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Chapter 8 - The Silvern Glow
- 17th of April 2024,08:45, Haninge District, Sweden -
Adam once again found himself sitting behind a tree just like moments prior, but he dared not peek his head past the tree this time. He was at a bit of a loss to what he should do next, he’d been lucky enough that they thus far hadn’t heard him dashing from tree to tree, as silently as he could mind you.
But from the sounds of things they were still just chatting about around his car, or their own, he couldn’t really tell. Anyway it was clear that they parked near his car and by that, uncomfortably close to Adam holding a highly illegal weapon. And while he had somehow forgotten earlier to take out the magazine, which was a huge security risk on his part and he felt very dumb once he had realized it. That was the only thing he had going for him currently. And since he still had some shots in the gun, if they were to see him and reasonably so try to shoot him. Adam at least had four shoots to defend himself with.
But still he didn’t want a confrontation with three or more 7 plus foot orc amazons in close quarters. So really the only choice Adam had was to try and get far enough into the little forest until he had cleared it and reached the other side which was a small beach, a very rocky beach but still a beach.
From there, he’d be more free to follow the coast until he felt he was far enough away and could enter the forest once again, considerably further away from the marines. With that said he could also just wait a little, they’d only been standing there just talking for a minute or so, in their indecipherable literally alien language, all the while Adam was sweating bullets hoping they wouldn’t see him. Not that it felt like mere minutes to Adam, to him it felt like hours.
One thing suddenly crossed Adams mind, why? Not only why come here right this moment, but more importantly. Why park so close to his car? Starting to think more his brain started setting off alarm bells. There were really only two reasons behind the why he asked himself, one being that they’re hoping the owner of the vehicle is a male they can harass, or they parked so close so they could do a quick search of it, not that they could do a very thorough search so long Adam held the keys but that was irrelevant.
As seconds went by and seconds became minutes, Adam started to believe it was the considerably worse option at play, that they weren’t just that close to his car to peer through it in case of anything illegal being inside. No, most likely they were waiting at his car, until he’d come back and they could harass him.
Realizing that he was still holding a very illegal rifle Adam decided to try and continue with his plan of putting away his rifle somewhere in the woods before they got bored and began looking for him instead of just loitering around his car. Slowly coming up into a crouching position from where he was sitting behind a tree. Adam began slowly walking away from the marines standing around his car and towards the coast. Finishing his slow walk with a thumping heart he finally came to the rocky beach.
Going down a slight hill from the woods his feet finally hit the sand, and he felt that he could finally calm down a little. Not that he had really ventured far from the marines. This patch of forest in particular was fairly thin and was more so a small detour people in the summer would occasionally take to reach some of the less well known beaches on Gålö. However that was fairly irrelevant now as the marines likely had no reason to venture into the forest, since they clearly didn’t even know where he was.
Sure they obviously knew of somebody's presence but beyond that Adam doubted they knew anything more. Continuing on from this beach in particular Adam continued walking along the coast for a couple minutes, luckily a couple calm minutes. He couldn’t even hear the marines' annoyingly loud chatter from earlier, meaning he had to be close to the end of the little coastline.
Deciding that he was now, most likely far enough away for anyone to find it, assuming Adam takes it back home before summer time when thousands normally come to these beaches. He walked up the small hill leading from the beach and up into the small forest once again.
Walking around a little bit, still trying to remain fairly quiet and stealthy, something Special forces training had luckily taught him. Adam found just what he needed, He found a hole large enough beneath a tree to stick his rifle in. Which would no doubt get his rifle dirty, but seeing as he couldn’t really disassemble his rifle and bring it back to the car as of now because of a couple marines he was left with one choice. And that was to leave it hidden, hope no one spots it, which to be fair most likely what would happen but still. Adam disliked having to go with a shit plan, now for a third time. However in his current position a bad plan was better than no plan.
So Adam began putting his pretty shit plan into action. Taking the magazine out Adam put the magazine in question on the ground and quickly, barrel first began stuffing the rifle into the hole beneath the tree. Once he was done with that he squeezed the magazine in there and then followed by that he draped the blanket he still somehow had on his shoulder even after dashing in between trees like a madman.
Standing back up from his kneeling position while he was hiding his rifle, Adam inspected his work. And while it wasn’t perfect you really wouldn’t think about it unless you were actively staring at it. One thing that did make him worry a little though was that the hole was under a tree.
A tree that could fall, however, thinking about it for more than a couple seconds Adam realized that said tree had probably been standing like that for a while and he wasn’t planning on letting it sit there for more than a day or two anyway. Meaning he was once again needlessly paranoid about nothing serious.
Deciding this was good enough Adam now began to think of what his next move should be. He couldn’t really wander back to his car, because frankly they were likely standing there, if not around his own car then around theirs which was no doubt parked very close by.
Leaving him pretty much stuck between the small forest and the beach. And standing by his now hidden rifle wouldn’t be particularly smart, he quickly realized. But since the weather was actually pretty nice even this early in the morning, with the sun shining down with what Adam would guess was about 10+ celsius, which considering the time of year and how early it was, this was actually pretty warm.
So with nothing better to do while waiting for the marines who would no doubt harass him, due to breaking the law or for literally no reason at all. Adam headed back towards the beach. However he didn’t want to be too close to his own crime scene so he headed back to the beach he first came to. Which while a little close to the planet's new found oppressors lingering around his vehicle, was still likely safe from them coming any closer to it.
So without his rifle, Adam now marched down the small hill leading into the forest and began the slow walk along the coast for the second time within only a couple minutes. Staring out at the ocean while walking Adam found a new sense of hope seemingly out of nowhere. Whether it was because the area and particularly the nature was stunning or that this was one of the first times in literal years he had gone out into nature, well this wasn’t really “out in nature” but more so a glorified patch of woods but still. Gålö was rather untouched by, well anything besides a couple villas and some farm animals dotted around the half-island.
In anycase staring out into the ocean and at the other islands in the distance. Adam made a realization, that this is what he was fighting for. And that he hadn’t just begun fighting to fill some empty place in his life and heart. That he was fighting, even if currently it was just him shooting at shil’ nobles. To protect his little home, and by extension the entire planet, from being ruined by the imperium.
The more he began thinking about why, he realized something which was both infuriating and a bit saddening. That if humanity as a collective were to fail in throwing the shil’s out of earth's orbit, in whatever way possible. What he was currently staring at, what he had grown up with. Everything he had near and dear to his heart.
Would be defiled,destroyed or made into a mockery of what it once was. Even just by the shil’s presence somewhere, wherever they plant those ugly buildings down, like they had done in central Salem and Haninge.
