Anonymous Me
The days at home were feeling a bit more hectic. Ehud hated to admit that he enjoyed the bit of flury with the wedding preparation. Priscilla was putting a few more womanly touches to the house when she came around for visits and he didn't realize how much he had missed a woman's touch. Sien was about ready to bounce off the wall at any moment. Somehow it had thrilled the boy to his very core to think that he would have a mother again. It wasn't as though Sien had remembered his mother, he was very young when Haza died, but there was something about having a mother that struck his fancy.

If there was something that Ehud hadn't planned on, it was the volume of things to be done for a Terran style wedding. Priscilla had spent countless hours picking out colors, table decorations, foods, drinks and invitations. The invitations were completely ridiculous. Ehud had never signed his name so many times to a little piece of paper and he wasn't even sure what the purpose was. All of the people that were invited to this wedding were folks he could have just as easily asked to come instead of giving them a little card with a picture of himself and Priscilla. Apparently, it was all part of the pomp and affair. Aside from the little things that Priscilla asked for help with, Ehud wasn't sure what he was supposed to do, if anything.

It was only a few weeks out before they were supposed to get married and Ehud was relaxing on the couch when Priscilla came over to flop down next to him. She was tired, he could tell that much, but at the same time she still had that special smile he loved. "Me, run for the hills? Only if I can take you with." With a grin he leaned in closer and rested a hand over hers. He was trying very hard to be appropriate about all this before the wedding. It wasn't the time, or place for a kiss either. Sien was watching them like a hawk and he knew the boy fully expected him to kiss Priscilla like Illya kissed Kalizda. That would come in time, when they were married and it was right to kiss her like that. For now those sorts of displays would have to be carefully monitored. "How about you tell me a little bit about the way you think the day will go?" Ehud had seen a few weddings, but he wasn't really sure how Priscilla had envisioned her wedding.

There were a few things that he hadn't quite anticipated and one of them was the fact that he hadn't even asked anyone to be his best man. At most weddings there was a man that would stand with him at the front and lady that would be waiting for Priscilla. Nodding and smiling Ehud made mental note that he was going to be needing a man for that job and if Illya was walking Priscilla up the aisle, then Illya couldn't be his best man. That was going to make finding someone to do it a little more challenging.

Even more surprising was the fact that they had so many responses in the positive for the wedding. Ehud hadn't been so sure that they would have a large wedding. At least he didn't have to worry about the party that Terran men had the night before they got married. It was a small grace that Priscilla had agreed that they would be meeting the night before like the Chippequoti traditionally met. The only detail that Ehud had personally seen through from beginning to end without Priscilla's aid was his own clothing. That was something that Ehud was more than able to do and he had it tailored as closely to his size as he could. As soon as Priscilla was done outlining approximately how the wedding was going to work Ehud determined that he would have to ask Kirit the next day if Kirit could be the best man. It may appear to be a military wedding, but Pytra had essentially become a military base with a few farmers.

Despite the joke, Ehud couldn't help thinking of running for the hills. It wasn't because he didn't want her, it was because the entire Terran wedding idea sounded entirely foreign and shocking. For just a moment he caught a glimpse of something he had never seen in himself before. Despite all the years among the Terrans and his understanding of their culture, he had remained very much Chippequoti in his private life. The life that he had lived behind doors and the mind that was hidden away was Chippequoti and now it was all very clear. Perhaps others didn't know as much as he did, but he knew his life was going to change in more ways than one. He was going to married to someone that had an entirely different perspective on life, duty and possibly family.


The bag was packed for 10 days. Sherri had made sure that no one was desperately ill, or wanted anything before she left and she'd sent out a hologram to her usual patients and had them all pick up extra herbs. Now all she had to do was venture out and take herself to Kinte. It was an exciting and terrifying idea all in one. Jonas had always been with her when she'd gone out before. Anywhere outside of Chip village that is. Since he'd been killed she usually asked one of the other Elite families to get supplies that she needed outside of Chip village.

Sherri took a deep breath and glanced around her small hut. There was one last thing she needed and that was a little bit of cream to soothe the injuries that Tiberius had. She could at least take him that. It was a weaker dose since he was not likely to metabolize things the same as a Chippequoti. He was also smaller than the Dark Chippequoti men and she doubted he would want to be completely numb. While numb was nice for severe situations it wasn't good if one still had to feel enough to know what they were doing. "Oh, the tea." Mumbling under her breath she grabbed a good stout tea to help with nights that would be painful. She had noticed that Tiberius moved a bit strangely at times. Having been agreed with an Elite man, she was more than aware of what it looked like when a man had pain and he was simply trying not to let it show. Quite a few of the Elite had that problem, but some of them had more severe pain than others.

With the last of the items that she needed packed away in her bags Sherri grabbed the old military rucksack from Jonas and slung it over her shoulder. On the way out the doorway of her little hut she glanced into it one more time and then let out a long breath. One of the neighbors would check her hut and a few of her patients might go in to get creams as they needed. They would leave a note and she would collect payment later.

Stepping outside of Chip village by herself for the first time was terrifying and freeing at the same time. People didn't even give her dirty stares. A few stared, but non acted as if she were out of place, or as if they wanted to hurt her. The real test came when she reached the dock and presented her ticket. Would they take it, or take her aside and question her? It had been restricted travel for Dark Chippequoti when she was a little girl and to be free was so strange. Even if she was safe on board the ship she felt somewhat uneasy. Sherri held the rucksack close to her body for the duration of the transport ride.

Another surge of panic rose in her throat when they landed and she saw the transport doors open. Swallowing her fear with slight raise of her chin and shrug of her shoulders she carried her rucksack in front of herself like an armor. No one paid any attention to her again and she felt strangely out of place. This wasn't the world that she remembered growing up in, or even the same kind of precautions. She was just another person as far as the people here were concerned. Gradually she moved her rucksack to rest over one shoulder as she scanned the crowd of bobbing heads. Sherrie was taller than most, but Tiberius wasn't and it was making spotting him a bit challenging. Finally, Sherri gave up and decided to visit a little vendor. She was going to test out the hospitality of the Alliance. There was still part of her that wondered if she'd be refused service, or goods just because she was Chip.

Sherri chose a little sweet spiced nut vendor and approached him with her most imperious stance. She wasn't about to look as terrified as she felt about this whole thing. "I want two of dose." Pointing to the largest bag of the nuts she waited for the man to retrieve them and then she presented her credits. She was prepared to argue that her credits were just as good from her as anyone else, but he took them without question. Somewhat flustered at the ease of the purchase Sherri moved over to the next vendor and purchased a strange looking fruit, then to another to buy a sash. By the time Tiberius had caught up with her she was covered in various little purchases and juggling the rucksack. "Here," shoving a bag of the spice nuts toward him she smiled, "Some nourishment because you'll be helping me carry these things to wherever it is I'm staying while I'm here."



Anonymous Me
Illya rolled closer to Kalizda's side of the bed and felt for her. After he'd fallen asleep last night he didn't even wake up once. It was good sleep and he felt somewhat better aside from the headache. He'd managed a minor concussion with the fall, but it wasn't horrible. There was something stuck to his face though. Turning to his side of the bed again he decided to wait a few moments to find Kalizda until he could figure out what was stuck to the side of his face. Rubbing a hand over his face he pulled a soggy piece of paper off his cheek. The ink was smeared and he figured there was probably some of it on his face. More than likely he'd drooled a little in his sleep and managed to catch the note in the middle of it. There was a nice wet spot on his pillow and that was proof enough.

Getting out of bed very slowly Illya set the note from the bed aside and then checked himself over in the mirror. He only had a few little ink spots on his face from where the note got wet and then stuck to his face. Rubbing the ink off with a little oil and a cloth he decided to head down the stairs and eat before getting showered. Kalizda was already up and her note said she had breakfast. Since it was a day off, he was going to take things out of order for fun. Grabbing the chair with the bag on it, Illya started out the doorway of their bedroom and bumped the frame and the railing at the top of the stairs. All the way down to the kitchen Illya carried the chair and bag. Setting the chair down in front of Kalizda he grinned. "Yah note said dat ef I want tah come I should bring dah bag setting on dah chair. Here et es."

Calysta looked up from her half eaten fruit bowl and at the sound of bumping upstairs. Illya was awake it seemed, and it was only halfway through the morning too. Not bad considering how tired he had been. She took another small nibble of melon and waited for him, but the longer she waited, the more noise he seemed to make. There were thumps, bumps, and one decidedly loud scrape. What in the Wilds was he doing up there? Just as she was starting to get half the mind to check on him, he appeared down the stairs with...a chair in his hands. Not just any chair but the one where she had placed his go-bag into the seat. Her brow pinched together as he presented her the chair and bag like a trophy, grinning proudly at his achievement. When he offered his explanation, she stared at him for a long moment. He sounded alright. Better than alright. Or maybe he was still hung over from the events of yesterday. The more she studied the chair and his grin, the more a feeling began to bubble up in her chest until finally it worked its way out into the form of a smile before exploding into an almost giddy laughter. "Aye," she laughed, holding her ribs in her seat, "I did say bring it and so you did. I couldn't...figure out what in the Wilds you were ..doing up there." It felt good to laugh like that. The sound melted away the tension that had been held too long in her core as she giggled until tears sprang to her eyes.

It was good to see Kalizda laugh and Illya chuckled a little with her while he served some breakfast for himself. He knew they would have to get going soon, so he would try to be fast about things. With a smirk he looked up from his breakfast that was half inhaled, "Yah need any oter unusual tings for dis tradition?" Since he'd started the joke he figured that he may as well keep it up for a little while longer. "Maybe I pluck lights from ceiling tah take wit us next?"

He was eating through the creme and fruit like he hadn't eaten in a year, so she let him do as he liked while finishing what she could of her own plate. She caught the smirk he was giving her though and his little joke made her smile back playfully. "Hmm let me think....maybe not the lights, but I do need one handsome Chip man. That's a must. I don't suppose you know where I could find a volunteer?"

"Hmmm, dere are no volunteers for yah,but I will make sacrifice. I'm very good looking eh?" Winking at Kalizda he sucked down the last of the creme and fruit before he hastily rushed his dishes to the sink. "Yah already shower, or did yah save et for meh?" He wasn't going to be long, but he wouldn't mind if she joined him either. Illya reached up and gingerly rubbed the small dressing over the 3 stitches in the side of his head. It was a bit tender and he hadn't thought of it till he caught Kalizda staring at him. "Et's nut bad, jes itches."

She chuckled and nodded. "Aye only the best and I think you'll do just fine." When he was done, he zipped off to put the plates in the sink and she followed behind him. "Aye, I already showered because I had to bathe the kids too." As he was moving away, she caught him fiddling with the patch on his head where they had stitched him up and her smile wilted a little. "Aye, you shouldn't shower with them in for a few days though. " Her hand slipped to his back and rubbed very gingerly. "Maybe take your bucket instead and if you needed you could go to the pleasure house too."

"Ok, I jes get meh bucket and I be back in little bit. Yah have shep ready and when I come home I grab bags and we go eh?" Illya was already headed for the upstairs to collect his fresh clothing and his bucket with a few oils. He hadn't thought much of how sore he was until he was bending over looking for his bucket under the sink in the bathroom. It was somewhere in the bathroom and he couldn't seem to find it. After tearing through the entire cupboard under the sink he checked the linen closet and found his bucket in the top shelf with all the other odd items that Kalizda usually had him get out. Naturally, it was in the shelf she couldn't reach without a bench. The bucket was rarely used anyway. With his fresh clothes in hand and his bathing supplies Illya was ready to head to the bath house. "I be back en about 14 minutes." He didn't wait for Kalizda to say anything and he rushed out the door and ran all the way through the streets to the bathhouse, where he stripped promptly and waddled carefully over the wet floors of the bathhouse toward the spout on the men's side. It only took a few minutes to get his water mixed with his oils and splash his back with the rag and run his hands through his hair, wipe his face, arms, torso and the rest of himself down. With a quick rinse a the spout Illya jogged his way out of the bathing area and then slipped into his clothing. Wet spots began to form on the shirt since he hadn't bothered to get dry and he shoved his foot and prosthetic back into his boots before he ran back to the house and snatched the bags. It was a total of 12 minutes later. "Yah ready yet?"

She smiled when he went to get his bucket. If he needed to go to the pleasure house, she could and that was alright. Making up the flight time would be easy in the Silver Mountain. He announced he would be back in a few minutes and she nodded before making sure the dishes in the sink were scraped off. Then she checked the bags one more time to make sure they had everything they needed. It only took one quick message on her pad to have their ship on the flight docket. She busied herself with putting on a little makeup and making sure her clothes looked decent. She wasn't much of a primper, but she did want to look nice for this. She was half way through applying lipstick a thumping on the porch heralded Illya's return. Calysta poked her head out of the guest bathroom, scanning him over carefully. He was still wet behind the ears with his curls dripping oily water. "That was fast. Hang on." Another swipe of the lipstick over her bottom lip completed her make up and she strolled out of the bathroom. He looked very excited. but she couldn't tell if this was excitement for the trip or something else was going on. "And you're feeling alright? It's going to be a fair bit of walking where we're going."

It was somewhat surprising that Kalizda had all that time and she still wasn't ready. Illya never did understand what took women so long to get ready. "Yah look nice." That was a response he had learned well. When a woman took a long time it was best not to mention the wait and rather to compliment her efforts that caused the wait to be so long. "Yah need meh tah jes..." Before he could finish asking his question Kalizda asked if he was feeling alright and Illya narrowed his eyes slightly. "Yah tink I look sick? I feel little sore from seizure yesterday, but I'm fine." His muscles were always a little sore after a big one and his head hurt, but he wasn't going to say anything about the headache. "I can walk jes fine. Nut like I dun have legs."

He gave her a grumpy look which she combated with her own, stubborn gaze until he mentioned having legs. Her mouth twitched into a bit of a smile at that point. If he was saying he was alright, then he would be. "Aye, you've got two fine legs," she replied, "One just a bit warmer than the other." Chuckling, she leaned up on her toes and kissed his cheek. "And I love them both. If you grab your bag, I'll grab mine and we can go to the ship for a nice flight."

"Ok." Illya answered with a nod and he snatched his bag up and then started out the door. When Kalizda joined him he grinned at her and then froze in place for a moment. After a few seconds passed he swayed a little on his feet and then began humming under his breath. He didn't really remember walking out of the house, but that was fine. They were on their way out for a party of sorts. "Yah tell meh about dis tradition eh?"

Calysta squeezed his hand and let him grab his bag as she pulled hers over her shoulder. This would a good day. She was determined that it would be. When Illya froze in place with his eyes glazed over, she stood stock still as well. It was more of a reflexive reaction to watching him have an absence seizure. He swayed on his feet some, and she began to wonder again if this was a bad idea. He wanted to come, but he clearly wasn't feeling quite right. Still, if an absence seizure was the worst of it, then they could get through the day. Clearing her throat, she walked alongside Illya who was, of all things, humming to himself, Suddenly, he asked about what they were doing and she titled her head to look at him. "We're going to the sanctuary on Moyrne," she said, "That's the biggest and most beautiful sanctuary and moon map on Kaereal. It's a sort of resort nowadays, but we're going for the Cycle Ceremony. It's for...every ten year anniversary."

Whatever the sanctuary was that Kalizda talked about Illya didn't know. He wasn't entirely sure that he even knew where the moon was that she was talking about. "So eh...." Ducking underneath the edge of the ship Illya glanced at her, "What es dis Cycle Ceremony. Es dere someting special I'm supposed tah do?"

Calysta's cheeks turned a little pink when he sounded confused but she managed a smile. "Aye, we'll climb the sanctuary steps at night when the moons come out and since we've been married ten years to the day, today. We'll say something for each step that made our marriage stronger. Or just something that you like. It's meant to strengthen for the next ten years and bring better luck in the moon phases. It's a bit odd, but I thought it couldn't hurt and it is part of Kaerelean tradition."

"Oh, dat's good tradition, I'm glad yah tell meh." Illya was inwardly panicking at the moment. It wasn't that they didn't have plenty of things that had strengthened their marriage, but with the memory loss and some problems remembering things on a short term basis he was sure he would repeat himself, or not have enough things to say. Perhaps he'd get the time frame mixed up before they were married. At least this way he had time to put some of these things down on his pad so he wouldn't be completely lost if he got on a stair and blanked out. Once they were seated in the ship Illya began working on the calculations for their destination. "How many steps are dere? I tink I like tah work on list of tings now and den I have some for now and extra so dat I have new list started for next 10 years eh?"

He seemed to like it and she smiled more broadly as they boarded the ship. Preparations for departure were so engrained between them, they went about their tasks without much thought over them. "It's an all inclusive sort of place and when the moons peak we'll have a dinner show and a bit of a party." When he asked about the stairs, she eased into the captains chair and began opening up the engines for take off as Illya made their course. . "Oh, it's only 10 this time. Next time we go it will be twenty and so on...its goes by how many years you've been married, yeah?" The sanctuary itself was massive, easily one of the tallest ancient buildings on Kaereal with more than just 10 steps, but the first ten would be theirs to tackle. The fact that he wanted to make a list sounded just like him. He liked lists but he also had some memory problems too. He wated to make this properly. "We could work on it together if you want. unless you want it to be a surprise."

"Es dere different levels or someting? How do we only get 10 steps dis time?" Illya was feeling more confused than anything after that short explanation, but if he had it figured right, she'd get to say five things and he'd get to say five things. That wasn't nearly as hard as he thought. "By dah way, yah know dat we will take very long time when we're old. We'll have tah start early so we can crawl up dah stairs hobble over to dah party."

"There are different levels," Calysta said, " the first 10 steps will take us to the second landing and we get to relax and enjoy everything there when we make it." At his comment about their age, she chuckled and set the auto pilot before looking at him. A silly sort of thought came to her mind and she shuffled out of her seat much like an old granny and inched over to him. "We might take all day but it will be worth it," she smiled, kissing his cheek, "And we can take as many breaks as we want on the way up, yeah? Wouldn't want those old knees getting too tired too soon." She made her knees wobble, purposely bumping into him playfully on her way toward the living room.

It all made more sense and Illya nodded as he finished his calculations. Once he was done he noticed Kalizda was walking weird. At first Illya frowned and he started to get up before he realized she was acting like an old lady. "Oh hell, dat's nut how et looks. Yah gotta walk like dis." Stooping slightly Illya walked with his feet close to the ground and let the hitch in his step get more obvious. "Or, I guess ef yah walk like meh et jes looks like yah shet yah pants."

Illya frowned at her for a moment before catching on and she laughed at his own demonstration. He really did look like he had left a load in the rear of his pants, a thought which was both funny and probably truthful if they made it to that age. "I think my granny shuffle is just right," she snickered, inching onward at a snails pace, "Unless you really do have shit in your pants." She wobbled her way to the couch and plopped down with a little more gusto than she cared to admit before grinning to Illya. "Maybe we'll just get ourselves some of those fancy hover chairs and zip around all day. I'll be too old to want to stay in one place for too long." She wiggled her brow at him and held out a hand for him to join here. "C'mere old man, Illya."

"Fancy hover chairs, nah!" Illya grumbled a bit while he went along still pretending to be old. "When I was a boy yah had tah make on yah own two feet and I dun intend tah quit." He was more than happy to crack jokes about getting old and then Kalizda called him old. "We'll jes see how old yah tink I am after we have some fun tahnight."

"Yeah, I tink dats a challenge. Yah jes gotta see ef yah have enough energy tah keep up wit meh. I tink maybe we try someting different." Illya had no idea what he would try different, but it sounded good and if he said that she'd probably get ideas too. It was fun to be a little bit creative in bed sometimes and he was feeling adventuresome.

She laughed lightly and her cheeks turned pink despite the fact she was trying to look more confident. "Oh I think I'll find more than enough energy to keep you on your toes," she replied, "Maybe I'll find a few things to try for us if you can keep up." She liked challenging him like this. It always put a little sparkle in his eye. He looked forward to a healthy competition and so did she, if she were being entirely honest. "We have a few hours before we land," she added, "Then we'll have to get dressed for the ceremony." A moment passed, and she glanced up at him from her spot on the couch. "I'm glad you picked up the bag...and the chair this morning to come with me."

Illya was about ready to lean in for a kiss when she started to give him that look. She was about to say something and so Illya settled with scooting in closer to her. "Mmhm. Dah chair was dah most important part. I needed someting tah sit on."

Calysta rolled her eyes at his smart reply and laughed a little. He was scooting closer and she knew he might just want to laze around with her for awhile, but he was looking like he might be on a mission of another kind. She picked up his hand and bound it up with both of hers with gentle squeeze. before stealing a little kiss on his lips. Usually, it was easier to reach his cheek when he was standing up but when he was sitting down, she could get much closer to him for proper kisses. "We wouldn't want you to be chairless," she chuckled, as her little fingers played with his hair. It was relieving to be this close. "I've been planning this for a long time, yeah? Anything you want tonight. Dancing, food and me, yeah?

A big grin came to Illya's face and he couldn't help making another smart remark. "I offer yah dah same ting. Yah can have all dah dancing yah want, food and yah especially have a lot of meh ef yah want et all. I'm gonna bet yah do. Hard tah resist when dere's so much of meh tah love." Returning Kalizda's kiss he pulled her closer and then relaxed into the couch. "I like all of yah whenever yah have meh. Maybe we jes take little nap on dah couch and yah jes be close while we talk until we fall asleep, or land."

That big, wolfish grin came to his lips and she couldn't help but let the sight make her feel giddy. He was always up to something and when that look came out, he was feeling alright. "Oh aye," she chuckled, "My big Chip is hard to resist and I'm a wife who wants him all for her." He kissed her and they leaned back into the couch. Her head rested against his warm chest and she could feel his heart thumping in a strong, steady beat. Calysta let go of his hand just long enough to slightly tuck in under his arm and nodded in contentment. As long as he was comfortable, she was more than happy to lounge around with him. "Mmm...I like that idea." She closed her eyes, but continued to tell him a little more about where they were going. "Kaereleans have been going here for a very long time, since before flight, if you count the time when it was just the locals who built the sanctuary. It's closer to the equator and on a mountainous continent...lots of trees and jungle vines. They grow tyrei stripe flowers too. The whole places smells just a little sweet...I went once but I didn't go to the sanctuary because..." A yawn interrupted her and she shifted down further into his arm more out of habit than anything. "I wasn't married..." It wasn't long before she drifted off, having been up early that morning with all the kids and up late the night before.

With Kalizda laying over his chest and her legs sitting on top his, Illya listened to her tell him about the ceremony. It was nice for a change to rest like this without having any of the kids around, or any worries. She was relaxed for a change too. Illya had noticed she was getting more and more exhausted looking over the last few weeks and she needed this more than he did. Illya closed his eyes and tried to rest, but it didn't seem likely. Eventually he decided he would begin working through some of the Kaerelean grammar in his head and that did the trick. Within a few minutes his thinking slowed down until it melded into a boring sort of dream.

It wasn't until Calysta heard the chime echo over the ship that she stirred, grumbling a bit over the broken nap. Then it came crashing down onto her semi-conscious brain where they were going. Her eyes flew open and she nudged Illya gently. "Mmmm we have land the ship. We're here." She told him with a growing smile on her face and then launched up to scurry her way to the cockpit. Landing in the Silver Mountain was always easy and she sat them down in the tiny port along side dozens of other ships who had made their reservations. A dock worker came around and made moored their ship properly as Calysta gave him instructions over of the intercom. In the distance she could see the solidly green mountain top surrounded by floating bits of continent that at loosened over time. It gave the effect that the mountain itself was an anchor in the sky. When that was done, she dashed back to their bedroom. They had arrived a little after mid day and they would need their bags for the hike into the mountains. "Do you need anything off the ship, Illya? We wont be coming back until tomorrow!" He answered and she nodded, grabbing up her backpack and eagerly jetting to the door. The air was humid but not entirely too hot outside. Still, with a good hike into the mountains they would be a little sweaty depending on the pace. There was a thin cobblestone path that snaked it's way into the passes which was the path they were meant to take. Hitching her backpack higher on her shoulders, she stayed with Illya's pace until the path began to grow too steep and her body felt sluggish. "We're almost there," she said, mustering a smile. It took another 30 minutes before they turned the corner and a tall, pink stone temple towered ahead of them. The top was shrouded in bit of mist from the mountain top but at its base was clearly the sanctuary. It was managed much like a resort or spa with beautifully manicured trees and flowers growing along trellices over their heads. A greeter approached them and bowed before waving them toward their room. "It is an honor to meet the General and Council woman," she said in smooth traders tongue, "Please come this way." Their room was a crisp smelling bungalow with a big, soft bed and a view over one of the valleys. Everything was laid out for the them from towels to fresh water and flowers. "Please take your time and if you would like, the spa will take you at any time."

The nudge to his chest was a little surprising and Illya jumped slightly. His knees had started to pull toward his chest and he was ready to roll off the couch and take action, but it wasn't anything urgent. Stopping mid flip from the couch he grinned at her. "Dat's all eh?" Illya figured he'd get away with his bit of jumpy nature with a joke better than he would if he pretended it didn't exist. "I guess we better get tah work den." He didn't take long to figure the landing calculations and then he got up to go get his pack and things ready. Illya wasn't sure how long the stay would be, but he figured the bag Kalizda packed would have the essentials in it. Wherever Kalizda kept her bag she was a bit faster collecting it and when he stepped out of the ship with his pack he saw she was eagerly waiting to begin the journey. At first he tried to offer to take her pack, but she seemed determined to do it for herself. For the time he let her have it until it was clear she was tired. "Give et to meh. I jes carry et. I dun need meh little bird flopping before we have a chance tah try out dose new moves." With a wink he took hold of the pack and helped her take it off. It wasn't that heavy, but it was probably plenty heavy for her. There wasn't much further to go and when they arrived Illya nodded to the greeter and then followed her to the room. Inside the room Illya scanned to be sure he was familiar with all the exits before he set the packs down. "Looks nice. I tink dis es good place tah have party for 10 years."

She was tired by the time they got to the room and the offer of a spa visit sounded enticing already, but she wasn't going to zip off without Illya for a second. He seemed to approve of the room and she smiled brightly. " I picked this one myself and I hoped you would like it." Wandering over to him, she slipped an arm around his waist and rubbed his back gently. "We have an hour or so before we need to get ready, are you hungry or do you want to explore a little?"

Instinctively Illya tensed some when her fingers rubbed over his back again. After napping on the couch his back was a bit more sore than he'd thought it would be. "Eh..." Meeting Kalizda's gaze he grinned. "Well, I tink yah ought tah show meh someplace we can relax ef yah like. Yah look tired and I tink we will have more time later tah explore and maybe some tomorrow before we leave."

His request was a simple one and she nodded in agreement. While she did feel tired, she hadn't thought that she looked that tired. Was it really that noticeable? Had the make up not covered up enough? She kept those thoughts to herself and took up her Chips hand before leading him out to their balcony. A large swing chair was hung from the balcony cover and it looked like a prime place to nap in the warm for awhile. "I think right here would be good," she said, pointing to the swing, "It might come in handy later too, yeah?" About that time, a brief knock on their door interrupted any sort of settling in they had. "Councilwoman, I've brought something complimentary from the kitchens for you and the General." Their concierge from early sounded pleasant and patient on the other side of the door. When they answered, the small Kaerelean held out a silver tray of fruits and a bottle of omne wine. "For you council woman, we hope you enjoy your stay."

They barely reached the balcony and Kalizda was suggesting they use the swing later. Illya thought about cracking a joke, but their hosts came to the door with something complimentary. Whenever there was something complimentary it made Illya feel a bit wary. Staring at the little tray he frowned. "I tink et smells fine, but dat dun mean much." Glancing back to the swing he chuckled. "I guess we find out later tahnight. Drink a little and den go swing around on dat ting out dere and see ef we get sick." It was just a funny image in his head and he couldn't figure out why he couldn't get it out of his head either.

The woman stood there with the tray in her hand looking bewildered, and Calysta finally came over to take the offerings. "I think it will be fine, but the wine won't be necessary. I'm not a drinker you see," she said, "We'll gladly take the fruit and send that bottle of wine to someone who will enjoy it, yeah?" The concierge nodded, her trained smile returning before she left with the wine in hand. Illya's comment about drinking and getting sick for fun bothered her a little but she didn't say anything. Instead, she smiled and lead him back to the balcony. "I think there might be a better use for it. Like right now we could just rest up and kiss a little, yeah?"

Kalizda's little comment about not being a drinker was mostly true, but it was surprising that she gave the alcohol away. It was likely the best part of the whole complimentary tray. Illya waited till after the lady left and the food was set down before he grabbed a small piece of fruit and nibbled on it. "I dun tink ets poisoned. Jes had tah make sure." It was partly in jest, but he liked to make sure before she started eating stuff. Following Kalizda back out to the swing Illya sat in it with her and rocked back and forth. "We could kiss too. Dat's pretty good plan."

Calysta let Illya test as he would and was grateful he didn't seem to object about sending the wine away. Maybe he was starting to get a bit better about maintaining his sobriety. This little trip would be a small and literal dry run of bigger trips where alcohol will be available. She would have to watch him carefully on that matter. He tried a piece of the fruit and seemed to approve so she took a piece and settled down with him on the swing which gave a heavy groan under their weight. "I thought you might like that idea," she smiled before kissing him, "I don't need anything but you to enjoy this, yeah?" She kissed him again and kept right on going for a long moment before letting him go.

There wasn't any protesting the kisses from Kalizda and Illya grinned. "Es dis what yah call relaxing?" Adjusting how he was sitting he cleared his throat and decided to move more toward the center of the swing. With too much weight on one side he was sure that the swing would not fare well. "What ef I bend dah frame?" Suddenly he started to chuckle. "I'm jes too fat. Dey will tink dat dere was man so big he could nut get close enough tah show proper affection for his wife. I always wondered how very fat people do dat."

He was inching close to her on the swing, causing it to rock back and forth in a way it probably shouldn't have, but the thing held solid some how. His little comment about being fat enough to bend the frame made her chuckle between kisses. He was being somewhat random and she wondered briefly if his brain was still reeling from the day before, or maybe she had been moving so fast the last few weeks she had forgotten how to listen. Her little hands drifted over his and she spread her fingers over his knuckles, comparing the two sizes as she chuckled. "Ooh if we bend the frame, we'll have to make it a mystery. You can just tell them it was your wife's fault. Too..." she paused, trying not to laugh and hoping to be more bold, "Vigorous." The comment about the fat people made her laugh in confusion partially but it was still a funny thought and she wiggled her brows. "I can't say I've ever thought of the mechanics for that...but I've found anything is possible in zero gravity, yeah?"

"Dat would be a good excuse." Illya smirked. "I tell dem dat yah very vigorous." Swinging gently on the suspended chair he stared out over the valley below them. Mostly he could see mist, but there were patches with trees visible and he liked that. It felt like they were somehow in their own little castle, or fortress. "So do we only come here dis time, or do we come back again?" He wondered if she wanted to keep the tradition, or if this was just a one time shot. Perhaps she was trying it out to see if he liked it. "Kaereleans have some strange ideas, but some of dem are good.Dis es a good one. I tink ets like someting Chippequoti should do."

They got quiet for a moment and that was alright. She enjoyed just being with him in the quiet too with no expectation between them other than just to be. Her head drifted over to his shoulder as the seat swayed and her fingers tickled at his palm. He asked if they would come back again and then said something that surprised her. It was a rare moment when he said that Chippeqouti should adopt an outside tradition. He must have really liked this one! Her chin tilted up and she smiled at him. "In ten years we come back and take ten more steps," she replied, "And then go for ten more." Shifting a little, she leaned up to kiss him. "And with each decade we grow a little more. We'll be married long enough to reach the top and then start all over again." They sat in the quiet for a little while longer and she was happy passing the time with him. There hadn't been a lot of simple talking between them in the last few months and she soaked in the moment as much as she could until a bell chimed over the sanctuary. When had it become closer to the evening? The light was golden through the trees but it was inching toward the horizon. "Ooh. I think it's time to go get ready," she said, "I have someone coming to do my hair and it might take a minute. Will you wait for me in the garden if you're done before I am?" She imagined he would be, but she figured she would make sure he knew where to go.

Illya wouldn't have wanted to admit it, but he was getting a headache and the back pain was almost enough to make him want to just go lay down. For the time it seemed that Kalizda was ok with just being quiet and that was fine. He wasn't going to want to move too much for now. In the middle of the quiet the bell rang and Illya looked at Kalizda. "Wha..." Before he could finish asking her what it meant she was telling him. Apparently they were being told it was time to get dressed up fancy and eat. It sounded like Kalizda was going to have him go out to the gardens while she had her hair made. With a nod he got up and opened his bag. Inside he found a nice looking Chip style suit for himself. Slipping into the clothes Illya grabbed his hair oil and smoothed his hair. It wasn't going to behave, but that was normal. As soon as he had finished Illya looked over at Kalizda. "I can make yah hair like Chip woman wit braids."

Calysta rose from the seat and stretched a little before wandering into their room where the air was cooler. Her hair was one of the few things that made her feel feminine and she liked to dress it up from time to time. It was much easier than make up even if she wasn't good at it every time. As she began sorting out her items the stylist would put in her hair, Calysta saw Illya's head poke into their bathroom with a surprising offer. She had brought a little something that wasn't entirely Kaerelean in tradition to wear and some how Chip style braids sounded nice. "You can braid?" she asked tilting her head, "Are you sure you want to?"

"I can braid. Isla make meh learn when I lived at home for long time. She told meh et was good for meh hands."Grinning a little he walked over to Kalizda, "I tink et would be good for meh hands tah make yah hair. Yah jes go kneel on bed so I can stand behind yah and braid yah hair witout bending over for long time." Bending over for a long time sounded painful at this point and he figured if he could stand while he made her hair it would be better. Once Kalizda was up on the bed Illya began working her hair with his fingers first. After a few moments he stepped over to his bag and grabbed some hair oil to rub on his hands before working them through her hair again. Once her curls were softened with the oil he began to grab portions of her hair and twist them together. Every now and then he'd stop and ask for a hairband, or one of her little jewels to put in her hair. It took almost half an hour to make her hair, but Illya liked the braid he made for her. "Now yah look in dah mirror and use dah extra one tah look at the dah back of yah hair." Standing aside he waited expectantly for her to say what she thought of his work.

Calysta smiled and wandered over to the bed. There would have been a point in time where the mention of Isla with fondness might have stung some, but that didn't happen anymore. If Illya had learned from Isla how to braid, then he probably was decent at it too. The woman had high standards and he would have learned well. She gathered up the little fire opals for her hair and knelt on the bed. There was something relaxing in the way he began working her curly strands of hair, she could feel the braid coming together slowly and she closed her eyes. With every clip or tie he asked for, she grew more curious as she handed off the item over her shoulder until he was done. He said she could go look and with almost child-like enthusiasm she scurried of the bed and into the bathroom where a big mirror and hand held mirror waited. Whatever Isla had taught him had indeed been learned well. The delicate braids were twisted into a intricate design, showing off her neck. It was elegant, especially with the stones which only showcased his work further. A surprised but pleased look beamed across her face as she surveyed the back. "It must have taken a long time to learn," she marveled, "It's beautiful." Sliding over to him, she stood on her toes and gave him a lingering little kiss. "Thank you, love. I'll look like Chip woman tonight." She winked at him and then went to go get dressed quickly. Her dress was simple, thankfully, and glimmered with beadwork in the low lighting. It was bold by Kaerelean standards with red and gold fabric and would certainly cause a stir. When she was done dressing, she put on her gold and red necklace again, the one that Illya had given her nearly seven years ago, and stepped out into the bedroom again with his same, red wedding sash in her hands. "You get to wear this again," she smiled. Without hesitation, she looped it around his waist and tied it gently before stepping back to give him a look. "You still make that sash look amazing."

The way that Kalizda practically jumped off the bed made Illya wonder. Did she feel cautious about her hair and wanted to have time to make it differently if she didn't like the braid? Silently he waited until she beamed up at him and stood on her toes. Whenever she stood like that with a slight pucker to her lips it was his cue to bed over a bit so she could kiss him. Carefully wrapping an arm around Kalizda's waist Illya plucked her off the ground for the kiss. It was easier to have a nice kiss if he wasn't bent over for the whole thing. When she seemed to be done with the kissing Illya set her down again and she said something he wasn't expecting. At first Illya narrowed his eyes and grinned. She was probably teasing him. While Kalizda was getting dressed Illya decided to lay on the bed. It was nice she packed him something that would be comfortable. The Chippequoti dress suit was at least familiar feeling. The creak of the bathroom door announced Kalizda's re-entrance to the bedroom and Illya sat up. Immediately his eyebrows rose and he grinned broadly. "Oooh." Almost entirely dumbstruck he looked her over a few times before he could manage to say anything. "Wow. Yah jes look so beautiful. I dun tink yah would ever wear someting like dis for meh." Scooting off the bed he walked over to Kalizda and found she was looping the sash around his waist. It wasn't traditional for the Chippequoti, but he didn't mind. "Like one dat I wear when we first get agreed eh? Maybe dis es dah same one?"

If she could have captured the look he gave her on a hologram she would have. His entire expression lit up in wonder...and it was because of her. That thought alone brought a rosiness to her cheeks as she swished in the skirts and tied his sash. She knew he meant every word. Calysta chuckled a little as she took up his hand in hers and gave it a gentle squeeze. "I like to think I can surprise you still from time to time," she replied, "That is the sash you wore when we first agreed too." She started leading him to the door, her excitement growing clearly on her face. "My dress didn't fit anymore after my surgery, but your sash will always fit and I've kept it wherever we've gone. It's traditional to do that and even though it isn't the fanciest out there, I wanted you to be able to wear again if you wanted to do this with me." She gave him a smile, knowing exactly how sappy she sounded, and offered to lead them through the door. "Are you ready?"

Illya let his big, brown hand envelope her pale, tiny fingers when she squeezed his fingers. Nodding at her statement he answered, "Mmhmmm. I tink dah sash es good. Dey know I belong to meh Kalizda den." With a slight hitch and jaunt to his step Illya joined Kalizda at the door and they stepped out together. It seemed that there were several others as they walked for the steps that had only just stepped out too. Most of the people were dressed in more plain outfits and none of them had gold. There were a few staring at Illya and most of them at Kalizda. Stares ranged from shocked to disapproval, but Illya didn't mind. Glancing down at Kalizda he grinned broadly like a teenage boy. She was so beautiful and she looked like a Chip woman. At the first step Illya took a deep breath. "Meh Kalizda es brave woman like no oter and she cares for our people." That was perhaps one of the strongest points that had brought him closer to her to start with. "Dat's dah kind of tings we say at dah steps yeah?"

Calysta could feel the eyes on her almost immediately when they left the room. The dress was entirely eye catching and while some Kaereleans might think it was over the top, she didn't quite care. It was the look she was getting from her husband that made it worth the while. He kept glancing down at her with giddy grins that she hadn't seen in a long time. They walked down the smooth stone path and came up to the base of the multi-tiered temple. It was laced with beautiful vines filed with flowers all the way up and everywhere couples were taking their steps together. The steps had been worn smooth with thousands of years of use, their sharp edges worn to rounded ones, but that made things easier. She faced him with her skirts trailing at her ankles and held his hands at the base of the first stair. When he spoke, she smiled and nodded. "Aye, that's a good start." With a small breath, Calysta glanced down at the step and picked up her skirts before scaling up the stones, then offered her hand to him. "Now, we help each other up one stair at a time. Just like in marriage, yeah?" When he was on the second stair with her, she tooks his hands again and swallowed a little. She wasn't nervous so much as she simply wanted to make sure she conveyed everything she could to him. "Illya, you are the bravest person I've ever met. It takes so much courage to be here with me in a land you didn't know, and a people you didn't know, and when we first married I was the proudest woman in the galaxy." Squeezing his hands, she smiled up at him and nodded. "And I still am."

With a grin Illya took the step first this time and then helped Kalizda up. The steps looked to be much larger than normal steps and they were likely more work for her to take than they were for him. With each step they would have something to say and Illya only had to think a little longer with the last one. There were a few things he wanted to say, but the last one had to be the most important and he wanted to say it in Kaerelean for her. "Calysta Marie Monroe, yah stand by meh trough all dah hard times and even now. Yah deserve all dat I can give yah and dat includes meh trust." He really meant it and he didn't mind if everyone could hear and understand what he meant. She had more than earned all of his trust.

With each step they took, they grew a little higher and of all the things he could have said on his last stair, she knew this one was the hardest. It was the hardest earn and the best built over many hours of joy and more than enough heartache too. She wasnt much of a crier at moments like this but knowing that he trusted her was more than just saying he loved her. Sometimes you couldnt help who you loved but you chose who you trusted and he had chosen her. It was big for him and she met him with the only answer she could which was to leap to the next stair and wrap her arms around his neck in a kiss long enough to make anyone blush. Then she beamed at him with her eyes shining. "And you have mine. My heart and my trust and when things get hard, I trust you and come to you so we can work together." It wasnt always the easiest for her to do that but it was something she was working on. He should know that he wasnt alone without doubt and he had her without hesitation. They finished the last stair and before them waited a buffet of delicious foods and dancing among other games. "Are you ready?" She asked.

With the final step Kalizda leaped up and kissed him unashamedly on the lips. He wasn't quite expecting her to grab him around the neck and he grunted a little at first, but he wasn't about to refuse that kind of kiss either. When the kiss drew to an end Illya took a deep breath and then winked at her. "I wasn't expecting dat one." Grabbing one of her hands he nodded, "Oh I tink I'm ready for us tah have little party." With a playful grin he growled, "I'm ready for food too, like hungry wolf." However, he was going to watch and make sure she ate a decent amount of food. Her size was a bit more slender than he'd remembered and her beautiful dress made it plain to him that she needed weight.


Anonymous Me
There were several tables laid out with mounds of food and it all looked good. Illya hated to admit that he'd gained a little weight with his injuries and he was about to gain more, but a party wasn't any fun if you didn't eat your fill, dance and play games. With one of Kalizda's tiny white hands clasped in his giant brown paw of a hand he walked into the room. A few heads turned and some people seemed to be whispering. Whether it was about her, or him it didn't matter. Illya glanced at Kalizda and smiled, "I have no idea what we do next." He spoke to her in Quoti and then waited for her to take the lead, or tell him what the next progression of events was supposed to be. Since it sounded like food and fun Illya started for the food first. "Ok, we jes get one big platter and we eat from et eh?"

Grabbing a plate Illya piled it high with food for himself and Kalizda. He didn't see the point in having two separate plates because he knew she wouldn't eat much. She never did when she was worried. It was obvious enough that she was worried since she'd almost cancelled this whole thing. Illya carried the plate to the table that Kalizda chose and then he picked up the first piece of meat and pulled a piece of it off for himself and piece for her. They were going to end up eating a little more like a Chippequoti agreed would at a traditional meeting of elders, or some other important event that they followed all the traditions for. Taking the first bite he nodded and hummed, "Very good." After they finished the first plate together Illya took Kalizda out to the floor to dance.

He still wasn't very good at the slower dances, but he tried. The second dance was a faster paced dance and he felt Kalizda's fingers dig into his arm some as she was swept off the ground. Smiling down at her, he leaned in for a quick kiss and fumbled up his step mid dance. "Yah distracting meh. I dun know dat I mind dat." Illya only made it through the third dance before he was feeling a bit sore and decided to go get more food. This time the plate had even more than it did the first time and for each bite he had, he encouraged Kalizda to eat more. "Meh little bird will need to be stuffed like pigeon if she will have energy for all dah plans tahnight."

Games lasted until later and Illya had noticed Kalizda took a few glasses away and drank them, or simply set them aside. At first he didn't know why she didn't let him have the drinks until it occurred to him that they likely were alcohol, or had corn. Whatever the reason, he wasn't about to complain about it. Tonight he was going to have a good time with her and he was not going to worry her with things like that.

They didn't get back to their room until much later than Illya had thought they would and he was a bit rummy with exhaustion, but he was still willing to give their wild night a shot. Fumbling with the sash he chuckled at himself. His left hand was giving him trouble and he couldn't quite seem to get it coordinate well with the other hand. Sometimes he thought he was gripping the knot in the sash tightly and other times, it wasn't. Finally, when he was about to get the sash loose, but Kalizda's little fingers slipped into the center of the knot and pulled it loose. "Helps when yah have tiny talons eh?" Laughing it off Illya continued to work on getting himself undressed and then stopped short when he caught site of the stockings underneath Kalizda's Chippequoti skirts.

With his jaw dropped Illya simply stared for a long moment with his shirt agape and pants pushed part way down his legs. It took a moment for the dumbstruck awe to pass and then Illya scrambled out of his clothing the rest of the way. Joining Kalizda on the bed he took a deep breath and laid down next to her with a giant grin. "Now, where should we start eh?" He knew that he felt wild when she was dressed up like that and he'd felt a bit frisky all night, but he'd saved it for now and then she'd had stockings too. Remembering to take his time he started with kissing and keeping his hands off her legs, at least to start with. Illya was working his way toward her legs after they'd had a good half hour of playing about and then he remembered they were going to try something new tonight. He was feeling adventurous enough to try something new.

"Ok, so ef we want tah try someting new yah look at dis book wit meh." Illya opened the hologram book and he squinted at the title. "I dun even know how tah say dat, but et's supposed tah be legend Terran book for dese tings." Finding something interesting in the book wasn't that hard, but some of the positions looked wild as all get out. Finally, they both decided there was one that they could try for. "Alright, so lets see ef we can do dis."

Illya was going based off what he remembered in the picture and it was plenty awkward. "And eh..." Grunting he pushed Kalizda's leg to the side, "Et goes dere" About time that Illya thought he had this figured out he realized they were a little close to the edge of the bed and then they toppled. Kalizda hit first and Illya tried to roll out of the way, but also brace himself. He was only partially successful. During his roll off the bed he ducked to try and get his weight off her, but she gave a little flick of her feet and scooted back. During the flick of her feet she managed to kick him in the head and he lost his balance and fell on his stomach and other parts. "Ugh..." Curling a little bit he protected himself as best he could and then started to laugh after the initial burn of mashing himself passed. "Well, I tink dat was exciting enough for dah night." Still laying on the floor he couldn't help laughing more at how ridiculous it was. There he was buck naked on the floor, limp because he'd just smashed himself and his agreed flopped out with a dazed look on her face.

After he got over the awkwardness of it all and finished laughing he picked Kalizda up and somewhat stumbled back into the bed with her. It creaked and groaned with primarily his weight and he started laughing again. "Jes tink of what dah oter neighbors tink." Trying to imagine what others thought made him laugh all the harder and he kissed her again. "Maybe we try in dah morning. I tink we bot too tired for dis tonight now."


It had been a semi rough week at school. The first day back at classes Illya was tired out and the second day he had an idea that he wanted to talk with Swyft about, but he wasn't likely going to do anything about it until the third day of classes. He didn't want to talk about it with Swyft on the last day of classes for the week because that day was always busy and everyone wanted to leave on time. Arriving to class feeling a little better rested on Thursday Illya decided this was the day he'd speak with Swyft.

On his way to roll call he stopped in the hallway briefly and shook his head some. It felt like he was going to have a seizure and he didn't want that to happen. Pausing where he stood he stared at the doors to the role call class room they started in and then took a deep breath and stepped inside. He made it through the role call and then on his way out of the room he stumbled into one of the desks and hit the floor. After less than half a minute and a few convulsions through his body he got back up and grabbed his bags. A few students that had been behind him were staring, but he ignored them. Surely, they knew what a seizure was and it didn't last long enough for anyone to panic and that meant it wasn't serious.

There was a chance for some brief office time with Swyft before lunch and Illya promptly left second class to get to Swyft's office. When he arrived the instructor was barely opening his office and Illya nodded to him. "I have someting I like tah propose to yah before I tink about making et more common knowledge eh?" Once he was inside the office with Swyft he started with his idea. "I tink now dat Chippequoti are part of Alliance dat maybe dere will be more Chippequoti coming tah Skycorp and et would be good tah have Chippequoti culture, etiquette, and custom classes. Dis way dose interested in more interaction wit Chippequoti will know how tah speak and travel wit dem. I tink et would be good for instructors tah understand communications wit Chippequoti too. Et would help wit relations and Chippequoti would learn more customs of oter peoples too." All that seemed to go over well enough and then Illya took a deep breath and went for the last part. "Dah last ting I wanted tah talk wit yah about es a possible project since dere es war. Skycorp es nut military, but I tink dat dere are many good pilots dat would like tah know dat dey could make difference ef anoter attack was launched against Alliance territory."

Illya paused for a moment and he let Swyft digest where this was going before he continued. "I would like tah introduce an emergency defense squad. Dey would have regular missions, but dey would also be team of men dat would respond tah make defense on Kinte, Pytra and surrounding territory ef military needed back up. Ideally, I would like tah have all Elite train and have one man on each of dese ships. We would have 50 volunteer emergency response units. Dese units would be best pilots and teams dat have taken Chippequoti custom courses so dat dey know how tah respond to dere defense officer." It was difficult to tell if Swyft liked the idea, so Illya figured he could give an example of why the Elite were a good choice for this. "I take entire Cirrelant blockade and destroy at least 2 ships by mehself and den meh crew fly es out when I finish meh work. I did dis one time, but et es someting dat any Chippequoti Elite could do. Dese are credentials dat yah could expect of any Chippequoti officer dat would be on board dose ships. All oter units would be trained for emergency evacuation procedure. I tink we need small fleet of volunteer for dese positions too. Some dat are nut afraid tah take Chippequoti Elite to dah front lines and some tah evacuate as needed. Elite will learn customs of Alliance people and dey will work wit dere crews tah ensure dere es good communication."

