2021.10.22 13:15 SabatonBabylon The HEL Jumper [Chapter 4.19]
Book 1 of The HEL Jumper
Year 2 of The HEL Jumper
Year 3 of The HEL Jumper
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A/N: I apologize for the late upload and thank you all for your patience. This delay will not affect the chapter regularly scheduled for November 1st.
“That should be easy enough to arrange, Antoth, though the whole process may end up feeling rushed given our timetable for departure. I can assure you that a group tour is equally feasible. The Event Horizon was designed with mobility in mind.”
“And in the event that something goes wrong, I will be pleased to not have every high priest in this village injured or killed at the same time,” Antoth laid out his position clearly, speaking with Natori over hastily prepared cups of tea inside the temple of Kel. Thantis had been more than happy to provide the space given the occasion, and had made a much better brew than Antoth himself was capable of. Natori deployed a diplomatic smile in response to the concern and took a sip of the herbed water. It was not to his liking as a coffee aficionado, but given confirmation from multiple sources that Cauthan tea was not generally harmful to humans, he knew better than to pass.
“Of course, Antoth. I did not mean to insist that prudence be compromised for the sake of speed.”
“I didn’t think so, but this is about more than just a handful of visits to your ship. It hopefully will come as no surprise to you that my people are not the most trusting sort when it comes to change and new people. They tend to be hostile, and armed. Winters made his case initially by force, only proving to us later that he intended to work with us as a partner and eventually an ally. I admit that he did not give me much choice in the matter. You will find myself and Thantis here to likely be the most trusting of all the high priests; and though I understand your ship is not purely civilian in nature my people will not be rounded up and ordered about like shen. I believe that is important to lay out now if we are both to hold our sides of the bargain in this agreement.”
The Admiral crossed one leg over another, listening to the distant sounds of the festival once Antoth finished speaking. The man could not help but shake doubting thoughts and memories of Udanis IV, of the brutal pacification of the Gorgon people as well as the tense stalemate and negotiations that continued to the present day. “I understand your concerns, Antoth, and I am well aware of just how easily trust can be squandered. Let me assure you in no uncertain terms that oppressing your people is not my intent, nor the intent of anyone under my command. I daresay Io would make herself known quite rapidly in that event. However, that does not mean that I can give you or your people free reign about my vessel when not even my own crew are afforded such. I ask for your cooperation, as well as that of the other high priests, to ensure that none of your people inadvertently force us into a situation where such unpleasantries are necessary.”
Antoth grunted in agreement. “I’ve not forgotten the dust up between Winters and your other soldiers. But so long as necessary action is communicated simply and clearly, and our priests are permitted to guide our people, I do not believe we will have any problems. As you mentioned, surely we can request Spirit Io’s aid in this matter.”
“I agree. She will no doubt be happy to assist,” Natori concurred before waving towards Thantis, who had been doing his best to attentively remain on the sidelines of the discussion. “Thantis you’ve been aboard the Event Horizon already. Surely you can attest to our excellent safety record?”
“Oh yes, by all means,” Thantis replied in agreement as the translation came through. “That being said I wasn’t worried one way or another. To die in Kel’s domain would have been a blessing at my age, and despite Xan’s youthful disposition I believe I have already found a suitable replacement once I am called to the Death God’s side. Was I close to dying, by chance?”
Antoth could not help a smirk of satisfaction as Natori’s overture to the Cauthan of learning summarily backfired. “At some point if things go as planned we will tie all of our fates to one another, but that shall come later.”
“As you say, Antoth,” Natori relented. “If I may ask, when were you planning on making the announcement today? Or are you planning on making one?”
“I most certainly am,” the chieftain said. “However I will say nothing until all of the high priests have visited your ship and are satisfied that this decision is the proper one for our people. When that is done I am certain winter will be right around the corner…”
“Is there something amiss?” Natori wondered, tilting his head slightly as Antoth fell silent and leaned forward in his chair. The muscular Cauthan took a few, audible breaths before replying.
“I am just recalling the handful of births from last year. Some were more difficult than others.”
“Please don’t take this the wrong way, but I’m very proud of the medical facilities aboard my ship. They are significantly more advanced than the care that your people are able to provide to prospective mothers,” Natori declared. Antoth snorted.
“I am not the one you will need to convince of such things, and Gentia’s tongue is sharper than my blade. But we speak of matters that cannot be settled here and now. Is there anything you would like to discuss before I return to the festival?” Antoth asked courteously.