It’s like they’re spitting and mocking whatever structure stood there prior to their arrival. And why would they stop at structures? Likely, within a couple generations a considerable part of human history,society and culture would, as mentioned, be defiled, destroyed or twisted into something completely different.
Adam realized they’d likely even make up some story of how humans were stuck in the dark ages or something and that we we’re on the cusp of dying out to smallpox or dysentery before the oh-so heroic imperium came down and saved the entire planet.
Adam began slowing down as he looked forward again and saw his destination. Stopping his thoughts for but a moment as he came to the beach he began walking towards one of the large rocks strewn about on the small beach.
As he sat down on the flattest rock around, he continued staring out into the beautiful ocean before him and the pretty large islands in front of him he could never name despite coming here several times. And he realized another thing, that he really needed to get out more. He had spent just about the entire last year either sitting in his mancave, going to work or alternatively, sitting in his man cave drinking cheap alcohol on occasion.
This also reminded him of his dream, that he still had mind you. Of moving out into the middle of nowhere, somewhere incredibly rural. However with the invasion he didn’t even bother thinking about it for a while, sure he had savings from his time in the military and special forces, enough to actually buy a small house somewhere, especially in one of the cheaper regions like Värmland.
But he didn’t even know if Hemnet was still up because he hadn’t bothered checking, and even if the website was still usable. The imperium would probably somehow be involved in him buying a house. So as much as Adam felt like he needed to get away from civilization, especially away from the imperium he really couldn’t do it for now. However his only older brother, François, had done just that after their arrival. he mainly got away with it because the seller wanted it sold immediately and practically gave it to him for free.
However, Adam knew he still needed a job and with his only professions being in the military and construction/carpentry his options were extremely limited. Since the military was now entirely non-existent and the carpentry industry had almost died off completely. Only a few carpentry businesses survived, in particular ones that quickly specialized in making shil-sized human furniture so nobles could buy some considerably over-priced exotic earth goods.
Luckily for Adam he knew a guy, his friend and for the last year coworker, Dragan, who had begun working at that company only a couple months prior to the invasion. And when Adam had completely gone out of a job and had been forced to crash at his parents place, he had helped Adam get a job at the aforementioned company that nowadays only makes, as mentioned, shil-sized human furniture. That's also why Adam even moved to Jordbro in the first place. Since the company in question was located in the Jordbro industrial zone just behind what used to be the coca-cola factory.
Letting his brain go into yet another rabbit hole as he was sitting on the rock that was getting more and more uncomfortable the longer he sat on it. Adams' brain stopped in its tracks as he heard something he absolutely was not prepared for. Footsteps, heavy footsteps, he heard several of them emanating from the forest that was behind him, which could realistically, only mean one thing.
The marines got bored and assumed their target for sexual harassment was on the otherside of the small patch of forest, which in this case, he unfortunately was. As the footsteps got louder and louder Adams' heart began beating aggressively again. Slowly turning around Adam at first saw nothing.
But then, to his horror, he saw what, or rather who was making the noise. And then he saw them at the beginning of the forest clearing, three marines all staring at him through helmets he didn’t really recognize as normal marine helmets.
Temporarily focused on the fact that he didn’t recognize the helmets, nor the insignia on their breasts. Snapping out of trying to identify their insignias, Adam tried to focus instead on what the fuck to do next, and how to lower his steadily increasing heart rate.
He at once realized the predicament he was in….
- 17th of April 2024,15:43, Berlin District, Germany -
After the pretty short drive from her new workplace into the city of “Beerlyn” Vistiin was had now parked her also, recently acquired vehicle in front of her supervisor, Theun’s apartment near the center of the city. And Vistiin had never seen a building so tall! It was clearly made of traditional shil’vati thermocast but the building was seven stories tall. That they’d even allowed the apartment complex to be constructed was a mystery. Likely some architect saw how tall human buildings got and wanted to see if she could emulate it, however why the authorities allowed the building to be so tall was beyond her.
Continuing on from inspecting the building and what maniac built it, Vistiin opened the door of her car and stepped out into surprisingly chilly weather. Even though she obviously experienced the same coldness when she was getting into her car in the first place. How humans walked around in just shirts with no secondary layer like a jacket, without being affected was still baffling to her even after the hours of research she did today into humans.
And now she even had to wait in this sad weather! Likely caused by the clouds darkening from her observation. And said clouds were currently hiding Vistiin from the terran sun she immediately missed more than she knew she even could.
However, since she’d called Theun in advance and asked if they could talk in private to discuss some things that were rather pertinent to her current mission, that hopefully meant Theun wouldn't keep her out here in the cold.
As Vistiin stood and cursed the terran weather under her breath, she could see Theun arrived personally, which was a shock since nobles rarely if ever did something like open a door to even other nobles, much less a commoner like Vistiin herself. Walking towards the door eager to get out of the cold Vistiin was greeted by her sponsor. Who was as she remembered from when she first met her, kind of short, very classy and fairly lacking in morals. Not that Vistiin was a model shil either, especially concerning her frequent lack of morals, but still Vistiin liked to think she was a slightly better person than Theun.
As Vistiin and Theun made it to the door leading into the modern apartment complex at the same time, Theun opened the door. “Nice to meet you again Vistiin!” Theun said politely while extending her fist. Vistiin reciprocated the gesture and responded. “Yes hello Mrs Syras, I don't mean to forgo my manners especially in front of a noble such as yourself, but can we move inside? it's awfully cold out here.”
“Don’t worry about that around me Vistiin, also you can call by my first name, we’ll be seeing each other a lot until you’re done after all” Theun responded while backing away from the door to let Vistiin in. “Ah ok good to know, just a bit surprising is all” “Most nobles I've worked with prior, especially ones from big houses as yourself tend to be… not so friendly” Vistiin said back as she entered the apartment building. Even just the lobby of this place screamed old money and nobility. The building even had its own concierge, with a cute little human guy standing behind the desk.
Quickly peeling her eyes off the blonde man before he noticed, Vistiin and Theun began walking to the elevators on the other side of the lobby. She had just yesterday learnt what an “elevator” was, so Vistiin was at least partially prepared for the tight metal box humans use to get up and down floors. And the elevators in hers and presumably Theuns apartment building were considerably larger as well to account for the shil tendency to hate small spaces, so how humans could stand going in these on a daily basis was beyond her.
As they got to the door and Theun clicked on a button quickly opening the duo stepped inside and Theun spoke. “I get it, we nobles aren’t the most welcoming, but beyond that was it that you wanted to talk about?” “Already done or something? This early into your work?, I know your efficient but still”
“No no nothing like that, it's just a couple things I want to go over and what not” “Shouldn’t take to much of your time” With Vistiin’s response out Theun simply grunted in acknowledgement and the rest of the way up to Theuns apartment was in a slightly uncomfortable silence.
