NationStates Jolt Archive

Wtis zhu Kzughyng wtunu vuul Ztuti Kzaw

20-03-2004, 23:31
(Mending the Fabric of a Wounded Culture)

I need... rest.

Closing the door softly behind him, the broad form lets out a heavy sigh as he pulls the tab of his double-breasted jacket out from under his right shoulder-board, white material revealed under the medium-blue fabric. Loosening the high collar of his uniform with one hand, he makes sure to give the faithful yellow mutt sitting next to the door the customary rub on its head. "Hwerg ts'owoowvy," he offers in greeting, the pet responding with a happy wag with its tail that quickly slows, canting its head slightly.

It may not be sentient, but it shows concern. Edges-of-lips-upturned-smiling, the big kzintosh lowers to one knee, petting the dog further. "Ksomeekj chsse ts'oowv," he says softly, "tztetzsh' vuul t'kizhcnn vuvu. H'izhce?" Looking up and finding the dog's food bowl full--as well as noticing the dog's uninterested reaction to the Pavlovian trigger--he finds his question answered. Chuckling softly to himself, he stands back up, stretching slightly, and wanders into the kitchen. Opening up the refridgerator, he sifts through the bottles on the bottom shelf--Today I believe I will have something stronger than wine--before closing it again and finally taking from an overhead cupboard a bottle of a viscous red liquid, only slightly more translucent than blood. Removing a small cloth bag from his silver segmented belt, he unwraps his old oddly-fluted crystal goblet and pours a generous amount of the syrupy liquour into it, the smallish kitchen filling with the mingled odors of cranberries and alcohol.

Returning the bottle to the cupboard and leaving the cloth where it lies on the otherwise immaculate counter, the kzin pads slowly to the well-used and subjectively massive recliner set by the open patio door in the living room, a sedate example of geometric furniture creating a simple elegance. Bookcases filled with various volumes of varying ages next to a large desk with well-arranged paperwork and a built-in computer, the room is mostly in shades of red and dark blue, walls just a yellowish hint off of white. Resting the goblet on the simple circular table sitting next to the chair, the kzin sits down comfortably in it, kicking his feet back and looking out the patio doors at the gardens, doing his best to ignore the oddly jarring metal figures walking about in full combat kit. His hands idly comfort and pet the dog as it jumps up onto his lap, customary attention, then one reaches back, taking up the goblet of liquour.

What a week it has been. Speaker-to-Animals sighs heavily, head tilting back into the soft cushioning of the recliner's headrest, eyes closing in thought, hand idly scritching the dog to relax it, show that despite the sighs everything is alright. Conflict with Arda oddly stalled, Liberty destroyed... Lifting the fluted edges of the goblet to his maw, Speaker takes a deep sip. There is so little I can do at the moment. Our new adversary has disappeared, and the people are afraid... but stalwart in their fear. No speech of mine can harden them more than now. Even as we slowly stand down, we are still prepared. I am, at the moment, unnecessary.

He feels a strange mixture of worry and relief in his liver from that thought. Not needed nationally, but it is not my nature to relax. He chuckles humorlessly to himself, breath huffing softly from his nostrils. At least, not more than this. And a National Contingency Black in the Dominion... Speaker clenches his jaw slightly. S.H.O.D.A.N. is certainly not mistaken about that. If she is wounded or dead... Jaw tightens slightly more. And the cadet is probably sharing her fate. A citizen, my responsibility. So little I can do. Speaker sighs again before taking another sip... then an idea tickles at his brain, in that odd quietude that comes from comfortable settings and the sort of mindless emptiness that comes at the very end of a thought.

I can be true to her thoughts, however... if I cannot be useful in other regards, maybe it is time.

Subtitles: "Good dog." // "Do not worry," // "just a long day. Food?"

* - * - *

One and a half billion kilometers away

Diplomatic Officer H'zta sighs, staring at her folded hands on the round table. With her sits the rest of the self-proclaimed "Usual Gang," her Mobile Infantry bodyguards for the last howevermany years. Through thick and thin, for relative decades in this strange land, they'd stuck together, seeing one administration out and another in.

