemed too excited in some moments to truly pay attention. "Now, that's better. I dare say your room is cleaner than your father's." That made him giggle and she wasn't sure why until she turned around and found Ehud waiting for them in the doorway. Her cheeks turned pink at the admittedly handsome man standing there and she gave him a bit of a sheepish smile. "I don't suppose you need help packing?"

    * * * * * * * *


    Calysta enjoyed their night together. Illya was more than pleased with her outfit and she couldn't help but feel a small sense of victory over it. Where it would have once been a foreign concept, now she liked to look good for her man in the bedroom and knowing she had succeeded only made her glow a little brighter. Of course, part of the glow was a fair amount of blush at being so bold about the stockings. Illya was doing his best to hold still while she rubbed his back and eventually he pulled her over to straddle him entirely, his hands slipping up her back to support her rather than downward where they usually went. She grinned as her sparkling grey eyes scanned him over. Illya was handsome as ever and with that playful come hither look glinting in his green eyes she couldn't help but smile. What she liked best was the fact that he was taking his time when he hadn't had any fun all week. He could have been off to the races with her but wasn't dashing off to get to the main course. Her legs curled around his waist and she held him close before giving him a nice, long kiss. Neither of them were in a hurry. Calysta giggled into his neck and they simply enjoyed one another's presence. "And I love you."

    Through the night they stayed close and it felt good to have her warm, heavy Chip in the bed next to her again. He held her close and she curled into him in absolute contentment through most of the night. Near 4am Illya stirred a little, and he mumbled to himself as his grip tightened enough to let her know something wasn't quite right. In the dark she whispered to him as she petted over his hair. He hadn't had a dream like this in a while, and she knew it had to be stress causing a small flair in his PTSD. It happened from time to time. "It's alright," she whispered to him gently, "I'm right here. Come stay with me right here, hmm?" She repeated herself over and over with calm, sweet whispers until he opened his eyes to say that he was there with her. "There you are," she replied, "C'mon." Calysta slipped her hands down to his muscle-bound arms and pulled him a little tighter against herself as his hands settled over her hips so he would know she was there.

    The morning came and they spent more time together whispering to each other as the sun began to filter through the shade on their bay window. "Good morning, love," she smiled. She had been waking up with the kids and they were usually up early. Naturally, her body attuned to it and no matter how tired she felt her body stirred up like clock work. Rather than wake Illya up along with her, she had simply let him sleep as much as he liked. Her tiny fingers laced through his hair brushing the luscious curls back from his forehead and massaging at his scalp gently. He seemed to like it, because a sleepy smile drifted over his face. Finally, he woke and promptly told her it felt nice, so she chuckled and continued for a long while. "Good," she said nibbling at his neck. Suddenly, he growled and she found herself captured up by him. With a squeak, she wrapped around him with a wild laugh, her heart fluttering with the quick move and she snuggled down into him. "Aye, you got me. And what do you intend on doing with the prize?"

    Rather than answering, he gazed down at her with something she hadn't quite seen before, at least not so intensely. He was smiling easily and looking at her as if she were the only thing in the world. The best thing in the galaxy. He called her beautiful in Kaerelean, which she had to admit he had been practicing. His accent was near perfect. The sweet nothings made her smile until she felt like she might burst, then he said something in Qouti that caught her entirely off guard. "Kalizda, you're my heart. It is very good with you. My heart has joy and I am happy that you agreed with me. When I say that you're my heart, in Quoti this means that you have my deepest love. There are many loves in Quoti, but only the love that changes someone is when you have their heart. I know that you've changed me, but I like the change."

    It struck her in a way she had never quite felt before. In all this time she had seen love as something that was enduring and did change over time, growing stronger if you fed it. Love could change things. What she didn't expect was for it to be so strong. Strong enough to change a man or woman. If Illya had changed for the better than she certainly had too. He made her a far better person than if she would have stayed the course in Skycorp and she knew it. Her gaze stayed steady on him as she reached for his hand, wrapping her cool fingers gently around his and guiding them up to her chest. She held him close so he could feel her heartbeat between them and never once looked away, "And you are my heart too, love." If that's what it meant in Qouti then she absolutely wanted him to know she knew the same to be true for her.

    When the children began to stir they both knew it was time to actually get up. Calysta was smiling to herself as she pulled on her under shirt until Illya said her name. Her eyes traveled up to the other side of the bed to her Chip who was lacing up his belt. He had said her name in a darker tone and she wasn’t sure what caused it until he mentioned what he wanted to do that day. She was surprised that he wanted to take her with him. He hadn’t wanted her to go the day they found his father on Rey for good reason and she had not expected him to invite her to any of their other dealings. Mostly, because it was a difficult subject and Markus refused to talk with her more or less. Taking her might make it impossible to deal with him. Still, if she went with him, she could ensure that if things got violent again that it wouldn’t continue. Not to mention, Illya might simply want her to be there for support.

    Calysta’s faded some, and she nodded. “Aye, I’ll go with you.”

    She said it with calm assuredness, then continued getting dressedin a simple tunic of black with a silver belt, It was technically a civilian captain’s garb, but it was less ostentatious than showing up in full councilwoman regalia and not as strange as plain Terran clothing on base. When she was all dressed, Calysta walked across the room and slid a gentle hand over Illya’s back as he sat on the bed to pull on his shoes. “Let’s eat some breakfast and enjoy the kids and then we’ll go, yeah?” Gracing his lips with a soft peck, she waited for him to finish dressing and they went to the galley to cook breakfast.

    When their breezy breakfast was done Calysta made up a plate of food and put it into a sealed container before placing into her bag to take with them. “It can’t hurt,” she said, “Base food is bland and even I know that.” There was a bit of roast nyte beast, carrots, and broccoli with potatoes and gravy for Markus to have if he decided to be pleasant about the visit. Cypher followed them right up to the hatch along with Lohgan and had a begging sort of look on his face. “Can I go with yah? Pease? I want tah go to dat base too and see the flyers.”

    Since a decent breakfast without raisins was being offered Illya wasn't about to say no. Quietly he nodded and then resumed tying his shoes. The one for his prosthetic was always the same, he just pulled the laces tight enough that he could see the shoe gripping the leg and then he would use the buckle to be sure that the shoe stayed in place. Even with a sock on the metal leg sometimes his boots, or shoes would try to slide around and the extra buckles held them in place so he wouldn't go falling over randomly because his shoe was falling off and he couldn't feel it. Straightening his back he heard a satisfying pop and started down the stairs. It was a fast, but good breakfast and then it was time to get going to talk with his dad. Of course the kids wanted to come with and Illya shook his head. "Nut dis time. I take yah guys in one week eh?" Perhaps if he could sleep at home this week he would feel up to taking the kids out. Illya didn't feel like making this trip, but he had to.

    Cypher's brow creased with a look of disappointment but he caught the look his mother was giving and stepped back with a little nod. "Aye, Dah. Take me anoter time wit Lohgan." He knew that look all too well at this point and it was one that usually manage to remind him that he shouldn't throw a tantrum because it wasn't going to change anything. "I will watch Lohgan till yah get home." Calysta leaned down and kissed her two children on the tops of their heads. "There's my big guy," she said gently, "Now, why don't you help Papa feed the animals, yeah? You've got baby chicks who need food, just hatched yesterday." That got him grinning and he jetted down the hall with Lohgan following behind yelling in excitement. "Chickeees!" Once they were sufficiently distracted, she turned to Illya and nodded before opening the hatch and leading them outside to the misty morning. Their flight in her two seater flyer was a short one hour cruise that was mostly quiet between them. Occasionally, she would point out the different fliers on the same path, giving their style and specs until most of them became military ones when they neared the base. She landed them easily with her credentials and the commander, who had grown familiar with the councilwoman visiting, lead them down the hall without question until they arrived at the holding cell. "I'll defrost the glass in just a moment," he said, his eyes travelling from the council woman to the Chip, "Will you need anything else?"

    The flight out to the base didn't feel nearly long enough. Illya had a bit of time to think about what he'd say, but he couldn't really make up his mind. There were a lot of things he wanted to say to his dad and he was angry and hurt at the same time. What was he supposed to say when the man had done all that. Faking his death, abandoning his family, and then showing up out of the blue. Where had he been, what had he done, and what kinds of plans had he made. When Kalizda pointed out things Illya would nod and glance at them, but he was still mulling over what to say. For the most part Illya let Kalizda do the talking and then the man looked to them when they finally reached the holding cell and asked if there was anything else. Illya looked at him and shook his head. "No." He didn't really need anyone sticking around for this. Finally the glass cleared and Markus looked up at them from where he was sitting and moved over to teh window. "So, you've finally come to see me." Illya clenched his jaw. "I came to tell you what you have rights to know. Yvonne is dead. You have nothing left, should have stayed with her when you had the chance." Despite the shocked expression on his father's face he finished with a final thought. "Until I know where you've been, and I receive a full report of your activities during the missing years you're not leaving this cell."

    Calysta was relieved when Illya decided not to go into the room with Markus. Unless the Chip got particularly wild, then Illya wouldn't be touchable. Her slight relaxation on that matter ended abruptly when the glass cleared, revealing the former Chip general. He was still taller than his son, and their eyes were substantially different, but they looked remarkably like each other apart from those things. He seemed surprised for a moment but nothing could have prepared him for the words out of Illya's mouth. Calysta wasn't entirely prepared for it either. She knew he was angry and that he had a right to express that anger in a certain manner, but it was a hard blow to his father. Her brow pinched just a little from the shock on Markus' face but she kept herself steady until he said what he wanted to, which included an ultimatum. He had wanted his son to talk to him and to hear these things from him, and that's exactly what he got, though she wasn't sure she agreed with keeping locked up. she did agree that he needed to be forthcoming and respect Illya's decision. "Markus," she said quietly, "It's not easy for any of us."

    This wasn't the kind of news he expected from his son at all and it was delivered exactly the way his son had been trained to deliver news to criminals and prisoners. Markus blinked a few times and he half stumbled before he moved over to sit on his bed again. How and when this all happened he didn't know. It could have been one of the attacks made, but he didn't know if it was when the attack was made on Pytra, or when his son became a hero. Was Yvonne somewhere on the ground of Kinte? The idea of writing an entire report was overwhelming and then the council woman tried to talk to him and Markus slammed his fist into the wall with a sudden flare of rage. "You don't understand what you're talking about!" Illya could feel his heart begin to crawl up his throat as soon as his dad showed the flare of temper. It was the exact reason he hadn't gone into the room with him. "You stop it. She's my agreed and she is Chippequoti. This is not how we choose to live. You're not welcome in my home until you change." Turning he nodded to Kalizda. "We go now. I dun want tah see him anymore. When he submits dah report I will read et and den make decision what we do wit him.

    It was shameful to admit that she jumped slightly when Markus slammed his fist into the wall after looking so stunned. It made the adrenaline in her blood spike some, causing her to tingle with the need to react, but she held steady. She was glad Illya had opted to stay outside even moreso, but it was hard to see Markus like that, even if he had been hurtful and outright cruel. When she hoped Illya would talk with Markus, she hoped that he might have been more gentle with the delivery, and in some respects, she would have had the man been her father, but she understood her Chip's anger too. Illya quickly corrected him, then banned them from their home entirely. Her eyes travelled from Markus to her husbands, the hurt sparking in his eyes and she swallowed down all of her thoughts for a moment. This wasn't the time or the place to voice any concerns she had. If she wanted Markus to respect his opinion and word, then she would lead by example, even if she would talk with him later on the subject. "Aye." Slowly, she reached into the satchel she had brought with her and opened up the trap door, allowing the meal she had brought to be transferred from her to inside the holding cell. "There's some food in there, Markus. It's homemade." Once that was done, she looked at Illya and nodded that she was ready to go.

    The flight home was relatively quiet and her mind kept working over what had occurred on the base. She pitied Markus, whether or not he was deserving the sentiment. More than that, she felt for her Chip. Sighing, she stole a glance at her Chip in the cameras and then diverted their course. "Let's take a walk, hm?" Plotting a new course was easy enough and the trip took about an extra hour but when they landed it was on a small continent to the south. "It's a left over of Hyrule," she said, "The rest of it is in the wilds below us. It's a nature preserve now with plenty of trails." She offered over her hand and they took to a trail which was shady and well worn from visitors. It was quiet today because the misty rain had set in just a little, but the dense tree tops kept the dry.

    "I came out here a long time ago with my dad and I haven't been since." They stopped by a stone plinith near the edge where the trail ended to over look the planet surface. The inscription on the pillar was written in Kaerelean, so she read it aloud for Illya. "A reminder that those who are gone are never lost so long as we remember." It was a dedication to the lost souls of Hyrule and over the hundreds of years it had nearly worn to a nub. She took him along a different trail and they saw a few animals, including a large foxlike creature. "Fyverns are rare," she said holding still, "Their pelts were sought after for thousands of years, but they only have babies once every ten years." It had beautiful white and purple fur, making it blend in with the moonlights when it was most active at night.

    Eventually, they headed home where they were greeted by their gaggle of children and animals alike who were happy to see them. Calysta could tell the walk had done Illya some good and he seemed to lift up when he saw his kids. "Why don't you play with them for a bit and I'll take care of supper, yeah? I'll make it a surprise, yeah?"

    * * * * * * * * *

    Later in the evening and after their nightly hard work, Calysta laid over her Chip's chest as they caught their breath together. Her grey eyes marveled over him and she reached up to steal another breathless kiss from him. "You know how to get me all blushing," she chuckled to him in a soft whisper. In fact, her mind was quite hazy with all the after effects. Still, she took in a deep breath and gazed at him. It had a been a long and not so easy day for him. She knew that. What she didn't entirely know is how he felt about something and she finally felt like she could ask. Did he like Skycorp? How was he doing in regards to his father? Was he still alright? "Hmmm talked to me, love," she whispered to him, "Tell me what you're thinking. How do you feel?"
     
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  14. Silence

    Silence Anonymous Me Staff Member Benefactor Warden

    Getting ready for the trip was a bit hectic. Ehud had more than enough to do at home. He didn't have the time to babysit his son through the packing process, but he could tell Sien the kinds of things he would need. "You'll need to get clothing for the week, your brush, toothbrush, toothepaste and whatever else you like to use everyday." That was about the way he told his men to do things and they usually remembered the essentials. There wasn't anything terribly complicated about preparing for a trip. While Sien got busy going through his room Ehud made a point to go make sure he had the code for the flyer that he rented. He needed something a little more comfortable than the one he owned if Priscilla was going to make a longer trip with them.

    "Sien, you just keep on working on that and I'll be back when it's time to go." With that Ehud took himself out the door and to the docking bay to finish the details. He could get himself packed when he got back. The ride in his personal flyer to the docks wasn't so bad, but the wait was. Whoever they had at the front desk was taking their jolly time to get things done. It felt like they took forever to even help one person. It was all the more evident that they had no idea what they were doing when it came to his turn. Ehud pulled up his hologram reservation on his side and the worker hummed and hawed a few times before he managed to pull out a small book and write a code in it and then activate a key that would make the code active for the period of the rental.

    Somehow the worker managed to take nearly five minutes to code the key and then he started to hand over the packet and Ehud stopped him. "Wait, I paid to park my personal flyer here. Where is the pass?" He could hear the people behind him nearly cringe. They were likely going to end up with the same problem and one man grunted impatiently. Ehud wasn't about to walk out without his pass that he paid for though.

    After another impossibly long time of waiting for the pass to dock his flyer at the station he took himself through the corridors and half expected that it would be the wrong ship in the bay. Surprisingly the right ship was sitting in the bay and Ehud slid the key into the slot and typed in the code. The ship locked the key in on the external pad and then turned green. It was loaded and he was ready to go. Getting into the ship Ehud inspected it first to be sure it was clean and then he flew it back home. Just as he walked through the door he heard some odd sounds. It sounded like there was someone in the house with Sien! With a few thumps he in the hallway and then he heard more clearly, it was Priscilla and she was cracking jokes about his room. Had she seen it?

    Ehud's eyes got wide and he stared at Priscilla for a few seconds. "No, I don't need help. I doubt you'd want to know what my room looks like anyway. Give me a few minutes and I'll be ready to go. Got to get myself packed." Slipping around the corner he opened his bedroom door to display a room with heaps of laundry. Pushing the door almost shut he walked over to the pile that looked like it had the least wrinkled clothes in it and began to hold the clothes up to sniff them. One of these surely had to be clean. Sniffing his way through the packing was taking a bit longer than Ehud had planned and he feel his cheeks turn red when he heard Sien talking to Priscilla in the living room. "Dad never made me fold laundry. He just said if you want to know its clean, sniff it." Of all the times for his son to quote him this was not a proud moment. Ehud tried to pretend he didn't hear that as he stuffed the last item of clothing into his bag and then step out into the living room. "Now we're ready. Had to find my best looking clothes." He wanted his excuse to be for looks rather than smell and especially after his son's comment.

    The flight to the colonies took a long time, but he didn't mind when Priscilla looked so genuinely pleased. She was going to go shopping and he wanted to take her shopping for a few things himself. When they landed it was late and Ehud had made reservations for a hotel on his way to the colony. Thankfully they had a private bay that allowed him to get closer to their lodging. Even if he didn't mind Priscilla being close he made sure to have a separate room for her. Their rooms were adjoining and he did have the option of leaving his door open on his side. "These are joining rooms. I'll leave my side unlocked in case you need anything." Priscilla should be comfortable and he wanted her to determine what was best.

    ********************

    The day started out good, it was rough with his dad, but overall it was a good day. Illya had time with his family and a little quiet time outside. Now he was just relaxing with Kalizda after their work. Her weight felt nice over his chest and he let one of his arms rest over her. The little bit of wiggling seemed to indicate that she was going to do, or say something. What she said was not quite what he had in mind. Whispering sweet nothings and laughing about naughty things was more his idea of fun after the hard work. Meeting her gaze Illya grunted. "I feel fine." It was probably not the answer she wanted and he knew he would have to say more. "I'm upset wit Markus. He jes make meh wonder what he does all dis time."