As the elevator came to a stop and the door opened once again, freeing Vistiin from that tight metal cube. Vistiin was surprised to only see a small hallway with only a single door at the end.
“Do you own the entire floor or something?” Vistiin said as she looked over at Theun who was taking a card out of her jacket, presumably to open her apartment.
“Of course I do!” “This apartment is small enough, if I were to live in one of the normal suites my friends and relatives would never let me live that down” she said as she opened the door.
Theun quickly walked in after she opened the door and Vistiin quickly followed. “And I'm fairly certain this is just about luxurious and expensive enough to have them not make a comment about it.”
“Well you sure a noble when those are your primary concerns…” Vistiin said with a chuckle. As both of them discarded their outside clothes and wandered into the very spacious living room Vistiin realized two things, first how incredibly far up they were and secondly how big this place was for an apartment. “This place is massive Theun, this must have cost a fortune!” Vistiin said as she was looking about the place.
“Well it's probably the cheapest bit of real estate i've ever bought, but that doesn’t say much” “Earth isn’t really expensive.. Yet anyway, from the people i've talked to they predict the prices can increase by as much as 50,000% in a year when they finally open earth up just based on interest from the rest of the imperium.”
“Hm… makes sense I guess, although I presume that doesn’t account for when humans will be compatible with us, you can probably triple that then” Vistiin said as she sat down on the large couch that could easily fit fifteen shil’s. Which in her mind was a little excessive but nobles only buy the best and biggest of anything she mused.
“I know you said it shouldn’t take long but, want a drink?” Theun said, interrupting Vistiins thought process. “Wasn’t planning on drinking but sure” To Vistiins response Theun went to the kitchen and didn’t spend long there quickly coming back with two very fancy looking drinks Vistiin couldn’t identify, not that Vistiin really cared so long it wouldn’t make her puke.
“So you don’t have any employees?” “Sorry for prying on your life but i'm just used to guards and what not flanking the noble im working with” Vistiin said as she accepted the drink Theun had just brought.
“No I do have lots of employees obviously, the Syras house probably has thousands in total, however this apartment doesn’t really have the space so it's hard to have them running around all the time here and so for now I have them on call until I buy an actual house in the area.”
“Ah ok… but beyond that let's get to the reason i'm here shall we?” Vistiin said while taking a sip of her drink, which clearly had red grain in it. “Of course Vistiin, now what is already of such importance?”
“Well, there's a couple things, but one thing at a time.” “From my research it will be nigh impossible to get a male who would be willing to participate within the next couple of years.”
Vistiin started while looking at the drink in her hand.
“But I have a solution, one that would require you pulling some strings” She continued while looking at Theun instead of her drink.
“I mean, I'm here to make sure you succeed and that the empresses money hasn’t been wasted, so I'll listen” Theun responded before she also began sipping on her drink. “Great because the only way I think we could reliably get a male would be if we convinced captured insurgents, however before you say anything obviously they won’t agree to it” “Immediately anyway…” Vistiin continued.
“Hmm, you’re sure that's the only way? Not that I'm particularly opposed, it just sounds like it could get complicated, insurgents probably don't make great fathers either at that.” Theun asked. “Great question, how we fix our problem here is that we give them an offer of either, becoming participants in our project where we will then pair them with a shil woman, how we source women for this project is another question albeit one that should be easier to solve.” With a pause to sip on her drink, Vistiin continued “Anyway or they get the choice of just facing their fate serving prison time on some mining world over side of the known universe”
“And while humans, especially insurgents may hate the imperium for now” “If one of them gets the choice of lifelong manual labour on a planet full of roaches or, they just have to be part of this little project, I believe they’ll wisen up real fast, and the ones that don’t would probably make horrible fathers anyway” “Natural selection if you will” Vistiin finished off as she began drinking her liquor again while letting Theun take Vistiins little plan for getting males into the project.
After a couple seconds of thinking Theun responded. “While it may be a bit of a hassle to pull said strings without anyone else really knowing what's going on, sounds doable.” “Could work to rehabilitate some insurgents as well actually”
“So now that we’ve got that out of the way, the other concern I have is that due to my contract for this job being limited in time to two years.” “That I have to, for us to see results before that date, get positive results of a pregnancy between a human shil coupling before like five earth months?
“Mind you it's not impossible we see a pregnancy very early on but the time it takes for results to show is still a slight paranoia of mine” Vistiin continued now instead looking at her almost empty glass of some alcohol mix she couldn’t really identify.
“Look, don’t worry Vistiin, your contract is pretty flexible” Theun said, staring out at the city through one of the tall windows. “This entire project is extremely special and you’re one of few candidates with the perfect mixture of low morals, and the right skillset so if you’re almost complete by the two year point we can negotiate the contract”
“Well that's a relief then, I knew you were a reasonable woman” Vistiin responded to Theun, now with a big concern of her shoulders.
“Well Theun, I know you’re a busy woman and it was kind enough of you to make space to talk with me pretty out of the blue so I won’t take any of your time, I've already been here for like thirty minutes so.”
“Don’t worry, I'm pretty invested in that this goes right so anything I can help you with to make it happen I'll do.” Theun said as the both of them were starting to stand up. “Also Vistiin, if you need to talk about anything relating to the project, you call or text me and we talk in person here where what we say can’t be recorded” “I really don’t want to risk anything leaking out okay?”
“Understood that from the beginning Ma’am hence why I even asked to talk.” Vistiin responded with a slight chuckle as she started to move towards the entrance to Theuns apartment. “Well it's good to know you’re as intelligent as I was led to believe” Theun said as Vistiin started to put on her outdoor clothing.
“Well it was a good talk, but i'm starving so I better go, see you later Theun” Vistiin said as she waved goodbye to Theun who responded “And i'm rather busy today, still I’ll see you later” Theun said back just before the automatic door closed.
Now with a plan to get males for the project and a weight lifted off her tired shoulders, Vistiin could relax more a little. However, now she was actually really hungry after doing nothing but research for the past nine hours so Vistiin began walking back to her car so she could have the rest of the day off….
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Just One Drop
CH 77 – The Man in Who these Marvels Can Do
It was the day before Shel, and lunch was becoming a more crowded affair.