A family of friends, brothers and sister, sitting as equals with rank forgotten, thinking about an unfortunate future. Breaking up is always hard to do.

"That is it," the kzinret breaks the silence, "I got the verification an hour ago. My waiver of the right to re-contract has gone through. At the end of this deployment cycle, I am no longer a Diplomatic Officer."

Corporal Jim Lowell winces slightly. "I know it's because of Shyra... but there wasn't anything you or anyone else could do. The place was set to blow up anyway, and we all tried our best." A frown. "Unfortunately... it just doesn't seem like it's enough."

H'zta nods quietly. "Maybe, but it is no matter now. What is done is done."

Corporal Xavier Hortense frowns, looking at the lines in his palms. "I never thought it would be this hard."

The others nod, then Master Sergeant Cho speaks. "Couldn't last forever, I'm afraid. I'm just getting too old to stay in the service; they'd kick me out within the year anyway." He sighs. "But... ya... leaving each unit's been tough. Just another example of a lot of things over the past thirty years I've less than enjoyed."

Quiet nod from the others. "Hell, we shot our careers when we came here." Lowell slowly drags his glass closer to him. "While we've been here Xav and I have gone from a lowly E-1 to the astounding grade of E-2, and that's just because the whole mission was successful. We can't claim much of any of it."

"Most unfortunate." Hortense takes another swig of his preferred intoxicant. "I have to say that I would have still volunteered. Sakkra's been good to us."

The group acknowledges the truth of that as one, heads nodding with expressions nearing smiles. "Yes," H'zta says simply, "it has. And it has been a group effort... we could not have stopped the spy from CAFFIENE without working together."

"Ha," Lowell chuckles, "that really impressed Old Man Kraah. How many damned diplomats can claim that--stopping spies in the rafters and actually having open-ended invites to the houses of royalty, eh? We're the most bad-ass diplomatic mission ever to grace the planet."

"True enough." Xavier grins broadly through closed lips. "That's what makes this a shame, really."

Silence regrows around the group, cancerous growth of bittersweet memories.

"Well... what are you going to do when you ship back, H'zta?" Lowell breaks the silence, never being one for it anyway.

"I am not going home." The massive kzinret shrugs her broad shoulders more gently than one would imagine possible. "I believe the old guard here have plans for me yet," she smiles gently, "and they are my friends. I have no one back in the Segments, not really."

"That's what we get for public service." Cho frowns. "All of our friends are either in the services or not even in the country. I have no idea what to do with myself... try being a soldier all your life and then coming up with another skill. You kids are lucky."

"Really?" Hortense chuckles humorlessly. "What does one do with corporals whose only skills are those found in embassy defense, eh, especially in a friendly country?"

"Sarge," Jim sighs, "we're paper-pusher material... and the M.I. doesn't have paper-pushers."

"So... we are all getting out." H'zta chuckles sadly. "Kraah's offer is still open. Hopefully we can stay there until we think of..."--she shrugs again--"something."

"Well, then," Lowell raises his glass, "it's not goodbye yet. To comrades."

Nods and vessels raised high, sounds of ceramic and glass softly clinking before falling once again to the encroaching silence.
21-03-2004, 08:50
Deep in the lower chambers of the Kargaahl Imperial Retreat, home of the once-Emperor Kraah, a solitary figure sits in his heating chamber.

Have I relinquished the Imperial Mantle to my hatchling too soon? The land is fraught with corporations doing as they will, and the direction of the Empire has gone ascance. I may be beyond the Prime of Life, but dammitall, i'm still more spry than most of the latest generations of hatchlings. Examining his unclothed form, he finds some areas of grey tinge on his scales spreading, and feels the leathery protrusions growing larger on his chin; a sign of the beginning of advanced age.

