1-08: Aside 2: Catching a Kodoma

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1-08: Aside 2: Catching a Kodoma

Post by Kim »

Pre-Flower and the Eclipse.

Or how a former Alliance half-elf came to be a part of the Hedge Knight's Free Company.


The Lorani brothel was originally a large white manor house that had since turned a ruddy and smeared brown from dust. Its original noble purpose had long passed, devolving into a den of more baser pursuits. The black shutters outside the tinted windows hung limply and cracked beneath a tangle of ivy. The dull gray slate roof was crudely patched but it seemed to keep the rain out. A large red door beckoned visitors into the elaborate, foyer.

The foyer had black marble floors, polished to a dull sheen that opened to a spiral stairwell to the service rooms upstairs. A large waiting area of large red velvet couches and small carved end tables made the foyer seem less immense, the working ladies lounged on the couches chatting quietly, looking lovely and bored.

A long white bar ran along the back wall with small black barstools. On one of the barstools sat a young ginger haired woman in her early teens wearing grey blouse a sipping a drink. Her short red skirt left a thin gap between the tops of her long black stockings as her legs tucked against the stool, not long enough to reach the floor which was meant for someone a half foot taller than her. "Miksa, when is Elizabet off?"

"I think she's with a customer right now. Crazy blue creature with a tail, he seemed out of it but wanted a ride," the ivory skinned bartender replied with a smile. Her amber eyes appraising the charming face of the woman in front of her. "You know, Devushka, I could use a pretty little thing like you here." She leaned forward on the counter, her bosom spilling out of the deep v of the her ebon colored blouse. Her long black hair tickled against the younger woman's hand as her face pressed closer. "You have the type of youth that some of our customers deeply appreciate without the guilt of hebephilia or ephebophilia... though ephebophilia isn't too untoward."

"Moya ledi... no disrespect but this isn't my preferred line of work," Lukina raised her hand to the Miksa's face, brushing the errant strand behind her ear with a smile. The bartender turned her face to kiss the younger woman's hand. "...I do appreciate you letting me rent a room, I do owe you a favor..."

"Devushka, you are a rare treat. Did those awful Marines paw at your gentle petals? I'd hate to see you bruised." Miksa's lips brushed down to Lukina's wrist. The heat of the woman's breath against her skin sent shivers down her spine.

"Says the dear woman that wants me to work for her to have my petals bruised," Lukina laughed lightly. "You are teasing me now, Elizabet said she had a lead for something more my speed... unless you have need of me."

"Oh, I have a need. I've never had an elf before. There are stories..." Miksa leaned closer to the half-elf's face, she was a hair's width from her now. Lukina's large green eyes reflected the want in Miksa's amber ones. "Just... a taste.." Her luscious lips pressed hungrily against the young woman's.

The rapid thudding of their hearts echoed loudly in the half-elf's sensitive ears. Hushed whispers and giggles reminded Lukina where she was as she pulled away from the kiss. "Just a tease."

It was very serene, and classy. The indulgence and quiet hedonism was quite exquisite. But the patrons in the bar area would soon find their conversations were being interfered with. The was a soft bumping coming from just above. Then it got louder, like a hammer was being rhythmically slammed against the floor. Followed by the muffled shrill screams of a woman. "OH MY CHIHARU!" She screeched, so loudly that it disrupted the classiness of this place for a moment. The hammering noise coming from above only grew imposing, and started shaking the light fixtures in the room. It persisted for several more moments, then abruptly halted.

Creature stepped into the room and was refastening his pants, his boot clunking with each step. He was wearing a thick navy blue shirt and had a heavy service coat from the Union resting on his shoulders. His Kiffeyeh was as also covering his face, but his Amber eye was gleaming nervously. "-Brrrp- Uhhhh. I think I need a new girl. Maybe two. Eliza--whatever her name was like died or some shit. She stopped moving after she screamed to Chiharu. Ugh. -Brp- you told me she could fucking handle it..." Creature said advancing on Miksa. He then saw Lukina. "Um. Seriously? This kid is like what? 13? You can't fucking put kids on the market like that, not fucking - no. it isn't any of my business how fucked up your business is. I want a fucking refund. Promises were made!"

The mistress sighed and pushed away from Lukina, smiling apologetically to the Gartagen. "Perhaps, one of the other girls will do?" She gestured to the women waiting on the couches, many looked horrified by the noises that they heard. Only a couple of the more... zaftig workers seemed intrigued by what Creature had to offer.