“Not on this subject, no,” Natori stated, standing and gulping down the rest of the beverage that Thantis had provided for him. “Thank you for your hospitality, my friend.”
“All are welcome in the House of Kel, Selah to you,” Thantis bade farewell formally, staying behind to finish a couple of notes and clean the mugs while Antoth and Natori stepped out onto the almost deserted main thoroughfare near the east gate. Antoth saluted the guards who were on duty before turning towards the center of the village.
“You wished to ask something else?” he reminded Natori. The human waved a hand casually.
“Just if there is anything unique or interesting that I would miss if I departed the festival now. I will need a bit of time to prepare my ship and crew to honor your request,” he explained.
“Mmm,” Antoth hummed in understanding. “Assuming you were present yesterday there is not much you will miss. We will continue with the festivities until nightfall, at which point there will be another evening of dancing. The first song or two will be for newly formed couples and then all may join in.”
“Were it not such a hallowed part of your culture I might suggest a few musicians among my crew play as well, but there will be time for that later, I’m sure. Music is one of many useful ways to pass time when travelling the long distances of space,” Natori said. “As for the current moment, I should bid you farewell and return to my people. There are many individuals with whom I must discuss our agreement.”
Antoth glanced down and took Natori’s outstretched hand, shaking it comfortably. He silently approved of the Admiral’s grip strength. “If you wish, we can begin tomorrow. You know by now how to get a message to me.”
“I do, Antoth. Selah,” Kaczynski offered a Cauthan parting before Antoth headed off into the celebrating crowds. The Admiral quickly notified Rex and Mendes of his intent to return to the ship, checking the shuttle schedule. Given that one was about to depart for the surface he felt no need to call one specifically for himself. The duo of Jumpers expressed a desire to remain planetside for the time being, so Natori advised them to ‘be good’ as he skirted the stalls and displays around the edge of the city square before finding himself yet again in the middle of a mostly deserted main road. Walking towards the western gates of the village, he offered a greeting to a Cauthan going the same way.
“Hmm? Oh, it’s you. Good day, human chieftain,” Xan said politely as Natori altered his pace to fall in beside him. Xan’s cane and feet were covered in mud, but he didn’t seem to mind. “You’re leaving the village?”
“I am indeed. It was an exciting morning and I wish I could stay, but when you are in a position such as mine there always seems to be something necessary to attend to instead. Are you looking to share a ride?” the Admiral wondered. Xan shook his head. The gesture still didn’t feel quite normal, but he understood why the featherless humans used it to quickly convey a negative.
“No, I just wanted to get away from the celebrations for a moment, see if any other humans are coming today.”
“Oh? Any humans in particular?” Natori wondered with obvious interest. Xan was forced to turn his head slightly to look at him, on account of his left eyepatch.
“Yeah, the one that you insisted I make friends with who’s growing all the food,” he replied in a standoffish tone. Natori smiled.
“Ms. Prakash, how could I forget?” Natori wondered pleasantly. “I’m pleased to hear the two of you are getting along. She is a bit of a wallflower, truth be told, but quite competent in her role.”
“What’s a flower?” Xan asked dully as they walked along the road. “Whatever it is, we don’t have them here.”
“I see, my apologies. All I meant to say is that she’s a rather shy woman,” Natori clarified.
“Is that really your business to know?” Xan probed.
“Probably not for the reasons you’re thinking, young man. If you’re accusing me of playing matchmaker then perish the thought. She is, however, an integral part of my ship’s functioning, and as Admiral it is my duty to know as much as I can about such people. On the off chance you are interested in wooing her, she has a fondness for flowers that I’m sure she would share with you if you expressed curiosity,” Kaczynski elaborated.
Xan developed an offput look on his face, as though he were debating the swallowing of something bitter and unpleasant. After the conclusion of some unvoiced internal debate he replied to Natori with another question. “And if I did woo her, could she give me cubs?”
Only spending two days in the midst of the festival had readied Natori for that particular question, and the Admiral could not help but wonder whether Cauthan or human would have a greater culture shock in the future. Answering Xan’s question honestly was something he could do, though. “No, she would not be able to. You would need to find a surrogate mother from your own species or a sperm donor from hers. She will only ever bear human children herself.”