"Bah!" He hits a switch to signify the end of this humidifying session, exits the heat-chamber, and dresses in a simple robe. He walks out of the lower level room and ascends to the ground level.

Entering the Imperial Office, he sits and ponders a moment. How to deal with this. One way, that my grand-sire told me, was to meet things on their own terms, and excell them. Thus, the advantage is yours and the wheel of command firmly in your grasp. Circling his huge mahogony desk for a time as he composes his thoughts, he stops, and his eyes widen.

"If the Imperial Mantle is losing its luster, then we must re-make ourselves in the face of this new power. It will be so!" He sits in his chair, and comms up an aide. "Sseeka, come and prepare for dictation."

"At once, Advisor."

A few moments pass, and the lithe figure of Kraah's personal aide enters the office. "I will need this message sent to the offices of several individuals; Chief Engineer Jouuha, Ambassador H'zta, Sergeant Cho, Corporals Hortense and Lowell. The message body is as follows...."

Direct: Offices of Ambassador H'zta
BCC: M.I. Corporal Hortence, M.I. Corporal, M.I. Sergeant Cho, Chief Engineer Jouuha
Origin: Kargaahl Imperial Retreat; Office of Advisor Kraah
Subj: New Directions

Greetings. I have had to send this copy since I have neither the luxury of time, nor the virtue of patience, to send customized messages to everyone. This is an invitation to come stay at the Imperial retreat for a weekend, and hold discussions of opportunity once squandered, but soon to be remedied. R.S.V.P. and i'll have my staff make your accomodations suitable. Trained Garr will be available for riding, if you see fit.

Advisor Kraah
Kargaahl Imperial Retreat
21-03-2004, 19:00
21-03-2004, 19:01
The kzinret and her three human companions look up from packing their meager belongings at the softly chirping communications terminal in the embassy, lights flashing gently in the rather somber low lighting. No one had felt like turning the ambient lighting up, so the room is cloaked in dark and quietude, almost in mourning. H'zta, retinas flashing behind wide pupils in the darkness, glances first at her compatriots and then moves up to the terminal, inputting her access code. This number will be meaningless in a day or so.

Reading the message, she blinks and motions for the mobile infantrymen to come up and take a look. Gathering around her, they all have similar responses of relieved surprise.

"Well, this is serendipitous," Hortense broaches. "Shall I?"


Thank you for the offer, Advisor; your timing is certainly impeccable and we gladly accept. As you can see from the indicators behind our names, we're getting out of the business and were looking for a place to stay, even if only for the weekend. We're very much interested in hearing anything you have to say... not that we know what that is, exactly, but it is obviously important.

We write this message as a group because after the failed efforts in Shyra we've decided it's time to conclude what have been essentially successful careers in diplomacy and move on to new things. Maybe this can be one of the topics we can discuss over the weekend.

Thank you for the opportunity.

H'ZTA, Diplomatic Officer, Scolopendran Diplomatic Corps (Retired)
Ambassador to Sakkra

CHO XI-NGYUEN, Master Sergeant, Scolopendran Mobile Infantry (Retired)
Commander, Sakkran Mission Defense Contingent

XAVIER M. HORTENSE, Corporal, Scolopendran Mobile Infantry (Inactive)
Sakkran Mission Defense Contingent

JIM A. LOWELL, Corporal, Scolopendran Mobile Infantry (Inactive)
Sakkran Mission Defense Contingent

Addendum: Corporal Hortense wrote the above note. He volunteered first. --H'zta[/code:1:cd4206aaab]
* - * - *


"Sit, tzobu," the silver-haired man says with a gentle smile, face dark in the shaded living room, arm presenting one of the larger comfortably-abused chairs before he walks off to the loft's kitchenette, tapping a contact on the water heater. "What's this you wanted to talk about?"

"Something I have thought about for a while." Speaker-to-Animals sits down, looking idly over at the picture in the corner, Razak and Alshai thirty years younger grinning happily with a bunch of soldiers in powered armor. He always found that picture curious; for as long as he'd known Razak--truly his best friend--the human had never grinned with open lips. Not once.

