QBBS Meredith Reynolds, Yollin System
The main meeting room, also called the “throne room” when Bethany Anne wasn’t around, was filling with dignitaries from three different alien groups.
The Ixtalis had come back. After their first attempts had gone fantastically wrong—using spy technologies to capture information about the humans and/or trying to get them to trade for their gems—they had sent a second group.
The second group had never even made it onto the Meredith Reynolds. They had held one video meeting during which the Ixtali Legate had demanded that Bethany Anne engage in trade with them. Bethany Anne had simply looked at the Legate on the screen, then turned and spoken to someone off-screen. “Tell ArchAngel I wish her to remove a ship from my presence.”
The Ixtali Legate’s ship had made it back through the commercial gate damned quickly when the Leviathan-class superdreadnought had started moving in its direction.
The Yollins waiting in the third ring to go through the gate had snickered as the Ixtalis negotiated with a freighter captain to exchange places in the queue with them to facilitate their departure.
This third time, the Ixtalis had sent a bigger delegation, complete with several high-ranking officers. Surprisingly, they had asked politely for a chance to speak with Bethany Anne. No trade required, no technological efforts to subvert anything.
No one on the Meredith Reynolds had believed them, but so far the Ixtalis had acted in good faith.
Her first meeting with them would be held this morning.
Her second meeting of the day was with a group of tall blue bi-pedal beings that reminded her of light blue basketball players. Well, ones with snub noses, anyway.
Her final meeting looked to be the most interesting. This group, the Yaree, was an alien version of Earth Gypsies who searched the stars. The nicest thing you could call them were archeologists. The worst? Possibly grave robbers.
Either way, this delegation supposedly wanted to pay tribute to the new Yollin Royalty. Bethany Anne had a bet on the side with TOM over what they really wanted. ADAM was holding the money, and would decide who had won the bet.
The large Yaree ship, a sphere with a large pyramidal-looking structure jutting from the back, held off from the QBBS Meredith Reynolds at the coordinates provided by the humans. Inside, Delegate Tomthum reached up to his right eyestalk and scratched it halfway down. He had three eyestalks, all of them able to turn in different directions. Presently, he was looking at the screens ahead of them.
“Do not,” he told the other three on the bridge with him, “move us from this location.”
The shallow eyestalk-bobs he received from the Captain and crew provided the Delegate with comfort. This was the opportunity his people had awaited for generations. Most aliens did not know the true history of the Yaree. Considered nothing more than robbers in better quality space ships, they were scorned and reviled in bars all over the Systems.
No one had been tasked with sharing the story outside their own people for over two generations.
This small group had been tagged at the last Festival of Assembly to seek out a meeting with the leader or leaders of the people who had taken out the rumored Kurtherian Leader of the Yollin people.
They were directed to divulge the true story to this alien Empress.
Or kill her to keep the truth hidden until another race might show themselves to be trustworthy.
City of Bouk, Planet Straiphus, Straiphus System
The bar wasn’t dingy, not as bars in Bouk went. The large Yollin ex-mercenary wiped down his drinking establishment’s tables and kicked over one of the few couches that seated the four-legged Yollin elite who would occasionally come into the bar. Many of his patrons enjoyed sitting on the long couch. If it hadn’t been such an expensive proposition and a waste of good floor space, R’yhek would have just purchased couches and replaced all his normal chairs with the more expensive furniture.
That would have shown he didn’t have an issue with the new rules: elite seating for everyone! He stood and reached back to shove his carapace into place. The damned thing had been blasted out of position in a different life, and it would occasionally slip when he bent over to clean.
By Yoll, it hurt when it did that.
He rubbed his mandibles in thought and eyed the space. He rarely—if ever—was full-up in here. Maybe if he took out a third of his tables to give him extra floor space he could upgrade all the chairs?
The door to his bar opened, and he looked over to see who was entering this early in the afternoon. Usually it was someone who had pulled a double shift and was just getting off work.
He eyes widened in surprise as he had to look down, and then down some more, to see who had entered.
It seemed tiny.
And it was human.
QBBS Meredith Reynolds, Yollin System
Bethany Anne looked at John, who was blocking the exit from her rooms. “You have GOT to be shitting me!” she fumed, trying her best to shoot lasers at him from her eyes.
TOM chose that moment to pay attention to what she was doing.
Shooting lasers from your eyes is not going to work
Why the hell not? I can throw fire-fucking-balls!
You have also figured out eighteen other neat tricks. But attenuating light at the intensity of a laser isn’t going to do your eyeballs any good. You will spend all your time in pain while you heal them.
Bethany Anne huffed. You’re a damned party-pooper.
“Nope,” John returned simply. He held out the large case with one arm. She knew it was heavy as shit, and she considered standing there until he either had to use two hands or let it drop.
Then she could make a break for it and run around him on the right, bouncing off the wall to get through the door. Or she could just walk through the Etheric and bypass him. But that wasn’t how these games were played.
“You can stay there,” John told her, “and make me hold this all afternoon.” He smirked when her eyes told him he had guessed her thoughts. “But let me inform you that this isn’t very heavy, and I recently had Jean add a new feature to my armor.”
Bethany Anne raised an eyebrow and bent at the waist to peer under his outstretched arm. “Sonofabitch,” she murmured. She took a step forward and reached out to feel along his side and underarm before confirming with the man staring down at her, “These arms lock?”
She looked at the geometric designs in the armor. “What is this fucking design?” She traced it with her index finger to figure it out. The plates linked, and yet each seemed to slide beneath the next.
“It’s something TOM came up with.” She gazed back up at John, who winked as he told her, “It involved lots and LOTS of math. I zoned out.”
FROM MICHAEL >>> Wow, jet lag coming back this direction (From Europe) is easier to deal with. Yes, I know that is what everyone says, but the experience does fit the commentary.
Which is nice, because it sucked great big Yollin balls going TO Europe. I like to wake up early (7-8AM) and getting some work done, I was learning how to try to get work done at 1-3AM in the morning over there.
Now, I’m getting work done at 6 AM in the morning and life seems to be coming back to normal. Except for that wakeup and getup at 5AM in the morning.
I’m not usually THAT damned crazy. It’s ok, this will pass 😉
My eyes were closing when I wrote the FB post to put up the first snippet last night at something like 10:30 PM… It was weird.
On to writing the final chapters and hopefully being words complete by tonight.