“Ok, so that is the way of things. Just wanted to be sure,” Xan muttered, his tone indicating he was content to leave it at that. Though Natori was of course curious about who else Xan might have discussed cross-species fertility with, he allowed the subject to be dropped as they approached the gate. The on duty guards took note and raised the heavy beams that typically held the gates shut when not in use. They then pulled them inward and opened the way out to the fields that encircled most of the village. Surrounded by the remains of a harvest season past, stems, leaves, and other inedible portions of crop that would soon be returned to the earth, the two men waited a few minutes in silence for the shuttle. As it touched down smoothly, Natori offered Xan his hand.
“Good to see you, young man.”
“Ah yeah, you too?” Xan replied with some hesitance, shaking before Natori headed for the shuttle. The tall, dark-skinned man stood to one side and helped a woman out of the vehicle, who Xan recognized as one of the soldiers similar to Winters. After a brief conversation between the two of them, she walked off towards the village with an air of calm disinterest about her. Before boarding himself, Kaczynski helped Anita off of the shuttle as well. The botanical engineer had waited patiently for him to finish his conversation with Private Orlova. Before closing the hatch behind him Natori pointed Xan out to her, and she regarded him with pleasant surprise.
“Did he tell you that I was coming today?” Anita wondered before placing her fingers in her ears. Xan’s answer was forestalled as he did the same and the shuttle kicked off the ground to return Natori to quite a bit of business aboard the Event Horizon. When relative silence had been restored to the world, Xan gestured towards the village and the two of them began to walk together.
“No, he didn’t. I was just getting a little tired of the festival and figured you might come along soon. I mean, if you hadn’t it would have been no big deal, but you seemed to like yesterday well enough?” he ventured, cursing the human Admiral for making the situation feel far more awkward than it had to.
“I did have a good time,” Anita confirmed, almost immediately lightening his mental load with her soft, less than confident voice. “There were just some things that I needed to attend to this morning on the ship. Sorry if you waited for me.”
“Don’t worry about it. I had my own things to do this morning. So should I ask you about what it was you were up to up there, or would you rather talk about something else?” Xan wondered. Anita zipped up her only jacket with a slight smile.
“Maybe one day I’ll teach you how to run the daily calibrations for the hydroponics bay. Then I could sleep in a bit.”
“Oh. Is that why you needed to go to bed early last night?” Xan deduced as they walked into the village and the gates closed behind them. With few villagers around, Anita felt more comfortable looking about and taking in the entirety of the scene.
“I also don’t like guns,” she admitted after a period of silence. “You probably understand, don’t you?”
“Hmm?” Xan made a noise in his throat, pausing for a moment in the middle of the street as he tried to understand what Anita might be getting at. She may not have had feathers, but her incredibly long hair was equally distracting. She’d tied it off with a bow near her waist, which allowed the occasional breeze to catch her hair like a sail. While the young Cauthan did not come to a conclusion, he did retain enough functioning brain cells to ask her a question in turn. “Why would I dislike weapons?”
Moving his eyes away from her voluminous hair, Xan tried to read Anita’s shifting facial expression. He ended up frustrated, still unable to piece together minute changes in the shape of her mouth and eyes. Her dark skin didn’t help either, as the shadows of wrinkles and lines were harder to see than on lighter skinned humans like the WInters siblings. Fortunately, his question did not put Anita off of the conversation. She elaborated in a regretful tone. “Well, look at what they did to you and your body.”
“They… well they’re dead, you know, the ones who did this to me? We got them pretty good,” he stated proudly. “Honestly, I wish I’d had a gun back then. I might still be whole, maybe even have a mate this year.”
“And what if they had them too?” Anita asked him. She didn’t seem haughty, righteous, or insistent to him, so he gave her the benefit of the doubt that she just didn’t understand how things worked on Mara.
“Then I would have been better than them, just like I was in this life. Yeah, I got screwed up really bad and I need this thing to get around,” he gestured to his cane of ursae bone. “But I’m alive and they aren’t. That’s a win as far as I’m concerned.”
“I see,” Anita replied with a sad expression. “I’m sorry for bringing it up. I didn’t mean to offend you.”
“Huh? You didn’t offend me at all!” Xan insisted pleasantly, beginning to walk towards the festival again. He moved at a relatively brisk pace once he was sure Anita was following. “Just, you know it wasn’t the weapons that did this to me, right? It was those damn nomads who wanted to kill us all and take our food.”
Regardless of her feelings on the matter, Anita refused to debate further, recognizing that she’d never been in a position of kill or be killed. “I see. I’m very sorry you had to go through that, Xan. Let’s talk about something else, if you don’t mind? What did you do this morning?”