"Cryptic, I see." Julius smirks wryly, shaking his head a little. "I may know you well, but your mind's deeper than you let on. 'Sides, I've never been too good at reading minds... 's why I never made a good diplomat." The electric teapot clicks; Razak lifts it from its cradle and pours hot water through filters filled with pungent Tuscan-red fibers, the hazlenut scent of Titan gene-mod kawfee filling the small apartment. "Want any, Speeks?"

"Yes, please." Speaker nods to himself, steepling his broad orange hands and resting them against his muzzle, staring off into the distance as Razak walks in, two steaming mugs of glazed brown pottery in his hands, one of a common shape and the other oddly fluted. The old man moves with the certain grace of someone not allowing his body to fade; despite his nearly seventy years he seems and is more fit than most people half his age.

"Pondering, old friend?" Razak smiles genuinely, something truely rare.

"I am going to rebuild the Patriarchy," the kzintosh says suddenly.

Razak blinks, stopping suddenly as the term brings back unwelcome memories of three-tenths of a century before, of Scolopendra's greatest success and worst failure. Of strange nonhumans filling the close holds of the old dropships, yellow eyes looking uncertainly at their armored captors, strange benefactors. Of the fighting, the villages burning with each day, the lines falling further and further back. The howls of rage and screams of anguish with the counterattack, human bodies in enemy uniforms ravaged by the zealous fury of incensed idealism turned to coldhearted rage. Speaker looks over to his friend, visage oddly gentle. "It is time."

Nodding, Julius wills himself to step forward, carefully delivering one oddly-shaped mug to Speaker's padded hands before sitting down in a nearby chair with a look somewhere between mild confusion and deep thought. "What..." he begins slowly, looking down at his reflection in the kawfee, "how do I help?" He speaks with a quiet intimation of necessity, having to make up for past mistakes.

The kzin takes a slow sip from his drink, blowing gently over the brown liquid to cool it. "I am going to be... indisposed while doing this. It will require calling up the totality of the refugee population. I need you to take command."

"Understood." Razak nods firmly, face turning hard with determination. "I will not fail you again. Not like EOTED. Not like Tibet."

Speaker looks up casually at his friend, eyes soft with an mix of sadness and compassion. "I know you will not, ksali-tzobu. You never intended to previously."

"That's the only saving grace of those times," Razak grimaces, "and if I hadn't failed in Tibet..." You wouldn't have to do this now.

"If, if." Speaker shakes his head, pulling the ends of his lips up in a gentle smile. "It is done. We have adapted. We will adapt further." He reaches out and puts a hand on Razak's shoulder, making eye contact. "You have adapted. You will adapt further. No need for guilt."

The old trooper sighs, breaking eye contact. "I know, I know. But... part of being a perfectionist. And human."

Speaker chuckles. "Ksomeekj chsse kshim zhlaaancoowba... tzig thukhu vuul kz'eerkt irgeeth dusazwitg zhu prwawt wtunu vuul kzin."

In spite of himself and not even noticing the racial slur--in the Scolopendran style--Razak laughs. "Irgeeth hefy sraap' wazhejughfb zrejoz'unjlo."

"Honestly, old friend," Speaker chuckles, "I do not praise you highly enough, I think. I am asking you to be ready within the week... I apologize for the short notice but thank you for your dedication."

"Tuyc..." Razak says quietly, "you're giving me the chance--in my own mind--to make up for a lot of mistakes in my past. I'm the one who should be thanking you. Just say the word and I'll look after the office for you."

Speaker nods with a smile. "Excellent. I will act soon."

Subtitles: Speaker "Do not insult yourself... even as a little monkey you have the heart of a hero/kzin." // Razak: "You praise me too highly."
22-03-2004, 03:26
The reply from Jouuha was short, and to the point.