They desperately needed a strong last line of defense and Illya was going to pursue the project through Skycorp and get more people involved, or he was going to take it straight to the military and make it his own project among the Chippequoti if he had to. Getting it cleared with Kirit wouldn't be so difficult. In fact, Illya was sure that Kirit would approve if he volunteered to lead the last defense project. "I tink more good pilots and people dat know last defense dah stronger Alliance will be ef Federation comes. Federation will nut be prepared tah fight military and common people too."


Curious Adventurer
Tiberius spent his break time making sure he was in decent order to meet Sherri. She had sent him the time when her transport would arrive from Pyrta and he wanted to be in shape enough that she wanted to greet him at the dock. They had talked back and forth on their pads and this trip had been much anticipated on both their parts. He found Sherri to be more or less a firecracker and more than once he had been tempted to joke about being used to firey things, only those were much less pretty. He combed his curly hair and adjusted his button up over his ribs. The plastic fiber and wires making up part of his ribcage could be heard popping slightly and thumping against the skin. “Uhg.” He twisted his back, giving it a good crack, and then finished up shaving his jaw for a smooth finish. A touch of wood scented aftershave made him presentable and he left the compound to meet his….well...he wasn’t sure what she was. She wasn’t his girlfriend. He was positive that was a term that Chippeqouti wouldn’t get. What was Sherri exactly? Tiberius snorted at his own thoughts and kept walking at his brisk pace, waving at the councilwoman who was waiting outside the gate. A title didn’t matter. What was more important was that she was coming here with those pretty eyes and that smile that always lit up the screen.

He made his way to the crowded docks and search over the port numbers until he realized she would be arriving at nearly the end of the docks on the 3rd island which was slammed with the market goers on top of travelers. That was going to be a bit of a hike. Luckily, Sherri was incredibly tall and would be easy to spot from down the dock. Tiberius made his way through the crowd, stepping here and there when he had to move aside for a cart or the occasional Udine passing by. By the time he made it halfway down the dock he spotted a glimpse of tan skin poking over the otherwise flavorless crowd and spied the bright colored dress Sherri liked to wear. She was standing nearly eye level with a vendor cover because of her height and he craned his neck to see what it was she was purchasing with such squared shoulders. When she stepped away looking less than pleased- more like confused- he saw she had been a spice cart of some sort. He was about to call out to her when she turned and went to the next stall over. A transaction made and she walked away with another trinket, then another for a shawl of some sort.

Half bemused and half confused, he let her shop for a bit. She had mentioned that safe travel had been limited for Chippeqouti until recently and he wondered how much of this shopping spree was excitement. Or maybe she just liked to shop. He watched for a little while longer, letting her do what she wanted before catching up to her. Immediately, she thrust a bag of nuts at him and mentioned him carrying what she purchased. Had it not been for the smile, he would have been unsure how to react. Instead, he reached out and took the fancy wrapped nuts and then reached out to relieve her of the rucksack over her shoulder. “You know how to take care of a hard working man,” he joked, hitched the ruck sack over his shoulder. It was about as heavy as he expected given women seemed to travel with so much more.He adjusted the pack over his shoulders and then plucked a few of the items out of her hand including the fruit which came with a small warning. “Eh, I wouldn’t eat this raw unless you were planning on spending most of your first night here attached to the porcelain throne,” he said lightly, “Don’t ask me how I know that.” He tucked the fruit into the bag and offered a hand to her to lead her from the docks.
The walk to the hotel was pleasant and he let Sherri stop and explore if she wanted to. He wasn’t in any hurry and he knew she might like to enter into the some of the shops. So, he stood by with the bags and let her do what she liked while occasionally pointing out a few shops she might like including a galactic sized herbalist shop. “This island is mainly shopping and living areas, then the island to the west of here is the docking area and the fleet base. The eastern most island has the Skycorp base and the northern one is more living and entertainment, Little Terra neighborhood is there. Most of the Terran’s here are refugees. The center island has the government buildings, the square, hotels along with tons of restaurants. We’ll be spending a lot of time there since that’s where your room will be.”

He pointed out a few more things on the islands as they passed along, following the foot traffic toward the center island. They came near the edge of the island and approached the suspension ‘sky bridge’ meant for foot traffic connecting the two bits of floating land. The bridge swayed slightly in the warm, summer wind and he looked up to Sherri. Kaereleans had no problems with heights, and on a normal day, he didn’t mind them but the sky bridges were not something he enjoyed particularly. Tiberius hitched the pack higher on his shoulders and gave Sherri a grin. “Time to walk on air.” It was good enough smile to veil his distrust of the bridge before he stepped out onto the panels.


The hotel he had procured was a nice one. The lobby had smooth stone floors with soft and impeccably clean carpets along with marbled columns and soft chairs. The ceilings were a little low though. Something he hadn’t realized until Sherri found herself eye to eye with a silver chandelier. They rode up to the 5th floor and he offered for her to place her thumb on the entry pad. The door opened with a quiet click revealing a room with a plush mattress covered in pillows, a small wire rimmed balcony on the other side of double glass doors. The bathroom contained a large vanity mirror and soaking tub. At least he knew half of his credits had gone to something that was decent. Tiberius lifted the rucksack onto the freshly made bed and glanced around, exploring just as much as Sherri.

“Well, this is it,” he said, unsure of what else to do. “Uh, I figured maybe you might want to settle in or freshen up or something and we can go to dinner out on the town, maybe see a show. I heard there were a few in the Terran movie theatre and there’s some sort of walking theatre if you wanted to give that a go. This is your trip, eh?” If he was honest, he hadn’t done much on Kinte. He simply hadn’t had anyone to go out with and this would be as much of an adventure for him as it would be for her.


Calysta enjoyed her evening dancing away with Illya though it was a slower pace than what they would have done at their wedding ten years before. They were different from what they were then. Illya had lost a leg, his memory, had his back broken and more. She had been tested beyond the limits of what she could have ever expected herself capable of. They were 5 children richer and had friends. A place to call home. And in many ways the world had changed with them. Yes, they were very much different from when they first agreed, but they were there, and if the look Illya was giving her was any indication, they were stronger. Calysta watched her husband eat his fill and danced with him when he was ready for more. It was always nice to get swept up with him like that, though she was perfectly aware of how much of a swooning little girl she sounded when her feet left the floor during the dance. Sometimes it was okay to let your husband sweep you off your feet, right? It was a thought she would have believed made her look weak in years past, but now she knew simply to enjoy it.

Any time an alcoholic drink made it to their table, she would drink it or send it away. There was no point in him being tempted at all tonight and she wanted him to enjoy the time without concern. Luckily, Illya kept offering her bites of the delicious buffet and she took them greedily As a result, by the time they made it back to the room she was a little giddy and nothing made her more so than to see the dumbstruck look on her Chip’s face when he spied the black and gold stocking cinched around her pale legs. He stood there with his mouth open, completely entranced, and she couldn’t help but feel a sense of triumph. Now, that had been the look she was going for and she had done that all on her own. Smiling, she gave a little wiggle before stretching out on the bed in the hopes of looking even more enticing. That seemed to spur him into action. He scrambled out of his clothing with such a boyish look of anticipation that she had to laugh some, breaking the sultry look she was attempting to maintain. As promised, he felt like going for a new move and even pulled out a book. It was a book she recognized and though it was written in Terran, the pictures were enough to go by. Some of the moves were exotic and brought a tinge of pink to her cheeks even as they tried to pick one. “It’s Kama Sutra, I think?” she said. Hopefully the Terrans had better techniques in bed than they did in flight and space travel.

Eventually they found one and Illya was determined to perform it just right, moving her here and there. Calysta was sure by the time they moved it would be important to be in just the right spot. To do otherwise might result in some intense pretzeling. She shifted and suddenly the world pitched downward. A squeak of panic escaped her as she fell backward into the floor seconds before….her 300lb husband came tumbling on top of her. Out of reflex she scrambled and her heels connected with anything they could to make purchase enough to move. She managed to scoot away in time to see Illya flopping over and groaning as he cradled himself. “Oooh,” she winced. It didn’t take much to see what happened.

“Are you-”

A sharp intake of breath and a laugh cut her off as Illya groaned and began to chuckle. If he was laughing he was alright, though she imagined mashing himself into the floor was less than ideal for the mood. Sure enough, when he uncurled enough to let things show, the urge to do much in bed was clearly gone. It didn’t stop him from laughing or from scooping her up from the floor to put back into bed with a slight stumble. Calysta flopped down with him and listened to him chuckle. That was a sound she liked to here. In fact, it was almost ridiculous to be laughing after such an utter failure and yet he sounded jolly as ever even with a mashed groin. Calysta started to giggle at a thought that came to mind and the more she thought of it, the louder she chuckled until she was turned into his chest laughing along with him. “Oh think maybe we could try….” her eyes crept up toward his face, but another round of giggles burst out when she met his eyes. “ I think we’re done.” Smoothing out his hair, she lounged over her Chip before giving him a quick glance over. “I’m just checking to make sure it isn’t bent,” she joked, “Between a snake in the desert, the Urian oil and the battle with the floor, you’ve been a little rough on it.”


Swyft sat across from the Chip man and listened to what he said without interruption. Blackwolf was looking rough around the edges with tired eyes and paler face than what he would normally have, but that did little deter his fervor in expressing the idea he had regarding Skycorp. When the Chip finished speaking, Swyft waited for a moment and took stock of what he knew. The Elite were the specialty force of the Chippeqouti and the accounts he had read made them particularly useful...and particularly wild. Cooperation wasnt something they were known for. He considered a few more ramifications of supporting such a project, then he replied. "Skycorp officers and pilots have been called upon in that capacity before in times of need. Your wife was the last to do so and she had to present it to the board. I don't think it is a bad idea and it would solidify a good defense should we have another crises like with the Kinte incident. Skycorp is not the military but we run on the same signals and communication styles because they are efficient. It would have to be voluntary and if you would like to present this to the board. Keep in mind that men and women who volunteer will not be able to take long commissions. They would be taking exploratory missions only on Kaereal. It's likely you may end up with instructors rather than younger recruits."
The response wasn't too bad and Illya listened carefully. He knew that those who would volunteer would be limited and that was why he figured 50 crews wasn't much to ask. He only had 50 Elite if he included himself and that was good enough. "I dun care how old dey are. Long as pilot and crew can fly et dun matter and volunteers I know cannot always be available, but dah more dah better." If he could get the board to agree there were probably going to be other steps. "Well, ef dah board agrees den I will be order all Elite tah apply for Skycorp and I will order dem tah pass dah exam. Dey will pass, or dey will fail and et will be marked for all Elite tah see and den dey will receive remedial training from unit until dey pass exam. Dis will be very good for Alliance and tah make sure ef dere es anoter attack dat Elite can do tah Federation ships like we would wit Cirrelants. Make very potent medicine for Federation tah try and swallow." A particularly delighted grin came to Illya's face. "Et's someting we're very good at."

This time Swyft allowed himself a small, but knowing half smile. "Aye. I've read a few accounts. With seasoned Skycorp pilots at your back, I cant think of a man would want to cross into our territory. It would be a potent combination. Particularly if you were to recieve help from some of the instructors. It would, however, be my recommendation that you pair your volunteers and Elite men early on to train. Unfamiliar partners can lead to miscommunication in the best of times and sometimes, its best to introduce people who will be doing this sort of thing together early on. As far as the board goes, you would have my vote."

Somehow it was difficult even with his language skills to make his points clear and Illya had to scale back his exasperation. "Yes, dat es why I would have Elite join Skycorp. Dey would nut join tah abandon dere work, dey would join tah find crew dat would work wit dem. Dis would be separate type of training. Each man would have crew tah train wit so dey learn tah be seamless and dere would be drills and ongoing training. Et would become part of Elite working and work for volunteers too."

Swyft nodded and considered the rest of what Illya was saying. He wanted to integrate the culture class to help with the shock of bringing 50 Elite Chippeqouti warriors to this volunteer force. He could see the purpose behind it and together, he didn't think it was a bad idea. There would be some cultural kinks to work out for sure and the board would need some convincing but he knew how to handle that. Swyft straightened his uniform sleeve some and nodded. "The board will meet on monday, can you have a presentation ready by then?"

There weren't many days to prepare a presentation and get ready for the practicals, but Illya and his team had been scoring high in their work. They'd all studied hard and he was sure they would do well in the end. "I can have presentation ready. What kind of presentation would yah suggest? Yah need simulated presentation, small speech, little demonstration? Chippequoti usually give small demonstration. Et would nut be hard tah find stray Federation ship and stream presentation of how dis would work and den Federation would suffer more loss."
He seemed resolved to be ready by the Monday meeting and Swyft sat forward to reach for a pen and paper. He didnt want this in a message that could be rooted out later on. "They'll want you to state the purpose first," he said, "It will be like presenting for an expedition in some ways." He began to scroll out instructions on the paper in neat, but small traders tongue. "Most of the board members live and work on Kinte, so you'll have an advantage if you mention the Elite during the Battle of Kinte. This continent is a Prime target because of the ports and has the highest chance of being hit again. So, you'll likely have their votes. For the others who live further out from the zone you are describing a demonstration will be in order. Show them the value in your plan and that it has a chance of success, working as you have described. They will listen."He slid the paper over to Illya containing what order he should present in and then say back. "I will make sure that you have a presentation slot and you make sure that paper vanishes when you don't need it anymore. " He was meant to be impartial on most things and the paper would be a bit suspect for helping when he shouldn’t. "Your wife and the council woman's support may also be a good notation to have as well, even if she doesn’t have a vote."

"I will memorize dis note and den destroy et." Illya read it carefully through. A demonstration would be in order for a few other areas and that wasn't hard to accomplish. He could arrange for a few crews with Asha and some of the other Chip pilots to take a few Elite men and they could perform the demonstration over the weekend and send video report logs from the ships to Illya to send to those who would be viewing his presentation on Monday. It would create a better sense of security if they knew that there were different men in each ship that accomplished the task and that it didn't have to be Illya for it to work that way. Besides, a few of his men were getting a bit anxious and ready for action. "I'm sure dat meh Kalizda will like dis idea. Et will keep meh busy in meh time dat I'm nut working on meh commission for her ship. I will attend meh regular matters of state, bodyguard, and oter tings." The list was starting to sound longer and longer while he thought of it and Swyft didn't need to know all the roles he was currently filling, or about to add to.

Swyft raised a brow at the peaked looking Chip. He was adding yet more to his plate on top of other difficulties, but it wasn’t his job to point that out. "Excellent, and if that's all, I'm sure that you would like to go home." He was about to conclude the meeting when a curiosity he could no longer contain struck him and he smiled slightly. "I wasn’t aware that you could still give orders to the Elite General, it seems I could benefit from your proposed class as well."

: From the sound of it Illya figured the meeting was over and then Swyft asked about the ability to give orders. Illya snorted, "Yes, I still give orders. I'm dah General." It was such an obvious thing, but apparently not to those outside. "Chippequoti structure of power, during peace dah elders govern all matters of state, during war dah General governs all matters of state. Right now dat's meh and I am still Elite I still lead meh men and Chippequoti in war and all matters. I confer wit Elders as I see fit."

Blackwolf snorted as if it were obvious and Swyft knew, in part, the man had power. He wasn't aware of how far that extended. Apparently, it was very far. Swyft looked at the man, unruffled by his lack of knowledge. Lack of knowledge was the point of asking questions afterall. "I wasn't aware of how that worked. I think the staff and myself will find your project enlightening." The man didn’t carry himself as well to do, and he could appreciate that. "I will see you on Monday for training, Cadet and I will see you at thr board meeting, General."

"Yes, I tink et would be good tah have better understanding for meh people. Better tah understand dah Chippequoti and better for Chippequoti tah understand Alliance too. I notice dat even when I try I offend many times and et es difficult tah know why. I tink Chippequoti are offended too, but sometimes et could be oters dun know dey are rude." With a little grin he stood up. "I will be sure tah arrive as Cadet on Monday and as General at meeting. No fun en telling everyone dat I'm still dah General. Takes all dah surprise out of et." Giving a sharp salute he started for the door. He had a long weekend ahead of himself, but he was sure he could make it if he slept in a little bit on Saturday.

Swyft let the man leave his office and then smirked a little to himself. The man was intelligent, he had to give him that much. He wondered how well this would go over but he also figured the General would find a way to make it happen either way. At least if Skycorp was in on the ground floor, they had the ability to be involved in what was going on in the air and that was always good. Reaching for his pad, he clicked on the screen and dialed his wife’s pad. It picked up on the third try but it was the image of his son’s nostrils that greeted him. “Dah!” Swyft chuckled a little and propped the pad up on his desk. “Aye, and what are we doing today, hm?”

Calysta waited at the gate resisting the urge to pace for her Chip who was late coming through. All the rest of the cadets had come out, including Tiberius who was practically bouncing on his heels. Finally, her Chip could be seen walking down the side walk and Calysta picked up Edgar's chubby hand and waved it. "There he is, wave at Dah," she chuckled. Edgar squealed for joy and his little feet kicked while his brother squealed happily. When he came through the gate and immediately, she kissed him with a smile. "How was it today? You ran a little late?"
: Getting out of the gate late was unusual. The usual guards at the gate raised their brows some, but no one said anything. Illya saw Kalizda and the twins waiting and he couldn't help grinning some. "Hey, dere's dah people I wait all day tah see." Walking over to Kalizda he wrapped an arm around her waist and returned her kiss while plucking one of the boys out of her arms. "I run late because I propose idea tah ask Swyft ef we can use et." Holding out his other arm he offered to take the second twin. Both boys wanted him to carry them when he came out of classes. "I propose emergency response teams and..." Illya went on and described the basics of the program in as much detail as he could without making it too lengthy. "Yah going tah support dis idea? Et es integration like yah want."

Calysta let Illya take his sons into his arms and happily accepted his kiss before they began the walk back to the ship. He explained why he was late and what he had in mind. He seemed excited over this. Certainly. More excited than he had ever been going to Skycorp and she listened to him explain everything until he asked if she approved. "I think it is a good idea. It is integration and I think it would be an effective combination to have the rest of the Elite paired with pilots. Skycorp has great pilots, sometimes better than the military itself. With you coordinating I think it would be an excellent program. Will you choose someone to be in command in the air, jointly with the board?"
The question from Kalizda was good. Illya assumed it meant that she was in support of the idea and she wanted to help him make it better. "So, yah mean dat I would be in charge of dah Elite and director sort of wit dah volunteer and yah want tah know ef I have someone en mind tah help direct dah air portion of dah volunteer group. I dun know flight as well and et would be good tah have joint direction. I will see who would apply tah work dat position. Et es all volunteer, so I would take dah best able recruit."
"That or someone you trust to give orders while you are on the ground. Someone the Chippeqouti would trust too." She was getting the feeling he meant to be up there with them and while he wasn't incapable of doing that, she didn't like that feeling at all.

Momentarily a frown came to Illya's face. "Ef I dun do dis wit meh men den I indicate dat et es nut good for meh and ef et es nut good for meh and meh family den why es et good for dem? Kalizda, I would go same as oter volunteers. We would be called as last defense because for long time Alliance dun call on dah Elite. We make final fight and we fight for everyting when military es failed, or needs emergency response. We would stand ground between Federation and our families. Et would protect dah children."

His answers were what she would thought it would be and it made her slightly queasy. She knew what he would say because he always lead by example and if anyone was going to make this successful, it would be him. It didn't make her like the idea of him going any more though. "I know," she said, noting the frown on his face, "I know all of those things. I know that the Elite would follow you and you lead that way. It isn't the military and it isn't unlike something I wouldn't do. I just..." That same sinking feeling she had when Kinte came under attack settled over her and the images popping to mind distracted her enough that she missed the step down from the curb and stumbled awkwardly before righting herself, a tinge of pink coming to her cheeks. "The Alliance tries to not to call on the Elite unless necessary, as promised. I know this is a good idea but I don't like you going with another pilot. I would want to fly you."

It was impossible not to miss her stumble and Illya would have reached out to help her, but he already had his pack on and a baby under each arm. Stepping a bit closer instead he met her gaze. "Kalizda, I know dat dah Alliance has been fair wit us. Ef volunteers were called out et would be bad. We need dat defense and...." It finally struck him what she'd asked and he blinked a few times. "Den volunteer. Ef et was dat bad yah might be dah only pilot dat could get meh close enough tah do what we had tah. Et would be tah save dah children and dey would be wit Ehud. Ehud could hide dem better den anyone."

Calysta stiffened, her shoulders straightening as her eyes snapped to Illya's face. Normally, he didn't like the idea of her going anywhere like that on the ground. In fact, he usually tried to stuff her back into a defensive position. It was true she wasn't a fighter. She didn't know how to use swords, though she was decent with a pistol and a knife. She wasn't a master of hand to hand combat or a general. But she was a pilot and a damned good one. There was no way she wanted to send him out there alone in someone elses hands. "Do you mean that?" she said bluntly.

"Yes, I mean et. Ef volunteers are called out yah meh best shot at doing what needs tah be done tah save yah and dah kids. Anoter pilot wouldn't know meh so well and dey could make mistake and et could be what would get yah and dah kids killed. Volunteer and I will make sure dat yah meh pilot."

Her eyes studied his face for a minute as they walked and she nearly bumped into someone. He seemed like he really meant it and frankly, it was a relief. "W-well good," she said before a smile flickered over her lips, "If anyone is going to take you into battle on a ship, its going to be me. That's what little birds are for after all." She was sure that he didn't know what this would entail, but she would make it happen without fail. "Then I'll be your first volunteer."

Illya took a deep breath and he nodded. "Ok, den we are settled. Let's jes hope dat we dun get called out."

Calysta looked up to her Chip and slipped an arm around his waist, hardly daring to touch his back. “I will do my best to make sure that we dont.” It wasn’t something she liked thinking about, but it was a reality she heard about every day. Hearing her people, and various reports coming in about Federation activity was always difficult but if she could prevent them from ever touching Kaereal again, she would. Whatever it was that he needed help with to make his proposal happen, she would do it to protect him, her family, and their people.

Calysta ducked under the cabinet and brought out the clipper kit along with the scissors. Both Illya and Cypher would be getting haircuts tonight. Both of them were in need of one to start with and there would be pictures made tomorrow. She put the clippers out on the cabinet and began running a hot bath with Illya’s favorite oils in the mix. With the water flowing, she walked into the bedroom and began laying out Illya’s handsome Chip suit. It would be the same he wore to their anniversary but appropriate for his task in the morning. It was freshly washed and smelled a bit like Illya right out of the shower. Smiling to herself, she found his boots and added those to the chair for in the morning. There hadn’t been much time to prepare everything after they had come home from Kinte for the week and she was scrambling just a bit to get all the children set with decent clothing too.

A few thumps coming up the stairs alerted her to Illya coming upstairs and she beckoned him over to the bathroom as soon as he appeared in the door way. “The bath is running,” she smiled, “I can cut and oil your hair if you want, yeah? You’ll be in those wedding pictures tomorrow with Priscilla and Ehud.” Calysta took up his hand and her little fingers massaged at his rough palm as she started to lead him toward the bathroom. “Are you ready?”


Anonymous Me
Kalizda's roaming eyes gave Illya a bit of concern. Sitting up slightly he turned his head to the side to see what she was looking at and then smirked. "Yah jes checking eh? Well, yah know I have been little rough on et, but most tings feel better wit a kiss." Illya just wanted to see the look on her face at the suggestion and his eyes pushed into half moons at the mere amusement of what he'd said.

He was being wild and his response proved it. Her eyes widened at the suggestion he made with total glee and then she raised a brow at him. It was hard not to feel the rush of pink glowing in her cheeks from such a suggestion. "Aye, they do. But..," she inched up his chest. "The only kiss that is getting is the serpents bite." To make her point, she leaned up and nibbled lightly on his neck with a slightly devilish giggle.

The red glow to her cheeks was exactly what Illya expected. That was until she started talking and then he smirked. "Mmmm...Yah feel little wild too eh? I like meh feisty woman." While she nibbled on his neck he snuck a hand around to rest on her rear end. With a gentle squeeze of his hand he chuckled. "Very nice. Yah have strong legs." Illya couldn't help himself from still chuckling a little despite the bit of pain he was still experiencing. It seemed to come and go in surges of pain. Wincing slightly he adjusted himself. "Oooh."

She felt his warm hand sneak around to her rear where his warm palm practically engulfed one of her cheeks for a small squeeze. The touch must have gotten him going again because he groaned and shifted slightly. "Mmm...takes strong legs to keep up with my wolf," she chuckled, "Maybe we can find out how strong in the morning, yeah? I'll be doubly feisty if my Chip holds me in the night." All she needed was for him to sprain that part himself trying to make it rise after such a stunt.

"Yeah, dah morning would be fine." Sneaking a quick kiss he turned to his side and moved his hand away from her rear to rest at her lower back. If they slept close like usual that would be the most comfortable. Snickering to himself he thought of the neighbors on the other side and decided to give them a little more to talk about. "Mmm yeah, dis es great. Jes like dis." With another grunt he pulled Kalizda so she was pressed to his chest. "Yah look beautiful." He figured he might as well compliment her before he turned out the lights for the night.

He was being oddly vocal as he pulled her close and he wasn't normally so when they worked hard. She snuggled up to his chest now that he had an arm wrapped around to make sure she wasn't going anywhere to fall off the bed again. The neighbors must have thought the house was coming down on them. It dawned on her that Illya was grinning and calling her beautiful with such a wily look. Naughty Chip. Her face turned pink again but it was far too late for any sort of recovery so she wiggled a little and stretched a hand up to push against the head board, making it let out a groan. "Ooh we'll have to be careful. We don't want to break the bed again," she said with a little sigh of contentment. Her eyes glinted with a bit of boldness and she wrapped her arms around him as much as she could. "You're my Chip and I couldn't have dreamt of a better husband," she whispered to him in the dark.

After Illya complimented Kalizda he turned the lights out and he felt her little words come in hot puffs against his face. She was joining the fun and he chuckled a bit. The neighbors really were going to think it was a wild night. In part the neighbors wouldn't be wrong, but it would be entirely different than what they thought. Illya puckered his lips and kissed Kalizda's forehead. He hadn't quite figured out how to find her lips in the dark without missing the first time, but he still had fun with it. "Dat's good. I'm dah only one yah get. Probably good ting I tink yah best woman among all Chippequoti and peoples I meet. Yah only woman dat could satisfy meh."


Experiencing a bit of real shopping and some exotic options was more than thrilling. By the time they had reached the hotel Sherri’s cheeks had a tinge of pink to them from all the hustling she’d done. Normally she didn’t rush about in such a fashion, but the store keepers were all friendly and no one denied her a single thing. She even bought a new kitchen knife. Tiberius had hauled quite a few of her things even though he was smaller, but he was the man. The man was supposed to do those sorts of things for the woman.

In a true man’s fashion Tiberius stammered out a few haphazard words regarding the plans. Plans that seemed to be nearly non-existent. Sherri stared back at him for a moment and then smiled. "Oh, so you've left it open for a little extra fun." She didn't want to make him feel badly for the lack of planning. Planning wasn't a skill that she'd noticed many men had down and especially not when they were so young. "Well, now that yah got the shiny yah not sure what to do wit it eh?" Her accent wasn't quite as strong as some of the other Chippequoti, but she still had it. Setting the rest of her bags down on her bed she whipped a long red scarf out of her one bag and wrapped it around her shoulders. "I tink ets time yah take meh tah dinner. I'm hungry." Holding one hand out she waited for Tiberius to take it.

Since he hadn't quite planned anything she was more than willing to tell him what they were going to do for the night. Naturally, there were quite a few things she wanted to do that she hadn't been able to in years. After dinner we'll go out tah walk dah streets and look at dah lanterns." She loved seeing the different styles of lanterns. "Dere es good park tah walk en and look at dah lanterns and walk on nice little pat?" It seemed to take a few moments for Tiberius to catch up and she let him take his moment to collect himself. "Now, I make some plans and I want yah tah show meh where dese good places are. Chippequoti share dese tings togeter. Yah like Chip man. Make good arrangements for woman and den yah make plans togeter." If nothing else she could attempt to compliment him. If he thought that perhaps being considered equal with a Chip man was a compliment, then she was in good shape.

Sherri felt a small surge of panic when she started out of the room again. Would the server stare at her strangely? There was a chance that they would be refused service because she was a Chip. However, she was going to hold her head high regardless of the outcome and be a proud woman. When they reached the place that Tiberius seemed to think would be fitting she stepped in with barely a hint of hesitancy and then took her seat at the table.

To Sherri's surprise the waiter didn't seem to be surprised to see her and he certainly didn't appear to have any complaints about serving her. While they waited for their food and drinks to arrive she leaned across the table a little and whispered at Tiberius. "It's strange. No one here seems tah mind dat I'm Chip."


When they finally reached the ship Illya was more than ready for dinner. There was food ready. Kalizda must have ordered something and the kids were a bit fussy too. It was a bit late, but they were alright. It wasn't until they were almost home to Pytra that Illya checked his pad and saw the notification on it. He was already late for the rehearsal dinner. Tapping out a message in Quoti, he hit the translate button and sent it to Priscilla. The note was a very rough translation and it didn't read quite right in Trader's Tongue. Illya figured it would have to be close enough because he couldn't think of how to correct it anyway.

I'm sorry, I will be later and I can't come to the party. Your notice is not on my calendar. Most of the words were right and he figured she would understand what it meant. Illya couldn't believe that he'd forgotten her dinner party thing where he was supposed to practice walking her up the aisle. It was horrible that she'd asked him to do this sort of honorary thing and then he missed it. Illya stayed quiet for most of the ride home while he tried to focus on making arrangements for the presentation. If he couldn't make it to the thing for Priscilla he could at least work on getting a few of his men out to make the presentation. If they wanted a demonstration of how this would work then he could make that happen. Ehvan was likely going to jump at the opportunity and Illya knew that. There were a few others that had been getting a bit itchy for some action and this was a good way to get it.

Shortly after they got home it was time for the twins to go to bed and the other kids would be following in a while. Illya took himself up the stairs to the room and Kalizda was there waiting with a bath for him. She didn't look like she was going to get into the bath though. Staring at Kalizda for a long moment he narrowed his eyes and then tilted his head to the side. "Why dun yah get en wit meh? Ets always better when yah in dah tub wit meh."


With the wedding day finally here Illya had to get dressed in some strange sort of suit. He was supposed to wear a tie too and he had no idea how to put it on. Giving up after a while he walked down the stairs in the odd suit. Illya wiggled his legs a little and shrugged his shoulders a few times. It was terrible quiet in Priscilla's room, but there was a chance they were just too tired to talk all night. With the tie draped over his one arm Illya met Thomas in the hallway and he sighed. "Yah show meh how dis ting es supposed tah be eh?"

Standing still he waited for a moment while Thomas pulled the tie around and finally finished off the knot to get it set around his neck. No sooner had Thomas finished with the knot and Illya saw Ehud step out of the room with his wedding clothes and in a robe. The man's hair stood up in a few directions. At first Illya just stared at Ehud. It was entirely inappropriate what he'd done. Ehud shouldn't have taken his clothes off even for a night.

Ehud was a grown man and he had choices to make, but he should have waited. Even if Priscilla wasn't his daughter he felt a bit responsible for her. Illya took himself to the kitchen and tried not to feel angry. There were traditions for good reason. Sure, there were plenty that broke them, but Ehud of all people should have known better. When Priscilla emerged Illya saw that she looked fresh and pretty as usual. "Hmmm...Yah look ready for all dis. Dun look like stay up all night eiter. Yah looking pretty." Illya had to try and stop himself from saying what he was thinking and he decided the best was to focus on his part in all this. "So, I watch video last night and play music many times tah learn dah march for yah wedding. I'm really sorreh dat I miss dah whole practice for et. I jes...well....I had warnings on meh pad and I dun look at et cause I forget and I had meeting. I study and I will make et right for yah tahday." Pouring a cup of coffee he handed it Priscilla. "I know yah might want some of dis tah keep yah feeling more lively for dah day. Et will be busy day."

Calling it a busy day wasn't quite accurate. Despite the fact that it wasn't his wedding Illya was feeling a bit overworked and tired. He'd been up almost all night working on the presentation and the stuff for Swyft. A few of his men were already on ships on their way to the little demonstration areas. The kids were up early and there was still some set up to do at the building where the wedding would take place.

Just because there were children and it was a special occasion Illya knew that something had to go wrong. After he got Priscilla to the front of the building with the timed march without much difficulty and perfectly timed he was sure that something worse would happen. The worse happened with Lohgan. The girl stood near the front with her empty basket. The flowers she'd thrown in the aisle were perfectly scattered, but now the girl was picking her nose. Illya knew it wasn't the proper response, but he seriously wondered if there was a way that the girl intended on depositing her little gold nuggets.

With tiny fingers Lohgan reached out and wiped a booger on the dress of the woman in front of her. It was such a discrete little move that Illya wasn't sure anyone else noticed it. Glancing at Kalizda he could tell she saw it too. Making a quick glance to a few other people Illya noticed that none of them seemed to be distracted by Lohgan. Most of them were focused on Ehud and Priscilla. That was probably good. More than likely that was where he should be focusing too, but he had two kids up there and he didn't trust them not to do something stupid. Lohgan was already getting the majority of his attention because Illya saw another little booger string out of the girl's nose as she stared at it on the tip of her finger before wiping that one on the woman's dress too. After the second smear Illya opened his mouth and rubbed his cheeks in an attempt to keep from wanting to laugh at the dreadfulness of the situation.

With the booger wiping being the only major error Illya was content with the wedding. He figured nothing else could go wrong until they got out to the front steps of the building and Cypher unzipped his pants and began to pee. "What are yah doing? Dere was a batroom in dah building." Illya met his son's gaze and the boy answered him in a matter of fact voice. "Dah, I had to go and dah steps are good as anywhere."


With what little sleep Illya got over the last week and a half he was exhausted when Monday came around. He'd been up half the night on Sunday with the rest of the slides he would use for the presentation and making sure that his men were in position. They'd checked the comms to be sure that they could have a seamless streaming for the hologram presentation. All through classes Illya felt himself trying to nod off. In the math class Illya sat in the back for a change. Normally he enjoyed the math and navigation classes, but he planned on trying to catch some sleep in the classes.

During a rare discussion in the class Illya happened to hear the instructor call his name and he raised his head. "Mmm...yep dah number yah looking for es 68 because yah find et by dividing dah base by 3 and den multiplying et by dah 7 degree." It was a simple answer, but no one seemed to be prepared to answer the question, or perhaps the instructor wanted to know if he could pay attention while laying his head on the desk. Illya wasn't sure why the instructor called him, typically they asked him to let other students try first.

By the time classes were over Illya had gotten enough of nap with advanced navigation and math that he felt like he could make it through the practicals and then go back to the ship to get himself changed. Practicals were getting pretty easy since he'd had at least a few weeks of practice. He and his team were ranking toward the top daily and today he didn't intend to be an exception. They were going to place high so he could get done and go get changed. There wasn't time for remedial training today. After what felt like forever he was finally on his way home.

Illya changed into his military dress uniform once he got showered on board the ship. There wasn't time for dinner before he went back to Skycorp, but Kalizda wouldn't mind if he got a nice dinner ordered for them on their way home after the presentation. "Yah almost ready?" Calling to her he sat on the edge of the bed and slipped his boots on. He'd had the dress uniform boots he wore updated to have buckles. Primarily the ankle buckle was to keep his boot from slipping on his prosthetic leg without him knowing. It was a bit awkward to fall without realizing it was due to his boot slipping on his prosthetic foot. That wouldn't happen on his other leg, but he liked his shoes to match. Once he had his boots buckled up he combed his hair carefully and smoothed it down before pulling the beret on.

Instead of walking to Skycorp in his uniform and Kalizda in her beautiful dress they flew in a small flyer together. "I dun mind when yah fly. Means I can look at yah all I like." She looked good in that color and he liked it. "Yah going tah translate for meh yeah?" With a contented sigh he leaned back into the seat a little more and glanced out the window of the flyer as they landed on the private pad on top the main building. It would be a short trip to the conference room where he would be showing the demonstration to the school officials and other important people.

The two of them stepped out of the flyer and Illya waited for Kalizda and he held out a large, rough hand for her to grab. Walking with her over to the stairs he winked. "Dere nut enough room for us tah go down at same time. Yah like go ahead, or behind?" She didn't seem to mind, so he took the first step down. "I guess yah get chance tah be a little taller eh?"

While he was talking to her in Quoti about a few more things that he wanted to have noted for the meeting he lost track of where the steps were and overstepped one with his prosthetic leg. Without realizing that he'd missed it Illya pitched forward and he turned to his side and hit his shoulder hard with the first thunk and then he curled and went tumbling down the first set of stairs like a bowling ball. When he hit the landing he was still going fast enough he wasn't sure he'd recover his balance before the next set of stairs, but he'd try because he could hear people scrambling and he didn't really want to knock them over like a bunch of frightened pigeons. Rolling once on the landing he managed to get one leg out from underneath himself and then he grabbed the hand rail. There was still enough momentum that Illya vaulted himself over the edge and down the last 10 feet rather than tumbling down the stairs. The landing wasn't quite smooth. Illya stumbled a few steps before he managed to stop moving. Straightening his jacket and dusting his pants off he glanced up to see Kalizda was staring at him along with quite a few other people. Flashing them all a grin he reached up and waived with one hand and then smoothed his hair as best he could. "Kalizda, yah toss meh beret down eh?" When the hat flew over the railing he caught it and dusted it off carefully before placing back on his head. More than likely he'd be a little bruised feeling tomorrow, but he would be fine tonight.


Curious Adventurer
Calysta enjoyed the kiss to her forehead and the night snuggled to the chest of her Chip. There was a sort of guilty pleasure in laying like that with him, all tucked underneath broad arms, even when they didn’t have sex. She may never admit it openly, but just being held was something that was irresistible to her when it was Illya doing the holding. Part of her knew exactly how ridiculous that sounded. How naive and girlish that line of thought surely had to be. Every now and then that old feeling of half-bred awkwardness reared from that side. But the other part of her didn’t quite care and held that giddly feeling of wanting that closeness with her husband.

She savored the night and the equally enjoyed the look the neighbors gave them as they shared the lift down to the breakfast nooks. Eyes skirted around them as the prim looking couple stood at the very opposite the lift car which was sliding downward to the dining area. The wife followed it with a stare that was obviously meant to convey prudish superiority while the husband her a knowing side glance that almost could have been seen as envious.

Calysta gave the woman a cordial smile but her blush was already starting to seep through, starting at her ears and working its way forward to her pale cheeks. Of course, they could have been looking in their direction for any sort of reason. Illya was exotic looking, handsome and took up a fair portion of the lift car. She was the council woman and blushing like a red flight flare. They could have been staring at them from any number of reasons. It didn’t have to be from the ruckus they had caused last night. Calysta took a moment to look at them and then glanced at her husband who was looking good. Her mouth twitched and her heart pounded with the birth of an idea in her mind. Before she could really think it through, she couldn’t help but stand on her toes to whisper in her Chip’s ear playfully. “Maybe we can try a few of those things in that book with zero gravity when we get the chance.” She gave him a saucy little kiss on the cheek to make her point as she took his hand and the lift door slid open. With a wide grin aimed at the couple, she turned and winked at Illya. “I’m sure we’ve both worked up an appetite, yeah?” Calysta could feel her cheeks nearly torched with blush, but she kept up the confident act until they exited the lift. The show only held a few moments more, before she looked up at her husband a bit sheepishly and started to laugh at herself from the thrill of being a bit naughty.


Illya peered at her from their bedroom with a suspicious gaze. Why wasn’t she getting into the bath tub with him? She held up the clippers and quirked a brow. “ I was going to give you a haircut before and then massage your scalp...I thought it might be relaxing.” In earnest, she had wanted to focus on him and helping him decompress for a little while. Maybe it would be better if she got into the tub with him? He insisted that she did though and Calysta nodded. “Let me fix your hair first, yeah?” That request seemed agreeable enough and he sat down to let her clip his long, black curls into submission. In truth, she liked it longer. Long enough to play with when she felt the urge, but it wasn’t Skycorp length and it certainly wouldn’t do for wedding photos. His curls fluttered to the floor around her feet and she swept them up as Illya climbed into the steaming water that waited. He was moving a bit stiffly, so she took her time sweeping up some and tossing the hair into the garbage before stripping down to join him.

The water instantly turned her pale skin pink, but it felt nice once she finally sunk into the steam. Normally, they would have sat facing each other in their large tub, her rear tucked next to his feet, but that wouldn’t work this time. Grabbing the oil he used for his hair from the side of the tub, she inched over...careful to avoid more sensitive spots...and settled into his lap. “I can’t oil your hair and scalp from over there, yeah?” Pouring some of the oil into her palms, she rubbed her hands together and started working to make his hair look nice and shiny while massaging his scalp lightly. “I learned by watching some of the workers in the pleasure house,” she smiled to him quietly. “Feel alright?” She nodded at his reply and adjusted herself to make the work better. Her fingers were light, not really going for deep muscle at his temples or neck. It was meant to be a more soothing sensation. At least she hoped it was. When she was done, Calysta leaned forward and kissed him just a little before leaning back to look him over. He was short haired and still handsome, though the buzz cut on the sides made him look slightly more militaristic. Smiling at him, she laid a hand over his chest, just to the left of his scar. “Not much, but maybe it felt nice, yeah? I do like to do things for you every now and then.”


Curious Adventurer
Priscilla poked her head out of her room and swallowed. It felt like her heart had crawled up to the back of her throat in a excited but nervous quivering lump. Why was she so nervous about this now? Wasn't it a little too late to back down? The wedding was tomorrow and now she, apparently, would be staying up all night in some strange Chip tradition which seems determined for her to look bedraggled to her own shindig. Smoothing her white dress, Priscilla walked down the hallway to the living room and dared to look toward the doorway. Yep, he was there alright with his back turned to the hall way and chatting with Illya. "Ehud?" The name came out a bit froggy and she cleared her throat. "Ehud."

"Yeh, but yah dun seem tah...." Illya paused when he saw Priscilla sneak down the hallway behind Ehud. Pausing he nodded to Ehud to turn and the other man slowly turned around to see Priscilla waiting for him. Momentarily his eyes went wide and then he quickly regained his composure. "Yes?" He was trying to stay calm even though he was starting to wonder why they planned the wedding this soon. There hadn't really been time to get himself ready at the house for her.

He looked at her like he'd swallowed a bee and wasn't sure if he wanted it to go down or come out before he managed a reply. He was wearing a handsome blue tailored Chippeqouti style suit with silver trappings. It made his eyes look all the brighter, even if they were wide as dinner plates before he gained some sort of composure back. "You look nice," she said, whipping up a smile, "Handsome." Another awkward pause rolled over and Priscilla folded her hands in front of her. "I...just had to wear the dress for this part, right?"

"Uh yeah, all I need is you and the dress for this part. We'll just make sure we talk about those things that people should before they decide if they can be agreed." Ehud rubbed the back of his head and stepped to the side as Illya moved past him in the hallway. "Remember, don't let Sien do anything too crazy before the wedding tomorrow, have his shirt tucked in and he'd better look like a proper man." With the waive of his hand Illya grunted and winked at Ehud's boy. "C'mon we go before yah dah has chance tah stop us, eh?"

He seemed less than impressed and she wondered if she shouldn't have just worn the Chip dress she had gotten. "Right," she nodded slowly, "Calysta said that's how it worked." Sien grinned at her as he was ushered by Illya into the kitchen. She smiled back at him and then chuckled a little to Ehud. "They'll be fine. I think." Her fingers worked over one another and she finally stepped to the side, her dress trailing behind her slightly. " we stay in the living room? Go to my room?" Everything felt strange and any excitement was quickly being replaced with the feeling of anxiety.

Clearing his throat a little bit Ehud nodded and then corrected himself. "Oh, we would usually go to your room. I wouldn't really want other people to hear all those important questions that get saved up." Smiling at her carefully he held a hand out in Terran fashion. "You sure look pretty in that. Makes me think I uh...makes me think I didn't do enough to deserve a lady like you."
Important questions were things that you were supposed to ask long before the wedding. Not the night before! What if he asked something entirely wild? Ehud gave a measured, almost tepid smile and then offered his hand. Her eyes flicked from his face to his hand while he said something about her dress and not deserving a lady like her. A little, equally measured smile crept to her red painted lips and she took his hand lightly. "Well, then lets see if we can earn you a few more points with a lady like me," she teased quietly. Priscilla lead him down the hallway to her room and offered him the chair or a spot on the bed once they were inside. Everything was neatly organized and smelled of fresh flowers, a scent that came from her perfume and the candle burning on the dresser top. The light from the candle flickered as they entered and she quickly grabbed a book from her night stand, stowing it in the drawer before easing down to the bed. Another silence passed between them and she resisted the urge to rub her knees. "So, this is something you would have done with your first wife too, hm? I'll try not to disappoint." Shifting some, she glanced up and Ehud to meet his gaze, then averted again. "If you have questions, now is the time, I suppose. You go first?"

"Yah better impress her. I need more room in meh house or Kalizda will make meh build more!" Yelling from the kitchen Illya waited for what he knew would be silence and then snickered. It was too much fun to make things more exciting for Ehud. Rolling his eyes, Ehud glanced toward Priscilla. "The things he's lived with. Can't imagine having..." Stepping into the room he saw there was a lot of stuff. "Oh, you do have a lot of stuff." Once he was in the room he sat down on the bed. "So uh...yeah this is the tradition we do and most of us aren't any good at it and we don't usually get many chances to get better.." With a sheepish grin he started off, "Easy question first. How many kids do you want to have?"

He mentioned her room and she wasn't sure if he was teasing her about it being full of stuff. Soon it would all be moved out to their house. She smoothed down the back of her dress and sat on the corner of her bed. He hadn't hesitated making himself at home or making a bit of a joke either. When he mentioned started off with any easy question, she relaxed a little. "Alright...whoa...." Blinking in surprise. she stared at im for a second before she smiled. "I thought we were doing easy questions first....ah I'd like to have two or three. I like children and I wanted them with Harry but...well...we couldn't.

Ehud nodded, "Yeah, that's a good number. I don't think I need a hoard of children. That's just enough to keep us busy." Taking a moment to be thoughtful he decided to finally ask one of the other easy questions he'd had running around in his mind. "I like how you dress well and make your hair and stuff. How much should I budget to keep you looking like this?"
He seemed to agree with that number and that was a bit of a relief. Sometimes she wondered if he wanted children at all, given how he was around Sien at times. Not that he wasn't a good father. He was just very restrictive sometimes. It had made her worry that he wouldn't want many, if any. His next question made her eyes snap up to meet his and her eye brow arch. How was she supposed to take that? It felt like a compliment in some ways but also made it sound like she wasn't much good for anything else besides being looked at too. He had never seen her without make up. What was she supposed to say. Her mouth worked over words for a moment before she actually could think of a reply. "I'm not sure....I usually earn my own make up and clothes money, plus any or my extra spending for the house. I usually get my hair done once a month and fresh make up every three months." Tilting her head, she looked at him. "That has been on your mind?"

"Mmhmm!" Ehud agreed enthusiastically. "Oh yes, it is a Chip saying that men usually say. If you like the shiny then you need to find out how to keep the shiny looking good." It was perhaps a bit strange when he translated the phrase. "Just, one of those things. If we like the way a lady looks we make it a point to find out how much it costs to be sure that she can keep looking like that. Don't worry, I looked up some prices the other day and I think we won't have a problem budgeting for you to do that and shop for extra clothes too when you like. Uh...I could also make custom clothing for you if you'd rather. I'm a tailor by trade originally."

Apparently, this particular subject is what got him all excited for the first time that evening and he quoted what was perhaps the most strange attempt at a compliment she had heard. At least, that was what she was going to assume it was. That, coupled with that fact that he had gone price checking and he was a.....what? She paused and stared at him openly. "You were a-" Did he actually say that? "-tailor?" Now, that was something she probably should have known by this point. Why hadn't he mentioned that? Suddenly, his need for Sien to look perfect and the random sewing items made sense. No other man would have bothered to keep up with them. "I didn't know that." She started to chuckle, thinking on the fact more and more, "Why didn't you tell me?"

"A tailor, and I still am. Just don't have much time to buy more machines and open a shop." Ehud brushed at his clothing a bit. "Can't help the way things turned out. I guess that's life. Things don't usually turn out like we thought and I didn't know if you'd prefer to know I was a tailor earlier, or later. Not like I could ask without giving it away."
"That really doesn't answer why you felt like you had to hide that fact in the first place," Priscilla replied pointedly, "It wouldn't be what I preferred, it would have been simple fact." She felt a little at a loss given that he had just neglected to tell her about some big part of his life and was now acting so non-chalant about it. "Tinker, Taylor, Solider and Spy," she mumbled, "You are a multi-talented man. Maybe you will pick back up on tayloring again someday."

Ehud could feel her disapproval and he almost wondered if she'd be upset with him again. He'd just barely got through this last while with her after he'd made a few mistakes. "I-I don't know why I didn't say anything. Just not something I talked about very widely for several years. It was easier not to be a tailor while I was working and...Well, another identity means I can't be who I was before. I've only had a little over 10 years of being me and not the spy. Still getting used to some things. Almost nobody knows I'm a tailor unless they knew me before the first war." All the while

Ehud's cheeks turned a little more red. He was positive his explanation sounded like an excuse, but it was the truth. He had over 80 years of hard practice at being another person and re-discovering himself was a lot of work especially after Haza had died.
His cheeks were turning red and she knew this time that it had been more of a mistake than an outright lie. He hadn't lied. He just hadn't mentioned it and given how deep under cover he had been, at least from what she knew of, that any semblance of his real life had to be tamped out. Priscilla studied him for a long moment. He was a bit boyish and cute when he blushed. The sight of it made her smile and she leaned in closer to him, wiggling her shoulders to get a bit more comfortable on the bed. "That's what this tradition is about right? Getting to know each other better. For Terrans, they usually do stuff like this long before the wedding...and it's supposed to be bad luck to see me in my dress before tomorrow." Resting her her head carefully on the wall, she giggled a little. "Luckily, I'm not particularly superstitious on that." An easier moment of silence passed, this one less forced and awkward as she drew up to get more comfortable. If she had to stay up all night she was going to relax, or try to. Her counselor had said to live more in the moment and she would try. "A taylor is a good occupation, but can I ask you something? What was your name? The one you used as a spy?"