Since Melondi’s secret had come out, the girls had taken to favoring a mid-sized table that seated twelve – a sensible number. A small affair no more than twenty feet long, the table was well situated, away from the center of the floor and off to one side. That had been useful, as the layout of the cafeteria put the table near the kitchen freezer. There was an awkward chill in that corner of the room which made it unpopular, and without other students about, the table offered relative privacy.
Of course, twelve was ideal, as it conformed to the needs of their class. The girls of the Practical Humanity class had faced more than their share of scrutiny since the term began, and privacy had become a cherished commodity. Whether it was from curious girls wanting to know what the Human was like, to its current, more immediate needs, the isolation of the spot had made the table a welcome retreat.
That said, today it was getting a bit crowded, and with everyone there, an additional three seats had been needed, with girls shoving in from the sides.
Khe’lark’s attachment to Gun’brei… or more accurately, Brei’s attachment to Lark… had started things, of course. There was usually room for one more, certainly if one of the girls was off somewhere else and missing lunch. Since Melondi’s secret had become a shared one, the table had become a place where Mel could, on occasion, talk less circumspectly. While she’d never slipped up otherwise, she could relax and enjoy her friends without being quite so guarded.
Things had been different before, when Brei hadn’t been cleared by Agent Duvari.
Melondi had never resented Brei as an intrusion, but it was a fact of life that she hadn’t noticed before. The ability to talk with her friends, even in the most circumspect way, had replaced her utter secrecy – or worse, the crafted lies about her history. When Brei joined them for lunch, Melondi had to go back into hiding… and Brei’s presence brought with her a visceral feeling of the loss.
When Kzintshki arrived, the twelve and sometimes thirteen turned to thirteen and sometimes fourteen.
The Pesrin girl’s presence was unmistakable. Kzintshkil was… different. It wasn’t only
the matter of her being alien – another species entirely, with her own loyalties and agenda. It was more that Kzintshki kept her own counsel, and while Melondi knew how to read people - even people from other races - the Pesrin girl was largely a closed book. It wasn't something she was used to. She was good with reading people, no matter the species. Generally. …That carrion incident with the Rakiri delegate could have happened to anybody!...
Of course, while it wasn’t always a full table, fourteen was manageable. Today there were fifteen people crowding in for lunch, which was pushing it.
Not that Prindi Ama’dis was unwelcome. The IOTC girl was another friend of Lark’s by way of the campus vblog; thankfully the question of who knew her secret had largely been settled – both by her request, and the actions of her handler, Agent Duvari. Now her friends knew, which was a greater relief than she’d imagined it could be. Professor Warrick knew, and he’d be allowed to tell Professor Pel’avon. He was holding off until they were back from the ‘honeymoon’. It was an odd term for the usual getaway after a wedding, and he’d explained it as something to do with newly wed couples slipping away for a month and drinking a lot of something called mead. Melondi figured she should have a word of quiet thanks to Professor Pel’avon for taking up so much of Professor Warrick’s time… but it would wait until they were back.
Gun’brei had been oddly muted after finding out. While Brei was a baroness’ daughter, Agent Duvari had opted to lay things out to her in private, as ‘she had an abiding interest in the news’. That probably meant several threats behind closed doors, a reading of general order 24, and signing waivers that didn’t mention words like ‘frozen tundra’. They didn’t need to - Duvari tended to make herself clear enough. It was hard to believe the same bubbly music professor could be so frigid as an Agent, but Duvari had no problems with being convincing.
Melondi looked over at Lark and pursed her lips thoughtfully. …I still need to make things up to her. I don’t know if clearing Brei counts…
That left the IOTC girls, and as she looked up the table at Prindi, it was hard to believe the world she’d crafted here at the Academy had changed so dramatically. As Lark’s friend, Prindi made an easy liaison with the IOTC girls. Even so, it was tight with her here, and if more
of them showed up, something would have to give.
She’d planned to tell her friends, someday… After graduation, when she was off on her own, she’d hoped that some of them might still be in reach… and understanding. They’d all be off starting their own lives, working in their House companies, starting careers, or managing the family holdings. Everyone would go their different ways. But her sister Khelandri’s death had changed everything. She could enjoy her friends now
, instead of later, wondering if they would still be hers when she revealed herself as a princess.
It was a bright note in a dark situation, and she cherished it for what it was. She had friends. Real friends that had come to know her outside of the Palace, without any agendas… and she had the time – over two more years – before adult life sent them off on their own paths. …At least, if I live that long…
That was a gloomy thought, and it was hard to hold onto it. She’d only just hung up on a call from Vedeem. Whenever she talked to him, the future didn’t seem so dark. He’d accepted her for who and what she was as a person… and then he’d done it all over again for who and what she was as a Princess. …Screw Kamaud’re! I want to live!...
“That was Vedeem. He says they’re putting up a sign and closing the restaurant for a week to ‘celebrate the birth of a boy in the family.'Everything’s ready to start the training tomorrow at 9.” She raised her voice over the animated conversations going on. It was lunch, after all, and with all the jockeying of plates and trays and dishes and whatnot, it was a scramble. If any more girls showed up from the IOTC, they’d have to do something… or at least get a round table. No one could reach anything. “Prindi, can you let your cadre know?”
It was bad timing, since the girl just took a bite, but she nodded quickly, chewing frantically.
“Just take it easy…” Mel looked around past the table with an exaggerated glance. “The nod’s all I need, and you’ll like Vedeem… Hands off, though!”
As a young girl, she’d never expected that she’d need to warn anyone away from her boyfriend… when she finally got one, no one would dare. Just now? If all of this felt new to her, it must be like a bucket of icy surf landing on the IOTC girls… and Vedeem was hers!
Prindi finally cleared her throat and nodded again. “Yes, ummm…”
“Melondi,” she offered helpfully. While the IOTC girl had been giving her curious looks now and then, she’d tried her best to hide them. She still looked like she was struggling. “Remember, it’s just Melondi.”
“Yes…” The idea of calling a Princess something informal looked like it was sticking in the girl’s throat, and she took a way out. “I’ll let them know after lunch.”
“Thank you!” Mel called back. It was something Mother had always insisted on and Lady Wicama had taught her well. Good manners were for everyone. It had even seen her through that carrion incident, though she hadn’t even been five at the time… …Come to think of it, it was Kamaud’re who ‘helped me out’… and was laughing the loudest…
She felt an ugly blush start to rise, but it faded just as quickly. She’d never known her elder sister except as a distant figure, not a part of her life, really. Even without the attempt on her life, It had grown a lot easier in the last few months not to care for Kamaud’re at all.