[code:1:c2c51a6a9f]I will come. I need a short time away from this project.[/code:1:c2c51a6a9f]

And arrive he did, in a rental car with a pilot. "Return. You will be called when I am ready." Jouuha says to the driver, who nods and speeds off down the stone-paved road. He shoulders his duffle-bag, and looks on the Imperial Retreat.

Several three-tiered and domed buildings in that trademark translucent amber color of all Sakkran architecture, but seemingly having semi-precious stones set deep into the walls to catch and reflect light in a prismatic display on the near-by grounds. A pair of Honor Guards stands at the wrought-iron gates that mark the entrance, and they open the gates for Jouuha, and salute. Such ceremony! I wonder what that senile reptile has in store?

Immaculately kept hedgerows and floral beds line the field-stone circlet leading up to the front door. Several varieties of native animal, including a pair of brightly-patterned Swamp Newts, laze about on the grounds.

Kraah swings open the front door, and spreads his arms wide. "Chief Engineer! Welcome to my abode. I will have one of the Servitors take your bags to your quarters. Then a nice goblet of Zzaudd Regions merlot before the fire." A snap of the fingers results in a somber-looking Servitor in white robes and a black sash. He hoists up the Chief Engineer's bag, and makes off into the complex.

Jouuha looks at Kraah sideways, and asks the question that has been on his mind since receiving the message. "What are you up to, Advisor Kraah? I know how crafty you can be when you set your mind to something. So what is it this time?"

Kraah raises up a hand and wiggles a finger in a 'Tut tut' motion. "I will explain all when the other guests have arrived. But you are right in your assumption. I have something brewing, and forces are already at work. When everyone is here, there will be time for talks. But for now, we rest and relax. I'm sure that your trip was long, and knowing you, full of thought."

"yes. There is much that has been troubling me, and it is not only about disproving the latest crack-pot theories that seem to be sprouting up. I will accept this period of relaxation and small talk."

As they walk through the foyer, a Servitor, this one in black robes and a blue sash, carries a platter with a PDA Messenger on it. "You have been replied to, Advisor."

Kraah picks up the messenger, and reads the message composed by Corporal Hortense. "Excellent. Confirmation! He keys in a reply, and sends a short message.


Excellent news. Arrangements have been made for your stay. A small banquet will be set up. I have the Chefs already preparing several varieties of dishes, and casks of fine wine being sent in. Your rooms will be ready for you when you arrive.

Advisor Kraah[/code:1:c2c51a6a9f]

He places the messenger back on the platter after hitting the 'send' command, and thanks the Servitor, who bows slightly, then turns and walks off.
22-03-2004, 06:59
After sending an estimated time of arrival ahead, the Scolopendrans complete their packing. A new Diplomatic Officer and a new group of three M.I. would show up the next day, finding no trace of their predecessors but a few plaques on the office walls and some framed photographs with Sakkran notables.

A few hours later, they bow shortly and wave to the faithful taxicab driver who had acted as an impromptu diplomatic courier for so many years, getting rather grey around the edges himself. Standing before the retreat, they appear as they never seem to have before... out of uniform.

"I'm going to miss him," Lowell sighs softly, adjusting the battered blue and white baseball cap on his head with the logo of some team hailing from Tunisia. "He had a great sense of humor."

"Actually, right now I'm missing the money now making his fare," Hortense grimaces as he adjusts his very businesslike high-collared button-up black shirt. "Funds are tight... we'll be lucky to scrape up enough to survive on for more than a month, assuming we don't live off the graces of friends."
"Shh." H'zta looks over her shoulder at the gates, stretching slightly after the ride in what seems to be comfortable denim. "Speaking of friends, let us see some."

The party makes its way to the gates, going through the well-practiced motions.
22-03-2004, 07:46
One of the Servitors guides H'zta, Cho, Hortense and Lowell to what can only be seen as a lush study room. Rows upon rows of books, shelved high up to the ceiling, surround the room. Several large and plush chairs are located facing an open fireplace, which is crackling softly and casting a glow about the room. The air smells slightly of cedar, and the scent of pipe-smoke; cherry flavored to be exact.