Letting out a little sigh Ehud relaxed a bit more. "Oh, well, I guess it's a good thing we're not doing the wedding strictly as a Terran, or Chippequoti tradition. We'll be breaking a lot of rules I think." Ehud was about ready to flash her a smile and then she asked what his name had been as a spy. Eventually she'd want to know about that part of his life and it wasn't one that he wanted to talk about. He'd been a different man then and he planned to never have to be that man again. It was also a dangerous name to use. There were plenty that would want him dead on both sides if they knew who he was. Illya had sealed those records under a permanent encryption that would self destruct information as soon as it was opened. It was part of the security measure Ehud had insisted on when he joined the Alliance. "Pris, do you really want to know that? Alliance and Federation both want me, but under different names. That information is only known to myself and Illya. Even Kalizda doesn't have the records and she never will."

Priscilla could tell that her question had dampened the mood some and Ehud grew more serious. Didn't she want to know? Wasn't that what this was about? She couldn't just not know if she was going to be married to him. Knowing could put her in danger, but it could also protect him. She looked at him, her blue eyes studying his face. "Marriage, for me, has always been facing things together. I did that with Harry and I didnt have to know everything. I dont have to know everything but I would like to know a little. It would help."

"A little is what you'd call knowing my Federation name?" Ehud shook his head. "I had a few. You know my Chip name. My name for operations was Nathan an my Federation name that would get me killed was Jack Ridley." The name was in itself notorious for quite a few reasons. If she recognized it he was sure she would choose not to agree with him now.
She listened, trying to think of the names he listed. She didnt know Nathan. Jack Ridley, however, she had seen cross her path somewhere. Perhaps it was in the paper or on some of Harry's work pads on Terra. Either way she knew the name for something quite horrific. She stiffened and looked at him with widening eyes. "I know that name," she said, "That was you? It was mines wasnt it?"

Ehud could see that look of ignorance on her face change to one of deep thought and then shock. "The mines and a few other things. If you have to know anything else this is the night. After this that man is dead and I won't say another word about him." It was only fair to give her a chance, but he wasn't going to be indulging her curiosity regarding Jack Ridley ever again. That was a past that he didn't want any part of

He looked adamant about not saying much else, borderline angry with her. She studied him, trying to process this new information. She couldnt change what had been done but she knew the man Jack Ridley had left men to die without a care in mines on Terra. He was working for the Federation at that point of course. She had seen Ehud. Dated him for the past 11 months. She had seen his kindness and little bits of his heart. Hadnt she? She stared at him carefully and came to a conclusion. It was the only question she would ever ask about Jack Ridley again. . "Did they make you do it?" She asked.

"Make me do what? I did what was needed to keep my cover. I did those things to protect Haza." Jack Ridley was high enough up in the Federation that there was a sense of dread that surrounded his name and he was almost as powerful as Kent. "I was fighting in my own way, but that failed when I was sent to kill all that remained of the Dark Chippequoti. I might have done it, but I saw the little girl that survived the attack, Rose. She was going to grow up in the world I tore apart. She would be taken into Federation territory, I would destroy what was left of the Dark Chippequoti and then I would kill Kent one day and take over the Federation, but at the cost of losing everything I'd originally intended to keep safe."
Her brow knitted together as she tried to follow what he was talking about. Rose? Calysta and Illya's Rose? Wasn't Kent the Tannas in charge of the Federation? The top of the top? What was more shocking, was what he said about the Dark Chippeqouti. "You would have killed all of the Dark Chippeqouti because you wanted to have Kent's power? Is that what you're telling me?"
"I wanted Kent's power to destroy the Federation from the inside out. If it had just been handing Illya over, I would have done it, but I couldn't do it to all the children that survived and Rose too. If Illya was the only price it would have been an easy choice. He would have done the same if there was a choice between me, or destroying the Federation at last."
Priscilla went quiet and let that explanation settle between them without an answer. He would have killed so many people to gain control but doing so would have destroyed the point of doing so in the first place. It may have been vicious war but it seemed so cold. Was that all these people were? Bargaining chips on a scale of what your conscious could handle? It took her a minute to realize she was shaking and her knuckles had turned white with her grip on her knees. She didnt even know what to say.

There wasn't anything to say in his defense. Ehud knew that almost no one could understand what these things meant unless they lived it for themselves. Until they had to make the choices and make goals for their life on this sort of scale they weren't likely to understand and he wasn't going to try and make her understand either. "It's not too late if you've decided you can't be with me. This is why the Chippequoti have a night where the agreed can ask anything that has bothered them and the other is obligated to answer truthfully no matter how badly it hurts."
She let him say what he wanted nothing she said or he said would change the past. What remained was ahead of them. "What is it you want for the future, Ehud? Ehud, is your actual name...right?" She wasn't asking it to be mean but she had neglected to ask if that was his actual name and he certainly wasn't going to get the truth voluntarily unless she asked.
"I gave up my position to destroy the Federation from within. Now I want a family and I'll do what I have to. The Federation still has to end and I'm training more men to be spies and go back into the Federation. If a tailor could survive, then surely a soldier could too." Meeting her gaze he wondered if she'd ever feel safe with him. "My name is Ehud. I took back my first name when I decided to join the Alliance."

He finally really looked at her in the eyes and his bright blue orbs grew blurry in her vision with the threat of impending tears. "If that's the truth, then I want you to promise me something." Her throat was tightening and she could feel rising anxiety as all sorts of images came to mind. Mostly Harry's twisted form and the fires of what remained of his motorcade. "You do what you have to but you will not disappear on me. You wont just change your name and leave because that's what you think is best."

Briefly the Chip stiffened as he saw the tears in her eyes. This was it and he braced himself for the flurry of tears and fists. Instead Priscilla still seemed to think that she wanted to move forward. There would be no telling what that would mean in the future, or if she would regret it later on. "I won't be Jack Ridley, or like him ever again. Priscilla I never left Haza during those times, I won't leave you either."

Her chin trembled and she could feel the tears leaking down her face. They were hot, angry trails that were more than just simple shock at what Ehud was saying. They were carrying that unexpressed, deep feeling of betrayal she had been harboring at Harry for what he had done. Her head sank low and she started to cry in earnest. Eventually, she managed to gain control of herself and loped off the bed to wash her face at her small vanity. The mirror revealed she looked awful now and she didnt want to look back at her fiance knowing what a trainwreck she was. "What other questions do you have," she mumbled absently, wiping at her eyes.

He'd barely asked anything and yet Priscilla was asking if he had more to ask her as if she already knew what she wanted to. "Well, besides the fact that you want just a few more there's the question about whether, or not you'll still want to be with me. I dare say you know me at my worst now."

He was right to the point about the marriage and it was almost cold in delivery. She grew quiet save for a few quiet sniffles and dabbed at her eyes before touching up her make up which was hard now because her hands were shaking. Finally, she looked decent enough to turn around and looked at the man sitting on her bed. "I cant pretend to know what life was like under the thumb of the Federation or any of the decisions you've had to make. I know what decision Jack Ridley would make and I have seen what decisions Ehud makes too. Ehud is the man who has raised a son on his own. A boy who is expecting a mother tomorrow. He stayed with me when he had every right and reason to leave. He is kind and funny even. She stood at the vanity unsure if she should join him on the bed or not. "And Ehud is the man I still plan on marrying tomorrow. If he still wants that, of course."

Swallowing hard, Ehud tried to hide his fear and disappointment. She was going to call it off now. No one in their right mind would want Jack Ridley. No one in their right mind would want a spy, someone who was in a sense able to be different persons. When she turned around Ehud straightened his back some and then nearly choked. "You will? You still want to marry me?" Getting up from the bed he cautiously put a hand on her waist and stared into her eyes. "Jack Ridley is dead. The only man you have left is Ehud. I might say Ehud is a bit tougher than Jack Ridley." A slight smirk came to his face. "Just had to figure out the simple tailor was a better man to be for my family and now for you too."

He looked as if he nearly swallowed his tongue when she answered and had to repeat the question trying to comprehend. "Yes." she said, nodding slowly. She would marry Ehud because she cared about him and his little boy, even if she felt uncertain. That bubble of uncertainty flattened slightly when Ehud made a move to get off the bed and a cool hand slipped around her waist. It wasn't a demanding touch but his eyes held a stronger grip, locking on to hers. He was denouncing Ridley for his son and for her. A little smirk curled to his lips and she wondered where that came from in the middle of the charged conversation. It broke the tension though, and she tentatively slid a hand up his arm and cupped his cheek with her palm to sustain the gaze. His cheek was warm against her hand and she studied him for a long moment. "I think Ehud is stronger than Ridley because he chose the harder path for the sake of other people and it wasn't easy. None of it was, I know. I want Ehud as mine because I think he is a good man." Priscilla could feel more tears coming on, more from relief than anger, and then she smiled a little. "Whether or not he is a good tailor is something he will have to show me sometime."

"It's a shame to admit that I'm a better tailor than man." Ehud winked at her. "I'd be more than glad to fix the sleeve on your dress if you'd like. That seam looks like it makes the dress lay a bit strangely against your skin. Doesn't look bad, but it could feel better."

A nervous sort of half chortle bubbled up before she glanced at her sleeve where fabric met her pale skin. It wasnt that she was uncomfortable in the dress, but it wasn't tailored really. She hadn't had the earned funds for a entirely custom dress like the last time and she hadn't wanted to ask anyone for the remaining sum for a garment that would only be worn once. It did strike her as funny, that in the entire moment, a way ward seam is what caught his attention and not the dress as a whole. Maybe he was just very attuned to detail, which would be helpful as a spy as well as a tailor, or maybe he was just relieved and didn't know what else to do. . "There's a needle and small thread spool in my beside table," she said, "Just there." Priscilla reluctantly slid out of his grip to let him retrieve the rather amatuerish sewing kit from the drawer and then sat on the little stool by her vanity. When he came back, she just let him work while she held still. It was quiet between them for a moment and she thought about their conversation. She meant what she said to him, but she still worried about what he was telling her. "If you were Jack Ridley to the Federation, and, I assume Nathan was an Alliance name. What made you want to go in so deep if you were a tailor to start and not a spy or soldier. If I can ask. Illya was trained as a soldier and you grew up with him, right? I know you said your people needed more soldiers and that's why you joined, but why did you get in so deep?”

Ehud stepped around the edge of the bed to obtain the little needle and thread that Priscilla pointed out. It wasn't much, but he didn't need much to fix things up. By the time he had the thread for the eye of the needle Priscilla was sitting in front of her little vanity. "Or you know. We do have all night. You could let me measure the dress and make modifications for you. Looks like it fits pretty well and a few little tucks and tacks here and there with the thread and needle would make it look like it was made only for you." It was hard not to smile at the prospect of getting to do something useful for her. "If you don't want to wear the dress all night you can change into something more comfortable in your bathroom and I'll make the modifications while we talk. I'd like to do that for you." Before Priscilla moved to really do anything about his offer she asked a hard question. "Well, Nathan was Federation too, he was just the recipient of many good hard workers that he didn't know were Chippequoti. I saved the ones I could and had them transferred out after they were killed. They would then disappear and get training for valuable jobs for years, or months
and then reappear and Nathan would hire them from a man that scouted talent. The man that scouted talent was my way of distancing myself having direct links with the Chips I could save. I originally joined thinking I'd just fight and hold home security and I got in deep cause I found I could hide and if I could hide maybe I could save some. The more I saved of the Chippequoti the deeper I got and the deeper I got the more dangerous it was, but the pay off was always bigger if I could keep the act up."

Her eyes flicked up to his face when he began to explain and she gazed at him. Apparently, he had been more than just working his way up the next work to take it down, he was trying to relocate people. Hide them. He thought of Harry trying to do the same things for those who were pro-alliance before the Federation tightened their grip on her home planet. How many hours had he tried and tried to save those families by moving them to different places? How many hours had he sat looking at the phones waiting to hear if someone had successfully made it to a safe house after a threat? Ehud had been doing that doubly for years and it had gotten so complicated for him. Maybe he really was just trying to unbury himself. She stood up slowly and leaned into him, gracing him with a long, lingering kiss. "I understand, not entirely, but some," she whispered. She wasn't going to mention Harry tonight unless he asked about him, but hopefully that answer was enough. Sliding away from him, she opened the door and poked her head into the hallway. It was empty enough that she could scurry to the bathroom in her dress. When she returned she wore soft pajama bottoms with her bare feet poking out from under the hems and a fleecy robe of red. In the crook of her arm she carried her dress along with two more articles of clothing. "If I'm going to be comfortable, you might as well be too," she told him with a slightly playful smile. She offered over the dress and a pair of sweat pants along with a shirt for him.

It seemed that she was going to allow him to work on the alterations for her dress and Ehud stopped her before she scurried away. He needed to get a few measurements and tack the dress in a few places so he could make sure he had it right when she brought it back. Blinking at her stupidly he simply allowed her to kiss him and say what she would. He didn't know how much it was that she understood, but it was enough she wasn't going to reject him and that was good for now. Ehud let her slip away after he'd finished what he needed to be sure that her dress was ready to be altered. When she returned she came with sweatpants for him and he shrugged. "I suppose I might as well get comfy too." Taking the outer jacket off he laid it out on her bed and then took his boots off before sneaking into the bathroom to get changed. When he returned the jacket was on a hanger and the dress was laid out neatly on the bed for him. "Now we'll be ready to make sure you're a dazzling bride and we can chat as long as we like." He wanted to work from the top down to be sure he had it all correct. There would be a few times he'd be sending her off to the bathroom to try it on and be sure it was fitted correctly before they were done, but he was confident he could get it done nicely in a few hours. "Is it my turn to ask a few questions then?" She'd asked him some hard ones and he wanted to get in a few more. "Just what do you think a husband ought to do? What sort of things would your husband do after work?"

He readily took the dress and the change of clothes too. Simply being out of the dress seemed to make her relax a little more and for the life of her she couldnt imagine how Calysta had stayed in her dress all night. She settled onto the bed cross legged and nodded when he asked about his own questions to which she replied with a simple nod. "I'm ready." His next question surprised her. What did she say to that? Tilting her head, she thought for a moment and then folded her hands over her knees. "Well, um, Harr-...well.. I would usually come home and help around the house and cook dinner. We usually planned out who would cook when and it worked well that way for the week with a little meal plan." She had almost said Harry would come home and kiss her no matter what his day was like but it didnt feel right to mention that. "And then we would clean up a bit. I like having a clean house and we would split tasks evenly unless someone was sick or just too tired. The last day of the week was for relaxing and planning the next week if we needed to look at schedules. I would expect some help with minor tasks and major projects, like repairs, were team efforts." She tucked one of her blonde curls behind her ear and glanced at Ehud. "I also try to plan some alone time with my husband. It helps least it has in the past...though it was harder..ah for me the last few years."

"That's simple enough." Ehud knew that simple didn't mean easy. Sometimes it would be hard for that to work. "Let's try and be reasonable about this then. I need to make some simple changes in my life to be a better man. How about one of the adjustments I make in my life is to be sure I never work more than 3 hours of overtime in a week. Unless there is an emergency I'll plan to be home no later than about half hour after my shift should be done. I'm not very good at cleaning house as you can tell. Then something I expect from a wife is that she'll attend parties and various little events I have to go to. I like having my lady on my arm for those kinds of things."

"The biggest shelf in your house before I came along with the floor," Priscilla teased with a little smirk. "Overtime to an extent is okay and three hours is reasonable." His comment about parties and made her raise a brow and she chuckled. "Oh? And why is it that you like a woman on your arm? Not just any old woman would do?" It was an absolute invitation to poke some fun in what had been a heavy night so far..

"Of course I don't want just any 'old' woman. I want the one I agreed with because she's the one I love and I want her to be seen with me." Ehud wasn't sure why she seemed to think he'd settle with anyone else. "In case you haven't noticed, Chippequoti are very exclusive in their affections. I-I...." A frown settled over his face and he pursed his lips. She was teasing him. "Very funny. You got me all riled up for nothing. You like parties don't you?"

This time she couldn't help but let that little giggle well up before it spilled out of her lips. "You're handsome when riled, what can I say," she replied. "And yes, I do. I used to go to functions like that before I was First Lady on Terra. I know how to be charming when I need to be and when to cut loose. And also how to dance quite a few Terran styles. Just dont ask about Kaerelean ones...those are...something I've yet to pick up."

Ehud nodded a bit. He could get into the Kaerelean dance with her if she wanted. "Well, then we'll just have to work on that. Next thing, do you want to teach our children to speak Terran? I've already started to teach Sien some. The more languages he can learn now without accent the better and safer it will be for him."

It was an oddly specific question about their children, one that she hadnt even thought of yet. Blinking a little and nodded. "There are many Terrans on Kaereal too and eventually the colonies will have to apply for official representation separate from the Terran home planet. I think it would be helpful. Maybe i will teach them a little Japanese as well for fun."

"Ok, and are there any expectations that you have with children. Do you have thoughts about what they should learn, or if they should pursue certain careers?" He knew he would like to teach one of them to be a tailor, but that would only be something he could tell with time. Sien wasn't quite the sort to do the work and he knew that even now.

Priscilla titled her head this time and chuckled. "We don't have them yet, but when we do. I think they should choose for themselves what they want. We teach them and see what interests them. If its one thing I've learned from Calysta's children is that all children are different. You're very excited about kids, huh?"

A slight blush came to Ehud's face. "I do like kids. Just I didn't have any while I worked in the Federation because it was too dangerous to put little ones in the mix. Haza and I waited until we were here and safe with a new plan before we had Sien. I want kids and I just don't want them to be a point of contention in what we both think they should have. There's a lot for you to consider too since Sien wants you to be his mother and I wouldn't want you to feel like he isn't your son."

It was a good consideration. She had been struggling with where she stood regarding Sien and furthermore she had felt uncertain on whether or not he actually liked kids. "Honestly, I didnt know if you liked kids at first," she said, "And I want to be Sien's mother." Shifting on the bed she laid down on her belly and propped her hand in her hands as she watched Ehud work. "I want our children to have a good balance. They have a chance for a childhood relatively untouched by war here. Discipline is good, but so is letting them be children too."

Ehud listened to Priscilla and he nodded along. "Alright, sounds fair enough. Now that you're in the talking mood, tell me something that you feel is important that I pay attention for, or that you are concerned about me finding out. Might as well get it out of the way and have it dealt with before we're married. Easier now than letting me find out the hard way."

"You make sound like I'm far more interesting than I really am," she mused. Her voice was teasing, but she wasnt sure what to say at first. Did she really want to go that far into things? "Um...well...lets should know it takes me longer than Calysta to get ready to go out and I believe in looking presentable in the bedroom, at least to start." Her eyes shifted down to a suddenly very interesting dog hair on the bed. "Since I left Terra, sometimes I...have bad days." She knew she wasn't explaining that well and she shook her head. "I have days where I'm upset and I am going to a counselor for that. I'm not crazy, I just get...overwhelmingly anxious. Its not something I can always control but I am getting better."

It sounded like Priscilla wasn't quite as hardy as Kalizda, but Ehud didn't plan on running his bride through the gambit either. More than likely Illya hadn't meant to, but there wasn't a whole lot about the man that was gentle. He had always been a bit rough and tumble. "Sounds normal to me. Lots of people have problems after living through the things you have. Just tell me when it happens so I don't get shocked."

Priscilla nodded, feeling a bit relieved That he seemed to find Going to a counselor was a normal thing. She had seen how Illya acted When it came to counseling."There is one other thing. But You have to promise that you will not say anything. To anyone.".

"Ok, then what is this that I won't say anything about?" Ehud was fairly good at keeping secrets and he was slightly surprised to know that Priscilla was willing to share one. Everyone had secrets and that was a given. Whether they would share them was another story.

She toyed a piece of her hair between her fingers , neglecting to notice the nervous habit. "I know Why it was that the colonials wanted me to stay. The real reason why agent Bryant wanted me to stay. When you left to Get breakfast outside of the bunker, Bryant came. He told me that Some of my bio metrics were used to encrypt some of the information in the databases located on Terra. I didnt know that And I don't think Harry would have done that. He was already too far gone for answering but Agent Bryant asked if I would be willing to go to Terra to unlock them. At the time, I was angry he'd even ask at that kind of moment and I didnt answer. A few minutes after he left, someone else came in. They told me that my older brother had been spotted on Terra. I told you that my brother is had sided with the federation. One of them is A rifleman. A sniper rifle man. I hadnt seen him in years much less spoken to him. I didnt know he was that well trained or how far he had gotten. Apparently it was high enough to kill some of Bryant and Harry's own agents." She was gripping her hair tightly now. "The agent said they wanted me to go to the colonies and to lure out my brother."

At first Ehud thought that maybe Harry had used some of her biometric information. However, as the story continued it turned out that the Terran colonies wanted her to lure out her brother. While, he would personally have wanted to get rid of a sniper it was also a matter of time before something happened to her brother. Even the Elite had their days numbered. They were the best, but inevitably there would come a day that the best wasn't good enough. It was the nature of war. Carefully he met her gaze. "I understand that you wouldn't want to betray him even if he is on the other side. You don't have to feel like you're obligated to lure him out. You do what you have to and nobody can ask you to do more, or less."

He was looking at her at least and she tugged on her curl. "I didnt want to kill my brother and I didnt want to leave you and Sien. I knew going back to the Terra would be dangerous and probably get me killed or worse if Bryant was telling the truth too. I'm not like Calysta who runs headlong into things without fear. I grew up on a farm feeding chickens...I.." she trailed off and closed her eyes. She didnt want to freak herself out. "If my brother ever kills someone on Pyrta. It might be because of me."

These were never easy conversations and Ehud thought for a moment before answering. "Priscilla, you've made your choice and no one could blame you for it. Your brother made his choice and what he does isn't because of you. You aren't making him do anything. If anyone here gets killed, or hurt because of him it is his choice and his fault. Remember, you're not almighty and you don't make choices for others. Just make your own choices and be sure you can live with them."

Priscilla nodded and grew quiet for awhile. It didnt sound like he thought she was a coward. The war had ripped so many families apart. Practically making into a civil war with brother against brother. She tucked her chin to her elbow and watched Ehud work for awhile. It was surprisingly calming to watch him work. "Where would you want to go, if anywhere if the war ends?"

"You mean when the war ends." A slight smile came to Ehud's face. "Always keep your eyes on the prize. This war will end and I'm gonna see it. I think when it's over I'll move into one of the mountain ranges. I like the snow and colder weather and I like the mountains. Maybe have a little tailoring business out there and nobody will know who I am, or care."

"Oh? Don't I get a say where we move?" Her playful smile returned and she shifted off the bed to shuffled over to him. "I happen to know there are beautiful mountains on some the contients here. I've seen pictures. There are some on the colonies too," she mused, "It would be awfully cold there though. Staying warm will be tough." She slid a hand aross his back and gave him a small squeeze. "What're you going to offer me to move to such a chilly place?"

A little glint came to Ehud's eyes. "Well, you asked and I answered. Since you want to know how you'll stay warm, I'll tell you. We'll build a nice, big cabin and I'll make you custom wool coats and share a nice bed with you. We might make it smaller than Illya and Kalizda's because I'd rather make sure you don't have space to get away from me."

"I think I would like that," she smiled. He had that little look in his eye that men got when they were thinking a bit naughty. It gave him a rakish aire rather than the look of a straight laced general.

"Mmm...and maybe once or twice a month we come down from our mountain and show the nearby towners how to dance and party, hm?" Her hand tickled up his side some, just because she could. If anything he would be more than ready for tomorrow.

"Hmm...I've had a few years. I think I could show almost anyone a few things." With a broader grin he met her gaze again. "How would you feel about trying that out tomorrow after we're officially agreed?"

And just like that the rakish look faded and he was back to the slightly less measured general. Priscilla leaned in and kissed his cheek. "Mmm. Oh I think a trip to the mountains would be lovely." Slipping away from him, she waited to see if he was going to pick up on the joke. "Hmm...are you going to mind carrying up and down that mountain someday?"

"I might carry you up the mountain if you danced a few times with me. You gotta get yourself down the mountain though. If you can't do it proper I'll make a padded ball to shove you in and roll you down." Ehud started to laugh because he just figured he'd get a look from her on that comment.

Priscilla's brow raised and she started to laugh. "A right mess I would look if you did roll me down the mountain like hamster. You'd do that even when I was old and grey?" She put her hand to her forhead for extra drama and plopped onto the bed.

"Especially when you're old and gray. Good way to get a woman riled. Then I'd run back up the mountain with you chasing me and I'd get your exercise in so you wouldn't get fat at the same time as being old." Ehud started to laugh a little more at the thought even if it was horrible.

"Oh yes, and you'd better believe I would chase you too," she smirked, " Right up the mountain and long after so you would be as tired as me and you'd make sure not to grow fat while I grow old and pudgy too." She looked down at her trim form and pinch at her belly. "Nothing to worry about yet though. You still have a few decades to go."
Ehud smiled at her and reached over to put a hand on her waist. "Nope, not fat yet. I think we'll hold off on the hampster ball for a few years."

"Now you're the one tempting me," she chuckled, drawing him a little closer to kiss him. Priscilla let the embrace linger a little longer, making out casually with her fiance before simply hugging him. "Are you sure you're going to be okay with me getting older? I know you said there was something that would help, but what if it doesn't work? Is that still something you'll want?"

"I'm sure it would work. I can tell you after we're agreed. It's a pretty big secret you know." There were a few reasons he had to wait till they were agreed, but it was still fun to tease her. "Such a big secret. So simple you'll wonder why you didn't think of it before. I'm gonna tease you about this till after the ceremony tomorrow."

Priscilla put on the slightest of fake pouts but couldn't hold it for long and started to chuckle instead. "All night and all day, huh?" she said, "Well, at least I know you have stamina." The naughty joke rolled right off her tongue and she simple rubbed his back a little. Why did it feel so nice to be so close to someone again, even if it was anxiety inducing. "If it's simple, I should be able to guess it easily. I'm blonde haired not blonde brained. Hmm...I know! You have....invented time travel!" It was a ludicrous suggestion and it was accompanied by an equally wild smile. "'ve discovered the Fountain of Youth, maybe? Botox?

"How did you know? Botox works wonders. Chippequoti simply found ways to make it work for the cells. Simple injections." Ehud raised his eyebrows slightly and pulled at the corners with his hands. "When you want your eyebrows this high, just let me know."

Seeing Ehud act silly and goof around with her was actually refreshing. Whatever it was that would help would have to wait until after their ceremony sometime. She trust him enough that she knew he must really have a way to fix the aging issue. Simply hanging around him with a bit of play was relaxing and age defying in its own right. She laughed when he pulled his eye brows up, giving him a wild eyed look, and leaned her forehead into his shoulder as she laughed. "I don't think botox would be route for either of us. Could you imagine having to get that everywhere? I'd take you wrinkly and old." Priscilla snickered into his shoulder a little longer, mostly because she was enjoying the smell of his after shave, and then looked back up again. "Mmm...and what is it you expect from a wife, Ehud? Is there anything else?"

Ehud took a deep breath and he widened his eyes as he let his eyebrows go. "Well, I think botox everywhere would be pretty bad too. I'd be better looking wrinkly." Her next question was a little more serious and he shrugged. "I think you do a lot of it already. You're a good mother to Sien, you've helped him with cleaning and you've the made house look like a woman lives in it. I guess we'll find out if we have any serious differences in opinion. I just can't think of any so far."

That was a typical male response and it made her chuckle a little. "Yes, I suppose we will." A creak from upstairs echoed through the house and that told her that Illya was on the move somewhere. They may have been up two flights of stairs but the man was boulder weighted and this house wasn't build for someone like him. Another groaning floorboard sounded and she shook her head.

"They're always active at night like that. I am grateful for them taking me in, but it will be nice to be running my own house again among other things." Priscilla sat back on the bed so Ehud could finish with the dress.

At first Ehud didn't really notice the sound until Priscilla said something and then he chuckled. "Oh, you mean they have sex regularly." Priscilla seemed to be more shy about it, but Ehud figured it was part of life. "Could be worse sounding. I mean...not like we won't be active at night. I'd offer to make a competition, but that might be a little disruptive."
For all of his dodging of intimacy, he was suddenly so open and able to talk about sex that it left her a little surprised. What was more was that he was on about some sort of competition and she raised a brow at him. "What sort of competition involving that did you have in mind?"

"You've never heard of trying out before agreeing? It isn't really approved of, but plenty of Chips did it. Haza and I thought about it, but we decided one more night wasn't that big of a deal. Ehvan and Ahvah tried it out and they both stuck together because we all knew they did it and...well, they liked each other anyway." Ehud was starting to turn red. "I probably shouldn't have said that. Makes me sound like a dirty fellow."

"Oh. You meant having a competition with them...right now..." she said almost sheepishly. Ehud kept right on talking about Ahvah and Ehvan on their night before too. Apparently. not all Chips had iron wills. "It doesn't make you sound dirty," she admitted to him, "And I have thought of trying it before. I mean on Terra it's entirely common to do that sort of thing before marriage."

Clearing his throat Ehud nodded, "Yeah, well...I think we've made it this far. Can't be that bad to wait one more night. Besides, all the kids are in here and Illya said he'd take Sien for a week at night. Give us a little privacy to get started." Ehud could feel the red creeping to his cheeks. "I suggested it the last time I did this too and I end up backing out every time and turning redder than a tomato."

Priscilla watched as he struggled, coming to and end of his boldness as his blush grew higher and higher up his neck into his cheeks again. It was a sight that made her chuckle and the confession even more so. "Don't worry," she assured him, "You wont have to face the trial of sex tonight." With that, she wiggled backward onto the bed until she was propped up against a pillow and watched him work until her eyes began to grow heavy. They sank lower and lower until her muscles slackened and she began to drift off.


Curious Adventurer
Priscilla woke alone and feeling like an absolute mess. Her hair was in a complete dissaray and her make up was beyond needing a touch up. She would have to start that over from scratch too. Looking around, she found that Ehud was nowhere to be found. His wedding suit was gone, but the robe was too which meant he was likely changing somewhere in the house. Where he had been sitting last night was her wedding gown, freshly tailored and laid neatly over the chair. She rose from the bed and ran her fingers over the smooth silk, a small smile gracing her lips. Ehud hadn’t needed to do that but he had stayed up to do that anyways.

She had the quick realization that she had time enough to shower and redo her hair if she hurried. Blustering out of her room, she dove into the bathroom and went to work scrubbing off her make up in the hastily prepared shower. The water didn’t even have time to warm up, but that was alright. It got the job done. By the time she left the shower, her hair was immaculately blow dried and pinned. With a practiced hand, she put on her makeup while wearing her button up shirt and robe then padded into the kitchen for something to drink. She had seen Illya was up already, having his tie knotted by Thomas who was eager to help.

“Aye, sure,” the older Terran nodded, “I can help you with this one. These things are always tricky. Let’s go full Windsor knot, eh?” Calysta’s father seemed to take his time, making sure the knot was perfectly straight for Illya. When he was done, he nodded and smiled. “If you ever want to remember it, there’s a little rhyme my father taught me. He was in the ministry and ties were an every day thing. The rabbit hops over the log, the rabbit crawls under the log, the rabbit runs around the log, one more time because the rabbit is trying to outsmart the fox, and the rabbit dives into his rabbit hole.”

Whatever Illya’s reply was, Priscilla couldn’t hear it because she was keenly aware of how pressed for time she was now. Dashing into her room, she retrieved her slippers and then came ito the kitchen again for that drink. Illya greeted her and somehow seemed to think she looked pretty, commenting on it as he poured her a much needed cup of coffee. At least someone thought so.

When she heard he had studied how to walk from videos, the knowledge did make her relaxed a little more and she thanked him. “It’s alright, Calysta explained you were held over and I got your message too. I’m just glad you’re walking with me.”

Busy didn’t even begin to cover how the wedding was going. If Terran weddings were tumultuous, Terran weddings with 50 Chippeqouti Elite, their wives, children and a handful of Elders was entirely wild. Luckily, the few things that did go off without issue was the wedding march down the aisle where Ehud was waiting. Lohgan was pointed in sprinkling flower petals just right down the strip of carpet. The little redheaded girl would pluck a flower from her basket and bend down with her pantaloons showing in the back behind her ruffled dress to place each flower in a special spot. She took nearly ten minutes to get to the alter, but it was cute enough nobody was going to hurry her along. Then it came Priscilla’s turn. No one could deny Ehud was handsome standing there in blue and gold at the end. She was so struck by him smiling, albiet nervously, she hardly registered the steps next to Illya until it was time for her to let go of his harm. Priscilla laid a kiss on his each of his cheeks before stepping up to Ehud. “Thank you, Illya.”

The ceremony itself was standard enough until it came to the vows. Ehud was going to go first and she wondered what on earth he was going to say. Ehud gulped and looked at Priscilla. This was the first time he'd done anything like this and all the little articles he read said to be genuine. That was something he could do and he could do it as Ehud and not as Nathan, or anyone else. Ehud was the man she wanted and that was who prepared the vows. "Priscilla, you're like a rare silk. A beautiful sort of material...uh, I mean person. The kind that an artist is afraid to use until he is sure he has a masterpiece. The sort that no one would dare waste and even the artistic nature of the tailor is cautious and sparing. I feel like you're that kind of woman. If I stumble or falter it isn't because I've been careless, it is the clumsy hands of tailor fearing he would spoil his prized silk. So, I promise to be with you in sickness, health, better, or worse. I'll be with you."

Priscilla looked at him, blinking back tears. They weren’t necessarily from overly joyful feelings. The vows were strange and awkward to say the least, but they had touched her nonetheless. That was Ehud talking and not some made up man he was pretending to be. “Well,” she sniffled before laughing a little nervously, “I’m not sure I can follow that properly.” Her slim finger captured a wayward tear forming at the corner of her eye and she smiled. “Ehud, when I first met you, I wasn’t sure where I would fit into a life here or anywhere. I was little lost. But when I started to get to know you...really know you...I found where I belonged. I belonged with your passion, your kindness, your unwavering love and dedication to your family, and your faults too. I belong with everything that you are. And I promise, that in sickness and in health, through lean and plenty, that I will be here.”

She held his hand and placed the ring on his finger carefully before being allowed to kiss him. It was over so quickly that she wasn’t even sure it had happened until they were stepping onto the civic building steps. She beckoned Sien over to them and held his hand as they made their way down the stairs, which were being occupied by another scene entirely.

Calysta had missed her daughter pulling boogers from her nose, but there was no way she could miss her son outright pissing on the civic center front steps. Nor did she fail to hear the comeback answer as to why he would do such a thing. Calysta crossed her eyes and a glint of disapproval shone in her grey eyes. “Cypher Markus Monroe.” His full name was a tone that belied her ire. “That is not at all appropriate.” Then came the question of why and Calysta looked to Illya with the same shine in her eyes. There was only one place he could have learned that from. “Dah, will you explain to him why peeing in public is not sanitary for others or safe to do just anywhere he pleases? It’s considered a deep insult and mean thing to do in some places. Put yourself away and you are going to clean this up.” She certainly wasn’t going to make the poor cleaning staff follow up after their son. He could clean up his own messes and would. “Right now. I expect it to be clean when I come back. Oh...and wash your hands. I’ll know if you didn’t.” Her words carried a note of finality as she scooped up Lohgan in one arm and walked down the stairs to follow the wedding party. She was in charge of helping get everyone seated at the reception and she was trying her best to make it a good day for Priscilla and Ehud.


Tiberius pulled out Sherri's chair on the stone patio belonging to the italian restaurant in the Terran district. It waa classically themed with little candles on white clothed tables. He made sure she was seated and then settled into his own chair. A waiter brought a baguette sliced in half with palletes of sweet cream butter. He thanked the waiter and looked to Sherri who looked even better in evening light. "Would you like anything to drink?"

With the offer for something to drink Sherri nodded. "Mmm...I'd like a nice dry wine, red." She was more than excited at the prospect of eating out somewhere and having a special drink to go with her food. No one had denied her anything and she was going to live this night to the fullest.

The waiter nodded and asked for a white one of the same dryness. "I'll bring the house special," he said before zipping off to his task. With that done, Tiberius looked to Sherri and smiled. "I'm not sure if you've ever had any Terran food. This place is new and I havent been yet either. I thought you'd like to try it together. It's also close to the park."

"What a scandal. Eating Terran food." Sherri smiled at Tiberius and then continued, "I suppose dah scandal es no more great den dah fact dat I'm here wit a Terran." Gasping she brought a hand up to her mouth. "And you....wit a Dark Chippequoti woman. What will dey say?"

Tiberius caught her teasing and chuckled. "I don't think they'll know what to do with the a team like us," he grinned, "We'll have to give them something to talk about, huh?" The wine came around and Tiberius waited for Sherri to approved before tasting his own. "They might say how the woman this Terran was with was quite beautiful." He didnt know if that was too forward but he was going to say it anyways.

"Hmmm..." Sherri took the wine and she sipped at it. "Et's good. I have long time since I have wine like dis." The woman couldn't help smirking a bit when Tiberius made his comment. "Oh, you'd better be careful. Older women know all the common phrases used for flattery."

"Is it flattery if I'm being honest?" He replied with a bit of a playful smile. "Besides, I wouldnt qualify you as older women. I think i can still surprise you from time to time." He took another taste of the wine and looked at her nice, bright eyes. "Is it all that scandalous to be with a Terran?" He was curious and we wanted to know what he was on for.
"I'm sure you wouldn't say that if you knew that I remember when the General ran around in diapers. That makes me a little over 180, give or take a few years." Chuckling some she flashed another grin at Tiberius. "I think I'm considered older to your people and yes, it is entirely scandalous to be with a Terran. They have bad history with my people, but you're uncommon. Uncommon Terrans are acceptable, but they're still a bit of a risk."

He knew she was older but hearing that she had been around when Illya had been toddling around in diapers put it in a whole new perspective. He swallowed his wine awkwardly and grinned a bit as she explained about him being a risk. That idea had its own sort of appeal and he smirked some. "Well, if I'm a risk I can always look the part. Get myself a leather jacket, take you to my motorcycle, and show you how to ride. All the Terrans would think we were both wild if we did that."

Sherri raised a single eyebrow and she tried to look disapproving, but the idea of trying something wild was appealing. "Well, you'll have to show me how to be wild by Terran style and den I will show yah how to be wild by Chip standards."

"Only as wild as we want to be," he chuckled. He wasnt sure how much she really knew about Terrans to begin with but he wanted to keep things light hearted. "You've known a ..ah the General since he was in diapers, huh? I bet that alone has some stories behind it."

"Of course it has some stories. I'm sure you have stories to tell too. Everyone does." Sherri flashed him a smile and took another sip of her drink. It was a nice mild sort of flavor in comparison to the Chippequoti ale. "So, I'd like to hear a little about what makes this motorcycle and leather jacket wild. It doesn't sound so bad."

She wasnt going to give anything away and her little smile told him that right away. However, she followed it up with something he actually did enjoy. His eyes cut up to hers and he grinned. "Well, its kind if an old trope I suppose. Biker gangs and leather along with tattoos usually meant trouble. I did enjoy riding actual motorcycle. I had a VStar classic on Terra and I used to take it to the deserts on Terra. You could ride for days without finding the end of the land in any direction. Not quite like here. My dad and I built that bike from scratch."

"Well, perhaps we could sneak a ride on a motorcycle somewhere. I like deserts jes fine." Sherri could tell that the motorcycle was important. He mentioned his father and perhaps that was a good memory then. "You were close to yah fater?"

"I'd like that. It's hard to do here, but maybe I can take you to the colonies sometime. There's plenty of open land there to ride like that." When she asked about his father, he nodded. "Yes," he admitted, "He taught me how to fish, hunt, fix up cars. Taught me to play baseball too. I was pretty good actually, but I ended up going into the military. He died when I was on tour. What about your family?"

Sherri sat quietly and listened to Tiberius. It sounded like a brief sort of history, but that would suffice for now. In good turn Tiberius inquired after her family and Sherri smiled. "I have a girl. She's agreed now and I've got two grandchildren. One of dem is grown and is agreed wit a child too. Only one great grandchild so far. My parents are somewhere. I hope dey are still alive, but dere es no telling. My fater would not leave my moter when dey had tah choose tah return, or stay. It was a difficult choice for all to make."

Tiberius listened to what she said but the latter part of his explanation confused him. Sure, she would be a grandmother by the time she was close to 200 years old, but he didn't quite get what she meant by her parents staying. His brow furrowed some and he looked to her. "They stayed on Qouti? The planet Councilwoman Monroe brought you here from?"

"No, it was a bad time. Saving Terrans was a difficult choice. For a time dah General was exiled because Chippequoti say dat he did nut put dere wellbeing first. He only cared about Alliance. So, we had new General for short time and all dah Chippequoti abandon Alliance. When dah General returned he and dah councilwoman gave us choice tah rejoin Alliance and dey saved all of us dat wanted tah return to dah Alliance. I tell yah before, dat I dun live dis good for almost all my life. Chippequoti do not always have a proud history and sometimes dere es shame. We have shame for many tings we do." Looking up slightly she saw the waiter had come with the food and she sat back in her chair to make room for the platter to be set down in front of her. "Dis looks delicious."

Apparently, there was more to what the Chippeqouti had done since coming into the Alliance. He had heard rumors of some of the entanglement but he hadn't heard much else. This was somewhat new information and he blinked at her in surprise. "And so your parents decided not to return." He let that sink and was glad when the good arrived to distract them from the subject they had stumbled into. Sherri was served first and he received his plate second. His date seemed to approve of what she had ordered and he smiled. "It does look good. Plenty of cheese and pasta here," he smiled slightly. Between the sounds of clinking forks and the occasional sip of wine, they ate and as they did, Tiberius thought to change the subject. "So, you have grandchildren? Do they come see you often?"

Sherri began to eat almost the instant her dish arrived. Somewhere toward the middle of the meal Tiberius asked about the grandchildren and she smiled. "Oh dey come to see me about as often as any grandchild would. I see dem almost every day."

The waiter nodded and asked for a white one of the same dryness. "I'll bring the house special," he said before zipping off to his task. With that done, Tiberius looked to Sherri and smiled. "I'm not sure if you've ever had any Terran food. This place is new and I havent been yet either. I thought you'd like to try it together. It's also close to the park."

"What a scandal. Eating Terran food." Sherri smiled at Tiberius and then continued, "I suppose dah scandal es no more great den dah fact dat I'm here wit a Terran." Gasping she brought a hand up to her mouth. "And you....wit a Dark Chippequoti woman. What will dey say?"

Tiberius caught her teasing and chuckled. "I don't think they'll know what to do with the a team like us," he grinned, "We'll have to give them something to talk about, huh?" The wine came around and Tiberius waited for Sherri to approved before tasting his own. "They might say how the woman this Terran was with was quite beautiful." He didnt know if that was too forward but he was going to say it anyways.

"Hmmm..." Sherri took the wine and she sipped at it. "Et's good. I have long time since I have wine like dis." The woman couldn't help smirking a bit when Tiberius made his comment. "Oh, you'd better be careful. Older women know all the common phrases used for flattery."

"Is it flattery if I'm being honest?" He replied with a bit of a playful smile. "Besides, I wouldn't qualify you as older women. I think i can still surprise you from time to time." He took another taste of the wine and looked at her nice, bright eyes. "Is it all that scandalous to be with a Terran?" He was curious and we wanted to know what he was on for.
"I'm sure you wouldn't say that if you knew that I remember when the General ran around in diapers. That makes me a little over 180, give or take a few years." Chuckling some she flashed another grin at Tiberius. "I think I'm considered older to your people and yes, it is entirely scandalous to be with a Terran. They have bad history with my people, but you're uncommon. Uncommon Terrans are acceptable, but they're still a bit of a risk."

He knew she was older but hearing that she had been around when Illya had been toddling around in diapers put it in a whole new perspective. He swallowed his wine awkwardly and grinned a bit as she explained about him being a risk. That idea had its own sort of appeal and he smirked some. "Well, if I'm a risk I can always look the part. Get myself a leather jacket, take you to my motorcycle, and show you how to ride. All the Terrans would think we were both wild if we did that."

Sherri raised a single eyebrow and she tried to look disapproving, but the idea of trying something wild was appealing. "Well, you'll have to show me how to be wild by Terran style and den I will show yah how to be wild by Chip standards."

"Only as wild as we want to be," he chuckled. He wasnt sure how much she really knew about Terrans to begin with but he wanted to keep things light hearted. "You've known a..ah the General since he was in diapers, huh? I bet that alone has some stories behind it."

"Of course it has some stories. I'm sure you have stories to tell too. Everyone does." Sherri flashed him a smile and took another sip of her drink. It was a nice mild sort of flavor in comparison to the Chippequoti ale. "So, I'd like to hear a little about what makes this motorcycle and leather jacket wild. It doesn't sound so bad."

She wasnt going to give anything away and her little smile told him that right away. However, she followed it up with something he actually did enjoy. His eyes cut up to hers and he grinned. "Well, its kind if an old trope I suppose. Biker gangs and leather along with tattoos usually meant trouble. I did enjoy riding actual motorcycle. I had a VStar classic on Terra and I used to take it to the deserts on Terra. You could ride for days without finding the end of the land in any direction. Not quite like here. My dad and I built that bike from scratch."

"Well, perhaps we could sneak a ride on a motorcycle somewhere. I like deserts jes fine." Sherri could tell that the motorcycle was important. He mentioned his father and perhaps that was a good memory then. "You were close to yah fater?"

"I'd like that. It's hard to do here, but maybe I can take you to the colonies sometime. There's plenty of open land there to ride like that." When she asked about his father, he nodded. "Yes," he admitted, "He taught me how to fish, hunt, fix up cars. Taught me to play baseball too. I was pretty good actually, but I ended up going into the military. He died when I was on tour. What about your family?"

Sherri sat quietly and listened to Tiberius. It sounded like a brief sort of history, but that would suffice for now. In good turn Tiberius inquired after her family and Sherri smiled. "I have a girl. She's agreed now and I've got two grandchildren. One of dem is grown and is agreed wit a child too. Only one great grandchild so far. My parents are somewhere. I hope dey are still alive, but dere es no telling. My fater would not leave my moter when dey had tah choose tah return, or stay. It was a difficult choice for all to make."

Tiberius listened to what she said but the latter part of his explanation confused him. Sure, she would be a grandmother by the time she was close to 200 years old, but he didn't quite get what she meant by her parents staying. His brow furrowed some and he looked to her. "They stayed on Qouti? The planet Councilwoman Monroe brought you here from?"

"No, it was a bad time. Saving Terrans was a difficult choice. For a time dah General was exiled because Chippequoti say dat he did nut put dere wellbeing first. He only cared about Alliance. So, we had new General for short time and all dah Chippequoti abandon Alliance. When dah General returned he and dah councilwoman gave us choice tah rejoin Alliance and dey saved all of us dat wanted tah return to dah Alliance. I tell yah before, dat I dun live dis good for almost all my life. Chippequoti do not always have a proud history and sometimes dere es shame. We have shame for many tings we do." Looking up slightly she saw the waiter had come with the food and she sat back in her chair to make room for the platter to be set down in front of her. "Dis looks delicious."

Apparently, there was more to what the Chippeqouti had done since coming into the Alliance. He had heard rumors of some of the entanglement but he hadn't heard much else. This was somewhat new information and he blinked at her in surprise. "And so your parents decided not to return." He let that sink and was glad when the good arrived to distract them from the subject they had stumbled into. Sherri was served first and he received his plate second. His date seemed to approve of what she had ordered and he smiled. "It does look good. Plenty of cheese and pasta here," he smiled slightly. Between the sounds of clinking forks and the occasional sip of wine, they ate and as they did, Tiberius thought to change the subject. "So, you have grandchildren? Do they come see you often?"

Sherri began to eat almost the instant her dish arrived. Somewhere toward the middle of the meal Tiberius asked about the grandchildren and she smiled. "Oh dey come to see me about as often as any grandchild would. I see dem almost every day."

Tiberius blinked at her in surprise at the frequency and started to chuckle. "You know, my mother is still alive in the colonies. She would more than welcome your children and grandchildren if they wanted to travel off planet for a time with you. She.....has wanted grandchildren for some time."

The mention of grandchildren for Tiberius' mother didn't go unnoticed and Sherri laughed. "You are direct. I like dat. However, dere is a little more work tah do before I let you between my legs."
Tiberius nearly choked on his meatball when she mentioned getting between her legs. That hadn't been where he was headed with that conversation at all. Not that he hadn't thought down that road. He had. Sherri was more than beautiful and sassy. It was impossible not to wonder about sex, but he hadn't meant producing more grandchildren...yet. He gulped down air and took a drink of his wine. "Ah...a woman like is you is worth earning..." He managed to say,.. "And I welcome the challenge and the reward, only after I've earned it though."

"Dat's good." Sherri pretended not to notice his surprise. Perhaps she had thought him more bold than he was, but she wasn't about to admit that she had thought about being naughty herself. Then of course there was the part of her that was embarrassed she'd been so forward herself. "Besides, I don't know if I like you dat much yet." With a little wink she took another bite of food and swallowed it. "So far yah off tah good start. Maybe someday I'll go to dah colonies."

