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aryamajor

Curious Adventurer
Benefactor
Wynry settled into the seat, wiggling her hips slightly, as she remained totally ignorant of Akten's silent attention. She called for the voice activated lights and dimmed them slightly before she began her story.

"Deep in the Wilds, below the mist...below the canopy...stirring in the shadows where the moonlight never touches lives a man. He's not just any man though. He lived upon the poison of the Wilds, in the water, the air, the plants, and the animals, and his body slowly became a part of the land. He became a mist. He could go anywhere and do anything he wanted. One night, from the darkness shadows of the Wilds, lights from above disturbed his peace. He grew angry and floated from his home all the way to the world above. The closer he floated to the sky, the more he saw and the more he hated what he saw. Lights, hideous lights, were cutting through his darkness on the Edge of the worlds. People with lanterns and fires, with crystals, and unafraid of the darkness. It was offensive and he hated the comfort, the joy, and the light. He would snuff them out. Night after night, people would come to the Edge, walking with lights, and night after night, he took one. He snatched them to the Wilds below where they would stay in the dark and the shadow. They would stay unable to go back home forever. When their names were forgotten forever. Not in anyone's mind, they would become the mist and join the man in taking others. They become the Mysomenim and look for people who dare to wander too close to the Edge at night until the winds stop and the continents are no more."

It had been awhile since Akten had heard that story. He had grown up on Reylia where there were no floating continents but the stories were still around. He had heard that one from his mother many times before. Of course, the scary story had nothing on the horror of Cypher's comment after the story. Akten's jaw dropped open and his ears heated past what had to be boiling point as all the men began crowing their advice on the subject. Did he even dare look at the petite Wynry next to him? He turned his head slowly and gave her a sheepish, sly sort of smile. "Well, I..eh...maybe n' just because ye' stories are good, yeah?" The woman stared at him and her delicate brow raised in a look of trepidation before she started giggling.

Akten stared at her, grin frozen cheekily in place. Why was she laughing? Was that a good thing? She giggled and nudged him playfully and his grin widened. "You're funny Akten." Then she lifted herself up from the couch, leaving the spot where she had been suddenly cold. "Well, that's it for me. Good night, guys." Then she ruffled Cypher's hair before giving them a wave and disappearing down the hall.

*********

Koda looked at his fold out cot and instinctively twisted to get his back to crack a little. He had a love- hate relationship with the tiny little fold out mattress. He'd love to sleep and it hated to deny him the privilege. It couldn't be helped though. His bunk mate, Mihael, had close to 2ft more in leg and torso than he did and simply needed the larger bed that came bolted into the room. Koda had certainly slept in worse places at any rate. The mines on Noraxia III flashed in his thoughts and he shoved them out quickly, replacing them with the thought of sending his wife and daughter a message instead. They were a much better focus. He stripped down and tossed his old uniform into the hamper to be washed the next day, then replaced the lid on the hamper. Then he checked his fresh uniform hanging on the back of the door in neat order and made sure his gear was laid out, accessible and clean for the next day. There were several pistols ranging in larger to smaller, concealable caliber, a few knives both for utility and for the singular purpose of killing. He didn't wear those in the open but they were small, easily concealed, and efficient for hand-to-hand combat. There was a hope that he wouldn't have to use them, and a reality that told him the probability that he would have to was high. He unclipped his utility watch and placed it by the tiny fold out table serving as a night stand before crawling into bed and propping up long enough to send his family a message that would take hours to arrive and be untraceable back to any location thanks to the ship's code. No sooner had he finished, did Mihael come in and begin his own nightly routine which consisted of largely the same protocol. There was a slight comfort in the idea that standards could be the same or recognizable across other gaps that mere culture could hardly try to fill.(edited)

The man did whatever he needed to do and then stripped down to crawl into the bed less than a foot away from Koda's fold out. It wasn't much space to begin with and a wayward catch from Mihael's foot as he settled down made the point all the more obvious. Koda shrugged, not worried about being nudged in such small quarters. "Aye," he agreed. He thought the man was going to settle down but instead, he seemed to sit up a bit more and asked a curious question. Beyond the general's initial questioning and the men asking him simple things or group meals where everyone was talking, this was the first time he'd heard one of them attempt a one-on-one conversation with him.


Koda scratched absently at the stubble on his jaw and replied to the sudden compound question. "Eh, if I had my wife's sense of humor I'd probably say 'the same way you did, I walked'," he said, "But I'm guessing that's not what you meant. It's a bit of a loaded question, I guess. How I made it into the military or on the ship with rank?"(edited)

A slight smirk sneaked across Mihael's face. Of course the man would start with a joke. It was a nice way of trying to avoid a question. However, it was surprising that he came around and asked to have the question stated more clearly. He was sure that Koda was somewhat friendly toward Chips if he was here, but there was no telling. "Bot. I like tah know who et es dat I share a room wit. Tank dah gods ets nut a bed. I'd rater sleep on dah floor den share et."

Koda nodded in agreement to the statement about the bed. "Aye." The man's question was fair but also worked both ways. "Eh, those are two very different stories, but one is easier than the other," he admitted, " I went into the military as soon as I turned 18 to get off my home continent. You might have heard of Ewen, yeah? My Dah was from there but my Mam, eh she was a Reylian. They both died when I was around 10. I was raised the rest of the time on Ewen by my grandparents there. Eh... I'm not sure how to explain it but they are part of the ruling class on Ewen. I was a bit of a blemish on the family record, and the family business wasn't something I was going to inherit, so I jumped a transport ship the day I turned 18. Worked hard, got married to my wife, Laura and had my daughter, Vayle,. Military rank? I wanted to go for the special forces, after my aptitude exams, and did it. Served in a few campaigns on the fringe on the front and on special ops. I was transferred under General Kirit, and given a team for awhile before taking this assignment when it was offered by the Councilwoman." That was the short and sweet of his story. There were somethings he couldn't go into more detail on. "What about you?"

The man's story was pretty straightforward. There wasn't a whole lot to ask him about. These sort of things were a bit private and for now the story was enough. After all, they were still strangers and Mihael couldn't really expect much more than that. "I originally tink I would be tradesman. Dere was woman I like very much and during dah war she was hurt badly by dah Federation. I changed meh mind after dat. I agree wit her when I turn 17 and I volunteer for dah Chippequoti military. Et was never meh original plan tah be Elite. Turned out I was better at war den I expected and soon I was general of large portion of military. Dah Elite offer meh tah train and become one of dem tree times. When we come here, tah dah Alliance I finally accept because dey make offer wit more humility den before. Den, I am asked tah be here as protection for dah children." Mihael figured his story was going to be good enough for Koda and then immediately followed up to be sure his second question was still answered. "Do yah tink working wit Chips es easy?"

Koda listened while the man spoke. Love of family could drive a man to change anything for them if he had to. Something he hadn't understood until he had one of his own. He understood why Mihael had changed his mind and joined up. Koda hadn't known the man was a general or that their Elite were considered higher than some generals. That was something to keep in mind. Mihael repeated his question and Koda remembered he should answer. "Yes and no," he admitted, "I've only worked with the Chip men aboard this ship on this mission but I find them to be well-trained, efficient and hard working. So, that makes them easy to work with. It's harder to work regarding communication. There's a language barrier sometimes other times there are cultural differences. You stay to yourselves alot, so other than observation, it may be difficult to learn." He made his honest assessment and sat back some. "Why do you ask?"

Mihael noted that Koda's next answer was carefully put. He clearly didn't want to cause any great offense and Mihael shrugged. "I ask because I am curious. Dah Chippequoti are cautious people. I tink we're nut hard tah get along wit, but I tink yah fair when yah say dat we have language and custom differences. Dis sometimes es difficult. Et was very clear when dah sword dance was performed each time for dah Alliance dat dere could easily be misunderstandings. Et's easier tah understand Chippequoti ef yah jes ask. Most of dem will tell yah what yah want tah know."

Cautious was a decent way of putting it. Koda remembered the sword dance well enough, most Kaereleans did, and Mihael was right about that. "Fair," Koda agreed, "So, in the interest of curiosity. What do you think of this mission and it's people so far? And you were a General, yeah? Did you have a specialty?"

Now that he'd had his curiosity resolved Mihael expected to settle in and be done. That wasn't really what Koda had in mind though. It seemed the other man was suddenly chatty. "Dah mission es necessary for dah Councilwoman because of custom and I trust dat dah Emperor chooses dose on dah shep well." Laying back in his bed he put his hands behind his head and let one elbow rest against the wall and the other elbow stick out beyond the edge of the bed. "Meh specialty was training difficult soldiers. Many of dem became more distinguished ef dey lived long enough. What es yah specialty?"

The answer was bland and carefully worded without much thought. Well practiced. Apparently, Koda had either run to the end of the man's tolerance for questions or he didnt want to say what he really thought. The man was a trainer it seemed, which explained a few observations Koda had made. "Recon, offensive raids, Wilds Survivalist and Silent Flight," he answered.

"Oh, dah boring stuff eh?" Mihael made sure to keep his face void of emotion. He wanted to see how Koda would react to his little attempt at humor. "Sounds like yah needed someting like dis tah shake tings up for yah."(edited)

Koda sat his pad to the side and slid down a bit further into his fold out bed which gave an ominous creak. At Mihael's comment, he chuckled a bit. "Oh, aye. I needed a bit of a shake up from the humdrum ops, eh? I'm sure this assignment is a refresh after being a general for a bit too."

"Not so sure I would call et a refresh tah be laying en a room dat smells like Kaerelean. Whew..." Waving a hand in front of his face Mihael chuckle and then pointed to his bag under the bed. "Yah should use some of meh oils tomorrow. Yah would smell better."

Koda had been on long ops before and lead a team of his own. There was no better real icebreaker than a good insult. "Ah I'll be sure to scrub up tomorrow but, you're sure its not those smelly socks of yours? Man, stinking me out is bad enough, stinking yourself out takes talent."

If the man wanted to start tossing insults around like that Mihael figured it was time to move things up a notch. Sitting up some in the bed he reached down into his covers and pulled his socks off before tossing them at Koda's head. "Nut meh socks. Et's still yah stinky hide. Yah right, et does take talent tah make et smell so bad even yah notice."(edited)

Koda batted away the socks and shrugged with good humor. "Eh, you're probably right. I'll chalk it up to my Ewenian side."

Shorting a bit, Mihael found himself feeling pleased that Koda was slow enough that the socks actually got him, a little bit. "Yah got slow from dem too eh? Now yah try an insult for Chippequoti. Yah choose someting besides dah way we smell. I want tah see ef yah got any creative tinking, or ef dat's stunted too."

Mihael was actually goading him now and part of Koda wondered if there was a ulterior reason, but on the surface it was a light hearted jab contest. Koda gave a casual flick of his hand, gesturing. "Well, come to think of it, you do put a ton of oil in your hair. You've got enough up there to grease down a gun ten times over, but I figured you like to take care of it since its the only hair you've got." He made a point to scratch this chin meaningfully and let the stubble crackle under his nails.

The grin on Mihael's face got wider and wider as Koda mocked the greased hair and then noted it was the only hair on his body. "Well, nut quite." Mihael rubbed his eyebrows and blinked his eyes a few times to show off his eyelashes. "Yah observe dah obvious, but miss dah details. Anoter bad Ewenian trait?"

Koda grinned and laughed. "Aye, I think so." Ewenians were highly detail oriented and stickler for protocol but it was a bit fun to blame them anyways for this one. "It's almost as bad as watching you try to cook the other night. A few missed details there for sure," he jabbed back with a snort.

"What yah mean? Meh food was perfectly good. I made good Chippequoti food." Mihael protested that bit and realized he might have sounded a bit too sincere. "Well...yah problem es dat yah jes dun know what yah miss till I cook."

Koda smirked, hearing what might have been a touch of realness and gave a shrug. "That could be it. Maybe with a touch of salt too." To be fair Chippeqouti food hadnt been all that bad, different but not bad.

"Yah want meh tah be little more salty?" Mihael smirked and laid back. "I'm accomplished en dis."

Koda snorted and dropped his head back against the wall panel his cot was butted up against. "Aye. I dont think you make it as far as we have without accomplishing a little salt." He thought for a moment and then his curiosity got the better of him. "Out of curiosity, what trade were you going into before you swapped to the military?"

It sounded like their bit of conversation was drawing to an end and Mihael was about to settle in and then Koda decided to ask him a question about his past. Chuckling heartily Mihael shook his head. "Yah wouldn't believe meh ef I told yah. I was planning tah be a master cook."

Koda turned his head to toward Mihael and let out a chuckle It was too much after his jab about the man's mess hall skills. "I wouldn't have guessed a master cook, but now that I know, I've got some high expectations on your mess hall night." Koda let the joke rest as they chuckled a settled further into bed.

"Yah problem es dat yah dun know good food when yah see et. I will make very good snake gravy and bits wit sweet bread and some fruit. Yah will nut be able tah resist dat."

"We'll see," Koda said before reaching up to flip out the light. He hadn't met anyone who could cook snake better than a Reylian.

***********

Calysta fumbled with Isla's necklace, trying to dislodge the chain from her already made hair. She'd been fumbling with things all morning and this was the last of it. She let out a sigh and looked to Illya hopefully. "I think the chain is stuck, I can't seem to get it out, would you mind helping me untangle it?" Illya was sitting on the bed, dressed and ready to disembark despite the fact she was sure his knee was hurting. She leaned in for Illya to reach her without moving too much.

While he worked, Calysta was careful to keep herself from bumping his knee, and tensed up when she felt the small jostle of the ship landing at the brand new, and only dock at the Terran Colonies. What would happen when they stepped of the ship? How would they be received by the people she practically, though accidentally sent to slaughter? The engines were winding down and she looked at Illya with a small smile. "If I haven't told you lately, I'll tell you now. You're a good husband." When he finally released her hair from the chain she moved back but not before landing a kiss on his cheek. "Ready?"


***********

Dear Diary,

It turns out, the handsome fellow I met is named Ehud and we have our first date tonight. I'm a little nervous. I haven't done this in awhile and I hope I still remember how to be somewhat decent company. We are going to Kinte, somewhere I haven't been very often, but Illya assures me Ehud is safe to go with. He seems sweet and fun. I wonder if he likes to dance? I miss swing dancing. Would he be willing to learn? It's probably to early to think about those types of things since we haven't even been on the date yet. Here's hoping it goes well! Maybe I can ask about the dancing if he wants to go out again.....
 
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Silence

Anonymous Me
Mentor
Illya glanced over the reports on his pad that night. He had one of the children at the hospital and he immediately sent forward the bit on Koda's daughter. The picture of the little girl in recovery made his eyes widen some and he wondered for a moment if that was indeed the right child. Surely they were mistaken. That couldn't have been Koda's little girl. She did have the dark hair and fair skin. Hopefully the man wasn't terribly upset or felt that somehow it was a manipulation. It could look that way to someone who was politically savvy.

The next report was a bit more upsetting and for serious reasons. Saar reported several men missing from the Elite and while that was supposed to happen for this little spot the one he didn't expect to have go missing was Markus. What had Markus done? There was no telling and Illya sent communication back for Saar to set out scouts to look for Markus and gave him message that the men were on a special mission, but Markus was not to have gone anywhere. That was not part of the plan.

With that bit of excitement in all the wrong ways Illya wasn't feeling particularly cuddly, but he knew he would need to act normal so he wouldn't stress Kalizda. She already had enough and she was probably worried about going to the colonies. Though very few of the colonists had actually died, they still might not like her much.

When Kalizda finished in the bathroom and she stepped out and began to strip Illya decided he was in the mood for snuggling. Her legs were looking quite fine. They were smooth and well built for her size. She was quit proportionate and he certainly enjoyed the look of her legs. A glint came to his eyes as he watched her walk toward the bed. When she lifted the covers he rolled to his side and almost forgot about his knee until it twinged. Taking it a bit slower he got himself adjusted to be the big spoon and then snapped his finger to turn the bedroom light off. "Mmmm..." Sniffing her hair he pulled her a bit closer. "Yah smell good."

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

A sudden blast of pain through Illya's knee woke him up and he drew in a sharp breath as he felt his oldest son crawling into the bed. "Dah! I tink dere es a Tannas on dah shep. Like dah angry one Wynry talked about." Whispering loudly he moved in closer and started to pull and the covers on the bed. Illya stopped his son short and grunted, "Go to dah batroom and wait for a minute eh. I need tah put some cloting on and so does yah mum." For a moment his son didn't move as if he were in shock and Illya nudged him, "Get, we need tah put pajama's on. We sleep naked." At that his son moved a bit more quickly and Illya turned the light on in the bedroom and moved slowly to get his boxers. His knee was indeed sore, but a little scan from Dane tomorrow would be good enough. It didn't feel like it was bleeding, but it sure hurt.

As soon as the lights were out again Cypher opened the bathroom door and came over to the bed. Illya was sitting up this time and he made sure Cypher had room to crawl into the bed with him and Kalizda. "Yah jes stay till yah feel calm eh? Dere es no Tannas on dah shep." Illya wrapped his arm around Cypher and rested his hand on Kalizda's shoulder on the other side of the bed. With Cyher in the middle of the bed it was harder to sleep like they usually did.

The boy quickly got comfortable and fell asleep in about 15 minutes. Illya was too tired to move his son so he dozed off shortly after Cypher did. Illya didn't wake again until morning and he went to the medical bay and had Dane do a scan before he limped back to the bedroom to get dressed. How he was going to pull off his little plan he wasn't sure, but he was going to make it happen. If they stayed in the room while they landed it would be better. To keep Kalizda in the room a bit longer he made sure he took a very long time getting dressed and then it turned out she needed help with her necklace.

Illya stayed seated on the bed because he actually needed his brace on. He'd slept without it and he wandered around the room a little without it, but he wasn't going to try going without it much more than that. As soon as he had her necklace adjusted she leaned in and whispered sweetly to him with a kiss. Kissing her back he winked at her. "Yah only saying dat cause yah have no idea how bad I been. Jes wait for meh en dah hall while I get meh brace on eh?"

Once she was out the door he locked it and stumped through the room to his closet. He quickly stripped out of what she'd set aside for him to wear. Reaching into the closet he pulled out a box from the back and opened it to retrieve his special suit he had made for this event. By the time he had changed and tossed the other clothing on the bed and got his knee brace on she'd been waiting almost 10 minutes and they were going to be a bit late for their exit, but at least he'd be there to see her face.

This was going to be a big party because he'd seen with the numbers from their articles that many Terrans on the colonies were quite favorable of Kalizda as a 'sweet' woman and they seemed to enjoy those girly articles that he hated. However, it was worth it if this won the people over for her. Illya opened the door into the hallway and limped out in his brace. He still managed a mostly natural smile and he held an arm out for her. "I have little surprise planned for yah and dah kids. Also had a few more men appear. Dey will be hiding and running security en dah crowd. Ehvan es here wit team tah be sure we and dah citizens are safe."

When they came to the gang plank of the ship Illya took a deep breath and waited for the onslaught of people and holograms that would ensue. He figured he at least looked decent in the suit and the hat was pretty nice. Illya liked this suit the best of anything he'd tried thus far. It was at least comfortable.

Once the gang plank was lowered enough for them to see Illya grinned and waved to the people. He'd ordered a fair to be set for the event. The people didn't need to be stuffy about things. It was better that they get to have a party and many of them seemed to like his suggestion. There were Terran rides, candies and multiple stands with Terran goods from their stores. It was like a little festival and it would give them a little boost for the economy. Chancing a look at Kalizda he smiled even bigger. "Well, yah like dah idea? Dah people like tah see yah smile almost as much as I do."

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

The afternoon of fun went well and the welcoming dignitaries seemed to be more at ease in a less formal setting. It was a slightly different sort of greeting, but it displayed many of the things they had to offer while creating an environment that was sure to attract many more visitors. With evening coming they were going to be occupied with business after the children were off to bed. The business for the first night was blessedly short and then they sat at the tables in the tent with the big band playing.

It was an old time Terra theme with the fair and big band playing. It was in many ways what they considered the golden age and Illya liked that part of their history and the people seemed to think and he agreed it would have a good impression. The setting appeared to be simple in some ways, but it was certainly enjoyable. Even the foods were simple. Simple was incredibly tasty though.

Similar to how it had been on Terra they wanted to engage in a little singing after the dinner. A few of the dignitaries sang, but most of them politely refused. If there was one thing Terrans loved to do, it was singing and they loved to do it whether they were good or bad. Since Kalizda was not good at singing and she was bound to be embarrassed if she was asked he decided in advance that he would do the honors. Illya had taken his time choosing the song when he started making these arrangements with the colonies.

As the invitation to sing came around Illya stood up. There was no need for Kalizda to even need to refuse. "I do dah singing." That comment earned a few laughs and he smirked. "I jes limp meh way up dere." Getting up on the stage did his best to look at Kalizda and ignore the fact that probably the entire Alliance was going to be curious what he sounded like when he sang. Glancing behind himself he took a deep breath and then nodded to the band. As they started out he kept time by tapping the side of his leg with his fingers. Only a few notes into the song he started singing. When they came to an instrumental part Illya quickly got off the stage long enough to go give Kalizda a kiss and then race back up onto the stage to finish the song. He got there barely in time and belted out the last part of the song a bit louder than he started.