Here is found Kraah, lounging in a red paisley-patterned lounge jacket. Smoking from a pipe and brandishing a goblet of wine. Jouuha is seated across from him. Kraah cranes his neck slightly, and sees the Servitor just as he announces their entrance.

"Greetings, greetings! Come and sit by the fire a bit. The ride must have been a bit tiring, yes? Ghoow, if you please. Some goblets for our friends here, and some delicacies from the kitchen."

"At once, sir." The Servitor turns, and exits the room, closing the large maple doors behind him.

"For the moment, let us catch up. Tell me, how are things faring for you and your people these days?"
22-03-2004, 08:52
"In transition all around," H'zta sighs as she places her duffel bag somewhere unintrusive.

"Let's just say the past few days have been proof that life truly is the never ending adaptation to circumstance," Xavier explains as he sits down, the rest of the group arranging itself comfortably in the overlarge furniture. H'zta fits the scale of the room; the humans are quite used to looking rather halfling-ish and out of place.

"Yeah. We've all handed in our resignations and such and just biding time until we have to go our separate ways." Lowell toys idly with one armrest. "It's all pretty depressing."
22-03-2004, 09:09
Kraah cups his clawed fingers together in a steeple-fashion, and closes his lids a moment. "Hrrrr...I had been apprised of the Shyra debacle. A fine bunch they turned out to be. But my heir, while meaning well, sometimes acts too impulsively. Had it been me, I would not meddle in the affairs of those who engage in slaver's practices. He wishes to right everyone's wrongs, which is sometimes not the best policy. But I digress...."

His eyelids open, and his fingers separate. "I have called you all here to ruminate on a proposition. One which, if it will not prove to be profitable, will at least prove to be quite adventurous."

He stands and walks over to the fireplace, resting an arm on the black-marble mantle. "I have been, most recently, paying close attention to the happenings in the Empire. Who comes to power; who falls from grace; all that. Things are changing, and to meet that change without being engulfed by it, one must adapt in advance of the rest, and seize control before it is wrested from ones grasp."

A swift turn, and some pacing. "I propose this. We can band together. We each have talents that go above the norm, and that are not being recognised in most cases. With the shifting of events of late, I predict a sweeping change will come across the planet, if not the system itself, and we could be ready before the rest to ride that change. Individually, we have all worked long and hard, giving the best years of our lives to the service of our people, with comparatively little to show for it."

"My mate and I, We have been basically sent to pasture to collect dust. H'zta, you have retired. The future is uncertain for you, but I can guess it will not be fitting to one of your accomplishments. Cho. You, Hortense and Lowell have been in the Scolopendran M.I., and represented them in a foreign land for the majority of your careers. There will most likely be little to show for your efforts. Jouuha, you have been the brains behind almost all Sakkra's advancements, and what will happen when you retire? A small house in the Whispering Savannah? Tending a Guat farm? Really?!?"

"I feel it is time to serve ourselves now, and in effect serve the people as well as we had before, but in a different capacity. One that will cement a legacy for others to remember us all by. I propose we go into a business venture with each other."
23-03-2004, 06:48
"Business venture?" Cho quirks an eyebrow. "That's a curious thought. What would idealistic pseudosocialist Scolopendrans have to offer that, though?"

"I dunno, Sarge." Lowell rubs his chin. "Xav here has a case of the golden tongue when he wants to, and H'zta's always been a good negotiator."

"Thank you, Low," Xavier chuckles softly, "I never knew you thought that way. Likewise, you're a dreamer."

Lowell smirks wryly. "Why thanks, Xav. You really know how to make a guy feel loved."

"It's not a bad thing," Hortense replies, "in fact, you're far more open-minded than most. If we're going into business, we need someone like that to give the rest of us ideas."

"True." H'zta nods. "We have useful skills; we simply have to learn how to apply them. For example, Cho is an excellent leader."