"I can go check on Elizabet, Moya ledi," Lukina slid of the bar stool and glared up at the blue alien. He was a foot taller than her but there was a promise of a threat there in those green eyes as she passed him with a swish of skirt.

Miksa made eye contact with one of the more willing girls, who sauntered over with a bashful brazenness. Her ample tan assets were tastefully covered in black mesh. "Alda seems to think she can handle you."

Alda was almost the same height as Creature with a hair of teal hair that fell to the middle of her back. "Alda does, how about it, Mister Ser Knight?"

The half-elf stared at the Gartagen, "I am 22 and not for sale." She replied sharply, her voice sounded as young as she looked. "Unless you have people for me to kill."

"Well yeah, I mean...I am in the Provence to help the Viscountess, fucking got paid too! Keeping that wallet stacked!" He said soon turning back to the mistress, and turning his eye into a slit to resume his disdain.

"I warned you, but you would not listen."

Creature looked over Alda. He couldn't quite figure out what species she was, but the curiosity soon left him. "Uh. She doesn't seem fucking thrilled. Like the one up stares liked me. Started telling me all of her problems, and talking about her dreams. Fuck it. You'll do." He said with a sigh.

He took Alda by the hand and started leading her with him. "Okay listen, your name is Hilda. You are from Xianji and you really like it when do that thing where I -" The voice trailed off, as a down stairs door closed. Creature had taken the girl into the nearest utility closet.

Upstairs Lukina would find the room wasn't much of a wreck, signifying that Creature had only started his business recently. His battered armor plates were in a pile on the floor, along a rather odd looking bladeless sword in a leather sheath. The weapon was large, about five feet including the double handed hilt. Next to it was used leather satchel, his PDA, and a small bundle of money. The money was small little rectangles made of gold and hemmed in silver. Local money.

On the bed a pale young woman with a mess of dirty blonde hair lay face up halfway off the bed with her mouth open. She was still breathing at least. She stirred and groaned "Oh my Chiharrrruuu....you are like a freight train...."

"Elizabet, are you okay?" Lukina hurried to her friend's side, staring at the strange sword. Perhaps there was some truth to the alien's story.

The woman slowly opened her eyes. She gasped. "Oooooh." was how she responded. "I haven't felt like that since my teacher in gra---Lu? Why are you here?"

"Making sure you're alive, you said you had a job prospect for me. Miksa is trying to hire me again," Lukina rolled her eyes as she stared down at her friend.

Elizabet rolled over onto the bed and pushed her self back, her legs trembling slightly. She then reached over to the night stand and grabbed a tattered soft pack of cigarettes - Obviously the Gartagen's. "I wouldn't take her up on it honestly. Has she told you anything about what's been going on across the river?" The woman said relaxing, lighting a cigarette and taking a deep drag. She then exhaled a large minty smelling plume of smoke that curled up into the air. She shut her eyes and hummed.

A screech tore into the calm, from down stairs. "FUCKING REFUND! I WANT MY FUCKING REFUND!" Creature roared. Elizabet smiled at the ruckus. "Yea. I need break from that, he can have it for free any time..." She said winking.

"No, she's only been trying to seduce me," Lukina said with a laugh. "Is his dick that big? Or is he that rough?" She sat carefully on the edge of the bed in what didn't look to be a wet spot. "But aside from that, what's across the river?"

"Oh no. Its perfectly..." She then got goose skin thinking about it. "He wasn't using his dick." She said smirking.

Elizabet took another drag of the cigarette, and ashed in a nearby ashtray. "Well, we have been hearing things. The province went dark, and some of our regulars have just suddenly stopped coming. The ones who do come have been telling stories. No power, women being stolen from farms and villages, the young men being conscripted. Somebody is over there and it's starting to get scarey." She said. "I am thinking about leaving, and heading back to the capital to try my luck there. But that Gartagen says he is a knight, and is going to take care of it."

"It might be safer... Who's his Lord?" Lukina chewed the information over. It sounded big, whatever it was the was going on. "Is this the job you were talking about? It sounds like I would have something to do besides waiting... or cartographer gigs."

"Yes. The Viscountess, she is some Hane woman. was trying to recruit soldiers and mercs to help her pacify Lorani and retake her city. That....would be that Gartagen yelling down stairs....He has a Free Company, and has signed up with her."