    She felt the words in his chest as he spoke them and at first he claimed he was fine. She knew that wasnt the case so much but rather than making her wait or ask, he continued with a little bit more. Her fingers petted at his chest and she gazed at him for a moment before replying. "You have the right to be upset," she agreed, "And it does make me wonder what he's been doing....if he faked his own death he had to know when and how to do it...and what he did was terrible...I dont know what else he could have done in that time." She sighed and wrapped closer to him, enjoying the way his chest rose and fell with his breath.

    It sounded like she felt about the same on some of it and Illya let out a sigh of relief. "Yeah, we find out soon enough." Now that he'd said how he was feeling he relaxed a little more. "What es meh Kalizda tinking and feeling?"

    She could feel him literally let out a small sigh relief, the heavy breath puffing out of his chest. Then in a strange, but not unwelcome reciprocation he asked what she was thinking and feeling. Her grey eyes gazed into his and she smiled a little. "I think that I am glad to have my Chip home with me and I felt worried about him today." The backs of her fingers brushed down his jaw line a little. "I think that things will be hard for Markus and harder for us. We can technically detain him as long as necesary, but I feel like we should try to reach out again. Eventually. If he wants to think things over and reach for what he has left, to change for it...i think its important to let him try." It may not be the popular opinion, but she said it hoping he wouldnt get too mad about it.

    Kalizda had been worried about him and Illya didn't mind the sentiment as long as she didn't treat him like he was delicate. Her feelings happened to be a lot more and she had quite a bit to say. Illya waited till she was done and then he nodded. "He will get anoter chance when he finishes dah report and I have time tah review et. Den I will submit et to dah General and let him decide dah treat level wit some advisement from meh. Markus and his connection wit our family es determined by himself."

    Calysta nodded in approval as he spoke and she let the subject alone for a moment, allowing a small silence pass between them. She could hear his heart beating in steady, solid thump in his chest. "Mmm...you know what else I think?" She waited the chuckled a little. "I think I am a lucky little bird whose Chip is good. Her agreed is good and she is proud to be his." Leaning up, she kissed him and chuckled. She squeezed him a little playfully, and made for a more tickling nibble at his neck. "She feels like she loves her Chip very much."

    "Es dat so?" Illya let a grin start to spread over his face. "Yah tink I'm good?" Snickering a little he pushed her off himself and rolled to lay next to her. "I dun know about dat. Sometimes I do bad tings jes so I can kiss yah tah make et up." Pulling Kalizda back on top of himself he kissed her a few times. "Does dat make et up, or do I need tah kiss yah a few more times?"

    By the next morning Illya could tell he'd be miserable if he had to sleep in the Skycorp bed so soon again. This would be his last day at home and he didn't want to go anywhere. When he rolled over in the bed he saw Kalizda was awake and he grinned at her. His hair stuck up and curled to the right slightly, but he didn't know that yet. His bedhead was almost the same to him as having his hair made. Illya didn't know about the owl ear until he felt Kalizda try to brush it down. "Yah dun worry about meh hair. I'm jes at home today. I dun want tah go anywhere. Have one day wit only meh family. I have tah be at roll call tomorrow at dis time." With the first week out of the way Illya was hoping they'd let him start to come home at night. He didn't like the bunk room and he had no idea that he would like it even less after the weekend passed.

    *****************************

    "Heeey!" Pushing his glasses back on his nose Nick raced over to Tiberius and Wynry's bunk. "Guess what I just found out?" Holding up his pad he nodded. "Pretty cool right?" Displayed on the hologram was a facial recognition program that displayed two pictures side by side. "I thought I saw his face somewhere. Turns out that's Illya Blackwolf, or he was known as the General. Also found out he was the hero the Kinte." Half the people in the bunkroom gave him a look like he was dumb. "Well, don't all act you knew it before I did." He usually prided himself on knowing who the major players were, but cadet Blackwolf just didn't seem like he could be the same person. "So if I've got all this right you know he's over 150. I'm gonna ask him how old he is and my sister wants his autograph. I told her I would get it for her."

    Typically research and analysis was Nick's thing and he loved it. In a way he felt stupid because it was clear that there were others who knew who Illya was before this, but there was so much more. For a time he wondered if he should try to prove himself, or if he should just make it a goal to find out what he could and keep it quiet. Maybe if the guy hadn't said anything yet he was working under cover, or maybe he didn't want to be noticed. Sometimes these kind of people were just waiting to see how long it would take to put the pieces together. It was safer to go with the idea that he didn't want everyone to know and in that case Nick just blew it, but he didn't share everything else he knew.

    "Soooo....what else do you know?" One of the girls grinned and worked over closer to Nick. "He got a lady?"

    Nick gulped and he looked at his pad before he shut the hologram projection down. "Ummm.....I think so? You might want to ask him yourself." If there was one thing the research hadn't provided yet, it was the Chippequoti customs regarding relationships. There was a broad range of thought patters as a whole and he wasn't about to guess what the Chippequoti might think. He'd even heard rumor that there were different sects of the Chippequoti.

    "That's too bad. I thought maybe you'd be able to give me a few hints about what he likes. You are the research guy after all." Samantha grinned again and she winked at Nick. Everyone knew if you wanted information that you went to Nick. He was a cadet in a long track program and he could find anything, including black market items. "Wanna make a trade?"

    "Do you think I'm stupid? Selling out information on the Hero of Kinte right here in the bunk room? How long do you think it would take for him to find out who sold him out?"

    "Maybe he'd have someone to thank. I'm willing bet he wouldn't mind a night with me." A few of the guys in the room laughed.

    Julie sighed and rolled her eyes. She caught Wynry's gaze and shrugged, "Some girls are just born slutty." Almost instantly Samantha whirled around and hit her with a pillow. The entire bunk room erupted in a mess of pillows, blankets and screams. The girls knew better than to actually get tagged with misconduct and instead opted to make a scene and fight as best they could without actually getting written up. Samantha 'bumped' into Julie and made her trip into one of the bunks. Julie's front tooth got chipped and then while she struggled to get up off the floor she 'accidentally' kicked Samatha's legs out from underneath her.

    In the mean time Nick slowly slinked back to his bunk and avoided the flying pillows before climbing up to his top bunk and continuing his quiet little search. If Julie and Samantha wanted to go at it, he'd let them.
     
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  15. aryamajor

    aryamajor Curious Adventurer Benefactor

    Priscilla watched Ehud retreat to his room under the believe that she hadn't already seen it. She hadn't of course, but if Sien's habits were any indication of the state of the household, she imagined it probably looked worse than the boy's. "Come and bring your suit case to the front." With a few a few seconds, she had Sien's suitcase up front by the door and ready to be carried to the flyer whenever Ehud was ready. While they waited for him to pack, Sien had no problem telling her about how he had never folded his laundry. That only confirmed what she was sure about when it came to Ehud's room and she chuckled. "Oh, I see. I've come to find folding is a bit nicer. You don't have to sniff everything and it's much faster. You just know it's clean when you pick it up. Plus, if it is dirty you don't get a gross whiff of smelly clothes." Sien gave a curious look and then glanced down at his own shirt as he considered the idea. Just to mess with him, Priscilla leaned over and sniffed him a little. "Oooh boy. I think you passed that one."

    The both of them laughed over the smell test and she had a small inkling that's what was taking Ehud to so long to pack. When he finally came out carrying his pack, she just smiled and let him use the excuse for now. She had brothers at some point too and if the smell test was the worst of his habits he was still a keeper. "Oh, I think it'll be fine," she said to him, "Ready?"

    He was ready to go and with a flurry of excitement and heavy luggage they made their way to the airfield where the rented flyer waited. Sien hadn't been in a flyer before from what she gathered and he could hardly hold still long enough for her to clip him into the seat for take off. The flight to Delia was relatively uneventful and Ehud had arranged for adjoining rooms. They could easily walk back and forth between the two rooms and it was a nice feature later in the evening. They had arrived later in the day and Delia did have security checkpoints and curfews for safety and she could hardly blame them for that. The people here had been through enough on earth and starting against wasn't easy. If it was one thing she could say, her people were industrious. They had built alot over the course of the last two years and she couldn't wait to dive into the city.

    That evening they ate dinner together in the primly decorated hotel lobby. There was a little gift shop leading from the lobby as well and she bought a deck of playing cards before settling with them at a table. "Have you ever played cards games?" Sien shook his head and wiggled to the edge of his seat so he could see better. "Let's try an easy one." Unpacking the deck of crisp cards, Priscilla put them through their paces in an expertly done shuffle. She cut the deck several times then bridged them over and over until they were perfectly scrambled. "Now, they're all mixed up. lets try a game called Go Fish." She told him the rules and let Ehud and Sien work together, as the boy wasn't familiar with all of the card types.

    "Got any Sixes?" she asked.

    Sien shook his head and his grin widened. "Go fish!"

    Their game was a good one and Sien took to it quickly, beating her to empty his hand. After that, Priscilla began showing them a few card tricks she had picked up. It was simple sleight of hand and a bit of math to make Sien's chosen card appear every time. "Was the Queen of Hearts your card?" she flicked the card over and Sign gazed at her with wide eyes. "How did you do it?" She just chuckled and gathered up the cards. "I'll tell you how I did it some time," she replied. She wasn't about to give up this little marvel just yet because she enjoyed the look of marvel on his face too much to tell her secrets just yet. On the way upstairs, she stood next to Ehud on the lift with Sien between them For some reason, she felt like there were eyes on her, but couldn't catch anyone particularly looking at her. Sure, she would be recognizable to most if they cared to look, but normally they said something openly. Shivering, she exited the elevator and went along the hall close behind Ehud and Sien.

    They went to bed with the intent of waking up in the morning to go out shopping for the day among other things and Priscilla went to her hotel room. The room itself was large and it felt very big with her being the only one in it. The bed itself was a queen sized monstrosity that she couldn't hope to fill alone. That was alright though. She was tired enough with the travel that she fell asleep with Yuji at her feet with general ease. It wasn't until she heard the sound of scratching in the room that she sat up, rubbing her eyes "Hmm?" Yuiji was whining the door between their two rooms and his paws were scratching at the floor as if he were trying to dig his way through. Glancing at the time, she saw it was only 6am and she grimaced. "No...Yuji...no." She climbed out of bed clapsed her fingers around the dogs collar. "You can't play right now, you'll wake them up." About the time she began to pull him away, the door handle dipped and it swung open to reveal Sien in his pajamas. His hair was a mess but he had a wide grin on his face as Ehud in...Priscilla's eyes widened as her eyes traveled upward to see Ehud in naught but a pair of boxers making a grab for his son. She froze in place in mortification. Ehud wasn't mean to see her in nothing but a silk slip nightgown and no make up. Not yet! Her hair wasn't even brushed and the honey colored waves sat in a wild disarray over her shoulder. "Oh! G-good morning," she said, clamping her eyes shut. She wasn't sure why closing her own eyes was a good reaction. It didn't hide her from view.

    * * * * * * * * *
    Illya was giving his and suddenly she found herself flopped over beside him. "Hey," she said, trying to found the smallest bit offended and failing miserably as she giggled. He pulled her back to himself hugging her snuggle as he kissed her. She was all too familiar with much of ragdoll she was in comparison to how strong her husband could be. Despite his strength, Illya was always gentle with her and she laughed between his kisses. "Oh, I think it's going to take a few more." That made him growl playful and they were back to teasing each other into another round of hard work.

    The next morning she woke along side her Chip and had no hesitation in playing with his curls. They were starting to grow out nicely now that the patch from the goat had gone. She couldn't help but want to play with the glossy black locks while he slept and continued the ministrations even after he woke up. He mentioned not caring how he looked since it was his last off day before returning to Skycorp and a devilish little idea came over her. "Hmm...Aye it is and I think I should make sure you're all ours today." With that she began messing up his curls and fluffing them up to be as wild looking as they could be. She was careful with his scars but by the end of it he had quite a shock of curls sticking up in all directions. They laughed and whispered to each other into the morning and then spent the day with the children. She declared the day a movie day and with Cypher's pick of Micky Martian's Grand Adventure and Lohgan's chosen movie Ada Rainbow Goes to the Moons, they had plenty of time to pile into the living room.

    Illya lazed around, piled with a varying combination of dogs and children as he relaxed. They had a constant stream of snacks to accompany their movie day and even Cypher seemed content to lay over his Dah's back and snack along. Tomas snuggled into her shoulders and Edgar found himself happily propped up with his chubby chin rested in his father's arms for most of the movies. Rose decided to join them around mid-afternoon with Sam and they picked western sort of movie which had Cypher whooping and chasing his Monster dog as they played cattle round up. It was a nice afternoon and a much needed rest for everyone before the week started.

    Calysta sent her Chip back to Skycorp the next day with a kiss on the lips and a large packed lunch in his hands. He inteded on asking the commander for leave to come home in the evenings. It was a good idea for him given his medical issues alone, but she would leave the actual asking up to him. "Good luck," she winked at him, "And I will see you this evening either way. I love you." Stealing a last little kiss, she watched him walk away for a long time. The sun was out in full force and next week would be the new year's masquerade. Once he was around the corner, Calysta slipped back inside and went to work. The more paper work and reports she shifted through now was one less she had to do before the dance. Not only that, but she had been keeping a careful eye on the movements on Zkree and there was a message waiting for her regarding the slowly bolstering Federation ally.

    * * * * * * * * *

    Swyft glanced up as his office door creaked open and the large frame of Cadet Blackwolf slipped into the room. The man looked as if he were on a mission and Swyft quickly close out the hologram he had been reviewing to address the spontaneous visitor. "Something I can help you with, Cadet?" He asked casually.


    Staying in the bunk room was not workable on a long term basis for Illya. He needed to get that fixed and there was one way to do it. Standing in the doorway he waited for the man to acknowledge him before he stepped in. "Yes, I need tah ask yah for pass tah go home at night. I have ship nut far from here, but I dun see need tah stay in dah bunk room."

    Sywft straightened his uniform sleeve and eased back in his chair so he could properly look at the tall man. "You don't see the need?" He repeated the words, his brow quirking slightly. "There are reasons we keep bunks as we do and those passes arent given out lightly. Tell me what your reasoning is for having one." He made his invitation in an even tone and offered the man to explain further.

    Perhaps saying he didn't see need to stay in a bunk room wasn't quite the right phrasing, but it would have to do now that he'd said it. Illya nodded and continued. "Meh ship es close, I can get here for roll call in mornings and I can still be here for all required work wit Skycorp. As long as dere es nut activity dat requires meh here for night I dun see need for meh tah occupy a bunk. Meh team sleeps jes fine witout meh I'm sure."

    "As I'm sure many of the Cadets feel that way and can make the same argument," he said, "It doesn't give me much to make a pass with. Is there a reason why I should make an exception on this case?" He wasn't saying things to be difficult, but if questioned by another cadet why an exception was made, he needed something solid to reply with. That would keep himself with no problems and in the end, make it easier for the man and his important wife as well.

    The man made perfect sense and Illya had hoped he wouldn't have to give an actual reason. However, he could still give one that was better than saying that being constantly surrounded by non Chips was stressful. "Well eh....I have some back problems. Et's nut an excuse dere es record of et. Break meh back I tink tree different times. I dun know how many times and uh...Ef yah have tah see I have some scars from dah surgery and a few more. Dah bunks and beds hurt tah sleep on. I have different kind of bed at home and et helps wit dah back problem." Making a request for an injury was embarrassing and Illya could feel his cheeks start to get a little pink. "I'm nut a cripple and I can stay here ef I have tah, but I dun like et." Normally with the Chippequoti they knew there were medical problems like these because they knew each other and it was more acceptable to make another kind of request rather than stating it was the fact that the injuries were painful.

    Swyft listened to Illya and had to admit he found himself pleased. The man made no excuses that involved his wife and gave him something solid to work with. "Alright." Reaching over his desk, he plucked up his pad and pulled up a file folder. "I wont need to see scars, but I will have to note it in the personnel file with the reasoning clearly stated. You will receive your pass this afternoon on your pad messaging system. I do have to tell you as a commander that this pass works only for you and if entry and exit or being on time becomes a problem then I will have to revoke it." His eyes flicked up to Illya knowingly and he gave a easy nod. "I don't think I will have that problem from you, however."

    The man seemed to think that back pain was enough to work with and Illya felt a little better about that. Of course it was considered a privilege and problems surrounding it, or abuses would result in losing the pass. "No, yah dun have problems from meh. I know tah wait for dismissal and I won't be late in dah mornings." Illya had almost explained the first morning, but he wasn't asked and therefore he was not going to say.

    "Good," Swyft said, "Look for the pass in your inbox this afternoon. Is that everything?" He wanted to see if the man might say anything else but he had a feeling he wouldn't. The former general would be familiar with procedures and similar decorum.

    "Noting else sir. Tank yah." With a quick bow he turned to exit the room. Illya had to think about it for a moment. They did bow around here didn't they? He couldn't remember, but he knew they most certainly did not salute like the Chippequoti would in a formal situation with a superior officer.

    Swyft caught the hesitation in the man's gesture and smiled a bit as the man had his back turned toward the door. Feeling a bit wily, he called out for the man as he reached the door. "Cadet Blackwolf, when you bow hands by the side in clear view," he said, "That will be important. Also, I was informed by several staffers that the bread you made was the best part of their breakfast." The latter comment came out as more of a wry comment they would both understand. The chime echoed through the hall alerting those at breakfast that classes would begin soon.

    As his name was called Illya turned again to look at the commander. "Yes sir." He would have to remember the hands at his side and he couldn't help smiling about the bread. "Et's good tah hear meh attempts in dah kitchen were nut a failure, sir." They both knew exactly what he was talking about, but it had to stay unsaid. "I am dismissed for classes now?"

    "Aye," he said, "You're dismissed." He would see the Chip on the training field in the afternoon but until that time he had his hands full working up the report for the man's pass.