By the end of the song there were a few smiles in the room and a bit of laughing. Returning to his seat he sat down next to Kalizda and pulled her closer. It would undoubtedly be all over the girly magazines, but it would probably distract the people from the things they didn't like about her. Terrans were easy to get swept up into the emotion and thrill of things. Even if it didn't work, at least this night was fun.
 
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aryamajor

Curious Adventurer
Benefactor
It took Illya a bit longer to get ready on his own, but he was insistent that she didn't help with the braces and she didn't push the issue. Sometimes a man had his pride and she wasn't going to rush him even if they ran a little behind at some point. That was one good thing about the Councilwoman. She was never late, everyone else was simply early.

She took the few minutes to make sure the kids were ready to go. She helped Lohgan make her hair in to two curly, red braids and helped Cypher roll up his sleeves neatly. By the time Illya emerged into the living room, she was wiping Edgar's mouth free of crumbs from a pastry had had found from...somewhere. They hadn't had pastries in a few days so there was no telling where he had gotten from. When she looked up, she found Illya looking different. Different and handsome. He had on some sort of suit with a neat vest and a flat cap. It was...dashing. Not quite like the uniform she both loved and hated. It suited him and she stared openly for a few moments, a slow smile spreading across her face. "I really like that suit on you," she said. It took her a moment to realize she'd said it at all and she blushed when she did, her smile turning sheepish. With her cheeks reddened, she turned toward the hatch and cleared her throat. "Are your ready?"

********

Of all the things she had expected stepping off the ship on the Terran colonies, an entire fair teeming with people, rides, and the luscious scent of fried food was not one of them. An entire fair was waiting for them along with a crowd of media and welcomers. She stood there taking in the flashing booths of games, and food and the giant steel structures. She hadn't arranged this at all. But then who had?

"Well, yah like dah idea? Dah people like tah see yah smile almost as much as I do."

Calysta glanced at Illya, her eyes growing wide. He had arranged for this? All without her knowing? Her eyes shifted to the fair grounds, then back to him and she smiled a broad grin. Some how he knew her all too well, even if he couldn't remember somethings. Everyone was in a good mood at a fair. The air was light, cheerful, and merry. "It's perfect," she breathed as she took his hand, "I can't believe you did all this."

"Eh, he's pretty good at it." An older man said as he walked up to the edge of the gangplank. The delegate for the Terran colonies was a man named Robert Roberston. He preferred Mr. Bob though. He was as old as Terrans really got with real functionality, brushing 90 years of age. He walked forward, back still straight and his pure white hair fluttering on the slight breeze. He wore a white button up tucked into pleated pants and a smart looking plaid bow tie. His caramel colored skin cracked as his cheeks lifted into a smile. "Welcome, Councilwoman to New Terra City. We've spoken before, but never in person," he said, "It's a pleasure to finally meet you." Then he gestured to a dark skinned woman at his side. She wore her locked hair in an intricate bun on top of her head laden with loops of gold. Her makeup was carefully placed bright red ochre over her cheeks and brows. The woman smiled, flashing white teeth, and bowed in the Kaerelean style, her hand on her chest to keep her sash-style dress from falling open. "This is Adwoa," he said then he chuckled, "My assistant and my replacement on the council here some day," he said, "I let her do the bow, as she doesn't crackle when she bends over."

The crowd laughed lightly at the comment and the cheered. "It is a pleasure to meet with you," Adwoa said, her accent heavy, "I am very excited to meet you in person." Calysta had never heard the accent before and she wanted to ask more about where the woman was from on Terra out of pure curiosity, but now was not the time. People were looking and the media was recording them all. Calysta bowed at the waist, returning the gesture and they both rose up as the crowd let out another cheer. "It's a pleasure to visit New Terra City and the adjoining colonies. I've been looking forward to it."

"Shall we?" Mr. Bob said, gesturing a crinkled hand toward the fair.

She nodded and linked arms with Illya to walk down the gang-plank and into the fair.

*******

There were rows and rows of arts, crafts, and other stores. Quilts, and livestock, and goods were everywhere including hundreds of food booths. The sun was high and the breeze was warm as it tickled through the tent flaps and over the freshly shorn grass fields. "This is great," Calysta said, squeezing Illya's arm excitedly, "Look at all of this."

Mr. Bob seemed more than pleased and invited them to tour the different stalls while he shuffled along side. "Here, we've been growing gotten and harvesting wool from the stock of sheep. The hogs you see here, have been raised and we use them for a variety of purposes, including the sausages you see grilling over there. We're nearly self sufficient on quite a few things." Calysta knew he was trying to show off the colonies major strides forward. It was his job to show her everything after all. She was thankful that after showing all of their pottery, and gemstones, jams, butters, live stock, and all the other goods, that he did not ask about their entrance into the Alliance. No, he would be saving that question for later.

After awhile, Mr. Bob and Adwoa let them explore to enjoy the fair on their own. They would be meet again tomorrow for a more in depth tour. Until then she was going to enjoy the fair without the additional pressure of Mr. Bob and his protege driving home political points, however subtle. The walked the craft booths for quite some time and she spoke with the people running them. Some of them had come from the furthest colony sites to be there, not just to sell their goods, but to meet her. Everyone was friendly and they were polite enough not to offer their hand to shake, but to bow instead. It was surprising for Terrans to be so attentive to other cultures but Calysta didn't say anything. She greeted them in kind and learned as much as she could with each new conversation. The media was a constant shadow lurking and snapping holograms, but she made a point to ignore them and simply act like she normally would.

Later in the afternoon, Calysta spied the booth from across the wide berth of the fairground midway. It was small, perhaps a bit too small, but the curtain was pushed aside and it was empty. This was their chance. She would see if Illya would be willing to join her. She took his hand and looked up at him with a wide grin. "Would you want to take a picture with me?"

With so many booths it was easy to see that the kids would be entertained and Illya was pleased for that, but they still had to stick together for the most part. Then he felt Kalizda pull on his hand and he glanced over at the place she was looking at. "Dat's a picture boot? Dey take picture enstead of hologram?"

Calysta nodded. "Aye, I think it can do both, but I've always wanted to try one. I've seen them in old Terran movies, yeah?"

Swinging their hands forward Illya took the first step forward, "Well den, we jes go over dere and give et a try." He wasn't really sure what to expect, but he had heard of pictures instead of holograms. "So eh, what yah tinking we should do next? I see dis stuff dey call cotton candy. Et looks very strange. Maybe we try eating et?"

Calysta grinned, excited to be taking her first picture in an old style booth and to be taking it with Illya. He took the first step and she followed naturally. His gate was a little off because of his knee, but she compensated and made sure to sway with him so she wasn't pulling him in odd directions that would be painful. He mentioned what they might do after the booth and expressed interest in cotton candy. "I've heard about it, but I've never had it," Calysta admitted, "We should definitely try it." Her small hand squeezed his as they made it to the booth. Pushing the curtain aside, she looked at the small bench and then took a look at Illya. "I think you're going to have to get in first and then I'll fold in behind you, yeah?" The booth was open on either side save for the curtain, so if Illya had to, he could stick both knees out.


the booth was incredibly small when they arrived and Illya stared at it for a moment before he decided on what he should do to fold himself in there and still have room for Kalizda. "Yah better nut be behind meh, yah too short. Yah sit en dah front." Stepping in with his good knee first he pivoted some and moved his other leg in. The whole box wobbled as he did his best to get himself seated and then he stuck his right foot out the opposite door. At least that way he would have his injured knee mashed into the front of the booth. The left knee was mashed and he helped Kalizda into the booth. "Yah set on meh tigh." Pointing to his right thigh he motioned for her to sit there. She was small and she would be careful not to hit his knee. It was the only way he could see her fitting in the booth for the picture. "How does et work?"

Calysta let Illya do what he needed to do to cram himself into the booth. If it hadnt been for his injured knee, watching him tilt the entire booth would have been a bit comical. She still found it slightly endearing as he settled into the bench then offered out his hand. She pushed the curtain aside and took his big hand in hers. Careful of his sore knee, she stepped gingerly inside and managed to turn enough to sit down gently on his right thigh which had more than enough real estate for her to perch. He radiated heat and she enjoyed the feeling, especially now that the evening was cooling down. When he asked out it worked, she tapped her chin and looked at the little screen in front of them. "Not sure, but lets see what happens. I can read most of the instructions I think." It had directions numbered 1-3 written in old Terran. One was insert a paper credit or ticket. She pulled out a crinkled credit from her hidden pocket and straightened it out, then fed it into the machine slot. It chimed and more instructions appeared. "Sit...smile...and try a new pose for each ...." Calysta said curiously. "No...that says...flash....try a new pose for each flash. Oh, it works on exposure. Wow, this really is an antique." A sudden worry hit her when she thought about the flashes. "I forgot about the flashes...it only does it four times though....will you be okay?" She looked at Illya in concern. She didn't want to ruin a perfectly good night by giving him a seizure all be cause she wanted to try a photo booth.

Once they were settled in Kalizda started trying to translate it and she said something about 4 flashes. "I should be fine. I dun tink dat would cause a problem." Looking at the screen he frowned. "How do we know whe..." About that time it flashed and he squinted afterword. "Dat was bright," and it flashed again. With slight exasperation he tried to smile for the next picture and on the last one he decided to turn his head so he could kiss Kalizda on the cheek.

The first flash caught them both off guard and Calysta's eyes were open wide in surprise when the first flash caught them. The next one came faster than she thought as she tried to blink the first one out of her eyes. On the third one, she quickly tossed up a smile and looked into the screen and on the fourth, she decided she wanted to kiss her husband. She moved her hand up but it seemed Illya had the same idea. His lips met her cheek causing her to grin enough to turn her eyes into merry half moons as she held his neck. When the flashes were over, the instructions said to exit and wait one minutes. She giggled and enjoyed the kiss on her cheek before turning to look at him. "Let's see how they turned out?" She extricated herself from his lap so he could get up and eagerly awaited the prints to come out. "It was fun," she grinned at Illya. They waited for the pictures to come out and after a minutes they inched out of the machine. She plucked them up and started laughing. The first one was truly awful. She looked like a deer in the headlights and Illya was squinting fiercely. The second one made them look confused and the third was a set of awkward smiles. The last was the best one. She was grinning as Illya kissed her on the cheek.(edited)

Illya was a bit stunned after the flashes and he blinked a few times before he rubbed his eyes. Kalizda worked her way out and Illya struggled to get his right leg into the machine again so he could stand an work his way out. He was still seeing flashes of light in his eyes and the flash was traveling across his vision when they reached the spot where they would wait for their pictures. Rubbing his eyes again he chuckled a bit, "Well, et was interesting. Nut sure I like seeing spots so much." He knew they would fade in a few minutes.

Calysta chuckled and held the pictures up for him to see too. "The flashes were odd, not nearly as easy as holograms. That last one is my favorite but I think I'll keep them all." There was something nice about having a tangible photo of him. "I dont have very many pictures of you after all. At least not ones just for us."

Once the flashes cleared from his vision he held the other side of the photos and tilted them so he could see them better. "Dose are very unusual images of meh." A grin came over his face and he winked at her, "Yah dun look quite right en dah first tree."

"Neither do you," she chuckled, "I still like them and I'm keeping them." She slipped a hand around his waist and leaned up to kiss his cheek. "We could try again too, unless you really want to go for that cotton candy."

Illya shook his head. "Oh, I tink dese are jes fine. We dun look dat funny. We can keep dese pictures." He didn't relish the idea of squishing back into that booth. "Maybe we go try dat cloud candy now."(edited)

Calysta chuckled and gently folded he pictures along the border to put in her hidden pocket, then she offered her hand to Illya. "Cloud candy it is." She walked with him patiently over to the booth that had a long line until the worker spied Illya standing taller than the crowd. "Oh! General, sir. No need to wait, I can make this next one yours if you want."

The two of them slowly made their way over to get the cloud candy. Illya saw that it was called cotton candy, but it looked more like clouds to him. While they were standing in line suddenly someone was trying to offer him the next bit and not have him wait in line. It was a nice offer, but not fair. "No, I am nut next. Yah serve dah oter people en front of meh first."

A few heads turned to look at him until he gave his answer and the candy maker gave a smile. "Whatever you like, sir." He gave the next roll of cotton to the next person in line and they all moved forward. Calysta held Illya's hand and enjoyed his company. Her cheeks were flushed and she felt relaxed. Happy, even. Exploring, trying new things with him and spending time with her family made her happy. She hardly even noticed the occasional holograms being taken by the media who happened by them. When they were up next, she watched as the candy was made, spun into bright pink puffs and wrapped around a stick. "Two please." It only took a moment and the man was handing over two fluffy clouds. "It smells really sweet," she noted, "What do you think?"

Illya waited in line patiently. He was wondering how the stuff tasted. People seemed to think that it good enough to wait for some time. When it was finally his and Kalizda's turn he took the second wand with the candy and he didn't bother smelling it. Illya already had a large puff of pink in his mouth when Kalizda was just sniffing hers and then asking him what he thought. Illya quickly swallowed what was in his mouth before he moved to the side to allow the next person to get their cotton candy. "I dun know. Et es very good."

Leave it to Illya to say he didn't know what he thought and then to add that it tasted good. She chuckled a little and bit into hers. It was sweet and airy and before she could really chew it, it was gone. "It melts fast," she laughed, "I didn't expect that. It is good though." She took a few more bites, but the sugar was too much. "I don't suppose you'd like the rest of mine?" she offered to Illya.

Illya was busily working on his cloud candy when Kalizda offered the rest of hers and he nodded. "MmmI tink dat I will be able tah finish et for you." Calysta laughed and handed it over to him and let him have the rest of it. This was one night she wasn't concerned about what she was eating. She was more than ready to hit up a few rides too.

Fortunately, Illya liked spinning rides as much as she did. They crammed into a Scrambler booth first and had fun spinning on the axis as she laughed. They tried to get on another ride called the Ring of Fire, but the booth was so small and was supposed to lock over head. Illya was simply too tall to ride. The man running the ride apologized and laughed a little. "Sorry, I don't think I've every had anyone too tall to safely ride."

After dinner, they made their way to a bandstand area where live music and singing was happening. Mr. Bob and Adowe were there watching, but not jumping at the chance to sing. Others were stepping up though and having a blast, whether the singing was great or not. When she was offered the chance, Illya stepped in and said he would sing instead. She was grateful that he did. Singing was not her strong suit and all she needed was people telling her she might be called little bird, but she sang like a half strangled hen. Not to mention, she loved hearing Illya sing. He did it so rarely, and she understood why, but it was a treat when he did sing.

Of course, he had to make it a grand show, singing to her and then dashing off stage to kiss her in the middle. She kissed him back with a big grin and blushed as he dashed back onto the stage to belt out the final bit. A loud round of applause erupted from those watching the show and she blushed even hard as he joined her again off the stage. He always sang for her and she would be lying if she said she didn't love it. With a kiss to his cheek, she laughed and tugged him a bit close. "How long have you been practicing that without me hearing, hmm?"

The media snapped holograms and took notes, but her eyes were solely focused on her husband who had rolled up his sleeves and was smiling down at her like she hadn't seen in a while. This had been such a good idea. Suddenly, A whiff of something fried caught her nose and it smelled delicious as it wafted from a booth nearby. People were walking away with what looked like some sort of fried meat on a stick. The sign above the booth was written old Terran again. She wasn't sure what it said, but it includes several translations to separate Terran languages below. "I'm not sure what that is but it looks and smells good," Calysta said, "Want to give it a try?"

***********
Koda stood a respectable but reachable distance from the Councilwoman and the General. There were plenty of people here and the Councilwoman had no qualms about getting close to people. She was talking, leaning in close to strangers to look at crafts, patting strange animals, and generally acting as if several hundred assassins weren't hanging around in deep cover. While she was meant to look natural, he gathered this was just her natural state more than an act for the people she was visiting. That didn't include the media who sometimes liked to get a little too close for a good shot. He had bounced more than one back with simple looks or words of warning. The Councilwoman was friendly, too friendly sometimes, and he had to keep a close eye on her.

Luckily the Councilwoman and General were riding a series of rides now which did, at least, limit how close people could get for a few minutes. Dane had been his mostly silent partner for the afternoon and they stood shoulder to shoulder near the exit of the ride to pick up their guard as soon as the two of them stepped off. While they waited, Koda watched a few of the booths with curiosity. "So, this is a Terran Fair," he said, "Never been to one." Dane gave a brief reply about how he'd never been to one either but that most of the ride weren't something he'd really like. Koda could hear the Councilwoman yelling in excitement as the ride started and he stole a glance over his shoulder. " Spinning rides aren't my thing either. The Councilwoman seems to be enjoying it at least."

Someone walked by with strange food item on a long stick and he eyed it curiously. It wasn't hard to figure out where they'd gotten in from either. Several more people walked by, creating a trail right to the booth. "Hmmm. I haven't had much Terran food either. That looks pretty good. Maybe I'll give it a shot on break, eh?"
 

Silence

Anonymous Me
Mentor
When Illya returned from the song he could see a deep red had settled across her cheeks and he winked at her. There wasn't really any possible way for her blush anymore, but she managed to turn a deeper shade of red and the color spread to her ears and her neck. Resting one hand over hers he leaned in for a gentle kiss Even if the reporters were busy taking holograms he didn't mind. They could see that he loved her and it was important after all these years of public ridicule that she was publicly recognized as being someone that was greatly loved. If he loved her it would be easier for others to see her that way too.

Of course when the food came around he couldn't say no. The strange stick bread turned out to be wrapped around that long slender meat that Terrans seemed to love so much. For now it would do. Illya found that he didn't mind it too much and he took another two or three, perhaps four more when they came around with more of them. At least it was meat.

After the dinner filled with festive Terran foods he got onto the rides with Kalizda. The kids were escorted in part by Kalizda and himself and the guards. Once the kids were tucked into bed for the night Illya took Kalizda to the rides so they could indulge in a few themselves. A few gradually turned into a few more and few more until he started to feel a bit dizzy and nauseated. For the walk home Dane stood on one side and helped prop him up as he wobbled through the streets back to the dock.

Part way through the night Illya rolled over again. He'd been tossing and turning since he got to bed shortly after 1:00 a.m. and now he was feeling sicker by the minute. Somehow he'd managed to stay dizzy after the rides and even the slightest motion made him feel like he was going to hurl. As he turned to try and get more comfortable he felt a hot acid begin to crawl and then surge up his throat. Quickly swallowing it back and then lurching again he put his hands in front of his mouth and stumbled for the bathroom. Before he could make to the sink, or toilet the next great heave from his stomach forced everything from his mouth and he heard the splat as the vomit sprayed across the floor, his legs, the vanity, side of the tub and toilet. Grumbling, he wobbled over to the side of the bed and put his boxers on before the next wave hit.

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

Dane barely got himself to the infirmary where he began with mixing up a drink to help settle his stomach. He'd had a few of the foods and he decided it was best to run some blood tests. Especially if the other Elite were sick. No sooner had he run his own blood test and found it was negative than Mihael and Bahn both walked into the infirmary holding buckets in front of their faces. "Jes wait."

Serving the tea into two more mugs Dane set one in front of each man and then prepared to collect a blood sample from them. Neither of them came up positive for poison and so he decided that after he quit periodically running for a bucket, or the toilet that he'd go see how the General was doing. By now he was fairly certain that it was not poison, but simply an allergen they all had in common. It was doubly convincing when Bahn came dashing into the infirmary and then tore past him and occupied the bathroom for a few minutes before exiting and asking for a treatment.

By the time Illya made it into the infirmary the rest of them were almost over their symptoms, but Illya had determined they would have to change the schedule slightly. The immediate need after that was to discover what exactly it was that contained corn. It was the only food that they all had a shared allergen to. With a switch in guard they knew that they would have to ready to take their posts by afternoon. It wasn't fair to ask Koda to stay up for that many hours for a stupid mistake. One that very single member of the Elite made. To have made that level of mistake was simply unacceptable and it was careless of them.

Illya didn't want Kalizda to go out without him, but he had no choice for the morning. Before she left he came out of the infirmary long enough to make her promise to give him time to meet up with her and go in the afternoon. She wasn't going to have to face the Terrans all day without him. There was no telling what would happen. The Elite had already determined that this was one of the more dangerous spots to be simply because of the fact that they were in a place that was solely committed to the Federation or Alliance. It was likely a hot spot for potential assassins, political unrest or hostility.

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

That afternoon Illya and Dane got dressed in their fatigues. Illya sent a secure message out to Ehvan. He didn't want the extra support too close, but it wouldn't hurt to have them nearby if anything happened. Ehvan had been keeping a small team of men near the ship and posted for security around the fair grounds. Now that Illya knew where the next meeting was to be he wanted a few men dispatched out that way too. It was best to have their bases covered where possible.

More than likely Kalizda would have preferred that he wore something nicer, but Illya didn't want to stand out too much on the colonies if he could help it. The fatigues at least helped him blend with his men. The Terrans had provided a basic, but sturdy looking flier. It even had a generous sized seat for him. Illya grinned at Kalizda and then got into the seat next to her. Somehow, the fortunate and equally unfortunate part about this ride was that he got to sit. Sitting for nearly an hour was hard on his knee. He couldn't move that much in the seat and while the seat was large, the legroom was a bit smaller feeling. When he adjusted in his seat he noticed a hard lump in it and Illya rubbed it with his hand till he heard Dane behind him grumble and then he started laughing. At least his legs weren't as long as Dane's. He wasn't grinding his knee into someone's back in front of him. "Maybe, I take dah back next time eh? Den yah can shove yah knee en someone else's back."