"FOR FUCKING! JUST GIVE ME THE REFUND!" Creature roared. "Uhhhhh. Yea that will work." The Gartagen boomed. Another door slammed, and more muffled squealing could be heard.

"... What in the sky's name is he fucking doing?" the half-elf raised an eyebrow to the noise. She did the sensible thing and grabbed the strange sword's hilt from the pile of his belongs from the floor. "What in the world is this thing?" She lifted the sword easily despite it being as long as she was tall. "What type of alien is he? I don't recognise this."

She held her index and middle finger up in a V, and then stuck her tongue through it. "Cunilingus." She said then smiled. "He is a Gartagen, they come from the Shara system, short little people, but he is quite tall, and sexy. If I had to guess, it is some kind of sword? I don't think it is something his people makes. It just doesn't match the rest of his things."

The sword had some weight to it, but it was well balanced and cared for. She'd notice a switch at the base of the hilt. However, in her hands at this moment the weapon was formidable, and could easily bludgeon the strongest if needed. "He is a bit shy, but really sweet."

Lukina was increasingly more interested in the sword, than the sexual prowess of the loud Gartagen. "It doesn't." She pressed the switch at the hilt, admiring the balance and weight. "More like a club than a proper sword. The edges are dull."

The sword lit up. The rounded tip gave off a fine blue glow, then the pommel. Then the edge lit up, and the weapon crackled as the blue edge - solid state laser formed. The air causing it to make a soft buzzing noise. The faint smell of ozone began to fill the room, most impressively, at the tip, a sharp laser point had formed, giving this five foot sword an additional foot and a half of reach,, the edge several inches more of girth.

"Oh my." Elizabet said sitting up and studying the weapon. "You don't see that every day...."

"... what is this thing. I've never seen this before." The sword was effectively larger than her now. She wanted to give it a good swing but there wasn't enough room inside. "I want to give his sword a try outside, you done being a puddle?"

"That sounds like an adventure."

"Uhhh. It's a Laiz Faelraeg." Creature said looking through the door squinting down at the small girl. "But if you want to go play with it, fine by me, just don't hurt yourself or - - Fuck it, I guess I can give a quick lesson. Everybody always fucking looks at it like it is some kind of fucking treasure. May as well." He said with his raspy voice.

"A what? It's not the type of sword you see in these parts for sure." Lukina continued to hold the sword with one hand, not bothered by the weight or size of the weapon.

"It's a double hander fucking laser sword. Yea. It is made by another group of aliens. Kishargal." Creature said collecting his things, and dropping his refund back into his leather bag. He looked up at Elizabet. Tossed her some of the rectangles. "Uhhh... sorry for passing you out."

"Ki-shi-ya-ru-ga-lu?" Lukina stressed the name with a heavy Japanese accent. "The straight horned people? I thought they didn't leave their sector of space? You know.. if this had a chainsaw built onto it, it'd be firmly Human."

"Eh. Then you'd have a melee weapon that needs ammunition which kind of fucks up the whole advantage of a melee weapon." Creature said as his boots clomped down each stair. When the hit the bottom floor he put his navy coat on, and started fixing his armor back into place.

"Yea, those." He said with a nod. Going outside, they came to the front lawn of the Brothel. Creature looked behind him to see the patrons and employees of this establishment were tailing them or peeking out the windows to see what was happening. "I mean but of course a human would try to use a fucking chainsaw like a sword, but I haven't ever had no tree try to attack me so I can't say i'd ever need to fucking use one."

Creature then stood, with his right foot pointed out, and his left pointing forward. He bent his knees, and mimicked holding the sword pommel to the right hip. "Take care to keep the blade off of you, it will cut through you, and most basic ass fucking metals. But you tuck in. This is called the plow stance. Its good for quick downward thrust." He them mimicked thristing the sword slowly. "You want to aime for their groin or hips. Fuckers can't move without their hips.

Lukina followed Creature out of the building, still one handing the large sword. "The humans have a sense of... style?" She mimicked the Gartagen's movements, attacking the air.

The sword buzzed and cracked as she effortlessly moved it the way Creature had shown. He remembered when he first entered his training for Melee Specialist and how it took him a few tries to get this simple stance perfected.