    * * * * * * * *

    Wynry was glad to see Illya return from the weekend with what she presumed was his wife and children. He was going to be in for a big surprise and an unpleasant one at that. They didn't have time to speak before the class began and he was at his standing desk in the back. Tiberius exchanged a glance with her and then looked back to the front of the class room. He had been as shocked as anyone about what the little know it all Nick had said. It wasn't until he'd asked Wynry why she wasn't surprised later on that she had said it was true and not any of his business. Apparently, Blackwolf likes his privacy and for that, he couldn't blame the guy. If his life had been as wild as that he wouldn't want to be touting it out either.

    Alliance Law class seemed to drag on and so did Navigation. They were taken to the holographic observatory for the next stage of their Navigation class. The entire room was one large projector and the cadets could stand in the middle while a star chart was brought to life around them. The professor began explaining that they would begin coming here for the more practical part of the courses and that each of the stars they saw would have to be common knowledge. "You'll find a fully labeled chart in your class files on your pads...I would begin the memorization process early..."

    Tiberius stood at the back of the group along side Illya. The man effectively blocked the view point of everyone else, so he had been relegated to the back while Wynry had to stay near the front with any chance of hearing something useful. Memorization wasn't an issue for him and he figured the task was mainly so that the Alliance territory would be common knowledge for all those in Skycorp. Yawning slightly, he nearly jumped when a small 'pssst' sound came from his left. His eyes swiveled over to find a shorter man with a wiry frame looking at them both. "Huh?"

    "Illya..." he said, "It's Illya right?"

    It was then Tiberius realized who was talking in the dark and he winced. This guy. "Uh, I think you're being addressed," was all he said to the former Chippeqouti general.

    Nick stood there with his pad in hand and an eager sort of look on his face. It had been a good idea to catch the man in class. Not only would it be a bad idea to interrupt the session but he couldn't go slink away from the group at lunch where no one could talk to him. "Psst...Hey, I was wondering...if you'd mind sitting with us at lunch."

    * * * * * * * * ** *

    Calysta stood over the counter top as she ladled the meaty soup into a sealable container for Illya's lunch the next day. It would join a stack of sweet breads and more chopped nyte beast for a meal the next day. "So things went well with Swyft?" She asked causally, "He has been in commander since I was a Cadet." Illya was working with the dishes as she asked and when the pot was empty from her work she carried it over to him.

    Washing the dishes was never a favorite chore, but it was nicer when Kalizda was there. She started to ask about the meeting with Swyft and Illya nodded, "Mhhhmm. I tink et went well. I have pass now and et makes tings better. I dun have tah stay in dah bunks."

    Calysta put the pot on the countertop and slipped a hand to his back, rubbing gently. "I think that will be good. You can stay with us at night and skycorp will be there during the day." As he washed, she began to dry the dishes and put them away. It really did please her that he would be home at night. It would be good for him, the kids, and for her too. "I have some things to deal with as Council woman in a few days," she continued, "There is a delegate from Zkree that wants to meet and I am considering taking the meeting."

    It sounded like Kalizda was pleased that he got the pass. It hadn't come without a small price and Illya figured he would let it be. She didn't need to know that he had been uncomfortable saying why he needed it. However, she did mention something that made Illya worry more than usual. A meeting with someone as the council woman and that wasn't a safe thing at all. "Kalizda, yah put off dah meeting until I am wit yah. I dun want anyone tah try and be sneaky tah kill yah."

    He was always one to make his opinion known and he didnt hold back this time either. She was telling him now because she didnt want to go without him and they could prepare. Not to mention, she simply didnt keep things from her husband. "I will, but for it to be advantageous it will need to be soon. Zkree is openly supported the Federation, but there is a faction within that doesnt. Zkree has a chance to at least be destabilized while they are building up." Her eyes drifted up to his and she nodded. "I don't want to go without you."

    Clenching his jaw some Illya nodded. "Good, den we go when meh days off come. We will leave dah kids at Pytra wit yah fater and we go togeter wit some oter Elite tah be sure dat yah protected." He was already thinking of who he may have as extra guards for Kalizda. "Ef I need extra days I will make arrangement wit Skycorp tah do meh work from distance. Dis es nut someting dat I will let yah go tah alone."

    "Aye, I was thinking that," she said, "I dont want the children on the same continent or my father. Priscilla will be safe with Ehud too." She paused in drying off the plate and kept her gaze on her Chip. It still amazed her that no matter how many times he had been hurt or walked into danger willingly that he was still willing to go with her even if he didnt have to. She trusted him with alot of things, including her life. "It may take a day or two. I've never met this man, but I'm told he is fairly even tempered and what the Zkree considered 'half breed'. I'm still having a few people research into him. It might be as soon as next week."

    "Ef he es what he says den we will maybe have an ally. I will make plans tah help him destabilize Zkree ef he proves tah be good." Illya was more than able to do something like that in spare time and he could pass on the recommendations to Kirit and make sure the supplies and campaign were carried out through the Alliance. If the man wanted to deal with the Alliance then Illya would give him the ability to do so, but he would act as the contact to make sure whoever it was never got official contact information for any known leaders in the Alliance.

    "Aye, I thought you might have a few ideas if he proves decent." She went quiet and felt relieved when he said he didnt mind going with her. Meetings like this made her nervous at times, but having Illya there for a second opinion would help. He would notice things she might not and vice versa. Once the dishes were done she sidled up to him and nudged her hip against his with a gentle, but playful move. "Besides, when it comes to causing trouble I'm glad to have the best man for the job on my side."

    For such a serious conversation Kalizda seemed to be more than willing to move onto a more fun subject. Illya didn't mind the sentiment in the least and he grinned broadly. "Yes, I'm very good at making trouble. Et es one of meh favorite tings to do." Turning a little he took a soapy hand out of the dishwater and laid his hand on her rump before kissing her. "I tink I like making dis trouble more."

    The fact that his went hand left a soapy print on her rear didn't escape her and she gave him a look of false disapproving before kissing him right back. It always surprised her to find that with time Illya's kissing had gotten better and better. Or maybe it was her kissing that had improved over the years. Either way, it was still a gesture she relished every time. "This kind of trouble is my favorite kind." She was getting ready to suggest they take things back to the master bedroom when she heard a shuffling at the galley door and Cypher stood there making a face. "Ew. Yah kissing again. Why do yah always kiss?"

    * * * * * * * * * *

    The next day Calysta sent Illya off to Skycorp happy with the knowledge that he would return that night then got to work. He seemed a little relieved with the idea of being home at night too and now he could even eat lunches he brought instead of cafeteria food. She made sure he had large portions of whatever they had eaten the night before put away in the containers for him to use when it was lunch time and had the help of Lohgan and Cypher waving at him as he left for work.

    There were reports to read now that breakfast was done but it was sunny outside and the kids were itching to go to the park. "Alright, we'll go. Put on your shoes." It took close to thirty minutes to round up Cypher's shoes, Lohgan and her favorite sundress, and the twins in their springy stroller, then she brought the dogs, the bear and set Quoraz out to play in their docking station as well with her father watching them. "Just don't...eat anything meaty next to the bird, yeah?" she advised her father who was sticking closely to the bear.

    The park was beautiful in the sunlight and between entertaining Edgar and Tomas, she kept an eye on Cypher and Lohgan who always played well together. Her oldest son was so gentle with his sister and it was a good to know he learned to be that way. They were both wonderful children and she was happy to have them so close and to spend time with them. She sat ontheir picnic blanket and helped to teach Tomas and Edgar to roll over or sit up as they wiggled around while she read her reports. The man from Zkree had hardly any past at all to speak of and that bothered her more than anything else on the report about the planet. A few other children came over and began playing with Cypher and Lohgan, striking up a game of hide and seek which was resulting in more squealing and running than hiding.

    Later in the day she stood at the sink washing vegetables and felt a little itching at her back, then on her neck. Not thinking anything of it, she swabbed at the spots and continued cooking. By the time she was ready to chop the roots along with their stems the itchy feeling had grown worse and her tongue had started to tingle slightly, That couldn't be good. By passing Lohgan and Cypher, who were playing in the corridor, she marched into her bathroom and nearly yelped when she saw herself. "Oh...no...no..no..." A patchy purple blotch had appeared on her cheek all the way from her chin to her eye. It wasn't sore to the touch, but it was horribly itchy. Sticking out her tongue, she saw the same purplish color there too.

    "Daaad?"

    She called once and within a minute he was turning the corner into her bathroom. "Something wrong, Caly- whoa."

    He actually jumped back a little, his eyes going wide. "That's..."

    "Yeahb...I know," she said, her tongue feeling too fat to work properly, "I didn't think I'b was supbosed to get this now."

    Thomas tugged at his beard and looked over his daughter in trepidation. "Well, you're only part Terran and as far as I know, the rest is Ewenian. You were always at a higher risk because you were a half breed, though I don't know how all that would work with your bones now. That virus only really effects people from Ewen."

    Calysta had the strong urge to be grumpy. She hadn't been sick in awhile and now she was looking like a monster a week before the new years ball and a highly important meeting. Not to mention, her kids may not be entirely safe from the virus either. They had Ewen genetics somewhere in the mix too. "Can you call the dobctor?" she sighed.

    "Aye, I can do that," Thomas said, "Just change clothes and I'll bring some oil in...that might help with the itch."

    Already she was starting to scratch and she looked at herself in the mirror with a hard gaze. It wouldn't be long before she was entirely purple and scratching all over.
     
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  16. Silence

    Silence Anonymous Me Staff Member Benefactor Warden

    Ehud was finding the trip to be relaxing so far. They'd flown all the way to the colony and then found their room before heading to a place to eat. The dinners offered were not anything that Sien was used to, but Ehud let the boy explore the menu a bit before he found the spaghetti and meat balls. That was probably going to turn into a staple meal for Sien this trip. It was a safe food that he knew and he liked. For the most part having spaghetti and meatballs didn't sound too bad for another round for Ehud so he got some more of that too. Tomorrow they were going to go out to a pizza place. That was something Ehud hadn't eaten in a long time and it sounded good.

    That night Ehud helped get Sien settled into the bed and then he took the other side. There wasn't much point in trying to sleep in two different beds, so he booked two rooms, each with only one bed. Sien didn't always sleep well in new places and he tended to crawl into bed with Ehud at night every now and then anyway. After Sien was tucked in Ehud slipped his shirt off and stripped down to his boxers. The room was at a comfortable temperature and he had a nice thick comforter on the bed. In a way it was nice to get to bed early for once. Within a few minutes Ehud found himself drifting off to sleep, but it didn't seem to last nearly long enough and the interruptions were many. Ehud barely got to sleep and he could feel Sien start to run in his sleep. The boy's feet kicked at him repeatedly and one little heel landed in Ehud's solar plex. With a huff he turned over over and let the running continue as Sien's little toes and feet pummeled his back. If the pummeling could have been directed strategically it might have felt good, but after a while he started to feel a little sore and had to adjust.

    About the time Sien quit his running in his sleep Ehud was finally able to doze off. It felt like he'd only been sleeping for five minutes when the scratching sounded at the door and Sien threw the covers back. Ehud blindly grabbed for the covers and pulled them up. While he was half dozing he heard hissing and little whispers that sounded suspiciously like Sien was about to open the other door. Suddenly it hit like a brick wall. What if Priscilla hadn't locked her side and Sien just walked in on her!

    Scrambling to get out of the bed Ehud fell with his face against the floor and his feet still tangled in the blankets on the bed. "Ugh..." Despite his efforts he could hear the door opening. "No no....Sien!" Hissing loudly to his son he really hoped the boy would listen to him. Kicking the sheets off Ehud got up and ran to the doorway only to see Priscilla in her nightgown, with her legs showing! "Oh! uh......" Ehud could feel his face get hot and he looked away only briefly. Suddenly a cool wet sensation was sneaking it's way up his boxer pant leg "Gah!" jumping back he saw Priscilla's dog was the offender. Once more his eyes fell on Priscilla and she was just standing there with her eyes shut. There were only so many things he could do. Carefully stepping in closer he put a hand on each shoulder and stepped her back in her room a little further. "You just stay there and I'll shut the door."

    Once the door was safely shut Ehud looked at his son and sighed, "We're not opening that door again till we know she's ready to see us."

    **************

    The day was starting early and Illya reluctantly drug himself out of his bed a little earlier than usual. He had to get to the gate early enough to check in so he could get to roll call without having to run the whole way. On his way out the door Illya grabbed a lunch bag. It was satisfyingly heavy and that meant he wouldn't need seconds, but if he decided he was hungry he could eat a little bit of the cafeteria food. The few extra minutes would give him time to put his food in his locker until it was time for lunch.

    Walking to Skycorp almost felt like he was taking himself to prison for a day. Sitting locked up in those class rooms was no fun, but he could deal with it. He just didn't like school, but he liked where it would get him. When they got to the Navigation part of the class Illya was bored because he knew all the basic calculations and preparation sheets. While the professor droned on Illya filled out his homework for the week and then followed the professor and the other students to the observatory room. Scribbling down a few notes in Quoti he started to set up a small plan and chart for memorization. He had a few of them memorized already, but the rest would take a few days to get down. He'd have it by the end of the week. Memorizing was very much the style of learning that he was used to.

    While Illya was busy taking notes he was suddenly being interrupted by someone. Tiberius had taken it upon himself to alert him to the odd, scrawny looking fellow that was inviting him to eat lunch with him. "I dun know where yah sit. I tink ets easier ef yah come find meh. Now I listen to dah instructor." Turning away from the little man again he figured that would be the end of this part of the conversation, but who knew what it would be like once this class was out. It would be time for lunch and then he would find out why this guy wanted to sit with him.

    Having gained his invitation, Nick grinned in the darkness of the observatory and waited patiently for class to end. It didn't take much for him to find the man in the cafeteria. He was at least half a head taller than everyone else, if not more, and his broad shoulders were easy to spot. Waving over a few others, Nick took his tray and slipped into the table along side Tiberius and across from Wynry along with Illya. A few others joined them, a fresh faced young women with dark flowing hair and long eye lashes along with a redhead smattered with freckles. "Hey," Nick grinned, "So, that Navigation class was something huh? Looks like it will be an easy pass." Picking up his fork he took a bite of potatoes and grinned at Illya. "How are you liking Skycorp so far? Huh?"

    As soon as class was over Illya stopped at his locker to get his lunch. He had a nice bit of snake stew with some sweet grass bread and then a large serving of Nyte beast. It was a few meals in one, but he was going to be hungry and Kalizda decided to empty the fridge of some leftovers. Once he got to the cafeteria Illya set his large bag on the table near the wall and then slipped into his seat and opened the bag. In a few minutes Wnyry and Tiberius came over to sit down with him and then the guy from the class came over to sit down too. It looked like there would be a few others and Illya was starting to wonder what this was about. Glancing to his team mates he didn't seem to get any information right away and instead was immediately bombarded with a question from the stranger. "Skycorp will be meh work for a time. Dat es how I like et."

    The gruff response only made the younger man's eyes gleam with interest. It sounded like this was only a temporary change, maybe even some sort of mission for the man. It wouldn't have been his first. "Oh, so you'll only be with us for a little while," he said causally, "You're planning on going back to the military then? Most folks don't do that." Tiberius gave Wynry a look and she stayed quiet, though her eyes were wide. "

    Somehow this turned into a very strange conversation and Illya furrowed his brow and his spoonful of snake stew hovered just above his bowl. "What are yah talking about?" He wasn't sure where this guy got his story, but it sure sounded strange and he wasn't entirely sure how Nick decided he was military.

    Nick's fork paused over his plate and the two women with him gave curious glances. Clearly he was blowing this some how though he'd been fairly cordial with the man. "Well, between you and I. Someone found out you were the former General of the Alliance. I just thought I might come over and be friendly since I know it must have been a hard job. You're a hero after all."

    "Someone found out eh?" Looking at Nick he tilted his head to the side slightly. "Dat someone wouldn't be yah and all yah little gaggle of friends would et?"

    The two women were frowning now and Nick's mouth set in a line as he looked over the larger man. "You're accusing me of starting rumors? Being sneaky?" As if it were the most incredulous thing he'd heard in some time he raised a brow and gazed at Illya, shaking his head. "I just heard about it and decided to come say hello to a man that quite a few people look up to....figuratively and literally....even my little sister would be proud to have met you."

    "Yah happen tah nut sound so convincing." Illya shoved the spoonful of snake stew in his mouth and chewed it while he listened to more of the man's excuses. Whoever told them wouldn't have been his team mates. They already knew better and if they were the ones he imagined there would be more folks gathered around his table. When he finished with the mouthful of food Illya swallowed it and then resumed his side of the conversation. "Besides, I wouldn't accuse yah of being sneaky. Ef I was dah hero yah might tink dere would be more people sitting at meh table. Leaves only yah tah hear dis rumor."

    "You are the man I'm talking about," Nick said firmly, "And I don't reveal my sources. A hero is a hero whether he's known about and it seems to me you're in Skycorp laying low." Leaning over further, he tried to see if he could wriggle a bit of information out of the man. "Are you here on Alliance business? Is that what is it? I mean, you could trust us if that's the case." The women nodded in affirmation and Wynry half rolled her eyes. "I'm deaf and even I think you have a big mouth. Go on and take those two with you before their eyes pop from their skulls with all the oogling."

    If the guy wanted to get some big story Illya figured he'd let him say what he wanted. There were ways to use these kinds of idiots. Despite Wynry's comment the man and his friends seemed to be lingering to hear a last word from Illya and he gave it to them. "Well, I dun have much tah say. Yah seem to have et all figured out. Now ef yah dun mind I like tah have a quiet lunch so I can eat meh food."

    The sarcasm wasn't lost on any of them and Nick frowned as he picked up his tray. Shooting a look at Tiberius, he pointed at the Terran man. "Is he always like this?" Tiberius shrugged and kept to his food. "Only with the idiots." It was obvious this kid had never been in war zone or anywhere near where his life might have been in danger other than some small hacking jobs here and there. If a man didn't want to talk about things in his past, then he didn't have to and Tiberius was perfectly fine with that outlook. Nick grumbled and snatched his tray away before setting off across the cafeteria followed closely by the red head. The dark haired woman smiled sweetly at Illya and waved her hand. "Sorry we disturbed you, even still..don't be a stranger. You're in Skycorp now. We're all a team, hm? And you can come to me if you need anything at all." With that, she picked up her tray and sashayed away to another table.