“Oh, that? Yeah, I was just putting on an act for a while. Don’t tell my parents that I said that. They chewed me out pretty hard this morning for skipping out on the festival last night. So yeah, it was a lot of standing around trying to look interested in females who have no interest in me. Talked with Rena a bit. That was interesting. Oh, and one of your soldiers beat up Kaha. That was a good fight to watch. Kaha ended up with an injury to his ribs.”
“How dreadful,” Anita gasped, exhibiting an aversion to violence that made Xan want to coddle her like a young shen.
“Ah, don’t worry so much. It was a good time for everyone! Some of your healers even came down and took a look at him. Sounds like he’ll be just fine,” the Cauthan assured her, though he was still left looking for a way to make her smile instead of frown.
“It sounds like a rough morning for you. I’m sorry,” she murmured.
“You know you don’t need to say you’re sorry so much? It’s not like you had anything to do with it all,” he pointed out. “There isn’t really much else to do that you haven’t seen already though. Was there anything you didn’t get to do yesterday?”
“No, not really,” Anita replied. “I just thought I should come down and experience this as much as I can. I think that the Admiral is right about that. It’s an amazing opportunity.”
Anita’s comment had Xan laughing as they drew close to the town square. “You make it sound so important. It’s just a big party. Do humans not party?” His question finally succeeded in eliciting a smile from the woman.
“Oh we do, Xan. We do very much. I meant more that it’s an unprecedented opportunity for alien cultural exchange. Most of us probably won’t get another chance like this in our lifetimes. But isn’t it more significant than just a party or festival for you? I thought it was about finding a partner and families and such?”
“Well yeah, I guess so,” Xan admitted as they walked past one of the hunters’ stalls. The young death priest swiped a small piece of chesko jerky and split it in half, offering a piece to Anita. “I like it when they’re lean like this. You can chew it for longer and the texture is even. Anyway, I know there’s a lot of ceremony but it’s not like we wouldn’t make families if we didn’t have the festival, you know? Look at Veera and Ratha. They got pregnant during late and early spring near as I can tell. And Eris had two or three males lined up as options before this whole harvest season even started. Trust me, there would still be plenty of cubs running around without the festival.”
“Do you not like it then?” Anita inquired as the two of them wandered aimlessly through the crowds, moving at a slow pace so that others could easily maneuver around them. Despite the many Cauthan in the village center, it didn’t feel oppressive to Anita, perhaps on account of the open sky and trees that she could see everywhere over the walls of the village. Xan snorted at her question.
“When did I say that? I love the festival, always have! It’s just looked a little different for me the last couple of years, not being able to find a mate. Maybe I’m just coping? I don’t think it matters,” he insisted, waving quickly to a guardsman whom Anita assumed he knew well.
“Would it be best if I left you alone so you can keep trying for the rest of the day?” she asked quietly. “It’s very nice of you to keep me company and show me around, but I can always find Alice or one of the others.”
“It’s fine, I’m serious,” Xan insisted a bit more forcefully than necessary. “Look, if any of the females were interested they would have said so already, I promise. And beyond that, if a female has a problem with talking to me because I’m standing close to a human female then I don’t think I want to be with her in the first place. I appreciate the concern, Anita, but at this point it’s best we just not talk about the females and mating. It wouldn’t be right to be upset and moping around when we somehow managed to survive this past year.”
Xan’s words were timely as their wanderings brought them face to face with the now sun-bleached skull of Winters’ greatest trophy, the ursae. Anita had known of it for some time; the imposing bones and hollows were almost impossible to miss for visitors to the village, but standing so close gave her a new sense of appreciation and dread. “Are these things… common on your world?”
“If they were, I don’t think there would be any of us left,” Xan replied with an appreciation for the morbid nature of the question. “I still can’t believe Winters killed this thing. I was reading about them a while back, definitely some of the most interesting scrolls Thantis has laying around. Many generations ago the hunters tried to kill one. They succeeded but only one of them lived to tell about it. Other than that, occasionally one finds bones laying around. That’s about it. As far as I know they’ve never attacked the village, not once. That doesn’t stop people from soiling their tunics whenever a hunter doesn’t come back, but there’s never any way of telling if that’s because of an ursae, hyrven, nomads, or just some accident. I don’t understand them at all…”
“I have to say, standing in front of this maw I feel a bit silly for having been scared of tigers as a young girl,” Anita reflected in something of a reverential tone. “I can only imagine how large it must have been.”