The table didn’t take much notice. Jax was in an animated conversation with Nestha about business, while the twins were actually giggling about something. Most of the talk had been about class, though Belda was getting a lot of ribbing and good natured pokes from the others. Tonight was the
big night, after all. Even Kzintshki was quietly talking to Desi about the weekend. As the outsider, Prindi seemed to be struggling to fit in, though she hid it well.
“I’m glad you could join us, Prindi,” Melondi offered brightly, trying to keep the girl from feeling too isolated. “I know we sort of keep to ourselves; there was a lot of attention after we got into Professor Warrick’s class. It was a little rough after registration, and you wouldn’t believe some of the questions we got after he did the Marriage Fundamentals seminar.”
“That was rough.” Sephir nodded. “I had one girl ask me if he had any boys in his family, and when they’d be coming. That was pretty
“Embarrassing?” Prindi blinked doubtfully as she reoriented on Sephir. At 6’11, it seemed impossible to miss the girl. Sephir was a star of the Academy diving team with muscles like titanium cables, but she was so polite and unassuming that it often came as a surprise when she spoke up in conversation. She’d been a lot happier since her future in her House had been sorted, though, and at the moment she was grinning cheerfully at the bewildered look on Prindi’s face.
Prindi cocked her head uncertainly. “How was it embarrassing?”
“Oh… It's just… his wife and his daughter were killed when the Imperium arrived on Earth.”
Belda winced, but still looked relieved at no longer being the center of attention; at least she’d finally stopped blushing.
“Professor Pel’avon asked us not to talk about it at first,” said Sephir with a nod. Even if she looked like a recruiting poster for the Marines, she was a caregiver at heart, and had always shied away from talking about what Warrick called ‘the landings.' “Professor Warrick… Well, you can tell it still hurts him.”
“Yeah,” Nestha chipped in. “He’s smart… and a lot tougher than you’d expect. You just can't think
of him as a male.”
male.” Desi broke off her conversation with Kzintshki. “There’s a whole lot going on with him that even the rest of you don’t see. He and I talk a lot at the museum.”
“Is it true he adopted both
of you?” Prindi asked, looking from Desi to Kzintshki and back, Melondi forgotten for the first time. “We all heard things and there were a lot of questions after the wedding… I mean, like the dancers! Where did they even come fr-“
“Yes, it's true! Both of us!” Desi broke in abruptly, interrupting Prindi’s train of thought, and Mel started breathing again. If word got out about the Tide Pool, it would probably need more than a General Order and a very angry Interior Agent to keep quiet. Desi was nodding frantically as she enthusiastically changed the subject. “We don’t
talk about the wedding, but it's true! It became official when Professor Pel’avon married him. They’re my mothers and father, now.”
“Wow, that’s…” Prindi’s brows knitted a bit as she struggled with the whole wedding. Sure, the whole school had seen it, but the response had been more of a collective silence from around the table. Prindi took the hint and offered a smile. “So… What do
you talk about, then? I mean, if not the wedding? What about this war sim? The rest of the cadre couldn’t believe it! I hope we weren’t whispering too loud. Most of us were glued to our omni-pads, gossiping on our Discuss channel. Everybody wants to know more… I can't wait to go through these files!”
“We don’t talk about the war sim. We have team meetings, but aside from those, we don’t. There’s a lot
of extra credit on the line,” Dihsala said firmly, giving her a solid nod. “None of us know what’s on those files, though we had an exchange professor that… well, I don’t think she understood the material.”
“Careful, Dihsala, you’re in danger of being kind,” Pris muttered, though there wasn’t any heat in it.
Dihsala sniffed, but said nothing.
Pris pressed on, waving her fork-full of pickled jawaa like a baton. “She’s right, though. None of us know what's in the files, and we probably shouldn’t. Professor Warrick uses this method of teaching… It’s sort of like discovering the material a bit at a time and figuring it out as we go.”
“That sounds… really odd.” Prindi was canting her head fully now, and Mel could just imagine what the girl was thinking. It had been an adjustment. The IOTC girl looked back at Desi, “Sorry. It just does
“You don’t have to convince me.” Desi nodded sympathetically, wearing an easy smile. “Once you get used to muppets and furbys-”
“Oh! And ALF!” Jax’mi, broke in, laughing.
“And his music, though that’s
really good,” offered one of the twins, as the other nodded. “And we get free movies - things that haven't made it here from Earth yet!”
“It’s a lot, but after a while nothing phases you.” Desi grinned infectiously. “Oh! Mel! Do we know if Aku is going to make it to… you know… the event?”
“I’ll have to ask.” Melondi shook herself out of the reverie of listening. “I know the invitation is getting sent. We can find out tomorrow.”
“Oh…Right.” Desi nodded, but looked back at her plate, subdued. No one knew they were going to the Palace tomorrow except Agent Duvari, who was going to escort them, and Desi was still looking pretty shy about the prospect. Still, everybody else had practice at Human Food…
“There was something we’re all kind of curious about, from the sim… I mean, it's not to do with the sim.” Prindi bit her lip, looking around as the table went suddenly quiet. “We all knew about Earth - I mean, he’s Human. Not about his family, but… things. Anyway, some of us were wondering, and now I guess I really
am… umm… why doesn’t he hate us like we're some sort of enemy? There are stories, you know?”
“Desi?” One of the twins looked over at her seriously, setting aside whatever they’d been laughing about. Her sister sniffed, a beat behind. “You know him best.”
“Well, obviously he doesn’t. Hate us, I mean. I think he really means it about the Imperium making Humans citizens. Something he said once kind of stuck with me.” Desi grimaced in thought. “He said he didn’t think of the Imperium as his enemy, because the enemy is someone that tells you to hate that which is different from you, because sooner or later that hate comes back to you… and he said the Imperium hasn't done that.”
“We have kind of messed up there,” Jax’mi sighed unhappily. “I mean, all the news I get back from my family on Earth is great! I had the best letter from my Uncle… but my mothers told me stories. Some of the Houses first gifted with business grants on Earth abused them pretty badly. Not a lot, but the ones that did… Well, it wasn’t just one mess. A couple of the Houses got really carried away, and it took a while to sort out.”
“That sounds like a job for the Interior! The Imperium doesn’t tolerate… umm… that is…” Prindi sat a little taller, and her eyes shone with conviction before she stuttered to a halt, blushing as she glanced back to Melondi. “We’re supposed to stop
that sort of thing.”
Mel watched as an awkward silence fell around the table, broken only by Kzintshki slicing away bits of her turox with another of her occasional mutters of “Ick”. It wasn't like she could entirely blame them.