    It was nice when the small group of pesky fans left. Illya glanced at the woman and his eyes only widened for a moment before he looked to his team mates. "Dat was disturbingly friendly. I dun tink I'll be visiting her for anyting."

    Wynry fidgeted in her seat and swallowed down a large mouthful of mashed potatoes with gravy. It was overly friendly and she was conflicted two fold about it. She liked Illya and had a bit of a crush on him since she was a kid, though she hadn't really understood it at the time. Not only did she dislike seeing him offered some fun, but she also knew he was solidly married from what she could tell. Swallowing hard, she nodded and her blonde curls bounced. "I would stay away from that one." Tiberius nodded slowly. "She seems...very....interested in being helpful."

    The way the two of them reacted made Illya wonder what kind of people were allowed to apply for Skycorp. "Does Skycorp let dah people from dah pleasure house enter ef dey pass dah exam too? I tink maybe she reminds meh of dah kinds of people dat work in dah Kaerelean pleasure house. Et es nut dah same as a Chippequoti Pleasure House. Chippequoti es much better and I will go dere when I get back home."

    Pleasure houses? It took a minute for the two of them to understand what was being said and Tiberius had to translate for Wynry. "He means a whore house." Wynry's eyes widened and a deep crimson flushed over her cheeks before Tiberius titled his head. "I mean, I think technically they could apply and if their scores were good enough..." he trailed off and shook his head, "But I don't think she was...well she was hitting on you...but I think she was doing it because she found you ...attractive in some way rather than for pay?" Wynry was still looking uncomfortable over the fact it sounded as if the man might visit a Chippeqouti whore house when he returned to his home and she gave him a singularly hurt gaze that she couldn't help. "Your wife lets you go to the Chip whore house?"

    It was entirely confusing. Why would a woman offer herself like that if she wasn't a whore? Illya still found it strange how some of the women in the Alliance were so loose and nobody seemed to think it was terribly wrong. Then to make it worse Wynry thought that the Chip Pleasure House was a whore house. "No no. Chippequoti never have sex wit anyone except dere agreed. Chip pleasure house es when dey give massage and et es for medicine use. Uh...." He was finding his Trader's Tongue was a little rough in describing some of these things. "Uh...dey work on meh back and et helps et be nut so tight. Meh agreed goes wit meh and she likes tah have massage too."

    "O-oh," Wynry said in reponse. She caught most of what he said. Though it still seemed odd his wife would go with him. Tiberius chuckled at the idea of it and nodded. "Now that sounds kind of good. A nice massage. Grecia would kill me if I thought about happy endings included and that's just not my style anyways. A good work over on the back would be helpul though." He glanced back to the woman who had been so friendly with Blackwolf and raised a brow. "You'll be in real trouble if she's Urian. I dated one once...and once was enough."

    "I dun date ever. After I am agreed she teaches meh about dating now." Illya wasn't sure of all the customs and they seemed backward to him. "Chippequoti dun date. We agree and we live togeter after dat. Jes hope yah make good choice and ef yah dun make good choice yah learn tah live wit each oter. More den 400 years es long time ef yah make bad choice."

    Tiberius blinked at Illya once, then did it again trying to comprehend the idea of 400 years and then being with the same person without ever having gone on a date. "That's one way to do it...I guess I just want to get to know who I'm going to marry before the 400 years bit. There's nothing wrong with that."

    "Usually yah know dem because yah grow up in dah same village." Illya didn't see why it sounded so strange. "Et makes et easy. Yah know who yah like and den yah hope dat she likes yah too."

    That sounded so quaint and Tiberius looked at the man who was also the General but indeed his people were very provencial. "I suppose that would make things easier. My village had well over 5 million people. I didn't know my downstairs neighbor much less all of the women in the place. Even Kaereal is a smaller pool of people with their continents." Wynry took another bite of her lunch and kept her eyes trained on the potatoes. "Is that how you met your wife?"

    A grin spread over Illya's face. He knew that Terrans were very different in the way that they met one another and it seemed fitting somehow that they would be surrounded by others and not know them. However, some of those thoughts were better kept to himself. For the time Illya figured they had come to an understanding and then Wynry asked a rather logical question. "Dat's how I met meh first wife. She's dead. I meet Kalizda when I was at home, but et was little different."

    The man was grinning like a fox and Tiberius' curiosity furthered when the man mentioned a first wife. He certainly didn't look old enough to have had two wives, but war could be unfortunate like that. If his second wife was Chippeqouti and they met on his home planet, he wondered what was so different about the second. "How did you meet your second wife if she was Chip, but not a part of your village?" Wynry was focusing hard in trying understand the words between the two men but looked to Illya, her interest piqued as well.

    "Meh wife now land on meh home planet. She was shot down. I go tah investigate and she was nut friendly. She shot meh." Shrugging a little he couldn't help smirking. "I would have shot meh too ef I was her. I was going tah loot her ship, but I take her captive instead and take dah ship. Later I take dah loot from oter Chips while dey sleep and she pay for her price by teaching meh tah fly and taking meh around places."

    Tiberius and Wynry exchanged a look of uncertainty between them. She understood only bits and pieces of what was being said and Tiberius seemed outright shocked. The man was grinning over being shot after he took a woman captive? His wife? "You took your wife captive and made her a slave? I think I would have shot you too," Tiberius blurted out bluntly.

    "No, yah dumb head. She should have been killed because she was an outsider. I save her and make price for her to pay meh back for dah trouble." Why outsiders could not understand that Illya didn't know. "We travel togeter for long time even after she pay meh back. I tink we get along well and den I broke rules and asked her tah wait for meh so dat when I wanted a woman she would nut be gone wit anoter man already." With a nod Illya finished the short version of what he could remember.

    Tiberius tried not to make a face of discomfort as Illya talked all about how outsiders would have been killed on the spot and further more how he somewhat captured his wife...or saved her life....he wasn't entirely sure before asking her to marry him. Apparently he was the kind of man who went for what he wanted, captured or not. Wynry was staring at the Chip wide eyed and it was unclear whether she was in shock or simply trying to understand what he was saying in the heavy accent. "That's got to be one the most unromantic proposals I've ever heard," Tiberius said with a hint of a chuckle. In reality, it was kind of a point of admiration. This man probably did everything he could to insult a woman and still managed to get her. Unless he still owned her at the time. Somehow he'd managed to get around all that. Tiberius knew full and well if he had even hinted at ownership with Grecia she'd dump him, slap him, then probably set fire to his apartment for good measure. Wynry was still staring and Tiberius nudged her. "Hey, what about you? Anybody special?" She jolted a little when he nudged her and turned to look at his mouth instead with confusion. "Do you have a boyfriend? Girlfriend?" Tiberius repeated and Wynry shook her head. "Uh no. I don't really do those types of things." His attempt to normalize the conversation had made it all the more awkward and he looked to Illya with an small shrug. "Heh. I have a girlfriend....soon to be fiance...but she doesn't know that yet. Planning on asking the day we graduate."

    Taking another large bite of the stew Illya savored the bite and he let what he said rest for a bit before he addressed the final issue that he thought should be put straight. "Yah right dat I dun make romantic proposal. Dere es nut always romance on meh mind, but I tink dat meh wife and I show affection different way. She stay wit meh trough hard times and I stay wit her. Some of dah marks on meh back are punishment I took for her when we bot were captured once during travels." Poor little Wynry had eyes about as big as the tray in front of her. Sounded like she was young and not in a hurry to get married. That was fine. Not everyone had to get married because they couldn't keep to themselves otherwise. She seemed to keep to herself just fine and it was an admirable quality and especially because he didn't have it. Then Tiberius was putting in his 2 cents worth and it was truly odd. "Why dah hell would yah wait till yah graduate? Ef she likes yah now den yah accomplish someting for her, but first yah want tah make sure dat she dun have anyone trying tah steal her while yah gone." Holding up his left hand Illya grinned. "Meh agreed marked meh wit dis. Make sure dat yah have dat lady marked."

    Tiberius had seen the marks on the man's back and figured they'd happened like his own in battle. Instead, it sounded as if his woman was as adventurous and wild as he was. The vision of a large, muscular Chippeqouti woman came to mind. One tall enough to stand beside the General and dish out whatever troubles came their way. The woman would practically have to be an amazonian to keep up and the thought was both a bit disturbing, but also kind of romantic in it's own way. Mostly, his mind wandered to the simply idea that Chippeqouti relationships were bizarre but not necessarily bad. Then the man broke the image in his mind by bursting out in a question about why he would wait to graduate to propose. Rubbing the back of his head, Tiberius got a little sheepish and glanced down at his tray slightly with a mild chuckle. "Uh, strictly speaking, I lost everything when I moved to the colonies and I'm flat broke. I joined Skycorp for a few reasons, but mostly because it paid a good wage for me to get a house and...one of those." He pointed to the thick gold band on Illya's hand with a small smile. "I need a ring."

    "Mmmm." Illya nodded some as the man spoke. "Dat's too bad. Terran's were never good at making war. I tink dey are nut good at making money wit war. Federation find a way tah make money wit war. Chippequoti were very good at making money wit war. Dis time I'm trying someting dat es nut war and et's nut for money. Meh agreed worries and I want job dat lets meh keep meh family close to meh and safer. As a soldier dere es nut much time tah be close to yah family ef tings get dangerous. Yah make good choice ef yah lady dun want tah go digging trough dah bodies for yah one day."

    That little point sucked any sort of playfulness right out of the table and Wynry went altogether silent while Tiberius stared at Illya. "Terrans are very good at profiting from war, but the people who do the actual fighting never see the reward. And I've seen enough to know what will happen in the years to come with the Federation too." His smile faded and he dropped his gaze to his tray. The mashed potatoes were flavorless and lumpy, but they had suddenly become very interesting and he prodded at them with his fork before deciding he wasn't hungry and picked up his try. "I think I'm done. I'll see you guys in class." Swiping up his tray, he left the table and went to return his half eaten meal to the receptacle.

    Whatever he said Illya didn't know. It was a comfortable conversation as far as he knew. This wasn't an uncommon topic and he'd never had anyone react like that before. Perhaps the man was not well in his head lately and he needed not to remember the war. Illya kept on eating his food mostly in silence while he tried to figure out if the conversation ended poorly as he thought, or if it was a natural ending because it was not a polite subject. Terrans and Kaereleans were so odd.

    As soon as the day was over Illya took himself to the gate and he typed in his pad's code. Nobody would know that the password was Kalizda's name in Quoti. She was Little Bird and he had the entire pad coded in Quoti because it was easier for him to manage. Once the hologram popped up with his pass Illya waited patiently for the woman in the guard house to review it and let him out. Illya got out of the gate and he walked himself home. His first day back to classes had been a little wild and he wasn't entirely sure what to think of it. When Illya got home it was even more strange.

    The ship was somehow empty feeling with only Thomas in the immediate area when he got to there. So far as Illya could tell the twins were playing quietly in their little play pen and Lohgan was having art time. Wherever Cypher was it was too quiet to be good news. A sudden battle cry sounded from the kitchen and Cypher came charging out like a little mad man. "RAaaaaaah!" With a leap he aimed right for his dad.

    Illya caught the boy and he ruffled his hair. "Yah be careful. One of dese days yah gonna be so big dat yah jes roll meh over and break meh bones." Of course his son laughed about it because it all seemed impossible. "What yah tink dat maybe we get sword for yah tomorrow eh? I come home from school and den I take yah tah get sword tah train wit."

    Nodding enthusiastically Cypher agreed with his dad. For a moment it all got quiet and then Cypher's eyes widened, "Did yah know mam turned purple today. She's sick and she won't let meh see her."

    That was strange news if Illya ever heard any. "Oh. Maybe I go see ef she's purple." Setting Cypher down he headed toward the bedroom and pushed the door open only to see a purple Kalizda. "Oh!" Freezing in the doorway Illya stared at her for a moment before he started to chuckle. "Well, yah need anyting? Yah look different tahday."
     
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  17. aryamajor

    aryamajor Curious Adventurer Benefactor

    Calysta was wrapped up in her soft, silk robe and her hair was piled into a messy, almost desperate bun on the top of her head. Everything itched. Everything. Silk was about the only thing that didn't irritate her skin and that was because the kimono Illya had given her was of a fine quality and it felt light over her back. She laid spread out on their bed with her eyes to the ceiling begging herself not to climb to the floor and wallow in the carpet in an attempt to relieve the itching. Why did she have to look like an underripe eggplant now? Letting out a long sigh, she closed her eyes and actively tried to think of anything else. How long she laid there, she couldn't tell. but she could feel her fever spiking again which brought on the chills again. Despite feeling cold, she knew climbing under the covers would only make it worse. When the door came open and Illya stepped inside, she was dozing off from the fever and nearly jumped out of her skin...which might have been preferable at that point. Sitting up, she gave her Chip a grumpy look and snatched up a pillow to hide a bit with. Of course he was laughing. Who wouldn't? "Har har," she grumbled back. He was definitely surprised by it and her gazed softened a little. "Is it that bad? I thought it might lighten, but my fever hasn't broken yet."

    She sounded grouchy when she responded, but Illya should have known she would be. Walking over to the bed he leaned in closer and looked at her as she asked him if it was bad. "I dun know what tah say. Yah all purple, es dat bad? Should I nut go tah school tomorrow and call dah doctor? I never see dis before."

    He was coming over to inspect her much like the Ehaui doctor had, but at least there was concern more than fascination in his eyes. She bit back a grumpy reply and sighed. "No, you should go to school. It's a virus that people from my mother's continent are prone to and thusly so am I. I thought since I didn't get as a child I might have skipped it, but apparently that wasn't the case. It mainly causes skin irritation and mild to high fevers on top of being horribly...itchy." Her mouth twitched some and her eyes traveled from his face to his hands and then back again. "The Ehaui said I wouldn't be contagious with the kids but to keep an eye on the fever and try not to scratch." The last word came out a pained twinge and she curled into the pillow some.

    Thankfully she looked much worse than the diagnosis. "Oh...." Staring at her was odd, he couldn't quite get over the fact that she was purple. She just didn't look right and he blinked a few times before he realized she was probably wanting him to say something. "I love yah anyway. Did dah Ehaui give yah any cream dat will help wit dah itch? Maybe I can help yah put dah cream on yah back."

    He seemed to hesitate and he was still staring at her. A warmth grew to her cheeks and she was certain that between the fever and the awkward pigment in her skin, that he wouldn't be able to tell she was blushing. Eventually he did come out and say he loved her anyways and offered to help. Calysta nodded to a few vials on her night stand. "They recommended mint oil and aloe instead of the traditional paste." Reaching across the table she plucked up one of the containers and gave him a grateful look. "If you don't mind, that would be helpful. I cant reach that far and I'm about to go crazy with itching."

    "Hmmm..." Taking the oils Illya poured a little of each into a small bowl and mixed it together before he dabbed some into the palm of each hand and rubbed his hands together. He was going to be ready to massage the oil in. "Ok, now I help meh purple little bird." A small smirk came to his face and Illya leaned in close enough to kiss her. "Yah still meh little bird and I dun want anyone else."

    Illya took the bottle without question and began to mix up the two prescriptions into a small bowl. While he did that, she slid out of her kimono which stirred up all the crawling itches everywhere she moved. It took everything she had not to gnaw on any part of her she could reach as she laid down belly first to give her back to Illya. Before he started, he leaned in close with a small smirk on his face to tell her she was still his little bird, purple or not, and she smiled back a little. "Even if she looks like this to the new years ball?" she chuckled. She knew he'd still want her and before he could answer she closed the gap between them in a well earned kiss. It was hard to let the kiss linger like she wanted to because it made her lips tingle and she pulled away, her eyes widening some. "Oooh can you scratch? Please? Anywhere."

    It all seemed that Kalizda was doing better, at least a little less grouchy. Her improved mood was proven with the kiss and then it was ended abruptly. Illya was left with his lips still slightly puckered and he narrowed his eyes slightly. "No, yah nut supposed tah scratch. I rub dah medicine in yah skin."

    Calysta's eyes pinched together in what amounted to a bit of a sullen look and she sighed before giving him another quick peck, all the more she could bear to lip lock with becoming worse, and laid down the bed. Whenever his hands began to work, it made her want to scratch at first and she wiggled a little under his palms which were rough enough to satisfy the urge a bit until the oil sank in. "Ah..." she hummed in pure relief, "Your purple little bird thanks her Chip."

    For a moment she looked like she was going to get grouchy again and Illya tilted his head slightly. It was a relief that she didn't get too grumpy and instead she seemed to enjoy the bit of message that he was turning the treatment into. "Well, meh little bird es always welcome."

    She reached out and squeezed his hand gently, hoping it would be nice to touch even if heavy petting was out of the question for a few days. When he was done with her back, she chuckled and considered letting him work on her legs, but thought that might have been too cruel without some source of relief. After he was done she patted the bed inched as close as she to lay her temple ever so lightly on his shoulder. "I take it Chips don't have anything like Twilight Itch," she said, "It's for the best I suppose. Gold is more your color." It was the faintest of jokes and she grinned at him.

    While Illya worked Kalizda's back he wondered how badly the itch was. If everything that was purple itched he couldn't imagine how horrible it had to be. Itching was no fun if you weren't supposed to scratch and then for it to be over the entire body had to be miserable. A soft, purple, little hand reached over and briefly squeezed his hand. Illya grinned at Kalizda and finished the work on her back. Once they were done Kalizda made some room for him on the bed and Illya laid down next to her. With her head on his shoulder she was gazing up at him with those big grey eyes and attempted a joke. "Eh, I tink ef I turned all gold dat yah would be worried. I look better brown."

    Calysta began to chuckle at his bluntness, her slight shoulders shaking from the move. "Aye I would be worried. You would make a very handsome statute in gold, but I rather like you toasty brown and right here as you are." The fever was coming back a little and she felt the strange sensation of being hot from that underneath the cooling of the oil. Her eyes began to droop and her head became heavier on Illya's shoulder. It was nice to have him there, even if she was purple and it felt better just to have him close.