When they finally landed Dane got out first and looked around. Things appeared to be alright. Illya got out after Dane and Rezna and then he offered an arm to Kalizda. There were a few little vendors nearby. He didn't see any permanent structures nearby and it felt a bit odd, but then again they had come to see the production and what the Terrans had made of the place.

Illya looked around the fields and he couldn't help smiling. It earned him a question about his thoughts and he answered honestly. "I like tah see farms and I like farmers. Dey have simple lives. Et es someting I can admire." He didn't care to get too deep into the thoughts, but it seemed to be satisfactory for now. If the war went well he would perhaps speak a bit more about some of his reasons for things, but for now he had a lot at stake and he wasn't going to blow it for a little bit of good press.

The first vendor had a sort of meat and they offered a sample. Even if Illya's stomach felt a bit weak he wasn't about to refuse a good looking piece of meat. Thanking the person he nodded his head and took a little bite and then offered some to Dane who in turn took a small bite and passed it to the next security guard. Whatever Illya received he was going to share with his men. They all deserved to enjoy what was there too. Seeing how he did this the vendor offered each of them a sample and Illya was more than pleased to give a sample to them all. They had to show good faith even if it could be poisoned.

"Dat was good." Illya still walked next to Kalizda as he followed the Terran delegates out from under the shade of the stand toward the next one. A sudden sharp sting hit his head and Illya heard the sickening sound of a bullet hitting flesh somewhere behind him. They were out here without almost no cover. The bullet wasn't close range, he knew that much. With one hand he pushed Kalizda to the ground and got down on his stomach next to her. Looking behind himself he saw Dane clutching his neck and laying on the ground. "Yah stay here." Illya knew Kalizda didn't have much choice. Her guard was going to do what it took to keep her safe. The shooter was still active, but they needed the back up now.

Squirming across the ground Illya checked Dane. "I take yah radio and get help." Illya carefully worked around Dane's bloodied neck and hands while the man winced and did his best to restrict the blood flow without choking himself. Putting the radio on Illya nodded to Dane. Dane shifted and Illya took his gun and then Illya started to work his way toward the vendors. People were still huddled in odd places and he knew they couldn't stay there long. It had only been a matter of seconds, but it felt longer.

"Need back up now. We have multiple injuries." Illya blinked some as he felt blood run down the side of his face and into his right eye. Wiping the blood away he began crawling on his belly till he found a few people in a more vulnerable place and began directing them to a safer location. He could only guess at where the shooter was for now, but he was going to do his best to get people out of the way.

Evhan came across the radio. "We're setting up sights on the shooter. We've almost got him." Then Sergi whispered into his radio. "We've got more than one." Cursing under his breath Illya crawled a few more feet and asked where. The second one they were about to lock in on, but they still suspected another was out there. It was a trap for sure. Maybe intentional and maybe not. Based on the people here Illya liked to think it was not intentional. Coming up on a woman he tried to hiss at her and tell her to move, but she stayed put. "Hey..." Speaking a little louder he reached out and touched her foot. She jumped up and started running. "No!"

She was going to get herself shot. Illya got up without thinking and darted after her. Running up next to her and grabbing her around the waist he pulled her to himself and dropped. Meeting her frightened eyes he pointed to where he wanted her to move to and crawled next to her. His shoulder was hurting badly and he figured he must have landed on it funny. Not to mention at this point his knee was throbbing. Then he heard another call on his radio.

"Boy's they're cutting you off. Abandon the people." Illya knew the voice too well. It was Markus. His father had come here and he was on the outside telling them to get out. "I'm holding your exit clear. Get out."

This was a call Illya hated to make. "Rezna, yah heard et. Get Kalizda out of here." Lifting his head slightly he nodded to Kalizda. "Tell her et will be ok. We're nut leaving dah people here tah die, but she has tah get out."

Then a call came back that Illya hadn't thought to expect. "I should've known. Make your way back. I'll cut a deep line." Markus answered. Illya frowned some and turned on his side to see his father come tearing into the fields on a small flyer. Markus was horrible at flying. The thing sputtered and then took off at a terrifying pace and the man was pressed hard into the seat with a determined look on his face. "Ehvan give meh dah coordinates." As Ehvan rattled coordinates Markus drove the flyer over the land and scorched the surrounding area. Behind the flyer he left several screaming or dying men and some began scrambling to get out of the way in time for Ehvan or other snipers to shoot them. When it came time to stop the flyer Markus came short of barreling through the people.

Stepping out of the flyer he walked over to Illya and offered his hand. "Somebody had tah watch yah back." Illya took Markus' hand and clenched his jaw. "So yah jes disobey meh orders and come here?" Markus nodded in response and looked his son over. "I see many assassination attempts and I hear little news from friend of meh. He gives meh head up dat yah could be en trouble. I know yah would nut leave dem tah die when yah only give order for yah Kalizda tah leave." Stepping to Illya's side he grabbed him. "Yah also need clinic. Yah bleeding everywhere."

Illya looked down at his shoulder and chest for the first time since he noticed the pain in his shoulder and noticed his fatigues were soaked and his pants were smeared with blood too at this point. "Oh, dat's nut good. What about Dane?" Dane sat up from his spot and winced some, but gave a nod. "Ok, we have medical evacuation coming?" Illya asked.

Markus nodded, "We'll get as many as dah colonies have tah offer. Dere are several injured." Looking around the area Illya realized that despite his attempts and the attempts of his men there were indeed many people that the several shooters had injured. A sudden panic hit him. Had Kalizda been injured. Pulling against Markus he started to try and struggle toward where he'd last seen her. "Kalizda!"
 

aryamajor

Curious Adventurer
Benefactor
It was a late night for everyone and that included the kids. They were so excited, they insisted they were not tired at bedtime. Not tired in the slightest, but by the time they took the walk back to the ship, cleaned them up and tucked them into bed, eyes were beginning to droop. Edgar's eye lashes fluttered sleepily as she wiped powdered sugar off of his plump cheeks and tucked him into bed. Thomas was already dozing, clutching a little banner on a stick he'd won as a prize. She slipped the banner out of his hands and then went to tuck in Lohgan who was looking wobbly in her little night gown. Only Cypher remained awake immediately after being tucked in and he insisted on going back out until she informed him that she needed help looking after the ship. She convinced him to look out the window and keep an eye on everyone from the one way window. He started out with strict vigilance and Calysta chuckled before turning to Wynry and whispering, "When he falls asleep, have one of the men pick him up and carry him off to his bed. You won't be able to lift him. Akten, Koda, Rezna or the Elite can."

With that, she and Illya went back into the fair for some more fun. The night continued with many more rides. It was fun riding with Illya. The difference between her weight and his weight made the various buckets and compartments spin at ridiculous speeds. She always ended up getting crammed next him while she laughed at the constantly spinning world. It was a good night, but at some point Illya simply got too dizzy to walk. Maybe he had a harder time reaching balance again because of his ears. Either way, he stumbled almost a bit drunkenly with Dane at his side toward their ship. There had been a few small hotels to stay at in the city, but the ship was easier to secure and more comfortable than the hotels, so she had opted for that when making arrangements.

Tucked into bed, she stretched out over her Chip, a leg flopped over his hip and a sleepy smile on her face. "I haven't been to a fair in a long time," she whispered into his ear, before giving the lobe a playful, but gentle nibble. "It was fun." She held him close and loved on him some, though he was still dizzy and they were both a bit tired. "Thank you, love. It was sneaky of you....and wonderful." He really did know here well, and she had in mind to show him just how well she knew him too but he was looking a bit pale. Pale for a Chip wasn't usually a good sign.

"Are you still feeling dizzy?"

Her answer came when he made a face and suddenly jumped up to dash toward the bathroom. A sickening splat also told her he hadn't made it to the toilet. Grimacing, she tossed the covers off and reached for her robe. About the time she grabbed it, Illya came stumbling back in with vomit on his chin and began fumbling with his boxers. He managed to step into them and get them mostly pulled up before hauling himself back toward the bathroom, brown butt still showing some.

Calysta heard him heaving again and pulled on her robe the rest of the way before following him into the bathroom. "Well, I've never had quite that effect on a man before," she mumbled dryly to herself.

It looked like a vomit bomb had exploded inside. The tub, the floor, the base of the toilet were all spattered with chunky puke. Bits of the fair food that clearly hadn't digested very well. Illya was already face in the toilet, heaving some more. She grimaced again. Was it because of his dizziness or maybe he had eaten corn? She tried not to let her mind go to the immediate worry of someone poisoning him. That made her queasy to think about on its own.

"I'm going to get the cleaning stuff," she said, "And a bucket...eh...two buckets...I'll be right back."

With that, she shuffled out of the bathroom, into the captains quarters, and then into the hall. The only thing about being in a metal ship was sound traveled fairly well. At first, she thought she heard Illya's vomiting echoing down the corridor, but the further she walked, the more she realized it was the sound of someone else puking. Multiple people. She quickly checked on the kids and saw it wasn't any of them. It was all coming from bathrooms and areas assigned to the Chip men. "Oh no..." she winced. What had they eaten with corn? She hadn't seen any corn at the fair at all.

**********

The night was much longer than any of them intended. She had helped Illya clean up the bathroom and get settled into a place he could reach a toilet with some comfort. Now, all she could do was keep an eye on him and get some sleep before meeting with Mr. Bob in the morning for breakfast which was only a few hours away.

Morning came a little too fast for her liking and she rolled out of bed to get dressed. They would be going out to the colonial outskirts today for a tour of what the Terrans had been doing with the land, but there were a few matters to attend to in the city first. She put on a set of tiny Terran pants called jeans and a breezy sort of blouse before braiding her hair.

A quick check with Illya made it clear her Chip was sick and exhausted. She was sure it wasnt poison though, just corn sickness some how. Maybe they had fried their food in corn oil? She smoothed down his hair and kissed his cheek. "Why don't you sleep in today, love? The itinerary has me here in the city for a bit then we'll take a drive to the outskirts, yeah? Not much to miss and I can take Rezna along with Akten." He didn't like the idea very much and insisted she at least wait until he met up with them to go to the outskirts. "We'll wait for you then," she compromised, "Just try to get some rest, yeah?" She kissed his cheek again and gave his hand a squeeze before leaving him to rest.

The morning meetings went well enough. Rezna was her usual energetic self but Akten was a little stiff. He was in rotation because the Elite men were still hugging the toilets and guarding the councilwoman on her official business was a bit different than herding their children. Calysta knew he was trying to do as efficient a job as he could but his stiffness was in direct clash with the casual and friendly greeting she received from Mr. Bob and Adowe. They ate breakfast and then Mr. Bob hauled her around the city. They toured the courts and city hall, the main square, visited businesses and the main office of the growing trade company in town which proudly announced they vetted their trading partner's thoroughly for any Federation ties. She was greeted by the dock workers who were busy building more mooring stations for trading vessels to bolster the one station they had so far. Because of the mass exodus from Terra, the people were as diverse as they were on Kaereal all in one place. It reminded her of Kinte in that regard. So many people with so many different background and cultures were building things up together. She also toured the jail, which was small, but clean. "Most of the inmates here are people who were taking advantage of the chaos for awhile," Mr. Bob explained. Adowe nodded and added to the comment to it in her thick accent, "Anyone we have apprehended with clear Federation ties has been handed to the Alliance in full cooperation. We do not tolerate Federation here. All of our businesses are our own and our officers work very hard to keep illicit trade and other crime out of our city. This is our fresh start and we aim to keep corruption of our new home out of the planet." Her words were determined and almost fierce as she said them.

Calysta didn't say much, but let them show her all of the things they wanted. Eventually, they made their way to an official motor pool where several Kaerelean style skimmers were waiting. Not everyone had vehicles in the city. There were two busses that could be ridden from one end to the other and from north to south, but that was all. Everyone else walked. Adowe had explained that though things had been chaotic, they had tried to identify people with city planning and architecture skills quickly. With the help of Kaerelean and Terran engineers they had cut out a city with proper, safe walkways in most places with solar panels powering each building that was made and where each building should logically go. The water ducts were made safe and the sewers ran separate to facilities for proper cleaning. Plans had also been made ahead of time to provide more public transportation in the future through electric rail car systems through the area. That would be further into the future though. The city itself was still small and had few real amenities beyond functionality. She did note they had made a theatre though, as all Terrans seemed to enjoy movies and shows. It had all been laid out logically, but it also meant that progress was slow when done right. So many people couldn't stay in one spot and had spread out to the outskirts to farm or raise live stock.

They met at the motor pool and soon Illya joined them. He was still looking a bit ashen but he didn't look as though he was covered in clammy sweat which was good. Dane joined them and she was glad the man had been able to confirm that it wasn't poison but merely corn allergy for all the Elite. The man looked the worse for wear, but otherwise fine.

Rezna jumped into the skimmer and inspected it inside while someone else took a peek at the exterior. Then they all folded into the bench seats. Rezna and Akten had to sit on the exact opposite side of Dane and Illya simply to balance out the vehicle. Once they were all in, it was off to the outskirts. Adowe drove them over the paved roads which eventually became dirt paths stretching out into the land. While she drove, Mr. Bob explained more about the outskirts. There were wind silos set on hills now, offering power and serving as communication towers for certain areas where small villages had cropped up. The silos were still being built in some areas though, so comms and network access could be spotty. Illya was actually smiling and enjoying the ride through the countryside. He commented on farmers enjoying the simple life and she agreed it certainly had its appeals.

"We're quite proud of what we've been able to accomplish here," Mr. Bob said, "We work hard for our fresh start."

"What's that out there?" Calysta asked curiously, looking at a massive field they were passing by, "Beans of some kind?"

Mr. Bob glanced out and shook his head, "Early Maize," he told her, then noting her confusion, added, "Corn, Councilwoman. One of our top exports to Kaereal and the the Alliance, along with wheat."

Calysta looked at the rolling hills of corn growing as far as the eye could see and resisted the urge to look at Illya or Dane.

When they arrived at the little outskirts outpost labeled "Borderton" they found themselves greeted by a pop-up market. There were stalls of fresh produce, dairy, and meats. Some offered her fresh jams, peaches with cream made with local dairy cows, soaps made from goats milk, and more. They stopped by a little stall laden with fresh sausages and a skewer of meat spinning over an open fire pit. It smelled delicious and the owner, a olive skinned woman with dark curly hair grinned at them, speaking in a strange language before a younger man stepped up. "My mother invites you to try our gyro meat, made from fresh lamb we raised and rare spices." He sliced off a sizzling piece and offered a chunk on a toothpick for each of them to try. Calysta's eyes widened with clear delight. The meat was fresh and delicious. "It's wonderful," she nodded, "And you raised the animals yourself?"

She was just learning about a place called the Mediterranean from the young man when something went terribly wrong. There was a strange thunking sound just as Illya hauled her to the ground. Under the heavy weight of his hand, she half fell to the dirt. It wasn't until she saw the young man collapse beside her, that she realized someone was shooting at them. Illya had dropped to his belly for cover but there wasnt much of that here. They were in an open field practically. Rezna had forced her to stay down while Illya scrambled away toward Dane where there was blots of crimson. She wanted to squirm out from under Rezna, but the woman was heavy and she had no leverage flat on her stomach against the woman's size.

With in a matter of seconds, Illya was gone out of her limited sight and she tried to twist around to find him. All she found was the young man she had been talking to, holding the side of his face, eyes wide with shock. "Hang on," she tried to tell him, "Hang on...just keep your hand over it, try to stop the flow..." She wasn't even sure he could hear her. His mother was under the table but Calysta wasnt sure if she was dead or alive. A mere second or two passed and Rezna suddenly grabbed her. "Orders are to get you out," she said bluntly, "We're going to the skimmer. Now."

Calysta opened her mouth to argue but the words were drowned out by multiple pops of gun fire. Rezna hauled her away in one swift motion, stacked her up, crouching low and forced he forward. "Wait! We can't leave them," Calysta resisted, "People are hurt and I wont leave without Illya." Rezna ignored her at first, forcing her toward the skimmer they had left in a parking area near the entrance. "They wont be left, the General is staying, but you'll be in the way as a target and a distraction. Move." Calysta was herded into the area parking area as shots rang out everywhere. There had to be multiple shooters judging by the sounds.

Rezna half tossed her into the floor board of the front seat and ordered her to stay down. Suddenly, there was a scuffling sound and someone appeared around the skimmer. They must had disturbed one of the assassins hiding places among the utility vehicles, trailers and skimmers near the farmers mart. She hauled out of the floor and called out to Rezna. "Look out!" No sooner had she spoken did the assassin open fire. The shot glinted off Rezna's body with surprising force and richoted into the skimmer. Seeing the danger, Rezna closed the gap and knocked the gun out of his hand then went in for the tackle. They tussled into the dirt, Rezna keeping low to stay out of the cross hairs from other assassins and began prezteling the man into a choke hold.

While Rezna was fighting, Calysta saw someone behind them. This time it was a man crawling desperately across the ground. His hair was white and his body looked frail. "Mr. Bob!" He was covered in blood and trying to crawl to cover. Calysta scurried out of the vehicle and crawled, scraping her knees and palms along the gravel till she reached the old man about a meter away from where Rezna was dispatching the assassin. There could have been more hiding, but Calysta couldn't leave the man out in the open. He needed help. She made it to him and then grabbed his outstretched hand which was soaked in deep red liquid. "I've got you," she said, "I'll get you to the skimmer." She tugged and hauled him up, causing him to groan in pain. There was so much blood and dirt soaking his shirt, she couldn't see where the wound was. A few more shots were fired, and Calysta stopped moving to keep them low for a moment before continuing their crawl. It seemed to take forever, but it must have only been a few seconds until she had him half in the skimmer. A sickening sort of crack sounded nearby and then Rezna was there.

The Udine rolled her eyes a bit when she saw Calysta hauling the old man into the skimmer as best she could. "Gods you're stubborn or suicidal. I can't decide. Move." She hauled the elderly man up and put him in the floorboard too. Calysta ripped at his shirt and found the wound, a hole in his side at an odd angle. She ripped his shirt the rest of the way and tried to staunch the flow. He was already starting to fade though and there was no stopping it.

Rezna went to go start up the engine, but it sputtered and wouldn't ignite. White smoke plumed from the back. One of the ricochet bullets had damaged the mechanism. Rezna growled. "Need another vehicle. Let's go." She started to haul the councilwoman up when they both paused. Someone was calling her name in a heavy Chip accent.

"Illya!"

Calysta ripped out of Rezna's hands and took off running low through the stalls. She was fast when she was on a mission and small. Rezna had been trying not to hurt the councilwoman while hauling her around, but now she had a little bird on the loose with one goal in mind. Calysta flitted across the stalls and found Illya close to where they had started, looking around for her and calling her name.

His name ripped out of her throat as she dashed through the line and to Illya while hardly noticing Markus nearby. Her shirt was torn and she was covered in Mr. Bob's blood, but she didn't care as she reached him and grabbed him. He was hurt and she wasn't going anywhere.
 
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Silence

Anonymous Me
Mentor
There hadn't been any outgoing ships and Illya was afraid that perhaps Rezna had not made it out with Kalizda. If she hadn't made it out with Kalizda then there was a chance that Kalizda was injured. Calling her name again he began scanning the area for Rezna because he would be likely to see her first. Where was she? Surely Kalizda had to be near Rezna. He doubted very much that Rezna would have let Kalizda get away. Finally, he spotted Rezna running toward him and he wondered for a brief moment if Kalizda was injured. If she was injured Rezna shouldn't be letting her out of her sight.

Turning to the left Illya caught sight of Kalizda running at him and he held struggled against Markus to get his right arm free to catch her. She was covered in blood and he couldn't know if it was hers, but she seemed to be ok. Holding her tight he winced some. The pressure on his chest was far more painful than he'd expected for a shoulder injury. She wasn't that tall. It wasn't like she was pressing against his shoulder. "Agh....yah nut hurt?"

He didn't hesitate to wrap her up and she gathered up as much of him as she could in her small arms. "No...I'm..." she couldn't bring herself to say 'alright' because she wasn't but she recovered, "I'm not hurt...I'm not..." She looked up at him, scanning him over as much as she could and finding blood. "But you are."

Illya listened to her answer and he took a breath before trying to answer her. When she moved her head he could see there was blood all over the side of her face from hugging him. "I tink meh shoulder es hurt. Maybe I break ribs or someting. Meh chest hurts a lot when I breat and et's getting harder tah breat deep. We jes sit down eh?" Illya took a slightly wobbly step. He was still unsure of where the wounds were besides the skim of the bullet on the side of his head.

Calysta felt him move forward to sit down but he wobbled instead and she felt a jolt of panic. He was having trouble taking deep breaths. If he had a gunshot wound to the chest, it could allow air where it wasn't supposed to be. She pushed the panic to the side and cleared her own thoughts. "Illya, we need to get your shirt off and see where you're hit." She didn't have a radio, but she imagined Markus, who had been standing by, did have one. "Are there any medics? Elite?" She knew they were busy securing the area, but if Illya's lungs were compromised every second was important. She knew that there likely wasnt a colony doctor nearby either. This was a farming town after all.