“Winters has video if you really want to see. That’s the proper word, right? For when you replay memories on those fancy screens of yours? What’s a tiger?” Xan wondered. As usual, thinking of memories of home seemed to instill a complicated nostalgia in Anita, fondness but also regret.
“A tiger is not nearly as big as an ursae,” she began with a smile. “But they are large, striped cats that occasionally eat humans. It happens every so often in my country when we live too close to their habitat. They can be very territorial. I didn’t live anywhere near such a place, but when you see new headlines about maneaters stalking the jungles for months or even years you can’t help but be afraid as a child. At least I was.”
“Seems pretty reasonable to me, especially if it went on that long. They must be good at hiding,” Xan reasoned, walking up to the skull and testing one of the teeth with a finger. He drew back immediately, violently shaking his hand. Anita noticed a small, red line of blood left behind on the point of the tooth. “You said they’re striped, right? So does Veera look like a tiger?”
Anita opened her mouth to deny Xan’s question, but closed it after a bit of consideration. “Well, tigers are a bit more orange than Veera, but yes. She actually does look a bit like a bipedal, feathered tiger.”
“And she definitely eats males… at least one male,” Xan added with a smirk, proud of his jest. Anita seemed unsure of whether or not she was allowed to laugh at such things, but eventually she did giggle softly. Xan took it not only as a good sign, but an accomplishment.
“Do you think she really… you know?” Anita dropped her voice to a whisper. Xan cocked his head and leaned closer to her.
“Really what?” he replied at the same volume, as though they were conspiring against the woman. Anita immediately grew flustered.
“What you just said! Don’t make me say it out loud. Oh, forget it. This is too embarrassing, not to mention private,” she declared. Xan ended up even more confused.
“No, I really don’t get it. What did I say? Was it something bad?” he demanded suddenly. It fell to Anita to clarify the situation, which she only did on account of Xan being an alien.
“No, you didn’t say anything bad, Xan. I just thought you were alluding to something specific the two of them might be doing behind closed doors, you know, with Veera’s mouth,” she squeaked. The painful situation was not without payoff, however, as Anita got a front row seat to watch Xan’s face the moment his brain put two and two together regarding the potential use of Veera’s mouth in a sexual situation. “You might want to close your mouth before all your teeth fall out.”
“You humans are crazy. You’re absolutely crazy! Wait… does that really feel good?” he suddenly insisted on knowing. Yet again it was Anita’s turn to blush as crimson as her dark caramel skin would allow.
“I… wouldn’t know,” came her simple answer. Xan breathed out heavily as he took the hint.
“Ok, sorry. Let’s uh… hey, do you want to shoot a bow and arrow? I know you said you didn’t like guns but bows don’t make any loud noises!”
Anita looked around the festival grounds, easily catching sight of the nearby archery range. A couple of guardsmen were having what appeared to be a serious contest between them, but she also saw families and even Cauthan children on the line using the primitive weapons as though such a thing were perfectly normal. She supposed that for them it was. She nodded her reply. “If you don’t mind showing me how?”
Xan’s face brightened as they left talk of maneaters and ‘maneaters’ behind them. “Yeah, no problem!”
After a brief sunset, during which Seil peeked through the clouds in a final gasp before descending towards the eastern horizon, a chill fell over the village that was sharpened by the lingering moisture in the air. The Cauthan villagers barely seemed to notice, however, building their fires and cooking meats and stews to warm their bellies alongside tea and whatever bread was left from the morning’s labors. Between the hot food and their nascent winter coats, many of them were even glad for a nip of cold in the air. Anita, hailing from a subtropical homeland and a dreadnought with excellent climate control, was not in the same boat. Though she had worn a jacket and did her best to soak in the heat of the fire, it hadn’t been enough to stop occasional bouts of the shivers and longing glances at Asha’s plump and fluffy tail. Xan picked up on her plight soon enough, excusing himself from the fire and insisting to Alice, Russell and the rest that he didn’t need help just to walk around. The Jumper took him at his word and the former guardsman was allowed to head out on his way, returning a short time later with a worn but well maintained cloak made of chesko hide. Unlike those used to repel rain, this one retained the short, robust fur that the animal was known for. Xan extended the object to Anita.