Somehow he managed to muddle through that snafu and she didn't seem offended. A terran women would have likely been highly offended by the entire course of their conversation at this point and he found her attitude a bit refreshing, if he was honest. She gave him a wink ad mentioned that he was off to a good start which was also a bit relieving too. A more relaxed smile grew on his face and he nodded. "What?" he feigned surprise, "You're not entirely charmed by the goatee and good looks alone, huh?" Chuckling, he took a bite of his food and nodded at her reply. "If you're wanting to go, I'll make it a trip sometime when you're ready. Until that time, I think a walk in the park after dinner will be a good start."

Sherri rolled her eyes slightly. "Goatee if you grow et longer makes good handle bar for me to lead you wit. I jes grab dah beard and pull." She liked making jokes about those things, but she couldn't appear to be too amused by it all. "A walk after dinner will be good."

And so they walked after dinner as he promised. He lead her to one of the parks he knew was nice and well lit a night. It was one of the more popular parks on Kinte for love birds and rightfully so. Women liked to see the pretty white lights in the rows of omne trees and the big fountain in the center with gushing waterfalls of rainbow lit geysers. The pathway was always clean and it made for a good view off the Edge too. Or so he had been told by Wynry. He’d never actually been there at all but at least the night was nice and Sherri was good company. They talked about this and that before coming up to the big fountain in the center of the park. “I’m guessing they don’t have fountains in the desert,” he said, “At least they didn’t have them in the ones on Terra. Big companies pretty much sucked all the water from the wells there, diverting it all into crops or hydroelectric dams.” He realized he’d gone on a tangent and he shook his head. “Anyways, there’s a tradition. You take a coin and toss it into the fountain. Then you make a wish. If you’re lucky that wish comes true. I’ve never gotten it to work,… I have a feeling you’re luckier than I am.” He pulled a coin from his pocket and offered it to her. Physical coins, particularly Terran ones, were hard to come by these days, but it seemed like a worthy way to give one up. “Make a wish?”


Curious Adventurer

They were running precisely on time to the meeting at the Skycorp complex, which given the amount of time it takes to get 5 children ready, was a minor miracle. There was still the potential to be late though and they were making their way down the stairwell alongside some of the other attendees. Her skirts were a little longer on her than necessary and Illya’s boots kept threatening to step right on them if she walked in front. She had no urge to lose her skirt or trip down the stairs so she let Illya walk in front of her. He went ahead as he continued to talk details about his proposal and she couldn’t help but notice the almost excited edge to her voice as he went over all of the points again. The tone changed when he suddenly lost his balance though. “Illya?!” Her voice echoed over the corridor as a warning but she knew better than to try to stop him. His weight would take her right along for the fall.

With a mighty crash he pitched forward into the stair case, rolling like a boulder before half catching himself to launch over the railing to the bottom floor below. She gripped the side of the railing and peered over the side to the floors below with a look of shock. “Illya?” He was grinning up at her and asked for his beret. If he something was broken, she would be hearing about it already. Calysta rolled her eyes and shook her head before plucking the hat from the stairs. He couldn’t help his leg not working quite like it used to, but sometimes he gave her heart strain. Taking a deep breath, she tossed the hat over the railing and allowed it to fall like a leaf to his hands. “Next time leave the flying to me,” she teased him slightly to cover up her worry.

Calysta strode into the room behind Ilya and he made a beeline for the podium, she followed behind him with her skirts ruffling around her ankles. Half the assembly was talking among themselves and a few were eager to greet them both. Swyft strode up, intending to welcome them both and Calysta wasnt sure where to start with everyone coming at them at once. "General," she said quickly, "They are wanting to greet you. Will you accept them?"

The room was already filling up and Illya wanted to get up and get the presentation over with. He knew how to do these things, but he wasn't entirely excited about doing it either. This was in some ways the most difficult part of his work. Before he reached the podium he heard Kalizda ask him something in Quoti and for a moment it felt strange for her to refer to him as General, but it was right in this situation. Turning he nodded to her. "I will greet them." Illya nodded to the first person that was near him and glanced at Kalizda. Perhaps she would know who this was, or the person would introduce themselves.

Calysta caught up with Illya's long strides and beckoned the first member of Skycorp up. He was by far the oldest. A wizened old man, hunched by age shuffled up in a Skycorp uniform. He mumbled something to traders tongue and his eyes widened under thick brows. "This is Kreid Hys. He would like to welcome you. He says he has never seen a Chippeqouti before. He asks if you are an acting general in your people or retired."

Whatever the man's name was Illya didn't want to try pronouncing it. Instead he smiled and nodded. In the custom of the Chippequoti he responded. "Thank you for the welcome. I am the acting General for my people. What is his duty to his people?"

When he said acting general Calysta's stomach clenched a little and she nodded before relaying back his question. Hys seemed confused as to why he needed a translator. Didn't he speak traders tongue? "He is a retired admiral and Skycorp benefactor on the board," Calysta replied to Qouti, "He says he looks foreward to what you have to propose." One by one they came up and Calysta translated, some confused as to why Illya would speak only to her. "We believe in a variety of customs here and this is customary," she would explain. Finally the teachers came up, the last of which looked wild eyed at Illya before stuttering. "Gen-General," he restarted, "I Monroe...will you convey my most sincere apologies?" It was Calysta's turn to be confused and she looked to Illya before translating. Had she missed something?

There were several introductions and this wasn't quite what Illya was used to in an official capacity. Typically he would have simply said what he came to say and then been done with it. Instead he was here talking with people and trying to pretend that this was ordinary. When the last instructor arrived it was the one that Illya had found the most offensive. Naturally the man thought it was a good time to make apologies. Once more, he found himself nodding and smiling. "There are things you don't know about the Chippequoti. I suggest that you learn more about them before you have more to teach."

Calysta blinked in surprise at Illya's reply. It was obviously biting behind the cordial delivery. Her grey eyes shifted from Illya to the instructor and back again. Had they given Illya a hard time? She set her eyes on the man and gave a pleasant but pointed smile. "There are things you don't know about the Chippeqouti. I suggest that you learn more about them before you have more to teach." The instructors mouth snapped shut and he nodded sagely before scuttling away. Once everyone was seated Calysta let Illya know that they were ready to listen.

At last they were done with the introductions and Illya walked up the steps to the podium and then offered his hand to assist Kalizda onto the stage with him. She would translate for him and he would continue as he normally would in this sort of situation. "Since the attack on Kinte I recognize there are some frailties in Kaerleal. Waiting for an attack to come to the ground is not an option. Already our military is strained and I believe that Skycorp can help with that strain. Consider allowing the Elite to do as they have been trained to. Each man is capable as myself to protect his people and allies. With expert flyers we can take on an entire fleet of Federation if need be. A single flyer with a Chippequoti Elite is capable of disarming and preventing a fight from ever reaching the ground. I was told that a demonstration would be helpful. There is a Federation ship that has been raiding territory near the outlying area and i have a man ready to show you what he can do." Grabbing his pad Illya dialed in and set it on the projecting pad to let everyone present see it. "Ehvan you have your orders." Immediately the dark skinned man's blue eyes lit up and Ehvan sprang into action. The ship was moved in close to the enemy vessel and he boarded. Within seconds there was a bloody spray as Ehvan moved through the ship with sickening precision and his sword sliced. It wasn't till he was done that Illya shut the hologram off. "I have three others prepared to demonstrate their equal ability. The federation ship will be left adrift for the pleasure of whomever should choose to loot it."

Calysta began to translate with ease until her tongue tumbled over the word demonstration. Oh no. She remembered the last 'demonstration' on Nuen and turned slowly to look at Illya's hologram as she caught up with his words. Sure enough there was, of all people, Ehvan hacking and slashing his way through a clearly federation ship. Her mouth slipped open slightly at the sight of blood and the screams until they cut off. Ehvan had finished his task. Illya continued with his words casually and Calysta swallowe before turning back to a dead silent hall. No one said a single word for a solid minute until finally Swyft spoke up. "I don't think further demonstration is necessary general, thank you. Are there any other conditiions you would put on the proposal and its function before we discuss?" Calysta looked to Illya and translated quickly this time, feeling much like a bug under a microscrope and playing it off as if this were entirely expected.

The group didn't seem quite as impressed as they should have been. In a way it seemed that his presentation fell flat. It was disappointing to say the least. "I expected it would be more difficult to convince you of the Chippequoti's ability." Illya glanced at Kalizda and then back to Swyft and the group. "The Chippequoti will come and train here as emergency response unit. There will be 50 pilots to volunteer to fly the Chippequoti Elite for this emergency response unit. Then you will need to learn some customs of the Chippequoti. It will be good to lean some of the ways of a people that you know not much of."

Calysta translated and Swyft nodded. "Then you would propose a class for this?" She relayed the question back to Illya who in turned answered and a murmur rose up in the room. People were discussing among themselves and Calysta's eyes bounced around the room as she listened. Then she looked to Illya with an earnest expression. "May I speak to them? The demonstration was well met but I think they were surprised at the..effectiveness of your men and it might help to give further explanation in Kaerelean."

"Hmmm, yes. You speak to them. I trust you." Illya knew that she was perhaps the only person that could explain what he intended without making it sound worse. She understood the Chippequoti because they were her people and she understood the Alliance because they were her people too.

She gave him a small smile at the comment about being trusted. It was something she took a high degree of honor from. Thought she was shocked, she stepped up to be by his side. "Instructors and board members. As you can see the demonstration shows the degree of effectiveness such a program would have. These men are well trained and so are yours. If they are called to be the last defense between your safety...and your families safety...they are who you want defending. There's no group better and no higher honor than working together with two skilled teams combined. You have an opportunity to invest our community in the safety of our home." She fell silent for a moment and looked to Illya. She meant what she said and a little refocus on the goal was always good. A few more questions were asked until finally Swyft nodded and spoke in Kaerelean. "They will vote now," he said, "Would you like to break while they count?" Calysta relayed the .message quickly to the general. "It might be a minute though.”

Though it would not have been proper for Illya to smile he felt a sense of pride with how she presented herself and the Chippequoti. She did great honor to her people. Kalizda answered the questions seamlessly and Illya waited by silently. Just as a General and his interpreter should he let her speak when it came to the more sensitive parts. At the end of it there was to be a vote and Kalizda offered a break, but Illya shook his head. "No, we'll wait if you can."

Calysta stepped close to Illya and whispered small translations to what any board member or instructor had to say so he understood perfectly. "He says he disagrees because Skycorp is not a military entity. He will vote no." Another rose up and she gave the same description. "She agrees and will vote yes. She would volunteer as a pilot." On and on it went until they had reached everyone. She was sure Illya had been keeping track in his head but she translated the result anyways. "7 to 12 votes in favor," she said, "You will have your program, General."

There wasn't a hint of doubt in Illya's mind that he would get the program. It was necessary and there had to be some who could see it. However, it was getting tight and Illya clenched his jaw some until it was over he knew he would have the vote. When Kalizda spoke he broke custom long enough to smile at her. This time he spoke his best Kaerlean to her. "And you will be my pilot little bird."

Calysta strode into the room behind Ilya and he made a beeline for the podium, she followed behind him with her skirts ruffling around her ankles. Half the assembly was talking among themselves and a few were eager to greet them both. Swyft strode up, intending to welcome them both and Calysta wasnt sure where to start with everyone coming at them at once. "General," she said quickly, "They are wanting to greet you. Will you accept them?"

The room was already filling up and Illya wanted to get up and get the presentation over with. He knew how to do these things, but he wasn't entirely excited about doing it either. This was in some ways the most difficult part of his work. Before he reached the podium he heard Kalizda ask him something in Quoti and for a moment it felt strange for her to refer to him as General, but it was right in this situation. Turning he nodded to her. "I will greet them." Illya nodded to the first person that was near him and glanced at Kalizda. Perhaps she would know who this was, or the person would introduce themselves.

Calysta caught up with Illya's long strides and beckoned the first member of Skycorp up. He was by far the oldest. A wizened old man, hunched by age shuffled up in a Skycorp uniform. He mumbled something to traders tongue and his eyes widened under thick brows. "This is Kreid Hys. He would like to welcome you. He says he has never seen a Chippeqouti before. He asks if you are an acting general in your people or retired."

Whatever the man's name was Illya didn't want to try pronouncing it. Instead he smiled and nodded. In the custom of the Chippequoti he responded. "Thank you for the welcome. I am the acting General for my people. What is his duty to his people?"

When he said acting general Calysta's stomach clenched a little and she nodded before relaying back his question. Hys seemed confused as to why he needed a translator. Didn't he speak traders tongue? "He is a retired admiral and Skycorp benefactor on the board," Calysta replied to Qouti, "He says he looks foreward to what you have to propose." One by one they came up and Calysta translated, some confused as to why Illya would speak only to her. "We believe in a variety of customs here and this is customary," she would explain. Finally the teachers came up, the last of which looked wild eyed at Illya before stuttering. "Gen-General," he restarted, "I Monroe...will you convey my most sincere apologies?" It was Calysta's turn to be confused and she looked to Illya before translating. Had she missed something?

There were several introductions and this wasn't quite what Illya was used to in an official capacity. Typically he would have simply said what he came to say and then been done with it. Instead he was here talking with people and trying to pretend that this was ordinary. When the last instructor arrived it was the one that Illya had found the most offensive. Naturally the man thought it was a good time to make apologies. Once more, he found himself nodding and smiling. "There are things you don't know about the Chippequoti. I suggest that you learn more about them before you have more to teach."

Calysta blinked in surprise at Illya's reply. It was obviously biting behind the cordial delivery. Her grey eyes shifted from Illya to the instructor and back again. Had they given Illya a hard time? She set her eyes on the man and gave a pleasant but pointed smile. "There are things you don't know about the Chippeqouti. I suggest that you learn more about them before you have more to teach." The instructors mouth snapped shut and he nodded sagely before scuttling away. Once everyone was seated Calysta let Illya know that they were ready to listen.

At last they were done with the introductions and Illya walked up the steps to the podium and then offered his hand to assist Kalizda onto the stage with him. She would translate for him and he would continue as he normally would in this sort of situation. "Since the attack on Kinte I recognize there are some frailties in Kaerleal. Waiting for an attack to come to the ground is not an option. Already our military is strained and I believe that Skycorp can help with that strain. Consider allowing the Elite to do as they have been trained to. Each man is capable as myself to protect his people and allies. With expert flyers we can take on an entire fleet of Federation if need be. A single flyer with a Chippequoti Elite is capable of disarming and preventing a fight from ever reaching the ground. I was told that a demonstration would be helpful. There is a Federation ship that has been raiding territory near the outlying area and i have a man ready to show you what he can do." Grabbing his pad Illya dialed in and set it on the projecting pad to let everyone present see it. "Ehvan you have your orders." Immediately the dark skinned man's blue eyes lit up and Ehvan sprang into action. The ship was moved in close to the enemy vessel and he boarded. Within seconds there was a bloody spray as Ehvan moved through the ship with sickening precision and his sword sliced. It wasn't till he was done that Illya shut the hologram off. "I have three others prepared to demonstrate their equal ability. The federation ship will be left adrift for the pleasure of whomever should choose to loot it."

Calysta began to translate with ease until her tongue tumbled over the word demonstration. Oh no. She remembered the last 'demonstration' on Nuen and turned slowly to look at Illya's hologram as she caught up with his words. Sure enough there was, of all people, Ehvan hacking and slashing his way through a clearly federation ship. Her mouth slipped open slightly at the sight of blood and the screams until they cut off. Ehvan had finished his task. Illya continued with his words casually and Calysta swallowe before turning back to a dead silent hall. No one said a single word for a solid minute until finally Swyft spoke up. "I don't think further demonstration is necessary general, thank you. Are there any other conditiions you would put on the proposal and its function before we discuss?" Calysta looked to Illya and translated quickly this time, feeling much like a bug under a microscrope and playing it off as if this were entirely expected.

The group didn't seem quite as impressed as they should have been. In a way it seemed that his presentation fell flat. It was disappointing to say the least. "I expected it would be more difficult to convince you of the Chippequoti's ability." Illya glanced at Kalizda and then back to Swyft and the group. "The Chippequoti will come and train here as emergency response unit. There will be 50 pilots to volunteer to fly the Chippequoti Elite for this emergency response unit. Then you will need to learn some customs of the Chippequoti. It will be good to lean some of the ways of a people that you know not much of."

Calysta translated and Swyft nodded. "Then you would propose a class for this?" She relayed the question back to Illya who in turned answered and a murmur rose up in the room. People were discussing among themselves and Calysta's eyes bounced around the room as she listened. Then she looked to Illya with an earnest expression. "May I speak to them? The demonstration was well met but I think they were surprised at the..effectiveness of your men and it might help to give further explanation in Kaerelean."

"Hmmm, yes. You speak to them. I trust you." Illya knew that she was perhaps the only person that could explain what he intended without making it sound worse. She understood the Chippequoti because they were her people and she understood the Alliance because they were her people too.

She gave him a small smile at the comment about being trusted. It was something she took a high degree of honor from. Thought she was shocked, she stepped up to be by his side. "Instructors and board members. As you can see the demonstration shows the degree of effectiveness such a program would have. These men are well trained and so are yours. If they are called to be the last defense between your safety...and your families safety...they are who you want defending. There's no group better and no higher honor than working together with two skilled teams combined. You have an opportunity to invest pur community in the safety of our home." She fell silent for a moment and looked to Illya. She meant what she said and a little refocus on the goal was always good. A few more questions were asked until finally Swyft nodded and spoke in Kaerelean. "They will vote now," he said, "Would you like to break while they count?" Calysta relayed the .message quickly to the general. "It might be a minute or two and a break would not be considered rude."

Though it would not have been proper for Illya to smile he felt a sense of pride with how she presented herself and the Chippequoti. She did great honor to her people. Kalizda answered the questions seamlessly and Illya waited by silently. Just as a General and his interpreter should he let her speak when it came to the more sensitive parts. At the end of it there was to be a vote and Kalizda offered a break, but Illya shook his head. "No, we'll wait if you can."

Calysta stepped close to Illya and whispered small translations to what any board member or instructor had to say so he understood perfectly. "He says he disagrees because Skycorp is not a military entity. He will vote no." Another rose up and she gave the same description. "She agrees and will vote yes. She would volunteer as a pilot." On and on it went until they had reached everyone. She was sure Illya had been keeping track in his head but she translated the result anyways. "7 to 12 votes in favor," she said, "You will have your program, General."

There wasn't a hint of doubt in Illya's mind that he would get the program. It was necessary and there had to be some who could see it. However, it was getting tight and Illya clenched his jaw some until it was over he knew he would have the vote. When Kalizda spoke he broke custom long enough to smile at her. This time he spoke his best Kaerlean to her. "And you will be my pilot little bird."

She could feel him growing more tense beside her until she told him the result. To her surprise, he broke his stoic face and smiled at her, then further discarded tradition by speaking to her in Kaerelean. Her cheeks lit up and so did her eyes before she nodded. "Aye. I will be your pilot always." With the meeting seemingly over, a few of the board members walked by and congratulated Illya. The older, former admiral gave Illya a somewhat toothless grin and chuckled that he liked it and would volunteer if he could see properly anymore. It wasnt until Swyft approached that he truly spoke with both of them. The board would like a timeline for classes when you are ready, but the projection you gave for having it running is good. Well done. Your presentation was...informative."

It seemed that they were going to be a bit demanding when it came to knowing more, but Illya was prepared for that demand. This time he let the tradition slip and he went back to speaking in Trader's Tongue. It was ok to let the tradition slide every now and then. They'd dealt with his tradition for long enough to get a taste and now he could try and humor them. "I have schedule for meh men. Dey will need tah pass entrance exams next testing time. Dey are all busy wit studies. Dey have orders tah pass dah exam and dey will. Elite dun fail."

Swyft was surprised to hear that they had already began studying for the exam. Goddesses willing, they would be a bit higher scoring than the General himself. "As soon as your practicals are over the new class of recruits comes in. We'll have the test then." Then he glanced to Calysta with a neutral expression except for a small shine in his eyes. A dash if pride. "I assume I will be seeing you as well, Ms. Monroe." There was no way she wouldnt volunteer. He knew that outright. Her shoulders squared and her smiled grew. "Aye, sir. I will be there." Swyft seemed pleased and nodded to them both. "Excellent. I expect none to fail, and that includes you, General." Then with that, he gave a low bow and departed.

There was a bit of work for the Elite to do if they were to be testing so soon. Illya maintained his usual expression though he was a little worried about Ehvan. The man was horribly prejudice against anything that he considered outside of Chip tradition and studying all these things would doubtless stir up his irritable side. Nodding a little Illya went along with Swyft's comment. "I told yah dat Elite dun fail. I will pass."

Calysta did her duty translating, even when the same apologetic instructor came by share his apologies. She translated them but he vanished before much else could be said. "What in the wilds is he on about?" She finally asked in Qouti.

At the end the undiplomatic diplomacy instructor came by once more and Kalizda naturally had to ask. At least it was in Quoti and Illya responded to her in a simple tone of voice without giving away to anyone that he was talking about something besides business. "He might have insulted the Chippequoti and me. Tonight he was corrected."

Her eyes widened some before narrowing at the door where the instructor had undoubtedly escaped to. "Well, I think he should have his class expanded to include Chippeqouti instructional time. I might make that suggestion." Now, the hard part was done and she offered a hand to her Chip. She was going to have a mountain of paper work to do now over this stunt of a demonstration. It was entirely unplanned and the fleet will be surprised among other things. "Ready?" She asked him.

Kalizda seemed to be a bit upset and Illya let it be for the moment. He didn't really want her jumping in and appearing to rescue him, he was perfectly capable of taking care of himself. Glancing at her little hand Illya grasped it with his big brown paw of a hand. "Yeah, I tink I'll let yah take meh somewhere. Jes remember who yah taking home wit yah. Could be dangerous." With a chuckle he leaned over and swept her up into his arms. There wasn't anyone watching anyway. With a wink he gave a short warning and then kissed her. "Yah look beautiful in yah dress. Yah look jes like Chippequoti translator should."

Mentioning the after effects of his demonstration wasnt the right time and she let out a squeak of surprise as he scooped her up. The pretty green dress became a train beneath her ankles as she got bound into a kiss. Now, this was definitely out of protocol and if she wasn't enjoying the kiss so much, she might have said so. When he released her from the kiss she stayed in his arms pink cheeked and a little breathless. "Oh I remember. It could be dangerous," she said, before breaking into a smile, "It didnt stop me from bringing you home last time." She kissed him again when he mentioned her dress. He seemed to be liking her choices more and more. While she had never paid much attention to her attire before, it was a new thing that she was growing to like. Her smile spread further over her face while she gave him a little peck. "It wouldnt do to misrepresent my people or my General, yeah?" Calysta went in for another little peck when a chuckle rang across the room she had thought everyone was gone but apparently not and her face instantly blossomed into red. Turning her head, she found a tall and grey skinned man loping toward them. His yellow hair was braided with bits of bone and beads into thick locks and he grinned with a wide mouth. Calysta instantly felt odd being so loving dovey and stared. "General. This is Makra. Leader of the Udine colony tribe."

The bit of playful banter was exactly what Illya was looking forward to. He even scored a little kiss from Kalizda and he was about to carry her off, but there was that laugh. Someone saw all this. Illya set Kalizda down and he felt slightly annoyed, but he would have to get over it. Looking at the ugly leathery fellow he could already guess it was an Udine. After the demonstration he had spoke to everyone else in Trader's Tongue, so it was only fair to speak to this one in Trader's Tongue too. "Yah like demonstration?" If the Udine was anything like Rezna he would guess that the demonstration was a hit.

Calysta's feet settled onto the floor and she looked up at both men before smoothing her dress down to pay attention to the conversation. Thankfully, Illya spoke in traders tongue and Maka deigned to do the same. Translating between the two when their languages were so different would have been challenging at the least. Maka grinned and settled a hand casually on the large weapon contained in its sheath on his hip before nodding. The bones and beads rattled. "Es I did. Remind of old land. Strong against the enemy. No mercy then." A deep chuckle left him and he looked with appraising eyes at Illya. "Federation blood flows today. Good. Ew will have..." he thought for a moment on the word and gave up to simply use a name, "Rezna."

It was difficult to tell what the man meant by giving Rezna to him. Illya thought for a moment before he responded. "I already have meh pilot for dah emergency response. I tink Rezna could be pilot for oter of dah Elite ef dats what she wants."

He seemed to think this was appropriate and grinned revealing his studded teeth. "Good. Ew come to colonee soon. We welcome. Rezna has good words of ew." It was a muddles sentence and Calysta clarified. "We will be visiting soon."

Illya was slightly surprised at the offer to come to the colony and he wasn't entirely sure he wanted to go see all the Udines. However, it sounded like he would get the pleasure of meeting many more Udines. "Mmmhmm. Et will be soon."

"Es. Soon." That was all the conversation he could make in traders tongue but to add to it, Makra grinned and his hand came off of his sword to clap across Illya's arm with a heavy handed smack that echoed over the room.
The heavy handed slap on the arm definitely sounded as heavy as it was. Illya figured he'd return the gesture. With his right hand he gave a good slap to the other man's arm and then nodded. "Nice tah meet yah."
Mahkra grinned wider with a wild when he felt Illya's strength, then nodded before making his way out of the door. Calysta's shoulders relaxed again and she glanced to Illya. "I wasnt expecting him here. He's not a teacher or on the board, but Rezna is his charge."
It sounded like they'd had a sneaky person in the room and Illya answered in a calm manner just to see if he could get Kalizda. "I guess we'll have to kill him then. He's a spy." It was all in Quoti and Illya managed to keep a straight face until he saw the look from Kalizda and then he busted out laughing. "Maybe not."
Calysta's eyes went wide at Illya's calm assessment and she turned on her heels to look at him. She never knew if he was serious or not with those things and it took her seeing his grin for her to roll her eyes. "Illya, you...." she shot him a look and nudged him. "I've worked quite hard for that Alliance. "

"I'm sure you did." With a broad grin he winked at Kalizda. "You still want to take me home with you?"

Calysta gave him a shy sort of smile, her cheeks still pinked from having been caught kissing on her husband in front of an official ambassador. “Oh, I think I will. You kiss well and oh...there’s a few other things.” She took up his hand in order to lead him home to their ship where she undoubtedly had paperwork waiting.

Sure enough, Illya’s stunt caused enough of a stir that she had copious amounts of reports to read, then reply to. A rogue agent? No. Double agents? Ship pirates stealing flyers? Definitely not. New secret weapons to combat the fleet? Amusing theory at least. All the speculations came in and it was clear why they had been alarmed. That area was on standby and a lone Kaerelean flyer broke rank, broke the line and made contact with the Federation line. Of course, Ehvan had downed the Federation ship, but more were inbound once they heard and it became a scrap between the two fleets. The skirmish landed decidedly in favor of the Alliance though and the area was calm now.

Illya had fallen asleep in her office chair waiting for her to be finished and she almost felt bad for waking him up. He was entirely exhausted and needed rest, but if he slept ther ehe would be miserable in the morning. “Illya, she whispered to him. Her fingers lifted his cheek a little to unbend his neck. “Illya, come’s bed time. You have practicals tomorrow. C’mon love.” With a gentle hand she got him up and coaxed him to bed. He was passed out before she had even undressed.


The week passed by at a fast pace but also horribly slow. Illya was so tired he could hardly stand himself and there was little she could do about it other than feed him and let him rest. She didn’t want to risk him having another seizure like he had a few weeks ago. His practicals seemed to be going decently enough. They had gone through Wilds survival training now and learned flyer Ejections as well as basic safety for crash landings. The real test would be the big final practical next week which would be tough on everyone and require several days away from home.

In the mean time, they still had the weekend and both of them had been utterly lazy on their Saturday morning. While the kids played outside in the garden, learning to pull weeds, water, and even chase each other with fat worms, she sat with Illya drinking some tea and simply enjoying the chance to read in peace. Calysta drained her teacup and headed inside for a snack- which would undoubtedly be shared with Edgar and Cypher- when she heard the door open. Priscilla strode through looking less than the picture of new marital bliss. In fact, she looked down right grumpy. ‘Hey, Calysta. I came by to grab a few of my things. I hope that’s okay.”

“Of course it is,”Calsysta said, “You’re always welcome here.”

Priscilla nodded and mumbled to herself as she turned to go down the hall, but Calysta called out to her. “Hey, would you want some coffee? You don’t have to rush. Sit down and relax for a minute.”

The woman looked at her gratefully and wandered back into the kitchen before plopping down into a bar stool a bit dejectedly. Calysta poured a cup of her father’s favorite brew and offered it to her. “Thanks.” Priscilla took a sip and let out a relieved sigh.

“So, I’m guessing you’ve been up all night for too many days in a row, yeah?” Calysta said. It was a fair assumption given the woman had just gotten married.

Priscilla looked at her with round eyes and shook her head. “No…”


The woman let out another strained sigh. “Not at all.”


It finally stuck Calysta what happened, or more specifically, what hadn’t happened. “Why not?” About the time she asked her question, Illya walked through the door and Priscilla rubbed her temple. “It’s a long story…” With that, she launched into her tale of honey moon woe.


Anonymous Me
The wedding might have been more enjoyable if it wasn't for Cypher whipping it all out on the steps. Not to mention Kalizda seemed to think that someone should explain to Cypher the reasoning for not peeing outside. That someone was going to be Illya and he was the primary perpetrator in the family. That was going to take a bit to explain and then change. If Illya didn't change his son wasn't going to change and that was just a fact of life. Having children was a lot of work and that meant a lot of adjustments.

Illya was left staring at his son and the two of them blinked a few times before they glanced at the retreating form of Kalizda. She was on her way to enjoy more of the party and they were on cleaning duty. "Well, now yah know dat peeing outside es nut acceptable when dere es a toilet."

Looking up at his dad Cypher gave a little frown. "But you pee outside." He had seen his dad do it a few times and he wasn't about to simply change his way of doing things because of this one incident. On his way back to the building he stomped a few times and viciously pushed the bathroom door open. He would need to get a little bucket of water, disposable towels and some soap.

"I dun do et anymore. Et gets in dah ground and den dey have tah filter et and et es gross tah pee on ground and den drink filtered pee water." Illya figured if he put it that way it would impact his son. Just as he expected his boy's head whipped around and his little curls bounced with vigor. Cypher's eyes were wide and he stared at his dad for a long moment and then wordlessly continued getting things to clean the sidewalk off. There wasn't much else for complaints and the boy seemed to be very careful to clean his pee spot in hopes that nobody would have to drink the pee water.


Sherri stood in front of the fountain with the coin from Tiberius. Her long, dark fingers stroked the coin a few times and she narrowed her eyes slightly. "Ok, I make wish and it comes true." Making a good wish was something she'd have to be sure to do, but it didn't have to be something mushy. There was always one way to be sure a man liked you. With a deep breath she yelled her wish for the world to hear. "I wish for at least 10 children!"

Out of all the things he had heard people wish for and all the things he could have expected, hearing what passed across her lips made him blink in surprise. A few other couples paused in surprise too at the sudden pronouncement, unsure of what was really happening as the Chip woman held up the coin over the glimmer fountain water. He didn't want her to feel awkward if people were looking, and he certainly had no idea if children were a good thing in her culture. They had to be with a such a sudden pronouncement. He put his hands in his pockets and smiled. "You wish for 10 least 10 children, huh? Go ahead and drop it into the fountain so it comes true."

Casting a sidelong glance at Tiberius she smiled and let her hand hover over the water. "Oh yes, at least ten. Perhaps dah winds will be good to me and give me more. I will make sure dey are fierce, strong and handsome tah look at. Et means I must pick good looking man and keep him busy." Finally, she dropped the coin in the water and giggled a little. "And now, do you tink dat you could be dah kind of man tah give me ten children, or more. If yah nut, yah better enjoy dis week and den run for dah hills."

Her further pronouncement over her risk requirements made a few others pause, now curious to see if this was ever going to work or if she was going to drop the coin in or not. Tiberius watched her as she triumphantly let the coin fall into the water with a singular plop sound. That little giggle made him want to grin and he couldn't help himself. She was testing him. That much was clear. He thought about what she did for a moment, his hands in his pocket and then decided on how he was going to answer. Everyone was already staring at them anyways and Sherri was just too damn pretty to resist. Especially, when she was being cheeky. Tiberius fumbled in his right pocket and then withdrew his last Terran coin. he held it with the edges pinched between his thumb and forefinger, studying it before he smiling. "My turn," he said, stepping up to the fountain, "I wish to be the man to give a woman at least 10 children, or die trying."


Having a Terran wedding was strange to say the least. Ehud had to stand and stand and stand and wait for Priscilla to come walking toward him. It felt so odd to be up there alone as the single man. She'd already made her choice, but then she invited a few people to watch and they vows to make in front of people. This tradition was far more relaxing in some ways than waiting with the other single men if there was a desire for a woman. It was always hard to tell if you were going to get passed up, or if the girl you like was even interested in you. Sometimes they played nice, but they weren't particularly interested in choosing you.

Priscilla looked so stunning in her dress and it hugged her waist just perfectly with a beautiful flare down to her feet. In some ways the Terran wedding dress was elegant and plain. It didn't have all the colors of a Chip woman's dress, but it was a lovely style and it accented Priscilla's body just fine. Ehud found the ceremony to be a bit tedious. It was never this long for the Chippequoti. Every now and then he'd glance into the crowd to see the Elite and other guests watching them with rapt attention and others were glancing around as if they felt the same impatience he did. After what felt like nearly an eternity of standing in the front of everyone Ehud finally got permission to kiss Priscilla. There was no hiding the slight hint of pink that crept over his cheeks as the entire Elite force rose to their feet and stomped and cheered.

There was no mistaking that when the reception started it was going to be a party. Ehud almost took a sense of comfort in that. Terrans seemed to have such calm parties and well refined. It would be slightly relieving to have a few Dark Chips around to liven things up. They would enjoy the dancing and give a few good cheers every now and then when it was appropriate.


The wedding went fine, but married life was not bliss. Ehud wasn't sure why Priscilla was looking at him like she was disappointed when they got home. Sien was staying with Illya and Kalizda for the first night and they would have the house to themselves. What she thought would happen the first night he wasn't entirely sure. However, it all seemed to smooth out till her dog attempted to make the love making a threesome. With a surprised yelp Ehud got off Priscilla and shoved the dog off the bed with a yell. "No!" He didn't want that dog thinking it was ok to join in.

Instead of putting the dog out of the room and resuming, Priscilla seemed to think it was a dandy time to defend her dog's action and scold him for disciplining her ill behaved dog. Working his jaw in frustration he gave a harumph and marched himself off to the bathroom for a cold shower. The second night wasn't any better when he got an emergency call on his pad and it took a few hours to sort things out. By the third night Ehud was more than ready to have sex, but Sien walked into the room without knocking. The frustration had built up so much that Ehud was about ready to scream, but it was his son and he had to explain to his son now that he had a mother he would have to knock. It wasn't polite to simply walk in. Once his son was taken care of and tucked into his bed again Ehud returned to the room with a sigh. "I'm guessing you're not in the mood now."


Illya stepped into the kitchen from the back door to see that Priscilla was at their table. She looked like she was tired out and completely at a loss. It wasn't a good look and Illya frowned some as he took a seat across from the ladies. He probably didn't smell the best since he'd just finished taking care of the animals, but he was curious what was going on. "Well, what happened? Es Ehud being big shet?"

Priscilla hardly noticed the smell but it certainly wasn't one she missed. Things at Ehud's house didn't smell like out door animals. When Illya walked in, she winced slightly more at what he said than anything. "No..." Her voice trailed off and Calysta, in an effort of recovering herself, gave a hopeful look. "Is it serious?" Priscilla bit at her lip and sighed. "No...well yes and no. Look.. we haven't done anything at all. We've tried...every night. The first night Yugi well...he got on the bed and started.. ah well he started you know...humping Ehud. It wasn't his fault and Ehud yelled at the dog...we got into this argument. And then the next night he had a call from work which took forever. I fell asleep waiting...and then he just...and Sien came home early..." She looked down at her coffee cup, still annoyed expression on her face. "I feel like I'm going crazy."

"What, yah didn't have sex dah night before dah wedding?" Hearing that they'd been trying every night and failing was somewhat shocking. Perhaps they'd actually waited and that would have been very surprising based on what he saw the morning of the wedding.

Priscilla looked up from her coffee, her blue eyes going wide. "What? Why would you think that?" Had Ehud lied or something to Illya about having sex with her that night? Like it was some big conquest? Or was he just assuming?

The response from Priscilla was unexpected and Illya shrugged. "Et looked like someting happened. Ehud was wandering around en a robe. I jes tink dere es only one reason tah take off dah clotes in dah bedroom and dats when yah plan tah have sex and go tah sleep. Yah looked better rested den yah should too when yah wake up. Looked like yah probably had good time and went tah sleep."

Priscilla's eyes narrowed and the grip on her coffee cup grew tighter. At least this assumption wasn't something created by Ehud himself. "Just because it looked like that doesn't mean that's what happened. I fell asleep while Ehud was fixing my wedding dress and he looked uncomfortable trying to help so I gave him the robe....and....why am I explaining this. The point We did no such thing." By this point, she was pink cheeked and a little offended, even if she could see why Illya thought that. "And between Ehud being an ass to the dog and whatever else, we still haven't."

"Oh hell, I'd have yelled at a dog if it tried to shove et's ding dong up meh arse too." Illya wasn't sure why she kept getting so upset about the dog getting yelled at. "Why dun yah jes put dog out of dah room and den finish having sex. Yah really should jes have sex and den yah bot feel better. I feel so much better after I have sex wit Kalizda first time and still when we have sex. Et makes stress leave and et feels good. Sex es very good for yah."

Why didn't she just do it? She wanted to, didn't she? Yes. Well, part of her did. There was something in her inner monologue that she couldn't quite grip it. The idea that she was nervous about having sex with someone besides Harry. That and Ehud really shouldn't have yelled at the dog so harshly. It had made her nervous and more upset than it should have, but she couldn't tell if that was because that was her affection for the dog or some gambit to avoid the inevitable. She did want to have sex with her husband very much so, but she was also afraid. A fact that she wouldn't admit to because it sounded ridiculous. Priscilla's eyes clouded over and she stood up abruptly. " Yugi didn't mean to. He didn't know any better...and ...just...never mind. Yes, sex is good. It probably will make me feel better. Ehud too. It's just..." Clearing her throat, she put her coffee cup into the sink. "I'll just go and get it over with." With that pronouncement, she gave Illya a grateful nod. "Thank you." It had taken a few frank words to get her head on straight and out of the clouds. It would just be plain fact that romance wouldn't be something that happened anymore and she just needed to go rip this bandaid off, have sex with Ehud, and get it over with so at least she knew what she was in for.

The initial response almost seemed angry and Illya's eyebrows rose slightly. What was she going to do, throw the coffee cup? Instead Priscilla gave some sort of determined statement and Illya grinned. "Dat's good. Yah go have some sex even ef et needs tah be angry. Yah feel better when yah done!" Waving at Priscilla he watched her prepare to leave. "Normally I would say tah let meh know how et goes, but I dun really want tah know what sex wit Ehud was like. Long as yah feel better dat's what counts."

Calysta watched with reddened cheeks as Priscilla bolstered herself with a sad sort of determination. She didn't look excited or in the mood at all. The woman looked more resigned to the task more than anything else. In fact, between the three of them, Illya was the only one who looked or sound excited about this sort of mission, despite his declared disinterest in knowing what sex with Ehud was like. Calysta opened her mouth to say something about slowing down a bit, but Priscilla was already heading toward the door. "Oh it will be something," she replied, mustering half a smile. At least she could still feign confidence. "Don't worry, I'll probably wont remember the details too much. So no, recounts as to house sex with the general is goes. Still, I think he'll feel better." With that said, she grabbed the door and scuttled out of the door. When she was gone, Calysta glanced to Illya and chuckled. "You felt better after our first time, eh?"

It was sad to see the way that Priscilla left. She didn't seem to be ready, but she'd feel better when she was done. Illya was confident that she would be doing better after she had sex. Almost the instant that she was out the door Kalizda turned toward him and asked about the first time. "Uh yeah, I feel much better after dah first time. I had needs like any man, but I also want yah very bad. Dere were some night dat I tink about yah en ways dat I should nut unless yah were already meh agreed, but I couldn't help et. So once yah meh agreed, I feel much better."

Calysta's blush deepened but a bit of a smile crept to her lips. She hadnt known he thought of her that way even before marriage. "I felt much better when you were finally my agreed too," she said, leaning up to kiss his cheek. "I hope Pris feels the same way when she does whatever it is she is going to do too. She likes a little bit of romance and things haven't gone quite right." Illya was far more romantic than Ehud in her opinion and she would gladly keep her man.


Ehud got home from work a little bit early. He knew it had been a few rough days for Priscilla and they were not doing as well as he'd hoped. Then again it hadn't been entirely smooth when he had married Haza. That was all so far behind him that he couldn't quite remember what it was like the first few days without some serious thought. They'd been together long enough that most fights and disagreements had resolved within a few minutes. There were benefits to being together for that many years.

On his way home he remembered to buy something for Priscilla. Perhaps she would like a special little outing. He had purchased advanced tickets for a Terran restaurant that was opening on Kinte. It was supposed to serve gourmet food. She was after all a long ways from home and among a strange people. When he was on Terra he at least had Haza and a little touch of his culture there. Cautiously opening the front door he waited for some sort of greeting, though he wasn't sure how she would feel about seeing him today. It was as if over the last few days she'd almost given him the impression that she had made a mistake in marrying him.

Shoving a hand into his pocket he rubbed the tickets and he cleared his throat. "Uhh..Pris?" There wasn't any answer and he shuffled into the kitchen before he started to feel a rising panic. The house looked fine, but it had the day Haza died too. He had gone back to the nursery to find her laying on the floor dead because she'd been trying to save Sien and Cypher. With the horrible image stuck in his head he threw open the bedroom door to see a perfectly naked Priscilla and he let a sigh of relief. "Oooh."

Almost as soon as he'd finished with his initial statement he ended up gaping at her like a beached whale. "Bah...Ah.....I uh....I got you some tickets."


It didn't take long for the news to spread through the Chip village that Illya was starting a new program for the Chippequoti Elite to be joining Skycorp and training with pilots for a last defense program. The idea was progressive and interesting, but well received. There was only a few weeks to study for the exam, but it wasn't anything that a bit of studying couldn't prepare a man for. As was the standard, once Elite, you were always Elite until you died, or you were too crippled and old to perform. Markus stared at the work books that they were to be assigned. He knew his son didn't expect him to be among them. The order had gone out to the others, but not him. However, he couldn't refuse him as a cadet either if he chose to go and he passed the exam.

Markus picked up the book and stared at it. Momentarily he felt a pang of guilt. He had asked how Yvonne died and if he had been here she probably wouldn't have gotten killed like that. Instead he was here alone and he had to work through the books on his own. Each chapter was nearly torture because he had to try and remember the different things that she'd told him about the common tongue. Thankfully he could read it well enough and write it with nominal skill, but speaking it was rough.

Checking the box at the end of the chapter he moved on to the knowledge test area. The science was easy and the math was easy, but the language section was a little rough. Not too horrible. He was scoring at least 80% on everything so far. He was already registered for the exam and all he had to do was make sure he could pass and then he'd be working with his son. Illya couldn't ignore him forever and this was one way to get close enough to get to know his son as the General.


Curious Adventurer
When all was said and done, Priscilla was surprised to find herself wrapped around Ehud quiet comfortably with his arm draped over her bare back. He held her close and eventually his eyes began to droop until they closed, signaling the start of a nice post exercise nap. Priscilla let him hold her for awhile, asleep or not, and for the first time in awhile she felt herself unravel. Her shoulders loosened, her jaw relaxed and she actually managed to doze with her hand curled up over his chest.

It wasn’t until she heard the light thumping of Sien’s feet coming down the hall that she opened her eyes and carefully extricated herself from under Ehud’s heavy arm. He was in a deep snooze and she was going to let him rest for now. Pulling on a pair of pink capri pants and a simple white top, Priscilla exited Ehud’s- no- their bedroom and walked down the hall to the kitchen. Apparently, it had begun to rain. There were tell-tale muddy tracks down the wooden floor of the house that lead all the way to Sien’s room. Sure enough, when she made it to the kitchen, the little window above the sink revealed the sky had turned cloudy with fat drops of rain falling in a steady cadence.

Sien was likely already working on his homework, so she decided to cook dinner. It was something she enjoyed. The task was second nature and she easily whipped up a homemade cheese roux sauce for alfredo before setting raviloi’s on to boil. While that was going, she slathered some of her hand made bread in garlic butter and began to toast it in the oven. All the smells began to waft through the house and she closed her eyes, taking in a deep breath. She had done it. Remarried and slept with another man. She did care for Ehud and she wished things had gone better once they had come home. Perhaps not all of it was her fault, but a fair portion of it was. Opening her eyes, she sat up from the counter and went to work baking a treat. Something delicious with a flaky crust. Almond croissants would be perfect. Sweet, but not too sweet. While she worked on a nice, buttery pastry dough Ehud wandered in. He was looking more or less like he’d enjoyed exactly what happened that afternoon. His hair was all mussed, mostly from her fingers, and he had a relieved sort of smile when he wandered in that said it all. “Pasta,” she smiled, “And pastries for later.” There was a strange want to be close to him. Sure, they had been very close a mere hour before, but this was something else. Wiping her hands down on the kitchen towel, she waited for him to sidle closer and then wrapped her arms around his chest. Her nose burrowed into his neck where she could smell the hint of his cologne, sweat and other things. It wasn’t necessarily a romantic embrace. Intead, it was more of an assurance for both of them. Her slight form relaxed against him in the sheer desire to be held and allowing herself to have it. She would ask later about what he meant about tickets. After a long moment, a thumping sound intruded on them and Priscilla let go of Ehud long enough to find the source.

Yugi was sitting on the opposite side of their island counter, his tail thumping merrily against the wood as he devoured something. “What in the world?” Further inspection revealed it to be a smally, cottony tube with a tail. A fresh, unsheathed tampon. “Yugi!” She wrestled the item from his mouth as he desperately tried to swallow it. “Naughty!” He tucked his tail between his legs and she grumbled at him. If he had found one and gnawed it out of the wrapper, he had gotten into the entire box. Without delay, she marched back to their guest bathroom and found no traces of mauled tampons. What she did hear was a little giggling sound coming from Sien’s room. Pure curiosity made her walk down the hall and poke her head into the door.

Sien was in the floor but he wasn’t alone. Across from him was Cypher and both boys looked damp from the rain. Between them was the missing box of tampons. Sien held one between his fingers like a little rocket and bapped the end of it. The cotton portion popped free as a mini missile and smacked with decent accuracy into Cypher’s chest. They had gone through at least 30 of them and the papers were scattered about the room as they carried on their tiny tampon war. Cypher plucked up another one, already unwrapped and ready for warfare. He had been smart and unwrapped as many as possible ahead of time for easy firing while Sien was much more frugal in his ammo. Cypher popped off 3 more in rapid succession and nailed his friend in the arm, head and leg. “I got yah!” he declared.

“Boys?” Priscilla wasnt sure if she should be mad or if she should laugh at the sight. “W-what are you doing?”

Sien held up a tampon and smiled. “We found these in the cabinet and another boy at school told us they make good darts. He was right. So we made a game.”

About that time, Ehud joined her in the door way and she looked at him at a loss for a moment. “Ah, Cypher,” she started, “Have you called your parents?”


Calysta kissed Illya on the lips and smiled. He wouldn’t be coming back to the ship for a few days. It was practicals week at Skycorp and his scores would determine if he went from cadet to E1 rank. She knew he had been stressed the last few weeks too. “I packed some oils in your pack and some tea,” she told him, “Be safe and…” Calysta couldn’t help but shower him with a few more nibbles on his lips. “No matter what, I am proud to be your agreed, yeah?” It never hurt to encourage him and let him go with a gentle but cheeky wink. “Now hurry back.” She would miss him and it was probably for the best that she had some studying to do for entrance exams. It would be something to occupy her along with the kids.

Wynry watched as Illya said goodbye to his wife for awhile and that same stab of slight jealousy ensued. It wasn’t something she would act on, but she would be remiss to say that feeling didn’t exist at all. When they were done, she walked along side the big man into the compound. They would have several tests today, but beyond that there would be a final exam. Nobody knew what would be on it though. No study guides or suggestions had been offered and if prompted, the older or high ranks would just shrug before proclaiming they didn’t know. Apparently, they changed it from year to year. “Are you ready?” she asked Illya.

Nodding at his answer she grew quiet until they met with Tiberius in the bunk room. The man had been in a good mood recently and Wynry could only guess that it was the Sherri woman he spoke about often and in good praise.

When they had grouped together it was time for the physical fitness tests. Hours of rigorous running, pull ups, situps, and endurance tasks. Then the obstacle course which had been changed to be much more challenging that ever before. Individual times were recorded but so were average team times.

Tiberius kept up well enough, though the running and pull made his side ache where his false ribs crackled against his real bones. It made him slower and he forced himself to continue at the proper pace. Illya seemed to be struggling too in some ways but Wynry had suffered no such injuries and she kept up nicely.

By the end of the day, Tiberius shuffled back to his bunk with all the rest and half heartedly grabbed his towel. He knew that in such an altitude his body was at a disadvantage and he felt like he couldn’t catch his breath in some moments. Of course, that could have been his injuries causing him to avoid taking deep breaths subconsciously. Their times for the course had been nearly the top of the class and that was nothing to sneeze at, though he would be sore from it in the morning. With his towel in hand, he walked back to the showers for a good, hot bath to ease some of the soreness.