He then did a flourish, slowly spinning the "sword" he didn't have in his hand and doing a slow chop, so that the tip of the blade would end just above the grass, his knees were bent but he stood up. "Stances flow into other stances. This is called the fool stance" He said looking at his feet, which they were still pointed where they were initially. "Its intended so when the enemy swings, you can bring the sword up into their's and smack it away, and do a quick thrust."

He then mimicked the motion, of a slow parry, then a quick forward thrust. 'But the fucking trick is to change the stances as you swing." He then went back to the plow stance. "Because fighting melee fights change and change, and you have to adapt, quickly, your ass gets dead."

The half-elf shadowed the Gartagen's movements, thinking of it as a killing dance. Her mother had taught her the finer points of sword dancing but she was not a melee specialist. She flowed stances, spinning the sword as Creature had demonstrated before she finally grasped the hilt with both of her small hands. "Your Lord is the Viscountess?"

"Uhhh, yeah. How'd you know that?" He said watching the elf practice between the two different stances. The blue glow of the sword illuminating her youthful features. Creature noting she had the grace of one of his people, while retaining the elegance of her own. By comparison, Creature found Gartagen women to be rather brutish compared to the other alien women he had encountered.

He searched his jacket. "Fucking. That twat took my cigarettes!" He said scowling.

"The girls were talking. But.. it doesn't seem quite right, usually a sponsor provides gear.. this kit is uniquely you." Lukina twirled the sword again before she engaged the switch again. "People are talking, so whatever the story was.. has grown beyond your intentions.. whatever they were. It reminds me of a story my Grandfather read me a long time ago... of knights and windmills." She offered the Gartagen back his sword.

Creature took his weapon switched it off, and calmly, carefully slid it down his back into its sheath. "Yea. That's what I told the Viscountess when she first came at me for her Patronage. But she doesn't have shit to give, except money. So. She promised us gear, land, and other crap if we helped her retake her province. Plus. Wasn't like many others were begging me."

Creature perked up at the mention of knights and a story. "Yea? What's up with it? The story I mean. I won't lie, I'm pretty new to this whole knight business, but the Viscountess keeps the troops fed, and she paid us in advance. Even promised me a fucking country cottage and some land so I can plow my wife in a private place for once!" He said sounding rather excited.

The half-elf smiled up at him. "The thing is... a Lord knights a knight. It's a ceremonial thing, usually presents a sword too." She indicated the sword, "That is distinctive. I doubt any Lord on this planet gave that beauty up. But you know what, it's been dreadfully dull. Miksa's been courting me for working for her, and I miss killing guys. Want to hire me on? I can help you make this story the truth."

"Oh they just gave me this." Creature said pulling out a broach, that was in symbol of Kowloon. He stuck to his lie, but he did totally find it on some dead guy the other day, when they first entered the province. "But, that gives me an idea, handing out weapons to the troo---Uh. Well what can you do?" Creature said. "Obviously kill guys, but I mean like, how the fuck do you go about it." He tilted his head at her "I mean, I still have money left, so you'll get paid. But. Yea. I guess it doesn't matter we have farm boys walking around with fucking sticks."

"I'm a sniper and a scout," Lukina said flatly. "I have my kit still. I'm a wood elf so I have a.. knack... for climbing things."

"I tell you what, teach some of those dummies with sticks who have a death wish how to do what you do. I'll make sure you get a house of your own and whatever else you want from that fancy shit Lorathi Viscountess."

"Get them actual weapons and I can help keep them alive."

Creature nodded. "No shit." He said in agreement. "Well we are camped on the other side of the river. Get your things when ever you are ready. Going to need you scouting the area ASAP. We don't know much about what we are up against. Viscountess said its a bunch of busted ass PMC's and bandits that ran her out. But, I doubt it. That's why we are holding that fucking bridge."

"Give me a minute, my kit's upstairs." Lukina walked towards the brothel and skillfully climbed up the side.

"While you are in there, offer Miksa's nasty ass a job. We could use a camp mistress." Creature said.

She looked down at Creature, not caring that she was wearing a skirt as she climbed. "I'll ask her. That other group has been snatching women, so many of the girls are thinking of going to the city."

Creature remained silent at that. "That's. Probably a good idea..." He then thought for a moment that maybe allowing women into this fight was not a good idea. Then again, who was he? Everybody had their own will and could do whatever they wanted. No, he would not deny anybody the chance to fight, even if there was a risk. "No point in being a sexist asshole. If any of those girls want to join up and learn to fight let em know!"