“Here, I think this will help. And don’t worry, I didn’t steal it. Turns out being a priest’s assistant means you can afford a spare cloak every so often. Hey, where did Alice run off to?” he wondered as Anita tentatively accepted the token of generosity with thanks. Io nodded in approval as she quietly watched the meal’s progression from her seat, while Russell waved out towards the crowd, almost knocking the spoon out of Veera’s hand.
“She went off to find Private MacGregor, pretty sure. They’re probably at one of the fires the hunters tend to frequent,” he said. Not inclined to follow after the elder Winters in either case, Xan seated himself next to Anita and resumed his dinner while Russell apologized to his wife.
“Might not be the prettiest thing, but it helps, doesn’t it?” Xan asked Anita of the cloak. She gave him a shy smile and nodded.
“I wasn’t expecting it to be that soft on the inside. You must have worn it a lot.”
“Pretty much every day for half a year, every year once I was big enough to fit an adult-sized cloak,” he confirmed, his voice warmly nostalgic. “Served me well for a long time and my brother will probably get some use out of it too. I almost didn’t want to get a new one, but Thantis insisted. Not to mention I never managed to fully work out the blood stains from the battle.”
“Real smooth there, champ,” Russell teased as Anita’s face shifted to a decidedly uncomfortable expression and she did her best to examine the hem of the garment without throwing it off her body outright. Xan tossed it right back.
“Worry about yourself, Winters. It’s a perfectly warm cloak.”
“And maybe you should worry about your parents catching you hanging around with humans again,” Russell laughed. Asha and Zolta passed a silent but contented look between one another, quite happy to have their brief courtship past them and a cub set for imminent arrival. Xan didn’t seem concerned, however, as he fished a piece of chesko flank out of the communal pot.
“I already told them I didn’t get any offers, except for a mutual breeding offer from Rena,” he chortled while shaking his head and feathers. “I think they finally realized what I’ve been telling them the whole time. Good news is, I’m free for the rest of the festival!”
“Well I’m staying down here tonight so there won’t be any late night range shenanigans,” Russell made clear before asking the question he couldn’t leave unanswered. “So you’d rather be alone than with Rena, eh?”
“Feeling’s mutual,” Xan insisted immediately. Russell lowered his head and held up a hand.
“Wasn’t judging. Just wanted to know,” he clarified as Veera and Io struck up their own whispered conversation in the meantime.
“Don’t get me wrong, she’s a decent Cauthan,” Xan elaborated while blowing on a piece of boiled dato. “But she’s not into cripples and I’m not into females who look like males. We might get together if we’re desperate enough though. Didn’t rule it out.”
“That’s one thing I don’t miss about home, talk of marriage on and on and on. My parents were always suggesting this boy or that boy and hinting not so subtly about arrangements,” Anita related. “It must be dreadful.”
From across the fire, Russell hummed thoughtfully before replying to her. “From your perspective you got lucky and found an opportunity to make something of yourself and your life without needing a partner. Not everyone has that option. Not everyone considers it a blessing, either.”
Io and Veera could not help but eavesdrop, with the AI looking ready to spring into action to call him off. Large soldiers beating up on frail engineers was rather gauche in a social context, even verbally. Veera was less concerned, however, noting that his tone of voice had been gentle but firm. She privately attributed it to him practicing for their cubs, and the thought warmed her as strongly as any fire. Anita, for her part, reflected on what she’d said, hunching over slightly in reticence. “You’re right, I’m sorry Xan. I didn’t mean to sound like I was judging you or your people.”
Knowing humans to be more open to tactile interaction than his own kind, at least between unattached individuals, Xan casually placed a hand on her knee. “I know you didn’t. It’s fine. If anything, it’s more embarrassing having Winters over there stepping in and feeling like he needs to defend me.”
“You weren’t complaining the first time,” the Jumper pointed out with a smirk as the ladies returned to their conversation. Zolta, ever the dutiful mate, listened politely. Xan waved his cane at Russell.
“Yeah, cause I had one foot in Kel’s domain and probably couldn’t speak a complete thought if I tried!” the former guardsman insisted. Surprisingly, Russell frowned instead of continuing the playful banter.
“No, you did manage one coherent thought. You were worried about Eris,” he recalled, looking into the fire and scratching his chin.