Nodding along in agreement Illya shakily got himself to the ground and he leaned against one of the stalls. He didn't move immediately to start taking his shirt off. Markus knelt nearby and he stared at Kalizda when she directed the questions at him. "Units already been called. As many Terran units as dey have. Our medic is dere." Nodding his head toward Dane he shrugged. "I know some." Dane would have to keep pressure on his neck and he was looking worse than he was earlier. Blood had drenched his hands now and the front of his shirt. Markus opened his medical packet and grabbed a large syringe. "I give Illya medicine tah help wit pain and he will breat more easy eh?"

Calysta hated the way Markus stared. She used to think it was shyness. Now she knew it was more cold calculation than anything else. His answer came calmly as her questions but more cool. She noticed Dane now holding his neck and looking awful. Wilds, he'd been shot as bad as Illya if not in a worse place depending on where the bullet was. Calysta looked up at Markus and took the syringe from him. "If you know some, then use it, help Dane. If Dane can speak at all and can give instructions, lets see what we can do." Rezna came jogging up about that time and started to open her mouth, but Kalizda cut her off. Her eyes flicked to the young man who had fallen earlier. His mother was crying over his body. "Keep guard and if Markus here asks for help or I need your help, follow the instructions." The Udine woman clamped her mouth shut and nodded.

She was certainly suited to be an Empress. Markus allowed her to take the syringe from him and he pointed to the four bottles in the little packet. "He uses tree of dem at a time. Yah will run out fast and den we will need tah use one of dah oter men's medicine when dey get here." Wandering over to Dane he grabbed the man's medicine pack and pulled out a syringe for him too. "How many yah use?" Dane nodded twice and he filled it up. Illya shifted a little and he felt another surge of pain. He saw Kalizda was holding the syringe and she had the bottles of medicine. He wanted it now, but that could mean problems later. "We jes wait eh? How long till dey get here?"

Calysta listened to what Markus had to say and then let him go about his task as assigned. She put the syringe into the bag on the side for the moment. She wanted to see the damage first and go from there. Shock would be hard to fight too, but lllya had been injured severely before. She knew what to look for. He had sat down but his shirt still wasn't off. He looked a bit confused and that wasn't good, but he was concious enough to know what was in the syringe. "I just want to take a look at the wound first," she said, "I wont give it to you unless I have to, okay? I promise. I don't know how long it will be." Calysta leaned over him carefully. "I'm going to borrow this," she said, pulling the knife out of its sheath clipped to his left side. The knife was ridiculously long for her but it cut the fabric of his shirt faster than a pair of medical scissors would and she might need those medical scissors sterile in the pack for something else later on. Once his shirt was open, she could see the wounds more clearly now. The head wound looked minor since he was still alive.

The shoulder wound was bleeding but it wasn't in a particularly vital spot. The one that scared her was the one on the left side. It was making a bit of a sucking sound, a light bubbling pop here and there. She reached around and felt at his back. No exit wound either. His lung would collapse more than likely and if it didn't it would fill with blood. "Love," she told him, "The bullet is still inside on this one, I can cover it to try to prevent air from getting inside and to keep you from bleeding out, but you probably already had blood in your lungs too." She rummaged around and found a wound seal but there was already so much blood she doubted it would stick to his skin to actually seal. She wiped her hands down with alcohol and then opted top put the gauze along with several layers of bandage over the wound with some pressure. I might stop some of the bleeding and not seal the area so tightly that air couldn't escape from his chest cavity and more air couldn't get in. "Markus, have you heard an ETA on the medical unit?" she asked.

When Kalizda took his knife he let her do as she felt she must. Illya took as deep a breath as he could. When she started to tell him what was wrong Illya nodded. Talking was not the best idea. It took a lot more oxygen than just sitting here. Illya winced when she reached around to his back and then began wrapping the wound. He could hear the sound of it sucking now better than he had earlier. The sucking got a bit more quiet by the time she was done. Fighting the urge to cough he took another deep breath. Markus was busy keeping Dane sitting upright and helping him keep pressure. He could use the coagulating powder, but it would only work so well and with it being close to the throat like that it might do more harm than good. "Probably about anoter 20 minutes. Give more medicine if he needs it." He wasn't even looking up. By now some of the other men moved in closer and Sergi flew a flyer in closer. "We'll start loading them up and going out to meet the medical teams. Got the area clear and the pathway to the medical teams is clear."

That answered her question well enough. About that time one of the Elite flew in with a flyer a bit closer and kicked up some dirt, Calysta stood close to Illya to block some of the debris and wait for an elite member, Sergi if she remembered right, to inform them that the area was clear and he path to the medical teams was clear. They were going to load up and go meet the medical teams. Illya and Dane both needed go ASAP. Calysta nodded and moved back from Illya so of the Elite who needed to access him could. She certainly couldn't lift him on her own. She wanted to go with him, but now that the area was secured somewhat, the people here were confused and scared. Mr. Bob was dead, of that she was fairly certain. Where had Adowe gone? If she was alive and uninjured, she could help Ehvan with the rest of the people. She didn't want to leave Illya's side but if they needed room for the wounded to get there first. "If there's room for me, I want to go with Illya, but if it means taking me over someone who is hurt, I'll stay with the rest of the Elite, yeah?" she said, "Let me know what room is available and do whatever else it is you need to do." She trusted the men to as they were needed and if Ehvan was there calling the shots she trusted him too.

A few of the other Elite wandered in and the immediately loaded Dane and then located the rest of the people. Ehvan walked over after they'd loaded up almost everyone they could and he looked at Kalizda. "We got one more and they're more severe than the General." He was speaking in Quoti and he looked at Illya after he said it. "They might make it and they might not. What do you want to do?" Illya swallowed and managed to speak a few words. "I'll wait." It couldn't be that much longer. Markus immediately walked over and started to speak quickly in Quoti. He wanted another ship, anything that could be helpful. Instead of taking no as an answer he looked around for any other equipment. There were some farm trucks, they could move faster than walking and perhaps they could get closer with those that were less critical. Running across the field he ignored the sound of the flyer taking off with the first round of the wounded and he returned only a few minutes later with a large truck. "Ef yah can walk, get en. I help dah ones dat can't walk." If this was what was necessary, Illya was going to try. Struggling to get to his feet he gave Kalizda's hand a little squeeze. "We jes go togeter eh?" There was probably enough room for most of the people remaining. Another man was returning with a truck too and there was certainly going to be enough room now. Despite Illya's best efforts he started to cough and he tasted blood. He knew better than to tell Kalizda he was ok, or to smile. Swallowing the blood he wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and got seated in the back of the truck with many other people.

Calysta's face had turned pale underneath all the drying blood and she looked at Illya, before starting to inquire about more space. Illya was going to drown in his own blood if they didn't get help soon. Markus beat her to the punch though and finally moved like his son had been shot when they announced the triage order on the flier before dashing off into the direction of the vehicles. She didn't have to guess what he had in mind and she was going to let him do it. She looked at Rezna. "I'm going on whatever Markus comes back with." They didn't have to wait long. Markus came barreling through a field with a large utility truck. It was large enough to fit many people on the back and Calysta was surprised when Markus threw open the door, told them to get in, and he would help the ones who couldn't walk. It was very...philanthropic...of him. "Rezna, help Markus get everyone on and then get in the back of the truck with the wounded to look out for any straggling assassins. They might make another move." Illya struggled to his feet and she felt him squeeze her hand, telling her they would go together. He coughed a little as they moved to the back of the truck and people began piling on with them. She helped people up into the bed, offering blood soaked hands to several women and a few children. A few others had to be lifted by Rezna and Markus. Calysta sat down next to Illya and held his hand once everyone was on board. Before Markus got in, she looked at Illya. "This is going to be rough...I...dont want you to hurt." She still had the syringes with her and she battled with whether she should give them to him or not.

From his place in the bed of the truck Illya watched Kalizda help others into it. He would have helped with the except of his injuries. It felt like his shoulder was going to rupture at any moment and his side was aching. Illya's skin tingled around the wounds and he was sure more blood was running under the dressings. Maybe the dressings had soaked through. Tilting his head to the side he tried to look at the wounds, but they were hard to see without moving more than his head and he didn't feel like it. There was a lot of blood on him still.

Even if it hurt, Illya did his best to keep his mind otherwise occupied. Kalizda came over to sit next to him and he felt her squeeze in close and put her little fingers in his. He was glad she was here for now. Grunting with the effort he leaned over enough to kiss her on top her head. Sitting up straight again took a lot more effort and he felt her push him back into place. The little bit of help she could offer was necessary and he gave her a faint grin as she told him it was going to be a rough ride. "I know. I tell yah ef I need someting eh?" As the truck started up he felt a rumble and he tensed some. Leaning his head back against the cab he closed his eyes and let out a breath.

The first few bumps in the road hurt bad. By the eighth jolting bump Illya let out a little moan. "Oooh...aghh..." Opening his eyes he looked at the medicine Kalizda had and he knew it would help. He wanted it badly, but he didn't want to do that to her either. Having her put the needle into him when she knew he'd been addicted to it once had to be a horrible idea. "Nut yet." Shaking his head he refused the medicine.

Each minute that passed felt more like a decade. Illya felt himself focusing more on the pain. It was getting harder not to think about it and he knew that was only making it worse. Thinking of the medicine didn't help either because it only made him want it more. Breathing was getting to be more shallow because it hurt and he was feeling a bit light headed. With those symptoms he didn't really have a choice. "Ok...I..." Illya nodded when he looked at the medicine case. Kalizda's little hands wrapped a band around his arm and he felt her tighten it. With a frown on his face he watched as she tried to get a vein. It was a little work and she jabbed it more than once before she got one and injected the medicine.

There wasn't immediate relief. It took several minutes for him to feel it start taking effect. The ride was taking far longer than Illya thought it would. Part way through he started to feel nauseous. Squeezing Kalizda's hand carefully he tried to say something, but ended up coughing and a string of blood drizzled out of his mouth onto his lap. Pointing to the radio on his neck he whispered to her, "Take et off." Even if it had felt like the radio was causing problems it didn't make much of a difference in his ability to get air.

Illya leaned forward slightly and gasped some as he fought to breath at all. "How..." Swallowing and then gasping he tried to finish his question, "Much...longer?" The pain was getting bad again and he thought she'd already given him a second dose of the medicine. They had to be getting close. Illya tried to find a more comfortable position, but everything he tried hurt. When she finally had answer all she said was soon. Closing his eyes he nodded quietly. That was never a good answer. Soon was what you said when you thought it might be too late. He was starting to think it might not be soon enough himself. Asking Markus to stop wouldn't do any of them any good and he knew he'd lose consciousness if Markus drove any faster. Every now and then Illya squeezed Kalizda's hand to let her know he was still with her and he was still awake, but he did his best not to open his eyes, move or do anything that would use energy.

The truck started to turn and then it stopped with a jerk. Illya opened his eyes and he looked at Kalizda. She looked terribly hopeful. Then he heard the sound of flyers and that was a good thing. With the help of one of the men in the truck he got to his feet and took a few unsteady steps till Markus came around to the end of the truck and helped him down. Markus picked him up and carried him toward the flyer. The medical attendants were busy getting their doors open and they saw Markus coming and snapped the bed back into its place. Markus laid Illya on the bed and gave them the first bit of information he knew they would try to ask. "No vitals taken, injury almost hour and a half ago. She gave him medicine. Get more information from her." Running back to the truck Markus helped others that required medical flyers into them and then drove the rest into town.

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Getting carried was in a way a relief. Illya could have waited for the bed to be rolled up to the truck, but it was better that he was in it now. Laying down was miserable trying to breath and he started coughing again. One of the technicians sat him up and he saw Kalizda getting into the ship. A mask was put in front of his face and he turned his head away from it. For a moment panic hit and then Kalizda told him it was alright. At first he struggled to breath with the mask on, but then it got a little easier and he felt another needle jab him in the arm. The effort to look and see what it was, or who did it was too much. Someone was yelling at him to stay with them and he felt his head bob forward and then roll to the side. He was trying, but it was too hard.

When he woke up a few moments later he saw Kalizda was leaning in close and she was stroking his hand. From behind the mask he tried to smile. There were straps and all kinds of things holding him in the bed and he tried to pull at one of them. They hurt. Things started to feel distant again and he didn't remember anything after that till he felt the bed jerking. With a groan he opened his eyes and saw they were unloading him into the hospital and doctors gathered around and someone hooked a syringe up to a port on the IV. When did they give him an IV? He didn't remember that and when did they take his pants off?

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

Illya didn't wake up again until later. He was in a room under several warm blankets and he felt a lot better. The pain was at least manageable and he frowned a little when he noticed Kalizda wasn't in the room. Was she ok? His bed was a bit short, but at least it was a bed. Looking at the side of it he saw buttons for adjusting it. Having it set him up more was actually a bit painful and he lowered it again before he pushed the red button. When the nurse came in he pointed to the curtain to the right of him. "Es she en dere?"

"Who?" The nurse was confused. Why he wanted to know who was on the other side of the curtain she didn't know.

"I'm over here." Dane's voice rasped from behind the curtain. "Kalizda went tah get a shower or someting."

With that answer Illya nodded and fell silent for a long moment. The nurse came over to see him and she checked his temperature and looked at the chart. "Hurting? I can give you something for the pain."

Kalizda wasn't here and as tempting as it was to ask for more Illya shook his head. "I jes wait for her."
 

aryamajor

Curious Adventurer
Benefactor
Calysta looked at Illya laying in the hospital bed which was too short. He stable, for now. Not dying. A drastic change from several hours ago. She looked down at her hands. The were scraped from the gravel and her arms were covered in dried blood, along with her face and hands. The nurses had given her a wet towellette to get some of it off, but there was too much. Only a shower would work with this much. With Illya unconcious and probably out for a good while, she could fix that. The last thing she wanted was to greet him covered in multiple people's blood.

She was lent a pair of plain blue scrubs and almost wished she could have asked for a different color. Any color but blue. Beggars couldn't be choosers in the moment though and she desperately needed a shower. They lead her to an empty room with a small stall shower and handed over some surgery safe soap to scrub up with along with a plain, rough towel. She thanked the nurse for the soap and scrubs. The woman nodded. "U are walcome, councilwoman." Her accent was heavy but the thought was there. Calysta couldn't bring herself to smile at the woman in appreciation.

Once she was alone, Calysta turned on the hot water and let it run as she stripped out of her ruined clothes. The blouse went first, then the bralette, then the torn, bloody jeans and boots. She didn't care to look at herself in the mirror before stepping under the steaming shower water. When she did, the water in the bottom of the shower turned red, then slowly faded to bright pink. After awhile, it ran clear. Once it ran clear, she picked up the soap and began scrubbing furiously. She could feel her palms and knees stinging from her army crawling to reach Mr. Bob. His wound had been a chest wound and close to his heart. She tried to cover it, but he had already lost so much blood. She scrubbed a little harder.

Illya had lost much more though. That ride had been rough over the fields with muddy ruts and dips and she could still feel every lurch with Markus' driving. Every lurch and dip that lead to blood dribbling from his lips and down his chin, bright against his ashen face. All she could do was mop it up and hold his hand. Tell him help would be there soon. She didn't know how soon and no matter how fast it was, it wouldn't seem soon enough. Then came the moment she had dreaded most. He asked for a dose of medication for pain. And by the Wilds, she had given it to him.

She had used the little rubber band to tighten his arm up and then straddled him to steady herself enough to hopefully get a vein. She'd missed on the first try and someone who was only injured a little saw her trying to help and helped hold her steady as the truck bounced and lurched. She didn't know who it was or even really what they looked like. All she could see was blood and an emptying syringe. When she was done, she put the syringe back in the back and stared at it. Had it been the right thing? Maybe, maybe not. Some of the wounded were staring at her and she could feel it. She wouldn't cry in front of them. She would not do it. If she went to hysterics, they would panic too. He could barely speak but he kept squeezing her hand as if he wanted her to know he was still there. She would squeeze it back tightly. He would know she was there. When he asked, she removed the radio from his neck gently and stayed close, trying to keep him from bouncing too much. His breaths became labored more blood bubbled up, running down his chin. She mopped it up with her shirt sleeve but there was no water to get the smears off....

Reaching medics had given her some hope. After Markus had carried Illya's over to the gurney, she found herself being looked at for information. Her mouth had moved and the information came out, but she hardly remembered saying, "He's had one vial of pain medication roughly 45 minutes ago...he stays away from narcotics but I had to...I had too." She'd handed over the syringe and checked the amount of units she'd given him. It still must have been alot because there was some murmuring. Now all she could do was keep him calm. He was scared and kept moving away from the medics trying to help him. "Let me by," she'd told them before pushing through. "I'm right here," she said smoothing down his hair, "They're going to help you. I wont let them do anything bad. They're going to help." Despite how wild her feelings were, she was calm with him and if she was calm, he would be too....

Calysta was not calm anymore. She found herself in the bottom of the shower curled up with her arms wrapped around her knees and bawling. He had been so close to dying. So very, very close and there was nothing she could do to stop it other than dose him with the medicine he'd worked so hard to avoid. Was this her fault? She had decided to continue the tour, knowing the risks. The shock of it all set in and she cried until she could hardly breathe in the steam filling the room.

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

Calysta came into the room and did her best to close the door quietly behind her. Dane was in the same room and she didn't want to disturb either of them while they were resting. Her hair was still wet and she had borrowed set of clean scrubs until Wynry could bring her more clothes. She quietly let the door click close and then looked at Illya. To her surprise, he was sitting up. "Illya?" Her voice cracked when she said his name and she cleared it before scuttling over. Her eyes were red a bit puffy but she leaned down and kissed his temple. "You're awake?"

Kalizda walking through the door was the best vision he could have hoped for. She said his name almost like she didn't believe her eyes. A sloppy grin eased its way onto his face and he carefully reached up with his right hand to set it on her shoulder when she leaned in close and kissed the side of his head. "I waited for yah. Feeling tirsty and hungry. Yah have dinner wit meh?"

Calysta kissed him again, this time on the lips when he asked her to have dinner with him and smiled gently. The sloppy grin was most certainly because of the pain killers and it made any sort of appetite she might have run away, but she wouldn't tell him that. "I'd have dinner with you any time," she said, "Why don't I see if its okay for you have something, yeah?"

With an affirmative on dinner Illya gave her a wink and pressed the red button. He pushed it a few times before the nurse came in looking exasperated. "She es very hungry. Meh too." To which the nurse only responded that she would send someone in with a menu before she left. A few minutes later a young lady came in with a menu and she told him that he could have anything he wanted from the list. Then she handed a larger menu to Kalizda. "Why yah trying tah starve meh? Dis says I can have Jell-O. What es dat? Es et even food?" The young woman smiled sheepishly and she tried to think of an answer. "The doctor said he wanted you to start out slow. If that settles alright you can have a little more later." "Et's because I'm brown. Dat's what et's really about." Grumbling a little he pointed to the menu. "I jes have one of everyting on et."

The young Terran nurses' eyes grew round. "It has nothing to do with that, sir. It's just what you're cleared to have after surgery." She was nearly sputtering and her face was turning red before she become more flustered at the massive order Illya made. Calysta held up a calming hand, mustered a patient smile. "It's alright," she said, "And don't worry, what he doesnt eat we'll save for later." She made an order of soup and crackers. It sounded like it would come up easiest if she threw up again. "How are you feeling?" she asked Illya, her hand covering his gently.

After the two orders were in the young woman collected the menus and left the room. Illya glanced at Kalizda when she asked how he felt and he frowned a little. "Et es very difficult few days. Meh knee hurts." After he said that he thought for a moment longer and added, "Meh chest hurts and meh shoulder es very painful." Holding a finger up he smiled slightly. "But I dun take anyting for et."(edited)

She listened to his assessment. A difficult few days felt like an understatement but he still smiled at her and announced proudly that he hadn't taken anything for it. None of the pain medication at all. She found her bottom lip trembling as she gave him a proud, watery smile. To avoid crying, she leaned down and kissed his hand clasped in hers, then sniffled as she straightened again. "It has been a rough few days, and I'm so glad you're here. The Ehaui will be able to give you a some non-addictive medication when we see them."

Illya grunted as he tried to move over and make room for her on the bed. She kissed his hand gently and he saw her eyes were a bit watery. "Et will take dem a while tah get all dat food ready. Yah lay down wit meh eh?"

Calysta didn't want him moving much and his efforts to slide over and make room for her sounded painful. "Aye, here. Why don't I do this?" She lowered the hand rail on his right side and managed to slip her small frame next to side and the edge of the bed. It wasn't much space but it was enough. She put a hand over his stomach and kept him close. A few more sniffles escaped her and throat tightened up to the point she couldn't speak.

With the little bit of room Illya was glad she took advantage of it and carefully got into the bed with him. Her tiny hand rested on his stomach and he tried to move his left hand to hers, but it was too hard with the sling on. Wrapping his right arm around her Illya pulled her a bit tighter. "Yah did hard tings tahday. Are yah gonna be ok?"