"Ha." The small figure of the woman disappeared into a window on the second story. A couple of minutes later, she re-emerged wearing a pitch black bodysuit and carrying a large duffel bag and a Showstopper rifle slung over her shoulder. There was no one else with her. "Miksa wants to wait. She owns the house... the others like earning their living on their backs."

"Sheep want a safe place and a strong sheepdog to keep them safe from wolves. There are not enough pastures to go to... if it comes to it, they will head to the Mikado for help."

Creature nodded to that, and cracked open a warm ginger beer he presented from his jacket and took a swig. "-Brrrp- Yea. Nothing wrong with that. Just trying to make it like the rest of us." He then started walking down the paved towards the bridge. "So uhhh, did you consider it? The back thing? I mean if you are interested, I am. I won't pay you."

As the half-elf followed after the Gartagen she disappeared from sight.

"Oh. Fucking." He said taking another deep drink from the lime green can marked GINGER'S BEER!"

"Don't you have a wife?" The disembodied voice was somewhere to his right. "I'm not a prostitute. Just a merc that was a Marine once."

"WHAT THE FUCK!" He said jumping around drawing his pistol and pointing it at nothing. "Where the fuck are you?!" He said panting in surprise but lowering his pistol.

He took a moment to regain his composure. "Yea. I do. Hilda. The Lady Creature. She was doing some work in deep space and went missing. Been trying to get a hold of her fat ass, but she won't fucking answer my calls or messages. So the fucking stress has me seeking ways to fill that shitty hole I have in my heart. It ain't clean, but fuck. What am I supposed to do? Cry in a corner? So. I came here to try to get her that damn dream house she is always whale singing about...." He said with a bit of a grumble in his tone.

"My people typically mate for life... but I'm a weaker bloodline." Lukina replied softly, the voice was beside him for a moment.

"So do mine, but sex isn't associated with fucking love." Creature said pulling out his PDA and looking at a picture of Himself and Hilda. Lukina would see a busty curvy Mao woman with blonde hair and blue eyes, hanging on the wiry Gartagen, in front of what looked like a city fountain on Liang, both showing off their matching wedding rings on their respective tails. "I'd go fucking looking for her but I don't have a space ship." He said lamenting the fact he seriously was worried about her. "But chances are she doesn't give a shit, and is probably out having a blast on some paradise world or some shit. Mao are fickle."

"Bred for combat makes it hard to form long lasting attachments that might be erased between battles. It's a sad story." Her voice was somewhere else, no longer beside him. "So why did you come here?"

He tried to look at Lukina, but he faced her voice. "Yeah, I said the same shit. But it's been over a year now, and she pretty much hasn't left me alone, until now. We didn't even part on bad terms. She was gonna go to the planet, get set up then i'd follow. Now fucking nothing."

"Oh. Well, uh. She bitched me out about not having a house and always sleeping in alleyways, halfway houses, and wherever. So she took the fucking job on that joint colony as security, and told me I had better have a house for her by the time she send's for me or else she'd fucking cry. So I came a looking. Showed off some fighting skills fought some idiot elf guard telling me to clean my Page. Bitch, my Page can have all the lice she fucking wants! Some ass face made me a knight, and then I ended up with these levy's swearing as my bannermen, now I am with the fucking Viscountess who is offering me the house. But it don't fucking work because no Hilda!"

"You'll find her again. Taianese controlled space can be a small place. We're getting people returning home from where we were scattered during the war."

"I just hope nothing bad happened to her. I'd hate to have to deal with her pissed off and even hungrier clone copy, rambling on about husbandly duties with a fucking cheeseburger in her mouth. I just wish she hadn't vanished into fat air."

"What the fuck are you doing out here on the frontier? I figured the Alliance would have plenty for you to do. Fucking pinkies are always pissed about something.

"I prefer to fight my battles more freely. I only served with them because they rescued us and tried to give us a place next to them... but I heard of Arleigh and came here to see what this elven influence would do to this system. There aren't many of us around but the numbers are growing."

"Well what do you think so far? Pretty much shit like the other nations?"

"A little more civil unrest than before the Blackout. People are still thinking Ayana is out there."