The Empire needed the Interior. There were the boisterous and splashy ones, like House Reshay. There were the quietly dutiful ones, like Belda’s House So’sona and the pharmacological company run by Sephir’s House. There were the quietly powerful ones in the background like House Chel’xa… All of them working at what they did best… but sometimes there were incidents. Bad matrons who lost control of their ambitions. The Empire was vast, and when the Houses couldn't police themselves, it was time for the Empress to do it. That's where the Interior came in.
Mother had been working to rein the Interior in, over time… to bring it back to its core mission. She didn’t talk about it very much, but growing up she’d seen it happen. She could still remember the rumblings in court when she named Opimea Potac - an Edixi - to run the Ministry of Justice. People had said things around a six-year-old they didn’t think would be understood - or remembered - even by a six-year-old Princess. As for her cousin Yn’dara and Prince Adam… It had taken time, but Mother had gotten things under control. …If only she were here now… but she isn't. I have to handle this myself…
That meant she needed the Interior… someday. Right now, she needed these cadets. Glancing down the table, Desi caught her eye and suddenly snorted. “Seriously, Kzintshki!? What is it with ‘ick’ all the time? You were ready to eat my father alive only a month ago. Now you turn your nose up at anything sweet or fatty? When did you turn into a picky eater, for goddess’ sake!”
“You do not understand. Food is plentiful here. That is understood…” The dusky Pesrin set aside her cutlery and eyed Desi coolly. “You have never seen a fat Pesrin.”
“No…” Desi rocked her head to one side, in exasperation. Kzintshki had a way of making statements out of questions. “But I’d never seen a Pesrin at all
, until we met you. What's that
got to do with it?”
“Shil and its worlds live without scarcity. Pesh does not. You will never
will see a fat Pesrin.” Kzintshki replied cooly, blinking at Desi once. Melindi couldn't decide if the Pesrin girl was exasperated or amused without seeing her tail… her asiak. It was hidden under the table, but it seemed like it conveyed a lot of Pesrin body language - or maybe it was just Kzintshki. “Wasting food when it is plentiful is as much of a sin as wasting food when it is scarce.”
“I suppose…” Desi chewed over the idea while the rest of the girls thought it over.
“Besides, I have my figure to consider.”
“Hey, that’s true. I’ve been worried about everything for tonight!” Belda grinned suddenly. “So, are there any cute Pesrin guys around?”
“Perhaps... though I would not impress him if I were slow and fat.”
Mel thought over the reply. The pause was longer than the Pesrin girl usually took to answer, and she wasn't blinking. Sooner or later she’d figure her out. For the moment she watched as Kzintshki picked up her knife and fork, and cut away another bit of turox with particular deliberation. “Ick…”
“So… you girls get free movies, too?” Prindi asked the twins, looking between the pair tentatively, “Stuff that hasn't come out yet? What’s that like?”
“A lot, yes. The Ministry of Relations closed down on a lot of entertainment from Earth. It’s opening back up, but Professor Warrick has a lot of things no one has seen,” offered one of the K’herbhal sisters. Her twin nodded in sync. “Even with things opening up, they’re still screening for, you know…”
“Treason?” Prindi nodded understandingly.
“Porn!” The twins said in unison, giggling. “Not that we
mind, though you could ask Belda for all the details. She’s seen Liam with his shirt off!”
“Goddess damn-it!” Belda started turning blue all over again. “It was only almost
“You know, we could put off movie night until tomorrow. We can bring food back after training in the morning. Take over the room, have a movie marathon and celebrate,” Pris spoke up. “That way Belda can watch, too!”
“Hey, could you?” Belda grinned. “That would be great!”
that way we get to drag all the juicy details out of you, too!” Pris smiled back serenely. Melondi watched as Belda started blushing again, and muttered as the others laughed. Goddess love her, Bel was such
“Ummm… what kind of movies?” Prindi asked, brushing her hair back. “Could I come?”
_ _ _
“You know, this is going to sound odd, but I kind of miss driving," Tom said, leaning back in his seat between Miv and Lea.
It was a comfortable way to ride, and the company was the best. Even with an alien landscape speeding by, it was the oddest feeling. Until he’d come to Shil, he’d always been the one doing the driving. Autocabs were quick and efficient, and other than his regular trip out to Human Food, it wasn't like he knew where things were on Shil… but it felt odd.
“You don't have a license.” Miv tousled his hair, looking at him indulgently while Lea curled in tight on the other side. She was happy as a clam they were all together, but she cocked her head, looking at Miv. “It's only a few weeks of study, if you want to get one.”
“Nah. It was just a stray thought. I’m good with being able to pay attention to you two, and it’s nice actually seeing the world go by.” He pulled them both closer, which Miv enjoyed, and made Lea squeak in pleasure. Lea had been a real princess about the lack of attention and she loved sharing with Miv, but with her work out in Creantauri, what could you do? He smiled and leaned in, kissing her lightly on the neck. This weekend would be all about making it up to them both.
Speaking of which, they were just about there…
The drive had given him ample time to cuddle up with Miv and Lea, which had been a lot of fun - but also just the distraction he’d needed. He’d tossed a jacket over the seatback showing the map display, but as the autocab turned into their destination, there was nothing for it…
“Miv, what’s this?” Lea was the first to notice, and she stared out the window as the cab turned in. Jets of brightly lit water began fountaining up on either side of the cab as it made its way up the long drive, the highway quickly out of sight.
Miv’eire pulled his coat off the seat to peer at the map and frowned in consternation as she looked at the display, “This is all wrong.”
“Actually, no, it isn't.” Tom grinned, pulling her back. “We’re exactly where we need to be.”
“But Tom, this isn’t our hotel!” Miv stared at him blankly, “Oh, love, you must
have put the directions in wrong.”
“I canceled us there. Ladies, remember when you were going to take me on a holiday for a weekend? The one we missed thanks to my unscheduled trip to the hospital?” He grinned, enjoying their confusion. Lea was still looking out the window as the view turned from ‘impressive’ to ‘luxurious’ and was quickly heading for ‘‘opulent’. “When I was in recovery, I asked Prince Adam for three favors. Pushing through Desi’s adoption was one… looking into Olea was another… and a weekend somewhere nice to make it up to you both was number three.”
Tom drew Miv back into the seat beside him and slipped his arm back around Lea as she pressed to the window, the drive opening out on the broad vista and the hotel beyond. “Ladies, welcome to the Imperial Ocean Reserve.”
_ _ _
Following at a covert distance, and it had still been an easy drive. With an hour or two left to go, Sgt. Jel’ke had done the driving, leaving Captain Ce’lani to do the sensible thing and get some sleep. Honestly, it was kind of a relief. The Captain had been keyed up over Warrick, and after finally getting out of the bunker it was nice not to make small talk.