    It wasn't quite Illya's intention to end up staying in bed most of the evening, but Kalizda fell asleep with her head on his shoulder and he didn't have the heart to move. Instead he let her drift off in a fitful little nap. When it was dinner time he would get up and go have his first serving of dinner with the kids and then he'd bring some dinner to the room for Kalizda and have his second serving with her.

    * * * * * * *

    When Calysta woke, she hardly remembered falling asleep at all and some how found herself still propped against her Chip's shoulder. "Mmmm..." she said, "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to fall asleep." It was the bleary sort of fevered sleep where she woke up just a little confused and feeling stiff on top of being itchy. Glancing at the time, she saw it was later in the afternoon and her eyes went wide. "The kids!" She started get up and reached for her pajama pants. How could she have fallen asleep for so long that she forgot about the kids dinner? She wasn't so sick that she couldnt help cook even if she might be more than tempted to use a fork like a back scratcher. Illya seemed intent that she stay in the room though and went to cook dinner. It made her feel a little guilty for him being home and still having to cook. He didn't like cooking so much even if he was good at it and liked dishes even less.

    While he was up cooking, Lohgan poked her head into the room and crawled up on the bed. Her fascination with coloring hadn't faded in the slightest and now that her mother was a brilliant shade of purple, it was the best thing ever. "Purple!" she squealed, her tiny white teeth flashing in a grin. "Mam es purple!" The Ehaui didn't seem to think that the children would get the Itch and that was relieving. She couldn't help but be thankful for the fact that her children would be healthier than she ever was at that age thanks to Chippeqouti genetics. "Aye, Mam is purple," she said with a mild chuckle. Even the beds of her nails had turned a bright violet, looking as though someone dipped her in indigo dye. "And what color is this?" she pointed to her kimono. "Red!" came the smart reply. "And this?" Calysta plucked up Illya's green heated blanket. "Green!"

    "Uhuh. That's orange!" Calysta laughed sleepily. Getting her daughter all riled up was easier than doing it Cypher. All you had to do was tell her she was wrong, whereas Cypher simply took your word for somethings. "No! Dats GREEN!" Lohgan spoke it with confidence and propped her two tan hands on her hips in a look of defiance. "Are you sure?" Calysta asked, egging her on. Lohgan's little foot stamped, bouncing on the mattress and her wild curls fluttered. "Aye, dat is green! Don't ya know ya color mam?"

    "Aye, I do. I wanted to test you," Calysta said, tickling at Lohgan's stomach. The girl was most ticklish there and it made her squeal before jumping off the bed to run away from the invading fingers. She could hear Lohgan scuttling all the way down the corridor. She was undoubtedly running to hide behind her father's legs just to bring him into the fun too.

    * * * * * * * *

    The week passed quickly and slow all at the same time. Illya came home and went to Skycorp, only to come home again. He seemed a little stressed whenever he returned in the late afternoons at times. Apparently word had gotten around that he had been the general. It was surprising that he wasn't recognized on the first day by a Kinteite at least, but the class was full of offworlders too so that might have delayed the realization. Either way, it was inevitable and she knew the reasons why it stressed him out. "People come from all walks of life at Skycorp and yours may be just a little more well known. It will be alright if they know. They don't have to know everything, yeah? At least no one has quoted that stupid movie to you." The last bit, she said as a light little joke to make him smile. Had she been feeling less itchy she might had tossed in a 'Oh Ira!' and suggested that he remember where that outfit had gone to just for fun. She wanted to relax with him and alleviate some of that, but the Twilight Itch continued through the week only lightening up by the 4th day, her fever breaking entirely this time. By day 5 her purple skin had lessened some to a creamy deep pink and she looked more akin to troll than an egg plant now.

    "Thank the Wilds," she sighed in relief as she rubbed the sooth gel on her arms, "It's not nearly as bad as it could have been. Usually, it lasts for nearly three weeks but it seems my immune system has managed to tamp it down a bit." Turning to Illya, she settled into bed beside him and laid a hand over his before kissing him gently on the lips. He was such a good husband to her. It hadn't escaped her notice that he had taken care of her all week along with work and helping with the kids. Sure, he had chuckled over the purple skin but he had been wonderful. "Tomorrow is the New Years Ball. The men and women are meant to get ready separately and find each other at the ball before midnight. There will be dancing...and food...and..." She held up her hand "An only slightly purple little bird." She had been looking forward to it all week, purple or not, and she hoped Illya had too. The next day they had the meeting with the Zkree rebel delegation and that was going to be far less fun. "Your costume arrived today and so did mine," she smiled, "I was tempted to peek at it, but I didn't."

    They talked a little more and when they both settled down a little further in the bed, she inched a little closer, kissing him a few times on his cheek. It was going to be hard for her to sleep tonight for the anticipation of the ball the next day and there were a few cures for that. One cure she knew her Chip would like and probably needed. "You know, if you promise to scratched my back just a little after...I think we could try some hard work."

    * * * * * * * * *

    Priscilla covered her still blushing cheeks with a bit of base and then did the rest of her make up with a quick, but expert hand. Her lipstick was the last thing she applied, a blush pink that was toned down from her usual bright red. The colony seemed more conservative given the limited funding from the Alliance and for now it seemed best not to attract attention. She put on dark denim jeans a light blue jacket and black blouse before tugging on her heeled boots. Sien and Ehud seemed to get ready so much faster than she did. Was it because they were boys, or had less to do? A combination of the two, perhaps? They were ready far before she was and finally when she emerged into their room, Sien was already grabbing her hand and leading her toward the door. "Let's go!"

    The temperature on Delia was as promised and the sun was a welcome sight after the rainy season on Kaereal. Priscilla took in a deep breath, closing her eyes and allowing her long lashes to brush against her cheeks. "Ahh...the sun," she hummed before opening her eyes again. The colony itself was nicely built but a bit sprawling with quickly made cobble stone or asphalt streets along with rows of brick and mortar shops between temporary booths. She could smell the hint of Terran foods of all sorts...Japanese...Chinese....burgers...How she had missed regular beef! Smiling to Ehud, she took up his hand in hers and they walked through the market together. Breakfast was eaten as they sampled a few things from open air carts. A pineapple slice at one, mango slices and chicken satay in another. They munched their way down the strip until they came to a more retail area where Priscilla went nearly giddy at the sight of a the wares. There were hand woven wool blankets, sculpted pottery, African beads and Chinese silk. It was the best of Terra in a new home, a new city, that seemed to be so much happier. She found an old school haberdashery that sported men's suits. "That would look good on you," she said, nodding to a tuxedo with a silky black bow tie, "I always thought tuxedos looked good on a man. There's a reason they've survived for the better part of a millenia." Walking over, she plucked up a deep blue silk tie and held it up to Ehud. "This color would look lovely." She had no idea if he even wore suits. Given what she usually saw him in, the answer to that was probably no, but she could imagine it and that was fine. They moved on and had lunch in a burger place which smelled divine and tasted equally good when the food was delivered. She'd had to keep Sien from ordering soda after Calysta had mentioned it not being good for Chips. Processed corn was not good in any form for them. "You can have a tea," she told him, "The other has corn and you'll be sick."

    After a nice, carb filled lunch they walked off their full bellies with more adventuring. She used her own money to buy several things, including a few pillows and three of the plush wool blankets for Ehud's cabin. That would make things feel more like a home rather than a bachelor pad. There were also fresh made scented candles which would make a good addition to the cabin as well. The scents were chosen based on whether Sien sneezed when he sniffed it and the boy had fun testing out all the smells. "Marshmallow cream?" he asked, holding up a candle. He could read very well in traders tongue and Priscilla smiled. "Aye, it's a sweet on Terra, but I think it may have corn in it too." He seemed disappointed at the thought and she patted his shoulder. "I'll tell you what, I think there is a treat from Terra we can try after dinner that you will like." They passed by a shop with a few Micky Martian wares and she got Sien a raincoat with the title characters insignia emblazoned on the front. "Wait till Cypher sees this!" he crowed, holding up his new rain coat.

    In the evening, Ehud suggested a nice pizzeria for dinner and Priscilla couldn't have been more excited. "I haven't had pizza in ages," she grinned as they walked into the shop. The smell of garlic and pasta hit her nose and she found a table for them with an eager wiggle into the booth. The waitress came around and offered them menus. Without delay, she ordered root beer. That was always something she drank with pizza and Harry had always made fun of her for the choice in soda. She wouldn't drink soda any other time besides with a meal of pizza. Ehud ordered them a large pizza with extra cheese, pepperoni and sauce. "Could have...uh..." she glanced to Ehud and gave him a bit of a sheepish grin, "A few bits of pineapple on two of those slices?"

    The Terran woman taking their order raised and brow and wrote down the request. "You're one of those."

    Priscilla gave a tentative shrug. "Don't knock it until you try it."

    The whole thing seemed rather serious until they both laughed and the waitress snorted before taking the order to the back. While they waited, Priscilla looked to Ehud with a brightly smile. "How did you like the colony so far. Things do seem a bit better here. Maybe we could try that horse back riding tour tomorrow if you wanted?" She hadn't gone riding in ages and it would be nice to show Sien some of the Terran animals that had been brought from her home planet. Ehud didn't seem to feel entirely friendly or against animals, so it would be up to him to decide. It was just a simple escort ride to the neighboring fields where new farms were being build and wind farms for energy. Mostly, she wanted to go because seeing a stretch of land that didn't end in a sudden drop would be nice for awhile.

    Their pizza came around and her pineapple was put on two slices as promised. "Thanks," she told the waitress. Priscilla noticed Sien was waiting to make sure he was passed a slice and she pulled it from the pizza with a long string of cheese for him. "Oh!" He seemed surprised that cheese would do that and she chuckled. "Fresh mozzerella cheese is my favorite." Sien grinned up and reached for his fork to cut up the offered slice into little chunks. "This is one you can eat with your hands...like this..." She pulled up her own piece and let the cheese string before folding the slice in have and biting off the tip. "Yum."

    That little demonstration was all the boy seemed to need before he began to try eating like a Terran. Priscilla ate her savory slices between delicate sips of root beer, all the while casting looks and exchanging sweet smiles with the man beside her. He was a good man and she liked him very much. It went beyond him being handsome and funny. He had his faults, but she didn't mind them altogether when she saw the effort he put in to trying for her. At one moment, their eyes caught on each other for long than what would be deemed normal and she slipped her hand over his under the table, giving it a squeeze. When dinner was done, they treated themselves to the promised treat of icecream. Sien chose plain vanilla and Priscilla got her favorite flavor of chocolate chip cookie dough. Sitting out in the evening air at the icecream parlor trying to lick at icecream cones before they melted down their hands became a sport. "Ooh you're dripping," Priscilla warned Ehud with a laugh, "You'd better get it." Sien giggled to himself and sucked up the treat with gusto.

    They were only halfway done with their icecream when a loud speaker mounted on the store wall across the street crackled to life. "This is the thirty minute warning. Curfew will begin at 20:00 hours. All citizens must be in their homes or have a pass to enter the streets." Priscilla knew they had no passes and glanced to Ehud. "Well, we can eat our icecream and then go play cards in the room, huh?" That little plan seemed amenable and they packed up their bags to return to the hotel.

    When they arrived at the hotel, Priscilla reached for her door handle, still chuckling over Sien and his excitement over the pizza and subsequent icecream. Her pad ringed, allowing the light on her lock to come on and she pulled the door open with a smile. When she looked back over to Ehud, she noticed there was a problem. Even with his pad ringing in the verification, the door remained locked. "Odd," Priscilla said, tilting her head, "Maybe its broken?"

    They were about to call it a night and Ehud grabbed his key and attempted to open his door. There was a verification, but it didn't open. Priscilla gave the helpful suggestion that it might be locked and Ehud sighed. "Maybe, but I'm going to try again." With another attempt he got the same result. Perhaps the door between their rooms would work. "Suppose we try the door from your room?"

    Priscilla nodded and slipped into her room with Sien following closely on his heels. She came up to their door between the two bedrooms, which they had left unlocked before going out, only to find that it had been locked up and her own verification didn't work. Frowning, she crossed the room and poked her head out of the door to shake her head at Ehud who was waiting for her to open his own door. "The door between us is locked too. Let's call the concierge and see if there some sort of issue going on with the system." She found the simplest answers were often the most common ones and easy to fix. Picking up her pad, she searched through the network menu through the hotel and mashed the button. A woman of Terran Asian descent answered the video call. "How may I help you?" Priscilla held the pad up the woman could see them both. "Hi," she said in Terran,

    "We're having trouble getting into our hotel rooms." The woman nodded as if she knew and gave an apologetic look. "My apologies, we have experienced a power outage and it caused the system to crash and more than one room was reset. It happens from time to time during the week because we are still establishing a good connection in the colony. If you will send the party whose name is on the room reservation we will reenter their pad and thumbprint to the front desk , I will redo to the verification and include free room service for tomorrow. i do apologize for any inconvenience."

    It sounded like a simple power outage and a bad roll of the dice. There were a few rooms that this had happened to. Ehud's instincts told him something was wrong, but his mind was telling him not to be paranoid and simply see what came of this little situation. "Alright, I'll head down there." Ehud smiled briefly at Priscilla and Sien before he started for the hall toward the hotel.

    Sien started to follow his dad and Priscilla called him back. "Hey, now. C'mon lets sit in my room and watch some Mickey. Your father will be back in a minute or two and the room will be fixed.

    Ehud trotted down the hall and the stairs before he got to the front desk. His room should be easy enough to fix. Catching the eye of the woman at the front desk he stepped up to it and smiled. "Hi, I'm locked out of my room. Just need a re-calibration done on my pad to get in."

    " He looked between his dad and Priscilla before scuttling back into her room. His dad wouldn't mind if he watched Mickey rather than helping him fix the problem this time, right? Priscilla smiled and ruffled his hair before giving Ehud a gentle smile and slipping into the room again. Once she was inside, she locked the door with a decisive click. It bothered her that the doors werent working and she couldn't help but think that Harry would feel something was wrong. When the fair haired general walked up to the counter, the concierge smiled up at him easily and took his pad when he offered it." I am sorry about that. It seems to happen worse on the weekends. I suppose the system just gets over loaded." Within a minute, she had the issue fixed and pointed to the signature pad on the desk. "Just put your thumb there and you will be good to go. If you have any other issues. don't hesitate to call." Once the Chip had re-entered his finger print the machine made a pleasant beep and lit up with a soft green. The worker gave him a friendly nod and that was the end of it. In the elevator, a man joined him on the second floor on his way up to the 10th and final floor. There was nothing conspicuous about him, a bland suit for a plain face and dusty brown hair combed over. He seemed entirely unsettled when the lift car passed Ehud's floor, the light turning off as if it had stopped and let the general off. He only gave a casual shrug. "Someone wants to talk with you. And before you get defensive. No, I am not Federation, General."

    Everything seemed to be in order and Ehud congratulated himself on the fact that he hadn't decided to act paranoid. Stepping into the elevator seemed like a good choice this time. He didn't really want to take the stairs again and he was sure that it was all good now. Instead of getting off at his floor the elevator ignored the command and the man in the elevator with him started to talk. Ehud looked at him with a bland expression and shrugged. "Guess you got the wrong guy. Not much I can tell you about anything."

    The man stayed the same and didn't make any sort of expression as the lift came to a halt. "You are not being interrogated either and you will walk away free and clear." The elevator door opened and allowed him to step off with a gesture inviting Ehud to do the same. Two men stood down at the end of the hall near the stair doors with broad shoulders and equally bland clothing. "To keep people out," he said, " You are free to leave the floor at any time, but the colony would be grateful if you would use this key to enter room 1010. " With that said he held up an old fashioned card key, obviously bootlegged to work without the hotel network.

    "Well, that's nice sounding." Ehud wasn't entirely sure what else to say and he remained quiet as the man explained the situation. "What makes this visit to room 1010 so important for the colony? I'd like to at least know a little bit about the situation before I get into it." Whatever was going on made him feel uneasy. Revealing that he was here with Priscilla might be dangerous and having his son with made it all the worse. Chances were they already knew about Priscilla and Sien and now he had to play it out and hope for the best.

    "Wouldn't we all?" came the man's reply. "The colony has information for the Alliance that is sensitive. The networks here are not trustworthy for this sort of information." Holding up the key, he fanned it a little. "Hence the older tech."

    Reaching for the key Ehud snatched from the man and growled as he unlocked the door. "This isn't the first time someone has tried something stupid." Once the door was unlocked Ehud stepped inside. He felt like it was dangerous, but he didn't have much choice and if it was indeed important information he would need to know what it was.

    The door fell open revealing a large state room with the curtains drawn and soft lamp light around the corner in a sitting room. The light burned steady against a hulking, but short figure sitting in an odd chair near a coffee table. When Ehud entered, the figured shifted slightly and came into view. It was the hideous figure of what once had certainly been humanoid. Rather than sitting upright, the spine was curved to back and an unnatural angle and the left side of the body was missing several important pieces. An arm was gone up to the shoulder blade as well as a leg to the up and what was probably beyond. The man's face was so badly scarred his left eye was impossible to see if it was there at all underneath the flap of flesh and the right side was marred in the same manner, though the brown eye was intact to some degree. The man had been clipped bald as well. A curled hand sat over a controller for the chair. "General," the man said. The voice came out a monstrous sounding growl, cracking between the syllables. "It is good...to see...you..again." They had met briefly in his time on Pyrta, it was as short as to be called a meeting in passing,but that had been a long time ago. "Thank you...for coming." The words were still gravelly, the damage to the man's throat obviously affecting his speech. His chest shuddered a little as the singular brown eye inspected the General. "Welcome to the colony. I am Yuri. Once a president...now underground intelligence....and I have a message for the Councilwoman."
     