Creature had no idea what that meant. "Aya- what? Are you talking about the WC? Wang Clan or something?" He said as he paused at the bridge.

The river was a pale almost sky blue giving a cool refreshing look. You could clearly see the bottom during the day, but tonight the rings around the planet, stars and nebula reflected off of the crystalline waters. Little glowing bugs were softly winking giving the river a very supernatural appeal. To Creature it was an alien environment; he was accustomed to the hot sun baked desert plains of Gartaga. He advanced to the river and stopped to leer down into the water looking at his own direction. "Uh. My people wanted to come. They had a battle plan to retake Topia and then hit Roma, but the suggestions all fell flat. Probably would have saved a lot of fuckers from getting a tentacle in the anus." He said pulling the cloth from his mouth and firing up another cigarette. On the other side of the river bank was a makeshift camp built with a wooden log wall in the shape of a ring. The soldiers of the company were on the bank throwing fishing lines into the river in an effort to snag some supper.

"Ayana was the leader of the Wangdaio Colonies... the blackout was an event that led to the destruction of the Shǒuwèi forces in the region as the squids rolled in," the ghost commented softly her voice from somewhere beside him again. "The people here are still recovering from what happened."

Creature just remained silent on the matter. He was a reluctant fighter in the Second Xeno war, and knew all too well about what the squids could do and had done to others. Moment's passed and finally he spoke up opting to not rehash the horrors he saw the Xenos commit across dozens of battle zones he had been thrust into "Ayana. That's a fucking chick right? What happened to her?"

"Ayana was a woman, yes. She disappeared before everything went dark... people think she was taken hostage. No one has found her, though I hear there are people looking for her. The other theory is that the Heise murdered her and her baby before they started the war," the voice was behind him now. She could have been pacing a circle around the Gartagen for all he knew. "But.. she's missing. And the region has moved forward without her. With luck, someone will rescue her and her son, if they are still alive out there."

"What do you think happened?" Creature asked as he puffed on his cigarette, his amber eye shifting over to the camp.

"I think they were taken. I think they are both still alive. But I do not know if that truly matters any more. The nation she led is fragmented and scattered on the wind.. just ghosts and shattered dreams remain." The smoke curled around an otherwise hidden feminine form for a moment and she moved away again.

"If they are alive it matters." Creature said flatly. "Nations and dreams are just the fuck that. A stack of paperwork and hallucinations your fucked up mind hands to you to simulate situations while you fucking rest. Somebody should try to find her and her kid if they were taken." Creature said flicking his cigarette away. "Pretty fucked up to leave it to others if you ask me. Half of them probably want her for their own fucked up reasons anyway."

"Space travel and expeditions take money. Just like houses and wives do," she replied softly. "Why did you want to be a knight?" The sling of her rifle clinked softly against the gun in the breeze as she watched him.

"I didn't. It just kind of happened." He responded as he started his trek back to the camp. "I never wanted to be any of the bullshit I am. But thats life, so I just do whatever feels good at the moment. These dumb shits decided to follow me around so here we are." Creature said gesturing to the camp.

"All stories eventually become truths with enough time and belief. People have been telling stories about this crazy blue knight with a strange sword of unknown make.. causing fights, drinking, whoring." She laughed lightly. "It seems things got away. People want a cause to fight for."

He kind of nodded to all of them. "Uh well yea. Thats what feels fucking good." He said making no denials about his habits."

"Oh? Well that's on them. I never forced anybody to follow me, raise a gun or a sword at me(Not entirely true but....), or made any woman ----some aliens being questionable -- fuck me if they did not want to. But if they want to come with me I wont stop them. Much like you. But I can't change this fucking universe. I can't find a woman and her baby. All I can do is look at the fucked up shit in the universe and try to live in it."

"I never gave you my name... I'm Lukina Aleksasha Petrora, Uilnâlu."

"Oh, well nice to meet you ...or whatever. I'm Creature." He said snorting out his name.

"That's the thing about doing noble or heroic things... you just do what feels like the right thing to do. It doesn't matter what you think about it, it's what the people that come afterwards think. People think you good, so they come to fight beside you. It's all a matter of perspective who is a hero and who is a villian, Ser Creature." There was a certain thoughtfulness in how she called him by his title.