When he came back, Wynry had already done the same and so had Illya, The woman was asleep on her bunk, totally wiped from the day and Illya was talking to his wife through his hologram feed. Tiberius took the time to reach out to Sherri, but it went to the message system. If he had to guess she was helping someone out or didn’t hear the pad. Either way, he left her a nice hologram message. “Uuuuh, hey Sherri. Thought I would call you tonight and see if your day was a good one. ...uh. I’ll give you another try later tomorrow if I can. Good night.”With that done, he closed his pad and pulled the covers over his head, ready to crash out entirely.

A loud bwip of a loud speaker blared in the bunk room, signaling that it was time to get up and Tiberius checked his pad for the time. 5am? They still had 2 hours of sleep left! Groaning, he rolled out of bed and winced at the announcement that they would have to be ready in 15 minutes. Everyone looked just as sleepy as he was, with the added layer of confusion. Rubbing his eyes, he began pulling on his jump suit, He was half way in it and meddling with the zipper before he realized he had put it on inside out. “Damnit.”By the time Swyft was entering the room for muster, Tiberius was shoving his foot into his shoe and hoping the Commander didn’t notice the untied laces.

“Good morning,” Swyft said, “Welcome to practical week, day 2. Each team has received a message for a mission on their pads. You will get into your groups, go to the equipment lockers and select what you will need for a 1 day mission to the planet surface in the Wilds. You will then proceed to the docks, find your assigned flyers and do the 54 point inspections before take off. You task is to survey and study the area which you have been assigned, then return by the end of the day.”

There was a strange pause at the end of his sentence and Swyft waited for them to start moving before he walked away. “Good luck and fair winds cadets.”


Anonymous Me
To have been greeted with such a welcome home was surprising, but nice in a way. Ehud stayed in the bed with Priscilla afterword and he rested an arm over her waist while he cuddled her. She felt warm and soft. The longer they laid in the bed the cooler it got. Finally, it was cool enough that Ehud pulled the sheets and blankets over them before he started to feel tired. Days at work were more intense now that he was doing his best to get home on time. There wasn't time for small things to pop up and when they did he had to almost work through them a break neck pace.

They weren't that far into the relationship and he already felt like he was working harder than he had been before he was married to Priscilla. However, coming home was nice and he could help her around the house instead of having to try and figure out when he had to do all of it for himself. Ehud didn't even feel when Priscilla moved his arm and she scooted out of the bed. Turning in the bed Ehud gave a contented sigh and kept on sleeping until he heard what sounded like mischief. He didn't remember anyone saying that Sien would have a friend over today. Peeling the covers back Ehud started to get up and try to hunt down his clothes. Priscilla had been in such a hurry that she'd almost tore the clothing from him. His boxers were on her side of the bed, his shirt at the end of the bed, pants thrown almost to the bathroom door and his boots haphazardly dropped on his side of the bed.

Once Ehud had collected his clothing he got himself dressed and emerged from the bedroom. Priscilla was in the kitchen making food. He figured that she must have been up for a while because she'd made quite a bit of progress on the food. "Smells good." With a tired smile he met her gaze. For whatever reason she decided she wanted a hug. This wasn't the kind of hug that Ehud knew how to gauge, it was not passionate, it was almost as if there was something wrong and he didn't know what it was. In some ways being a spy had given him the ability to pick up on a lot of silent cues, but they were not always helpful in a relationship. Instead of asking her what the trouble was, Ehud decided to simply hold her in the embrace and let her confide in him when she was ready.

Another squeal from Sien's room reminded Ehud that he had a little checking to do on his son and then the dog came out with a tampon in its mouth. Immediately Priscilla scolded the animal and she started back toward Sien's room. "Ask his friend if they have told their parents he's here." Ehud was pretty sure it was Cypher, but he still liked to make sure no matter who the visitor may be that their parents were aware of their location.


Sherri had been staying busy at home after her little trip to see Tiberius. Overall, he seemed to be a kind man and she liked that. There had been several walks in the park and she even went to a strange sort of shopping district that was all contained within one building. To have all kinds of things and so many that she didn't know existed as home conveniences was amazing.

There were several Chippequoti that left orders for her to fill when she got back and Kalizda even had an order for some teas and creams. More than likely based on the strength she was asking for it was going to be for Illya. The council woman had become familiar with their customs and way of life very quickly. There was hardly a person born outside of their culture that had taken as much time as Kalizda had to get to know them for the right reasons. She was truly a wonderful woman. Sherri and many of the others would have liked to know Kalizda better, but she was a very busy woman and it was of little wonder to them. Kalizda was the council woman, chief diplomat for the Chippequoti, the wife of the General, and she had five children. That was enough to keep any woman busy.

This was the week that Tiberius had his big exams and Sherri did her best not to contact him much. She'd left him one, or two little hologram messages. One of them was asking him when his graduation would be. If she was going to be a decent woman she'd be there to see a man of interest accomplish what he'd set out to do. Joining Skycorp was some sort of accomplishment to be proud of. At least that was what she'd gathered. There were so many people that spoke about it outside of Chip village.

While she was busy mixing up a chest rub for the cough she heard her pad ring, but there wasn't time to answer it. More than likely it was Tiberius and it was too bad, but she had messy hands. The cough season had started and already a few Chips had come to her for the chest rub. She was going to be up for a while tonight making extra. When the first few got the cough the rest would follow soon enough. Some of the rubs she made for the children and it was a weaker solution. For the adults she had varying batches, but the heaviest solution batch she made smaller too. There were only a few that got the cough that bad and she labeled the tubs in advance. One would be for Illya, one for Mihal, one for Nanu, and the last for Brand.

Once the batches were finished Sherri grabbed the pad and sent a return hologram. Maybe Tiberius would see it before his day started and maybe not. Setting her pad down across the table Sherri tapped the record button. "Tiberius, I'm sure dat you will do well wit your exams. I will come for dah ceremony and I have meh tickets already. Dere es a special little surprise for yah too. Make me a proud Chip woman." Blowing a little kiss she smiled and then ended the hologram.


Illya knew that the last day of exams were going to be a mystery and he liked to be prepared. No matter what they were going to be doing he wasn't going to be caught unprepared. Part of being prepared meant that he needed to have equipment he trusted for any kind of circumstance that might arise. For starters, Illya had emptied his Skycorp bag of all the items that he had a Chip Elite grade replacement for.

After he double checked his Skycorp equipment to be sure he had a replacement for it he looked over his list of instructions. They never said he couldn't bring his own things. It just said that he should be prepared for any circumstance. That was good enough. The only pieces of Skycorp equipment that Illya couldn't replace with Chip stuff got put into a special pouch on his military pack. It was a little heavier, but he knew that he would feel better for it. As an extra step and an extra sense of security, Illya packed a pistol in the pack and decided to get his sword. What if they were put in a dangerous situation, or he had a scenario. If he was dressed in a fashion that made him more dangerous looking, he might just get through the scenario without as much argument from the other side. Intimidation was an important part of inter-cultural relations. Kaerleans seemed to prefer diplomacy, but Udines and fringe dwellers responded better to intimidation and so Illya was prepared for whatever sort of scenario they were faced with.

Kalizda dropped Illya off at the gates after he was packed and he felt like he was ready. As he was turning to head toward the gates Kalizda grabbed his hand and pulled him back for a quick kiss. Just for fun, Illya decided to kiss Kalizda once more and then he winked at her. "I'll be back soon. I tink yah will get tah see meh graduate. Probably nut wit honors, but I will graduate." That was just a fact. Illya knew he hadn't been the best scoring student. He wasn't usually, but he had what it took and a bit of grit. That was was got him this far and that was what was going to see him through.

The first day he didn't need his pack, it was just a bunch of exercises. There was more than enough running considering the fact that Illya wasn't in peak condition. His right knee hurt and the screws holding his prosthetic to the bone made the femur even more tender feeling along with the old injuries. If that wasn't enough, there was the obstacle course and then a few crunchies. The crunchies had to be modified slightly because Illya couldn't bend his back quite that well. He was recovered from the broken back and the surgery, but he didn't have his full mobility back yet.

By the end of the day Illya felt like his back was going to crack and his leg would swell up and fall off. He knew the prosthetic didn't actually have that ability, but he knew his knee was swollen a little bit. What he needed to do was get in better shape. If tomorrow was another day like this he wasn't going to score as well as he had. Rezna beat him on the course, but he sort of expected that. After he broke his back he had a long ways to get to improve and get to where he was when he started Skycorp. Still he held within the top ranking overall for physical ability. Illya expected that if hadn't broke his back he would have taken first on the physical ability section of the course. Illya determined that he would take first in physical ability when he completed the officer course.

Of all the things that Illya forgot it was his bathing bucket. He didn't really want to shower if Kalizda wasn't there and this time with the finals all the male cadets were going to be showering at almost the same time. He knew better than to try and wait till it was later. Instead, Illya simply grabbed his towel and went to the showers with the rest of the guys and stripped down there to change. A few of them stared at his back. It was full of scars and many of them were still a sickly white and the whipping scars were raised too.

When he finished, Illya silently wrapped his towel around his waist and gathered his things before limping his way back to his bunk. Once he was at the bunk he grabbed the little tub of cream that Kalizda sent for him. He could reach his knee without problem and he rubbed plenty of the cream over his knee, but he couldn't reach as much of his back as he needed. With what remained of the cream from his massage for his knee and parts of his back he rubbed into his hands. His hands hurt a little, but not bad. Now that he was ready for bed he rolled under his covers and then started to pull the towel off. By the time he had the towel off the bunk room was pretty full. Dragging the towel across himself Illya got the edge of it out from under the covers on his bunk and then tossed the towel out, but the towel pulled the bedding off to the side with it.

There was a sudden cool breeze where Illya didn't want one and he quickly turned to his side to retrieve the blankets. It wasn't until a few fellow students gasped, some stared and others turned beet red that Illya spoke. "What dah hell es wrong wit all yah. I assume yah see a brown dick before mine. Jes dun look." With a grumble he pulled the covers back over himself and then decided to call Kalizda.

The next morning the wake up call came earlier than usual, but that was part of the finals. They were going to get pushed a little. Illya leaned over the side of the bed and he opened his pack to pull out his clothes. It only took a few moments and then Swyft came in to tell them what they were going to the wilds. While the man was talking Illya tied his boots and he strapped his sword on. If they were going to the wilds then he was going to be ready for the worst of the worst.

lllya looked at Tiberius and Wynry as soon as Swyft left the room and he laid back down on his bunk. "Tiberius yah might want tah tie yah boots. Meh pack es ready tah go and I'll get up when dah two of yah are ready." Years of being an Elite had him in the habit of always being ready to leave with everything he would need in a few moments time. Many of the cadets thought that 15 minutes to wake, be dressed and be ready was a rush, it wasn't much of one for Illya. He was already dressed and he could have left in 5 minutes from the wake up call.

Tiberius yawned, half grumping at their Chip teammate as he did. He wouldn't be nearly so tired from the start if he had slept worth anything. His ribs ached some, among other things and it made finding a position to sleep for very long impossible the night before. Not to mention he would have been together alot faster had it not been for the ridiculous flight suit. "Yeah, yeah. I'm working on it." He bent down to tie his shoe and the false rib in his side gave an audible pop, which it was want to do from time to time it when didn't quite shift right with the rest of his rib cage. It felt like someone had thumped his lungs and he covered up his sharp intake of breath with a slight cough before finishing up the shoe. While Wynry was still getting ready, he unzipped his flight suit and used a small portion of the medicine Sherri had give him. It took awhile to sink in but it worked and quite well with a bit of time. It kept back some of the lingering aches at least. Wynry, for her part, was ready fairly quick. She tied her hair back into tight little bun, causing some of her curls to spring around her hairline and then stuffed her hearing aids in her ears to adjust them to the right volume. "Lets go," she said, looking at the other two, "I want to get to the ship so we can get inspection done." Exit was swift as she tapped Illya on the bottom of his feet to alert him they were on the move.

Since they weren't assigned specific roles Illya already knew the part he was best at as did the other two. They would be able to get through their check flawlessly and probably faster than the other teams. Illya had just gotten comfortable enough that he was about to doze again when Wynry tapped the bottom of his boot. He didn't feel it, but he heard the little thump of her knuckle on the rubber. "Eh, I'm up." Sitting up he reached under his bunk and grabbed his bag in one smooth motion. Before swinging the pack over one shoulder he checked behind himself. He didn't want to accidentally hit someone. As soon as he had the pack on he took about 2 strides and he was caught up with Wynry and Tiberius. "Going to dah wilds dun sound so bad. Yah two be dere before?"

Tiberius walked along side Wynry, slightly behind her as she lead the charge to the equipment room before going to their assigned craft. When Illya made a light comment about going to the wilds, the Terran's eyes slid over to him. "You kind of missed that class, I think," Tiberius said, as they turned the corner. "I haven't been. Wynry has." He answered for her because she hadn't heard the comment or perhaps had chosen to ignore it. It was hard to tell sometimes. "Don't take off the masks, the air is poison. Don't get bitten by anything. Apparently, the critters down there absorb the poison and process it, so if you get bitten, you get contaminated. Don't eat anything or drink anything, because that is also poison too. All in all, it sounds like a shitty place." Wynry cut around the corner and they entered the equipment room. "Let's grab what we need. Masks, bands, survey equipment. Everything."

A grin slid over Illya's face as Tiberius seemed to light up with concern. The man was like a traffic light stuck on red. "Yeah, I know dat. All dose rules apply tah yah and Wynry. I been in dah wilds before. Dey are nut deadly to dah Chippequoti. Mehself and many Elite are immune. I will wear meh mask. Et es good practice." He wasn't about to say that was how he almost died a few years ago, but he could certainly live up to the tale that the moon worshipers told about him. They thought he was pretty great being able to walk around in the wilds without a mask and without dying.

Tiberius fought the urge to roll his eyes. Of course Chippeqouti were immune. Why not? Tiberius grabbed up the survey equipment pack, mobile first aid and a few more bags of supplies as she shook his head. "Yeah, well don't go kissing all over your wife when you make it back. You can transfer the poison that way too if you decide to go mask less." He shoved a roll of tape into the bag and glanced at Illya. "There are places like this on Terra too, they are more man-made. Nothing natural. So we don't really worry about getting eaten by giant Dodo birds or big cats."

The note about not kissing Kalizda after getting back from the wilds was news. Illya made a silent memo to himself on that one and listened to Tiberius talk about the wilds. It was all information that Illya had read about in the materials he was given. He knew a lot of facts about them and he did his best to remember the rules that applied to everyone else. "I know about dah Tyrie. Dey're pretty good tah hunt. Dey make good challenge and some of dem are too big for only one man tah fight. Et makes dem good exercise."

The Terran tossed a bag at Illya so he could help carry their supplies to their ship. "You've hunted Tyrei? Those big cats with claws the size of broadswords? The ones only professionals hunt?" His voice had an air of incredulity to it. It wouldn't be the first time the Chip pulled his leg about something like that. Tyrei were hard game and while the idea of a hunt would be interesting, he didnt have the desire to be caught by poisonous claws either

"Yeah, Elite hunt dem little time after battle for Kinte. Dah Tyrie are dangerous and we want tah conquer fears by facing dem again when we are ready. Some Chippequoti almost died because of Tyrie after dah battle for Kinte. Dah ship went down in dah wilds and Tyrie smell dah blood and dey circle dah ship and attack. So we go back later and we kill many Tyrie until dey learn tah fear dah scent of Chippequoti." That was about the easiest way to put it. The Tyrie did fear them in numbers, but the Tyrie still attacked when there were only a few. "I tink we jes stay away and dun hunt any big cats. Yah dun smell like Chip." With a broad grin Illya opened the pack he was passed to see what was in it. Of course it was the heavy one. "Mmmm....yah feel lazy and give meh heavy pack."

Tiberious smirked at the Chip's jabs and tossed another pack. "Nope, I smell like like an uncommon Terran and glad for it and if you can hunt Tyrei, that pack should be a piece of cake." he quirked his brow and waited for the man to have a slick reply. He was in the mood to jab and they were going to need the levity before it was over.

Catching the second pack Illya flashed Tiberius a smarmy grin. "I have tree packs ef I include meh own one. What yah plan on carrying wit yah noodle arms?"

Tiberius hauled his own pack up and shook his head. "What? These guns? I've got the survey equipment and my pack. You cant handle the food supplies with yours?" He was making his joking challenge as he made a bit of an effort to grab his stuff and head out of the door at top speed.

Tiberius was feeling smart about himself until his feet lifted off the floor in an uncomfortable carry. His teeth grit together not just from irritation but the grip on his ribs. "Uhg put me down!" Flicked his feet back and pushed forward aiming for the back of his knees. Either of them would work and he fully hoped they both went down together. Wynry barked at both of them. "Oi. Would you two quit with the pissing contest?!"

"Well, yah ask ef I can handle food supplies. Ef we en desperate situation I tink I would eat yah before I would eat Wynry. She wouldn't need as much, yah would provide more meat too. So dat would be most logical choice. I carry all food supplies." With a laugh Illya put Tiberius down and then sighed when Wynry said something that was quite typical of a female. "Et's jes good way trow insults and feel better about dah day. Little humor helps."

Wynry sighed and rolled her eyes at his reply before mumbling something along the lines if 'men'. Then she smirked a little. "I would taste terrible. You should eat Tiberius first. He has more meat. We'll last longer." Tiberius shot them both a look as his feet hit the floor and dusted off his jacket before trotting behind them. "If you even think about eating...I'll...good god, just make sure i'm dead first. And uh....make some gravy."

It was more than satisfying to see Tiberius try to turn the tale around. Illya stepped onto the pad with their assigned ship and glanced at his teammate. "Well, maybe dey could, but I tink et would be en everyone's favor tah keep meh alive. Yah see, I'm pretty good at dis survival ting and I plan on living longer yet. Dun worry, ef dah worst comes of et I'll string yah up like bait for Tyrie and hope I can kill dah big cat before et eats yah. Den we can eat for long time and probably survive long enough for rescue." Chuckling a little he offered a hand to Wynry and then Tiberius to help them up on the pad. "Hurry up. Yah bot gonna make us last team tah get back."

Wynry took Illya's hand and Tiberius huffed lightly before laughing. "Eh if you want us to mive faster next time you can just carry us both." They climbed up on the pad and made their way to their assigned ships which were fairly standard. Wynry immediately got to work and TIberius went along to help Illya pack up their stores.

Since the weapons and stores were something Illya was better at he helped Tiberius with the stores for food and then did the weapons check. Tiberius got the time consuming job of the engines check and wiring check while Illya worked on the navigation and pre-flight checks with the navigational systems auto response checks. Between the three of them the work was fairly even and they were ready for take off before over half of their fellow cadets. At least they were off to a good start. Once they landed Illya waited for Tiberius and Wynry to get their masks on and he got his own out. It was better for Kalizda if he wore it. "Yah bot have extra filters for yah masks eh?" If they didn't he packed extra. Part of being prepared was being prepared for his team mates too. Illya had his sword and that was what he was most worried about. They would be safe.

The three of them reviewed their goal. It was a mapping exercise and as long as Wynry could tell Illya what the numbers were Illya could translate that into a formula and Tiberius could put it into the pad. Tiberius didn't have fingers as broad as Illya's and he had a better chance of hitting the button he meant to. "Ok, now were ready." Illya nodded to the other two and he stepped toward the front to be sure if there was anything he was ready. He couldn't help feeling a bit weary landing in the wilds like this. With his sword ready he let the door open and then stepped out. For the first few moments he scanned the area and it all seemed to be fine. Beckoning to the other two, Illya gave them the signal it was alright to step out now.

There was a small radius that they had to cover and Illya calculated at their current rate it would take them till about 2 hours to sunset. Of course, down below it would cause another sort of problem. They would have less daylight time. Even the second sun would be low in the sky. "We move faster eh?" He wanted to get out before it was dark. The last time he was in the wilds and it was dark, Maks got killed.

To make matters worse, Illya felt like they were in danger and he couldn't tell why. He knew that the Tyrie were silent like all cats were, but he was sure there was trouble. In part it could have easily been memories, but he wasn't about to brush that sneaking suspicion of lurking trouble either. As usual the wilds were filled with odd sounds, but a low growl sounded and Illya froze. "Yah all stop and look around. See anyting moving?" Illya drew his sword and he glanced around before he saw Tiberius staring at him. "I am serious." As if on cue the growl sounded again and Illya spotted a little flash of the fur. "Tiberius yah need tah look taller ef possible and Wynry yah stay close to bot of us. Jes nut too close cause I'm gonna use meh sword. We go back to dah shep now."

They slowly backed up and Illya held his sword ready. By the time they were a few feet from the ship Illya told Tiberius to get the door open and for him and Wynry to make a run for it. The Tyrie was likely to try and attack when it saw its prey escaping. As expected the great beast came lunging forward and Illya slashed at it with his sword. The blade cut through the thick pelt and drew a red line from the right shoulder across the chest. With a yowl the cat drew back and hissed before lunging forward again. Illya jumped back using his left leg for landing since he would feel better with it.

If there was a creature that Illya feared it was the Tyrie. He didn't want to fight one alone, but he was for now. The cat grabbed his right leg and that was at least something that didn't matter too much. At least the prosthetic wasn't going to crumble under the pressure. Pulling himself toward the great beast, Illya grabbed a handful of the cat's upper lip with his right hand and used his sword to stab the animal in the left eye. Yelling partly in fear he drove the blade in deeper until the animal dropped him and slumped to the ground. Quickly, Illya retrieved his sword and began wiping at the blood on his Skycorp uniform. "Shet, et will smell like blood here and we'll be surrounded by Tyrie soon ef we dun move dah shep."
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Curious Adventurer
The bunk room was fairly quiet once everyone was settled in. Most people were just settling down after a long day of physical tests and too tired to do much talking or anything else which left the room nearly silent save for a few random shufflings and a creaky bed frame or two. It wasn't until a few gasps of surprise broke the silence that a few people sat up in bed to see what the sudden sound was all about. Rezna blinked a few times and had an insult poised on her lips for whoever was making noise, but when she sat up, she found herself looking a big brown snake. The kind that dangled between a man's legs. More specifically, the one between Blackwolf's legs as he reached for the towel. "Good gods, Blackwolf, nobody would be seeing it too much of it. Put that thing away before you get too excited and put someone's eye out." That earned a few snickers from those who saw what had happened and they quick stifled the laughter before retreating to their bunks.

* * * * * * * *

Take went well and even landing in the wilds went off without a single hitch. Wynry was pleased with her flying through the misty planet surface and Tiberius felt they had done an excellent job working as a team. They had all of their equipment and then some. Illya was carrying more than the two of them could combined and seemed to think sporting a sword the size of his wife was worth the trouble. Wynry had questioned whether it was necessary, but it was Tiberius who snorted. "Yeah, just don't question the man with a sword as tall as you." That ended the conversation before it had a chance to truly begin.

The Wilds were hot in some places and cooler in others. They had landed somewhere along the thick equator and there was a surprising amount of wild life in the area for this time of year, given the rains tumbling in from above. Tiberius had already seen a few pecyn birds and several large, native insects which chittered at them grumpily before disappearing into the trees. Their survey area was small at least and it took little time to get 75% completion before Illya paused their progress, though they had little daylight left. "What..." Wynry whispered, the sound stifled by her mask. A little shock of adrenaline coursed through her veins as her entire body went on high alert. "What is it? I don't see anything."

Suddenly, Blackwolf was giving them orders to run back to the ship and she froze with understanding as the large cat slinked into view. "T-tyrei..." All she could see was their reflection in it's big yellow eyes and her mouth grew dry like the Terran desert. Her legs were rooted to the spot. "Wynry! Move!" A firm hand wrapped around her waist and she was hauled backward with a little yelp. The sound seemed to trigger the attack and Illya was swept up into the cat's massive mouth by the leg. Nothing but a squeak of horror could escape her mouth as Tiberius hauled her like a sack of potatoes up the ramp. " C'mon!" He growled in her ear. They needed to get inside fast. Tiberius tossed Wynry inside and was about to close the decontamination area off when the cat let out a squeal of its own. Illya had driven his massive sword into the creatures eye, dropping it dead.

As soon as it happened, it was over and he turned back to them on the ramp, sopping in red tyrei blood along with eye goop. Wynry stumbled forward as the tyrei shuddered its last twitches in death and Illya turned soaked in the creatures blood. He made a comment about the crimson stuff everywhere and Wynry grimaced before her stomach heaved and all of its contents splattered to the ground through her filtered mask hitting Illya's boots in the process.

No sooner had Illya finished killing the Tyrie than Wynry puked all over his boots. "Oh..." Illya grimaced as he stared at the chunky lumps of egg and vegetables. It certainly wasn't appetizing looking now. "Well, guess I'll be pecking trough dat when et comes time tah take meh shoes off unless I soak dem first tah get dah vomit off. Tiberius, dat scare dah shet out yah? Maybe yah wanna drop a load now." It wasn't exactly a good time to joke, but Illya didn't know what else to do. He was feeling a bit shaken with a Tyrie nearly eating him except for his prosthetic.

Tiberius winced as Wynry heaved again and grabbed the back of her jump suit so she wouldnt topple over. He hadn't known the woman was squimish. At Illya's comment the Terran swallowed hard and nodded. "There have been a few moments in my career where Ive been tempted. This was one of them." Wynry lurched again and then spat before wiping her mouth with a shaking hand. "Uhg. There will.. be more. We need to get inside. Let the scent fade before we try again. Maybe relocate the ship too. " Her nose crinkled at Illya as she started to lean toward the hatch again but the wicked sound of a cat yowling in the distance made her move faster. "Let's go!"

"I know we need tah move. I kinda tough dat yah two would get inside and lock meh out till I knock on dah door pretty." Even if Wynry was hopeful that the scent would fade, Illya was not. Animals had a good sense of smell and they'd be wanting to come back more than once with the very heavy scent that was on Illya. "Dun worry." Looking at Tiberius he grinned. "I about piss meh pants when dat Tyrie got meh leg. I been attacked by one before. Dey scare meh and dat's why I like hunting dem, but nut by mehself."

"Well we didnt get too much of a chance," Tiberius said. He didnt want to say Wynry hesitated and frozen. He'd had to haul her away into the decontamination hall and there hadnt been enough time to go further. Wynry waved them into the ship and went to the control panel, bringing the decontamination hatch closed. Everything would have been fine if she could get them into a new location. As soon as she started up the engine, there was a sharp crackling sound as a something on the panel sparked. A little fire started up as the rest of the lights flickered out. "Dont take off your masks!"

Once they were in the ship Illya nearly fell over. His right boot was slick with blood, vomit and slobber from the Tyrie. Hitting the wall on the ship he grumbled a little and then stepped over to the decontamination area. The lights flickered and then horrible sounds started coming from the engine room. "Damn et!" Cursing loudly he started to dig through his pack. "Any of yah bring a pad, or communication device dat yah could use en emergency? I have mine, but et got broke when dah Tyrie grabbed meh."

"Aye, but without the ship projecting the network or even radio...we cant use them," Wynry said, "They wont connect unless we get close to the tower." Tiberius used a foam extinguisher to kill the flames. "So, we're stuck." Wynry bent down and checked the panels with a sigh. "Aye, unless we get power back or trek to a tower.

She opened the panel to try looking for what was wrong and then let out a stream or Kaerelean curses, entirely unlike her usual composure. "All of the connectors are melted. It even looks like some are missing. Its not on the inspection and its a miracle we even stayed skybound to get here to begin with!"

Illya had to sit down for a moment and think. He was worried about the potential outcome if they tried to move. If they did move they would be away from their ship and they would be hunted by the Tyrie because he smelled like blood. "I tink we're stuck till dey come looking for us. We dun want tah leave wit meh smelling like I do. Dah Tyrie will hunt us. So, unless dis shep es gonna explode we should stay en it."

"I dont think it will," Wynry said, "We just can't remove our masks. We dont know if the air is contaminated and we have to have power to run the life system filters." Tiberius wiped his brow and sighed. "We dont have any spares?" Wynry shook her head. "We have two, not twelve connectors." A moment of silence passed and Wynry plopped down. "Do you think they will fail us?"

"Yah two didn't pack more den two filters?" Illya dug into his pack and produced four more. "I brought extra for dah two of yah. We might need all of dem. For now I jes use meh filter and cause we dun know how long et will be I will take meh mask off afterword and den I will take meh mask of and we keep all dah filters for yah two."

"It could make you sick even if you are immune," Wynry added, her brow knitting in concern. But she knew if he was immune as he claimed they would need those filters by the time someone found them. Her chin waivered in dissapointment over their situation and she was glad for the mask hiding her mouth. A few minutes passed in silence again and TIberius sighed some. "We shouldnt talk to save our filters but waiting like this works my nerves." He glanced to Illya and nodded. "What's the furthest planet you've visited?"

Understandably the other two looked worried and Illya was glad he'd packed extra for them and himself. It was part of planning for a team and after leading a team long enough you learned those kinds of things. Tiberius started to talk and some were nervous talkers, but it was better to keep him calm. Being nervous and hyperventilating was a worse outcome than talking for a little bit. "Well, I dun actualy know. Elite go everywhere in dah first war wit dah Federation. I dun know ef dah names used for planets would be same now as dey were den."

Tiberius nodded. "There were places like that on Terra too. Feds would come in, infiltrate the government or start rebellions. Millions of people would be displaced or die. Names of whole regions would change under new regimes." Wynry took a sip of her pouched water and swallowed. "That's...chaos. I've never been off of Kaereal and this was supposed to be my chance."

Poor Wynry. She was young and clearly very upset with the entire situation. Illya kept his voice and tone even. "Yah dun worry Wynry. We are nut even close tah dying, or being what I would consider big trouble. Littlle trouble, yes, but nut big." A roar sounded outside and he shrugged. "Probably Tyrie come tah eat dere friend." It was just a matter of fact for now. "Remember, dat dey know dah shep we take here and dis will be first place dey check for us." Glancing back to Tiberius he nodded. "I know what dah Federation does."

Wynry shuddered at the sounds outside and reached up to turn her hearing aides down. Once the sound was muted some, she tucked her knees to her chest and propped her chin up. "I hope not," she replied to Illya, "I still have alot I want to do. Yeah?" Tiberius glanced at his teammate and patted her shoulder. He hadnt noticed she was upset before but he could hear it in her voice now. "Oh they'll come looking here first. And just think. We'll get to tell Rezna we killed a tyrei and she'll be jealous." Wynry chuckled a little and nodded. Something landed with a hard thud on the roof of.their craft and cut off all other conversation.

In many ways Illya felt badly for Wynry. She was just a kid and so was he with his first mission. It was the first time that things were rough and part of him wondered if this was planned. If it was, they should have trained their cadets better. Wynry and Tiberius hadn't planned very well if they didn't have extra filters and they would likely have died without the ones that Illya had with. That was unless Skycorp had it all timed out and hoped to rescue all the cadets before things went wrong. While he was trying to figure out how this happened there was a thud and he jumped to his feet. They didn't want to be trying anything too crazy yet. It could be a Tyrie on the roof. "We jes wait and see what happens, eh?" Glancing at Wynry he grinned. "I got yah kid. Yah gonna get tah see more den Kaerleal."

Another heavy thump echoed through the hallway and Wynry winced. There must have been three big cats out there now. Illya seemed confident that things would turn out okay and she found herself believing him, though she was annoyed at her own inability to help in this situation. She couldnt repair the ship and she couldnt fly it. She had even puked when Illya killed the tyrei. Tiberius didnt move when the thumping sound hit the roof. "I think its just a cat...we're going to be here for awhile."

The others staying seated was good, but Illya was going to stand and follow the sound for a moment. "Alright, dats good. I jes walk around and see what I hear eh?" Walking down the hall a little further he couldn't help feeling a bit worried. Sometimes it sounded too light to be a cat. Even if the cat was walking quietly he could hear it and this was not always the sound of a cat. Moving back to the room where the other two were Illya nodded to them. No reason to alarm them when it could easily be someone here to help. "I'll jes stand guard wit meh sword till dey leave."

Wynry swallowed hard but it had the opposite effect of settling her stomach and another lurch bubbled up, hitting her already ruined air filter with nothing but stomach bile. "Uhg," she grimaced miserably. Illya suggested they change it out and she nodded with watery eyes as she removed the mask to changed the filter out for a fresh one. At least having extra filters was a blessing. They waited with no real ability to tell time. It had to be dark by that point however and they could hear the night life scuttling around outside the ship. A few cats screamed out food calls. Then mating calls. "I could have gone my whole life without having heard that sound first hand," Wynry sighed as the waited in the dark. How long would it be before someone came looking? Their ship was dead and there wasn't anything she could do about it.

Tiberius took the chance to distract her every now and then. Her favorite distraction was teach her a strange little Terran song. "Row...row...row...your boat...gently down the stream..." Wynry repeated the words flatly to the Terran. "That's it," he grinned, "Just like that. He held up a finger like a baton and waved it to the melody. "Row, row, row your boat. Gently down the stream. Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily. Life is but a dream." She sang the song but when she was done, she asked what a row boat was. That sparked a sigh from the Terran and a whole new conversation.

Eventually, a new sound filtered in from outside. A mechanical hiss followed by a rumble and Tiberius sat up from his chair. There were a few shouts of voices from outside too, a shot fired and a violent screech before the hatch to the decontamination room opened. Light from a tactical flash light flooded through the ship and their grim looking survival instructor walked though along with their flight instructor and several others, all of which were men and one of which was easily recognizable. Rezna stooped through the doorway with her mask on and shouted. "Alright, sound off if you're not dead!"

* * * * * * * * * *

24 hour decontamination was annoying. Illya had been exposed to Tyrei blood and who knew what else when the cat had nibbled on his false leg, so by being in the same ship without a barrier between them, Wynry and Tiberius had also been exposed. Now, they all sat in different isolation rooms in small papery gowns. They had been allowed to contact their loved ones at least, after being scrubbed down from head to toe, sprayed with the poison antidote as well as swallowed half a dozen preventatives on top of blood work being sent to a lab to ensure nothing got past the doctors. Wynry had called her father and mother who were relieved to hear she was alright. Tiberius had called Sherri to let her know he would be late...if there would be a ceremony at all. "Ah we didn't exactly finish the test. The ship was beyond repair and the tyrei attack pretty much ended it. We survived though, huh? Never thought I would look a tyrei in the face like that."

Calysta came swiftly down the Skycorp halls with the twins strapped to her and a look of determination on her face. "Don't come, he says," she grumbled, "Illya is fine...we don't know what happened..." By the time, she came to the rooms, she could see her husband laying out on the bed in nothing but his skin looking physically fine. Of course, if he had been bitten it would have been much worse. Seeing him there brought a small sigh of relief to her lips and she pressed the intercom button. "Illya?" Her voice sounded unsteady the first time and she cleared it. "Illya?"

He responded by asking if she wanted a good look at him before she took him back home. The comment immediately made her blush and she could hear a few of the technicians snorting from down the hall. Yep, her man was just fine from the looks of it. Better safe than sorry though. She mustered what bold flirtation she had for the moment as the blush burned hot on her cheeks. "Oh I just wanted to make sure everything was still where it should be."

"Well, what yah tink after inspection? Care tah have physical inspection later?" Illya replied in short order and she laughed a little before hiding her face. "Maybe tomorrow, yeah?" The limits of her boldness to go further with the flirt were coming up fast. "I'll be here," she said, "I've got the twins too. We wont go until you're coming home with us." About that time a panel on the side of the wall opened up to reveal a hospital gown and a meal for Illya to eat while he waited out the process.


Anonymous Me
Illya stood watch for a while for awhile and when the sounds died down he leaned against the wall and continued to watch. It was hard to tell how much time had passed, but Wynry didn't seem to be able to settle down. She'd puked again and Illya winced. Her filter wasn't any good after that. "Eh, here" Illya offered. Taking his mask off he handed it to her. She probably needed something better smelling after that. The inside of her mask was likely horrible smelling. He was keeping all the filters for the other two anyway. They needed them more than he did. Wynry used the filter from his mask and at least that extended the time she had since she just ruined her last filter.

While they waited it came time to pull out another set of filters from the backpack. Illya was glad he'd packed extras for the other two. He wasn't having any trouble now, but he might get a cough later. Whether that would be the Chip cough, or from the wilds only time would tell. It was that time of year. The waiting seemed to be bothering Wynry more than him and he could understand why. She was expecting something much faster and probably to be home eating now.

Tiberius was more at ease and he attempted to pass the time with a song that Illya didn't care much for. The song was a horrible little Terran child ditty of sorts. In reality the song probably wasn't so bad as it was annoying. Eventually the humor in trying to teach Wynry how to sing the song wore out and they were left to sit in silence again. Having some quiet was nice. Not everyone knew what to do with the silence. With no talking some people got uncomfortable, but Illya always figured it was a time to try and clear the mind and just relax. There was no hurry, they had no where to go and more than likely someone would be on their way to find them. Wyrny and Tiberius just needed to relax and try to focus on what was ahead.

They were nearing a time that the second set of filters would wear out. Someone had to be coming soon. Both Wynry and Tiberius seemed to know that with only one filter left for each of them that they'd better be taking it easy. Finally, there was a new sound outside and the door started to open. Someone had typed in the code. Cautiously, Illya stepped to the side and he had his sword ready if need be. Thankfully it was the arrival of help. They weren't going to be needing the last of the filters, but it was still good to have them. Rezna was with the rescue crew and Illya grumbled, "Yeah, I'm here."

It didn't take long for them to be ushered off to the next ship and put into the decontamination unit. They had to stay away from the others because somehow, the Tyrei blood could be dangerous. As badly as they all wanted to go home they had to be transported to another decontamination unit. Illya stayed quiet about it, but he was still upset that his time away from Kalizda was unexpectedly extended. It wasn't his fault a Tyrie decided to come hunting and he didn't enjoy fighting it either. If this was the kind of stupid stuff they did to cadets it was a miracle that Kalizda had survived her final at Skycorp.

Walking off the ship and into a small tunnel and then to a decontamination room, Illya stripped down and shoved his things through a little port. His stuff was supposed to go through a separate sort of decontamination process and he'd see it tomorrow. Somehow being in this room made him feel a bit uneasy. There wasn't much choice though. Eventually they'd bring the gown and the food that was promised. In the meantime, he could pace and hope that he didn't have a full out panic attack. This felt way too much like a little prison cell and it felt a bit sinister. Before he had a chance to truly feel panicked a voice came over the speakers and Illya walked over to the wall where the speakers were located. He was feeling a bit wild now. It was alright if she was here and nothing was actually going to happen. It was all a false fear and he knew it, but it had been there anyway.

Since Kalizda wasn't going to be leaving until Illya was ready he decided to put on his gown and at least talk with her for a few. "Let meh get dis on." Sliding the gown on he turned around and chuckled. "MMmmm....dis makes meh feel so pretty." Batting his eyelashes he stuck his right leg out and pulled the gown up slightly. "Yeah, I tink I give little twirl." Turning he gave a jig and lifted the gown a little more before pulling it apart to show his rear end. "Whooohooo!" Jaunting over to the food he took a bite and then swallowed it before flashing a grin at Kalizda. "I tink I'll have tah sing a song too."

Calysta was having a chair brought for her to sit down in the hallway with the twins while Illya put on his hospital gown and of course he couldn't pass up the opportunity to show off. He batted his eye lashes in the direction of the one way wall, showed off his prosthetic leg and flashed her his rear which consisted of two tanned and admittedly well sculpted buns. At the peep show of his rear the technicians began to snigger and Calysta put a hand over her mouth to stifle the oncoming giggle as well as hide her reddened cheeks some. Illya was feeling his oats and it was a much needed break in her worry to watch him dance around the room in a hospital gown that was much too short before he offered a song. "Oh? What are you going to sing with that dance? I like it when you sing." A little compliment never hurt even though she was quickly growing sheepish again.

By now Illya was sure that Kalizda would be blushing. Illya couldn't help smiling. "Oh, I've got jes dah song for yah and I even learn et in Kaerlean for yah." Taking another bite of the food Illya finished chewing it. He couldn't see her, but he knew the anticipation would be building by the second. Finally, he stood up and stuck a hand out toward the glass and began singing.

He was all ready to sing to her and he did it so rarely that she couldn't find it in her to protest as his slightly raspy voice began singing a Terran song in Kaerelean. She smiled at him and eventually dropped her hand away from her mouth to press against the glass in order to meet his. When he did things like this it always made her giddy. Though this was the first time he had sang to her dressed in so little. He was enjoying making a show for her and her cheeks were scarlet by the time a round of applause echoed through the halls and the fade away wall on the opposite side of the decontamination room faded away to reveal a doctor clapping his hands, several nurses looking mushy eyed and the technicians grinning broadly at the show. Behind that was Commander Swyft and the flight instructor. It was Swyft who cleared his throat to capture Illya's attention. "Cadet?"

llya had sang at the top of his lungs because there wasn't any reason not too. At least he didn't think there wasn't until he heard clapping and there was a lot of it. Then of all the voices to hear over the intercom it was Swyft. Briefly, Illya's eyes got wide and grinned sheepishly toward Kalizda's side of the wall before turning around to see Swyft probably got a good look at his butt for that song. "Sir, I'd salute, or even bow, but eh...I'm afraid yah might get some results nut intended."

Calysta saw the rare look of sheepishness flash across her Chip's face and covered her mouth again, trying to stifle the laugh of sheer surprise when the other window cleared. The two young technicians nearly lost it at Illya's remark and even Swyft winced slightly at the idea of what he would be seeing before recovering himself. "Ah, a salute or bow won't be necessary. We've already seen quite a bit and I'm sure the nurses here would like to keep a bit to the imagination." That quip caught everyone off guard and even the doctor choked out a quick laugh as the nurses tittered. "With that said, when you are released tomorrow. Come to my office before you leave the compound. You and your crew. The council woman is welcome as well, since I believe she is already here."

It seemed that even Swyft was going to poke fun at the situation and Illya simply kept his face as neutral as possible. He had a run of bad luck with random exposure over the last few days. First he lost all his bedding at Skycorp and now while putting on a show for his wife, he put on a show for a whole medical team and the director of Skycorp. "Yes sir, I'll come in more den dis ting too." With a smirk he gave the edge of it a slight flick, but not enough to actually show anything. It was enough that he figured he'd get a little reaction from the others. He might as well play the joke to the fullest at this point.

Swyft regarded him with the utmost seriousness reflected by his stoic expression, though they both knew the joke was continuing on. "Aye, that might be for the best. No need to catch a draft." He gave Illya a short bow, though he knew the man couldn't give one in return and then let the doctors to their task. One of the nurses who was giving Illya a softened look with pinked cheeks. "How are you feeling, now Cadet?"

Once the short conversation with Swyft was over the nurse seemed intent on asking a semi-silly question. It had been a few hours is all and Illya didn't feel much different. Glancing to the nurse he sighed, "I feel jes fine. Same as earlier. I already tell all of yah dat I'm immune to dah wilds."

Her smile wilted a little when the Chip returned to his usual self and the doctors went back to work. "That may be so, but your wife is not and we will still monitor your health on a regular schedule." the doctor said, "Eat and get comfortable." Then they dispersed to go check on the others who were in decontamination along with Illya. Calysta's cheeks were still pink and she held a hand up to the glass. " I liked the song," she whispered to him into the intercom. "I don't suppose you would sing it for me again sometime?"

"Yes, I know. I jes stay here till ets safe for meh Kalizda tah be close." Illya hated waiting, but he didn't want her sick, or the kids to get sick. Slowly the other room emptied and then the wall was glazed over again and he felt like he had some privacy, but not really. There wasn't privacy as far as he was concerned. Anyone could walk into that other room and he wouldn't know it. Turning back toward the wall where Kalizda was he heard her voice, but still couldn't see her. It was more than disappointing to just stare at the wall without seeing her. "Yeah, I sing for yah again. I tink et will be a time when I'm nut stuck on oter side of wall eh."

"I'd like you close when you sing to me again," she said, her smile lilting in her voice. About that time one of the nurses walked down her corridor and entered a code on the side wall. "We don't usually let people watch but, the Commander requested you have access." the nurse said as the glass cleared. She could see her Chip standing there in his gown as her hand stayed on the glass. Tomas squealed for joy to his Dah and Edgar took this minor interruption as a chance to proclaim his want of snacks. "Dah! Snaaacks!" Chuckling, she kissed the top of Edgar's head and glanced up at Illya with a grin. "Hey there, handsome. You know, there are easier ways to avoid diaper duty."

A grin came to Illya's face as his agreed mentioned him singing to her when he was closer. Next time he sang he certainly intended to be closer. Then he heard a nurse come over the intercom on Kalizda's side and the glass cleared. Finally he could see Kalizda. He'd been staring about 3 inches to the side of her face because he couldn't see it and chances were she'd moved once, or twice to be in front of him. He had no idea where she was on the other side of the wall before this. The twins started to bounce a little in her arms and he grinned at them. "Dere are, but I tought dis would be creative excuse."

Calysta held up her hand and wiggled her finger at her husband to come nearer. "Get too much more creative and I'll have to start giving you a few more reasons to stay close." The comment was accompanied by a wink before the door to the hallway cracked open and a technician carrying a cozy looking chair for her entered. He put the chair close to the glass and Calysta contented herself with sitting at Illya's side, though there was a wall between them.

Since it was going to be overnight Illya pulled the blankets off the little bed in the room and he set himself up near the glass where Kalizda was. If she was going to sit there with the twins and be uncomfortable for him then he might as well do what he could to be close. Besides, the twins were quieter when he was close to the glass. The night was far from comfortable, but Illya didn't say anything about it.


When Sherri arrived at port she wasn't greeted by Tiberius and she noticed that there was a large announcement scrolling across screens everywhere. It must have been something important because it rotated in several languages. Pausing at one screen she waited till it appeared in Trader's Tongue and then she saw that the Skycorp graduation had been delayed due to an unexpected event. If that unexpected event was anything like the unexpected events in the Chip military it meant there was a training accident and possibly a few people didn't make it. Did they keep all the cadets at the base? Did they allow any of them to come out?

Sherri checked her pad and she didn't see any other communications from Tiberius. That was odd. She'd try sending Illya a message. When she didn't get a response from Illya she started to feel a little worried, but there was nothing more to do about it. She would simply extend her stay and wait for the graduation to finally arrive. Hopefully it would still be in a few days. If it was put off too long she wouldn't be able to do much, but she would have to go home and then she'd miss it.

It was somewhat disappointing that her funny little Terran man hadn't come to meet her. Tiberius was a likable fellow and she was looking forward to this graduation. Sherri had never been to this sort of thing before and she was curious about it. Since there wasn't much else to do for the situation Sherri took herself to the hotel room and decided to stay there. She didn't feel quite comfortable with wandering around by herself on Kinte. At least not yet. The last time Tiberius had been a good host and guide and she didn't experience any problems with being a Chip, but she didn't want to get people riled up because she'd come alone. A lone Chip was a bad idea.

Sitting in her room she opened her hologram pad and decided to send Tiberius a message. "I saw dah message about delayed graduation. If dere was trouble I hope dat yah ok. I will be here waiting for yah." With a smile she waved and then shut the pad off. Now all she could do was wait. Eventually she'd have to go get some food, but she was going to put that off for as long as possible.


Things were going a bit better after they had sex and Ehud felt like trying to step up his game. He couldn't really get off work before Priscilla, but he did get up earlier than she did and he planned to do something special for her. Grabbing some dough starter out of the fridge Ehud made some flat Chip bread for breakfast and sprinkled some sugar and cinnamon on it. She would probably like that. On the side he had some fruits chopped. Usually they had a few minutes together before he had to leave and he wanted to make sure she got something nice. They were newly married after all and she was in their home now.

When Priscilla poked her head out of the bedroom she was ready for the day and he grinned. She looked so pretty. "You look beautiful today. I make breakfast for all of us. Just something I used to do." He hoped she liked it. Ehud didn't mind the cooking too much and he didn't mind making breakfast once in a while. That was one nice thing about girls. They thought these gestures were nice, but they didn't usually expect it be a daily thing.


Now that the decontamination was over it was nearly evening again, but Illya certainly wanted to talk with Swyft before he went home. They weren't going to have much time to get ready for graduation. It was all going to be rushed a bit due to the ceremony being put off by 2 days. A lot of people were upset and that included Illya, but he was upset for entirely different reasons. What they did was insane for the amount of training that the students got. The training they offered to the students wasn't even close to enough to expect them to survive the wilds like this. He'd read their books and nothing in it would have saved Tiberius and Wynry. Tiberius and Wyrny may have survived, but it would have been by chance.

Then there was the fact that technically they hadn't completed their little mission. Illya wasn't about to go through the entire course again and test for entry again just so he could take this course for fun. He had done his work and killed a Tyrie by himself and he was going to get credit for it. No other student that he'd seen in their little hall of fame had done what he and his team did today. So, they were going to graduate even if he had to fight for it.

Stepping out of the decontamination room, Illya walked down the hall to get his clothing and change before going with Kalizda and the twins to Swyft's office. Once he was changed Illya took the twins. Kalizda looked tired out and he knew she couldn't have slept well in that chair. In fact, he knew she didn't because he didn't sleep well either. Holding an arm out he took the heaviest twin first and then held his other arm out to take the next. Kalizda worked the twin carrier off herself and then got it adjusted for him before he shuffled the kids back to her while he put the carrier on and then she helped him strap the kids to his chest. It was a little dance of children and trading , but the kids loved it.

Before they departed for Swyft's office Illya leaned toward Kalizda and kissed her. "I love yah. Now we go talk tah Swyft and den I walk wit yah tah get dinner some place. Yah dun need tah cook for meh. Et was long day already yesterday and tahday. Tomorrow will be all day tah get ready for dis graduation and I'm going tah graduate." Illya was determined to graduate. Offering her one of his hands he waited till he felt her tiny fingers and then he grinned and held them softly while they walked together to go to Swyft's office.