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  18. Silence

    Silence Anonymous Me Staff Member Benefactor Warden

    Ehud stepped into the room and he saw a man that was horribly disfigured. It looked like he had perhaps been a soldier at one time and it made Ehud all the more suspicious. What would a little para-military group want with him? Did they think he was going to come back and work for the Federation? As the man spoke it sounded like perhaps he was in pain even trying to speak. There was something he said that made Ehud feel sick to his stomach. Once a president... Those words rolled over and over in his mind as he stared at the man in no small amount of shock. After he'd collected himself he slowly took the seat across from the man. "You have a message and I'll take it, but I need to know one thing. If you're Harry why haven't you tried to make contact through one of your men with your family?" He wasn't about to continue the relationship with Priscilla if Harry was still around. Half a man, or not he was still around and that was way it was.

    The look on the man's face expressed his shock and he had to compose himself before continuing. Harry had grown used to those kinds of looks over time and in some moments, many of those moments, he wished he had died. Both questions were fair but all he could do was move his singular eye and twitch a finger. There was a deadened sort of look in his gaze even as his family was mentioned. "I have no family," he said bluntly. It was easier to think of it that way. Yes, he had loved Priscilla, but that time was over. She needed someone who could protect her better than he had, especially now. Not to mention his body was failing. He could have revealed himself to her once he was concious enough. He had desperately wanted to, but in his condition and his life style, it made no sense to make her suffer a second time. "I am Yuri ...not the man you once met.." he wheezed, "He died on Terra and..."- phlegm stuck in his throat and there was a gross popping sound. A tube running from his chest under his jacket and to a pouch on the side emptied his lungs of liquid. "I am dying as Yuri now too....not much longer." When he had heard through his channels the General was coming and who he was bringing, he knew this would be his chance for a few things and they were important. Gathering up his breath he gurgled out another sentence. "The councilwoman's man on Zkree...is dead. Tell her that. Zkree looks...to expand further."

    "I'll get word back to Illya using code." Clenching his jaw Ehud took a deep breath. It sounded like the Federation was on the move and things were going to heat up. However, even if he said something now it may not be in time to stop the supposed delegate from traveling and that could be dangerous. "You have to know that I'll watch for her and Illya watches for her, but I will not take her as my woman as long as you live. She should know what you've done for the Alliance. Priscilla is a woman of quality and you don't have to look like you did for her to know that you're still a great man. I'd recommend telling her and letting her say goodbye properly."

    "Do what you have to...don't be...intercepted." He had worked hard to make sure the Federation stayed out of the colony and that had included ripping up some of the Feds by the roots and what some would consider marshall law for awhile. Once the chaos had died down and it was safe, some of the laws relaxed but not all. The next part of what the man said made Harry's jaw clench and he gazed at Ehud, his eye not blinking at all for a long moment. "She is...a good woman...and...if I asked...she would stay and see me...through to the end." He knew that for a fact. His wife had been a faithful and caring woman and even if she loved another she would have taken care of him too. "Is she happy?" It was probably a dumb question, but he was tempted by Ehud's advice and it made things all the harder.

    Nobody had broke the Chippequoti code because no one had bothered to learn the language and even those that knew it couldn't begin to try and decipher the code. It was an age old code that they had used and changed slightly every few years. It was natural that Harry would want him to be careful and Ehud nodded in agreement. There was no way he could fly back to Illya and Kalizda in time. It sounded like Harry had only half listened to what Ehud said and he wanted to know if Priscilla was happy. "She's learning happiness again, but she should know what you've done. She's here now and I'll stay here for as long as it takes to protect her and care for her after you die, but I will not have her as my wife if you're alive. If you die without telling her who you are it is your choice, but you should know she grieves you still."

    It physically made his chest ache to think that she would be sad still. It had been two years now and Priscilla was still missing her. He did love her dearly and it was all the more reason he couldn't see her. He couldn't force her to watch him die all over again. She'd likely seen enough on the news and had to watch his funeral from far away. It wasn't right for her to have to do it again. His eye became a bit watery and his mangled adams apple bobbed in his throat as the temptation ate at him like an acid. This man was as good a man as he would hoped Priscilla would find her with. Someone who cared about her and respected her, not just physically but emotionally too. Priscilla had always been a bit of a romantic and she wouldn't marry for less than love. "I don't want to hurt...her...any more than...she has suffered but...I will think on it..." That was one thing about being cripple that had grown. His patience and his forethought. It wasn't easy for him to even attend to the simplest of tasks. Everything from bathing to bathroom needs to writing a note. It all required assistance now in some capacity. While he could have been replaced by a more able bodied man, he still drew the respect his office and his action had earned him and nobody else dared to take the job. Hell, he had already been missing a fair portion of his body at this point. What more could the Federation have done to him if he took up the mantel? He let out sigh, the sound shaking slightly and looked to Ehud. "You are a...good man...with a son. My men...will watch over while you are here..." The more he thought it over, the harder it was becoming to say no. Priscilla wouldn't understand if the man suddenly lost interest or acted cold because Ehud wouldn't court her anymore. What was worse? He didnt know. "I will contact you again tomorrow."

    With that Ehud rose from his seat and bowed his head slightly. This had turned into a strangely horrible discovery. The right thing to do would be for Harry to say something to Priscilla, but that wasn't a choice that Ehud could make for the man. Part of Ehud regretted ever meeting this 'Yuri' because he couldn't feel right about being with Priscilla as long as the other man was alive. What would this do to their relationship?

    Stepping out of the room and heading back to the elevator the Chip took himself back down to his floor and his room. Waving his pad over lock he saw it turn green and then he stepped into his room. Quite naturally Priscilla came over to his side and she was looking at him as if she thought he would tell her what happened. "Got the room key fixed in my pad and have a message for work. Wasn't thinking I'd have anything pop up while I was here, but this is something only I can do. I'll be in there in a few minutes." His brief answer seemed to suffice for the time and he figured that she wouldn't ask too many other questions. They weren't on the level of sharing critical information, or confidential material. At least not that he knew of. Tapping out a quick message in Quoti code he sent it to Illya.

    Ehud set the pad aside when he was finished and shuffled over to the other side, where Priscilla and Sien were watching Micky Martian. Part of him wondered if he should sit next to Priscilla, or not. Would it even be right? After a few seconds of deliberation he decided to sit down on the bed next to Priscilla, but he didn't try to hold her hand. That was too close for comfort. For now he was going to act as her friend and guardian. He could not be more given the circumstances. Acting as only a friend would be difficult, but that was all he could do. While they watched the show Ehud couldn't help zoning out. The Zkree had run down a good contact and killed them. Almost as soon as the show was over Ehud nodded to his son. "You get in bed."

    Despite all his efforts to make things seem normal, it was clear that he had not succeeded. Priscilla was still looking at him with an expectant gaze of sorts. Her eyes were fixed on his face and she was leaning forward slightly with that single eyebrow cocked in question. "I'm sorry. It was bad news and I can't say much right now. Tomorrow I'll know more and maybe I can say something then." Ehud could only hope that she knew he was telling the truth. He hadn't lied to her at all, but he couldn't tell her everything either. "I think maybe it would be best if we both get a good night's rest." If Harry decided to see Priscilla she would need all the strength she could gather. He couldn't imagine what this would be like for her, but he wanted to there in case she needed him.

    *************************

    The week at Skycorp had been long and the nights at home made the days seem even longer. Between taking care of the kids to give Thomas some relief, cooking, and cleaning Illya was tired and then he still had some study time at night along with bit of time to take care of Kalizda. However, she helped him by reading some of his lessons to him while he rubbed some of the ointment into her back. Then she'd quiz him on the stars and charts. Those were one of the easier parts of his classes. All he had to do was memorize the chart and star names. That was a task he planned on being the first to complete in his class. If he couldn't do well in everything then he wanted to be exceptional in the areas that he could be.

    On the last day before the festival Illya saw the schedule allowed for 2 extra days off due to the holiday. At least the instructors knew better than to try and get the students to come in on days when they would rather be celebrating. As for himself, he would have a little bit of a celebration and then business. When he arrived at school it was extra early because he needed to speak with Swyft. Knocking on the door to the man's office Illya waited for an answer.

    Swyft put down his pad and plucked off his glasses from his nose. The things were annoying and he only needed them to read on an occasion, but he didn't particularly care to be showing his age to a student just yet. With the glasses hidden away he called out in a short, but clear order. "Enter." When the door opened, he found the former Chip general in his office taking a few steps forward with the slightest of hitches in his gate. He knew of the man's false leg because of the medical reporting but it didn't slow the Chip down and he hardly showed the extent of the injury. "Can I help you, Cadet?"

    "Maybe," Illya answered. He didn't know how this would go over. More than likely this was a popular time to ask for what he was going to ask about. Not to mention there were probably plenty of cadets that could make the same statement he was about to make with the exception of a few details. "I like tah leave a little bit early tahday. Before getting into Skycorp I make plans tah take meh agreed to dah festival and I would like tah get back en time tah be ready when et starts. Den I will need 1 extra day off because dere es business and I go as meh agreed's bodyguard."

    The commander looked as though he had heard the statement before. And in fact, he had heard it several times already before his coffee had hit the bottom of his mug. It was to be expected that a few people would want to leave early for the new year festivities and if he was honest, he would be leaving a bit early himself to get ready for the party separately from his own wife. He was only confused by the term 'agreed' for a moment until the man mentioned needing to have the extra day to fill in as a body guard. The council woman was his wife...which he could only guess was termed 'agreed' for the Chippeqouti. Now, he had options, though the body guard request was hardly an option to refused. "Other Cadets asking to leave early are required to attend all of their classes. You may leave after the first hour of PT." He knew the man needed his classes more than he needed the work out, but he had to keep the standard across the board for everyone who asked. "As for the second request, I take it this business is Alliance affairs?"

    So far the man was most agreeable. The time he would get should be enough to make sure he was ready for the night. "Aye, et's Alliance business. I'm nut sure how long et will take and I may nut need dah extra day. Ef I dun need et I will be here, but et was better tah ask den nut come and let yah believe dat I violate dah pass." So far as Illya knew the negotiations and work with the man from Zkree could take the 1 day planned, or 3 if things were more complex. If it only lasted one day it would be a great party tonight, business tomorrow and then 3 days off. There was sure to be some study time involved, but he could still enjoy the festival during the day with Kalizda and take the kids to it after the business was taken care of.

    "Aye it would," Swyft replied, "If this particular request and business from the councilwoman takes longer, send me a private message. I'll ensure your pass is not revoked or forfeited." A niggling feeling of curiosity came over him as he thought about the request for the body guard duty and he gazed at Illya with his grey eyes. "I am curious though, if you don't mind me asking. What do you intend to do if you are called to guard the council woman and you've taken a commission elsewhere when you graduate?" The man couldn't be in two places at once after all and it begged the question of what he would choose.

    Illya nodded when Swyft mentioned sending a private message if things took longer than anticipated. At least he wouldn't be an ass about it. Then an odd question came spilling from the man and Illya smirked. "Dat's nut gonna happen. I talk wit meh agreed and I will know when she needs meh. Ef I have offer dat would conflict wit her need for meh as bodyguard den I would respectfully decline dah offer."

    He wasn't in the practice of asking personal questions unless he felt the need to. People's lives were their own and many of them sought Skycorp to get out into the galaxy for travel. This didn't seem to be the case with the Chip and it was a curious thing that he was so stoutly devoted to his wife, but nonetheless an admirable trait. Swyft's lips echoed Illya's smirk with a faint crease of their own and he nodded. "Of course," he replied, "Send word if this business takes longer and enjoy the evening, Cadet. Fair winds." With that token of luck, he dismissed the man to go about his day.

    *******************************

    Illya slung his pack over his back and he ran all the way home. He wanted to get there in time to get Kalizda to the hotel so that she could change there and he would catch a skimmer back to the docks and get himself changed before he went to find her. It was a great sounding event and terrifying at the same time. It was hard to figure out how he felt about Kalizda going to get changed and wandering the streets by herself. She could handle herself well enough, but she was the council woman and it made her a target and then at the same time she was in costume/disguise and he wasn't sure he would be able to find her quickly enough if anything did go wrong.

    When Illya arrived he saw that Kalizda was already packing her bags and getting ready to spend the night at the fancy hotel. He had a few things planned for her, but he didn't plan too much besides getting the best room for her and making sure that they had tickets and a nice meal to be delivered for breakfast in the morning. As for the evening, he would let her choose what they ate.

    "Yah almost ready?" He wasn't quite ready, but he knew he would be. Grabbing a pair of pants out of his drawer Illya tossed them on the bed and then whipped out a pair of boxers, socks, a sweater, a shirt, a jacket, and a coat in case he'd need it. There was no telling with this time of year and then he took his carefully wrapped package for his costume and shoved it into his bag along with his clothes and few toiletry items. Before he finished his packing Illya made sure he had his inhaler, and lozenges for bed. As much as he hated the idea that he was still taking medicine, he needed it because he didn't sleep well without it. "Now I'm ready and I take yah tah get dressed at dah hotel. I want yah tah feel fancy and yah get tah look out over dah city and see all dah festival from dah room before yah go out." Illya grabbed his pad and he set a small alarm for himself. "Now, yah remember dat yah send meh message when yah leave dah hotel so dat I dun see yah until dah festival yeah? Den yah be sure tah message meh ef dere es anyting wrong."

    Comfortable that they had a little bit of security, Illya flew in the little skimmer to the hotel with Kalizda. Just so he would know which room was theirs he went up to the room with Kalizda and left his bag there. Illya was about to walk out and then he remembered that his costume was in the bag. "Oh wait." Stepping back in the room he pointed to his bag. "I forgot dah wrapped bag wit meh costume in et." A slight tinge of pink painted the tips of Illya's ears. He felt stupid forgetting he'd packed his costume in the bag that he was going to be leaving at the hotel.

    Downstairs in the hotel Illya ordered a skimmer to take him back to the docks. On the ride to the docks he got a message from Ehud in code. Studying the message for a few moments Illya's eyes narrowed. "Dah hell es dis mess." Mumbling under his breath he shifted in the seat and absent mindedly reached for his costume bag and disembarked from the skimmer when they stopped at the docks. Reading the message the rest of the way into the ship he couldn't help wondering why it was so quiet. The kids weren't clambering for his attention and Thomas wasn't saying anything. It wasn't until Illya looked up that he noticed he was not on his ship. He'd walked into someone else's ship with an open docking bay. "Excuse meh." Turning away from the bewildered folk he walked back down the gang plank and walked over 3 more bays before arriving at his ship. By the time he got there he was a little rushed for time, but he'd have to talk to Kalizda about this in the morning. In the meantime he was going to have to message the Elite and let them know he would need additional men. They were going to plan for the worst.

    By the time the message was out Illya only had a few minutes to scramble into his black and gold double breasted jacket and his black dress pants with the black riding boots. Then to finish off the costume he had a black wolf mask. Shoving his pad into the inside pocket of his jacket Illya jogged out of the ship and into the streets. The closer he got to the city center the more congested it became. Eventually he reached a spot where they had even placed a no fly zone because of all the decorations and massive balloons floating over the city. People were so thick he could feel them everywhere and he almost had to swallow back a tinge of panic. Kalizda was out here somewhere and tonight was for her. All he had to do was find her.
     
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  19. aryamajor

    aryamajor Curious Adventurer Benefactor

    Priscilla gazed at Ehud, her blue eyes searching over his face with a touch of worry. She knew he was the general and with that came a high amount of stress as well as dangerous situations. Probably more so than Harry had been in. Perhaps it had been something minor, but also time based and therefore sensitive. Whatever it was, the air around Ehud felt heavy. Her delicate hand drifted over to his and she he covered it with a gentle squeeze. "I don't talk about him often and I know that this may be different, but Harry and I...well...he was in a position where he couldn't tell me everything. I knew that and I respected it because I knew it wasnt because he didnt trust me. It was a safety matter. I'm no Calysta Monroe. I'm not trained to fight or fly with purpose like that. But Harry and I did have an understanding with one another. He promised to let me help where I could." A little smile broke over her pink lips and she leaned forward to kiss him on the cheek. "If there's something I can do, Ehud. Tell me."

    Everything that Priscilla was doing was right and Ehud shifted uncomfortably as her hand slipped over his and she started to talk. The way she talked about Harry didn't bother him so much as it reminded him and he felt guilty. Her husband was still alive and he needed the comfort from his wife. She couldn't know that because Harry hadn't told him that he could, but it still bothered him. At the end of it Priscilla leaned in for a kiss and Ehud leaned away. "Priscilla, I-I'm sorry. I still feel the same about you and I care for you, but...." How could he do this to her without saying something about Harry? Yet, he'd given his word and he was doing his best not to. "There is something very serious and I would like your comfort, but I can't take it for now."

    He leaned away from her when she came close and she paused her lips a inch from his cheek, then back pedaled a little in confusion. Was her breath bad? They had pizza an hour or so ago and she could have had garlic breath, though she had popped a few mints before he returned from the concierge desk. Then she wondered if it was because they were sitting on a bed together. Ehud was most after all. She pulled back further and looked him over with a deepened expression of confusion taking over the smile. Now, he was saying he cared for her...but...? But what? Still feel the same way? None of it made any sense. Why would work troubles effect how he felt about her unless his work troubles had something to do with Terra maybe. Her lips creased as she tried to puzzle out why he sounded like he was breaking up with her. He hadn't sounded like this till they came to the colony. Maybe he was more like Illya? "If you don't want to kiss, that's fine," she said, "But I thought things were going well. Is it because I'm Terran?" If that was the sudden case she wanted it out in the open.

    Ehud opened and closed his mouth a few times as if he were going to say something. This was not good sounding at all. Priscilla seemed to know that there was a lot more wrong than just work even though he had tried to protect her from that fact. "I do want to kiss, but I shouldn't right now." Protesting the idea of her thinking he wouldn't want to kiss was tough and then she was asking if ti was because she was Terran. "No! I like Terrans just fine. I used to live on Terra. I know that not all of them are bad. Priscilla I'd never think less of you because you're Terran. Where would you get an idea like that?" His question was immediately answered when Sien decided to help out. "Uncle Illya doesn't like Terrans."