"In a military setting, that's true." Cho shakes his head. "Still, I'm an old soldier and probably a bit too authoritarian to boss around civvies."

"Hrrr..." H'zta scratches her chin. "And I am a diplomat, not a businesskzinret. I have never been too good at haggling, but I could learn. Still... what purpose could we serve?"
23-03-2004, 07:08
Kraah takes a long, liesurely sip at the fluting on the rim of his goblet. Smacking his scaly lips, he replaces the goblet on a stand next to his chair, and steeples his fingers yet again, resting his chin on their clawed ends.

"Why, I believe you have just described the purposes you all could serve. Every business normally has a private militia, yes. During my so-called 'retirement' I have traveled the lands of Sakkra, and those on the Titan colony. A web-work of contacts has been made, and suffice it to say, there are those who would be willing to remove themselves from their less-than-ideal situations, and work for me. Us, if you should decide to join forces."

"From Hrubban to Deep One, they would be under the command of Ret-Sergeant Cho, who could mold them into a fine force."

"Lowell has forwarded interesting ideas, some of which are quite feasible given the appropo R&D. He could be heading up the Creative Department, which would require the talents of a dreamer."

"Hortense, you do have a knack for the 'Pitch' as it is called. It could be your calling to enter the world of marketing and public relations."

"Jouuha, you are the obvious choice to head up an R&D department. Your research techniques and knowledge of the sciences would be an incredible asset."

"H'zta, you and I would form the head of this venture. You are quite the diplomat, which is a valuable skill. With some practice and research into elbow-rubbing techniques, you could make an effective CEO."

"As for myself, it has been remarked that i have a knack for guaging individuals. It would behoove me to be in charge of Sentient Resources, or what the humans call HR. My mate has many business contacts in the shipping industries, due to her hobbies of creating decorative jewelery. She has accepted the position of distribution and shipping, and is even now laying groundwork for that."

The Servitor then enters, bearing a large platter of ores douvres. Another appears with a folding table, and sets it down. The platter is placed upon this table, and utensils, as well as dishes, are laid out. Small nuggets of a variety of roasted meats and vegetables, and several bowls of nuts, fruits and berries are laid out.

"Excellent! The delicacies have arrived. So gentle-beings. What say you all?"
23-03-2004, 15:54
"Great... I get the onus of marketing... hey--" Hortense chuckles, cut short by Jim's elbow in his ribs.

"Xav," Lowell interjects, "you'd be great at it. And, hell, your overstuffed sense of honor and propriety will keep you from doing all the stuff that gives marketing a bad name. Doesn't hurt that we all know you're more than a white smile and some nice hair. I, for one, am in."

"If you put it that way... I can at least try. You can rest assured that I will do my best."

"Of course, Xav." H'zta smiles. "This is a chance for us all to adapt and grow. I am honored to even be suggested as a chief executive officer..." She flicks her segmented tail back and forth momentarily in thought. "I accept."

"I can't say that I don't have experience," Cho smiles with only the merest hint of wryness. "You get me the troopers and I'll whip them up into an appropriate security force... but I'll have none of this Suunto-megacorp private-army stuff. Armed conflict for political interests is the realm of governments, not private businesses." The old sergeant pauses for a moment, then chuckles. "Sorry... just the reaction of an old Scolopendran. I'm in."

"I guess all that remains to be said," Lowell wanders over to the munchies and pops some berries in his mouth with a broad smile, "is when do we begin?"
24-03-2004, 04:15
"Ah. We could begin right now, in fact. As we all know, a business venture should first decide what it is they offer. Is it a service, or a product? Perhaps both? Obviously since we need the Chief Engineer for R&D, it will be a product. But what? What is there that we can make and sell that there is a lack of?"

Jouuha has been pondering this for a short time, and raises his head. "Perhaps some manner of computing interface? Component parts for crafts? Trustworthy ship drives? Medical technology?"
24-03-2004, 15:50
"Bad strategy," Cho comments, "there are already huge leaders in each field and unless we have The Idea That Will Revolutionize the Multiverse in one of those sections then we're not working on strength."