Xan’s expression quickly morphed to match Russell’s as the Cauthan set aside his bowl and stretched out his gimped leg, placing his cane between his legs and resting both hands atop the carved handle. “Yeah well, at this point the only thing left to do is hope she’s miserable with Gael,” he chuckled without any levity. “I’ve moved past it, so let’s leave it at that. For what it’s worth, Anita, I’m glad you got out. Otherwise you wouldn’t be here, right?”
“Y-yes, I think that’s very fair to say. I’ll surely tell my grandchildren about this adventure one day,“ she agreed, making the point that even if marriage and childrearing was not as important to her as her parents or the Cauthan, it was still on the docket. The conversation was pushed to an early conclusion, however, as a subtle commotion began to pass along the cooking fires on whispered words. It was much unlike the excited chatter that usually preceded the music and dancing for the evening, with many Cauthan standing to get a better look at several shadowy figures standing politely at the edge of the fire-lit grounds. Io, Veera, and Russell knew immediately who they were, with the Jumper shaking his head.
“Is he out of his goddamn mind?” the soldier demanded of Natori. The Admiral had returned to the festival at that late hour along with a small procession consisting of a couple of Cauthan guardsmen, as well as Rex, Orlova, and Mendes. The reason for all the caution and firepower stood stiffly next to Kacsynzki, reviewing the spectacle before them with a stern gaze. Looking to his left, Russell noticed Antoth walking towards the Admiral, with Thantis following along as fast as his old body and cane would allow him. Though he would usually slow his pace under other circumstances, Antoth was also moving briskly. The Jumper looked at Io who held her hands up and shrugged, indicating that she’d not been looped in on whatever the Admiral was planning. A nervous feeling of anticipation settled in his gut. “Why the hell did he bring the Ghaelen down here?”
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2021.10.22 13:15 Cool_Mitch First Fanfiction
This is my first fanfiction. Its about 2 crazy girls that fall madly in love with a cool guy but he breaks their hearts.💔
Please give it a read id greatly appreciate it🙏🙏❤️
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2021.10.22 13:15 BigAlTrading Ports clogged because of “labor shortage” in trucking
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2021.10.22 13:15 e14d Washington state representative (R) locked out of state capitol over lack of proof of covid vaccine
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2021.10.22 13:15 AngeelRtx Any Offers
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2021.10.22 13:15 north_north Gaps and cracks
I have a flat roof addition on my home that butts up against the pitched roof. I am currently prepping to add insulation to attic under the pitched part of the roof.
There is a gap where the two roofs meet, so basically the flat roof part is not sealed off from the attic under the pitched roof. Can I seal this gap with an expanding foam or some other product? Or does there need to be air flow between these two areas? Would sealing it off be detrimental to the flat roof side?
I don't believe there is much, if any insulation on the flat roof side, but I can't afford to blow any insulation in there at the moment.
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2021.10.22 13:15 nuggiesandhuggies Frustrated at my mom and grandma for constantly commenting on my acne
They always say to “just put on cover up and you’ll be beautiful” and to my that implies that I am not beautiful without concealer. I explain to them that and they’re like “no that’s not what I meant” but it 100% is what they meant, otherwise they would be making those comments. Whenever I hang out with a friend or something they always remind me to wear concealer to cover my acne and it honestly makes me so depressed and frustrated
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2021.10.22 13:15 aliendesign333 Anyone else’s Nparents never take their illness seriously/faked their own for attention?
So, I just realized this today. Growing up, my mom never took my injuries or illnesses seriously.
When I was 5 I was recommended for autism testing, and she wouldn’t take me, because she “didn’t want an autistic child.” I was later diagnosed as an adult.
When I’d injure myself, get sick, etc. she would say I was just doing it for attention. When I was 4 I had severe bacterial pneumonia. She again said I was faking being sick for attention. The doctors said if it weren’t for my pre-school nurse calling an ambulance, I could have died. I was in the hospital for 3 months after that.
In first grade I kept throwing up at school, like 5 times a day. For two weeks straight. I would get sent home, and get in trouble for “making myself throw up for attention, and to get out of school.”
Man, I could go on… I used to have the worst periods, like chills, throwing up, fever, and even passed out. My nMom would abuse me until I got up to go to the dishes or what not, because “no ones periods are that bad.” Later, as an adult, I got diagnosed with endometriosis and yes, my periods are still that bad, they were actually getting worse.
Anyway, my Nmom used to always fake being sick, still does. She fakes a heart attack at least once a week, and for some reason my other family members actually believe it. After every fight, she’d fake dead, a heart attack, like she passed out, etc and my whole family would be mad at me.