Calysta let him pull her as close as he wanted and it felt good to be there with him. He was close and warm, even if he didn't smell quite like his oils. When he said something about having to do hard things today, her thoughts flashed back to a dozen moments of grit and fear. She had made dozens of hard and terrible choices today, but a few had been harder than others. She looked down at her hands and they still felt like they were sticky with blood even though she had scorched it all off in the shower. The weight of syringe sat im them too. She closed her eyes tight to focus on something else and nodded. "Aye I will be. I'm so sorry..."

She sounded quiet. Kalizda was not usually that quiet when it came to talking. "Yah dun need tah be sorry. Yah did what yah had tah do." Holding her a little closer he squeezed her gently and rubbed her back with his hand. "I'm glad dat yah wit meh."

She nodded and let out a little gasp of a sob before curling into side some. She was exhausted in more ways than one she was so glad he was there. He wasnt angry at her for anything she had to do. After a few quiet sobs she gained some control of herself and wiped at her eyes. "Even if I'm a mess, yeah?" She tried to joke, "I'll be here no matter what."

"Even when yah mess." Illya answered. He could hear her tell him she'd be with him no matter what and he grinned a bit. "Dat's good. I tink I'm bigger mess now." His left shoulder was hurting a lot and he tried not to show it, but the pain was getting worse. Perhaps if they let him out tomorrow he could have some of the medicine the Ehaui let her keep for him and he could have the tea too. A few moments later the nurse stepped in with their food and Illya just motioned for her to set the tray in the doorway. The woman seemed happy enough with that and Illya kept holding Kalizda and let her have her moment.

Calysta let out a whimpy sort of chuckle and started to slowly relax with Illya safe and close with her. It wasn't long until the door opened and their food arrived. She wasn't hungry and had no desire to leave her spot next to Illya but she knew he would be hungry. She held him close for a long moment then squeezed his hand. "I can bring you dinner before it gets cold.'

After a few moments Kalizda offered to bring him dinner and Illya nodded. "Dat would be good." It looked like the nurse didn't bring him everything, he only got two meals. One was a strange wobbly stuff and the other was a mostly broth soup. Illya ate some of the broth and tried a few bites of the strange rubbery stuff and then he decided he'd had enough. The pain was making his stomach feel unsettled and he didn't want to start puking. "I'm nut hungry anymore." Almost half his soup was still left and he had most of the Jell-O left. "Maybe I jes eat more later."

Calysta sipped at her noodle soup which tasted mostly of salt and watched as Illya slowly lost any of his own appetite which was particularly worrisome for him. "You're sure?" She asked looking down at his hardly touched food.

"I jes dun want tah eat anymore. Et's ok. I will be hungry later." Illya closed his eyes and tried to relax. It was hard to be relaxed when he hurt like this. Without meaning to he let out a little bit of a moan as he attempted to get more comfortable. "Maybe I jes need anoter blanket tah keep meh warm."

He sounded like he was in pain and she gazed at him carefully before putting her own soup to the side. She had her pad on her and it didn't take much while Illya's eyes were closed to add the a request for her to bring his ehaui pain medication out of the lockbox along with her clothes. They would get there within the next hour. She put her pad away and leaned over the side of the bed so she could fold up her arms and close her eyes for awhile too.

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

As promised, Wynry brought her clothes and the pain medication without question. Calysta was glad to see the woman had brought a soft grey tunic, leggings and boots along with some toiletries in a small canvas bag. The medicine was in a small solid bag in the bottom. Wynry didn't linger since Illya was asleep, but was kind enough to tell Calysta not to worry. The children were taken care of and alright. She and Akten had been working with Thomas on their schooling and keeping them distracted for the most part. Calysta thanked her and went back to staying by Illya's side.

More reports had come in about the incident. 20 injured and 5 dead civilians, including Mr. Bob. The Federation had sent out assassins and felt like they could murder whomever they liked. It made her anger flare and she wanted to throw something. Rather than pitching a fit, she got to work coordinating with Adowe who had taking a bullet to the arm but was otherwise unharmed, the woman had gone to check on lunch and walked away from Mr. Bob for only a moment when the shots rang out. She was broken hearted that Mr. Bob had been killed and wanted to meet with Calysta soon regarding the incident. Calysta didn't agree to a time or place yet until she knew more about Illya's condition.

She had dutifully ignored the news and media outlets in favor of taking care of Illya and for her own sanity, but after awhile messages were pouring in and she decided to take a look. The headlines made her queasy. COUNCILWOMAN'S GRAND VISIT TURNS DEADLY. FEDERATION TARGETS COUNCILWOMAN AND GENERAL, 5 DEAD. BRAVE GENERAL AND COUNCILWOMAN FACE DEATH AT OUTSKIRTS MARKET, SAVE DOZENS. CHIPPEQOUTI HELP CIVILIANS AFTER MARKET MASSACRE. They were touting her as a hero and she felt more like the cause of their misfortune.

When Illya woke up, she put the pad down on his bed and greeted him with a kiss on the cheek. "I have something for you, but you need to eat something first. Do you feel up to some food?"
 
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Silence

Anonymous Me
Mentor
Somehow Illya had managed to drift off and he didn't remember that happening. When he woke up he wasn't sure how much time had passed, but Kalizda was dressed in her usual clothes and he felt a tinge of jealousy. He wanted to get out of this hospital gown and put some boxers and pants on. His nice pajama pants she had for him. Those were comfy and he would feel a bit warmer. Kalizda noticed almost immediately that he was awake and she leaned over to kiss him on the cheek.

She mentioned that he needed to eat food before she gave him what she had and he wondered what it was for a moment. That was until he saw that she did have his medicine and he nodded. "I get et a try." He still didn't feel good, but there was only one way to get feeling better, he had to get a little medicine in him. Sipping at the soup he worked his way through the remainder of the bowl. It was cool, but not bad. The Jell-O was strange stuff, but he finished that too and then took the medicine. All the activity had him wore out and he decided it was time to sleep a little more. "Tanks." Giving Kalizda a tired smile he shifted a little on the bed and pulled the blankets higher before he fell asleep again.

About half an hour later Illya woke up feeling sick. His stomach was gurgling and pushed against the bed to sit up. His head hurt and he figured it was probably a mild concussion from the bullet graze. The longer Illya sat up the worse he felt and when he laid down he didn't feel any better. Coughing lightly he tried to see if it was anything else and then suddenly he started feeling worse. A horrible twisting feeling settled into his stomach and he didn't have time to do anything but try to puke on the blanket without hitting anything else. The surge of pain with the puking worked from his stomach into his chest and his shoulder. Reaching across himself he grabbed the left side of the bed rail and coughed a few times. A little blood came up with the coughing and then he started to wretch again.

A nurse heard him puking in the room and Kalizda was probably up, but he wasn't exactly focused on his surroundings right now. Illya stared at the pile of puke on the blanket and spit out the remainder of the blood from his mouth. His lung was burning and he felt sick. By the time the nurse and orderly arrived they were trying to get the bed changed out. Thankfully they didn't have to change too much and he got all new blankets and a fresh hospital gown.

Just the minor effort of getting changed out of the hospital gown left him feeling exhausted and Illya laid back down in the bed with a deep frown. The pain was worse now than it was before and he couldn't have anymore medicine for another three and a half hours. He would have to try and eat food then too. Perhaps he just needed more time for his stomach to settle. He had originally thought that he might get out in the afternoon, but the doctor said that until he could keep food and liquids down he wasn't going anywhere.

At the four hour mark Illya tried again and this time he kept everything down for about three hours and then he got sick. However, it wasn't nearly as violent and he didn't cough any blood. It was encouraging enough that he tried again one hour later. The night was long and miserable. He barely slept between the nurses constantly checking him and the puking episodes. By about 2:00 a.m. he finally started to sleep a bit more solidly and he'd been able to keep the medicine down with a little food. In the morning he was hungry and he kept all his 6:00 a.m medication and food down so they progressed his diet at 10:00 a.m. to see how he did and he made good steady improvement. At 3:45 p.m. he was given his discharge papers with the understanding that he would have daily check ins with the Ehaui. They would be having Dane give him scans daily and Dane would be sending scans of himself daily too. In a few days they were going to be heading into clinics for in person check ups and Illya would likely get the tube from his chest removed.

With that good news Illya felt a bit more lively. He was just lively enough to get himself loaded into a medical flyer that would take him to the ship and he would get to stay there tonight. If he had anymore puking or coughing blood episodes he would be back in the hospital and he was determined not to have any of those problems. To make it easier Illya decided he would just snack on his meals over the course of the day.

The first night back in his and Kalizda's bed was still restless. Illya woke up off and on throughout the night. He had enough strength to get himself around the ship, but not very far. His knee was gradually feeling better with all the rest it was getting. Even with the medicine there was only so much it could do for the pain. It wasn't as effective when it was a pain like this. He was aware in even his sleep of almost every twitch Kalizda made, every footstep Mihael, Dane, Rezna or Akten made as they made security checks. He could hear Thomas walk by the door every now and then. The man was worried about his daughter and Illya couldn't blame him. Even though he kept his eyes closed he knew when Kalizda was awake and she was watching him. She would sit up and lean over him to see if he was still breathing. He could feel her little hand like a shadow hovering near his face and feel his breath.

Once in a while he would wake up because he heard a moan and he would realize it was himself. Even if he had tried not to show that the pain was still bothering him it was coming out in his sleep. Illya woke up again and he felt Kalizda sit up in the bed. It was almost daytime and he was exhausted. Sleeping was not easy. She was probably just as tired. With a groan he forced himself to sit up and he grabbed the silly little walker thing with his drainage bag and pump hooked up. "I get yah some tea. Maybe et would help and yah can tell meh little bit about what boters yah eh?"
 

aryamajor

Curious Adventurer
Benefactor
Calysta hoped the medicine might help Illya be out of pain and get some sleep, but when he vomited his meal right back up into his lap along with a healthy cough of blood, those hopes were dashed and a bit more guilt was added on. She felt awful for making things worse. The night was long too. With Illya asking for his medicine on the dot at every four hours and forcing them down. Calysta found herself sitting in the chair and every time her head drooped she'd snatch her chin back up, to tired to do anything but sleep and too worried to actually commit to snoozing again.

By 2:00am he seemed to sleep better and by 6am he had a meal that didn't end up regurgitated in his lap or his puke bucket. At 10:00am he was allowed to have more solid food and Calysta felt only slightly more at ease. At least his face didn't look quite so pale now. At 3:45 in the afternoon he was discharged with the proviso that he checked in with the Ehaui. Calysta would be more than happy to make sure he did just that.

They made it home and exhaustion had turned everything into a blur. She some how announced that she would be going to bed and did after putting on a pair of sleep shorts and one of Illya's t-shirts with a hole in the back. Going to bed didn't mean sleep though. Her body snatched itself awake every hour or so to check on Illya through the night. He would occasionally moan or make a groan in his sleep too, a clear sign he was in pain. And then of course she would be administering him medicine every four hours too.

She stayed away staring at Illya or the darkened ceiling of their room trying to erase more than one bloody image out of her mind from the day before. The Federation caused pain to so many people and she had insisted on going through with the tour to show she wasn't afraid. But what did that mean for the people she put in danger? To Dane? Her family? It was the right thing to do in her mind, but was it really right? More than anything she wanted to curl up with Illya and cry, but he was sleeping somewhat. She wouldn't disturb him.

When he was more awake, he decided to get up and firmly announced he would be making tea and she just ought to tell him what was wrong.
Before she could say much, Illya was hauling out of bed and hooking everything up to his walker. He seemed to want to talk with her and was determined to make tea. As tired as she was, she threw on her robe and followed him. "I can help, yeah?" She said trying to smooth down her wild hair.

Illya was already most of the way out the door when she joined him and the two of them wandered down the hall. A slight smirk pulled at the side of Illya's mouth. "Yah get a preview of what I might look like as an old man." The walker was something he had to push with only his right hand because his left arm was not of much use for now in the sling. When they reached the kitchen he decided to sit down at the table for a breather. It was feeling like a lot of hard work to get this far. He let her do most of the work on the tea and he watched her. She looked tired, she had deep circles under her eyes, her face was more pale than usual and her forehead was wrinkled with worry.

Calysta raised a brow at his cheeky little comment. "I don't mind the preview so long as get to see the real thing in about 400 years," she replied back. They shuffled into the kitchen and she took the tea off the top shelf to start making two cups. One for pain for Illya and one for relaxation for her. They smelled wildly different but she didn't say much while she worked. While the tea steeped, she rubbed her eyes. They felt gritty and burned. When the tea was done, she offered Illya his cup and sat across from him, staring into the mug.

As badly as Illya wanted to just go back to bed he knew she needed him. Maybe he couldn't be much use physically, but she needed his mind and his heart now. She was still in that daze that he'd seen many men and women encounter. One that he too had to deal with at times. Taking a sip of the tea in front of him he let it glide down his throat. It felt good because it was hot. After a moment of letting it settle he spoke, "Et hurts dah heart tah see dese ting happen tah innocent people. I know dat some of dem die. Et es hard tah see et happen tah ones dat yah know and care about." If she felt anything else he was sure she would tell him. She was still at a weak point and it was best to catch her now before things got twisted and become solid like a tree wounded and burned by lightening.

She blinked as Illya spoke, breaking the silence and his words made her throat tighten up some. She looked up at him and nodded. "They hadn't done anything wrong. They were just people...and then Dane...and you..." She sniffled some and felt tears starting to form. Wiping at her eyes, she looked at him. "You knew there were so many assassins and you still went with me on this trip."

Sipping at the tea Illya listened to her intently. There was nothing casual about this conversation, but she needed to be able to say what was on her mind. "Yes, dey were innocent people." He waited for a little more to come out and it did. "Et was nut pleasant choice, but et was necessary. Whenever dere es evil yah must face et no matter dah cost. Each time dat a person submits, fails tah speak out or es too afraid tah stand dey make et more dangerous for dere children. By standing now dere es chance tah prevent future wars. We teach our children tah be strong so dat dey will nut tolerate evil. Et es necessary, nut jes for yah trip but for all dah people en dah Alliance."

Calysta looked at her steaming tea as Illya spoke. "Aye. I know...its not the standing up part ...I.." She didn't know how to put it into words properly and things were starting to bubble. "Bob died in my hands and...I...couldn't do anything and...I did everything thing I could for you. I couldn't leave behind all those people though. I couldn't. I stood up and some else was shot down." She shuddered trying desperately not to cry but it wasn't working. "I was so afraid you were going to die." The word die barely squeaked out as her throat tightened up too much for words

She was feeling guilty. It was all over her face and her words were laced with it. Guilt would eat a person away. Illya let her finish and he thought for a moment. "Yah still must lead. People en evil times look for leader because dey are afraid tah stand and be crushed by dere own leader. Dah people here fled dah Federation because dey had hope of leader dat would stand wit dem." It wasn't always comforting, but there was more to it than that. "Yah dun choose who falls. Yah dun choose ef yah survive. Yah only get tah choose what yah do. Dere es choice now. Yah stand and yah give people a leader tah follow or yah cave beneat dah enemy's pressure and yah let dem make yah fearful for dose dat might die."(edited)

She was sure he meant his words to be inspiring or helpful. She hadn't buckled under the pressure in front of everyone nobody but Illya. She understood the cost but it didn't make it easier to swallow. Maybe she was cry too much. Maybe he was trying to encourage her to be stronger than that and to be an even better example than she had been. She stifled her sobs and took a deep breath trying not to take too long and then wiped at her eyes. "You're right," she mumbled, "It won't have been for nothing."

Kalizda's face twisted several times as she fought back the tears and Illya frowned a bit. How did she decide that crying was a sign of being unfit for leadership? "Et will be for right reasons. Yah may cry. Dis es nut unexpected when a leader carries great burdens. Yah are allowed grief for dah evil dat wounds yah people and destroys many of dem. Dere are times tah reserve yah grief, dere are times when et es natural tah show et. Often a leader must choose dey can share dah burden of dere grief wit. Dis must be one dey consider most trustworty. I can be dat person ef yah trust meh."

"I trust you most of all," she managed to say, her chin wobbling, "I'm sad about what happened at the market and angry for what they did to the people. To Dane. And to you. I trust you and I love you so much. Is it selfish of me that even after all the pain you went through that I still want you beside me when we continue?"

This answer seemed to have a far more genuine ring to it and Illya nodded. "I will be wit yah and we will do dis togeter. Yah stand wit meh en hard times and I will stand wit yah." Illya knew he might get shot again. He could possibly get killed, but that was a chance he was going to have to take. It was a risk and he'd already made that choice before now. "Et will be meh honor and dah honor of meh people tah see yah stand as strong leader en dah face of evil."(edited)

She nodded slowly. He made her feel far more strong in his answer than she felt at the moment. There would be a time for standing up to evil in the future but the moment she only wanted one thing. "Aye," she sniffled, "B Before we stand again for anything...can I...Can hug you?"


The answer from Kaliza was baffling at best. Never in his life had he received that kind of response. A recruit, soldier or distressed person never asked him to hold off the standing against evil long enough to hug him. What was that all about? Was he here as her agreed now? Did she just switch rolls that fast? First she was a leader in distress over decisions and now she wanted a hug. Opening and closing his mouth a few times he tried to think of what he might say and instead opted to have another sip of his tea before he stood to his feet and held his right arm out to hold her in a hug. Whatever just happened blew him out of the water.

He didn't say yes immediately and she wondered if he was in too much pain. Should she have asked? After a moment and a sip of tea, he lifted his right arm and she shyly slipped into it. It felt oddly stiff and she wasn't sure why other than maybe he was in pain.

It only took a few moments of her hug for Illya to realize she really did flip rolls that quickly. Settling into the hug he had to come to terms with the fact that it somehow felt like the least successful talk he'd ever had after a traumatizing event with someone. Rubbing her back gently he bent slightly to kiss the top of her head. "Yah know dat no matter what happens I will fight tah stand at yah side. Dis es meh little bird. She es strong and she will ride dah winds witout fear. When she falls tah dah ground dah wolf will carry her. When dah battle rages under her, he will lead dah charge against dah evil dat invades her land."

Whatever he was thinking must have changed because he pulled her tight and kisses her unkempt hair. He wanted to be here with her on this trip and he didn't want to give up on it. It was relieving and she slipped a hand around d his waist, nuzzled into his shoulder and held him while she cried a bit more. His hand was warm on her back and slowly after a few minutes of crying she started to relax some. Illya was there and okay. He didnt blame her or insist she be strong this time. He told her she already was strong and when she wasn't, he was there too. When she finally settled down, she had a headache and felt exhausted but her chest felt a bit lighter. "And I love my wolf and will go where he goes."

Illya held Kalizda tight while she cried and he leaned against the table a bit. At least the table was bolted to the floor along with everything else in a ship. That meant it wasn't going anywhere if he needed a little something to prop him up. By the time she was finished crying he was feeling sick and a bit lightheaded. For now Illya was going to chalk it up to the blood loss, pain and the fact that he had very little sleep. "Well, yah gonna have tah follow dis wolf tah bed. Dat's where I'm going right after I finish dah tea."

Calysta let out a choked sort of laugh and wiped at her eyes. "Aye, I'll follow you to bed too. Finish up your tea, yeah?" She had neglected her own and it had gone cold. Floral tasting tea was awful cold and it didn't reheat very well either. She leaned up and kissed his cheek gently before sliding out from under his arm. She sniffled a little more as she put her tea cup in the sink, vowing to wash it later. "Let's get you some rest," she said, her voice a little hoarse.

Giving the last of the tea in his cup a little swish Illya made sure all the little escapee granules were going to get washed down his throat. He needed it to work. With a chug he took the last of it and got a little down the wrong track. Coughing lightly he did his best not to make his lungs hurt more. After a few coughs and watering eyes he was good to head back to the bedroom. Once they got to the room he almost flopped into the bed. "Ugh....wow, I tink I will need a few days tah feel like walking any kind of distance."(edited)

He didn't say much except to swallow down his tea. She checked the time and saw he still had an hour until his safe medication could be administered. She could stay up for an hour, right? She felt tired from everything and when he half collapsed on the bed, she wanted nothing more than to join him. He mentioned needing only a few days to feel better or walk any distance and she let out a tired sort of laugh. "I've already pushed back the tour by an entire week to give everyone time to rest. You don't need to worry about that, love."

Illya nodded a little and smiled. "Dat's good. I will be able tah go all kinds of places en dat time." At least that was what he had planned. "How about yah jes lay down wit meh? Sleep a little bit. I'm tired and et would help ef yah slept too instead of hovering over meh." Giving her a sly smile he hoped she would find some humor in what he just said.

Calysta's face turned pink and she gave him a sheepish look when he mentioned hovering over him. She didn't know she had been that obvious. "If it would help," she said, "Then I'll just have to come over there." She pulled off her robe and crawled into the bed on the opposite side before very carefully getting a bit closer to him. She inched closer and twisted to her side to put a hand on his belly and layer head on the pillow. She was tired and her head was throbbing now but she didn't tell him that. "I'm a little tired," she admitted, "I'm not hurting you, yeah?"

If there was one thing he could appreciate it was the fact that Kalizda was very gentle. They had to switch sides of the bed with his left side being primarily affected and it felt strange to sleep on her side of the bed, kind of. He did migrate to her side of the bed often enough. When she crawled in on what was normally his side of the bed he met her gaze as she adjusted her pillow to rest on his right shoulder. "I tink yah jes fine dere." More than likely his right shoulder would get a bit stiff in a few days, but he could deal with that for now.