    The little boy poked his head out of the bathroom, still able to hear them through the wall, and then fully emerged in his Mickey Martian pajamas. His hair stood up on end from having pulled his shirt over his head. Priscilla gave Ehud a pointed look and nodded slightly as if to say 'see?' If it wasnt that, then what was wrong? Carefully she moved her hand from Ehud's and glanced to Sien. "Sien, don't leave your good clothes in the bathroom in a pile. Go get them and fold them up." The boy stopped in his tracks and then swiveled around to get his discarded laundry, feet pattering on the floor. "I don't want you to feel obligated to so anything you dont want to do," Priscilla replied, "It's alright." It was indeed NOT alright, but with Sien around this wasnt the place nor time. The boy came out of the room, his laundry piled in his arms and she showed him how to fold them properly, moving away from Ehud as she did. "Now, put them in your suit case." He did as he was told and he ruffled his hair. "Get some sleep and we'll go out again tomorrow." Sien was already piling into bed with Ehud, with whom she gave a final long glance at before going to the door. "Good night Ehud."

    Even if Ehud couldn't quite figure out what was wrong with how he said things, he could feel the tension. Sien hadn't quite helped with his little statement. Ehud knew that Illya had a hard time with Terrans and yet he was the only Chip so far that was living with Terrans. It was a bit funny how that worked out and then the fact that he made it known clearly enough that he didn't like them was in bad taste. Ehud could tell that Priscilla was not satisfied with his answer, but she was trying to give him a graceful out. What out it was he didn't know. "Priscilla, I want to tell you more. Maybe tomorrow I will have more information and then I can tell you what happened with work."

    She gazed at him for a moment more and lifted a hand, wiggling her fingers slightly in a gesture of 'good night.' "As I said, it's alright. I know there are things I can't know." Then she turned on her heels and retreated to her room. As she got ready for bed, stripping off her clothes and pulling on a silken night slip , she wondered what on earth could have been the problem. Nothing at work should have precluded him from kidding her and he claimed he wanted to, but then refused. If it wasn't because she was Terran, maybe it was because she mentioned Harry. He had never clammed up like that before though.

    Sighing, she combed her honey colored hair pensively, only half way paying attention to what she was doing. Once her waves were well taken care of, she cleaned her face almost too meticulously while she thought over the day. Maybe he was having seconds thoughts about bringing her. Men who say one thing, like saying they felt the same way, and then do another weren't exactly to be trust. But usually this sort of thing happened in reversed. They said they cared and then got what they wanted first before denying you. With her face entirely devoid of make up she crawled into bed and pulled the freshly made covers over her shoulders. She would give Ehud time. It wasn't easy to be with someone new all of the time and they had both lost their spouses suddenly. Perhaps he just needed a moment to think and she'd gotten too close. Shown a bit too much vulnerability in a moment he was stressed. Priscilla closed her eyes and took in another deep breath before trying to sleep.

    * * * * * * *

    The next morning, she got dressed in a pair of jeans and a long sleeved flannel shirt that would be good for riding. With her boots laced up, she waited until Sien and Ehud were well into getting ready before knocking on the shared door between their rooms. Sien answered, his shirt half untucked and gave her a winning grin. "Good morning!" Priscilla had said they might get to go playing with a strange animal called 'horses.' He'd seen them before in a few movies over at Uncle Illya's house with Cypher and they looked fun. "Ready to go?" The woman looked to Sien and couldn't help but smile. Dropping to one knee, she helped him tuck in his shirt tail and then guided him by the shoulder to the door. "Yep, and now we both are," she chuckled. Ehud was ready too, stuffing his wallet and pad into his pocket before following them down to the little restaurant for breakfast.She ate quietly and Ehud didn't seem particularly talkative either. At one point, she thought she might comment on how he ordered his hash browns, but her eyes met his and the words stalled out. That heavy air from last night was still hovering. Giving him a small look of apology, she averted her gaze and went back to her own plate.

    When they had eaten, it was finally clear to go out into the streets which were starting to bustle with people. This time, rather than stopping to shop, they made their way to the outskirts of town were a checking point was done. The man at t guard gate smiled at her warmly, as if he knew her. "Mrs. Kai," he said as he scanned her visitors pass, "It's good to see the first lady in the colony." Priscilla gave a small shrug but tried to smile back pleasantly. "I haven't been the First Lady in a couple of years," she replied, "But thank you." The guard handed her pass back and nodded. "Maybe, but it doesn't mean people don't remember."

    Priscilla gave the guard her best and then followed the path out to the ranch along with a few others who were also looking for the little horseback tour around the colony. Some were Kaerelean, speaking in the fluid and fast paced language and others were obviously Terran. She walked along Ehud and held Sien's hand, which seemed to make him quite happy until they made it to the corrals where several of the horses were tacked up and waiting. The smell of hay and leather was inviting to Priscilla and she smiled to herself, remembering the times she had been riding with Harry. The sun-tanned rancher came around the corner and waved the group over. "C'moon down," he smiled, "I gotcha nice and ready." Sien was practically bouncing on his heels as they were let into the dock area and allowed to choose their horses. Priscilla looked over their options, taking in the general attitude of each animal. One had his ears pricked forward in heightened curiosity and another's head was low, ears back against the sound of tittering tourists. "Now, missy you look like yah rode before," the Terran rancher said as he walked up behind them. "I have." she nodded, "This guy is pretty new, though. Have a horse in mind?"

    The terran grinned and pointed to a nice looking chestnut mare. "That's Biscuit. She'll d'him right nice." Sien walked up the 16 hand mare and she regard him with a gentle nuzzle of her lip, searching through his blonde hair in a friendly greeting. "Look, Dad. I think she likes me." The rancher started to pick up Sien and place him into the saddle because he was too short to reach the stirrups. Priscilla knew the boy was in good hands and nodded to Ehud. "I think I would take that one, its a geilding. He should be pretty easy to deal with." She chose the palomino mare with blonde braids and held a more or less indifferent attitude. Indifferent was better than hostile. These horses were probably well used to new riders taking the same tour daily and that helped. She let the mare get a good sniff of her hands and then scratched behind her ears before making a move to mount. "Hello there-" she looked to the bridle- "Alera. Pretty name." Putting her foot into the stirrup, she pulled herself astride the animal and settled into the saddle. It was much like riding a bicycle in her opinion. Once you learned, you never forgot and could sliding into the habit easily.

    Everyone else was mounting up and she glanced over to Ehud to find him atop the grey gelding with a small grimace. Maybe he didn't like horses? He hadn't said anything to her about it when she mentioned going yesterday. In contrast, Sien seemed to be taking to horse back like a fish to water. He was entirely at ease and gentle as he petted at Biscuit's smooth coat. Once everyone was ready to go, the rancher saddled up and lead them toward the gate at an easy pace. "We'll go on out to the windmills and then to the dam. I'll tell you all about the land on the way."

    Priscilla nudged her horse forward using a firm squeeze of her legs and followed the man along with the others. It wasn't until they were well down the path that he began to talk about this field and that. "Over here is where wheat crops will be a' coming up. Corn is to the right there. We're a major exporter of corn and corn based products to the colonies on the fringe that have been cut off from Terra too." Between fields there were tall, white windmills to build up wind power. "Those windmills on top of the solar panels get the colony all they need on most days."

    There was a scuffling sound from behind them and a heavy snort before she looked back to see Ehud's horse inching backwards, his head drawn up to his neck in protest. That horse wasn't going to move unless it was to bolt in the opposite direction. "Eh...why dontcha y' just back up, just a bit," drawled the rancher, "Give him a little space."

    * * * * * * * * *

    Calysta spent most of her morning gathering up what they needed to go to the hotel room that night. She had her own bags packed and ready to go, but the bulk of the preparation was actually for the kids. She had to make sure the twins had plenty of formula and soft food, that Cypher and Lohgan had food set aside for them. They had plenty of movies and games to occupy them. Cypher had his summer reading done and Lohgan would just be beginning small lessons here and there to prepare her for school the next year. By the time Illya came blustering through the door she was nearly ready. He packed in an equally hurried flurry before asking if she was ready to go. "Aye, I'm ready," she chuckled as they scurried out of the door trailed by Cypher who was intent on saying goodbye all the way until the hatch closed behind them.

    Their hotel room was one of the nicest she had ever been in before. There was a big, Chip-sized bed surrounded by soft hanging light and candles meant for a romantic mood, though they weren't lit yet. They had a little balcony overlooking the streets and it had a wonderful view of the sky-line. That was one thing Calysta always preferred Kaereal over any other city she went to. There were caps on the height of buildings so the fly-zones stayed free. It kept the sky open and unhindered by tall buildings and allowed for a beautiful view of the setting sun along with the rising twin moons. "Aye," she smiled, "This is beautiful." A little thrill of excitement fluttered through her and she couldn't wait to get dressed. The costume she had picked wasn't her first choice, but she thought it would look nice and it was one of the only times she would wear blue. He was still in rush mode when he reminded her about having her pad with her just in case they needed to find each other. "I'll have it with me," she assured him. She sent him out the door with a few pecking kisses and giggled as he scuttled out. As soon as he was out the door, she scuttled over to her bag and began pull out her air compressed box with her dress inside. The dress was poofy at the bottom and would probably over whelm her but she couldn't resist the colors contrasted against the black lace for a sunrise look.

    She was half way to unsealing the package when Illya burst back through the door. With a squeak, she shoved the dress off the bed and turned her back so it would be hidden from view as Illya plucked up his bag. His ears were pink as he mumbled about forgetting his costume. "O-oh. That's okay." He picked up his bag and fumbled around with the costume package before retrieving what he need and jetting out the door once more. Letting out a breath, she picked the costume off the floor and chuckled to herself. Her Chip looked funny with his ears tinged pink with a mix of excitement and embarrassment. She dared to think it was cute. With a knowing grin, she dove into the bathroom and started to get ready.

    * * * * * * * * * *

    Amid the steadily growing crowd, a slim and small figure in a golden dress with long, red plumes sweeping down the skirts could be seen walking the crowd ahead of him. Her mask was of gold flake filligree and her glossy black hair was bound in an intricate bun like a crown, sparkling with red jewels. She was obviously looking around, her glittering head turning this way, then that before bobbing a bit as if she were standing on her toes to see over the others who were equally dressed up.

    Illya saw a little figure wearing the gold with red plumes and the voluminous stack of black hair on the head. It looked like Kalizda from behind and he wondered if it was. He had a mask and if it wasn't Kalizda he wasn't going to reveal himself to this person. Walking up behind the lady he placed one of his hands on her shoulder. His hand by itself covered her shoulder and made her look like a child. "Little bird." Speaking in Quoti he waited for an answer. Only Kalizda would know it was him if she answered in Quoti.

    The small statured woman stiffened a little and turned her head, the mask over her face glittering some in the street lights. Grey eyes met his chest and then traveled all the way up to Illya's masked face. Red lips curled into a sweet smile and she chuckled. "I think you might have mistaken me for someone else." She wasn't upset in the slightest and even reached up, tying a little green pouch around the wrist of the hand on her shoulder. "Green," she said cheerily, "It means handsome and and strong. Happy New Year to you, sir." Patting his hand, she stepped back and gave him a little bow. When he looked confused, she chuckled. "It's confetti," she nodded to the pouch, "Let it go at midnight with who you're looking for."

    For a moment Illya was sure that it was Kalizda. She had grey eyes and he was relieved to find her so soon. Slowly a frown came to his face and he realized that it was not her. The voice was a bit more nasaly and her teeth weren't right either. Not that she was bad looking, but she wasn't who he was looking for. Glancing at the little green pouch he lifted it slightly and hit the nose on his mask, "Ugh.." The mask pushed up slightly and then dropped back in place a bit lopsided. Illya had to readjust the mask so he could see properly and then he grunted, "Tanks." Moving past her he looked around and sighed. There were only thousands more to observe. There were plenty of short people and the best he could do was look for the gaps in the crowd. They weren't really gaps, but they indicated a space that was occupied by a person too short to see amidst those taller than themselves. Looking for the next short person Illya sifted through the crowd. One of these people would be Kalizda.

    Another dip in the crowd was marked by a pile of bright blond curls. Further investigation would show that the woman it belonged to was petite with pale skin wrapped in a periwinkle dress and a mask of rose gold. She looked up when the large 'wolf man' sifted through the crowd, having seen him from a long ways away. "Illya!" She waved. She couldnt tell how loud her words were but she said them as loud as she could.

    Illya heard his name and he turned toward the little divot in the crowd. A pale arm was sticking up and he politely shoved a few people aside before he found it was his classmate. "Wynry, yah came to dah party. Yah see meh Kalizda anywhere?"

    He altered course and waded through the crowd to get to her. Before even wishing her happy new year, he asked for what she could only assume was the council woman given what his lips mouthed and she held up ahead. "You have a better view in your stratosphere than I do," she said, "I have you tried the food line?"

    "No, I dun try food yet. I'm looking for Kalizda." Illya was determined to find her so that they could have food together, but it was a good idea to check food lines for her. Perhaps she was hungry and she wanted to get a little bite to eat. "Yah come wit meh tah check food lines?" This whole party was huge and he felt someone bump into his back before he turned to see who it was. There were so many people that he couldn't begin to tell who it might have been. In a short instant he felt like he was itching on the back of his arm and immediately his brain jumped to the conclusion that the federation had just poisoned him. It probably wasn't true, but this was an ideal place to make a hit.

    She managed to hear "with me" and she nodded. Either he was talking about his wife not being with him or he wanted her to come with him. Either way, a nod was an appropriate response. She waved him toward the food line where it wasnt less crowded but considerably more ordered so they could chrck out the people. "Lets check the line and then the tables?" She offered questioningly. There had been beautiful tables of black cloth with silver candles set up for the near length of a football field.

    It sounded like Wynry got the general idea and she was willing to go with him on the look out for his agreed. Wandering into the first line Illya walked to the front and then walked along side the line to the back of it and started on the next line before he decided to look at the tables. Glancing back at Wynry he could see she kept looking at the food lines and he finally stopped. "Yah hungry? Yah want tah eat?" If she was helping him it was only polite to let her eat something if she was hungry. "We jes get in line and get food den." He would only get a little bit since he was still planning on eating with Kalizda.

    He mentioned being hungry and she nodded. They might as well snack while they searched. Sometimes the harder you looked for something, the harder it was or the more elusive it became. She walked up to the line and was handed a plate of gleaming silver. Her eyes set over the food and she gave Illya a timid smile. "Are you very hungry? This is my favorite food of the year." He was handsome even with the mask on. A tall figure, striking and solid in his coat next to her and she could feel the ever so slight heat he radiated prickle over her arms. It was around 3 minutes she was staring before she realized the line had moved. They were cued up to the small bites first but that was fine by her. Inching forward, she diverted her gaze and kept going. Midway through putting a tart onto her plate, a smaller figure still appeared in her vision and she glanced over to see a small Ewenian woman in a beautiful ombre gown with black lace and a bronze mask with a sun on the forehead. "There you are," she smiled up to Illya, grey eyes all made over. Wynry had to.admit the woman was pretty.

    "I am hungry, but I want tah save some room tah eat wit meh Kalizda." Illya answered her question as he took the silver platter that was handed to him. Why they always insisted on silver he didn't know. Gold was far more beautiful. They were just getting to the point in line where they could start serving up and then Illya heard Kalizda's voice. Turning slightly he grinned at her, though it was hidden by the mask. Pulling it up so that it perched on the top of his head he winked. "Yes I decided tah get a little food, but now dat yah here, maybe I get more because den we eat togeter. What yah see tahnight dat we need tah go to togeter?" For a moment he forgot that Wynry was with him and then he blurted in the middle of everything. "Kalizda, dis es Wynry. She es one of meh team mates."

    Calysta slipped into the line with Illya. A Terran might have protested she was cutting, but Kaereleans wouldn't care too much. Everyone else looking for the match was doing the same thing and the food booth was an easy place to find them. Of course, she hadn't left anything to chance. Her pad could trace Illya's within a certain area and all she'd had to do was watch the pad and search for the tallest man around. Of course, she wasn't surprised to see him at the food. It was quite a buffet and it would change through out the night. Right now there were all traditional foods honoring the moon goddess Maroe with whites, silvers and blacks. There were foods with light tastes and small bites. This was the end of the year and Maroe was the goddess of death and endings. When midnight came, the food would be changed over and become foods heavy with spices and dyed in bright pinks to herald in the new year with the moon goddess of life, Sarai. "I think eating together would be perfect," she beamed back at her Chip. For a moment, she forgot they weren't alone and she blinked a few times before turning to Wynry with a small bow. "It's a pleasure to meet you, I'm Calysta. I would enjoy hearing more about skycorp and you, if you would like to join us?" It would be rude not to invite someone who had yet to find their partner.

    Wynry gazed at Calysta, trying to get what she was saying. At least her mouth was uncovered, but her hesitation in replying was picked up quickly as the woman investigated her. Since her hair was up, her clear hearing aides were visible if you paid enough attention and apparently the council woman was fairly attentive. "Oh!" Calysta said, the realization hitting her. She held up her hands and made a few signs with her fingers or arm, either spelling or signalling a basic idea of what was being said. "You know K-sine?" Wynry blurted out in surprise. The Kinte woman never expected hearing people to know the system and it was shocking that the council woman did. Calysta nodded and signed back 'yes' before adding a few more signals. "I learned with a friend from childhood. I do not remember all the signs though."

    Even with this admittance, Wynry was pleased and she smiled. The council woman looked familiar when she was gesturing, and it wasn't until she slipped her mask from her made over eyes, that Wynry recognized her as the woman that had been with Illya on the race day. She knew he had been married and the general, but it wasn't entirely known that the council woman was his wife and seeing them both in person was a little shocking. Still, it was nice to think that he had married that little woman after all of that time. It made him seem all the more sweet."I would like to sit with you."

    Calysta nodded in approval and slipped a hand to Illya's arm with a gentle squeeze. "Let's eat then." They walked down the line with them both and helped Illya pick a few things for his plate, explaining what wasn't obvious, and putting the beautifully displayed fares on her own plate too. When they neared the sweet section, Calysta grinned and walked up to what looked like a large sculpture of a falcon with thousands of individually carved feathers. "You'll like this," she told Illya excitedly as she plucked a feather from the sculpture. "I've only ever had it once. It's a delicacy made from veryn cream on Isyso. The cream is so thick that it can be sculpted and naturally sweet. You can mold it into anything and as soon as it hits your tongue...poof. It melts."