Curious Adventurer
Priscilla finished plaiting her hair into an a simple but elegant french braid and then reached for her lipstick to deliver a healthy coating. It was a natural color for day time wear which looked good with the more winter time clothing they would be using for the rainy season. She did miss the true winter of Japan with the fluffy mounds of new fallen snow, warm kotasu's inside and hot tea. She missed real Christmas sometimes too, but she knew that wasn't entirely fair to her new home. They had interesting and beautiful customs too. Though the rainy season was a bit of a bummer.

Smoothing down her soft purple blouse, she opened the bedroom door and found herself greeted by the gentle smell of sweet bread accompanied by the spicy scent of cinnamon. The cinnamon instantly reminded her of cooler days on Terra. Priscilla took in the scent, savoring and the memories it brought for a long moment before making her way to the kitchen. Seeing Ehud smile at her when she entered was heartening and even more so when he just simply told her she looked beautiful. His grin told her that he meant what he said. When he offered that he had made breakfast, her own pink lips curled into a smile. "It smells wonderful." In truth, it was a nice gesture and between the breakfast and his greeting to her things felt....normal.

Priscilla slipped a hand to his waist and placed another on his cheek to capture a little kiss or two. Since she had practically mauled him in their bedroom things had, in fact, been a little easier. Had it been the romantic moment she'd had with Harry? Not by a long shot. But it had made reduced some of the tension and helped considerably. "Thank you, Ehud." She happily cut him a slice of the bread and then portioned some out for herself along with Sien who was bounding around the room in an attempt to collect his school things.

"I can't find my pad!" he yelled a little as he moved couch cushions.

"It's in the chair," Priscilla told him between bites of buttered cinnamon bread. He pried back the cushion on the chair and yelped out a thank you before dashing toward the door. A call from Priscilla stopped him. "Go fix the cushions before you leave." The boy dutifully turned on his heels and went to repairing the chaos he had sewn in search of his pad. When the cushions were placed more or less in the proper place, Sien snatched up his bread and bounded toward the door. "Thanks, mom!"

Once he was out the door, Priscilla chuckled and shook her head. Being a mom wasn't something she had entirely gotten used to and he had begun calling her that as soon as she had come to live there. She half wondered if it bothered Ehud that his son was calling her 'mom'. The bread was delicious and she ate it slowly with her husband. "This is delicious," she commented, "I was wondering...I've seen a vacant shop in the square in town. I've had a few thoughts of starting up a little something there. What would you think about that? I enjoy teaching but it's not my calling. I tend to like making things more. Painting....baking...what would you think of a bakery?" The idea sputtered out and she wondered if he would find it a bit too ridiculous.

* * * * * * * ** * * * * *
Calysta let Illya stay in the floor next to her in his blanket. They were separated by an electronic glass wall, but she feel the warmth he radiated through the glass if he touched it for long enough. Normally, she would have insisted that he use the bed, but she knew there wouldn't be any convincing him of that. Instead, she accepted that he would be close and they talked well into the night. "You and I are old hands at this, yeah?" she smiled at him sleepily, "You know that gown looks good on you. Next time you kill one of those beasts we'll make you a fancy fur stole from it." She entertained the children and her husband with stories about the Gyl the First and his flights until her eyes began to droop. Her words became little mumbles and she fell asleep crunched into the chair with her two boys tucked at her sides. Her fingers stayed touching the glass where Illya's arm met the on the other side.

When she woke her neck crackled back into alignment and she grunted with the effort of stretching out her stiff muscles. Neither of them had slept well in their spots but they had been together and that's what mattered. The kids were already up and ready to go too. As Illya was being released by the doctor with as clean of a bill of health as he would ever receive, she changed the boys in the bathroom. They were both learning to use the potty, but when they were out and about diapers were still needed to avoid smelly catastrophes.

With Illya all checked out of decontamination, he greeted her with an eager kiss. His lips were warm and she smiled, happy to have him back by her side. She had missed him the last few nights and then news of what occurred had sent her worrying. Sometimes when he went missing he didn't turn up for months and she would be left wondering if he was alive all that time. Of course, the truth had made her stomach lurch too. They had landed in some sort of tyrei hot bed and been attacked. She gave the children over to Illya and they were happy to be standing higher up with their Dah for the time being as they walked down the hall.

Calysta came to Swyft's door with her and made an attempt at smoothing out her bedraggled hair before holding up her hands to take on the twins. Tomas could walk in if he wanted, but Edgar would have none of it and would cling to her otherwise. "I can take them while you talk to Swyft." She knew that she had been invited this meeting as well and she had every intent of being in there to see what the commander had to say, but she didn't mind taking the twins if Illya need the space. "Do I at least look somewhat decent?" she asked with a small wince. Normally, she wouldn't care but this was the commander and she wanted to appear somewhat up to par.
Almost the instant that they arrived at the office Kalizda wanted to take the kids and Illya let her. "Ok, yah jes hold dem for bit eh?" She was trying to be helpful and he would let her. He was just about to step into the commanders office when Kalizda asked him if she looked alright. Plucking the hairband from her wrist he gently pulled her hair back. "Yes, yah look like meh lovely wife." Now that she looked closer to being her usual self he opened the door and stepped inside. 'Sir, I have someting verah important tah talk to yah about." He was going to try and approach this calmly and with respect, but he was still mad.

Calysta let him pull her hair back into a pony tail with a few gentle handfuls and even smiled some when he called his beautiful wife. In some moments, it still amazed her how gentle he was and she kissed his cheek before balancing Edgar on her hip and taking Tomas' tiny hand. Illya opened the door and stepped inside to find Swyft at his desk with his pad in his hand. A creased look of deep thought was etched into the commanders face as he studied whatever he was reading. He glanced up when his door opened and then straightened in his chair some when he saw who it was, then raised a hand to beckon them in. "As do I, Blackwolf. Come in and close the door." Calysta shuffled in with Tomas toddling beside her and took one of the chairs her former commander offered to them both. "Councilwoman," he nodded to her in recognition. She nodded back before the man's gaze turned to Illya. "Have a seat and if there is something you would like discuss first, then we had best see to it. What is it you wanted to say?"

It seemed that Swyft wanted to talk to him too and Illya was glad to be given the chance to speak first. "Sir, I do want tah say someting and I dun tink yah gonna like et." Illya figured it would likely be a short conversation, but he sat anyway. There was no reason be looming over the man when he was already upset. It would just make things worse. "Dis final es shet. Tiberius and Wynry would have died wit instructions yah give. I was dah only one tah pack extra mask filters. Den dah area was filled wit Tyrie and dey dun even have equipment tah fight wit. I wasn't dere for dah survival course, so eiter dey were very bad at et and dey were idiots, or yah instructors were inadequate and dey dun teach yah students well. I packed what I would for usual concerns and dat es why dey are nut dead. Someting like dis would be acceptable for better trained persons, but yah dun train dem well enough for dat scenario and I tink yah have a lot of dead students on yah hands and et would be blood on hands of Skycorp for nut giving proper training. Ef dis es quality of yah work den I request dat yah remove meh name from yah records. I dun want tah be associated wit dis kind of negligent slaughter."

Swyft let him explain and didn't interrupt, though he did notice his wife's eyes widening some at such a pronouncement. He understood where Illya might get the ideas he had about what was going on and, in part, he didn't blame the man for being put out. A silence fell between them for a moment which was filled by the sound of Edgar reaching over to Swyft's desk to play with a globe of Kaereal. A very old globe from before electronic guides. "Snack!" Calysta's small hand clasped around his and kept him from touching it as Swyft folded his hands over the table. "That's what I wanted to talk to you about. I'm glad you did what you did, but I wanted to go over some things with you about your final exam. There wasn't any negligence on the part of Skycorp. Your ship wasn't supposed to be in that area to start with. We pick areas that have been deemed a green level of danger for starting cadets." He pulled up a little map on his hologram projector. It shows a grid of surface area on the planet surface marked in green. Yellow dots appeared over the green portions and he pointed. "Your ship was meant to be that green dot in the corner. There were no tyrei in the area at all. That had already been scouted and cleared before the exam. It was also a relatively open area. Your ship landed in this area..." A flick of his finger sent the hologram turning some and the image turned red with a singular yellow dot. "Your ship was found here instead. This area had yet to be culled for several years. It's in a more dense part of the jungles too. A higher percent of poison gasses here as well. Your ship should have been no where near here." He swapped images to one that included the ruined panel on their ship. "This was also never meant to happen. There is no way possible all of these should have blown in succession like this. The ships were meant to be linked to our command control and no power loss or engine failure should have occurred. Our main computer was meant to only shut down your navigation system for awhile until the problem could be diagnosed by your team. Instead, your entire ship went black. Entirely off the grid. " Swyft looked Illya in the eye. "I think someone set it up."

Of course the kids had no idea what was going on and Illya had tried to keep his voice as even as possible. He about wanted to strangle the man when he started to show him where they were. If it was the wrong spot then they should have checked the records on the ship to see why Illya had directed them to land there. He had never made a single mistake in any of his navigation homework, tests, or simulations and that was the same with his math. It was impossible that on the final he would have messed that up. However, instead of interrupting Illya gave Swyft the same courtesy he'd been given and let the man finish. It was relieving to know he wasn't getting blamed for it. "Well den, yah checked dah records already and know dat I set our course for dah instructions we were given. I tink ef dis all happened so badly dat yah right. I already survive many attempts on meh life and dis will be anoter. I tink dis makes two, eh tree dis year. Yah have records of who assigns and places dah assignments tah fliers? Who knew which flier would be for meh crew?" Illya was more than ready to find who did this.

Swyft was patient and let the man reason it out on his own because it wouldn't do to simply tell him and expect him to believe it. He was smart and more than capable without hand holding. "I did," he replied evenly, "All of your finals files had the correct coordinates put in them, and before you went dark I played back what you and your team input in to the computer. But the ship decided to go elsewhere. I don't think it was being remotely controlled. I think it was recalibrated to take whatever coordinates were put into it or to take those specific coordinates and retranslate them into a flight patter to where you were. It would take someone with alot of coding knowledge to do that." Calysta inched forward in her chair and she looked at the panels with an unreadable expression. " It would have taken more than that. That panel isnt checked on a regular 54 point routine flight inspection. Those connectors last for decades and are well made. They never should have all shorted like that at one time and they would have to know which one Illya would be taking. When was he last time that flier was serviced?" Swyft could see the sharpness in both of their eyes and his mouth set into a line. "It was serviced within the last three weeks in preparation for the exams and hasn't been flown other than two or from our out-station on Feyra where the large mechanic work was done. I haven't been able to track down the exact mechanic as of yet. As for how they knew which ship to assign or which should sabotaged, I haven't found anything. They are done at random and the examiner is being investigated, though he didn't know how it was possible."

"Well," Illya sighed as he listened. It sounded like they were already handling this as best they could and Illya didn't have the data necessary to make this a more productive search. "I tink et jes sounds like yah got dis under best control yah can. Dun worry. I tink dat whoever et es will lay low for a while. Sometime dey will try again. Dey know where tah find meh. Now...." Rubbing his chin he grinned a little. "Yah let meh graduate wit meh team. I tink we should get extra points because we survive more den many oter students and we get most of dah survey around dah shep done too. Yah give meh few points for killing dah Tyrie too."

He blinked at the Chip in surprise at that he didn't seem to want a more strict investigation. Something, he had insisted upon quickly when they were found. Instead, he almost seemed to think that this possible attempt on his life was minor. Yes, apparently there had been others this year and he could see the council woman's face turning to a blank look of neutrality. She used to do that when she was worried and refused to let anyone know she was under stress. He'd seen that look enough on her to know it, even if it had been a long time. Instead, the conversation turned to graduation and Swyft let out a chuckle. "Well, technically, you didn't complete the task. However, I think given the circumstances, the task was much harder than what the others had to face did in something that hasn't been done before by any other cadets. And the council woman's test was one of the harder exams during her year, and still wasn't as challenging. I think the examiner could be convinced that points should be metered out to the degree of difficulty which would put all three of you well withing passing range."

"Good." Giving his approval for the plan Illya rose from where he was sitting. "We have tomorrow tah get ready and den we graduate day after." He already knew the schedule and he had one last thing he wanted to talk about. "I uh....I tink dat I should request different pants for graduation Dah pants for dah uniform are nut decent on meh. Ef yah need tah see I have dah pants in dah shep at port and I will wear dem tomorrow tah show yah what I mean."

Illya rose so fast, his wife jumped out of her thoughts and scrambled to find a solid place to hold onto the chubby boy sitting in her lap. At Illya's mention of his dress uniform, both the commander and his wife looked to him curiously. There were some who didn't like the dress uniforms, but they were designed to look distinct from the formal military while also keeping a design that would fit most. It was a surprise to hear that they were indecent. "Exceptions can be requested, but the rule is to have them looked over and decided on individual basis. Wear them tomorrow and have the master at arms decide if they are appropriate, yeah?"

Clearly there was a little process and Illya didn't mind. He was sure he would get an exception. "Yes, I will have et checked tomorrow, but I tink I will wait tah change until I'm ready tah meet with dah Master at Arms." With that Illya gave a salute. "I will expect tah hear dat mehself and meh team will graduate by tomorrow den."

Swyft gave a nod of confirmation for both statements. "Aye, your scores will be posted in the morning." He had a fair amount of work to do conducting an investigation along with regular graduation duties and issues at home. Calysta gave him a thankful smile, though she couldn't bow with the kid in her arms. He held up a hand to let her know it was alright that she couldn't quite follow decorum. He was, however, pleased to see she was doing well even if she did appear slightly stressed. He would be stressed too if he was the council member for the home planet.

That evening Calysta had dinner with Illya at one of the newer Kaerelean restaurants. They had a menu that was wide in variety which included a delicious vegetable mash with herbs and even nyte beast ribs for those who preferred meat. She ate a little here and there, then helped the twins eat their mash between her own bites. When they arrived back to the ship, Calysta tucked her sleeping twins in their beds then proceeded to strip down until she was naked before climbing into the bed with her husband. On a night like this, she was sure he wanted sex but she was quiet for a moment. Her mind had been drifting back to the last image of a tyrei she had etched in her mind and it was a terrifying sight. Calysta slinked over her Chip's chest and kissed him with a long, slow embrace before burying her face into his chest while her arms gripped him tightly. He smelled a bit like a hospital, but she didn't care. He was home and that was enough.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Illya arrived about 10 minutes before his appointment with the Master at Arms and it was a good thing. He had to go change in the men's locker room before he met with the Master at Arms. Walking here in the pants might have been mildly embarrassing. Once he was in the pants he made sure no one was there and then he reached inside and adjusted himself. He hated the way these pants fit and if he could make them look obscene he would. There were other pants available that would look far better with the tunic top than these ugly little things. Once he looked good and large in the pants he scuttled through the halls and arrived to stand in line to meet with the Master at Arms. Thankfully the line consisted of three other people, but he was next, so they wouldn't have to stare at the front of his pants for long.

Rezna stalked out of the master at arms office looking grumpy and she sighed before she started taking her bone ornamentation off of her jacket, mumbling to herself. She looked perturbed enough with her own wardrobe requirements that she didn't even noticed the Chip, and stomped right past. A voice called for the next person, and they strode forward into the office only to return a few minutes later looking equally dissapointed in their proposed exception to the uniform. When it was time for Illya to enter, a voice called out to him to come through the door and the Master at Arms sat making her notes on the last form before looking up to the Chip. Her green eyes were nearly level with his crotch, given she was sitting at her desk and her eyes zeroed in with surprise. "Oh my."

It seemed that Illya wasn't the only one here with wardrobe complaints, but he knew he would get an exception. The Master at Arms was a woman and even if she'd been a man, nobody wanted to see a guy in pants that made certain parts indecent looking. When he stood up Illya ignored the staring from the guy with the next appointment. Stepping into the office he noticed that the Master at Arms was busily working on her forms, but she didn't seem to really acknowledge him till he was right there at her desk. "Yah observe meh problem. I need tah wear different pants unless yah tink all of Skycorp and guests want tah see dis."

The woman cleared her throat slightly and blinked, unable to say much besides her first few words. She slowly let her eyes drift upward, though it felt like that...bulge....was still right there in perfect view. "I-I wouldn't exactly call a problem," she managed to comment, "But I can clearly see the pen- point....your point." Her face flashed red and she waved her hand. "Permission granted. Plain black dress pants are approved."

As Illya expected, the Master at Arms was more than willing to give him an exception and the way she stumbled over it was rather funny. While he didn't really enjoy wearing the pants like this even for inspection, he could make light of the situation and poke a little fun at her word choice. "Tank yah. I dun want meh point visible tah everyone."

The woman forced her eyes away from the cadet's lumpy front and cleared her throat, which quickly turned into choking when he mentioned not wanting his point visible to everyone. Her face turned even more red and she couldn't decide if he was being coy or just flat out reply in a simple manner. "That would be good," she stumbled over her words, "Bigger pants are approved. So long as they are dress and black.

"Yes, I will have black dress pants. Dey will be plain." Illya nodded to her. He had enjoyed the brief moment of shock and surprise when the Master at Arms caught onto his joke. "Can I be dismissed and get to dah shep and make sure I have good pants for graduation tomorrow."

She nodded slowly, her eyes drifting down to the massive bulge more out of shock than any real need to look again. "Aye, go to your ship...carefully." He was lucky he didn't have half the women falling all over him on the way here.

"Tank yah. I tink I go change in dah locker room again. I dun walk here like dis. Et jes seemed improper." With a quick salute Illya turned and left the room.

* * * * * * * * * *

Tiberius met Sherri in the lobby of her hotel. It was the same place she stayed last time, and that was likely because she thought it was safe. Plus, it was somewhat close to Skycorp. He wore his jeans and a button down, having discarded his jumpsuit at his bunk when he was released from the decontamination quarantine. He found her sitting there and smiled. She looked pretty in one of her bright colored gowns and without hesitation, he made his way over to where she was sitting, though he slowed his pace some to appear casual. "Sherri," he smiled. He was glad to see she was there and had gotten his message about coming to get her. "It's not like me to keep a lady waiting," he joked, "But...the tyrei insisted."

When Tiberius arrived Sherri smiled and remained seated. If he wanted to approach her, he could, but he was the one that kept her waiting and she wasn't about to throw herself at his feet. The explanation he made was acceptable and she smiled gently. "And...what did yah do about dis Tyrie?"

He reflected her smile but he noticed she made no moves to get up, so he stood there, hooking a thumb into one of his belt loops out of habit. "Well, the first thing I did was stare at it to be honest. I've never seen a cat that big and it's easily the size of a flyer. Then I saved one of my teammates lives and got them to the ship." There wasn't any use in lying to her but he sure as hell wasn't going to admit he had been startled enough to freak out a bit, if only in his own head. "Not exactly a win, but nobody died, so that's a bonus."

Sherri didn't expect that Tiberius had killed the beast single handedly and so she was pleased to hear that he told her truth. It wasn't all that glorious sounding, but he was honest. Rising from her place on the bed she stared at him for just a moment before grabbing the front of his shirt and pulling him close enough to kiss him. "I like an honest man."

The sudden move caught Tiberius off guard and her grip on his shirt caused him to rise up on his toes some to match where she was pulling. Her lips were just close enough to think about reaching and he could smell her sweet oil perfume along with the scent of whatever herbs she had been recently using. He could feel him a twitch or two in the lizard part of his brain, getting him ready for what her body language was suggesting. "You do, huh? Well, uh I'll be honest with you again then," he said, "I'd like to find out what kissing you is like, but I dunno if that's a good idea." She looked very much so kissable from this view but he didn't dare touch her without permission.

The surprise on Tiberius' face was worth it and Sherri set him down with a quick peck to his lips. "Well, when yah graduate tomorrow dere will be more. Maybe I kiss yah little longer. Yah jes get taste tahday and more later."

Tiberius brightened when her lips graced his and he grinned. Now that was something he hadn't been able to enjoy in a long time. "A little more tomorrow, but tonight I think you might want more than just a nibble on me. If you're hungry, how about I take you to dinner and we go see a movie, huh?"

"Mmmmm...I tink food and movie would be enough tah satisfy me." Sherri grinned and she flashed him a quick mischievous look. There were plenty of thoughts running through her mind. She used to be the shy one, but it seemed she was the bold one in this relationship and that was somewhat fun for a change.

Her words suggested his suggestion was satisfactory but her eyes gave him the clear indication that she was talking on multiple levels. Though with women, that was often a maze of expectations on top of booby traps of bad answers to what men thought were simple questions. So, he kept it simple and grinned at her, as he ignored the little ticker tape of thoughts running through his mind. "Well, then let's go. I wouldn't want to keep you waiting any more," he replied, offering his hand to her, "Plus, if we go now, you might crave a bit more of my company tomorrow too."

Sherri bounded away from Tiberius long enough to grab her purse and slide on a little chapstick. "Ok, we go now." She was excited to be going out again and she grabbed one of his hands. "Where yah taking meh tonight?"

She sounded more than happy to get out and about and it made him smile to see it. "Well, I thought if you were feeling brave, you might like to try the Terran seafood restaurant with me."

There was barely a pause and Tiberius answered. Whatever Terran seafood was she didn't know and it sounded exotic and strange. "Well, I don't know what dat is. I suppose dere is only one way to find out."

Tiberius was true to his word and took Sherri to something entirely Kaereal. The first ever seafood restaurant was run by a portly man from the North East of North America along with his equally portly wife. He and Sherri were seated quickly and with much gusto along with a surprising amount of Kaereleans who had come to try the fare. "I don't think I have ever seen this amount of Kaereleans in a Terran restaurant before," Tiberius said with a raised brow, "Kaereleans don't have oceans but they are the curious sort and apparently the idea of sea food is appealing." He let Sherri order whatever drink and food she liked. She could have sampled the whole menu if she wanted and he would have paid for it. They drank wine and he asked her a few mild questions along the lines of how her work was, how her grandchildren were, and if she needed anything for the rainy season coming soon. He asked her what kind of movie she might like about the time their food arrived. A fat, red lobster sat on a bed of creamy rice and piled next to it was a mountain of shrimp accompanied by fried fish bites, a few crab legs and a container of melted butter. "Lobsters are delicacies on Terra," Tiberius explained, "You can dunk the meat into the butter." He went to show how the tail was split on his own lobster but the shell hadn't entirely cracked open with the scissors, so he used his knife and fork to pry it open. It exploded open with a quick jerk of his hand despite his efforts to be gentle with it and a bit of shredded lobster meat along with a spray of juice rocketed upward, hitting the lamp and peppering his date liberally. "Ooh..." he winced slightly, "Sorry."

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

Graduation day was the busiest day on the Skycorp compound without a doubt. Families followed cadets, who followed staff members in a line of general excitement and confusion. For Calysta, that meant keeping track of Rose, Cypher, Lohgan, Edgar, and Tomas along with her own father while making sure she had a good view for Edgar and Helena to see the ceremony via hologram through her pad. They arrived early and staked their claim for good seats near the front where the cadets were already assembled in neat rows. Their uniforms were sleek and quite handsome altogether as they waited silently in their ranks for the crowd to quiet down. Once everyone had a seat, Calysta began broadcasting for Helena and Edgar. Illya was easy to spot. He stood a foot or two above his peers and he was the most tan of them all for his class. His dress uniform stood out stark against his complexion and the sight made Calysta's cheeks turn pink. He looked entirely to handsome in uniform with his hair in oiled curls and his chin held out proudly. It was no wonder other women stared at him in awe. After a few short words of praise along with an over view of why the cadet class was unique, Swyft came to each cadet as they stood there quietly. The commander was flanked by the Master at Arms who held a box of pins in her hands.

Swyft said each cadet's name aloud as he moved to stand in front of them, then pinned on the Skycorp insignia to their uniforms. "Rezna Getna Raktilu," he said with perfection pronunciation as he pinned on her insignia. "Udine Colonies." Swyfted moved to the next. "Sam Demson...Pyrta......Tiberius Kirk....Terra....Wynry Wylstena.....Kinte....." Finally, he stood in front of Illya and the barest hint of a smile came to his face as he reached up and began to pin the insignia on the Chip's freshly starched collar. " Illya Blackwolf.....Pyrta."

When the pinning portion of the ceremony was over, Swyft asked them all to take a step forward. "I present the graduating class and pronounce you all members of the Skycorp team at the rank of S1. Congratulations." It was at this point the crowd of family members were allowed to rise and offer applause for the hard working cadets. Calysta beamed at Illya and that smile of pride didn't stop even when she went to meet him after the ceremony. Calysta stood on her toes and immediately kissed him without an ounce of reservation. "You worked hard for this and I am so proud," she whispered gently in his ear. If her kiss and her word didn't relay their happiness over his graduation, the children's reactions couldn't be missed. Cypher marveled at the uniform and the pin his father received while Lohgan was happy he had "gadumated" because he didn't have to study anymore. The twins just enjoyed the moment with squeals of laughter at the sight of their father. Rose had gone to meet Same almost immediately, but she came back to hug her father tightly. "I'm proud of you too Dah." He had been through so much in the last few months and she wanted him to know she noticed his hard work.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Calsyta yawned some and stretched slightly on the couch as her muscles began to wake up again. She had fallen asleep at some point between listening to Mickey Martian and reading a few reports. After a good stretch, she clucked her tongue to the roof of her mouth, noting how dry it felt and sighed. What time was it? A glance at the clock revealed it was nearly 8pm. A sudden shock arched through her and she scrambled up. How had she slept so long? Shoving her feet into her shoes , Calysta stumbled down the hall to the kitchen. She should have had dinner going ages ago! As she rounded the corner and pushed he door aside, she found Illya at the stove already cooking. "Illya?" She rubbed at her eyes and reached for a container of tea hidden in the cabinet. "I over slept," she said, "I didn't know I was so tired." It dawned on her that he was actually cooking and she glanced at whatever the meal was. "What's all this?" It looked like a hodge podge of side dishes but she wasn't sure if it was dinner of Edgar's request of a snack.


Anonymous Me
It was clear by the look on Priscilla's face and her gentle kiss that the morning breakfast was a good move. Ehud flashed her a careful smile. He was all too aware of the fact that they were still very much so strangers to one another. Sien seemed to have adopted her as a mother quite quickly and Priscilla had taken to being his mother quite well. After her wild approach the other night he even wondered how soon they'd have that other baby. Perhaps they would have two.

In the middle of his thoughts Priscilla started to talk. Somehow he was still thinking about babies and he nodded. "Well, I kinda thought you might bring that up. Could be a bit of work, but I think we're ready for something like that." With a smile he took a sip of his tea and savored the taste. He had thought that perhaps they would take longer to get around to the baby talk, but it was here already and they were ready. It was just a matter of time. Terran women were much more fertile in some ways and then he remembered the fact that she would likely fare better if she had the treatment before getting pregnant. "One thing...I told you that there was a cure for age. Well, kind of. We could go to the clinic and get you tested to see which of the samples they have in store would fit you best. They all could fit, but some are better than others and then...A lot of the time they have the spouse do the donation. Basically, you'll get a little bit of Chip bone marrow for a transplant and it unlocks a certain genetic code to allow you to live to be about 350-400 years old. That's the big secret. Something the Federation has killed thousands of Chips trying to discover."

Things were moving along quite well and Ehud was starting to think that perhaps he had misread some of her reluctance. Perhaps she was a little different than some women and started out a bit cautious. After all it would make sense for her to be cautious since she had been married before. Finishing up his breakfast he smiled at her and cleared his dishes. Ehud cleared it as far as the sink and then turned to leave. "I got to get to work. I'll be back later and then we can talk more about the logistics of this idea." He was grinning from ear to ear and he was sure that they would have a great conversation.


Sherri found that the restaurant where Tiberius was taking her turned out to be busy. "Hmmm...Must be good." That was at least the assumption she was going to make. So far Tiberius had been a kind man and she appreciated that. Once they were seated she was handed a menu with plenty of foreign foods. Looking over the menu with complete bewilderment she found herself setting with whatever the waiter suggested. When the food did arrive She wasn't even sure how to proceed. "Such a strange looking creature." Sherri wasn't about to scorn the food, but it did look strange. Looking up from her plate she saw Tiberius struggling with the lobster and then it popped open in a glorious spray of meat and juices. "Oh!" Little grease marks and flecks of food speckled her dress and even a little on her face. Picking at the pieces on her face first Sherri blinked a few times and then put the gathered little pieces on the plate in front of her. "Yah missed dah butter." With a little grin she glanced at Tiberius and grinned. "A dress will wash, I suppose dis means dat yah will take meh back to dah hotel after dinner to get different dress tah wear eh?"

Tiberius sat there fork in hand for a moment too shocked to even attempt saying anything as wet spots of meat sank into his date's dress. She was looking as surprised as he was and he swallowed hard, trying to work up some sort of thing to say. The scene grew even worse when he saw her picking little pieces of pink meat off her beautiful dress and out of her hair along with her a few speckles on her cheeks. He had really mucked it up and he couldn't think of a woman alive who would be thrilled at being sprayed in seafood. To his surprise, however, a grin began to form over her lips and she mentioned he had missed the butter ramakin, then asked if he would be taking her back to change into the something fresh. The tightness of embarrassment in his chest faded some and he began to chuckle. "I think I over shot the butter by a mile," he replied, "That lobster was as attracted to you as I am." A smile crept to his own face, replacing the look of surprise and he nodded. "I can take you back and you can change of course, or we could find you something nice in Terran Town. You just say the word."

The look on Tiberius' face was priceless. With a little smile she nodded. "Oh, dis face of mine catch many of dese little sea creatures. I just drop to dah bottom of dah ocean and smile." She wasn't sure if he knew about the ability of Chippequoti to swim like rocks, but she figured she may as well make a joke about it. "We will jes settle wit me wearing my own clotes." Sherri wasn't sure how she felt about wearing Terran clothing just yet. "Now, yah show me how tah prepare dis best for eating."

She didn't seem to like the prospect of finding something to wear in Terran Town and if he was honest, he wasn't sure they could find something in her robust size. Did they make a big n' tall for women? How did women's sizes even work anyways. He shoved the thoughts out of his head with the new thought that if they walked back to her hotel that they would have more time together anyways. Her comment about dropping into the ocean made him curious about what she meant but before he could say anything, he was being asked to demonstrate how to prepare the lobster for eating. Smiling, he showed her how to hold the fork and slide the tines down the length of the cracked lobster tail to pry loose the juicy meat. It came out in one giant hunk that he could sit on his place and divide with his knife into smaller pieces for dunking into the butter. His first buttered bite, he offered to let Sherri try before she attempted her own lobster. "Care to take a try?"

It looked like Tiberius was enjoying this preparation of the ugly little creature. Sherri carefully lifted her knife and fork before making the first slice. From there it seemed to make more sense for her to pry it open with her hands. She didn't care much to attempt slinging food as he had because of a slipped knife. With a brown finger she slipped it under the shell and then began to pull it open enough for a second finger. Once she had both fingers underneath the shell she popped it open and then carefully wiped her fingers off. Glancing up she found herself staring at a little piece of flesh already buttered and she shook her head. "I will eat meh food." It was such a strange thing for Tiberius to offer her food off his fork. It was horribly unsanitary.

Tiberius tilted his head and nodded before circling the fork back to himself. She'd looked annoyed and he chalked it up to cultural clash. She didn't date like a Terran, or even a Kaerelean woman, so there was no reason to think she might enjoy the offering. Not for the first time he felt out of his depth when it came to the woman and he grew quiet at their dinner, letting the sounds of forks clinking fill the silence between them as she took a try for herself. He had to admit for seafood grown on an alien planet, the fare was pretty good and he went in for another bite as he waited for Sherri to give her assessment. "Not as good as earth, but good nonetheless. As good as a Terran will get out here now that we have been banned from the home planet."

The food was delicious and Sherri couldn't help giving a little hum of pleasure every now and then. It wasn't until they were near the end of the meal that she heard Tiberius begin to speak again. Glancing at him she tried to think of something to say. He was Terran and he was an uncommon Terran, but it was still difficult to find any kind of sympathy for his kind. Still, she tried to place herself in his shoes. It wasn't so difficult since she had experienced some of the same things. "Yes, I know dat feeling. It must be very difficult to have a home planet and not be able to return to it."

Tiberius looked at Sherri and his brow drawn into a look of thought before a smile flicked to the corner of his lips. "It is sometimes. Its not the planet I miss so much as the people. And if, I'm honest, the weather. Here there is only summer...and the miserable monsoon season. I hear they have snow on a few continents near the poles and that's it. Terra had variety...and land you didnt have to worry about falling off of." He grinned a bit and chuckled at the thought of riding a motorcycle right of the edge. Ancient Terran explorers would have really thought the world was flat for far longer had Terra been similar to Kaereal. "But you've had a rougher time with that sort of thing than I have or any Terran has." A silence fell around them and he nodded. "So. What did you think of your first Terran sea creature?"

There was an interesting statement from Tiberius on what he actually missed and Sherri cocked her head. "I suppose yah have a challenge in way I never have. Chippequoti stay togeter. Ef I leave meh land and meh people I would feel more lonely. I'm worried that yah must be lonely and yah need new people." Sherri took a few moments to think over what h'd said and then she remembered that he'd asked about the hideous little creature she'd eaten. "I don't know what tah tink of dah creature. Et was ugly, but I never taste anyting like et before. I tink perhaps I will need tah eat et a few times before I make solid opinion."

Some people made up their minds quickly on foods and she usually took her time. It was rare that she found an abhorrent food and often times if she tried something more than once she liked it better each time. As they were getting up to leave Sherri almost hit her head on the low hanging light that hung from the ceiling, but she managed a small duck and weave. "I tink yah people too short tah make et comfortable for tall women." Chuckling a bit she glanced at Tiberius and then at her dress. "I forget dat et was needing tah be changed." Looking it over in the light she sighed. "It really will need to be changed before we go out again." There were splatters all across her chest and shoulders. It was such a messy little display that Tiberius had made at the table, but it was understandable. The shell was a bit awkward to pry open and she had played it safe and pried it open with her fingers rather than with her dinnerware.

Once they returned to the hotel Sherri sauntered down the hall toward her room, unlocked it, tossed a sultry look at Tiberius over her shoulder and then stepped in, but promptly shut him out. From the other side of the door she spoke, "Yah wait dere. I will be back." It took nearly 10 minutes for her to decide what to wear and another 3 to get changed and then she touched up her makeup and picked at her hair. She wanted to look fresh rather than looking like she'd tousled with a dead little Terran creature. When she stepped out it was nearly 20 minutes later, but she was refreshed and much better feeling. "Now we make rest of dah night good yes?"


Once the plates were done Kalizda seemed to be more than eager to get started. She even got some candles out and lit them. It made the room feel like the desert home at night during the hard times. It wasn't an entirely bad feeling. In a way it felt familiar and almost comforting. That little bit of hidden light and the safety of a shelter in the desert. "Hmmm?" Illya had almost missed her question and then he finally processed what she'd said. "Yes, I uh...Edgar tell meh dat dis es good way for Chip man tah get to know his Chip woman. Since I'm dah man I go first eh?" He couldn't remember how the Terran custom went, but since men were supposed to do all kinds of things for women he figured that going first in something like this would be one of them. "I choose tah tell story of when I was young. Et will be happy story." Taking the bite sized piece of meat he chewed it slowly while he thought of which story he would like to tell her. When he swallowed Illya had just the story in mind and then started, "When I was very little meh fater made sure he was home for meh...." Pausing he tried to think of the word "Progress? I tink progress es right word. I progress from jes being baby boy tah getting tah age dat I get tah learn how tah hunt snakes and oter little tings tah help meh fater and moter. Et was very exciting for little meh." With a grin he settled into his chair a bit further. Illya's eyes sparkled a bit with the realization that this may not sound as glorious as it felt at the time. "I remember meh fater catch a giant snake and he show meh dah little fast ones. I chase et for long time before I find big snake too and I stomp on dah tail and get bit, but I grabbed et behind dah head and held tight. I tink I grab too tight because dah snake let go of meh leg and hiss. Still I was proud and meh fater showed meh how tah chop head off and carry body on stick so dat blood would drain on dah way home. Den meh fater put meh on his shoulders and we walk trough dah village while he tell everyone how big meh first snake was dat I catch. Et was very proud day for little meh." Looking at Kalizda he grinned, "Yah turn."

Calysta waited for him to start talking and smiled when she heard this was Edgar's suggestion it made her smile all the more. Illya was still asking Edgar and he was still interested in things about her, even after all this time. It was a thought that made her giddy as she listened. This story was about his father and she was surprised he had said it was a good one. Not that she expected Markus to be all bad. In fact, the time that she had known him...if she could call it that...he had been relatively kind to her. How much of that was real and truly of his own volition, but she imagined that Illya's experience as a child was somewhat genuine at least. There was nothing to be gained in those moments from what she could tell. It was a good memory for him and she smiled. "Oh, so that's who you learned snake hunting from?" She could see Cypher sitting on her husbands shoulders doing something similar one day. "It sounds like it was exciting to learn from your Dah. I would be proud too. You've caught more than I ever have...I just shoot them instead. " It made her curious to know how many snakes he'd been bitten by over the years and she chuckled. After a moment, it dawned on her that it was her turn and she gazed at her plate, thinking of how she wanted to go about this. A happy memory was a safe one. "Mmm," she hummed, taking a bite of meat. He had cooked it very well and always used good spices with whatever it was he made. Once she was done chewing, she looked at him. "A happy memory, yeah?" Suddenly, she realized that happy memories, until the time she met Illya felt grey in her mind. "I remember the first time I flew," she said finally. "I was 12 and my father brought me to a little racing camp. I begged him to let me fly one of the racing flyers. I wasn't supposed to be out for too long at them because I was on a few medications that could make me ill if they failed. But I had been doing so well on them, he got tired of me begging to try and strapped me into one. I can still remember the day. It was bright. The sun was out and it was in the middle of the growing season. Of course, there was an instructor behind me in the cock pit just in case, but as soon as we took off and I had the controls in my hands...I could feel the wind pushing against me in the throttle and I could see for miles over the Wilds. I knew right then, that's what I wanted to do. Before that I wanted to be a Water Dancer."

There was an almost distant look in her eyes and Illya recognized it. Kalizda was thinking of flying. He missed that look in her eyes and he wanted to see her fly again. It was a story that in some ways was much like his own, it held a certain amount of glory for the time, but it seemed so simple now. "Yah tell meh what a Water Dancer es?"

She blinked and her eyes refocused on her husband before her cheeks turned a little pink over her admission. "Oh,'s an Ewenian tradition. It's the wettest continent here and the one with more lakes than land, really. So, there's a dance form that was made into a tradition there. Since Kaereleans can hold their breath for long periods of time, the dances are performed both above under showers of water and using areo silks....and also underwater with acrobatic stunts. Kind of like Terran ballet, except I think it's much more graceful." She took a drink of her water and swallowed. "It was kind of an odd dream at the time since the Ewenian group didn't take half breeds."

"Oh, et sounds like a fancy dance." Illya smiled a little."Yah know dat dey jes miss out on having yah dance for dem. Kalizda has fine legs for dancing, beautiful face, and hair black like dah starless night." Picking up the tip of her fingers he kissed them and then grabbed his next piece of food. It was for a hard time and while he didn't want to talk about hard times, he knew it was part of knowing her and her getting to know him. "I remember after I get shot in dah head. Et make meh afraid for long time dat I was stuck on Terra again. I see many foreigners and I dun know yah. I tink maybe Chippequoti were captured and made slaves too. Et was confusing and I jes stay quiet and learn. I remember little bits wit time. I know dat meh Kalizda and I did nut have Chip agreement and we had many witnesses of dah agreement." Taking the bite of food he nearly gulped it down in favor of just being done with this part.

When he picked up her hand, she was surprised when he kissed her fingers. His own hands were warm and she didn't want to quite let go of them yet. Smiling gently, she brushed at his cheek and then watched as he reached for something sweet. That was also surprising. He was supposed to talk about something harder when he did that and he chose it himself , though he often avoided harder things altogether. This story happened to be about when he was shot in the head and had lost nearly 5 years of his memories, which included ever having met her. It was one of the hardest things they had faced together and it still effected them from time to time. His confession about thinking he was back on Terra made her heart twinge some and she couldn't help but settle her small hand over his big brown one. "It wasn't easier for you and waking up in somewhere new after thinking you were at home...I would have been terrified too. The first thing you mentioned was Qouti and Isla from what I know. I'm glad you gave me a chance though." Her fingers rubbed gently at his and she nodded. "What was the first thing you remembered, if I can ask?"

Illya knew she had struggled with the time after he'd been shot and he tried to open the door for her to talk about it too. It seemed to be a giant elephant in the living room at times and yet they ignored it seemingly well enough for the last several years. However, there were still hot piles of mess to get through and Illya was never sure if they were related to those years, or not. "Well, I tink dah first ting I remember about yah was when yah landed on meh planet and den I know dat we were nut captured and I remember yah telling meh what a red dress meant and den I remember yah wearing a red dress and smiling at meh. Dat was meh first memory, but I know dat et was nut all at dah same time. I tink maybe dese times were different, but dey were all mixed up."

She smiled when he said what he remembered. That red dress had been a treasure to her when he gave it, despite the fact that he hadn't owned up to it at first. Thinking quick, she snagged up a piece of meat and chewed it for a fast confessional. "You have it a little out of order, but I can tell you wearing that dress with you was one of my happiest memories. That was one of the kindest things anyone had ever done for me and that Flight Festival we went to...riding in the hot air balloons...and eating on the plaza. It's one of my favorite memories." She wondered if that was something he remembered too. If he did, then it would be wonderful, but it was something she could live with if he didn't. Technically, this would have made it his turn again, but it didn't seem quite fair that he had said so much and she had said so little. Plus, that chocolate brownie thing he had made for dessert was looking delicious. Slowly, she reached for a nibble and took a bite, enjoying the rich taste before letting out a little breath. "" Why was she suddenly so bad at this? She closed her eyes and took another breath, her hand increasing his grip over his some before relaxing. "I was alone alot. As a kid I mean. I didn't have friends, really. Either because I would get too sick or because of who I was generally. I had my dad, but my mom...I didn't know who she was...and Henaiah left me too when she divorced my dad. I joined Skycorp and usually took deep space missions because they were dangerous and I knew there was a possibility that I wouldn't come back. When I met you, you made me so mad, but I also, you also became my friend and then my best friend. The day that you left on the mission and I found out you were shot...I was so alone. I had your mother with me and your father...and Rose. But I was so alone. I guess I had never loved someone like that and when I lost it. That was the worst thing I had ever felt in my life, even though I had been so used to being alone."

The correction didn't surprise Illya, but he liked that she remembered the hot air balloon too. A little grin came to his face and it slowly faded as she reached for the brownie. That was difficult and he knew it. More than likely the painful memory would be from childhood and perhaps it was his fault. It turned out to be none of those things, but it as slightly related too. "I try nut tah add tah dat feeling. I remember dah balloon and how yah intend tah steal Keysha from meh. Et might have been nut so strange, but yah get in meh bed first." With a grin he grabbed his next piece of food and started with a naughty thought. It was his favorite pile and a small one. "I remember before we agreed dat one day we kiss some and et was good. I like tah kiss yah so much dat I started tinking about what yah legs would look like ef yah nut wearing anyting and I kiss a little more and den I tink I should stop because I would dishonor yah before we were agreed ef I kept going."

Calysta kept her hand on his for as long as he was willing to let her. He told her that he tried not to let her feel like she was alone. And some how did remember the balloon ride along with Keysha as a kitten. Calysta sputtered some into her cup when he stated she had crawled into *his* bed, then went on to tell her a naughty thought or two which made her blush. "Oh, it was you who climbed into my bed," she told him, "I woke up trapped against the wall and saw a kitten curled up in your hair." The memory of it made her giggle and she grinned sheepishly. It was a lighter moment she welcomed after her confession. "And I didnt know kissing me was all that memorable."

"No," Illya exclaimed, "I would nut crawl into yah bed before we were agreed." As soon as he'd said it Illya felt a tinge of pink come to his face. "Well...." He figured he'd better stop there. It was essentially the same as him accusing her of being loose and she was not. "Why would I do someting like dat?"

He took offense to the correction and she titled her head. "Well, if we dont count the fact that I'm resistable," she joked, "If I had my guess it was because you were very...very drunk."

"I was drunk....Eh, I tink dat could explain et." Illya hated to admit it, but a drunk version of him was not the best. "Perhaps den I would get into dah bed wit beautiful woman and see ef she would find et acceptable. Terrible ting for meh tah do." Still a sheepish grin crept to his face. "I like where et get meh."

A snort escaped her and she started to laugh. There was no helping it when he was looking at her with that wiley grin and calling her beautiful over something like that. She leaned forward and kissed his cheek. "Aye. That kiss on the cheek is much better than the slap you got the first time." She continued to giggling off and on as she took her next bite and she thought of something wild she could tell him. "Do you want to hear what my Skycorp test was like?"

There was apparently a bit more to this story and Illya smirked. If he wasn't agreed with her he'd hope she slapped him. It was entirely proper and fiery and he liked it. Then Kalizda took a bite of food and she offered to tell him about Skycorp. That was something they both had in common now. "Yes, I tink hearing about yah test would be good."

"You cant tell Anyone yeah?" With his word that he would repeat the story to no one she started telling him about the day a for Her final exam. " It was easy. Mostly. We had parachuted into the wilds the day before, but this time we were meant to go into an area to find animals for tagging. We were supposed to hit them with darts to knock them out. Everything in the flight went well, the landing too. At least for our group. Another team had a cadet grow ill...later we found out that it was just nerves from the test and not the poison gas that made them ill. We were all a littlr nervous to be honest. No one wanted to run into an animal that hadnt been placed there by the university or skycorp, so naturally we were all a bit jumpy. We went half an hour before we heard the slightest bit of something in the bushes and a growling grunt. I was a great aim...maybe too good...and fired into the brush on instinct. That ended the grunting right there and we heard something fall." Calysta winced slightly and sighed. "Commander Swyft never saw the darts coming and I'd hit him right in the rear. He had come down to check on the sick cadet and to make sure it wasnt really poison gasses getting to them and they had given him the wrong coordinates jn their haste. I shot my commander in the ass...and he was knocked out cold for 14 hours."

Illya couldn't help laughing when he noticed the pause in Kalizda's voice. He was certain she'd shot someone, but he didn't know it would have been Swyft. "Oooh, now dat's a good one. I tink yah take prize for best mistake in Skycorp. Ets too bad dat dey dun mark dat in dah records." Chuckling a little more he eyed the platter and wondered what he should tell her next. Grabbing another piece of desert he decided he would rather get rid of the difficult stories first. "I tell yah about meh Lahna." Illya stumbled through the story and paused a few times to grab a sip of water so he wouldn't tear up too much, but he knew she could tell. "Now yah know what happen to meh first family."

"Strictly speaking...he still doesnt know I did that," she blushed, "So, its our secret, yeah?" They had a good chuckle over it and then he reached out to grab another bite of dessert. What followed was familiar but he likely didnt remember telling her about Lahna. Hearing him talk about it again still didnt make it easier. She still listened without a word until he was done and then she inched over without a word and hugged him around the neck. "Thank you for telling me. Can I tell you something?"

When he'd finished Illya let out a sigh of relief. He had that on his chest for a while and he hated to think that he'd never told Kalizda what happened to his other family. He was pretty sure that she knew he had one, but he didn't know if she knew anything else. When she offered to tell him something he simply nodded. It would be hard to move on with a new story after this, but he had to. He had moved on in life and it was only right that he moved on in his mind too.

He nodded and she leaned back from him to give him a bit of room to breathe. "I saw an image of Lahna before and Isla. They were in a holgram your sister gave me. I never wanted to say anything because I didnt want to hurt you. They were both beautiful and I wish that they hadnt been taken from you. I used to worry I wasnt quite enough for a long time." She gave him a small smile and squeezed his hand. "It's gotten better with time and its just something I had to unlearn from other things in my past."

"Kalizda yah never worry dat yah nut enough. I jes never tink dat I would get woman like yah, or a second chance for a family." Illya waited for a moment before he got the nerve to ask her a little more about the hologram. "Yah say dat meh sister give yah dis hologram. Et has more den jes images? I'm nut angry dat yah have et, or dat yah watch et. I jes like tah know what yah see."

His answer calmed her some, but the follow up question made her heart thump hard against her chest. She had vowed to never mentioned that to him but it had always been in the back of her mind. Did she want to tell him more? She could lie and say there wasn't anything else on there, but she couldn't lie to him. That wasn't what their marriage was built on and she certainly didnt want it to be like that now. He said he wasn't angry that she had it, but would he be if he knew what else was on it? Calysta swallowed hard and bit at her lip before letting out a small breath. "It had a few other things. I watched them when we were on the Pithian planet and I wasn't feeling know, pregnancy. I saw you as a little boy. How you stayed with Asha and would bring snakes to her. You had a cute bare bottom by the way." Clearing her throat, she flashed him a shy smile before mustering the courage to tell him more. "I saw you as a young man with Isla too. How she chose you. I saw you study with Lahna and....and I saw it ended." She didn't think he would appreciate the grisly details on his daughter's death. "Eventually, there were a few clips of what happened when you were hurt and came home. I saw how much Isla loved you. And how much you loved her."

While she explained what she'd seen Illya listened. He couldn't help feeling a little nervous about her thoughts on those things, but she'd stayed with him and perhaps it had been part of why she seemed to understand when he wasn't sure she would. "Well..." Sighing he took a sip of water. "I tink et was probably good dat yah have et and watch et. I fail many times tah share dese tings wit yah when I should have. Et surprises meh, but et es comforting too. I know den dat yah stay wit meh because yah care about meh and yah never use dese tings against meh." Meeting her gaze set his hand over the little one that had been holding his. "Kalizda, I love yah."