She laid down and settled in and all was quiet for a moment before she started to relax enough in her sleepy state. Her head was hurting but it was nice to feel like she could sleep and snuggle for just a little while with him. "You know," she mumbled sleepily, "If you wanted the week off with me for snuggling. All you had to do was ask. No need to get shot."

"I get more attention dis way." Illya mumbled back to her. She was very quickly falling asleep and unfortunately, even with the tea he wasn't having much luck. He was tired out, but he couldn't sleep. Illya laid awake for nearly 2 hours before he started to get tired and he began drifting off only to hear someone beating on their door just an hour after he'd fallen asleep.

Calysta had dozed off at some point while tucked next to Illya and she didn't dream at all until a heavy slam jolted her up. It was like someone hit her. Or bullets were hitting other people. She gasped and sat up, wild eyes and ready to move.

"Oooh..." Illya groaned when she sat up so quickly. Her hand over his stomach had planted itself firmly there and she thrust herself up with that hand. The beating on the door happened to be Cypher who was anxious to see his dad. He didn't get to see his dad much yesterday. "Dah!!!!" Beating on the door again he tried the latch and found it was unlocked before he ran into the room and then his face went pale. "Dah, are yah ok?" He could plainly see the tube in his dad's side and the sling his one arm was in along with the slightly bloodied dressings that would need to be changed. Illya winced a bit and turned his head when he heard his son coming in. At least he was sleeping in pajama pants this time. "Yeah, I be fine. Dese tings happen when yah soldier like yah dah. Sometimes yah get hurt." Cautiously Cypher approached the bed and he looked like he was about to cry. "Can yah still hold meh?" Cypher wanted to get on the bed, but he didn't know if he should when he dah looked like that. Illya beckoned for him to come up. "Have yah mum show yah how tah lay close."

Calysta's heart was thudding against her chest and her head was aching awfully still as Cypher came barreling in. Thankfully he was old enough to stop short of jumping all over Illya and she sat in the bed blinking and shaking. She hardly heard the words Illya said about showing Cypher how to lay down so he could be close. Her body moved on its own. She slid out of bed and helped Cypher into it. "Gentle, just like that. No hands above Dah's belly here, okay? His chest doesn't feel good or his shoulder, yeah?" She put Cypher's hand right where it was safe so he could hug his father and tucked them both in neatly. "I'm going to step out for a moment to get Dah his medicine. Cypher why don't you take good care of him until I come back?"

Slowly crawling across the bed, Cypher laid down and looked up at his dah's face. "Maam said yah were hurt very bad. Are yah gonna die?" Illya wrapped his arm around Cypher and he smirked a bit at the question. "Oh et hurt very bad, but I'm nut gonna die." The boy squirmed some and stared up at his dad for a bit longer before he decided to try sleeping. Illya closed his eyes and tried to get back to sleep again.

She didn't get an answer from he son as he was too occupied with his father to notice. Feeling a another wave queasy motion, she shut the door quietly as she left and dashed down the hall when it was closed. The guest bathroom was a few doors down and she covered her mouth, diving into the room and slamming the sliding door. She threw her entire face into the toilet and hardly noticed that one of the children had neglected to flush it before she started retching.

***********

It wasn't long after their mother left the room and Cypher disappeared that Lohgan opened the captian's quarter's doors and wandered in. "Dah? I want tah come up there too! Cypher!" She was, if anything, straight forward in her demands. Cypher sat up and frowned before helping his sister up into the tall bed. "Now, you gotta keep your hand here," he said in a confident voice, "If it goes any higher, you'll hurt Dah. And lay just like that." The 10 year old boy busied himself with arranging his sister just-so. She whined at him when he started bossing her around too much though and shooed him off in favor of tucking herself under her father's arm. "Hi, Dah," she whispered, "Does et hurt? I can paint your toenails later. Et will make you feel better."

Of course, Lohgan had left the bedroom door open and the twins were not to be forgotten. Tomas, waddled in and poked his nose over the side of the bed. "Cyphewer," he said, "Me too."

Cypher dutifully got off the bed and pushed his younger brother up the side by the rump until the boy was next to Lohgan. "Don't yah touch too much. Dah doesn't feel good." He made a very impressive and responsible show of educating Tomas just where it was safe to hug Dah. Edgar was never far behind Tomas and started to cry when he saw his Dah with everyone else but him. "Hold on, Edgar," Cypher sighed, "I'll get you up here too." With a little effort, Cypher managed to haul his chubby brother onto the bed where real estate was starting to look slim. In an effort to be closer to his Dah, he shimmed himself up at the head board and put his head close to Dah's carefully.

20 minutes passed and the children settled down, falling asleep except for Cypher who remained vigilant that nobody touch Dah where he was hurt. After 30 minutes, a concerned voice echoed down the hall, calling the children's names until the person stopped in the open doorway. Rose poked her head into the room and went from confused to simply staring at all the kids piled in the bed. "Hey Dah," she said softly. Slowly, she stepped inside and looked over her father, then eased into the chair by the bedside. "Mam was so worried, she wouldnt tell us much until you got home," Rose admitted. Then hot tears sprang to her eyes, and sniffled. "I'm really glad you're okay. I'm sorry for what I said." She was just glad that she had a chance to fix it. Her last words to the man who raised her would not have been so kind otherwise. She put a hand over his and kissed his cheek. "I'm sorry."

**********

Calysta came back to the room having taken far longer in the bathroom than she intended. She still felt queasy and almost a little dizzy, but that was likely stress and lack of sleep kicking in. She passed Bahn in the hallway, but didn't have the energy to greet him beyond a simple head nod. Sleep was sounding like the best option. What she did notice was that it was oddly quiet in the ship. As she came down the hall, she noticed the bedroom door open. When she poked her head inside she found out why it was so quiet. All the children were piled into the bed with Illya. Cypher was crammed at the headboard, Lohgan was tucked under Illya's arm and snoozing. The twins were flopped around with a leg and hand on Illya's metal shin. Even Rose was curled up in the chair Calysta often used. Illya's eyes were closed too.

Looking at them all, she didn't have the heart to disturb them, so she gently closed the door and grabbed a blanket from the linen closet. Their couch was comfortable in the living space and at least it was close to the guest bathroom just in case she needed it. Flopping down on the couch, she pulled the blanket over her head to block the light and closed her eyes to nap.


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

Priscilla handed over cupcake plate to another customer. The grand opening of the bakery was a beautiful, successful madhouse thanks to a little advertising on the continent and all the people she had met spreading the word. All the Terrans living on Pyrta had come out and the Pyrtans themselves were curious too. She'd even seen several of the Chippeqouti come in. She was giving out small teas and coffees with a purchase. Nothing so big she would lose on it, but enough to get people to try new things. It seemed to be working out marvelously and the entire bakery looked amazing. It was all fresh and clean, with modern, but homey sort of features. She invited people to sit and stay for awhile and had hired someone to walk around offering small samples and petit fours. Of course, she had worn an outfit that marked her as the owner in a fine A-line powder blue dress with white flowers and the apron Ehud had made her.

Things had been going better for them the last few weeks. There had been less arguing and a bit more forward communication. He seemed happier with her. Sometimes she was left wondering how long his good mood would last or if he would get tired of the efforts that he seemed to be making. It was a fear she tried to put as far back in her mind as possible. Nothing good was ever built on fear. As they neared closing time, she saw Ehud talking and returning to the counter. She smiled as he sidled through the thinning line and pulled out a treat she had made just for him. When he made it to the counter, she beamed at him and slid a white ceramic plate across the tiled top. On the plate was a light danish pastry with berry jam in the middle cooked to a golden brown on the outside and flaky in the middle. "I saved you a little something," she winked, "This one is on the house."
 

Silence

Anonymous Me
Mentor
Illya was about ready to doze off when Rose came in. He was so tired, but it was good to see her. She took the seat near the bed and leaned down to kiss his cheek. Rose sounded a bit emotional. All the kids were and he felt badly about that. He remembered his dad getting hurt and Bahn getting hurt a few times when he was young and he wanted to be near them. Markus never allowed it. Bahn allowed it sometimes. Pulling his hand out from underneath Rose's he grabbed her tiny hand gently in his and gave it a squeeze. "I dun know what yah said. I guess et was nut so important eh?"

Rose blinked at Illya in surprise with her watery brown eyes and sniffled. He really didn't remember having the argument about the tour? She had been so awful for most of the trip. How was that not important? "It's alright now?" she mumbled, too stunned to sound particularly intelligent on this matter.

Clearly she was lost and so was he. Illya figured he would just go with it. "Of course et's fine. Yah still meh little girl. Yah always gonna be meh little girl. Dah's feel dat way yah know."

Rose's nose twitched and her eyes welled up with fresh tears. Without thinking much about it, she held his hand close with her own and cried a little. "I was really scared you were going to die and the last words we had were an argument, Dah. Mam always told me I shouldn't argue before people go...I'm glad its okay now." It was an entire tours worth of side dumping out of her eye balls now and she used a hand to wipe at her running mascara. "Can I sit here for awhile too?"

The explanation from Rose was very helpful and Illya remembered it better now that she mentioned it. She had been a bit of a brat, but he wasn't going to hold that against her. It was part of growing up. "Good news, I'm still here. I be jes fine." With a faint grin he answered her and she asked if she could sit for a while and he nodded. "Dat would be good. I dun see yah en a few days. Glad yah decided tah come en. I might be little lazy feeling."

She wiped at her mascara and the plucked a tissue from the box by the bedside with her dainty, well maintained fingernails. "I'm glad I came in too, Dah. That's alright. You don't look lazy. You're watching all the siblings."

Illya started to laugh a little and then he coughed. "Ugh...I dun tink I'm watching dem. I'm trapped. Jes tink, ef yah get en hurry tah be agreed dis could be yah in few years."

Rose couldn't help but laugh and squeezed his hand as she did. "It might be, I'm not even sure Sam wants that many, but I wouldn't mind it. I think I've decided to wait a little anyways."

"Oh, so yah gonna stay wit meh little longer?" Illya made a very cautious attempt of a fist pump with his left arm. "Yes, more free babysitting." She would know it was a joke. "Seriously, why yah decide tah wait longer? I know ets nut tah watch yah broters and sisters."

"As much as I love them, no," she said, "I do love Sam but I have somethings to do first and so does he. He told me he wanted to go to officer school and that means a year away after graduation for a fresh cadet. I wouldn't mind and neither would he. But it will be better if we wait and he can pick assignments at his own will and I can finish the book I'm working on."

"Mmm." Illya nodded and he listened. Rose was taking this very seriously and that was good. "Yah have logical tinking for dis. I'm glad yah tink more about dah timing. Et es good ef he can peck his own assignments closer to yah. Does he have home pecked out yet? Maybe he will build one for yah? Did I remember tah tell yah dat when I bring matter to dah counsel dat dey will nut disown yah for choice tah be wit Sam?"

Rose's eyes grew round and she looked at her father in pure shock. "They did?!" She half hugged him around the neck before remembering he was injured and backed away quickly, looking relieved.

The sudden lunge was a bit surprising in the moment and Illya did his best not to grunt when she half crunched his shoulder. It was very sore. When she backed away the look on her face was worth the throbbing in his shoulder and side. "Yes, et was important decision. Meh little girl es changing history of Chippequoti." While the statement was honest it was a bittersweet one for him.

She kept his hand close and hugged that instead. His palms were rough against hers and that was okay. She didn't mind that at all. "I didn't set out to change it, Dah, but I'm glad they decided it was alright. Sam is a good man. He really is. He treats me like you treat Mam. You listen to and take care of her." Rose felt relief bubbling up all at once and she kissed her father's cheek. "Thank you, Dah."

"He better treat yah good." Even if he wanted to give her a speech about killing Sam if he ever mistreated her, he was sure it wouldn't go over well. "Yah welcome." Taking a little deeper breath he settled into the bed a bit more. "Ef yah ever need yah can come back tah stay at meh house. Dun forget dat." Illya found himself getting tired and he gave her a lazy smile. "I'm probably gonna fall asleep."

"Thanks, Dah. I love you too," she replied. When he mentioned getting sleepy, she looked at all her siblings and then at her father. "Everyone else is in here," Rose smiled, "I can stay awhile too." She tucked her feet into the arm chair and leaned her head against the padded arm with one hand folded underneath. The other stayed on top of Illya's.

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

When Illya woke up later it was because one of the twins were slapping his head and using it like a drum. "Owe..." Illya tried to see which kid it was only to get slapped in the face a few times. "Hey..." Someone helped pull the twin away and he heard it was Edgar crying. "Jes put him close." Illya tried to give Edgar some time, but the boy was determined to play and unfortunately that was not something he felt up to. Once the kids were awake it was quickly becoming dangerous for them to be with him in the room.

After the kids were out Illya decided to read a few articles and re-schedule his council meeting. Doubtless the news had reached home, but he wasn't going to be attending looking like he did right now. Kalizda was back and she seemed to be a bit pale looking. She was always pale, but he didn't remember her looking that pale usually.

"Yah ok?" Kalizda told him she was fine, but he wasn't sure. She might have still been bothered by what happened. Sending off a few messages he sighed and started rolling to his side only to discover the drainage tube in his lung was a little short for what he had in mind. "Owe!" Yelping at the discomfort he rolled to his back and cautiously felt around the edge of the port. It wasn't bleeding, but it sure hurt. "Damn et. I can hardly wait tah get rid of dis ting."

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

Getting rid of the tube almost two days ago seemed like a long time to wait to feel better. Illya was not feeling like he wanted to and at one point when he was walking the halls he got a little wobbly with his knee and bumped his bum shoulder into the walls. Getting ready for bed he checked all his dressings. They'd had a lovely bit of bloody spotting on the sheets one or two nights when he forgot to check the dressing status before bed. "I dun tink we need tah change anyting. Let's jes go tah bed." Illya mumbled and crawled into the bed. Coughing some he wondered if the Chip cough was trying to settle in again. It wasn't as warm here the last few days.

Illya woke up less frequently than he did when he had the tube in his chest, but he still woke up at night and Kaliza still seemed to be having trouble sleeping. At one point he caught her hand with his right hand and held it a few minutes till she calmed down. It was time for his early morning dose of medicine and Illya felt a wet spot on the bed. He didn't sweat that much. Sitting up he glanced behind himself at his side of the bed and noticed there was a large bloody spot on it. "Ugh..." Hiding it wasn't going to work. Kalizda would find it. It explained why his shoulder hurt so bad when he went to bed, but he didn't think it was bleeding that much. "I'm gonna make a call ento dah Ehaui and get appointments for us." Illya mumbled to Kalizda as he reached for his pad and made an appointment for each of them.

The Ehaui responded saying that they already had orders put in with the Terran clinic and Illya made sure he and Kalizda were ready for their appointments. Unfortunately the Terrans must of misunderstood that they usually went to appointments together and they took Kalizda to a separate room and he went to a separate room too.

When the doctor came in he was looking at the scan of the shoulder and chest. "Well, I finished talking with your usual doctor. He said the shoulder should be fine if I put a little wound seal on it. Nasty wound actually. Made a little L inside your shoulder before it exited. Bullet had a little traveling to do before it left. Probably why it hurts so bad. That one looked cleaner, but it was a bit messier. Also, your doctor said it looked like you left a little Chip cough untreated and then the bullet to the lung combined with external material that we cleaned out and bed rest and still not treating the cough made it develop into pneumonia. Your doctor seemed to think you weren't taking your Chip cough medicine. He said to get back on that and the teas and he would put in an order for you at the pharmacy for some antibiotics to deal with the pneumonia."

Illya frowned at the man. "What happens ef I dun want anymore medicine. I could make a whole meal out of dah stuff dey give meh already."

"He said you say something like that. Really, you're not on that much. He said to tell you that you'll get a tube in each lung if you don't take the medicine." The doctor wasn't certain that was entirely realistic, but it seemed to get the desired effect.

"I guess I can take dah damn pills. Give meh dah order for dem." When Illya held his hand out he noticed a slight smirk on the doctor's face and he jerked the paper away with irritation. "Yah have a good day." Growling the words he went back out to the waiting room and he wondered why it was taking Kalizda so long. Walking up to the counter he asked the receptionist. "Can I go see meh Kalizda? She has appointment back dere somewhere." The woman told him no and he frowned, but returned to his seat. If she didn't come out with Rezna in a few minutes, he was going in whether they liked it or not.

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

Opening day at the bakery was quite busy. Ehud knew it would be. Pris was a doubter all the way and he almost had to roll his eyes when she looked so surprised to see at least 3 people waiting when she opened the shades and turned on her open sign at the doorway. Of course she was going to have people lined up. If the Chippequoti were nothing else, they were curious. He watched patiently as people went in and out all day. The samples went over well and many Chippequoti were eager to buy, or trade for some of her goods.

At the end of the day he walked up to the counter to ask her what part she liked best, but instead he was surprised with a little sample for himself. "Oh, well uh...this looks familiar. Can't remember what it's called, but I like it." Ehud grabbed the pastry and took a bite. "Much better than the ones I got in the grocery stores."
 

aryamajor

Curious Adventurer
Benefactor
Pris watch Ehud eat the pastry out of curoisty and chuckled when he mentioned they were better than store bought. "I should hope so," she chuckled, "That's the idea." She smiled at him and dusted a crumb from him with a gentle swipe of her fingers. "They're called danishes or singularly, a danish. I'm glad you liked it."

People were coming and going still, and she had to pause in the seduction of her husband to ring up a customer or two. When she was done, she turned back to him and glanced at the clock. "Would you do the honors of flipping the sign to closed?"

***********

Calysta's week did not improve. They were stationary and that should have been enough to rest up but things almost felt worse. Illya was not improving like he should once the tube was removed. More than once they woke up to substantial bleeding over the sheets and he seemed to feel worse, not better. On top of that, a stomach bug perpetuated by stress seemed to have settled over her. She had random waves of nausea washing over her through the day. Throwing everything up made her feel better for a time but nothing made the nausea go away. Illya had tested every tea concoction he could think of to improve the symptom when he discovered she was leaving him alone just long enough to dash to the guest bathroom. She had even had a hologram meeting with Adowe feeling as if she might vomit right onto the rug. It was all she could do to listen to renewed plans to tighten security, help draft a proposal for added assistance from the Alliance council, and listen to the woman use the attack as a wonderful example of why they should be fast tracked into the Alliance. Calysta promised nothing out of intelligence and the sheer need to keep her mouth closed to prevent breakfast from splattering all over the floor.

Night time brought relief from some of the nausea but didn't exactly mean she was getting rest. She wasn't sleeping very well with random dreams and over all feelings of worry. One particular night she had a terrible nightmare. Illya was laying in the back of that dirty truck bed, his head lolled back and face pale. Blood dribbled between his lips and rolled down his chin. His eyes were closed but when she said his name, he opened them and they were dead, milky white with a bit of pale green. Blood oozed from the corners and she started shaking him. That had been the moment something caught her hand and said her name. It was Illya. The touch broke the nightmare and she gripped his hand until her eyes opened enough for her to cry.

By the end of the week Illya came to her and announced he was going to make his own appointment to see the Terran doctor. That news would have been shocking on its own. What was more, he made an appointment for her too, insisting she see a doctor for the stomach bug she had picked up along the way. Calysta didn't want to kick up a fuss and didn't want to go. It would have looked bad for the tour for her to be going for herself but since everyone knew about the attack, it was expected for her to go. She agreed to go and managed to get dressed in something decent for the appointment.

When they arrived, she was glad to see the media had been told to leave and all was quiet, but she was not thrilled about being steered in the opposite direction of Illya. She states to protest but the nurse insisted that's the way they were going to do it. Calysta wanted to know about Illya more so than herself but he was already whisked away to who knew where.

She was lead to a pretty standard exam room and told to wait on the papered exam table. On her own, she disliked hospitals and clinics they always smelled odd and they didn't exactly bring back great memories. While she was waiting the urge to vomit hit hard and she gagged a bit before diving off the exam table and sticking her head in the nearby trash can. Mid-heave the doctor, a young man with red hair and glasses, opened the door with a greeting. He stopped short when he saw Calysta bent over the trash can vomiting. "Ooh...I suppose we'll have to put down nausea as a symptom..."

He let her finish and then poured her a cup of water. "Lets see if this stays down." Calysta accepted it gratefully and sipped while the doctor continued asking her about any other symptoms and was she on. "Just birthcontrol," she told him. He had reviewed her files sent by the Ehaui apparently and noted a few things. "They've left off a few pages but it looks like you had surgery several years ago. Not too many ailments which is surprising for a half breed of Terran and Kaerelean genes."

"I'm pretty surprising for a half breed," she replied, sipping on her water.

He gave a bit of a nervous chuckle, unsure if she was joking or not with him and then continued. "Well, we'll take a little blood and urine sample and see where we need to go from there."

She was shown to a bathroom and two minutes later gave them all the sample they needed. Then is was off to give blood. She let them draw blood but it took several tries to find a vein. Rezna actually watched that part with interest. The doctor noted her curiousity. "Udine, yes? This little needle would bend on you." Rezna watched the blood pour into the vial. "You'd think I'd be used to seeing skin like that," she mused, "But you lot still look squishy every time."