    With food in hand, they picked a candle lit table and enjoyed their first meal of the night. The moons were starting to crest higher into the sky, the pink light of Sarai mixing with the silvery light of Maroe. Moon worshippers were already starting to cast the glow through prisms, reading the reflections to people and telling their fortunes while others were beginning the dancing. "So, Wynry," Calysta asked as she signed, "How many eveyre? " Wyn nodded in understanding, though the signage was a bit off in the order. "16. This will be my 17th tonight."

    Calysta grinned and congratulated her before leaning over to Illya. "Kaereleans don't celebrate birthdays like Terrans or mark the days like Chippeqouti do in their names in the past at least. We follow the galactic standard calendar now because it's easier to pick birthdays in relating to others, but traditionally, for most Kaereleans, we all celebrate one big birthday on the new year. This is her 17th birthday by Kaerelean standards, and she will likely be still 16 by galactic standards." That was probably how she had gotten into Skycorp, as the exploration outfit would accept both ages for a candidate.

    They ate and talked for awhile until she came to the creamy feather which she gave her full attention to. Taking a bite, she let the buttery sweet cream melt in her mouth with her eyes closed as she hummed in delight. It tasted just as good this time as it had nearly 15 years ago when she'd had it. After awhile, a group of merry makers came by and offered them a basket full of fried goodies. Calysta plucked up three and shared them with the group before suggesting they go see what games the town had going. "We can come back after midnight and they'll have put out a whole new set of food to try," she told Illya, "Let's go see what kind of trouble we can get into."

    Walking down the square, she kept her Chip's hand in her own, simply happy to be out and enjoying the party. To their right was a traditional game of 'smash'. The revelers would throw plates made of compacted minerals and try to shatter them. It was a good, simple game of destruction and the plates would help fertilize the ground for another year of prosperity. Along side that was a moon worshippers dance. People had gathered side by side in alternating rings to dance away the old year and bring in the new. There were also balloon rides and old style, wheeled wagons decorated with lights and pink flowers, pulled by the same draft animals they had seen in the petting zoo. Looking up to Illya, she smiled and gestured to everything going on before them. She didn't want to overwhelm him or limit him at the same time. He had promised to tell her when things were too much and she hoped he would at least do that if the crowd became troublesome for him. "What would you like to try first? It's our first Kaerelean new year ball and I think you should choose."
     
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  20. Silence

    Silence Anonymous Me Staff Member Benefactor Warden

    The next morning things weren't any easier. Priscilla seemed to be so close many times to wanting to get closer. Had they really come so far in such a short time? While he was getting to know her he had not realized how many of the ways they were spending time together and speaking with each other could be wrong if her husband was still alive. It was a good thing that he had never moved past kissing her. Still, it was frustrating to find himself in this position. Why in the world would Harry wait all this time without telling her that he was alive? Didn't the guy know it was cruel to do this to her? Now things were strained between them because Harry was counting on him keeping his word. If there was one thing an ex-spy was good at, it was keeping secrets.

    All through breakfast Ehud shifted uncomfortably. His hashbrowns were covered in cheese and beans. It was the best way to eat them, but they still didn't taste nearly as satisfying as they should have. Before he even had the chance to finish the food on his plate Sien was ready to go. The boy had done nothing, but wiggle his way through breakfast and excitedly look at the clock almost every five seconds. Clearly his son was thrilled to be going out riding on the horses. Last night he talked all about the movies with the cowboys that he watched at Uncle Illyas. For all the grousing that Illya did about Terrans it was curious that he allowed so many Terran traditions in his home.

    When they were finally ready to go out riding Sien was nearly pulling Ehud along with him. Ehud had seen plenty of horses in his time on Terra, but he'd never ridden one. So far as he knew it wasn't that hard. You got onto the horse and you sat on it while it walked. There wasn't anything complicated about that. Stepping into the stable, Ehud looked for the biggest, slowest, and dumbest looking animal he could find. He didn't want anything that was going to make him look stupid.

    Sien was nearly dancing as a stable hand helped him get his horse ready and showed him how to lead it out of the stable. Ehud fumbled a bit with the reins, but the horse seemed to know what to do anyway. For the moment the Chip general could feel himself turning a little pink in the cheeks. Already the oversized mammal was making him look a bit foolish. Once they came to a head of a trail it was time to mount the creatures. Sien needed a little bit of help and he seemed to be perfectly happy to be on horse. For himself, Ehud was a little nervous. The horse side stepped when he tried to mount it and he had to hop a few steps to catch up with the animal and then swing his leg over in a dramatic sweep. Now that he was seated Ehud found the saddle uncomfortable and his mouth pulled down slightly.

    It wasn't his intention that Priscilla would see him frowning. Ehud tried to smile a little when he caught her gaze, but his eyes still held that tint of discomfort and worry. There was plenty to worry about now that he was on this giant mammal. At least it wasn't something larger. Within the first few steps the animal was already close behind Priscillas and it was pulling its head and dancing around. It was as if somehow the creature was nervous about this too. How could it possibly be nervous if it did this all the time? Ehud started to feel even more uncomfortable and the horse pulled and jerked a few more times before it began to crow hop and Ehud bounced into the air and slid to the side slightly before he felt himself being tossed slightly above the saddle again. With all the hopping the horse was doing he was gradually shifted back and further to the side again. In only a matter of minutes Ehud had managed to lose his seat entirely and he hit the ground with a loud huff.

    The jarring felt like it shook all his internal organs. Putting a hand protectively over his stomach Ehud walked over to the horse and he mounted it again. One of the men hosting the ride leaned over toward him and said quietly, "Horses can sense fear." Apparently the man knew enough to know that Ehud was afraid of riding the creature even if it was ridiculous to be afraid of riding an animal.

    Throughout the ride Ehud was jostled about on the horse and he fell off a few more times and especially if they ever had to move faster than a walking pace. A trot was pure misery and he could feel his guts were becoming irritated with the constant jarring. After a while Ehud dismounted and chose to walk. Even the walking felt a little hard on his body, but he was determined to make it through the ride. Sien was almost entirely oblivious to what was going on and rode on blissfully with a huge grin on his face and blonde hairs bouncing with every step of the horse.

    At last the ride was over and so was the walking. Ehud held one hand over his stomach and he slouched slightly when Priscilla wasn't looking. Sometime before the day was up he was going to have to go back to visit Harry too. It was already feeling like a long day. By the time they returned to the stables Ehud was looking a little more pale, but Sien barely noticed. "C'mon..." Grabbing Ehud's hand he pulled at his dad. "Let's go get some lunch. I'm a starvin marvin." That was a little saying he'd learned from listening to another boy in a restaurant and he liked it. Reluctantly Ehud straightened himself and followed after his son. He didn't have the energy to say much and so he followed Sien out to the street and to a vendor. Naturally his son was going to pick something that had a lot of grease, sugars and plenty of other ingredients that would be hard on the guts too. "Alright..." Casting a glance to Priscilla he grinned cautiously, "Would you like something?" He wasn't going to be eating anything until dinner because then he knew that he would at least make it through the rest of the day without getting sick.

    Ehud didn't get back to the hotel with Priscilla and Sien until it was early evening. He was glad that they wanted a small break before going to eat. There was the temptation to simply try and rest, or to get the worst of it over. After a few minutes he wandered over to Priscilla's door and knocked. "Do you mind if Sien stays with you for a few minutes? I have a little business to take care of. It's related to the stuff from yesterday."

    **********************

    There was so much food and most of it foreign looking. Illya started out cautiously because he didn't know how much of the food, or if any of it would have corn. Within a few seconds he relaxed a little more as Kalizda steered him away from the dangerous foods and simply told him which foods were good for him to eat. Illya's plate got fuller as he went and soon he had to stack some of the foods on top of each other. He didn't want to go hungry when he didn't have to. Near the end of the line Kalizda started to pluck the feathers off a bird and she told him it was cream. Illya grabbed one more for Kalizda's plate and then two for himself. They would both need 2 if the feathers were that good of a cream.

    After they were seated at a table Illya sat next to Kalizda and he grinned a little as he ate the first feather. It was good and he wondered if he should save his last feather for after he finished the other food, or simply eat it now. Illya only considered the choice for a few seconds and then decided to eat the second feather right away. "Dis es very good." While they were eating Kalizda would point out little bits of the merry making and tell him about it. There were prisms for telling the future as predicted by the moons, dancing, drinks, books, smashing things for fun and dozens more things to do. It all was sounding like fun. Illya almost wanted the meal to be done with so he could get started on the fun stuff with Kalizda and at the same time he wanted to eat more. The food was delicious.

    By the time they were finished eating Illya snatched up the trays they used and took them to the pile where they were to be set with the other dirty platters. Holding his arm out to Kalizda he nodded to her. Now they were ready to start the partying. Almost immediately Kalizda walked with Illya toward the center of the activity and walked him through some of the activities that they had talked about during dinner. At the end of her mini tour of the nearby activities she made an offer that Illya hadn't expected. "Kalizda, dis night es for yah and yah want tah give meh first choice?" It was a bit surprising that she wanted him to choose what they did first. Gazing around the massive party and looking over the sea of bobbing heads and brilliantly colored costumes he saw a few other things too, but it was best to start with where they were and work their way through the festival. "Hmm...First," Illya glanced to Kalizda and smiled. "I tink we make dis right. Dis es where yah find yah true love and yah live wit dem rest of yah life." Wrapping an arm around her waist Illya lifted her off the ground slightly and leaned down a bit to kiss her. "Now we go for ride in dah balloon eh? I tink I take yah on balloon once. I convince dah man dat yah a princess. Dis time dey know yah council woman and yah still get dah best ride wit good view of dah city."

    He almost sounded surprised that she would let him pick and he scanned the crowd before looking to her with a grin on his face that told he was about to either start trouble or do something sweet. Or both as the case could be with him. The he wrapped an arm around her and remembered to kiss her, sealing them into the New Years traditions with her feet lifted from the ground in an gentle embrace. She could feel his smile under her lips and she kissed him back all the more for it, her tiny fingers tangling into the hair at the nape of his neck until he pulled back just enough to tell her about wanting to ride the balloons. Calysta blinked at him, this time surprised herself. He remembered that? Then she pulled him into another quite passionate little kiss before her toes hit the ground again. Tucking under his arms she beamed up at him. "It was only the best because both times I was with you," she winked at him. Tonight she really did feel like more than a princess and it radiated off her like a humming glow. Wynry stepped back and gave them both a courteous bow. "Thank you for dining with me this evening. Enjoy your night and Happy New Year. Fair Winds." Her cheeks were pink as she scuttled away into the crowed, her dress trailing behind her. She'd never seen two people look at each other quite like that and whatever she felt about the former General was nothing in comparison to the way his wife looked at him with that sparkle in her eyes and the way he returned the look just as much. He would never look at her like that and somehow, that wasn't a sad fact. She admired the two of them. Calysta nodded and called to the retreating woman's back. "Fair winds!" As Wynry dissappeared into the crowd it was easy to see the woman liked Illya and she was polite enough to keep those sentiments away. For all the men in the world, women seemed to like her husband and she knew he was a good man. It wasn't until Illya stepped forward, that Calysta blinked a few times and came back to the present. "Let's go get into that balloon, hm?" Leaning up, she kissed his cheek one more time and looped her arm into his.

    For a moment they paused and Illya could just stare into Kalizda's eyes. She was always beautiful and he barely noticed when Wynry gave her goodbye. "Eh...Fair winds!" Yelling back to her he saw that she was already far enough away she probably didn't hear, but that was alright. Now that he had Kalizda all to himself again he grinned. It felt good to have her little arm looped in with his. Stepping up to one of the balloons Illya waited in line with her for their turn. "I want dah best ride wit good scene of dah city. She es meh wife and she needs dah best." The man gave him a funny look and Illya sighed, "Please." After a few awkward seconds the man nodded and he held out a hand to help Kalizda into the basket. Illya crawled in after her and he smiled broadly. "Now we see all dah festival and yah tell meh from dah sky where we go next eh?"

    There was a secret little pleasure when Illya told the balloon pilot that she was his wife and she needed the best view. It wasn't because she was council woman or that he was trying to totally impress her. He genuinely wanted her to have the best view. At first the pilot gave them a flat look, bordering on annoyed until her Chip added in something he rarely ever used. The simple utterance of please seemed to work just fine and the man took her hand, leading her into the balloon. When Illya joined them, his weight swaying the basket some, Calysta wobbled in her heels and held onto him. "I get to pick next, huh?" The pilot nodded as he cast down the mooring ropes and opened up the pilot light. "Where to?" Leaning over the edge some, she pointed toward the center of Kinte where the council house and the great university dome sat. "Right there," she grinned, before looking back to Illya, "I want to show you something." They floated off in that direction, the wind catching them in a warm breeze from time to time as the man centered them over the city. "Can you lower us, just a little?" He did as he was bid and dropped them until they were nearly side by side with the tallest point in Kinte, the sleek dome of the University library. On the top was a point that marked the new year, prodding into the sky between the two full moons. It was something that would happen fully at midnight, but there would also be fire works at the same time and she didn't want Illya to be out on on the street for those. "When both the moons hit center, it will be midnight and the new year begins," she told him as the pale pinkish light washed over the basket. Inching a little closer, she tucked under his arm and wrapped an arm around his waist. "Thank you for coming out with me tonight, love." She usually only said that in the bedroom, but right now she felt like using it because his name just didn't quite encompass her thoughts. About that time, a chime echoed over the city and from the edges gentle golden lights began to appear in a wave, floating upward into the sky in a quiet display of lights. "Oh, the beacon lights," she hummed, "I've never seen them this way. They're little lanterns they used to put out so the very first pilots on Kaereal could find their way home. People release them for loved ones lost or found for the new year." She watched the bobbing lanterns float upwards the glow spreading out over the clear sky and seeming to add to the stars. That was one of the few events that would be going on that night and the next one was the dancing which is what she would choose.

    From the balloon the entire city and festival was in front of Kalizda and she could choose to see whatever she desired. This was what Illya wanted for her. Even if it was one night, it was worth it to see her eyes light up as she scanned all that was below and then pointed to a place she wanted to go. There was no need to say anything to the balloon operator, he did as he was bid without word and brought them closer and closer to a massive spire that pointed toward the sky. Once they floated past the spire by only a few hundred feet the lanterns started to rise in the sky and Illya watched them next to Kalizda. The explanation of their meaning was actually something that made sense. "Et makes for a good view, but et es nut nearly as beautiful as meh little bird." Illya could almost hear the balloon operator's eyes roll in his head, but that didn't matter. Leaning over slightly Illya kissed Kalizda gently. "Maybe I like Kaerelean tradition and I want dis to meh birtday too eh?" Meeting her gaze wondered if she would mind that, or if it would be permitted for him to make that sort of change. "Den we share dis day."

    By the end of the ride Illya was feeling refreshed. They had gotten away from the crowds for a bit and it was quiet from above and he got to see everything from a different view. As soon as they touched the ground Illya made sure he got out first and then held his arms out to grab Kalizda. Lifting her feet over the basket he smiled at her and then set her down on the ground again. "Where do we go now meh little wife?"

    There was a glint in Kalizda's eyes that told him they were about to do something that would be considered stretching Chip tradition. However, a little stretching wasn't usually bad. So far he'd liked doing most of the things that should have been forbidden if it wasn't for the excuse of his wife being from another culture originally. Catching Kalizda's hand he let her lead the way to the dancing and Illya watched carefully for the last of the song that they arrived at. As the new song was starting there was room for them to join and Illya took his place at one of the outer rings. When he first started he paused once in the song because they were switching direction and he felt the person to his left bump into him and then he caught up with the pace of those to his right in one lunge. Nearing the end of the dance he saw Kalizda across from him and he grinned broadly. Eventually they would get to dance with each other.

    When they were at last released for the ending and to snatch the partner across from them Illya grabbed Kalizda and pulled her into a whirl. Some of the others did as they pleased, but Illya was going to make sure she got a good invigorating dance with the last of it.

    After they finished with the dancing they were off to smashing plates. Illya couldn't help wanting to see what fancy things they could do with the throwing and still break the plates. "Yah trowing one like an ax." Illya held the plate up and threw it like a tomahawk before grabbing another and sending it flying with a frisbee toss. After a few plates with different styles of throwing he switched hands. "Now yah try wit yah oter hand." Being ambidextrous had its benefits and Illya grinned when he saw Kalizda licking her lower lip furiously with an intense gaze. "Ooh yah concentrate tah make dat hand work dah same way as dah oter eh?" Chuckling a bit he rested a hand on her lower back. He was hoping to distract her a little bit. She had distracted him once, or twice when he was trying to concentrate on something.

    Looking behind himself Illya saw there was a cart with those giant hose type creatures that he liked and he winked at Kalizda. "What yah say dat we get ride in one of dose back to dah hotel for a little bit." It was getting late and they only had about an hour till new food was supposed to be coming out. He still had something special delivered to their room and he wanted her to see it before it got too late.

    Illya helped Kalizda into the wagon and got in after her. Taking the space on the bench next to her he smiled. "I have little plan dat I tink yah like. " For the ride to the hotel he couldn't help sneaking in a few kisses. What good was a ride like this when neither of them had to drive if he couldn't take advantage of the moment? Gradually the little carriage came to a halt and Illya got out of it and then helped Kalizda down before he walked with her into the hotel and to the lift. After they reached the top floor he opened the door and poked his head in to be sure it was all ready. The room was ready and the cover for the hot tub on the balcony had been taken off. It was all ready.

    "Yah come in." Candles were lit around the room and a tray of snack foods and candies were set out on a tray along with two luxurious towels. "I tink maybe we like tah go sit in dah hot tub and eat some snacks togeter. Dis makes good relaxation and we can watch fireworks." He remembered she liked them in Terra and from the balcony of their hotel in a tub it would be more fun than just standing outside and craning their necks to see. Besides, she wouldn't have to try and see past anyone taller than herself this way. "Yah like et?"
     
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