Thank the goddess the woman was sensible, but even so, she still had it bad… …At least I haven’t had to make small talk along the… waitaminute…
Jel’ke frowned as the autocab turned in off the highway and pulled slowly on to the median. There was no doubt about it, the cab had diverted off the drive and was heading out of sight into… …Well, fuck me…
Being a Deathshead Commando meant being down in the blood and the mud, deployed to some of the worst situations known to woman… but, every so often, it also put you in the way of protecting the great and the powerful.
Jel’ke knew Big Money when she saw it.
“Captain? You need to wake up.” Jel’ke pulled to a stop on the shoulder of the road, “I think we have a problem.”
_ _ _
It was early afternoon when Aku closed the file on his omni-pad.
The end of his tour had passed. He’d survived… at least on the outside. It wouldn't do to look anything less than your best, after all.
On the inside was another matter. His mistress, the Cliffsinger Tranja, had torn apart his every performance from the time he stepped on stage until the final note. Nothing was right. Nothing was good enough. While she hadn’t said he was an embarrassment as an initiate, she hadn’t needed to. The words had hung in the air - tangible, if unspoken.
This was his life.
Sitting in the dark of the enclave’s library, he thought about the tour. It had been an abject misery. If not for Kas’lin and Ka’mara, he’d probably have lost his mind under the pressure. …If only things were different. I could be a regular guy. Maybe I could have met them instead, or someone like them! Started a family and lived a normal life…
His eyes crept back to his omni-pad. As miserable as he was at that moment, he knew he was telling himself a lie. Even if it had all been different, there was still the music. It burned inside, begging to be let out, and he yearned to make it happen. Even though his mistress seemed determined to sink his hopes into the Deeps, there was still
the music. It could not be denied.
He’d kept away from the other initiates after returning to the enclave. They were his competition. He couldn’t see them as anything else, now… but inside it felt like a losing battle. Only one of them would inherit their mistress’ position and title, and it didn't seem likely that it would be him.
In desperation, he’d turned to the archives.
Cliffsinging was old. It was respected. Revered. Generations upon generations of Singers had practiced their art, handing down their names. Over time, the art had become codified… the Singers had become living treasures… but the original works survived. Every generation had added something of their own.
He’d delved deep into the stacks, diving through the recordings, searching the early works. There were files and archives and even printed records… He’d torn through all of them, not knowing what he was looking for until he’d found it.
The song was old - ancient, even - and written by one of the Singers whose name had not become selected as the final Twelve of Shil. The music was haunting, and it burned with a vibrancy that he didn't see in the more modern works - the kind of thing so often in demand now. There was almost no music - the singer's voice rang out alone, echoing off the cliffs accompanied only by a single steel arecha… but the song spoke to him.
The language was stilted with age, but as he’d translated it into more modern terms, it felt comfortable… it had the yearning that he felt inside, and which almost seemed Human in its power as he transcribed and updated it for his presentation.
It was traditional. It was very
traditional. If he was going to reclaim his Mistress’ approval, this was what he needed.
He’d give his performance tonight, in front of his Mistress and the others. Show them he was good enough. Show her that he was better than the rest.
The music called and he had to answer.
Aku sighed again, wondering what the twins were doing at school right now. It had to be better than here.
_ _ _
“You are being such
a bitch!” Kas’lin said hotly, scowling over the table at Dihsala. Ka’mara scowled over at the girl before joining in. “She’s right. There’s no call for this
kind of behavior!”
“You two brought it on yourselves!” Dihsala crossed her arms defiantly, while Desi slumped the chair, resting her head on one fist, and steadfastly refused to join in.
“What are you talking about!? You’re twisting our arms… and… AND! you’re sucking up to Jax’mi!” Kas’lin was on her feet now, pointing at Dihsala, and Kas’lin rose in defense. There wasn't much more she could add to that.
“I don’t suck up to anyone!” Dihsala snapped coldly, though Jaxmi sat back, preening. It was the first happy look on the Chel’xa girl's face, as she’d been left desperately trying to keep the Japanese out of some city called Mecca. “You two brought it on yourselves, sucking up to England with that marriage proposal. You didn't want to join in, so this is what you get for coming late!”
“There’s nothing to
get.” Kas’lin swept a hand up at the map on the screen. “They’ve completely swept everything out of Africa!”
“Well, that’s what you get for joining late. Anything you want to take, you can take out of France,” Dihsala said with finality. “Isn't that right, Lark?”
Khe’lark was looking at her omni-pad unhappily, saying nothing. Dihsala turned to look at her this time. “Lark?”
“It’s fine… Really…” Lark said unhappily.
“What?” Dihsala started to frown, and Desi sat up taking notice. “What’s ‘fine’?”
“Well, I didn't want to tell you this… but I think the Czechs are going to declare independence and revolt…”
Kas’lin closed her eyes and settled back in her chair.
The casualties for everyone along the French front lines had been catastrophic, the Spanish were useless, and now things were going to the Deeps with Austria… …The things I do for extra credit…
_ _ _
“Well, I think the points we spent working on the Czechs and the Slovenes are paying off handsomely,” Let’zi said confidently, though the look around the table wasn’t encouraging.
“At least something is.” Pris grimaced, gesturing up at the map. “I hate to say it, but I don’t think France can last much longer.”
“She’s right. Rotating units up from the South kept the Germans out of Paris,” Sephir sighed gloomily. “But morale was shot with the units we rotated back South. We hoped they’d recover, but with Spain and Italy attacking? Unless we catch a break, I think our whole army will mutiny soon.”
“They can’t keep it up. They’ve lost all their colonies, now they have to fight in every
direction at once.” Let’zi shook her head and tried sounding confident, though it was dimmed. “They can't do it. No one could!”
“She’s right, and England is mobilized now.” Melondi studied the map carefully, “Japan is all over the Ottomans in the South. Russia is… well… holding their own…”
“I’m doing the best I can…” Nestha huffed, crossing her arms. “Though yeah, the Ottomans are turning around and sending troops back South.”
“That’s right,” Melondi said brightly. “Besides, now we have Belda on our side!”
The girls looked over at Belda… who was staring off into space in a world of her own.
“Look, let’s call it a day. Bel has to go get dressed.” Mel grinned as Belda looked up, utterly lost. “She’s got a big evening.”
_ _ _
“Lieutenant, you aren't going to believe this…”
Lt. Peheli Tala looked over from the control board warily to where Sgt Diani was sitting in the right seat at observation. The bunker pods were all jumbled up with Captain Ton’is and Sgt. Jel’ke out on their trip, leaving Tala to fill in. It was a nice change of pace from running checks in the service corridors and updating the gear in the bunker.