She waited for him to get defensive or angry that she had watched those things behind his back. It hadnt been something she meant to be sneaky or secretive, but they were old hurts. She hadn't had any desire to open those wounds again by telling him what she knew or using it against him in an argument or otherwise. His warm hand covered hers and he said he loved her. She knew he meant it. It was relieving to hear too and her shoulders immediately melted as she look up at him. "And I love you too," she said, holding his hand gently. "I know I haven't always been easy to get to know either, It's something that has been hard for me to help with. The tour is coming up soon and..." she said, "We'll be paying a visit to the hospital where I spent a large part of my time. They asked us to visit. I can tell you more about it, if you want to know."

It seemed that Kalizda had struggled with many of the same things and for her own reasons. "Yes, I like tah know about dah hospital. I tink dah more we know about each oter dah better et will be. We will nut have so much tings dat we say dat will hurt dah oter witout knowing."

She could think of only a handful of times where he said something unknowingly that had hurt her so and they were perhaps some of the darkest moments in their marriage. Still, if he was going to visit the hospital with her, it was only fair that he know the kind of children he was going to see. At this point she had fairly well abandoned her meal altogether in favor of holding his hands with hers. "It's on Kinte," she started, "And there is a ward there where half breed children with birth defects like mine live for the most part. Their immunity to disease is impossibly low and their bodies attack themselves. The doctors there were kind for the most part, but if you were ill...or trying a new medication to boost your immune system into fighting off the right were in an isolation room. You could see people and they could see you, but going outside was impossible. It mean that you could contract an illness or your immune system would flair and you could die very quickly. Sometimes the kids here were lucky and they would find a combination of medicine and suppressants that worked well very quickly. For others that never happened and they died. " She shifted uncomfortably in her chair and looked at Illya. "I was in one of the isolation wings for a long time. I went in when I was four after my health began to fail again. The medicine that they gave me before then had stopped working. I was very sick and my father couldn't come near me. The nurses couldn't touch me bare handed. Neither could the doctors. We tried medicine after medicine. Each worked for awhile, but then stopped just before I was cleared to leave again. I spent almost 4 years in the clean rooms there. Occasionally, I would leave if a medicine was working well, but it would only last for a day or two and I would grow ill again. I started to hate that much plastic and I couldn't...touch anyone..." She paused for a moment and her shoulders straightened. "And then they found a combination of medicine that worked. 7 shots every six months. I will still taking it when I met you."

There was a little delay in the story and Illya listened. He didn't know quite what to expect with her story. Kalizda had been very sick and he knew that she had been when she was little. There was the little hologram that Rose found of her mother at one point and that was a difficult thing to see. Illya hated to see any child suffer, or be ill. The more Kalizda described the more Illya felt badly for the children and wanted to do something for them. Perhaps if he could arrange something for the Ehaui to start a little bank of marrow for treatment for the children. They had to be horribly miserable and Kalizda sounded like she'd been a miserable child. "Kalizda, I'm glad dat dah medicine worked long enough tah keep yah alive for meh. Going to dis hospital es important. We will make two trips to et eh? One tah start dah tour and one tah end et. Dah Alliance and Council Woman value all dere citizens and even dah sick are valuable."

Much to her relief, he didn’t linger long on more difficult details about that part of her life. He didn’t ask why she didn’t tell him those things before either. In fact, his reply demonstrated one of the things she most admired about her husband. He always thought forward or came up with something to help and he did it earnestly. There was no doubt that he loved kids. He loved their children and hated to see one suffer. She smiled at the idea and nodded with enthusiasm. “I like that idea,” she agreed, “The children would really like that. Other than their parents and each other on occasion, they don’t have many visitors. Maybe we should even bring the kids. Cypher and Lohgan could play with the ones not in clean rooms. Edgar and Tomas would be a little young for it, but I think the opportunity would be good for them too.” She had limited the children’s exposure on the tour for safety reasons, however, the idea that the children would have someone to visit and play with was appealing. “And maybe on the second trip, we can bring them again along with some goodies, yeah? If the children are able to leave the hospital it can be difficult for them when they go home, depending on where they live. Half breed’s still have hard times in some areas and having at least one friend on the outside could make a big difference. I would have made a big difference for me.”

It made him a little nervous to have the children exposed, but he knew that Kalizda was right. At some point they would have to go out and it was best to go out and see other children. "Ok, we will do dat. Cypher and Lohgan will need tah learn tah have compassion for dose weaker den demselves." It all fell silent for a moment and then he broke into a grin. "How about I tell yah about little hunting trip dat I have when I was younger?"

Calysta smiled broadly at her husband and nodded. He seemed to approve of the idea and that was encouraging. Leaning forward, she kissed his cheek again for the simple pleasure of showing her affection. "Aye, I would like to hear about this hunting trip." Him talking openly about his past was something he had never quite done before and she enjoyed learning about him. He had a way of letting her know it was going to be a particularly good story when he smiled his cheeky smile.

The grin remained on Illya's face. He knew it would be an easy story to tell her and he also knew that she might believe the first statement he would make. It was true, but only in part. "Yah know dat dah Chippequoti learn all tings young and dey are efficient people. So, I was best hunter when I was little. I know dis because I capture snakes well and I would go out hunting." Looking back on this story he could see why his mother had simply let him go. She knew it wouldn't last nearly as long as he'd thought it would.

"Dis first hunting trip for jes meh tah go out and be mighty hunter was very important. I was eight and I know dat meh future could change ef I do well, or nut. I like tah prove dat I'm good for being hunter and explorer. I go to meh mum and tell her dat I'm going tah hunt for week and I need many foods. She get meh little sack and fill et wit plenty of snacks and I watch her wit pride. I knew dat was a lot of food." Illya could see the grin on Kalizda's face growing and he knew she must have caught on. This was not actually imposed on him, he had simply been a little ambitious feeling. Taking a deep breath Illya continued, "I take dis bag of snacks and I step outside. I was already hungry, so I eat a few pieces and den waive at meh mum and tell her I'll be back en a week. I know dat meh fater leave for long time and he jes waive and tell her he would be back. I tink week a long time."

Illya remembered that little sense of pride welling up in his chest at that time and it was rather funny now. Yvonne had simply raised her hand in return and blew him a little kiss like she did for his father. He had known that he was a very important little man and he was nearly old enough to take care of her at the time. At leas that was what he thought. "I stay out in dah sun for long time and den I set meh snacks under rock for safe keeping an run back home for little drink. I sneak trough dah door and sip out of cup before meh mum sees. I tink now dat she knew et was meh sneaking in and out of dah house, but she pretended tah nut notice. After I have whole day outside and I almost out of snacks I finally find great lizard and hook him to meh hunting belt wit two snakes. I camped outside dat night, but I sneak into dah house and get meh blanket and roll tah be outside. I want tah really be gone, but et rained and I get up and sneak into dah house again and sleep inside. Dah next morning meh mum asked ef I was gone for a week already and I said yes. Et was very long and difficult hunt for meh. I make et whole day and catch two very small snakes and one lizard. Dey were all spoiled after I run around wit dem on meh belt all day, but mum dun tell meh dat. She jes tell meh she es proud, kiss meh and den take meh to dah bat house. She say after a whole week dat I stink."

With a smirk Illya ended his story, "Now yah know how I become great hunter." He hadn't really thought of that story in a long time, but it came to mind while he was talking with Kalizda. Glancing at the food plate he'd noticed that they exchanged a few stories without eating and so he just grabbed a piece of food anyway. "Eh, who cares about dah rules eh? We jes talk and have good time and eat." Picking up a delicious smelling bit of meat he handed it to Kalizda. "Yah try dis. I make et special for yah."


Curious Adventurer
Priscilla came home feeling a mix of emotions the most predominant of which was a heady, nervous excitement. Ehud was probably already at home but the papers had taken much longer than she anticipated and she hoped Sien wasnt too hungry that he couldnt wait for her to cook something hot for them. As it was, she skittered in side with cheeks flushed with excitement to find Ehud was already in the kitchen. She smiled as soon as she saw him and didnt hesitate to greet him with kiss despite her slight annoyance at some of his explanation that morning. "I did it," she smiled, "It took all day and tough negotiations, but I did it."

Ehud was already trying to cook dinner and he didn't know what had taken Priscilla so long. Had she already gone to see the Ehaui about the testing? She must have been anxious to get going and while he was excited about it too, he didn't know she was in this much of a hurry. When she finally walked through the door he grinned at her. "You mean you adopted a baby? I thought we were going to try for one naturally."

He looked at her with such excitement and enthusiasm when she kissed him that it gave her small thrill. Ehud really was in favor of this and it felt like the right move for her and for them. Of course, he followed up this grand grin with a complete non-sequitur that sent her smile spiraling into a brow raised look of confusion. "Baby?" she blinked. Slowly she stepped back some and regarded him with a guarded look. "I'm talking about the bakery. That little place on the corner in the square was up for rent and I negotiated a lease. See?" She held up a envelope in her hand. "We talked about it this morning and you were all in favor. When I saw someone else trying to get the space, I pounced on it. Now, it's ours...well...more specifically mine, since the lease is only in my name. Why were you talking about babies?"

Somehow she had thought they were talking about a bakery and Ehud didn't think that he had agreed to the bakery. "Oh..." Taking the papers from her hands he looked it over. "So bought the land, but you might still need a little loan to get started. I just thought you said you wanted a baby this morning and uh...well this is the best explanation I got. Lets just forget the baby part and start on a little business planning."

Priscilla stood there for a moment trying to figure out how on earth things had gotten so confused. He had thought she was going out for a baby? Not only was that entirely too soon, it also felt like he hadn't listened to anything she had said now. How did one get baby from bakery? There was a pun about buns in ovens in there somewhere but she couldn't quite make it with Ehud looking so...deflated He had been excited with the idea of a baby. So excited. And now he just looked entirely embarrassed and sad. Her mouth set a little and she sighed before sliding the papers back to herself. "'s alright. Don't worry about it. Um, well. I'll be starting a bakery anyways. Not a big deal." Folding the papers back to the way they had been she flashed him a smile. It was still nice that he wanted to have children with her.

"Pris..." Ehud dropped his jaw when she withdrew the papers. "I was trying to look it over and understand a little more about your land. I'm married and it is reasonable for me to want to know what we will be doing together. Chippequoti share in these kinds of things when they are agreed, or married as you call it." He didn't know why she was suddenly not interested in telling him about the bakery. "C'mon I want to know why you would like to start a bakery. At least let me know what you're wanting to get out of this.

He sounded offended now. Not only offended but he felt the need to remind her that 'Chippeqouti' did things together. That sent her overlooking of the slight he had created into actual annoyance and her brow furrowed. Jaw dropped or not, he was in no position to chastise her about anything. "I'm pretty sure in any monogamous arrangement that one of the tenants is also to listen to your partner," she said flatly, "It's reasonable for you to want to know and it's damned reasonable for you to listen too, which you clearly didnt do this morning when I told you about what I hoped to do. You want to know what I wanted to ' get out' of this? Maybe you should have listened this morning!" She hadn't realized her voice raised and she flinched at her own sounds before lowering her voice to a more civil tone, clearly upset that the one person who should have listened to her only heard what he had wanted to here. "Just...forget it. It wasn't about babies and that's fine. But you don't get to remind me how marriage or agreements work, Ehud." Her face was red for an entirely different reason and she began to turn away.

"I'm not trying to argue!" Yelling right back at her he followed Pris as she strode away with a haughty sway of her hips. "All I wanted was to try and understand what you're looking to do now. I can't help I heard you wrong earlier."

He was walking after her and it made her bristle all the more. She could feel things building again. He had looked so dissapointed when he found out it wasn't a baby she was talking about and then brushed it entirely under the rug, which stung in its own right, in a way she didn't want to explain to him just then when he yelled back. "Yes, you could have. You could have just listened to me," she said, whipping around on him, chin almost trembling. "Not everyone just flippantly walks around talking about conceiving children, especially when they have had struggles with it in the past. I would make things very clear if I was talking about babies. All I said was I had considered a bakery and wanted your opinion on the topic. You could have just listened for one minute." Her blue eyes bore into him and she swallowed. "That was all I wanted, just someone to listen and talk with the one person that those thoughts were supposed to matter to."

Ehud stopped and he stared at her for a moment. "You would be mistaken if you thought that I didn't know what it is like to have difficulty conceiving. My first wife it took us almost 30 years of trying to get a baby. If don't believe that I am willing to back up and listen, or be patient then you go ahead. I've had plenty of years of being patient for a lot of things."

How was it that she was the bad guy here? How had he tried to guilt her or challenge her into feeling bad for the things she said? "I'm sorry to hear that you and your first wife had difficulties, Ehud," she said, her voice sincere, "And I am sure you are very patient. I believe you are willing to back up and listening, but that doesn't help what caused the situation in the first place. If you don't listen and I don't understand...which by the way... I had no idea what you were talking about with bone marrow this morning and I had to ask Calysta to explain it to me.....then we aren't doing very well in this marriage thing are we?

"If you think this is an example of the entire marriage then you'd be right. People that are married do this kind of stuff all the time. Maybe you ought to ask Kalizda about the things that Illya hasn't heard, or didn't listen to. I do listen. This was just a horrible example." Every marriage had trouble and they were still fairly new with each other. He was couldn't help feeling a little frustrated at this point. She seemed so ready to be upset.

Priscilla's shoulders slacked and her mouth turned down, failing to keep up the thin line that was her lips to that point. "Ehud, you sound condescending when you do that. Telling...this or that...about marriage like I don't know. H-" she paused. She hadn't mentioned Harry to this point because this wasn't about Harry. It wasn't about her former marriage, but here she was going to say it anyways. "Harry," she said quietly. "And I had our fair share of arguments too and we fought, but I never spoke down or acted as if the fact that he was older than me made him any less susceptible to things. I don't need to ask Calysta anything." Clearing her throat, she offered him the papers which crinkled sadly in her hands. "And you're right. This is a horrible example for which you haven't apologized and continue to come to me like it is my ignorance about how marriage works than it is a failure to communicate. Here. Take the papers. I don't want to plan tonight. You can look over them without my input, but I will be getting up tomorrow with Sien and once he is off to school, I will begin making sure the place I leased is at least cleaned up. "

"Then I guess I'll try to be less condescending." Ehud was irritated on many levels and he took the papers and set them aside on the counter. "Yeah, well I lost the mood too." It was beyond him how to fix this one. She'd jumped all over him instead of waiting for some kind explanation, or simply letting him re-gear and enjoy her bakery with her.

He put the papers to the side, claiming he wasnt in the mood now. He still hadn't said anything near an apology and he also didnt seem sincere about the condescension issue either. She sighed, her eyes traveling to the papers and then to Ehud. She didn't know what he wanted from her. She had tried to be understanding and she knew that he was dissapointed but she was also angry that he didnt listen. She thought they had done better for the last few days, but apparently not. She drew in breath to say something, and then let it puff out without forming any words. "I'm sorry, that it wasnt about babies." What else did he want from her? Had she not tried to share things? To be open and work with him? "Just forget I said anything about it. I don't want Sien to see us upset either. I just.." she took in another breath. "I'm just going go take a shower. I don't know what else to do right now."

Ehud took a deep breath. "You don't have to be sorry. I was busy thinking about other things this morning and I just didn't hear you right. Got my head stuck on a few things and that was what I was thinking of when I got home. I wasn't upset, or disappointed with the bakery. Just needed a minute to get my head on straight and then you went and jumped down my throat for an honest mistake I made this morning." There was a brief moment for Ehud to think a bit more before she went to the shower. "I'm sorry. I do listen, but I'm not much of a morning person and I don't usually have any serious conversations until I get to work.

"I'm not saying it wasnt an honest mistake," she replied after moment, "But what you said afterward wasnt helpful. I wasnt upset till then." " At least he had apologized but somehow he thought she had jumped down his throat still. Perhaps she had but she didn't think it was without provocation entirely. "I don't want things to be bad between us, Ehud."

"Yeah, well I think we'll be fine. You just go shower and I'm going to do a little cleaning around the kitchen. Dinner will be ready when you get back." Ehud was still upset, but he knew a little cleaning would help him work through the anger.

He came off as a little dismissive but she didn't have the want to argue so she went to the shower and gladly took longer than necessary to clean off before reapplying her make up and putting on a pair of jeans along with a blouse. Dinner was a quiet affair and the let it be that way. There wasn't much to say. After Sien did his homework, they watched some sort of kids show with him and then it was off to bed. Priscilla kept to her side and kept her pajamas for cold weather on. If Ehud was interested in sex, he didn't show it and that was just as well. He wasn't going to get any.

Breakfast the next morning was filled only the he sound of clanking spoons, the slurp of coffee, and the patter of rain on the roof. It was hard not saying anything. Not that she was a total chatter box, but she was a morning person mostly. Her best ideas came to her in the morning and most of her enthusiasm. She kept that energy tied up as she pushed eggs around her plate in the silence. Even though she wanted to talk, there wasn't anything she could say that hadn't already been said regarding what happened. Plus, if she said it, he may not even be paying attention in the morning anyways, so there wasn't much point in talking at all.

With small word to Sien and a wave goodbye to Ehud, Priscilla left the house and headed toward the venue she had leased. It was nice little shop with a wide bay window on one side of the store front and a glass door on the other. The front of the building was painted a sky blue with white trim. It was a very Kaerelean look on the outside. Inside there were stone floors, light green walls and a counter top. Beyond that there was a restroom and a kitchen. It had been vacant for about a year, and while the owner had taken care of it, it needed a clean up and to be aired out. Without further delay, she bound her blonde locks into a prim bun and threw the door open wide to allow in the fresh air. It felt better in there already and while she cleaned she would take stock of what was missing and what would need to be added for the bakery.

It took all day to clean and while she did, she pondered over Ehud and the bone marrow surgery that he had mentioned. Calysta had finally confessed that is how she had been able to live so long as a half breed and that surgery was the only way to live a life long enough to compare to Ehud's. If it worked. She would outlive several generations of her own kind. No one she knew from her life before would be alive. That was a scary prospect. Human's particularly Terrans had been obsessed with living forever for a long time and she could see why they guarded the secret to closely. She knew why the Federation would kill for that knowledge. There was also a small sense of annoyance. She hadn't married Ehud just to gain that knowledge but he refused to tell her what it was until they were married. Now, she was faced with the decision of getting surgery or letting her husband wipe her ass when she was old and feeble in a few decades while he remained unchanged. Young and handsome as ever. There wasn't really a choice at all and she knew it.

Covered in grime but satisfied that the place was clean after hours of meticulous scrubbing, Pris went home in time to cook dinner since she didn't the night before. The two boys came home at their usual times, though Ehud had stayed a bit extra at work. If she had to guess it might have been partially to avoid coming home, but if that were true he was putting on a good face of normality. He came in his usual bouyant self to help her finish cooking. They ate in silence again while Sien told them about his school day. He was a sweet boy and every bit as good natured as his father, something Priscilla thought endearing. After awhile, Ehud offered to look over the papers for the bakery and she let him. The man took particular joy in going over all the financial portions, talking of capital and inventory along with start up costs. When she agreed with his work, she said so and when she didn't, she brought up what she thought was appropriate. Other than the passing of numbers and logistics from time to time, she stayed quiet.

Days passed that way. She would work in her new bakery, painting and cleaning up. Shopping for furniture and display cases was also something she attended to. Some things had to be custom ordered as Ehud suggested. Those would take time to get there. The good news was, she generally knew what she wanted things to look like and the way they should function, By the end, she wanted it to look cozy and welcoming. Priscilla threw all of her energy into the tasks at had before coming home to Sien and Ehud at night. Sien was excited about the bakery and on Saturday, she brought him with her to the place along with Ehud. "Well this is it," she said, " I should be able to open it in a few more weeks." She couldn't disguise the excitement in her voice this time.

Later that evening, Priscilla climbed into bed next to Ehud and clicked off her lamp. "Ehud's lamp was still on because he was reading something. She had noticed he took to reading alot when he had time and he stayed quiet for the most part. He seemed perfectly fine with her new held tongue and a rift that had started felt bigger than before. Maybe she could repair some of that, but she wasn't going to appear desperate despite how lonely she was. "Thank you for coming with me today." She didn't make a move or anything but that was all more she was going to say. "While we wait for the items I ordered to come in, I will go to the Ehaui and get tested for this bone marrow procedure. It would be best to get that done before I open up shop."


Calysta took a bite of the offered meat and nodded in approval. It really was delicious and with a good story she was keen to get distracted. The idea of her husband being so set on hunting and going out into the desert like that made her giggle too. He never wanted to be in the military and she knew that but his designs for his life had gone nothing how he hoped. Hers hadn't either. But maybe that was okay. It had brought them together by some chance and she wasn't going to waste that luck. She enjoyed the rest of her meal with her husband. He had made it just for this occasion and not only was the food good but so was the conversation. She told him things that she had never told another soul, both good and bad. He seemed to take these things in stride which was relieving in a way. By the time she had slipped into bed beside him, he knew a bit more about her early life. He knew that leaving the isolation ward had been almost as cruel as living in it when she arrived on Pyrta. Illya would know that's why she fought so hard to make sure people were treated fairly and with kindness. Her blood mixed children deserved a better life than she had growing up. He also knew some of her secrets, like her little maps and explorations of the cave systems below their feet and all the naughty tricks she had played on visitors to her underground domain.

She snuggled up to him and took the opportunity to play with his hair while they talked some more. He was a good man. That was something she knew without a doubt and she couldn't help but be radiant over her luck. Normally, sex would be on the agenda but they were both content to lay with each other and murmur more stories in the soft candle light. She fingered his hair gently and told him all the stories she loved as a kid. The tales of Gyl the Explorer and how brave he was on his missions to the continents were some of her favorites. These accounts were most certainly fictitious and meant for children but those kinds of stories had made growing up more bearable. "Gyl was smart and brave. I looked up to him, yeah? Very dashing." Her cheeks turned pink at her old childhood crush. "You know, I think even as a little girl I would have liked you, Illya." Leaning forward, she kissed his temple on the side that had once been blown apart and then continued playing with his hair. The image of his mighty hunter mode came into her mind and how he had come back home repeatedly. It was a story that bubbled up a joyful little chuckle from her and she nuzzled his neck. "I'm glad you were the mighty hunter that kept coming home. It's how I know that no matter what you'll always try to find your way back to me." That was most certainly not the reason he kept going home, but that's the reasoning she was going to use because she liked it.

Her fingers stopped moving after awhile and he mumbled at her, asking something to the effect of why she had stopped playing with his hair. Grinning sleepily, she started her fingers to work again, allowing him to relax once more into sleep. When she woke in the morning, her slender leg was over his belly and her fingers were still sunk into her hair. They had both slept well for the first time in along time and Calysta content, almost to the point of being joyful. He had chatted with her all night and they had enjoyed each other's company so much she had no idea what to do with the new found feeling other than to kiss him gently over and over again until he woke up. "Good morning," she smiled happily. She spent the morning whispering in his ear and trying her best to hold him. That wasn't an easy task but she wanted to show her affection, even if the attempts were clumsy. In just a day they would be going back to Skycorp with all of the Elite and she planned on taking full advantage of the day with her husband. "Would you like some breakfast?" she whispered to him, "I think there is cream and berries downstairs. That would be if Cypher hadn't eaten them all, of course.


Anonymous Me
Ehud didn't think much of the silence from Priscilla. At first she seemed upset, but when she let him help her with the business plan she must have decided not to be upset anymore. At least she was letting him have some input and that was all he wanted. If she was going to be starting a sort of business it was likely he was going to be hearing about it and he would probably get to help a little bit in his off time. It wasn't like the work she chose was the sort that would exclude him from joining.

One of the first things he helped her with was deciding the potential cost to start the business and how to charge enough to make the business profitable. The trick was to make sure the business would begin to pay itself in time, since it would not be profitable immediately. There was still going to be all the upfront cost of investing. "If you make the prices right and serve the breads you make well even the Chippequoti will come. I haven't met a Chip yet that will turn down a good bread." Looking over her projected prices he nodded. "Looks good." Since it was a bakery Ehud figured she would be getting up exceedingly early and he hated the idea that she might expect him to get up with her, but that was part of having a family business.

The rest of the week went well and Ehud came home at night to a nice dinner, a happy Sien and happy wife. She was happily working away during the day to get her little business started, Sien had a mother and Ehud had a good woman for a wife. Sient went to school, Ehud would have his work and so would Priscilla. This would make for a very happy family. After dinner Ehud grabbed his favorite publication of news. The news was something he had come to value when he was a spy, but he usually took it with a grain of salt. There were quite a few things that they didn't say in the stories that said more than the story itself. Of course, Sien waited patiently for Ehud to find the funnies and when he'd located them he handed them to Sien. "There you go. Remember you'll be turning in a report on a story from this paper at the end of the week."

"I know." Sien had to turn in regular papers on the news to his father. It wasn't for school, it was something his dad just had him do. Supposedly it was something that would help him better evaluate life circumstances when he got older. When Ehud finished with the paper, Sien grabbed it and began sifting through. He found one article he wanted to write about in the middle of the local news section. "I want to write about this."

Ehud looked over the chosen article and raised an eyebrow. It wasn't surprising that his son would choose an article on the new park to be built. The boy was keeping on top of the news like any little citizen that would find the article of interest would. "Tell me why this is a good choice?"

This wasn't an immediate no, but Sien wanted to write about something interesting for once. "It's good news and it will help children stay healthy and learn to cooperate with one another and tolerate other cultures." There were a lot of big words in there, but they were words he'd picked up from quite a few other little articles about schools and parks before.

A broad grin came to Ehud's face. "That's right. You go ahead and write a paper on that one for me. I'd like to see how the park can accomplish all those things." The idea was a bit stretched, but note entirely. Glancing at Priscilla he grinned. "Well now, we've all had a little reading time. Almost time for bed." She'd been pretty tired out lately and he hadn't got much more than an arm around her waist. "Maybe, we'll all go to bed a little early tonight. I think your mom is tired."

With a sigh Sien went to get himself ready for bed and Ehud looked at Priscilla. "What you think about that? Maybe there'll be enough time for us to..." The look on her face said it all and Ehud took a deep breath. "Ok." Quietly wandering back to the bedroom he got himself ready for bed and then grabbed the magazine he had near his night stand. It was going to be another night to read before falling asleep. While he was reading Priscilla said something about getting tested for the procedure. "Oh," Ehud put the magazine down. "Well, that would be good. All they really want to know is if your bone marrow could bond with a Chips. They have some they grow in the labs, or you could get some of mine. If you get mine it will take a few days for me to recover too. Not too bad though. However, I've heard that some Chips have better bones for donating than others. I have no idea what mine are like for donating."


The first little peck on his lips was almost completely lost in the dream and then Illya felt the second and he started to stir. Moving his hand up he caught the next kiss with it and then his eyes popped open. "What are yah doing?" Illya didn't remember ever being kissed awake and he was a bit surprised in a good way. "Are yah dat anxious tah have meh attention again?" A big grin spread over his face.

Calysta had kissed her way down his jawline, her eyes half closed and focused on delivering the next round of pecks when something that wasnt his smooth chin caught her lips. It was warm but calloused. Opening her eyes, she found her lips planted on Illya's tan palm and she backed off just a little. He was grinning at her in the way that made her heart flutter everytime and a flush of pink rose up to her cheeks as well as her nose. "Well, I-I...I was just...I wanted to kiss you." The explanation was awful and her blush deepened to red now, blotching across her nose. "I'm just happy and I wanted you to feel that too." That made it.sound more odd and and she giggled nervously, a rare sound for her, and smiled. "Did it work?"

"Mmmm....." Illya grinned and he nodded a little. He was still tired and his eyes were nearly closed. "Do yah like having sex wit meh? I jes like tah know ef yah like et as much as I do."

He was still trying to wake up it seemed. His were still closed and his hand was still an inch from her nose, held there from his kiss interruption. Rather than replying to the question, he posed one of.his own in his fuzzy brained morning drawl. It didnt take long to figure out where his brain had scuttled off too. Right between his legs. Some women might have been annoyed, or even offended, but this was her husband and she knew he had a libido that was fairly regular. The question wasnt offensive so much as surprising. He'd never asked if she'd liked it with him. He had always assumed she did or never bothered to think about it. "Oh," she blushed, trying to gather her thoughts, "I do like with you. Its enjoyable. Especially when we take our time before the hard work and you kiss me. I like the hard work part too, but playing before that makes it even better. You like that?"

"Dat's good. I like dah playing part too. Yah fun tah be wit and yah fun tah be around when we nut have sex too, but uh....Well, yah know what I mean." Illya took a deep breath and he tried to think of how he could re-word this. "I like dah playing around before sex too. Yah have nice legs and dat makes et fun for meh." Gradually his face started to turn red. "Dis sounds bad. I tink I started dis off bad. I like yah Kalizda and I wanted tah know dat yah like et too. Et would be terrible ef yah dun like et."

He was stumbling over himself now, trying to make sure she knew he liked her with and without being physical. There was something wholly pleasing about him saying so and just trying to express it in the first place. Plus, this was the first real time he admitted to liking her legs. She smiled at him and then pawed at the hand still in the air, lowering it down till it met her knee which was draped over his stomach. "It would be terrible if I didnt. I would still want you to enjoy it. I do like it though...I'm glad you asked. You're gentle and that's what makes you a good lover." Saying the word 'lover' sounded strange and made her feel odd though she was a grown woman and it was no less true. Leaning in close, she kissed him on the cheek. "You're fun to be with even without sex too. You know. You're more than that too me."

Illya had forgot all about his hand being in the way and he tried to adjust how he was laying in the bed only to pause part way through. She was telling him that she liked being with him too and sex was good. "Well, dat's relieving." With a chuckle he turned over in the bed to lay on his side and he held her close. "What ef I jes give yah lots of kisses now?"

She adjusted when he did, sliding her leg to his hip and shimmying into his chest as he held her. When he asked what would happen if he gave her lots of kisses right then. She smiled s dreamy sort of grin and brought herself within kiss range. "If you did that I would let you and then I'd have to return fire two fold." It wasnt the best flirt but there it was and she chuckled.

"Return fire? Dat sounds aggressive." With a slight raise of his eyebrow he leaned in and kissed her before sliding a hand to her back and rubbing gently. "I better find out what dis two fold es."

"Mmmm, maybe, but if something is going to be returned in full measure it might as well be kisses," Calysta hummed. He leaned in and kissed on her, rubbing her back and it felt nice. If he continued like that they probably would end up in the midst of the lovemaking that was never culminated the night before. It was interesting that he asked if she enjoyed it and it made her smile. He clearly enjoyed her, though she wondered if that was because it was sex and it felt good, or if it was due to her ability in bed as well. It was an odd question that she had come across several times in thought but had never voiced out loud and the sleepy morning cuddling had left her comfortable enough to be loose lipped. " I any good at it?" she mumbled absently.

The kissing had progressed to something a little more passionate and Illya was more than ok with that. He liked it when she got a bit wild and a few of her kisses had a gentle sort of pull. It was almost like a tiny nibble. When she started to get like that Illya was tempted to move his hands to her legs and squeeze gently, but he knew she liked to play around a little bit before they had the hard work. In the middle of the fun she blurted a rather normal sounding question and Illya smirked. "Yah very good at et. I tink yah like wild bird and nut one easily tamed." They were pretty mild, but he liked to think they were wild in their love life.

Calysta smiled under his lips, pleased to have him say such a thing. Normally she wouldn't be so concerned about her prowess on bed but there was something that made her feel excited when he said it. He made it sounds like she was absolutely wild in bed, though she liked things fairly loving between them. More soft and sensual than reckless abandon. Calysta nibbled on him more and hummed. "Oh I'm not so easily tamed but you make a good match and I wouldnt have it any otherway." She intended on showing him how much she loved him by taking all the time they could to enjoy.

Instead of reaching for her legs Illya worked his free hand up her back and then to the nape of her neck. For a moment he held his hand there and then he slid his fingers into her hair. It was long, soft, wavy and sometimes it caught on his callouses, but he thought it felt kinda nice anyway. He was used to soft things catching on his hands. Sometimes he was afraid to touch her pretty dresses for fear of snagging them. "Yah jes so beautiful." Kissing her again he moved a little more and angled himself until he was almost over top of her. Whispering to her in Kaerelean he used his best pronunciation. It had improved some since he had to use it more frequently at Skycorp. "She rides dah clouds like a star and her eyes flash like lightening. Dis es meh little bird. Dah woman dat I choose."

His hand, to her surprise, didn't venture down to her legs but up her back to cradle the back of her neck with a gentleness that never ceased to surprise her. His hands were rough but they were warm and she leaned into the touch. How had she come to find so much comfort in that? What surprised her further was his Kaerelean. It was actually very good. Not perfect. But he actually said what he meant to say and in the right tense too. She beamed at him and kissed him back. She liked it when he spoke like that and hearing it in her own language just for her made her practically glow. "You chose me and I didnt know why. But i love you. My Chip with the gentle hands and wiley smile." She spoke it in Kaerelean, slowly and gently.


Anonymous Me

It was another cool, wet morning. The rainy season had hit and Illya was standing outside the doors in his raincoat. The men were all beginning to line up with the rest of the students and they were easy enough to pick out. Ehvan was naturally a bit earlier than the rest and he was looking particularly tired and distraught. The distress was barely detectable, except for the slight squint that Ehvan got when he was stressed. Illya had started to count when he noticed there was two extra Dark Chips. One was standing next to Ehvan and it was his son, Amil. At least Skycorp provided something for the young man. Amil would do well here. Then...there was Markus. That was the other extra Chip and Illya felt a knot start in his stomach. He couldn't turn Markus away, but he didn't want him anywhere near them. Glancing at Kalizda he opened his mouth to speak and then the overwhelming urge to cough hit and he quickly turned the other way and with a heavy, hacking cough. There was plenty of coughing among his men too and he looked at the door. They had to be opening the facility soon and then they could go in out of the weather. It was miserable standing in the cool rain.

Calysta wrapped her coat around herself further as the men began to assemble around them in various states of curiousity and apprehension, though they didnt betray much. Many of them had never been off Pyrta in all this time besides to fight and Kinte was new. Most of them were hacking with the Chip cough brought on by the damp weather. They had met them to avoid any culture shock issues and make the transition to Kinte easier. Nothing could have prepared her husband catching sight of his father. Any words he might had were stolen by a cough and she let him work through it as she eyed Markus carefully. "Everyone on the list who applied is here," she said, glancing to Illya.

"Aye..." Illya responded with a rasp and he turned toward Kalizda again. His eyes were watering slightly with such a strong cough. "Dey need tah open dah damn doors. Et's already 1 minute past dah time for entry." There wasn't time to be wasted and he hated it when there were specific times given and they were not adhered to without good reason.

Calysta reached into her pocket and brought out a wad of candied herbs meant to sooth coughing and sore throats. Illya's cough was getting worse and she winced as he tried to breath. The damp was settling into his lungs. "They'll open it up on time. They're probably just making sure everyone's clearance cards are ready or someone's clearance may be giving them difficulty." Her eyes slid to Markus, making her point clear before she offered him one of the herb candies. "Here," she said, "I brought these along with your other cough medicine. It'll help." Finally, the gate cracked open with a slow whine revealing Swyft along with the other teachers. The silver haired commander stepped up to Illya and gave a crisp bow of welcome. "Welcome to Skycorp, general..." he tilted his head to the rest in recognition, "Officers. Are you ready?" He knew Chips preferred brevity to thr niceties thanks to the Councilwoman and General.

Like usual, Kalizda remembered to bring the cough medicine and drops. Illya would have forgotten them after he had his tea and his chest didn't feel quite so congested.However, he was feeling it now. No sooner had he taken a drop then the gate opened and Swyft started off. Illya sincerely hoped the speech wasn't going to be a long one. Nodding to at the man's acknowledgment he turned toward his men with a salute and all the Dark Chippequoti responded in kind while calling out, "Ready," in Quoti. Coughing a little under his breath Illya turned once more and nodded at Swyft while speaking in Quoti.Kalizda would translate. "The men are ready. I will explain the rules of taking the test." Illya figured nobody wanted to actually wait for all his men to work their way through the instructions and read along as slowly as he had on test day. "Also, my men will be allowed access to their medicine. Many of them are sick with the cough."

Calysta nodded in return and waited for them to exchange their quick comments before they were lead inside the class room. Several other Kaereleans and Terran's as well. Their eyes shot up to the door as the tan Chip men entered. Some gazes were curious and others were nervous, but everyone was here to take the exam for the same good purpose. The coughing was even louder in chorus trapped in the class room. Calysta waited until everyone was shuffled into desks and then dutifully relayed the rules in Qouti as Swyft said them. "Everyone must work on their test alone. No devices can be used to assist you on the questions and you cannot leave at any point unless allowed by the proctor or designated breaks. Those of you who are sick and have medicine will be allowed to access it. When time is up you stop and turn in your answers complete or not. Any questions?" When she finished, she waited to see if any of the men would have anything to say from their places.

With the instructions given the men immediately saluted again. The instructions were short and simple. Illya found it doubtful that any of them would have questions. All the Chippequoti waited until they were given permission to be seated. Illya nodded and then he stepped out of the room. He could already hear dozens of chairs creaking and straining under the weight. Skycorp needed some better furniture.

Calysta waited for everyone to be seated before looking to Illya. He was already a Skycorp entry level and he didnt need to take the test, but she would be sitting in with the rest of them. "I'll be out in awhile," she said to him quitely near the door, "Fair winds, yeah?" She gave him a little wink and handed over his cough medicine. She wanted to ask if he was alright, but he wouldn't say otherwise in front of his men and she knew that. The only seat open was a small desk close to Illya's father on thr front row and she eyed it carefully before looking back to Illya. "We'll talk later?"
Illya would be out in the room with the lockers to verify they were only taking medicine. While that was normally insulting they had been told that it was just procedure and not a sign that they were liars. Illya nodded to Kalizda and stepped out of the room to wait on the other side. He would be out to read the charts and see if his men passed tomorrow there was no doubt in his mind that Kalizda would pass. Markus watched Illya leave and then he flashed a smile at Kalizda. No one could stop him from applying and he could pass this test with ease. That was one benefit of being his age and having Yvonne as his agreed. Once the signal was given he began busily translating the sentences and entering his questions. He had his pad laid down long before many of the other students. While a few of the history sections were skewed a bit, he knew what they wanted to have written down. There was still the coughing from many men and the sound of Chip men sighing when their big, brown fingers hit the wrong button on the small pads.

Calysta took her seat but not before seeing Markus smile at her with a winning grin. He looks so much like Illya when he smiled like that. There would have been a time when she saw that smile and found joy in it. Now, the smile made the hair on her neck stand up uncomfortably. It was a knowing smile and she didnt want to think about what it meant but she also didnt want to give him the satisfaction of knowing she was uncomfortable. "Markus." She said his name and nodded before taking her seat. The test was tiring, even more so with all the coughing, but otherwise it was fairly easy. Translations and formulas were interspersed through the sound of creaking chairs and coughs. A few of them got up to get their medicine and others sniffled with rags to catch the coughs until finally the first break came. When it came and she rose from her place next to Markus and smiled at him slightly. "Do you think you did well?"
Ehvan coughed hard enough that his entire desk shook and Asher only had a mild cough, but he leaned far away from Ehvan every time. He was sitting close and he did't want to get a cough that was worse. The room sounded normal to them during this season, but it didn't make it any less distracting. Eventually the first set of the testing was done and the men all stood up and stretched. Markus was relieved to have a chance to move more. Looking at Kalizda he raised one eyebrow. "Hmmm...I did well." Getting in line he joined the others out in the main room and walked over to his locker. He knew that his son didn't like him being here, but he also knew Illya was a just man and he would not be denied his medicine. Picking up a tub of cream for his chest and a lozenge he let Illya look at it and when he received permission he went and stood on one side of the room with many of the other men. Quite a few Chips had pulled their shirts up, or unbuttoned them to smear cream on their chests and then unwrap a lozenge for the cough. There didn't seem to be anywhere else to apply their medicine.

He sounded confident and she let him go about his business. She wanted to talk with him but she also knew that wasnt a wise decision. The Chips filed out along with the other examinees and she trailed behind until she heard giggling coming from the hallway. Frowning, she poked her head out of the door and peered into the hallway. All the Chippeqouti men were at the lockers shirts agape and chests bare as they oiled themselves down with medicinal oils. Chip elite were in shape. Always. And that was what caused the women in the corners to titter wildly. "Swyft." She said the commanders name but he was already in action.

The commander strode down the hall and approached Illya. "Perhaps show them the locker rooms and the bathrooms, General."

Illya was still checking medicine bottles when Swyft came in to talk to him. "Hmm?" It made no sense what Swyft was asking. Grabbing his own tub of medicine and another lozenge he peered around the corner and grinned. "Oh, I see. So yah people find bare chest offensive too?" Going to the locker room and bathroom just to rub oils on the chest wouldn't be very efficient, or sensible. "Dey will be done before dey get to dah batrooms."

Swyft raised a brow at the general's smart response but didn't back down. "They may need to actually use the bathroom and that would be helpful information." He said it calmly and waited for the man's reply.

"Aye, I can tell dem." Illya stepped into the hall and yelled in Quoti. "Bathrooms are further down hall and then right. You go into room with sign for men. Man is sign with pants." Looking back and Swyft he flashed a grin. "Dey know where dah batrooms are." Already most of them were buttoning their shirts, or pulling them back down and returning their medicine to their lockers. "Dey are done now."

Swyft raised a brow at the man who knew that he was enjoying being a bit cheeky, but said nothing on that point. "Aye and so they do. They will need to use it like other students." He left it at that as Calysta came to stand with them and leaned up to lay a peck on her husband's cheek. "We're about to go back in," she smiled at him, mostly because he was smiling "They seem to be doing alright."

"Dey will use dah batrooms like all oter students and I will nut let dem change in dah puddle room." Illya couldn't quite remember the word for it in Kaerelean, or Trader's tongue, so he used the closest word he could think of to pool. He was about ready to go smear a little oil on his own chest when Kalizda came by to kiss him. The grin got a little bigger and he winked at her. "Dey will pass, or I will teach dem dah study for test. None of dem want dat." Illya wasn't a very good teacher and he was quite boring to listen to, at least that was what he'd been told. After everyone had returned to the class room for their test Illya walked down the hall and went to the bathroom to smear the oil on his chest. He really didn't think it would have been a problem for the men to put medicine on in the halls. It was only their chests showing. When he returned he saw Swyft was waiting in the main room and he stopped short of joining the man to look at results on the pad. Coughing a few more times he cleared his throat and then stepped over next to Swyft. "I tink yah will need oter bunks and better desks for Chippequoti tah use. I can hear desks straining from here."

Calysta smiled wider at the sight of Illya's wink and her cheeks turned pink before she scuttled back to the test taking room. Swyft went back to the adjacent lounge where coffee, tea, and other snacks were available along with the screen showing the test progress. He enjoyed a cup of tea as he watched the scores slowly trickle in until a voice at the door made him look away. "The bunks were mentioned by the council woman. She suggested a Chippeqouti mattress that you recommended and use. As for the desks, well, any suggestions you have are welcome. I'm not so familiar with Chippeqouti needs."
It sounded like Swyft was open to more ideas on how to make Skycorp better for the Chippequoti and Illya was pleased that Kalizda had already mentioned the bunks. "Maybe yah have one, or two Ehaui here tah work in dah clinic. Dey would like tah see oter races too. Dey complain dat dey only see meh kind and I see why. We're too easy to work wit." Carefully hiding the urge to grin Illya continued, "Den we need tah get some better benches for dah tables. Benches made wit wilds wood would work. Bench in cafeteria where I set es already have dent. Maybe we tink of more when oter tings break."

Swyft listened and took a swig of tea while he let the man explain. He wasn't so familiar with the Ehaui other than that they were another supposedly long lived race that had allied with the Chippeqouti and had suffered from the hand of the Federation as slaves as well. They were more technologically advanced but not nearly as durable. His comment about being easy to work with made Swyft almost give in to the ghost of a smile. He hadn't heard nor had it ever been said that the Chippeqouti were easy to work with. In fact, Henaiah, the previous council woman, had once described them as stubborn tyrei rearends who would yowl or protest and had as many ways of being offended as they found to give offense. The comment about the equipment in the compound was an accurate one though and he nodded. Illya had managed to destroy various part of the compound on his own and now there were over 50 of them here to stay for a few months. "Aye, I agree. Something much more stout will be needed. We can order something heftier, though wilds wood is good it is expensive. I think it will be a good investment and I doubt I will get any push back on it. I wonder if I shouldn't just order heartier obstacle course equipment as well." He gave Illya a knowing look and took a sip of his tea.

At the mention of new obstacle course equipment Illya shrugged. "Ef yah dun mind someting more sturdy still getting broke. I find dat Kaerelean sturdy es nut same as Chippequoti sturdy. Jes have dah men rebuild yah course and tell dem tah make et sturdy. Rezna will never destroy yah course again. " Glancing at the scores he sighed. "Damn...I knew dat Markus would do well. Oh and yah make sure tah tell dem nut tah make traps en dah course unless yah plan tah have accidents. Dey like tah make et challenging."

"Well, Kaereleans don't typically weigh 300lbs or have bones as dense as tree branches either," Swyft added, "But the limit on traps will certainly be enforced. I have a feeling your men would get little sleep if I didn't. They would have to run it and the repair it all of the time." A the mentioned of 'Markus', Swyft looked back to the screen. Calysta was at the top, having missed only one question so far. The name Markus was the next highest score and he was doing extremely well. Particularly, in comparison to the other Chip men whose scores were barely reaching passable so far. What struck him as odd was that the General didn't seem pleased that his man should score so high. Swyft cocked a brow at Illya and gestured to the screen. "Markus is doing well. Far above the others. Many Kaerelean men don't score that high. Was he a specialist?"

The cocked eyebrow didn't miss Illya's notice and he grumbled a little. "Yah might call him dat. Specialist of many tings. I will watch him careful. He's meh fater and I recommend dat yah leave any talking to him to meh. He's nut kind of man even I want tah argue wit."

It sounded like bad blood, both personal and professional. He didn't want any of that spilling out into the objective or Skycorp in general. This was a neutral place for everyone within the Alliance and he intended to keep it that way. Watching him carefully sounded like a trust issue and that would be something he would have to look out for. "Hmm. I don't argue often, but I don't often look for reasons to. If he keeps his head down and doesn't put our people endanger there isn't likely to be trouble." He took another drink of his tea and nodded. "I wasn't aware your father was alive, actually."

"Now yah know. He's alive and well. Dat's nut such a good ting. Markus es cruel man. Dun yah worry about yah people here. Dah Elite follow meh and Markus will nut cause too much trouble. By law he submits to dah General and ef I am displeased and he makes too much trouble he dies." Illya took a deep breath and watched Ehvan's scores remain miserably low. Asher and Amil did well enough. A few others even scored closer to average. "Oh and yah watch Ehvan. Sometimes he get very offended and he es officer. Good man and oters follow."

Swyft took the advice to heart. Illya may have looked young in the face but he was a seasoned General of the Chippeqouti. He knew his men and would definitely know his father well enough. What the man did with his people if they disobeyed wasn't his business either. He did seek out Ehvan's name on the board and felt a small sigh slide through his nose, though it sounded like a breath. Ehvan was one of the lowest scores. Uneducated in some ways and easily offended was a tough combination and that was going to be a challenge. "Noted," he said, "I would like to meet them after, if that's possible."
"I can have dem all line up tah meet yah. I have feeling even ef I'm here tah help dat yah will see many of dem quite a few times." It was just realistic that Swyft was going to see many of them quite a few times. "I tink yah diplomacy instructor will learn how tah be diplomatic wit a Chip. I'm nut easy tah offend."

This time, Swyft choked with the effort of stifling a chuckle and it took him a second of recovering before he swallowed down enough to reply. "I think the Professor will be more than willing to listen," he replied finally, "He seems to have had some sort of inspiring ear-opener. As for them visiting in my office? Well, I like to know names and meet people before it gets to that point. Usually when they make to my office I'm not able to meet them under normal circumstances. It's a courtesy."

"Hmmm...I tink maybe et was good he listened second time. Et would have been better ef he listened first time. Chippequoti dun like tah repeat demselves. What do yah tink of having Chippequoti diplomacy classes. So many of Kaerleans dun know much and dey tink Chippequoti are offensive." If they'd already talked about this Illya didn't remember, but it would be a good class to have. He was sure it was discussed though.

Swyft blinked at Illya. "Well, yes. You and the Councilwoman made the proposal. I believe we were waiting for one of the elders to respond. Edgar, I believe?" Did the man not remember having made the suggestion? Swyft sat his empty tea cup down and lifted his hands slightly before placing them on the table. "Most Kaereleans don't know much but I think they would like to learn. The Councilwoman believes that too."

"Hmmm...dat's good. I tought I had dat on meh agenda when we set up dis course, but I jes dun remember." It had gotten to the point that sometimes it was just easier to tell people why he didn't remember things. "I get shot in dah head few years ago and I forget many tings after dat. Mostly I jes forget tings I say."

Swyft nodded and allowed the excuse on why he had made the error, though he had read some of the reason why the man might have issues in his medical file which was extensive. "Ah. Most men wouldn't survive a shot to the head. Not Kaerelean men or Terrans. I don't think Udines could either if you shot them with something powerful enough. It would be a difficult recovery as well."

"Well, dere are good tings and bad tings about making recovery from dat. I live and dat's good, but I dun remember meh Kalizda when I come back." Taking a deep breath Illya watched the little clock that gave the time for the test. They only had a little bit to go. "Kalizda es very impressive woman. She deserves better man den meh, so I try tah be a man like she deserves. I love her and I expect dat she will be treated well here. I know she loses her commission because of meh and meh people. She even saved meh life more den once. Nut many women can say dey have fire like meh Kalizda does. Yah will give her pass at night tah go home wit meh eh?"

