After the pass and review to welcome the newest cadets to the special forces, Amatzu meets up with an old friend who has a favor to ask. Not being able to say no, she sacrifices her night to go on a patrol.
With the snack/meeting over the dagger split up to attend their own business. After all, while they had to be ready at a moment's notice to team up and kick ass, they had their own lives.
As Amatzu walked out of the stadium a familiar voice caught her attention, “Hey Ams, is that really you?”
She turned to regard the voice, she still found it musical and pleasing, almost as pleasing as the woman it belonged to. Kiara was slightly shorter than average, she had gained a little bit of muscle mass since Amatzu had last seen her almost ten rotations ago. She was wearing her patrol uniform; lightly buffed black boots, navy blue slacks, creamy white blouse, a blue tie, a long trench coat barely not brushing the ground, her auburn hair was in a tight bun, she was ever the professional. While a woman in uniform was something to see, Kiara just managed to look so good without trying.
“Key, you don’t call, you don’t write…”
“You’re the one that left,” She was obviously nervous, but she had something she needed to say, “I just didn’t think…”
“Brian asked me to stop seeing you…”
“You, scared of, Brian, that that nerd of a tactician?”
“No, but I thought he was making you happy, and that’s what mattered.” Amatzu shrugged, she still had feelings for the other, “How's it going with him, by the way?”
“He died, seven rotations ago, border skirmish with Cybiriad…”
“I’m sorry, I had no idea…” Amatzu's face became instantly less animated.
“He’s a norm, you know, transient and stuff…”
Hosts, especially the older ones had mostly come to terms with the fact that the only permanent relations they would ever have is with each other. That did not prevent the heart from becoming attached to the norms, and a hope for a 'normal' relationship. Each time, though, it hurt less. Sometimes.
“But you really liked him…” Amatzu wanted to comfort her friend, but it had been so long that she felt nothing would be appropriate.
“After losing five, it doesn’t hurt as bad anymore,” Kiara wished it were true, “That’s why we don’t get attached to men. But that’s not what I wanted to ask you.”
“What do you need, Sweetie?”
“Patrols got really scrambled recently, Turtles are wacked out, we’re going in chipped Daggers, and I got paired with a fresh flamingo and a Caribou, barely out of Praksisiri, the Vahley just graduated…”
Whenever a dagger was not fully manned, or less than five, it was referred to as a chipped dagger, especially if it was not a permanent team. Still a weapon, but not complete or honed with experience.
“Well, well, chipped or not, little Kiara is finally a lead.” Amatzu smiled and hugged her friend, “That’s wonderful, what do you need from me?”
A small crowd had begun to gather at the periphery of the area, interested in seeing the relations between hosts, but not wanting to be caught doing it. Hosts were used to the looks, however, and most ignored them, some, the younger ones even liked the attention, and even less tried to get the looks to stop.
“It’s bad enough being in charge, but with just a flamingo and a NUB as backup?” Kiara scoffed, “You know I’ve never liked, or been able to lead other species, I just want someone intelligent watching my back, I know you like doing that...”
“I have to ask, Key, why chipped, that’s odd, even transients patrol with no less than 4?”
“Like I said, the Turtles have gone wako, and have disappeared, and command has increased routes, insisting something is wrong but giving no specifics, you know how that is.” Kiara shrugged, “It's like nobody knows what’s going on. Please?”
“You know I could never say no to you.” Amatzu sighed, “Sure, I’ll tag along.”
The central dispatch, from where all patrols of Angkor Anubhana were commanded was not far from the stadium. Denizens milled about, some were family of the new hosts, waiting to see them, some, having nothing but time were just waiting. Kiara and Amatzu strolled towards the station house arm in arm, catching up, and reminiscing of old times.
The station house loomed large. The next shift of law enforcement slowly arrived in twos and threes, and sometimes fours, ignoring those that weren’t part of their clique. With the ring being climate controlled there was not very much need for outside doors, most things were open air like the station house. Amatzu and Kiara entered the atrium of the station.
Officers, none of whom were hosts, asking a host to deal with potentially angry people was asking for trouble, lined the reception counter taking complaints, booking wrongdoers, answering questions, ect. Seats and benches were scattered about the open area, some occupied, most not, the general hubbub was quiet and measured. Kiara and Amatzu skirted the edges toward the gate to the back, avoiding eye contact with anyone.