Diani had been running the boards while telling long war stories to Sgt Vaeko, who was busily running the odds on that morning’s ‘wargame’ while monitoring the girls’ strategy sessions.
Words like that out of nowhere were not
what she’d wanted to hear.
Diani and Vaeko had been keeping up a constant stream of conversation, both talking and only mostly listening to the other. It was enough to make her miss the quiet of the tunnels, and she’d started to tune out the idle chatter. Diani’s words snapped her back to reality in an instant, her heart pounding.
“Report Sgt!” Tala snapped the words out, but she was already pulling up the campus map on the main board, checking frantically for any sitreps from the ground team. No alarms had gone off yet, but it was probably only seconds away. …Where's the alarm? Why hasn't anyone punched the alarm!? I’ll have to call Agent Duvari, and…
“It’s Captain Ton’is and Jel’ke.” Diani had a cheesy grin plastered over her wide features. “They need us to make some calls and get em a hotel room… You aren’t gonna believe where.”
Tala could feel her heart thudding in her chest. No alarms had gone off. There was no intrusion along the perimeter…
“A… a what?”
_ _ _
The Imperial Ocean Reserve was everything that Tom could have hoped for. It was old by Shil’vati standards, but that didn't mean tired. It meant historic, and walking into the lobby conjured up images only found in history books. The Reserve was a place where parasols graced the lawns in Summer and moonlight walks on the open beach were the norm. On Earth, it was the sort of place you could envision steamer trunks and top hats.
There were three restaurants along the veranda, and a bar, shops, and sumptuous indoor pool that served guests all year long. The hotel was vast. Not in the sense of catering to all comers, but spacious. It occupied its grounds like a crowning jewel.
As for their room?
It had a luxurious bed he could get lost in, more than capable of sleeping six Shil’vati. While he usually wasn’t big on the details, even he noticed the richly embroidered linens, what seemed like down pillows, the plush towels in the marble bathroom, well-stocked bar, and an in-room omni-pad to call for room service and requests.
That the whole suite lay beneath the ocean, with a glass roof and walls looking out from their bedroom at the surrounding coral reef, didn’t hurt either.
It was quite a place, but as the girls got started with the unpacking, he slipped out. It had always been his habit to poke around, and finding the best place for dinner reservations seemed like a good idea. A few minutes scouting out the restaurants would save time later…
At least, that had been the idea. The verandah surrounding the hotel proper had a lovely view directly off the beach, and as anyone would expect, it drew admiring guests… One of which happened to be Lady Vonde, the Duchess of House Jo’lare.
Tom hadn't seen the woman since Pre-term, when she’d attached herself to him in the tour, insistently tried to get him to ‘come for a visit,' and pinched his ass while showing her daughter around the campus. She’d been noteworthy in managing to do it more discreetly than most, but still…
Just at the moment Lady Vonde was in a shouting match against someone named Duchess Pyanfar, who’d swarmed down on him only a minute before Vonde. Pyanfar had started in on him with her retinue, breathlessly cooing about how charmed
she was to meet him and wanting to hear all
the details about Human marriages, and of course, she’d seen the captivating
video on the news. It was just sooo
rustic, positively enthralling
, going native like that!
But Vonde spotted him and wasn’t having any of it, loudly insisting that he’d agreed to visit, and did Pyanfar know who she was!? Then her retinue started pushing Vonde’s retinue, while a crowd started to gather around the scene…
Tom was the only non-Shil in the room, and being 6’2 and pink, it wasn't easy to make himself invisible. He still did his best, though it was more a testament to the crowd of angry retainers around Vonde and Pyanfar that he got as far as the door of the bar. He kept his eyes behind him on the crowd as he made a break for it, barging first into a glass followed by a massive pair of breasts…
“Oh! Geeze…” Tom stepped back, “I’m terribly sorry Miss…”
A meaty hand clamped down on his arm painfully, and Tom looked up into the ruddy face of Tirola Reshay, Nestha’s kho-mother.
Disheveled and stinking of alcohol,Tirola wasn't in good shape. She’d emerged from the bar with her own crowd of hangers-on, including a Shil’vati guy hanging on her arm, and while she’d somehow managed to hang on to her glass, the collision had drenched her top in Blue Grail. Her eyes widened as she looked down at him and she growled, “You!!!” …Alright, she isn’t in a good mood, though the last time I saw her she’d been unconscious in a pool of her own vomit…
Tirola made the mistake of clamping down harder, and Tom cried out in pained surprise. “Hey, get your damn hand off me!”
“Oh, you’re coming with me." Tirola tugged him closer…
Tom’s fingers spread and he jabbed. The strike was clumsy and he was off balance, but as eye-pokes went, it did the job.
Tirola let go of him and bellowed, her hand flying to one eye. The skinny guy thrown off her arm shrieked in bantam fury as he was thrown to the ground.
Then things got a little crazy.
_ _ _
Sgt. Jel’ke knew Big Money. She also knew when Big Money was fobbing her off. Thus far, they’d made it to the lobby and the reservation staff.
The ‘request’ had come down through official channels, but the Manager wasn't happy about it. Despite some ever-so-polite words, it seemed another call eventually came through and did the trick. The Manager accepted their story, and started offering over a room key with only a trace of disdain…
Out in the lobby, there was a scream.
It was followed a minute later by the sight of Tom Warrick pelting up the hall at a dead run and ducking into one of the gift shops, pursued by several mobs of women caught up in fighting each other as much as chasing after him.
It was no use. Ce’lani Ton’is had already charged, and was racing across the lobby in hot pursuit. Glancing down at their meager baggage, she had the presence of mind to snatch the key from the Manager’s hand before she could take it back.
Somewhere up the hall Ce’lani bellowed.
Moments later a thunderous crash rumbled from somewhere up the hall. It was followed by the sound of delicate things breaking, considerably more shouting, and a soft cloud of plaster dust that gently wafted around the corner.
Jel’ke turned to the wide-eyed receptionist behind the counter and gave him a rakish smile. “So, what time is dinner?”
Visiting Toronto end of April for 3 nights staying at airport hotel, coming from Calgary.
Planning on visiting Niagara one day, downtown the rest for clubbing one night, parks, beach, casa loma/CN tower and blue jays game.
Looking for advice on getting around the city. Especially airport to downtown UP is gonna be $25 per day which isn't bad at all just wondering if TTC is an option.
Also opinions on why to do at Niagara for the day tours, cruises etc.
Appreciate anything on restaurants to visit, what clubs (thinking 44 Toronto but $40 for entry is steep) and general tips. Thanks!