Swyft listened and he realized why it was the council woman looked at the man like he was a some sort of amazing thing she was happy to see. There had been a difficult loss there. When Illya mentioned her commission and how she had lost it he nodded slowly, though he suspected mentioning this was a prelude to getting an affirmative answer for his request. "Calysta has always been tough and stubborn. She wouldn't have made it to captain or been a scout in deep space if she wasn't," he agreed, "Taking her commission was the boards decision and not something I ever wanted to do, though her insubordination was clear. She chose to go against one of our rules that forbade her from interfering among other things and I don't think she made the wrong decision, even if I couldn't support it. Not many people would have done what she did when they had worked so hard to earn their rank." He sat back on his chair and looked up at Illya with a small smirk. "As far as her ability to leave the compound at night, I surmise that nobody would stand in the way of the fierce little Councilwoman around here even if she didn't have my permission."

"Dat's good. She dun need tah be here at night. Et's nut very comfortable here and she should be comfortable. Tank yah." Illya got quiet and he watched the clock for another couple of minutes before he started to feel the cough form again. He'd felt alright for a little bit, but the cough was starting to get stronger again. "I jes go cough in dah hall eh?" Wandering into the hallway he coughed several times and he was almost out of breath, but kept on coughing. By the time the fit was over he was bracing himself against the wall. "Ugh..." Wandering back toward the bathrooms he spit out the phlegm into the sink. It was a good amount too. The medicine was working, but he didn't feel great the last few days. Wiping the sweat off his forehead he wandered clumsily back to where he'd been sitting. Opening the doorway to the lounge he nearly fell through it and took a few more steps before crumpling to the floor. As hard as he tried to fight it he could tell he was starting into a seizure. There were a few moments he could hear and it sounded like someone was in the hallway and maybe someone was moving in the room where he was now, but he couldn't remember who was there. Markus the doorway to the lobby ajar and he had finished his final section of the test. He had permission to get more medicine. His cough sounded almost as bad as his son's. Grabbing a lozenge he shoved it in his cheek and he started back for the class when he heard a loud thumb and odd sort of gurgle. That wasn't a good sound. Wandering closer to the lobby door he peered inside and saw his son seizing. It looked like a bad one. Knocking on the door he did his best to get Swyft's attention. "Where es Illya's box? I get his medicine."

"Aye, of course." Swyft nodded and turned his attention to the scoring screen as Illya left to go clear his throat. Calysta had warned him about the Chip cough but they all sounded much rougher than he imagined. Maybe that was because they were in chorus with their hacking and there were so many Chips sick. A name on the roster turned green as one of the candidates completed their exam. Markus' name was now scrolled in green and his score sat under Calysta's, but not by a terrible margin. Much better than any of his Chip fellows. High scores in math related subjects tracked well with what he knew of Illya as well. A heavy thud sounded from inside the lobby, just on the other side of the glass door and Swyft frowned. No one was meant to be down this hallway besides those taking the test and those proctoring. He saw shadows through the frosted glass, one of which had flopped to the ground while another stood over him. Without hesitation, he rose to his feet and opened the door to the lounge to see Illya thrashing in the floor, enduring a grand mal seizure while a tall man stood over him. The Chip looked distinctly like Illya save for a few details and it was clear they were related. Swyft had a split second to guess who it was before the man asked about medicine. "Medical ward," Swyft said calmly, "Move that trashbin to the side so he doesn't hit himself." With that order given, he pulled out his pad and dispatched a medical team, stating the emergency and names. Within 60 seconds, two men arrived carrying Illya's medicine bag. They knew how much to give according to his medical charts and would to the work quickly.

Markus didn't care much for how things were done. He was simply supposed to walk off and leave his son like this and believe that strangers would administer the medicine correctly? To top it off Swyft was ordering him to move the garbage can. Glancing at Illya and then back to Swyft he curled his upper lip and then moved the trash can. Kneeling next to Illya he shoved his son onto his side. The gurgling sounded not quite as bad, but he could tell by the slightly blue tinge to Illya's lips that he wasn't getting enough air. Within seconds the medical team arrived and they were doing their best to give him the medicine. Markus moved over to hold Illya's right leg still long enough for the needle to be inserted and then waited with the rest of them for the seizure to finish. He was done a few minutes later and still not breathing well. Markus grabbed Illya under both arms and let the medical personnel grab his legs. "Dere, I'll tell his Kalizda dat he's sick when test es done." With a growl the man turned and went back to the class. Illya was only partially aware of the fact that he'd had a seizure and he grumbled and complained all the way down the hall. "Jes let meh nap on dah couch. Et will be jes fine. I dun need dah hospital."

Swyft didn't care about the look on Markus' face. He did what needed to be done so Illlya wouldn't smack his head into the metal bin next to the door and that was all that was necessary. The medical team arrived and went to work, allowing the Chip to help where he would, but otherwise doing what they were tasked to do. Once the medicine had been administered, the seizure stopped but it wasn't before the man had turned pale. A growling announcement about telling the council woman signaled Markus' exit and Swyft said nothing in reply. It wasnt his place but if the man didn't tell Calysta, he would do it and escort her to the medical unit himself. About that time the complaints from Illya rose up as he was being wheeled down the hall. The tiny tan woman from a distant continent raised a brow at the protesting Chip General. "Your oxygen levels are too low and if we don't get your counts back to where they need to be, you'll seize again and maybe suffocate and die. So, just come with us and you nap while we put you in an oxy chamber. It's more comfortable than that lumpy couch anyways."

Stepping back into the exam room Markus glanced at Kalizda. "Illya seized." Folding his hands he then stared ahead as if he had said nothing. Illya had settled in a little bit. He was tired. However, all the relaxation he had been able to achieve despite the stress of the hospital dissipated with the word chamber. All his fuzzy brain could think of was a horrid, tiny cell. Rolling himself off the cot he hit the floor with a thud and promptly scrambled to his feet. "I'm nut going."

Calysta was finishing her last few questions when Markus had gotten up, making her shift to allow him access to the aisle. When he returned she had two navigational problems to solve by long hand charting, but they wouldn't take long. She started to shift to allow his tall frame passage back to his seat when he said two blunt words which made her pen stop. "Excuse me?" She had heard correctly, but Markus simply sat down at his desk without a shred of concern. Calysta's jaw set and she shot him a look before dropping her pen and looking at the proctor. "I'm done." The proctor checked his pad and raised a brow. "You have two more questions remaining and 30 minutes." Rolling her eyes, she marked the two questions randomly and shot out of her seat to deliver the pad to the man watching them take the exam. Even if she missed the two questions her score would be high enough to get in and be near the top. The test had been ridiculously easy. "I'm done. Excuse me." Unwilling to argue further with the council woman, the proctor blinked at her as she slid quickly and silently out of the door. When she emerged into the hallway, she found Swyft waiting. "Med bay, he's enroute, I'll go with you." They walked swiftly down the hallway until the turned the corner where they found the medical techs and Illya. The med techs were looking at a wild eyed Illya, encircling him like he was a mental patient bound to hurt himself. "Sir, your going to pass out again," the same small woman warned him, "I don't want you to fall and hit your head. You need an oxygen treatment." Calysta didn't hesitate to start half jogging toward them as they all squared off around a wayward gurney. "Illya? Illya what's wrong?"

Illya angled himself so he wouldn't get stuck against the wall. He didn't want to get in a fight, but these people were forcing it on him. "Get dah hell away from meh." Kalizda's voice sounded and he looked over his shoulder at her. Turning back toward the people surrounding him he coughed, but didn't bother to cover it. This was going to be a fight. "Dey tink dey're taking meh to a cell. I'm nut going."

The tiny med tech rolled her pale pink eyes, though it was less than professional. "We're not taking you to a cell. You need oxygen to bring up the levels in your blood which are too low. There's high oxygen chamber to help with that in the med bay. Just relax and come with us before you pass out again." Calysta's eyes shifted from one to the other and then to Illya's face as he hacked. He looked terrible. His skin was pale and he had bags under his eyes. "I've been in that oxygen pod before," she said in a gentle tone, "I was having trouble breathing after being sick on the obstacle course. It's not bad." She waved off the med techs with a small hand a fierce look. "Leave him alone." The med tech woman looked as if she might argue for a moment, but caught another look from the Councilwoman which made her back off. Calysta came up to her husband as her grey eyes scanned him over. "I'll go with you if you'll go. If you pass out I can't lift you as well though. Maybe they can just give you an oxygen mask instead? I think the chamber is more powerful and faster, but a mask wouldn't be bad either?"

Shaking his head again Illya refused the idea of the oxygen chamber. "No, I'm nut going en a pod ting. Jes give meh a mask." Reluctantly he got back on the bed, but he insisted they sit it up. He didn't trust them, but if Kalizda was there he could trust that nothing strange would happen. Before they even got to the little medical bay he started to fall asleep again. At some point he felt a mask go over his nose and mouth and he turned to his side and held a hand over the mask.

The med techs looked grumpy but they didn't argue with the Council woman or the fact that Illya put himself back on the gurney. Calysta walked with them down the hallways until they reached the med bay. His eyes had fluttered to a shut just before they arrived and he hardly stirred when they put the mask over his mouth and nose. All he did was roll over on his side and held the mask to his face in what Calysta assumed was a more comfortable position. She pulled a chair close to his bed on the same side his face was pointed and sat beside him. Her small fingers smoothed down his curls where they had been tossed everywhere in the seizure. "I'm here," she whispered, "I won't go anywhere." She hadn't seen him quite so stressed about his surroundings in awhile and she half wondered if it was because his father was here. Neither of them trusted Markus and for good reason. He made her feel uncomfortable at best and she couldn't imagine what Illya thought about his appearance here. They would be on their toes with him around.

When Illya finally woke up a little more fully he pulled the oxygen mask away from his face and set it on the little side table. His head was throbbing and he was still tired, but other than that he felt fine. It had been a few hours at the least. Sitting up he looked at the clock on the wall and groaned. "Oh, I dun get tah introduce dah men tah Swyft." That was going to happen when they all showed up for the first day at Skycorp. It was going to make for an interesting week and difficult couple of days. The last that Illya had sen they all passed and that was what counted. Now it was just making sure they didn't get themselves kicked out.


Early on the day that the test results were released Illya went out with his men to examine the boards. Indeed they had all passed and Markus scored the highest of any of them. The man had a score within 3 points of Kalizda and Kalizda had been the top scoring student on this round of tests. Illya was going to have to deal with his father. It was frustrating to know that Markus knew a lot more than he let on and yet he chose not to acknowledge so many of the things that he knew.

"Elite, you do well." Illya turned to his men who were scattered out to see the boards among the throngs of other potential students. At his voice the Elite and Markus turned to look at him. "We will enter the gates in 10 minutes." Illya continued in Quoti for the benefit of his men and himself. It was easier to address them in Quoti and less likely that others would understand what he was about to say. "We will stay here for the remainder of the week. If you need to have pass to go home you will need to ask Commander Swyft. When we are here they do not consider us part of the Elite, but part of Skycorp. You will be given an ugly pair of pajama things to wear. Just wear it and get a very large size." A round of chuckles went up from the men. They'd all wondered if it was a Skycorp uniform that Illya was wearing and it was ugly. There was no color in it that stood out, nothing useful looking on it and it just looked like a giant zipper bag. In many ways it was a poor fitting thing that looked like it would fall apart too easily. With that in mind a few of the men looked down at their fatigues and got a disappointed look. They liked their fatigues and it was comfortable, durable clothing.

The coughing was slightly less after a good night's rest, but it was becoming a bit more frequent the longer the group of men stayed outside in the cold. When the gates finally opened the first ones to step inside were the Chippequoti Elite with Kalizda and Illya at the front. Illya led the men to the room for role call and he waited for his name to be called and then stepped forward to stand next to Swyft. "Here!" He'd forgotten momentarily that he was in Skycorp. With all the coughing and his men present on top of the lingering headache and tiredness he was operating on the routine he'd developed from years of training. With a sharp salute of respect he stepped off to the side and took his place next to Swyft. "Yah want tah meet dah men one at time and dis es best."

Illya called the first man down, "Ehvan!" He didn't expect Swyft to get their names right based on the spelling. If people didn't know who he was to start with they pronounced his name wrong often times. Quoti was a bit different with names and pronunciation. Ehvan came down and saluted with the same crisp, smooth motion and gave a good strong response, "Here, sir!" It was loud enough for the entire auditorium to hear, the hallway and the next door auditorium. Ehvan glanced at Swyft gave him a salute and then returned to his spot. Each of the Elite came down as they were called in order of rank and years they'd served. One of the last was Asher. Illya hadn't noticed that he was yelling their names the same as he would at drill, but he guessed by the slight wince from Kalizda that it was a little loud, however, at this point he had called most of them loudly and it would be strange become quiet, so they proceeded with the same volume for the 5 remaining Chippequoti to be introduced.

As the role call came to an end the coughing became much more obvious. At last they were dismissed and the whole group of Chips left to get their uniforms, claim their bunks and get medicine. There were only 6 Chip bunks in each of the 5 different dorms in Skycorp and the men had to split up and there were 3 on each side of the room. It made sense to split them up, they would have to mingle, but at the same time it felt dangerous to the men and they responded as any good Elite would.

Each side of the room had the Chips grouped and they had two keep watch while the others stripped and put medicine on. Once the first group was done the next group started and as they congregated in the halls they started singing. They would know where the others were that way. Slowly the hall leading to the dorms filled with the Chip men and the scent of their chest rub to ease the cough. Taking up formation they marched to the cafeteria and watched as Illya selected a platter and started into the line. Filing behind him in order of rank, Ehvan and then others followed him to his table. The table groaned as Illya sat, screeched with the second Chip and began to wobble with the third. When the fourth plopped down the entire table shook and then crashed with shards of the benches everywhere. The group of men looked around and then laughed while the others proceeded more carefully. Illya had dumped some of his food and he sighed. Staying exactly where he'd been dropped he kept on eating and soon the others had come to gather around and sit on the ruins of what had been a table. It already looked like a mini war zone, but they were comfortable enough.

Between the coughs and lively Quoti chatter the cafeteria had quickly filled with noise. Markus perched in the outskirts of the group and listened to the men. They were a close knit group and he knew they would be. He had made most of them what they were and they seemed to bond well enough with each other and his son. However, they'd taken their cues from Illya and that was well, he was their leader. Unfortunately, that bond also meant that they no longer considered him as one of them. Markus' place among the Elite had been filled when Illya became the General and then recruited a few more to fill empty spots. There wasn't room for 51, but he still understood them better than any of the other outsiders here. They were nervous and they didn't like the setting, but it was their duty and they'd done many things that they didn't like.


After the breakfast, long morning orientation and tour of the facility the men were more than ready for the training to start. It felt like they were being treated as if they were incapable. Ehvan hated how everything was explained to them in Trader's Tongue, but Asher translated for him when he asked. What was worse was the fact that they really did have to wear the ugly pajama sets. Pulling at the crotch of his jumpsuit he growled. They didn't really make these things tall enough. Illya fit his length wise, but it was pretty tight across the chest and torso. Ehvan's was a big baggy around the body, but certainly tight where he didn't want it to be.

As they reached the course Ehvan growled. "What dah hell. Dey expect meh tah run en dis ting and ets gonna saw meh crotch off." Asher was a little taller than Ehvan and he grinned. "Jus rip a hole in dah bottom of dah suit. Fits fine after dat." At that suggestion Ehvan gave a guffaw and leaned over to open the seam in the center of his pants. "Dis es bullshet." About time he finished making the adjustment to his uniform he heard Illya call for their attention. All the men peered over at Swyft and listened to the instructions. At least the man knew how to make sure a training was decent. There weren't any rules, just win.

When Swyft finished droning out the instructions the same way he had the day that Illya started his eyes got wide for just a moment. Within a blink, he cleared his face of any emotion. This wasn't going to be good for the course, it was horribly flimsy. No sooner had the order been given to get on with the race and a roar sounded from the men. Amil had already been edging away to make room for his father and the others to go. Standing off to the side he watched the General get slammed into the ground not even 3 feet from the start line. It was a mad brawl and the men got up only when they saw Asher had outrun most of them and made it to the brick wall. The Chip was already standing at the top and tearing ropes from it.

With a decisive, and unspoken communication a group of 20 charged the brick wall and slammed into it in unison. Asher froze momentarily as the brick wall shuddered and then leaped from the wall while the men gave another heave and the wall began to tip. Only seconds later Ehvan had rushed around the edge and tackled Asher. Bricks that had fallen apart from the wall were thrown at the legs and ribs of other runners.

Markus took a charge toward Illya and made a slide tackle that caught Illya in the prosthetic leg and twisted his knee. Falling on top of Markus, Illya gave a growl and grabbed the tab on Markus' zipper. With a jerk Illya tore the tab off the zipper and pulled the zipper nearly out of the suit. Pinching the zipper tab between his fingers he slammed it into Markus several times. Little dots of blood began to appear all around the man's chest and Illya stabbed Markus 7 more times with the zipper tab before he pushed it in and left it. Kicking Markus a few times in the ribs he got up and began to make a running limp until Ehvan slammed into him.

By the end of the race there were 51 Chip men and all of them standing at the finish line, bruised, smiling, and nearly naked. Illya glanced at Kalizda and he grinned. "I tink we win dis race." She was his team mate and he didn't see anyone else daring to enter the field just yet. However, there was only one problem, Swyft had gotten into the middle of this. Why the man stepped on the field Illya didn't know, but he knew that the order of the day would be to mend the course. "Elite, we will fix this course. Make it sturdy." Giving the order in Quoti he nodded to Kalizda. "We jes get tah work now, eh?"


Curious Adventurer
Priscilla spent most of her time fixing up the shop and coming home in the evenings to meet Sien when he was done with school. It was a nice routine they had fallen into and the work she did in the little shop was something she found fulfilling. Working all day to make her bakery into a place that she could call her own work space was thrilling. Then she got to go home to Sien who was easily the best part of her day. He was a good boy, and if she were totally honest, when he called her mom it brought her a particular joy. She enjoyed that big, toothy grin he got when he cooked with his Mom or decided to paint some more artwork for the house with his Mom. He had made multiple paintings just for her shop and while they didn’t look anything like what he claimed they were, they looked interesting in an abstract format. So, she did the only thing a mother would and put them on the new stock fridge at work.

In fact, the only thing that had not fallen into place with content regularity was her relationship with Ehud. That had turned into a nebulous sort of dance where he went about not talking unless necessary and she did the same. It was a tactic that worked out fine for both of them until they were in the bed alone. Then their dance became the game of who would roll over to turn their light out first.

On this Sunday evening, it was reading that occupied them all. Ehud flipped through his paper Sien played with his Mickey Martian short novels until his father forked over the funnies for him to read. Priscilla looked up from her pamphlets as Ehud gave instructions to his son. Every week, she had seen her new husband give his son an assignment from the weekly local news sources. He let the boy pick the topic but it usually involved something educational or civic. This week, the boy chose to write his report on the new park commissioned by the Councilwoman. It was a topic that pleased his father and Priscilla had to admit Sien’s intelligent, well composed response was impressive in some ways. They wouldn’t hear many other boys his age using that vocabulary, much less having such deep thoughts about a park beyond when the swings sets were opening up. It might have been an unorthodox method to make Sien write extra on top of his classes but she assumed that this was part of their lives for awhile now. Who was she to break up their routine?

When Ehud suggested that she was tired, Priscilla didn’t argue. She stood up with her pamphlets in her hands then smoothed down the back of her skirt as Sien sighed and marched past them to get ready. Her hand reached up to ruffle his blonde hair as he passed by, then she glanced at her husband who was looking across the room, hopefully. “What you think about that? Maybe there'll be enough time for us to..." She must have made some sort of expression, though she had tried to keep her face blank, because Ehud gave up before he even finished his sentence. The dance had hit a stumble.

Without a word, she followed him back to the bedroom and got ready for bed. It wasn’t much of a task to change into a chaste looking nightgown, take off some of her makeup and then climb into bed. Priscilla leaned her back against a pillow propped on the headboard and rested her pamphlet on her knees to continue studying it. The information was all about the surgery she was supposed to be looking into. It all looked complicated and painful, like any other elective surgery. Never did she think she would be doing any sort of body modification surgery, especially not one that could change her life so drastically. It was one thing to sport a new nose, and a totally different one to have a life span extended up to 350 or 400 years. The time frame was difficult for her to imagine, if she was honest and given the way things were going, she wasn’t sure it was a good idea. Still, he was her only available resource for answers on questions about the procedure.

She stole a glance at Ehud who was content to pick up his magazine on the bedside table. “So, how does testing work? I’m going to tomorrow.” It was the most words that had passed between them all night. He answered as if it were simple. “Alright. My appointment is tomorrow at 7am,” she replied. Ehud didn’t see the need to inquire further on how she felt about it or if she was ready. He seemed content to let them lapse into silence once the question was answered. Sighing some, she put down the pamphlet’s and turned out her light to leave her husband reading.

Priscilla sat in the hospital bed, having already changed into the white hospital gown and tucked her blonde locks into a hospital cap. Hospital were not comfortable to begin with and she had spent more than her fair share in clinics. Usually, fertility clinics were a bit more comfortable than this though. Those were meant to be clean and homey. Here, everything was utility from the plain tile floors, to the plain white walls, all the way up to the ceiling tiles and white wash florescent lights buzzing above them. She probably looked terrible underneath them too, despite her best efforts.

Her blue eyes shifted to Ehud who was sitting in his own bed looking down at his pad. They had arranged for Sien to stay with Thomas Monroe and Cypher overnight so they could have some time to recover from the bone marrow testing. He didn’t seem to be worried about it though. In fact, he seemed entirely calm about the entire thing.

Priscilla opened her mouth to say something or ask how he was feeling, but she wasn’t sure what to say. What could she possibly say now that wouldn’t get her a one worded answer? Why wouldn’t he ask? Talk to her? This was a big step. Bigger than marriage and bigger than the bakery. All of this time he’s seemed perfectly content to let her stay quiet. Why couldn’t he just talk to her? He hadn’t even tried to talk beyond what was necessary for the business or home life. Wasn’t he lonely like she was? Or maybe her worst thoughts had been right all along and a mother for Sien was what he was content with.

All of these thoughts came rushing in and she let out an involuntary sob before she began to cry like a fool, sitting right there in the hospital bed. It was ridiculous to feel this way in a marriage. “Why won’t you just talk with me?” The words came out a thick mumble as she wiped her face with her hands.


Roll call the next day came earlier than anyone anticipated. Calysta had taken extra care to make sure Illya was in the best condition he could be to attend their first day of training and they had all met at the gates with the rest of the Chippeqouti. Calysta wore her grey cadet flight suit, though part of that felt strange. She didn’t have the three stars on her lapel that indicated she was or had ever been a captain and their absence felt odd at first. Yes, she had lost three stars on her lapel, but when she looked over the men standing with Illya, the trade seemed more than fair. These were good men from a good people. There was nothing to regret and her position was nothing that she couldn’t earn back some day if she chose to do so, now that she was a cadet again. Her eyes caught on Markus for a moment and she felt her jaw tighten ever so slightly. She still didn’t regret anything even when it came to Markus. She had wanted to talk to Illya about his father last night but the seizure had made him so exhausted that she had left the subject alone so he could rest.

The men gathered around to listen to Illya talk a bit about what was expected and Calysta listened along as he spoke in Qouti up until the point that he mentioned ‘pajama uniforms’ and ‘ugly.’ The comment made her snort a little as she stifled a laugh. She had heard quite a few things about Skycorp uniforms over the years. They were a drab grey. Boring. It’s true they were made for utility and easy access if necessary. The Urian’s had been among the top complainers about the uniform and she wondered what would happen if Illya ever learned that he and the Urians had something in common when it came to fashion.

That amusing thought was interrupted by the gate opening. Calysta tugged at her back pack to tighten it over her shoulders then began to walk by Illya’s side into the large gymnasium which served for both indoor recreation and where the classes began the day with roll call. Swyft was already waiting there, but not in his usual commanding officer’s uniform. Instead, he wore field jump suits like they did. The only difference in his grey suit and the Chippeqouti was the addition of 10 silver stars stitched onto his lapel and collar, signifying his rank as the highest possible.

Swyft waited patiently for everyone to shuffle in, their boots squeaking on the floor from the misty rain falling out. Of course, when they came inside the coughing followed them like a wave. From what he understood, the coughing came from a disease much like the Terran chest cold and they would just have to endure the hacking until they got better. The rest of the volunteers had already assembled into a block formation when the Chippeqouti men entered, but he could see their heads bobbing and weaving through their rows to get a good look at the group. Most of them were teachers, some were initiates who had only a year under their belt, and others were just like him. Damned good pilots who had to retire at some point.

Since he had already done the roll call for the other block, he turned to the Chippeqouti men. The 51 men all stood close to 8 or more feet tall with the exception of a few shorter individuals. There were two dips in the very front of the line, one made by the General who was markedly shorter than his colleagues and the other made by Councilwoman. She stood there in her grey uniform looking as if no time had passed at all. Her face was youthful and her hair tied up in a long pony tail . In fact, she looked better than she had been nearly 17 years ago with a glow of health. He thought briefly about his own hair looking silver now, though he was just on the upper end of his mid-life. Exactly when had that happened? His wife just told him it was the cost of being the commander and that she didn’t mind her ‘silver fox’. Apparently, that was a compliment for Terran men.

He started calling the names listed on his pad, starting first with the Councilwoman. She barked out ‘here!’ from her place and he was positive he saw a trace of a smile when she did. The next name was Illya’s. The General shot forward from his ranks with a crisp salute as he announced himself. His voice was loud enough that nearly everyone in the room jumped, including his wife, and he didn’t stop there. The General introduced every single one of his men as he had wanted to do yesterday, with the exception that he was practically bellowing the names. He made mental notes on all their features to connect their names too later on. Ehvan was the pretty boy, tall and lean. Asher was the one with a grin that marked him quickly as the youngest among the men. He had already met Markus and knew that face well enough. It was strikingly similar to his son’s face but held less charisma, if any at all. The expression gave him a hawkish look of intelligence, an intelligence he might have looked for once in a cadet and still did, but he had found out the hard way that the only way to balance those looks was with empathy. In Markus’ face the day before, he had found very little of it. He was one to watch even if he hadn’t know a few other details.

Once roll call was done, he gave them all a singular bow and welcomed them before dismissing them to collect their uniforms. The rest of everyone went into the cafeteria for breakfast but not without the morning’s events buzzing around them. “Did you see how big they were….Yeah..they all sounded sick too...they sound like military guys for saw the fatigues…I wonder if they’ll want to talk….they’re supposed to be staying in the dorms...that tall one was cute…..Dummy, they’re all TALL. Well, you know what they say about tall men...yeah, they have big feet….and you know what they say about men with big feet….-snickering- they have big socks!”

Swyft fought the urge to make a face over what he heard. Illya alone stirred up enough rumors to make his own talk show. Now, he had 51 rumor mills ready to start and he knew he might as well get used to the tittering. Nothing he did was going to slow down the mess anyways. The cafeteria was about the same as it always was. The smell of decent, but generic food, and clean tables. He detected the smell of coffee and decided he was going to need a bit of the Terran drug before he hit the work out with the rest of the group. There was only one thing different about the cafeteria this morning. They were being serenaded. It started as a distance cadence and Swyft almost wondered if he was imagining it, but as a few moments passed he could plainly hear deep voices bellowing out some sort of tune down the hall in chorus. The concert was loud enough people were beginning to notice and the chatter in the lunch room grew quiet as a few began to shush the others, then strained to hear. All went quiet for a moment and then the doors swung wide as the Chip men arrived in formation to their breakfast.

They got in line like anyone would and the breakfast was piled on to their trays in short order. Swyft ate his eggs and drank his coffee with sweetner, though he wasn’t supposed to do that, while he watched the room. As he expected the Chips kept to themselves, grouping together at tables with two exceptions. One was Markus, who was hawked over his breakfast but seemed more interested in the ongoings of his clansmen as he sat alone. The other was the Councilwoman who walked among them casually, smiled at them and address them by name in both traderstongue and what sounded like their own language. He had never seen her interact with them as a group, but they seemed to like her. In fact, they seemed to respect her more than anything else. It was almost comical to see how they parted for her when she came to sit next to her husband. With her stunted height, the Councilwoman hardly came up to some of their ribcages. They were all head nods and side steps to let her pass, but they received nothing less her most brilliant smile of courtesy in return, even if she had to crane her neck back.

Before, he had thought the woman like she was back in her cadet days, but now he could see that there was much more. She wasn’t the same girl who had sat alone at lunch reading her books or studying for classes. This woman was confident and she looked at home among these people. No wonder she fought for them so fiercely.

He listened to them for a moment, picking up words here and there until a violent crack echoed through the room. Swyft brought his attention away from his food, his eyes snapping up to see an entire table full of Chips sprawled on the floor. It looked as if the table had simply given up under their weight and collapsed into a pile of splintered wood with the unfortunate legs splayed out. The table failure had sent Chip men thunking to the floor with their food spilling, and for the Councilwoman the sudden drop tossed her backwards on a secondary bounce. She rubbed her rump a little, while picking eggs out of her uniform. Everyone was laughing and he heard them call her the same name Illya called her. Kalizda must have been a tribal name of some sort that she had been given. Swyft made a mental note to ask about what it meant later….and a secondary mental note to put new tables on order. He could already hear another collapse beginning on the overloaded table next to the General.


When it came to the first task of the day, Swyft felt somewhat prepared. It was true that he hadn’t been out in the field for a number of years, but he still had to adhere to physical requirements and also keep up on his flying. He ran every day and lifted a few weights 3 times a week besides. So, when it came to the course, he would be running it with the men to test himself as well as evaluate everyone on areas of improvement later on.

He could see a few of them tugging at their uniforms and muttering in their own langauge. That wasn’t too surprising. But the suits had multiple purposes both on the ground and in the air, which they would discover in training. Illya called his men to attention and Swyft kept his part brief. “Today we are going to be evaluating each other so we can better see which pairs will be best suited for one another in flight and combat. We’ll start out today by running the obstacle course. Your objective is to reach the end in the best time. You cannot go around the obstacles, but you can work together to achieve the goal if you want. Time will begin on the whistle.”

He let everyone take their marks, Chip, Kaerelean, and otherwise before he brought the whistle to his lips and blew hard. The second the whistle squealed the sound was drowned by the roaring tide of Chips immediately outpacing their counterparts. Some of the volunteers, mainly the teachers, were smart enough to realize the danger ahead of time and held back, but others were not so quick.

Swyft had meant to be following behind to watch the group as they ran while also tackling the course himself. That turned out to be a ridiculous plan. The entire squad broke out into a wild brawl. Chips tackles teachers...cadets...and anything else in their way. He dodged an ongoing fist fight between a Reylian teen and a young looking Chip, before yet another sparring pair of Chips tumbled in front of them. At first he thought they were twins, but then realized it was Illya beating the life out of his father with...was that a zipper tab? Swyft leapt over them, but was caught in the side before he could stick the landing. He went sprawling into the dirt as one of the Chips sailed past him to the climbing wall where there was a concerted effort to push it over rather than scale it. With his adrenaline pumping now, Swyft rolled to his feet and immediately realized his shoulder was out of place. It had probably happened when he fell side ways. There wasn’t much to do for it except keep going until he could get everyone calmed down though.

He started half jogging toward the Chips trying to shove over the brick wall and the rest of them seemed bound at determined to slow down the competition on the way to join them. Another of the men, this one at least 8 feet tall decide to take him on. First, came the attempt a tripping him, but Swyft dodged and ducked under a swing, taking the Chip in middle. Tackling him like that might have worked..if he had weighed 300lbs. The man took the impact to the stomach much like a brick wall would have stood against an egg, then clocked him open handed on the side of the head. That rung his bell enough that he bounced down on his rear with a pained grunt. The world began to grow swimmy, as if painted using water colors but he felt little to nothing other than the initial smack of pain. By the time he managed to collect himself, he saw a tiny blur speeding past the shattered brick wall.

Calysta seemed to fly through the course, dodging in and out of Chip men like a speedy mouse until she reached the finish line untouched. Sure, she had gone through the entire course as she was supposed to, but not a single Skycorp volunteer had made it past the onslaught of Chips besides her. Swyft surveyed the rest of the field and saw that it looked like the left overs of a battle more than it did a training exercise. There are more than a dozen volunteers littering the ground in various states of shock or pain. The Chippeqouti were covered in mud, blood, and half undressed like a backwater tribe of wild men. All except Calysta who stood next to her muddy husband. They had alot of work to do.

Calysta nodded to Illya as the men rounded themselves up. "Aye, that will be the order, but lets get the medical team out here first." She gestured to the rest of the cadets hobbling or nursing bloody spots on the sidelines and far away from the Chippeqouti. "I dont think anyone was expecting quite that much...gusto."
Looking at the other cadets Illya shrugged.

“Dey can get demselves to dah clinic ef dey can walk, or drag demselves. Only ones I worry about are dah ones dat dun move." Walking over to a cadet that wasn't moving he nudged them with his foot. "Yah move and den I know dat yah ok eh?" The cadet groaned and rolled to their stomach and Illya sighed. "Alright. I tink we're all good here. We call medical team ef dey dun make et walking, or crawling." Catching a look from Kalizda he chuckled. "I know. We call dah medical team."

For a moment, Calysta thought he was going to treat the unsuspecting cadets like he would any Elite soldier, even going so far as to nudge the younger fellow nearby with the toe of his boot. Calysta gave him a look and he started to chuckle before relenting. She smiled at the corners of her lips and shook her head. "Aye. They arent quite so sturdy as us Chips." Winking at him she leaned down and started to help the younger boy up. He couldnt have been more than 18 and brave enough to volunteer. He looked up at Illya with wide eyes. "Do ye always run d'course like that?" The words came out a groan and he winced while Calysta helped him up.

The boy's accent almost made Illya think he was Reylian. If he was a Reylian that was fine. Illya liked the Reylian's pretty well. Grabbing the boy under his armpits he held the boy up a bit higher, so he was at least standing and Illya started to walk toward the clinic with him. "Aye, dah Chippequoti always run course like dis."

He grinned and it showed clearly where the blood on his face was dribbling from. The gap between his two front teeth where one had been punched out or kicked. His split lipped oozed as he was hoisted into the air by the armpits. "Ye are th' Chip General." He seemed pleased to see Illya and the cadet tried to start walking under his own power. "I can make it. Now that I'm in m' feet." In truth. He didnt want seem weak in front the General or the pretty council woman who had helped him up.

"Eh, no, I tink I jes carry yah along. Yah nut putting enough weight on yah left leg. I tink ef I let yah I might have tah pick yah up and meh knee hurts too much tah bend over and pick yah little carcass up off dah ground." Illya chuckled a little and glanced at Kalizda. She would probably want to see his leg, but he wasn't going to let her. They were at Skycorp and he wasn't going to let others see her examining him like he was some sort of invalid.

The younger man grinned and nodded. "Eh. Ye make good point. I dont want te burden m' superiors. An' ye just helped me up too. I dont suppose ye could tell m' which one knocked m'out. I want te partner with him." At the mention of his knee, Calysta cast Illya a side long glance. Given the brawl that had ensued, it was no small wonder his back didnt hurt along with his knee. They passed by the line of Chips who were beginning to gather themselves and she saw Markus with his slightly silver tinged hair. He had vicious pock marks over his face and something still glinting in the sun over his cheek as he picked at it. Nearby, Swyft was sitting down in the grass nursing his shoulder and trying to put his boot back on one handed. "Looks like Markus got into it too and Swyft. I wonder what happened to his face."

Catching the glance from Kalizda Illya simply chose to pretend that he didn't think her glance meant what it did. She was going to look at his leg later on whether he liked it, or not. Suddenly she was asking about Markus and Illya grinned. "I stab him wit dah pull tab from his zipper. Dat's why his uniform almost fall off him too."

Calysta's eyes went wide. Illya had made that big of a mess with a zipper tab? Sure, she had seen him take down larger opponents with less, but this was Markus. The man who had trained Illya viciously. Brutally. Along with many of the older men on the field. She couldn't help but feel a slight bit of satisfaction in knowing that he maybe had been taken down a peg or two, even if he would never show it and he never admit it. It was a shameful thought too and she masked her slight victory and surprise with a shrug of her shoulders and a quick smile. "Well, at least he knew what he as getting into when he came out here," she said evenly, "Swyft was...a bit surprised." In fact, he was rising to his feet now and the gash along side his silver haired temple was bleeding freely down his uniform on the same side his injured shoulder was. He held it in place against his body and limped to his feet, though his back stayed somewhat straight. He was the commander after all and it wouldn't do him well to look out of commission. Swyft took an inventory of the field and puffed out a small sigh before walking over to Illya and Calysta. "I shouldn't have been surprised," he said with equal parts annoyance and bemusement at the entire scene. "General," he looked around at the other Chips in various states of undress and beaten. The Chippeqouti had already started clearing debris at least and seemed to know what to expect. "I think you and I should talk in he office after I have my shoulder set."

Almost as soon as the bit about his father was said Kalizda gave that shocked look, but it wasn't disapproving this time. In a way Illya figured she wouldn't mind that he'd done it. The short moment of glory faded though. Swyft came up to them and Illya almost grit his teeth. He already had his men cleaning up, what else would the commander want? Naturally the man wanted a talk in the office and Illya bristled. "Ef yah gunna get after meh men yah realize dat ets yah fault. Yah dun lay down rules and dey run dah course and dey fight tah perform well and come en first. Nut all of dem first, but now dey will clean up and dey will make et new and better. I'm sorreh tah say dat yah course es flimsy and poorly made."

Swyft raised a brow at Illya and Calysta's mouth fell open, a hot rush of redness coming to her cheeks. He had just bitten the commanders head off and all the commander had done was invite him to talk in the office. The commander didn't seemed fazed though, he stood there facing Illya, though he was at least six inches shorter if not more. "I would like to remind you general, that it was you who last rebuilt the course after doing something similar to it during your training period," he replied evenly, "You don't have to like me General to Commander, but I won't be disrespected either." He looked at Illya with his grey eyes, holding not so much anger as they did expectation of professionalism and firm resolve. "I invited you to my office to discuss some of the tactics that were just used to implement some of them in training." He wiped at his brow and a smear of blood came off his temple onto the heel of his hand. "I as it happens I could use some practice on my hand to hand."

"Oh..." Illya listened to Swyft as the man responded. "Forgive meh, I am used tah dose from dah outside coming to meh tah ask dat I discipline meh men. I dun issue punishment when dey are nut in dah wrong. As for dah course. Yah dun provide good material and meh team es nut so strong as meh men. Meh men break dah course dey will pay tah replace dah course. Dey know dis. Dis time yah course will nut break when Chippequoti use et." Illya sighed a little when he looked at Swyft's temple. "Aye, yah dun do so well when yah fight."

Calysta waited to see what Illya would say after such a response and to her surprise, he asked for forgiveness which Swyft seemed willing to give. "Since the entire layout is demolished, it will likely take a day or two, and you'll need the materials to be shipped. Let me know when its ready. In the mean time, we can replace the course runs with more combat training. I think we could also go over some base rules for the cadets regarding the use of the course. For everyone. " At the remark about his fighting skills, Swyft broke into an actual smile. They were rare in uniform and it made him look like his cadet picture hanging up in the halls. "It's been awhile since I've been in the field, General, but you should see the other guy." Then he gave a small nod to them both and began making his way to the medical bay to have his shoulder set.

It sounded like they would get some combat training in and Illya didn't mind that. More than likely it would be a good thing to go over. However, Swyft if he was like others would have a somewhat tender shoulder and he would need to take it easier in the training for a few days. A grin came to Illya's face when Swyft said he should see the other guy. "Oh, I'm sure I will." It was doubtful that Swyft made much of an impact if it was a Chip Elite, but he would allow the commander some semblance of pride.
Calysta shuffled up to Illya's side and shook her head before leaning up to kiss his cheek. There are sometimes where he clearly had his mindset of expecting the worst in people and she was glad that he could be a bit wrong and did so with grace. He was a good man. When she delivered the quiet kiss to his cheek, she glanced down at the kid they had hauled off the field, noting he had passed out somewhere in the middle of the exchange. "Let's get him to the med bay, yeah?"


The rest of the day was one of recovery. Calysta worked along side the Chip men to at least clear the field to rebuild an entirely new obstacle course until it started pouring rain. At that point it was best to go inside. The Chips sank in the thick mud from their weight and the field was clear enough they could begin construction later.

When neither of them were expected to be with the Elite, Calysta pulled Illya into one of the lounges after his shower and asked him sit down on the couch so she could take a look at his knee. He groused about it, but she ignored the grumbling and rolled up his pant let to take a look at his prosthetic as well as his knee joint. “Aye, it looks a bit swollen. If it doesn’t go down, we’ll have get the Ehaui to look at it. In the mean time, I brought something to help.” Her backpack had made her look like a high maintenance diva when they arrived, but it had very little inside it for herself. She had filled it with a practical arsenal of herbal medicines and tea. For the men who didn’t think to bring tea for the Chip cough with them, she handed it out, or for the ones with a flare of ache and pain, she would give extra salve too. Most of them had wonderful wives who had sent them plenty to use on their own, but it was always good to bring extra. Calysta slid her bag over and pulled out some clove ointment. He grumbled about having her massage it into his knee. “At least I warmed it up first,” she smiled wryly, “I could have been mean enough to stick on the back your knee cold, yeah?” Calysta gave him a wink and then rubbed some of the same salve into his back using a much lighter touch. “I’m going to shower, yeah?” She left him with a kiss on his cheek.

Calysta shuffled into the bunk room in her long pajama bottoms and her tank top, having just showered and changed. There would have been a time where she would have worn shorts to bed in her earlier Skycorp days, and some of the cadets were wearing the same navy colored sofi shorts. However, Calysta had taken into account that the Chippeqouti were here this time and so was Illya. It was best to simply wear silky pajama pants instead so she didn't appear too enticing or scandalous to the Chip men. Another reason was that if felt a bit cold in the bunk room. Perhaps it was all of that time living with Chips that had caused her to become a bit more cold natured than she used to be, or she was just getting older. In any case, it was warmer to have bottoms on at least. She braided up her damp hair, then found her bunk which was, naturally, the one above Illya's. He was already there talking with one of his men while the rest of the cadets kept a cautious but curious eye on all of their new comers. Calysta strode up to him as if she were at home and smiled. "Well, that's day one," she hummed, "Ready for lights out?" Reaching up into her bunk took the effort of standing on her toes as well as extending her arms all the way as she checked the covers. "It's been awhile since the bed has been cold," she added, as a mild tease.

Getting ready for bed was about the same as it had always been. Illya got changed in the room and so did Ehvan and the others. They each crawled into their bunks, but Kalizda had wandered off somewhere. Illya got into his bunk and he pulled the covers up nice and high before he started to chat with Ehvan about some upcoming events for the next day. At least it was how Illya remembered Skycorp for the first few days. When Kalizda entered the room again Illya looked at her all stretched out and ready to get in her bed, but she said it was cold. "Oh, here." Getting out of his bed he motioned for her to get in his warm bed. "Yah stay dere and get warm while I warm yah bunk eh?"

He didn't seem to catch her tease which was a little disappointing, but suddenly he was rolling out of bed, offering to warm hers up without so much as a delay. Before she could argue, he was climbing up top and into her bed. "I-" She started to protest because he had the cough and his knee and back probably wouldn't like pulling up to the top bunk, but he was already half way up now, leaving his warm bed exposed. Calysta chuckled and dove into his bed, pulling the covers high over her head like a shroud so the warmth didn't escape. She noticed Ehvan nearby and gave him a small nod of recognition with a bit of a smile, before letting the man rest.

Illya got on the top bunk and peeled the covers back before getting into her bed. "Yah right, et es cold tah start, but et will be warm soon." Ehvan rolled over in his bunk again and he smirked. "You go soft. Now you warm her bed too huh?" It was all in Quoti and Illya responded, "Only soft for her. You lazy slug, go to sleep." The two of them chuckled some and Illya laid in Kalizda's bed for only a few moments longer before he got out of her bed and then offered to help her up. "Here, I put yah in yah bed now, et's warm."

Calysta half wanted to burrow into his bed because it wasn't just warmer than hers, but it already smelled like the sweet oils he used on his hair. Those scents had become natural and a bit of a comfort over the years. She took in a deep breath and let out a sigh, only to have it turn into a bit of a stifled giggle when Ehvan made his remark. A grin that couldn't be helped inched over her lips and her cheeks turned crimson at Illya's reply. Why did he always manage to make her giddy like a bit of a school girl when he said things like that? After a few minutes, he slid off the bunk and offered a hand out to her so she could get into her now toasty top mattress. Calysta didn't make him wait to get back into his bed. He had to be tired and a bit sore after the day's brawling. So, she slid back the covers and took his hand to steady herself up to the cold tile floor. Of course, when she leaned up to kiss him goodnight, it seemed he had other plans and her feet left the floor entirely as she was scooped up word. "Oh."

Since Ehvan was going to fuss about it, Illya was just going to make sure he showered Kalizda with a little extra love. He could do it, it would be nice for her, fun for him, and annoying for Ehvan. All of those were good reasons to do it. Plucking Kalizda from where she stood he picked her up and put her in her bunk. Once she was on the warmed bunk he pulled the covers up and then leaned in to kiss her. "I love yah." Saying it in Karelean he grinned at her. Everyone here would know that he said it just so she could hear it in her own language and he wanted to say it to please her.
Calysta found herself not only in her bunk but also being tucked into it with big, gentle hands. He really had warmed up the bed with his Chip body heat and she sighed in relief before kissing him. "I love you too," she whispered back in Kaerelean. She was sure he could feel the flush radiating from her cheeks. Her pale little hand snuck out of the covers and tickled its way to the nape of his neck so she could smooth down his curls. It was the only loving she could give him properly from there besides a few kisses. "How did I get so lucky, yeah?" she hummed in Kaerelean.

A sly grin spread over Illya's face when Kalizda asked how she got so lucky. "Mmmm, by being unlucky first." They both knew she was horribly unlucky to land where she did. "I guess dat makes meh dah lucky one."

He grinned and gave a sly little reply that only made her blush deepen. Only he could charm her so well and so completely and she knew it. Some part of her had always been afraid of letting him close enough to do things like that. She had felt as if there were no possible way he would enjoy making her happy just because it was only for her. Now, she had see differently. "Aye," she chuckled, "I wasn't lucky when I was young, but I was lucky I met you, love." Then she kissed him again, their lips making tiny little popping sounds as the lights in the bunk room went out.
There couldn't be just one kiss, there were a few and Illya was in the middle of a kiss when the lights went out. "Yah know, now we can get exciting cause nobody can see." At that comment Ehvan burst out laughing as did a few of the other Chip men. They all knew exactly what Illya was getting at. "Oh shut up." Illya grumbled back at them. He knew Kalizda wouldn't really want to do too much for excitement, but he could make a suggestion. "Maybe ef yah feel wild yah might crawl down and share meh bunk tahnight. I can promise et will be warm wit meh."

Calysta laughed at when he mentioned getting more exciting than just a few pecks here and there...and so did a few of the Chip men within ear shot. Suddenly, she was reminded that they weren't alone and she blushed for a whole new reason. At his offer she shook her head and rolled her eyes, though he couldn't see her in the dark. "Maybe if I'm feeling wild," she chuckled, before giving one of his curls a playful, entirely gentle tug, "Good night."

The little laugh sounded so pretty, but it was disappointing anyway. Illya sighed a little when she tugged on his curls."Oh, alright, but yah know where tah find meh ef yah get cold."

It wasn’t even midnight before Calysta decided she couldn’t sleep even with her warmed up bed. Sure, there several reasons to be awake, the the least of which was the amount of snoring in the bunk room. It wasn’t the snoring that kept her awake either. She would find herself drifting off only to jerk herself awake looking for Illya who was right below her, but not beside her like he should be. When she become so accustomed to having him close? When had she gotten so spoiled for her bed partner? Calysta tossed and turned over and over until the bed was unmade and she still lay there grinding her teeth. She could tell that almost everyone was asleep because of the deep snoring now. So who was to stop her if she left her bunk?

Her heart began to pound with idea of actually crawling down and into Illya’s bed. She couldn’t do that. Could she? A quick glance over each side of the bed showed the everyone was turned over asleep. That’s when she committed to the idea and made her break for it . Sliding out of her bed, she half tumbled to the floor and only landed softly because she used the heavy mattress as an anchor in her arms. Then she peeled back Illya’s covered near his prosthetic leg and shimmed into the warm before traveling up to make him into the ‘little spoon.’ Her tiny arm slinked around his chest and she stuck her cold nose into his back. “Shhhh...I won’t tell if you wont,” she whispered to him.


Swyft stood with his arm in a splint as everyone gathered for roll call. The Skycorp group looked a little ragged with a few of the volunteers sporting bandages and wary glances at the Chippeqouti. Despite the fiasco of yesterday, he had run back the footage of the course run, at least what was available of it, and tried to think of who might be good matches given their scores and actions on the field. He had come up with the teams over the last few hours and once roll call was complete, he began pairing people up.

“Illya and Calysta. Ehvan and Sarasa. Asher and Tiberius. Drasha and Fynn….” he said the names clearly until all of the men had flight partners except for one, “Markus and myself. Everyone, find your partners. You will be with them all day today in basic flight prep and in the afternoon there will be a demonstration lead by the Councilwoman and the General. Dismissed.”

Swyft watched as all the formations broke ranks and hoped that the partners he had picked were decent. It hadn’t been an easy task and only time would tell all of these different people could come together. He stole a glance at Calysta and saw a pleased look on her face. She certainly had alot of faith that it would and it had been part of what convinced the board members to try this to begin with. With that on his mind, he stepped forward to find Markus in the crowd as they meandered to breakfast.