“This place never changes, does it?” Amatzu grimaced as they approached the door to the briefing room, “How do you stand it?”
“I just got used to it, no one really bothers hosts here, it’s pretty steady work. How is it any different from being a trainer?”
“Each training group has different girls.” Amatzu shrugged, “Either way, it's better than MACO (military assault command ops) life on ships, that is boring.”
“I’d take that over FOB duty, moving every other month to new locations, or planets, that is a pain.” Kiara shrugged, “Have you ever, you know, got to know a student?”
“That, Key, is an offence punishable by fringe duty.” Amatzu shrugged.
“Com’on, the briefing is in five.” Kiara smiled giving Amatzu a peck on the check.
The briefing room was a large room, in an odd departure from other locations, there were the ever present VME decor, instead, all the surfaces were a slightly shiny smooth white. The tiered seats with desks surrounded a raised dais at the far end from the entrance. Already mostly full of hosts, each species in their own areas the white noise was almost comforting.
“Somethings never change.” Amatzu observed as they made their way toward the extreme right of the room.
“Oh, you talking about the cliques, would you really want to mix with them?” Kiara scoffed grabbing a seat near the back, “I mean, the Kaxar and Kyrin are fine, but the Toadies or tarantulas, ick.”
“I will concede that point.” Amatzu smiled leaning in to kiss Kiara.
“Keep it in your pants, ladies.” Announced a male voice, startling everyone, “We have a lot to do and not much time do it.”
The whole room turned their attention to the door as a hush fell around them like snow. Oblivious to the looks of contempt, he quickly made his way to the large desk in the front.
“Since when does a norm, a guy even, give us the briefing?” asked a leopard spotted Kaxar from the far back left, opposite of Kiara and Amatzu, followed by grunts of affirmation from the entire group.
The accent of the groups was the only thing they were in agreement on. The noise rose above the crowd. Content to wait he just sat on the corner of the desk and watched in silence. His gaze was somehow menacing and not at the same time, soon they realized that he was not going to talk until they were quiet. Slowly the uncomfortable silence dropped around them like a cold, wet blanket.
“To answer your question, Krehfahrah, I’m here because the turtles scuttled, and someone has to.”
“How do you know my name Monkee?”
“Don’t think I don’t know every single one of you by name.” The man scoffed, not even bothering to take out a datapad.
“Oh, god, he’s shadownet!” Gasped a Unai from the front center, the Unai were always teacher’s pets.
From a super earth world of plains and mountains, orbiting an “O” type blue/white super giant, almost all of the life was horse like. They were amazing runners, and are amongst the few species that are completely herbivores.
While all species had their ‘secret police’ to maintain order, the legendary Shadownet of the Edun wasn’t even acknowledged as one, the ‘real’ ‘secret police’ was simply ‘The Patrol’. Shadownet, though never having been proven real was a campfire story the other races told to keep their kids in line: behave or the shadownet will spirit you away and you will never, whatever it was that that species liked to do, again.
“Don’t get your panties in a bunch Uralai.”
The look of hurt astonishment on the Unai’s face was as cute as it was amusing. Being a race of partially upright equines, they had more facial muscles than others and were far more expressive. They had incredible health, and were exceptionally long lived, almost as long as the bruish. The way there were introduced to the galaxy was still viewed as the worst form of exploitation of a sentient race. Amongst other qualities, the opalescent horns of their women were a source of wonder, many other species poached them for the horns amongst other things, in fact not a thing was wasted, so there was that. While the men did have horns too, they looked more like obsidian, and it was the male heart and his organ that was most prized.
This was all before the Kaxar intervened, however. As it happened, a blood rite ceremony was to be held on the Unai home-world, still known by the Kaxar name Preih-Nahteh, or world of great prey. During the rite, the huntresses learned they were hunting sentients, which was a big no-no in their culture, and ended up introducing them to the galactic community as equals. Now they were a functional member of the galactic community. And the kaxar still hunt there, as the only predators, but they only hunt the mountain basalisks, one of the more dangerous animals in the galaxy, which helps to keep the Unai safe.