Once that was over with, Calysta sipped water and waited for the doctor to return. There was an odd silence between her and Rezna, though she doubted the Udine woman would note it very much. Finally, Calysta looked at Rezna. "How's your stomach?" Rezna had taken a shot in the stomach at near point blank range under where her armor sat, but it had merely glinted off her skin and left a hole in her fatigues. "Eh," the woman shrugged, "A bruise in the muscle, not much else. The little sucker was short and not smart enough to aim up at my head. That might have at least knocked me out." She smirked a bit at that and shifted her stance.

"I'm glad it didn't," Calysta replied.

"Yeah, I was bit more worried about that when I went chasing after you," Rezna noted, finally. The woman didn't sound mad so much as resigned.

Calysta blushed. "I'd like to say I was sorry, but...I couldn't just leave him."

Rezna smirked again. "I know. Just next time don't go running across an open field like a damned sitting duck. It looks bad on my record if you die like you're on a target range."

"I'll remember that. I hope there isn't a next time though," she replied.

"You and me both," Rezna replied, this time more sincere.

About that time, the doctor came in with a few papers on his clip board and clicking his pen. "Well, I do think we've found the cause of your stomach bug, Councilwoman and I have a few recommendations."

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

Calysta stepped out of the exam with Rezna close at her heels and a bag of medication already filled by the clinic in hand. She found Illya sitting in the pleathery brown chairs lined up in the waiting room. He was definitely favoring one shoulder over the other trapped in the sling and looked tired. She walked over to him and smiled. "Hey, handsome. Ready?" He was more than ready it seemed and stood up. When he did, she slid a hand around his left side and tucked underneath his arm a little. "I took a little medicine and I don't feel nauseated for now," she explained, "I have some more in the bag." He mumbled something about his shoulder hurting and she nodded as she rubbed his back gently. That was to be expected since he was shot with a large caliber sniper rifle. "Aye, did the doctor say anything else?" She listened to whatever else he might say and continued rubbing his back as they walked out the door. When they approached the skimmer, she let Illya fold into it however he liked and then followed him. Before their guards, Mihael and Rezna this time, could climb in, she held up a hand and closed the hatch. They both turned and stood outside the door guarding them with as much privacy as they could give.

"The doctor said that?" she nodded, "We havent been doing your teas like we should. It certainly explains alot. I might need to start doing a few more teas too...the doctor's were pretty positive they knew what was wrong after a few tests. Luckily, it will fix itself in about 9 months when the baby is born."
 

Silence

Anonymous Me
Mentor
Once they were in the flyer Illya handed Kalizda the prescription he got from the doctor. Shockingly she didn't seem to be bothered by the results. It was a rather simple fix. He'd never gone to full blown pneumonia that he knew of, but he really didn't feel any different than he might have if had Chip cough with the exception that he just felt a little more sick overall.

Kalizda tucked the prescription into her fold like she usually did. It was just because he had a tendency to forget the prescriptions or lose them if he kept them for any amount of time. She was also used to taking care of those things. Then before he had a chance to ask about her appointment she decided to tell him that she needed some teas. "Do..." Illya started and then realized she was still talking. Waiting for her to finish he frowned a bit at her announcement and paused for a long moment after that. Tilting his head some he stared at her and gazed deep into her eyes before he glanced back toward the front of the flier again. "No...yah jes giving meh hard time."

Calysta stared back at him waiting for some sort of response. Any response. When he finally did, it wasnt at all what she expected. She blinked at him in surprise . He really thought she was kidding?! "No, its true. You've put a bun in the oven and I've had morning sickness all week while baking it."

Somehow her explanation seemed to go off topic. Illya stared at her even harder. "No, I didn't put anyting en dah oven dis week. What does baking have tah do wit babies? Yah nut pregnant. Yah take dah no baby pills."

Calysta stared at him in and then pinched the bridge of nose. "Aye, but they only work if I take one every day. Apparently, missed one and we decided to have a little fun...or alot of fun."

"But we haven't done dat in a while. Yah nut having anoter baby. I dun remember dah last time we had sex. Et was a long time ago." Illya was convinced that she was trying to pull his leg. "I'd like anoter baby, but I tink we agreed we wouldn't have anymore. Et's nut healty for yah."

Calysta's eyes snapped up and this time she looked ferocious. "We haven't had sex in a week, Illya. Not since you hurt your knee.. . But I'm almost 4 weeks along now which means this happened at the start of the tour. And yes we agreed not have anymore but if I miss a pill, I can't help it if I get pregnant."

"Yah serious?" She never said things in that tone of voice unless she was irritated with him. Illya shrugged. "A week es still a long time tah nut have sex." The idea of a baby happening a month ago was odd and he blinked a few times. "Why didn't yah tell meh yah missed a pill?"

"Aye...I'm serious," she said, I didn't know I missed it. I must have forgotten to take it at some point. Everything has been busy and chaotic. Especially at the start of the tour..." she sighed, and deflated a little.

"So, we're having a baby?" Illya was still fighting disbelief at this point, but a cautious smile was inching its way across his face. "Es et a boy or a girl?"

Calysta looked up at Illya. He still seemed to be a bit of disbelief but tentatively smiled and asked a natural question. "I'm not sure yet. It's too early to tell. We could find out together, yeah?"

"Mmhmm....Yah actually pregnant? We will have anoter baby." Rubbing his head and then scratching at the stitches on the side of his scalp he sighed. "Whoo, we will be very busy. I'm excited for baby, but I'm very worried about yah."

The idea seemed to be sinking in now and he sighed as he said he was excited and worried. She slid a little closer to him and kissed his cheek. "I'm a bit nervous too," she admitted, "But I'll be okay, yeah? We'll just be extra busy."

Another realization hit and Illya couldn't help showing the disappointment. "Dis means et really will be a long time until we have sex again." Pointing to the fold he shruggd, "Well, we should go get meh order so I can stop coughing at yah all night."

He didnt seem to feel one way or the other about it beyond realizing it would be awhile before they could have sex again. "The doctor didn't say we couldn't but I will probably have to get another cerclage put in..." she trailed off a bit and looked down at her purse. "Oh, aye. We can have Rezna stop and fill it."

"Yah know, we dun have any of our baby tings wit us. Ef we do dah twins have et. Dey're too big tah share. We'll have tah get more. Terran's dun make good baby stuff do dey?" Illya was trying to take inventory now of all the things they would need. "Yah gonna need bigger eh..." Holding his right hand in front of his chest he tried to motion so she'd know what he meant, "Bigger eh...bigger underwear for yah breasts. Are yah gonna try tah nurse dah baby at all? Will we need more of dose special pads and creams for yah?"

Suddenly, he was swapping topics on her again, going from prescriptions to baby needs in less than 3 seconds. Hearing him thinking about all of that was endearing and made up for the fact that he clearly couldn't remember having sex with her. All of it came tumbling out and she smiled a gently. "I'm not sure what Terrans will have but we'll be gone from New Terra before we need anything like that. I'm definitely going to get bigger again. We can take it as it comes, yeah?"

"Agh...and we jes got rid of all dose big baggy shirts yah had and dah stretchy pants. We can start buying diapers now. Yah we always need more of dem anyway." Illya sighed and he thought for a long moment. "Do we need tah get more baby clotes?"

Clearly he was already planning things im his head and was too far into his thoughts to listen to her asking him to slow down. "Aye, eventually. The twins weren't gentle on clothing and I donated the things they out grew...I was expecting them to be our last. But don't worry. I have plenty of savings. Money won't be a problem." She reached out and took his hand, giving it a squeeze. "You did say you wanted to make alot of babies with me," she offered.

Somewhere in the middle of all that she said they were having twins again. Illya almost choked and he coughed and the fit continued for nearly a minute. With his eyes watering he looked at her in amazement. "Twins again?" How did she know that already. "Twins are a lot of work. I like one baby at a time too. No reason tah get in a hurry."

For whatever reason he started suddenly choking and she panicked slightly as he struggled to breathe until he looked up at her wild eyed. Twins? What in the Wilds was he talking about? How had he gotten this so wrong? Apparently he wasn't even listening to her when she tried to get his attention. "No, i was talking about our already born set of twins. As far as I know this is just 1 baby." She pointed at her stomach.

Illya took a deep breath and coughed a few more times, but he was relieved. "Ooh, dat's good. I was very worried. Two babies was a lot for yah tah have at one time. Jes one will be better. Maybe et will nut make yah so sick."

Calysta nodded. "Having one is enough but birthing two was...exhausting. It alright though. I know this wasn't planned but, I'm kind of excited. This will be our last baby and I remember the last month...it was made with love in mind on purpose not."

"I remember dah last mont too. Dat was good sex. Jes dun tink we were making a baby." A mischievous grin started to form and he raised his eyebrows slightly. "Suppose et dun matter how we do et now ef dah doctor says we can. Can't make yah pregnant by accident now."

Calysta saw that grin she liked so much spread across his lips and laughed a little when he mentioned they had the freedom to do what they liked in bed now. "That's true. He didn't say no, at least not yet. The baby is too small to cause too many problems yet. He just said to be careful with my blood pressure since i had that history of fainting. At least for now."

"I can fex dah blood pressure ting." Leaning in he gave her a kiss and bumped his shoulder on her flyer seat. Grunting a little bit he tried to readjust and almost face planted into her lap instead. An involuntary chuckle sounded and he groped with his right hand and helped push himself upright. "Well, et would look a little different den dat."

Her cheeks were still burning as she nodded in agreement and then to glance outside before leaning close to him conspiratorially. "How about we take our time before dinner when we get home?" She suggested a smile slipping to her lips.

Illya nodded eagerly and he kissed her again just about time Rezna stepped back into the ship with his prescription. Handing the bottle over to Kalizda he let her take over the distribution of it. "I jes make sure dah kids are set up wit good hologram and Mihael will have dem taken care of eh?"

The offer of a little fun time made him nod and grin eagerly and he offered up plan to allow them some quiet space. It may be one of the last times they got to do anything with each other for a long time. "Aye," she smiled, "That should give us awhile. Maybe I will put on something nice, yeah?"

"Mmm..I'd like dat." Illya's eyes lit up a bit at the prospect. He secretly hoped that she would put on the leg socks. He loved those long socks and he could think of plenty of reasons for her to put them on. However, they were something she rarely indulged in wearing. They were almost to the ship when he got a message from Dane asking if he could pick up his prescription too. Illya sent a reply of yes and had Rezna take them back to the pharmacy so they could get the medication for Dane.

By the time they had returned to the ship the kids were wild and rambunctious. It was making Illya wonder if he was even going to get a chance to enjoy his time with Kalizda like they had planned. Perhaps it wasn't so much planning as wishful thinking. The longer the kids played the more obvious it was that Dane was pretty good with the kids. Even if he couldn't talk he certainly had them wound up and running around like Chip children.

Bahn seemed to be slinking off to a more quiet place and since Kalizda was probably not ready yet, based on the fact that she was making tea for them Illya decided to join Bahn. The storage bay seemed to be the best place for now. Illya and Bahn pulled out a chest and they each sat on one end of it and leaned their backs against the wall next to the doorway. Hopefully none of the kids would see them in here this way. Besides they could hear if the kids came screeching down the hall in time to change topics if they needed. "How yah bot doing?" Bahn nudged Illya after a moment.

"I don't know." Illya answered with a sigh, "Things are difficult. I'm not feeling well because I have a lung infection and my shoulder hurts. Kalizda is very bothered by her memory." Taking a few more moments to think about it he went on. "I talked with her, like we do with younger recruits sometimes. It's hard to tell if it worked. She hugged me after that. Nobody has ever done that to me after that talk."

Bahn listened patiently and he chuckled some after Illya told him what the outcome had been. "She's a woman to start and she's not a soldier. I'm betting that's why she did something nobody else has ever done before."

Slapping Bahn's shoulder Illya scoffed, "You smart arse." Of course Bahn would point out something obvious like that. "I didn't know what else to do. She's not going to talk to anyone else and I don't know how to help her. She's not a soldier and that's all I know. Sometimes it's terrifying to know that she and the kids look up to me to be understanding or to help with that stuff. I can fight and win a battle, but the rest of it? I have no idea what to do for them with..." Illya gestured with his right hand "This....it's tough."

"You could just let her talk." Bahn suggested and then moved on, "Or you could just make up some nice sounding thing that will make her feel better. You don't have to tell her the truth all the time. Sometimes a nice story will calm a lady down more than the truth. The truth is scary and it sure isn't for the young when it comes to war."

Illya frowned and he stared at Bahn in dismay, "I wouldn't lie to her. She'll just have to handle the truth. It's damn hard to make a nice fuzzy story about things when she sees that stuff. I can tell her I don't want to talk about it if she wasn't there. At least she doesn't have to know what I do when it comes to that, but I'm not gonna make up some lousy story." It was a sore topic and Illya wasn't anywhere near done. "She thinks I get mad sometimes and maybe I do. I did't want her to see these things. She's young and she's got a long time to live. There isn't any reason that she should be seeing this stuff. What's the point of me going to war if she still has to see it?"

Nodding a bit Bahn let out a long breath. "I wonder the same thing sometimes. All our people have seen the war and they've all learned to fight. I like to think it makes us strong. Not anymore comfort to be had."

Glancing at his watch Illya grunted and he began to get up. "Oooh...I gotta get up." Once he was on his feet he turned to look at Bahn before stepping into the hallway. "I want the war over before it destroys our people." He also wanted it over before it poisoned Kalizda and the children. Before their minds were warped and plagued with the evils that war brought.

As he got closer to the kitchen he saw Kalizda walking down the hallway with their cups. She must have made a tea for herself and that was good. Kalizda was walking ahead of him. She might have been checking the bunkrooms for him before heading for the living room. "Yah ready after I get dah kids and Dane set up wit hologram?"
 
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aryamajor

Curious Adventurer
Benefactor
Priscilla watched her husband turn around and walk toward the door. There was nobody left in the room to see her shamelessly take a peak at his rear. In fact, nobody was there to see her do alot of things. "Oh and do you mind drawing the shades?" She called innocently as she slipped around the counter. She walked over while he was busy and as soon as the last shade was shut, she slipped her hands around his waist from behind and pulled him close with a playful laugh. "I think today was a good day."

Ehud turned the sign and he glanced over his shoulder when she asked him to draw the blinds. Turning back toward the windows he went around the room and drew all the blinds. Suddenly she grabbed him and Ehud immediately froze. His heart was beating wildly and he carefully pried her fingers off and then he turned around so he could hug her properly. At this point he could only hope that she didn’t see the alarm on his face.

Rather than just enjoying the impromptu snuggle, he pulled at her hands and she let go. When she did, he turned around and put his arms around her some. His expression was almost like a blank slate though. Neither pleased nor angry. Most men would have been pleased or at least interested, but Ehud, as she had discovered, was not most men. Not at all. He didnt answer her either. "It's alright to be honest if you didn't think it went all that well," she added.

Now that he could hide the moment of fear Ehud relaxed. “I think it went very well. Plan to be a little slower next week and then busier after about a month. It’s just the usual pattern of curiosity and then establishing business.”

It was a bit like watching some one remember they were playing a part and needed a moment to get into the role. His face went from blank to somewhat relaxed. "As long as they keep coming back." She rubbed his back and smiled. "Thank you for taking the day off to help."

Gradually a smile began to work it's way to the surface and Ehud kissed her cheek. "Mmm...well, I might be interested in buying stock if you keep making sales like today. Buying stock is a good thing. You'll be able to pay off your business loan more quickly." He was rather hoping he would get to see the loan paperwork sometime because he wanted to go pay it off in secret and see the look on her face when she received notification of her loan being paid in full.

A smile began to crack over his face and he kissed her cheek gentle. "Oh? Well, I'll just have to make sure you see monthly and quarterly earnings. If you do, I'll let you pick out an item to go on the menu," she replied as she rubbed his back. In heels, she was only a little shorter than he was and it made it much easier to kiss him. Surely that would please him as much as the thought of investing.

“Pick out something to go on the menu? Oooh we’re getting fancy.” Ehud felt her pull on him slightly and she kissed him. “Do you think those little temptations are working?” Shifting his hand on her back he grinned broadly before he let his hand sneak up her spine and start working on letting her hair out of the pins and ties that held it captive.

He seemed in a better mood, or was a least trying to show it. When he asked if she thought her little temptations were working, she cut her cornflower blues up at him through her long, lashes and gave him a sly smile with her red painted lips. About that time, her hair, which had been neatly pinned up, fell around her shoulders. "I'd like to think they were," she said, smoothly, "You'll have to tell me if I'm right."

"Hmm..." Ehud shrugged when she asked if she was getting to him. "I dunno. Guess we'll have tah find out." Ehud kissed her again and he mumbled a little before he started pulling her toward the back office. "Trying tah be all fancy and get meh riled. Yah have ways tah dooo et." The more he talked the thicker his accent was becoming.

Now she totally had his attention and she grinned when he kissed her. As he pulled her toward the back, undoubtedly, heading toward the office, she giggled at the strangely endearing accent that emerged. That had become a real marker of his desire over the few times they had really engaged in some marital fun. "Oh, I have a few ways you haven't seen yet," she teased as she followed him. Once they were in the office she wasted no time shutting the door and sliding the bits and bobs on her desk out of the way. She sat down on the desk and pulled him close into another kiss. Being in the office was exiting and she let out another laugh as she quickly undid the buttons on his shirt. Why were there so many buttons?!

She was half tempted to rip them off, but common sense told her it would totally send him off the rails as a tailor. It would put an end to another wise good time. So, she worked each button quickly, then peeled him out of his shirt. After that, it wasn't much effort to hike up her skirt so he had access to her legs, which he seemed to enjoy as much as playing with her hair.

It was fast and almost ferocious. She had found Ehud preferred sudden bits of wild passion, rather than the slow burn. Afterward, Ehud lounged back a little then mentioned something about going home to eat dinner and watch the news. They sat up but before Ehud could move too far away, Priscilla reached around him. "Wait...just a minute..." She was still warm from their fun and a little sweaty but she wanted to do something. She pulled him close and hugged him tightly, cheek pressed against his chest. It was a loving sort of hug and she took a deep breath, hoping he wouldn't break off the contact too soon.

Pris stopped him short from getting up and Ehud let her hug him. For the first few seconds he wondered if he should return the gesture and when she didn't pull away he settled in again and wrapped his arms around her too. "So, you're still feeling cuddly." A little bit of a grin plastered itself to his face and he winked at her. "Don't worry, I've always got more where that came from."

Priscilla waited, breath held, as he didn't move right away. He sort of stayed frozen for a moment before he slowly melted and wrapped his arms around her. She wasn't sure why he paused but relief and excitement swept over her she stayed close and glanced up at him when he told her he had more where that came from. She smiled and a sigh of contentment escaped her. "I was hoping you wouldn't mind a little longer. I like it."

This time it was easier to tell what to do and Ehud's smile warmed. "Oh, I like it too. I think we should do this sort of thing a little more often. Maybe I'll just have to meet you after work and get a little pastry each day. I think an investor could get that kind of return eh?"

She could feel him relaxing a bit and she thought she saw even his smile turning from obligatory to something happier. More genuine. Smiling contentedly, she rubbed his shoulders slightly. "I'd say that was a fair return for an investor," she hummed happily, " Especially for the investors wife. She'll be quite pleased." He was quite handsome when he really smiled and she couldn't help but enjoy that small taste of intimacy. "I'm glad the investor likes this part too."

"A man would have to be an idiot not to love you." Ehud rubbed her back gently and leaned back a little more until he suddenly jolted. "Ouch...You have a sharp corner on that desk. We should get home so I can do this properly."

The gentle touches followed by the sudden jolt made her instinctively reach out to cling to him. He mentioned something about the desk corner and going home to snuggle more. She nodded and leaned up to steal one more kiss before they started getting dressed again.

*********
Dear Diary,

I think it worked! We had a good time today. The opening of the bakery went off with hardly a hitch. I mean the only problem was running out of samples and bread to sell! It was so good to see everyone from the community coming out. It was also good in a few other ways too. I thought about it long and hard last night before the opening. Ehud's strange personality shift from our dating to our marriage...maybe it is my fault some how. I don't know. He doesn't talk to me about those things. Rather than talking though, I just decided to be bold today. Things have been going better and it made me think that maybe he might not reject me if I tried to take the initiative again. I wanted to be closer and feel closer. Is it wrong to want intimacy? I decided I was going to try to be closer today and at first I thought he was going to reject me. He had that strange blank look on his face he had in bed for weeks after we married, but then I saw the moment something clicked in him and he smiled at me. I didn't think it was an act. Alot of men have pretended to like me as a person because they wanted me. It didn't come across that way. It's almost like he's trying to remember what to do sometimes. I didn't back up this time though, I kissed him and we had an amazing little sporting time in my office. New office is broken in now, I guess I should say. I was feeling so good, I thought I might be a little bolder and ask for a little more intimate time. This time he didn't have a shower to run off to or anywhere to go before he put his clothes back on and I just wanted to feel close. He didn't reject me when I hugged him back down. It felt good. Great even. He even said he would like to try it more often. I hope he does.


*********
Chaos more or less reigned when she and Illya made it back to the ship. The kids were running around playing some sort of spacemen and aliens game they'd made up and it involved running and hiding like a pack of wild animals, then yelling in attack. More yelling and disrupting the staff than attacking. Calysta wasn't going to bust up the fun though. They were as stressed as she was in some ways and playing was as good a way to blow off steam for a kid as any.