Creature listened to her as he plodded on. "Uh. What? No there isn't! Trust me when you see an evil mother fucker you know it. All you need to do is look at the shit they do. No fucked up perspective is going to change it." He remarked. "Half the fucking time the evil ones in the universe think they are doing good, so their own perspective is fucked up. Hopefully a good one can come along and stop them, but if the fuck not. Well, women and babies get kidnapped and never seen again."

"The Tatya hini were fighting to protect their families from an Empire that invaded them." She paused again. "In very few eyes, are they themselves a villain. They think they are doing the right thing- we disagree. Some people think slaves are okay and they are property. I think they are sentient beings that deserve freedom and a life without pain."

"Yea yea, it's always complicated isn't it? Somebody wanted this or somebody wanted that and somebody did not fucking want them at all. Still no fucking excuse for murdering raping and enslaving people. But. I'm not trying to fix it. I'm just trying to make the fucking rent."

"That's your perspective. What about the people that are following you? They raise banners, the seek training- why?"

"They are free to not follow me." He said continuing his walk. "I dunno, I didn't really ask them. Heard I was a knight, and showed up pledging shit at me. Viscountess sent an envoy asking nicely to see me, so I did. Offered me shit to help her get her land back and here I am. They followed, keep asking me to show them shit so I do when I get the chance." He let out a shrug.

"Sounds like you are someone's hero. You shouldn't take them so lightly. What they do now reflects on you, as a knight and their leader." She followed after. "There is a draw to following someone with a simple goal. People tend to add more to make a story grander. I believe there was something in this story about a young newly freed buxom maiden carrying your banner as well, stars in her eyes?"

"I feel fucking bad for you if I am your hero." He said half smiling. "Fuck, if I am the hero in the story then that means a lot of other people died fucking trying. Word gets around fucking fast on this shit hole of a world." He noted pushing up to the gate of the camp. The guard's on the wall saluted Creature obediently, and he returned the salute less than enthusiastically. "Yea. You nailed it. I met her at some bar, she was impressed and wanted to be my squire so I said okay, she is probably off training or something. That's probably when everybody realized I was a knight. Fucking mercs and dreamers."

"People are trying to rebuild their lives, dreams and the prospect of a job is all they really have left," she dropped her voice to almost a whisper as they came up on the guards, so only Creature could hear her.

"Yea. But no one is out looking for that poor woman and her baby." Creature. "Still seems like a shitty place without em. But we still gotta live here, so I don't run them off" He said entering the camp. He started walking faster, heading to his tent, where Lukina would see a young child with black hair and irises milling about the tent organizing it and cleaning. Creature shoved her out of his way and sat on his bed, which was a collection of pillows and carpets, more akin to a rather comfortable nest then anything.

The Page immediately came over and started helping him remove his gear. "LIke I said, I just do whatever feels good, I am not trying to be a hero, just trying to make it. I know it isn't knightly buts it better than doing evil shit and calling it fucking honor and duty or whatever."

When she followed him into the tent, her black clad form shimmered back into view. She removed her hood and smiled. "That's how it is to have honor. Or to be a hero. You just are, doing things that people think are good." The half-elf adjusted the rifle on her shoulder as she looked around. "Where did you find the little one?"

He glared at the kid. "Some shit hole called Vice. Real piece of work that fucking place. Bunch of pinkies live there, they don't much like aliens and use them as fucking chattle. The kids of the slaves live in the sewers, so the strong ones survive, and get culled from time to time. This one save my tail when I had to go to that shit hole to save an employee...so I took her with me."

The Page was looking better than when he had first arrived on Asura. Her limbs were getting meaty, and her face was growing rounder. One of the women in the came must have braided her hair and washed her shift. The Page however was looking thoroughly terrified at the woman who had just appeared in front of her like a ghost, and was slowly reaching for her dagger. "Stop gawking you little idiot, and say hello or something."

"What's your name, Little One?" The ghost smiled with a girlish chuckle at the Page. "I am used to walking in shadow so I forget that it might scare people sometimes."

She nodded, eyes as wide as saucers. "Mona." She said shyly, and moving to a position so that Creature was in between her and the "Ghost".

"Is this knight good to you, Mona?" She watched the girl's movements with growing curiosity.

She nodded yes slowly. But opted to not speak. "She don't like to talk very much. Only recently got her to stop fucking following me everywhere. I would have taken the others, but she was the only one who wanted to come. Fucking gross ass sewer rats..."