Then it hit me. She was projecting the whole time. She never had any really bad injuries or illness, so why would I? Whenever she did it, it was for attention, so why would mine be any different?
Just realizing that made my inner child feel so validated. Like yes, you were hurting, you were in pain, it wasn’t for attention. When I rushed to my mom’s side as a kid because she was faking a heart attack, and I was scared to death because I knew how bad it felt to be going through something and have no one there for you.
To that child who was in pain, and scared that her mom wouldn’t make it, you are seen. I see you. I know you weren’t faking it, and please know that your mom was never actually hurting that bad. Everything will be okay.
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2021.10.22 13:15 KilianGreen Free Codes - First come first serve
2021.10.22 13:15 Round-Zombie8309 Giant Squid that appeared in Tokyo Bay in 2015
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2021.10.22 13:15 TheSquareEyeball [Undertale/Dusttale] Which conditions does Murder!Sans have? Is it treatable?
2021.10.22 13:15 presentaneous Mao moment
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2021.10.22 13:15 Brown8unny Sotheby’s New York Internship
I know Sotheby’s doesn’t fit under the museum umbrella, as it is an auction house but as I’ve been applying I haven’t been able to find much information about people’s experiences applying, interviewing, interning, etc. If anyone has any advice on this whole process I would really appreciate it! Thank you so much!!
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2021.10.22 13:15 KamoteCrew Sammarinese miniassegni banknotes 🇸🇲🇸🇲
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2021.10.22 13:15 Antonl4vey ¿Algún podcast que recomienden que crean que necesitan más audiencia? O necesita más reconocimiento.Puede ser en español o inglés.
Me gusta escuchar podcast como “ La hora feliz, la mesa reñoña, creativo, etc. Pero eh querido encontrar más variedad de podcast.Puede ser de cualquier temática (comedia, reflexivo, anécdotas,videojuegos, etc.)
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2021.10.22 13:15 starsky6055 She take a pose Everytime, she's a supermodel
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2021.10.22 13:15 fernst https://elamerican.com/alex-saab-secret-venezuela-iran-usa/
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2021.10.22 13:15 _kattbush How can I tell if I had a headmate when I was younger or something else?
I'm not sure how to properly C/TW this, since there are brief mentions of having h-llcin-tions (a) (a). Please do correct me.
For my question, I'll give a short backstory.
When I was around 9 or 10 I had hallucinations due to a reaction with medications. I don't remember a lot from that time, but I do remember Randy. I don't know if Randy was a headmate or something else. This is only because I can't remember his origins at all.
I just know he was with me the entire time and he helped. I also know that he wasn't an auditory hallucinations because he was there before I went on the medication, and he stayed for a while long after the hallucinations went away.
The only reason I don't think he was a run of the mill-imaginary friend or something is because we actually disagreed on quite a lot! Like I thought planes were silly and I liked trains better, he completely threw that away and went with liking trams. Stuff like that. Not only that but I've only had one imaginary friend when I was 5 (is what I've been told) and my mom always said we just played.
I'm just not sure. Anything would be lovely.
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2021.10.22 13:15 urfaselol [Tobias Harris] And we’ll respect his privacy and space during this time. When he’s ready, we will embrace our brother with love and handle our business on the court. That's it, that's all.
Tobias Harris comments on twitter regarding Ben Simmons:
And we’ll respect his privacy and space during this time. When he’s ready, we will embrace our brother with love and handle our business on the court. That's it, that's all.TWeet
Sources: Ben Simmons spoke to Doc Rivers, Joel Embiid and entire 76ers team today and accepted everyone needs to take responsibility, including himself — but Simmons informed them all that he’s not mentally ready to play yet and needs time.Tweet
2021.10.22 13:15 crunchyrice01 Had some heart events left that I didn't attend from townies I had previously dated, went to the train tracks today and cheated on my spouse :(
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2021.10.22 13:15 junewil [For Hire] open for commission i can do character designs or any kind of fantasy art you want. DM me so we can negotiate.
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2021.10.22 13:15 RainbowFairy17 I’m new to reddit and in need of at least 10 karma points to post on a sub reddit. Please help 😅
2021.10.22 13:15 studiobd1 Got 2 blanks left on my Depop if anyone is interested.
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2021.10.22 13:15 GeekSourceOfficial 10 Year Anniversary Live Stream
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2021.10.22 13:15 MugShots DPS Alert