She got to work sorting out the medicines into the pill organizers. There was a litany of prenatal vitamins and anti nausea medication which had blessedly started working already. She hadn't vomited in over an hour. Once that was done, she made some tea for Illya's lungs and a anti-nausea one for herself. That should help while they were having a little fun. The kids ran past her as she carried two cups of tea and she held still, hoping they would separate and run around her like a herd of antelope over a log. They bulldozed past and she spilled a bit of tea but not enough to worry about.

She went toward the bedroom and opened the door, but she didn't see Illya inside. Where had he gotten off to? She walked down the length of the ship and poked her head into the usual haunts, including the navigation room, but he wasn't there. When she got to the end, she noticed the hatch to the cargo bay was open and there were familiar voices coming from inside. Illya and....Bahn? Bahn always spoke like there was a joke on the tip of his tongue even when he spoke in Quoti. She pressed against the bulkhead wall and listened, not willing to interrupt them just yet. That would be rude, wouldn't it?

Illya was speaking first. "I didn't know what else to do. She's not going to talk to anyone else and I don't know how to help her. She's not a soldier and that's all I know. Sometimes it's terrifying to know that she and the kids look up to me to be understanding or to help with that stuff. I can fight and win a battle, but the rest of it? I have no idea what to do for them with...This....it's tough."

"You could just let her talk or you could just make up some nice sounding thing that will make her feel better. You don't have to tell her the truth all the time. Sometimes a nice story will calm a lady down more than the truth. The truth is scary and it sure isn't for the young when it comes to war." Bahn's answer echoed a little and Calysta frowned. She was younger but clearly Bahn didn't know her well enough to know that wouldn't fly with her.

"I wouldn't lie to her. She'll just have to handle the truth. It's damn hard to make a nice fuzzy story about things when she sees that stuff. I can tell her I don't want to talk about it if she wasn't there. At least she doesn't have to know what I do when it comes to that, but I'm not gonna make up some lousy story. She thinks I get mad sometimes and maybe I do. I did't want her to see these things. She's young and she's got a long time to live. There isn't any reason that she should be seeing this stuff. What's the point of me going to war if she still has to see it?"

Calysta listened to Illya's prompt and decisive reply to Bahn and she felt a spark of pride. He respected her enough to tell her the truth and to loved her enough that he would take all the brunt of it if he could. She wanted to hug him then and there.

Bahn let out a long breath and replied "I wonder the same thing sometimes. All our people have seen the war and they've all learned to fight. I like to think it makes us strong. Not anymore comfort to be had."

Glancing at his watch Illya grunted and he began to get up. "Oooh...I gotta get up...."

Calysta jolted off the bulk head at the sound of Illya rising to his feet and scuttled down the hallway toward the kitchen, dodging the kids as she went. Just as she was walking past the kitchen she heard Illya's voice call out to her. "Yah ready after I get dah kids and Dane set up wit hologram?"

Turning, she smiled broadly and nodded. "Aye. I'll put your tea on the bedside table and go get ready." She paused long enough to kiss his cheek on the way past him toward the captain's quarters.

It didn't take long for her to shimmy out of her clothes and into an outfit she had been saving for the trip. She might as well wear it now before she couldn't fit into it anymore. By the time he got the kids settled in, she was dressed and laying belly down on the bed, little legs crossed up and behind her back and her chin propped on her knees. She beamed at him when he walked in. The pride she felt for him was overflowing into a look of admiration. "Let's have some tea and then I'll let you take these off of me," she chuckled as she wobbled her legs.


***********

Koda wiped the sweat from his brow after he slowly lowered the weights back to the rack. They had turned the cargo bay into a work out area for the security team and it was nice enough. Weights, mats, a pull up bar and a treadmill type machine was bolted to the floor. All of the weights had to be put back on the rack and secured with clip strips in case they were in space and some how lost artificial gravity. He wiped down his mat with a spray bottle and towel before leaving. In the room, he caught sight of Mihael who had been over all pretty miserable the last few days considering the amount of corn product he had used and consumed. Koda had no idea that Chippeqouti were allergic to corn. He didn't eat alot of it himself, but it was still good to know.

He saw Mihael and nodded. "You still on mess duty tonight?" he asked. The schedule had been rearranged a few times after what happened at the Terran colony and he was curious about what the man might be cooking if he was up to doing it.
 

Silence

Anonymous Me
Mentor
It seemed to take a bit longer than Illya had intended to get Dane and the kids set up. The entire time he spent was less than 7 minutes, but he still thought it took a lot longer than it had to. Illya was feeling wild and he was very interested to see what getting ready meant to Kalizda. When he started down the hall he almost didn't see Wynry and stumbled into the wall to avoid running her over and then passed Bahn on his way to the bedroom. Just as he was ready to open the door to their bedroom Bahn walked over and decided it was a good time to have a conversation.

"Hey, I know you were gonna take a nap. We should have a little drink later and chat for old time sake eh?" Bahn leaned comfortably against the wall and he nudged Illya's right shoulder. "I know you had to get clean of the good stuff, but it doesn't stop you from having a drink." These kinds of accidents tended to trigger things with Illya and Bahn wanted to help put him at ease. It was a good start anyway. Eventually when Illya got drunk he would probably use a little something extra to stop his mind from wandering to dark places if the drinks weren't enough.

Illya stared at Bahn almost in disbelief. Had his uncle always been like this? Was it only obvious now because he had quit all that stuff? Seeing the unusual expression made Bahn wonder for a moment and then he shrugged, "What? I'm just trying to help." Even Markus didn't refuse a little help every now and then. "You're not on duty right now and I know your shoulder is killing you. I can see it."

"No, I'll just go lay down." Illya put his hand on the door slider and he dodged into the room. He didn't want to sit down and talk with Bahn about this stuff, not right now. Maybe he would talk with him later and when they were both having tea. Illya wasn't about to break his word to Kalizda. Doing it on board the ship would be an even bigger betrayal.

Carefully closing the door behind himself he locked it and let out a long sigh before stepping into the main part of the bedroom. Illya's eyes got wide and he froze in place when he saw Kalizda. The only thing that moved was his eyes. He looked up and down her legs and then her torso a few times before he managed to take a step forward. "Oooh, yah look verah reddy for meh." Illya took a few more steps and then made half a leap and landed on the bed next to her. "I'm ready too." With a grin he wiggled his eyebrows and leaned in to kiss her. It was a bit awkward with one arm in a sling, but he was more than ready to give it a try anyway.

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

Mihael hadn't expected a conversation to start up when he went to work out, much less a conversation started by the Terran. Grabbing a pinch of powder he rubbed his hands together and then slapped them with a small puff of powder forming near his hands. "Yeah, I got mess duty. You decide to come in here to work out now?"

Koda shrugged a bit and wiped his equipment down. "Aye. I usually do. We're just on opposite shifts, I guess." Then he picked up his water bottle to move to the next area out of the way for Mihael. He plucked up a set of dumbells and put them to the side of his bench. "If you're in the kitchen, I'll have some high standards," he commented.

Raising his hands over his head Mihael started out reaching for the ceiling and he did a few stretches while Koda wiped down his equipment before moving on. "High standard eh? Well, ets nut high enough. I will raise dah bar for yah." About the time he said that Bahn came marching in and he grabbed the powder, repeated many of the same things Mihael did and laughed. "Yah challenging him wit weights? Dat's nut fair."

Koda was about to reply to Mihael's comment about raising the bar when Bahn walked in and declared that it wasn't fair to challenge him with weights. Koda tilted his head some. "Why wouldn't it be?"

"Bah..." Mihael was going to try to correct Bahn, but it was too late and Koda went for it. Sighing he shook his head and let Bahn show Koda why. Bahn finished warming up and he glanced at the machine Koda had recently been on. "Yah do standard tirty reps wit dis weight?" Nodding in response he added about 200 pounds extra. "I do standard reps wit dis amount."

Koda listened to Bahn scuff off as he finished off his reps. The Chip seemed determined exactly why. Koda had just wanted to hear what he said and what the man's reasoning was. When Bahn stacked 200lbs more onto the machine. Koda smiled and little and nodded. "Aye. That's fair. I would be a little over my max there." He wiped down his the bench for Bahn to use and stood up to stretch his arms and hands. Then he glanced to Mihael. "Still expecting some good food. Heh."

While Bahn was busy making a demonstration Mihael quietly loaded the bench press and then got in the seat. He hadn't really intended on saying anything else. Then Koda moved seamlessly back to the conversation on food. Mihael felt that he had been far more polite in his conversation "Yah better expect good food. I make dah best." As he was about to start into bragging on his food a raspy laugh sounded and he saw Illya coming in a dusting his single hand he would be using for exercise. Dane was with him and Dane nodded some in approval at the idea of Mihael cooking. "Yah making snake?" He asked barely above a whisper. Mihael nodded and tilted his head toward Koda. "He dun tink I can cook."

Koda was surprised to see both Dane and Illya enter the room. Both of them had been pretty severely injured. He would have been stuck in bed for a bit himself. The two men seemed fine to come walking in and work out though. I glanced up, and the young chief in training caught his surprised look. Akten shrugged and shook his head. The younger man, who had spent more time with these men didnt seem perturbed or curious. Koda decided not to say anything and held a hand up a hand, chuckling. "I just think good cooking is best shown to be proven."

Since there was room on the floor Dane pulled the first mat away from the wall and let it flop on the floor. Illya pulled the next one away. The magnetic interior strip on the mats made them easy to flop against the wall when they were done. To start Illya laid flat on his back and let his spine stretch a bit and Dane slowly turned his head one way and then another. Mihael didn't pay much attention, but he decided to continue working out. Koda would find out how good his cooking was. Slowly Dane and Illya moved to stretching other parts of their bodies and they did the splits before slowly getting off the mats and starting their next exercise. Illya grabbed a fifty pound barbell and Dane set the bench press a few pounds heavier than Bahn had it.

Koda was getting ready to finish up as Illya and Dane took to the mats. On another day he might be interested in some sparring, but something told him he would be answering to the council woman if he started that up and everyone decided on a round, injured or not. He grabbed his town and looped it around the back of his neck, then snagged up his water bottle. It wasn't until he was half way out of the door that another voice sounded and he paused. Thomas Monroe, the council woman's father, has been on the biking machine. As far as his experience went, Thomas was a bit of a stubborn goat at times and the beard didn't help. The man was paused on his bike and looking at Illya in surprise. "Are you sure you should be lifting that much?" Thomas questioned. The question caught everyone's attention and Koda waited, curious to see the answer.

Illya had barely set his hand on the barbell and he was starting to lift it when he heard Thomas speak from behind him. It was unexpected and Illya dropped the barbell and jumped back. Despite his attempt to jump out of the way the barbell landed on his right foot and he yelled, "Ow!" It was more out of instinct although he started laughing immediately because he heard a distinct metal clang when it hit his prosthetic foot. Leaning over he snagged the weight off the floor. "Et's fine. I'm lifting minimum weight prescribed by Ehaui."

Everyone winced when he dropped the weight on his foot and a metallic clang echoed through the room. Thomas squinted his eyes shut until he heard Illya laughing. Koda saw Thomas' lips moving slightly with his neatly trimmed beard. The man was probably swearing. "50lbs is the minimum?" Thomas asked finally as he hauled his leg over the bike and swabbed it down.

"Yes, et's minimum." Illya grumbled back at him. "Yah jes go check wit Kalizda ef yah tink dat I will be in here coughing meh lungs out. She will tell yah I'm fine." Just to prove it Illya set the weight down and pulled his shirt up to show off the stitches on his left side. "Dey nut causing problems."

Koda watched with curiosity as the two men clearly ruffled each other. He hadnt seen them speak much with each other and now he was beginning to see why. Thomas' mustache twitched as he stared at the man's new scar and stitched. Then he flopped his towel over his shoulder. "Just don't go giving her anymore reasons to worry over you," he huffed quietly.

"Worry?" Illya scoffed and picked a little dirt crumble up off the floor and pinged it at Thomas. "Yah jes coming en here like old tootless lizard tah make trouble." Murmuring under his breath in Quoti he shook his head and then added, "Yah very difficult man tah be around. Going around hissing like sour lizard. She dun have anyting tah worry about. I tell her dat I always come back and I do. Dah gods are nut finished wit meh yet. Dey still have plenty of Federation for meh tah kill."

The corner of Koda's lip twitched and he turned around to leave before anyone saw him anywhere near amused at the idea of Thomas being a toothless lizard. The Terran man's grumpy disposition only deepen when Illya began mumbling in Quoti. Thomas grabbed his water bottle and shook his head as he dusted the dirt crumble away. "You're like a boulder. Always rolling down hill into trouble yourself."

"I dun roll entah trouble." Illya protested, "Dah trouble comes to meh." It surely had to be the trouble coming to him because he didn't go looking for it. "Yah jes name dah last time dat I go find trouble? I stay at home wit meh Kalizda when I'm nut on duty and I am fater tah dah many children and I'm gonna be here for dah one I accidentally put en her stomach."

The whole room grew still again and Thomas' eyes grew wide. "What did you say?"

Dane paused in the middle of his bench press and Mihael froze in place. Naturally, Bahn started to laugh and then Illya let out a long breath with a small huff at the end of it. "Yep, yah heard what I said." If she hadn't said anything he wasn't going to repeat himself.

Thomas' jaw worked for a moment and then he grabbed up his bag and headed out of the door. Koda had no doubt he was headed for the council woman. He was still surprised to hear the council woman was pregnant. He ran a hand through his hair as Thomas passed him by at the door. Koda wasn't entirely sure the man had meant to say anything. Bahn was laughing, but none of the other men were finding any of the outburst so humorous. Akten, who had been quiet the entire time, kept at his weights but his ears had turned decidedly pink.

After Thomas stepped out of the room Bahn laughed a few seconds longer and then noticed Illya didn't have a grin on his face. "Ooooh," Bahn exclaimed loudly. "Yah really did do et didn't yah. I tought she wasn't supposed tah have anymore."

Bahn's laugh died what seemed like a slow death and then he loudly announced something else. Did this man do anything with subtlety? The comment confused him though. Why wouldn't she be allowed to have over? Other than the timing being really unfortunate. "Is there a reason?" He asked.

Before Illya could answer Bahn blurted the answer. "Because dah last time he put babies in dah oven she wasn't supposed tah have anymore. Dere are complications wit twins. Illya almost got tah deliver dem on his own too." This time Illya had enough of Bahn's help and he walked over to where Bahn was and dropped his barbell. Bahn jumped and the weight hit the floor with a loud bang. "Yah too helpful Bahn."

Koda was sure Illya might strangle Bahn. The man was definitely a little too helpful and Koda made a mental note to never tell him anything he didnt want the whole ship knowing. The idea of the councilwoman having children at all was a miracle shrouded in mystery but apparently was one that had come with alot of complications. That made his job more complicated too. Now he had two lives to protect in one. He swallowed some and nodded more to himself than anyone in the room, then turned to go before he froze into place again. "Oh. Hi Koda," the councilwoman said as she looked up at him, "I was just coming to tell everyone lunch was ready. All the kids have eaten and now its our turn." Koda blinked. "All of them?" Calysta raised a brow. "Aye. You're hungry right?" Then she poked her head around him and called out in Traders Tongue as well as Qouti. "Lunch."

The look on Koda's face was priceless and Bahn shrugged. "Security should know. Yah made announcement first. I'm second in command and I jes relay furter information as needed. Additional instruction es dah prerogative of second en command." Citing officer command code was a bit irritating and Illya narrowed his eyes. "Well, yah dun be too helpful next time." That wasn't something that would last long. Kaliza poked her head in the door just as the men were trying to recover from the news and Koda blew it. His question was obvious. Bahn almost curled over laughing at the question and he glanced at Illya and between his gasps of breath said, "She es nut a soldier. Yah get tah explain dis one."

Calysta looked into the smelly weight room and found Bahn curled over and laughing so hard he could barely breathe. Then he gasped out something about her not being a soldier and someone else explaining something. "What did I miss?" She asked in confusion.

Since it was up to him, Illya put on his best smile and stated, “Noting. Yah jes having a baby or two.”

Calysta saw the wiley look in his eye and the best most wild grin on his face. She loved those looks even if they were followed by something unexpected. She certainly didn't expect him to announce they were pregnant. She had planned on waiting awhile, just in case of miscarriage. But now it was all out there. And he was looking at her all happy. That look was the kind that got her into this in the first place. She had no regrets though.. She blushed and turned a bit bashful. "Oh. Aye. I didn't know everyone knew."

"Dey do now." Illya maintained the grin though he was secretly wanting to curl up in a corner. He hadn't meant for Bahn to crow like an old woman and practically yell all the other details. It was only fair that security knew, but it could have been done in a briefing and he made the mistake of saying something anyway. Bahn was a bit of a trouble maker and Illya would have an official chat with him later about what could and could not be used in additional instruction regarding Kalizda and the kids. Leaving the weight on the floor Illya walked over to Kalizda and gave her a little kiss on the lips. "Let's go have lunch eh?"

Illya was still grinning at her like she was the best thing he'd seen all day as he walked over to her. Koda moved out if the way almost eagerly. Illya came close and kissed her as she put a hand gently around his right side. "Aye," she replied before stealing another kiss or two. "Just a few more before the beef onion stew gets us both."

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Mihael stirred the thick snake stew and he breathed deeply over it. "Aaaaah.....Mmmmmm dat smells good!" With great gusto he began serving platters and yelled into the speaker from the galley. It would echo into the other parts of the ship. "Food es served." Mihael waited until Koda walked into the dining area and then he served a large platter and sprinkled the bits of desert sweet grass artfully over the top and then sliced a perfectly baked bit of flat sweet grass bread to go on the side. There was already a small slice of it underneath the thick stew on the plate. Once Koda was seated he set the plate in front of the man. "Now, dis es what yah call snake stew. Dere es no Rey dat can do better." Casing a glance at Akten he shrugged, "No offense, but I cook best snake."

The other Elite at the table were practically licking their lips as they stared at the giant pot of snake stew. Mihael did have a reputation as being an outstanding cook and they were about to sample his snake stew. There was more than enough to have seconds and they all had large plates already in front of them. Illya noticed that the only one that seemed less than impressed with the dish was Thomas, that was normal. Somehow, Thomas never seemed to acquire a taste for good food.

While the men were busily eating and humming in pleasure with nearly every bite Mihael ate his a bit more slowly and with some manners. Glancing at Koda he tilted his head and smiled a little. "Better than Rey snake cooking?"

It was time for seconds and Bahn got up to get another serving of snake stew when he noticed that Illya was paused. His spoon was laying against his plate and he knuckles were turning pinkish even through the dark brown of his hands as he gripped the spoon tightly. There was a sort of distant look in his eyes and it seemed for now no one else noticed that Illya was probably having an absence. Bahn made sure he stopped by and he ruffled Illya's hair. "Mihael es looking for toughts on his cooking. Yah like et?"

The ruffle to his hair made Illya jolt slightly and he heard Bahn, but it hadn't quite registered. When he heard others around the table give their thoughts on the food Illya smiled a little. "Oh, et's very good. Yah show meh and Kalizda how yah make et eh?" He wasn't about to suggest that only Kalizda learn because that would insult her cooking. Even if the snake stew they made together was alright, it wasn't nearly this good.

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

Bahn came into the small meeting room with Illya and Kalizda. He was somewhat looking forward to it. These days had been busy and he barely got a chance to visit anyone about anything that wasn't official business.

The instant Bahn stepped in Illya knew it was going to be a while. It was clear that Bahn wanted to talk with someone. The offer to drink the day before had been indication enough. This was at least on terms that Illya and Kalizda set together. "I have yah favorite tea." Illya poured some for Bahn and slid the mug to him across the table. "We have business and jes regular talk. What yah want tah talk about first?"

Since there was a combination Bahn nodded and switched to Quoti. He never liked speaking in Trader's Tongue if he didn't have to. It seemed that his nephew more readily engaged in the Common Languages, but his accent didn't improve much even after years of practice. "Let's get the business out of the way first. Then we'll get down to the stuff that really matters, like that strange little chair massage pad."

"Alright," Illya was about to start into the business part of things and then Bahn mentioned a chair massage pad. It sounded strange and he wasn't sure he wanted to know what it was, but it caught his interest. "What about the chair massage pad?"

"Business first." Bahn grinned and he waited patiently for Illya to get focused enough to get back to the more serious stuff.

"Mmhmm..." With a slight frown Illya started off, "You know your job and you know how to keep quiet. From here on out you can't act like you're my uncle, relative or even allow someone to think you know anything about me or my family. Even on the ship. I don't..." Sighing he glanced at the table top and tried to collect his thoughts. "Kalizda is under great scrutiny. It's dangerous."

Bahn nodded though there was an air of disappointment. "Yeah, I can do it. I'm guessing I'll be starting my little side job here pretty soon."

"Yeah," Illya smirked a little. "That's about it. Just keep things private. Try to remember that even when you're not on side jobs. Kalizda and I are a little more private and we like to keep it that way. You kinda helped me make things worse." At that comment both of the men started laughing. When Illya had the laughing under control he sipped at his tea a little. "Now, what about that massage pad for your chair? What exactly does it massage?"
 
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