They were normally four down, but if so inclined, could stand on two legs. Like the Vahley, their fore-hooves were bony growths from the knuckles of their six digit hands, allowing them to use tools if needed. They kept their fur immaculate and they were dignified, until you pissed them off. They never forgot a slight.
“So, why is it you that is giving us the briefing, and not say…” Started Krehfahrah, but he interrupted.
“And not a kitten like you?” He asked, eliciting another gasp from the group.
Kitten, for the Kaxar was a derogatory term, often used by fathers to demonstrate disapproval of their daughter's actions. Few would dare use that term in the vicinity of the cougars. This Edun obviously was not in the least concerned. Krehfahrah began pacing feverously, trying to calm herself. Others backed off.
“Well,” he continued, “Turns out, your senior leadership are all turtles. And like I said, they are not here, and I am.”
“Where is Breeahlla Yin?” Asked Uralai, hoping their leader of almost a dekarotation had not been killed by this man.
The man thought about it for a moment as he casually watched Krehfahrah pace, “Well, something I am not at liberty to discuss caught them by surprise, and as we all know, they don’t take surprises too well.”
“Get to the point, a-hole!” called Amatzu
“The point is, Little Miss Khan,” He groaned, eyes still following the Kaxar, “They are all looking for a tail to chase while they figure out what to do.”
Silence blanketed the room as Krehfahrah turned suddenly and stared daggers at the man. Though the non-mammalian races had no idea that any double entendre had been spoken, they knew something was off, some were even hoping for a showdown.
Finally Krehfahrah, by far the oldest present at almost 500, shrugged, “Not tonight monkey balls.”
The mammals gasped, the non-mammals looked around trying to figure out what was going on, “So, like, what is going on?” a Dontrai finally asked after her friends shrugged their feathers.
“They are talking about sex, Pinky.” Kiara grimaced hating to explain such intimate things.
“Uh, when you say sex, do you, like mean…”
“Copulation, you know, the act of reproduction without reproducing.” Amatzu groaned, “Which, by the way, between species, is disgusting.”
Not only did most species find the idea of relations with other species disgusting, there were laws preventing inter species breeding. Thousands of years of cool detachment had shorn up walls against transgenics that no one even wanted to tear down.
He mind was spinning, she didn’t like the implications, “We like, had to study that stuff, at like school and stuff, and its like, all disgusting.” The dontrai returned, with affirmation from all the avians, and even some of the amphibians, and spiders in the room.
“Perhaps, but it is fun.” The man shrugged, “Now that we have that settled, let’s continue with the briefing.”
There was an audible groan from all present as they sat down and pretended to listen.
“As you are no doubt aware, Praksisiri graduation happened today, welcome to the new girls, please note this is not how its normally done, all should calm down shortly. At the very least, I wont be here tomorrow, we should be at the end of the catch-up. Keep on the lookout for overly amorous, public spaces are not for that. Cybiriad is making some movements, but they are fringeward, so shouldn’t be anything you should worry about. There is no known additional threats, everything appears to be calm, but something did startle the Turtles, so keep an eye out. The leads for tonight’s chipped daggers are Krefahrah, Keshis, Khana, Khent, Mrrehl, Ehgrielsh, Ushreadai, Ursula, Ureli, Ushi, Unter, Mell, Kiara, Missy, Y’Trelt, and Bessi. You already have your assignments, and some of you even brought backup, which the turtles never would have approved, but I am feeling generous. So much so, that I am issuing snack vouchers to everyone.”
“You guys are still doing that?” whispered another Kaxar.
“Not still, it’s been stopped and restarted many times since last you were here, Murrah.” He shrugged, striding to the exit, “Now get out there, and I’ll catch you later, kitten.”
“In your dreams, Monkee balls!” She called out after him, then turned to her group to start her dagger brief.
As the white noise started again, Amatzu turned to her friend, “Which ones are yours?”
“Pinky, over there,” She pointed to the Dontrai that questioned the sex talk, “And some fresh Caribou. Daisuke, over here!”
Not that stable on their feet, the Dontrai flapped her pink wings to get people out of her vicinity so she could hop on the table and jump to Kiara. Like most avian species, her limbs were long and lanky. They did not have hands setting them apart from the Isshmire, when they needed to use tools, they used their feet, which were remarkably dexterous.