"That sounds like a pretty knightley thing to do," she smiled kindly at the girl. "Do you like sweets? I have some Japanese star candy if you'd like some." Lukina asked the girl gently, reaching into a pouch on her belt. "Do you want to learn more about what it actually is to be a knight? There's slightly more to it... especially if you were placed in the position by deeds more than want."

She just kind of paused. Then stuck her hand out for the candy. "Oh!" Creature said knocking some of his things over and grabbing a well thumbed dusty old hardback book with gilded pages. "I've been reading this shit to her!" He said holding the heavy book. The cover read in Trade, "King Uldred and the Knights of the Round Table." Some historical book I found in the Bazaar that she wanted. "All about knightly duties and shit."

Lukina pulled a small bag of rainbow colored starburst shaped candy from the pouch and dropped it onto the little girl's outstretched hand. "Oh. That's...a start? My mother raised me on the history of elven nobility and knights when she wasn't dragging me all over the galaxy to kill people. I can teach you a little more about the other parts.. it's slightly more.. troublesome."

"Well it says I need a banner, and that my wife is The Lady Creature. I have a page." He said nudging the girl who had taken the candy and moved so that she was sitting next to Creature eating the bits one by one and savoring them.

"All kinds of shit about pulling swords from rocks. Incest. Fucking love triangles. I mean. If thats what its about then fine by me. " He had placed the book down by this point and was pulling out a bottle of pills, and savoring his own "Candy".

"A banner is a way to identify your people at a distance as YOURS. Well... modern romance is complicated... especially concerning Taianese second class." She watched them. "The Viscountess is your Liege then?" The little Ersetu child and Creature did not behave like parent and child. The bond was somehow less obligated. The kid leaned and rested on him, and he allowed it. They appeared to have a kind of symbiosis, in that his ward was pretty relaxed and felt comfort with him.

"Eh. I woke up married to Hilda. She wouldn't leave me alone. Strange fat ass mao… Yes." Creature said with a nod. "She had me swear Fealty to her or some shit, she is camped about ten kilometers south of her. Something about not wanting to sully her soldery with filth. She’s a stuck up twat." He grumbled

"That's what nobility do, they don't mingle with soldiers. They pay the bills and the knight reports back with hopefully news of victory rather than defeat and losses. You swear allegiance to one Lord in service to the bigger Lord... which would be Mikado Bheleth Blackspear... there are more steps in the chain but Lady Blackspear is the one you ultimately serve... if indirectly."

"Yea people keep mentioning her. Some Elf Lady Queen. Only Elf I met was that douche bag in the Bazaar that I nearly killed." He said with a growl.

"She's the ruler of Kowloon.... well, I am an elf too." Lukina pointed to her ears. "Half at least. So you really don't know all the mess that's going on with the country? A daring choice to be a knight of Kowloon without truly knowing."

"Eh. No one truly knows. Shit can change tomorrow and we would not even know. That fucking Mikado can decide to go full on democracy, and what would be the difference for us? Nothing. Still poor. Still hungry. Still kids on vice hiding in sewers, and fucking Ayana and her Kid are what? Probably held in a cage some place? Life here is the same as it was on 188605, the Slums of Gartaga. But..."

He paused, and swung his feet over the bedding so that he was laying on his back. "Maybe you have a point. The Universe could benefit from more Knights."

"The more people that care, that are willing to do things can do a long way," she watched him still. "I will leave you to it then, perhaps the morning will bring more clarity to your purpose."

As Lukina went to leave Creature spoke up. "If you decided to find that Ayana lady and her kid, Let me know. I might lend a hand."

"Edmond was his name... the child. There are plots within plans in motion. Time will tell what will fall into place." She smiled gently as she pulled her hood back up, casting her young face back into shadow. "I'll scout around and see what there is here. I'll find you." She blinked out of view again, once more a ghost.

"I mean if you want to stick around and have sex or something, I'm down." He said rolling over onto his side, his tail curling almost invitingly.

The chorus of the evening around them was his answer. The chirping of crickets, the clattering of swords, the distant murmurs of conversation and laughter.

Creature picked his head up and looked at the Page. "Go makes us some burgers or something, you little shit stain."

The Page hopped up, and ran barefoot out of the tent.

"Strange ass elf." He muttered shutting his eye going to sleep.

The tent flap moved as the ghost left, comfortable now that she wouldn't be noticed leaving.

End.
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