From a world of everglades and a red giant star, their main source of food was a shrimp like creature that gave them their color, depending on the location of the food source though, they could be pink, black, blue, or green. Their technology was simple, their bodies were relatively weak, but they were some of the smartest, second only to the Ansaii, in the galaxy.
“Got your beak polished?” Kiara asked as Daisuke took a seat on the desk, “Going on a date?”
“No, just got off one actually, Akide and I went to watch the graduation, my great grandniece.” Daisuke, “I am not very good at reading your cues, but, were you two?”
“At one time we were involved, yes.” Amatzu scoffed, “What are you getting at, Pinky?”
“I have always been repulsed by mammal relations, I was hoping I wouldn’t have to deal with it.”
“Is it the relations you don’t like, or the physical activities?” Amatzu was genuinely curious.
“Mostly the idea of internal fertilization, but I have always wondered, biologically, all life is programmed to seek out breeding companions, yet, the mammal hosts I meet…”
“The activities can get vigorous, and men are usually too fragile for long hauls, so, most have adjusted.” Kiara sighed, “Though we still try, sometimes. Can’t all lay eggs and live with just nearby companionship.”
“You are physically closer, have heightened emotions,” Daisuke shrugged, “I will never feel as deeply as you do, but for our hosts, it’s not a sentence to loneliness. I suppose each has strengths. For what it’s worth, I hope they succeed in bonding to a male of your species, if only to have more natural relations.”
Thankfully, before an argument about what constitutes natural, they were interrupted, “Ma’am, I apologize if I sound insensitive, but I can’t tell the difference between Edun, would you by chance be Kiara Lightly?” A Vahley bowed respectfully.
Like all Vahley, she was a tall thick woman, her antlers still had the decorations from the commencement ceremony. Her dark brown, nearly black fur was freshly shampooed and she was rearing to go.
“I’m Amatzu, that’s Kiara.” Amatzu returned, grateful for the disruption.
“You must be Brehmeh, congratulations on your graduation, and welcome to security.” Kiara smiled uneasily, “Well, since we are here, our assignment is a simple patrol of Hauadborg Antvilinnlils.”
“The Cougars!” Brehmeh’s jaw dropped, “Is it true, do they eat people, I hear they have a taste for Unicorns!”
“The Cats do love exotic meats, but one of their biggest laws is they do not eat sapients.” Kiara assured her.
“Besides, since the Mhural Accords, the Kaxar are the biggest supporters of the Unai on the galactic stage.”
“What, why, they hunted…” Brehmeh shook her head in confusion.
“Yeah, until they learned they were sentient and their code of honor compelled them to torture and exterminate any that had partaken of unicorn flesh, strip their names from the clan reacords and sanction the clans.” Daisuke shrugged.
“Yeah, and all the others that had hunted or possessed unicorn parts were turned over to face whatever justice the unicorns felt was warranted.”
“Why would they do that, they could just apologize, the Unai are reasonable…” Brehmeh asked.
“They are Cougars, honor is everything to them, the unicorns did forgive them, by the way, those that faced their judgement were sentenced to two years of ‘hard’ labor building the first space port on the surface.” Amatzu shrugged, “Though I’m not sure how ‘hard’ it was, the unicorns just didn’t know much about buildings.”
“Well, the unicorns are reasonable, like I said.” Brehmeh smiled, “I wondered about the architecture, it’s like nothing we would have built, why didn’t they ask us, we could have done it so much better, and quicker.”
“It was an honor thing, they were sentenced to do it, so they did it.” Amatzu shrugged, then looked to Kiara, “It’s getting late and we are off track, tell us about the op.”
“Well, It is the Cougars, so due to their ‘honor over’ all attitude, we shouldn’t run into problems.”
“Yeah, they’re probably planning their blood rite.” Daisuke offered, “It is about that time in their lives.”
“Right, well,” Kiara started, glancing at Amatzu for support, “Lets grab a snack and head out, Hauadborg Antvilinnlils is near the edge of the city.”
The adventure will continue, meanwhile feel free to review previous entries by myself and others...