Xavier nods. "Let's see... Zero-One Monocorp makes computing interfaces, TME Industries and KarmaCorp TechSystems have shipbuilding practically covered, as do several other firms like Ingolftech; drives are the same; medicines... hmmm..."

Lowell snaps his fingers. "Materials science. Sakkra's got a lot of natural--and unique--natural resources that we can take advantage of and find new and creative uses for. We can use them to enhance existing products and ideas or to make up entirely new things. People got rich off of inventing simple things like stickynotes and white-out... the problem is a lot of other corps think too big. Big expensive items that they don't have to sell a lot of but likewise cost a lot to make and have limited market potential. If we make the simple things that anyone could use in everyday life, we can make a bit of money off of that and expand into other things as we find inclination and funds to do so."
25-03-2004, 04:35
Kraah picks up a piece of roasted meat on a stick and munches away contendedly. After a short time, he removes the stick and uses it as a pick. "It seems that would be the best option. One thing i'm particularly pleased with is our Chamo-Web armor. It's completely void of technological parts, yet is quite strong and light. Perhaps if we made a civilian version of this? Responsive clothing?"

Jouuha considers for a moment. "That could be a good starting point. It's not a common thing on the market yet, it's easy and inexpensive to make, and is quite a useful item. Hmmmm...."
25-03-2004, 06:04
H'zta nods, munching on a bit of meat. "That makes sense. Any ideas, Jim?"

"Responsive clothing like mood rings is an idea, but too faddish, really. Not enough utility involved." Lowell taps his chin. "If it changes color... that could be used to make user-defined clothes, really--the idea being why have eleven suits in eleven colors when you can have one for all times. It could also make good uniforms for police officers and the like... basically, a lot like wearable bubblegum lights or something when they need to get people's attention and camouflage when they don't.

"I can see it being useful enough to at least get us some capital to expand into other directions."

Xav raises an eyebrow, obviously impressed with Lowell's unexpected abilities of evaluation. "Very good. The method of selling will depend exactly on who we want to sell it to, but I think I can peddle something like that."
25-03-2004, 07:20
"Then it is agreed. That will be the purpose of this endeavor for the time being. Now then, another issue would be location. Someplace where it won't be hazardous for people to journey to for employment." Kraah produces a map of the Sakkran territories on Earth.
OOC: I know, it's not the clearest map, but it does the job.

IC: Looking over the map, Jouuha points out Zzaudd. "There is my reccomendation. It is not a heavy industrial city, but is a bit depressed economically, from what I garnered from the last economic report. We could hire on the populace there for a reduced amount. Unskilled labor, yes?"
25-03-2004, 20:40
"It's also strategically located, being a nexus of major roads," Cho offers. "Superior mobility and access to resources... ah..." He shrugs slightly. "Military mind at work, sorry."

"No, Cho, you are right." H'zta pokes a furred finger at the map. "It is near the arable savannah, which puts us near renewable natural resources."

"And as that's going to be our primary concentration at first..." Lowell trails off.

"Exactly." The kzinret nods. "The only problem I can see is the distance from the spaceport. That will make export difficult."

"Maybe if we go through the Kastaa Airfield?" Lowell offers.

"No," Cho shakes his head, "that adds another chain in the supply line. Load here, transfer at Kastaa, transfer at Eeorrouh. Going straight to Eeorrouh cuts out that middle step."

"Depends on cost," Xav reminds everyone, "and who we plan on selling to. If we're staying Earthbound we really don't need to concern ourselves over a spaceport. Start small and steadily accumulate funds for expansion."

"As long as we don't short-shrift our workers, they'll most likely be quite productive," H'zta notes, "so we should make sure that whatever our plan is we can pay them sufficiently, even if the area is depressed and we can get them less expensively there."

"Already taking care of the troops, boss?" The old sergeant chuckles.

The kzinret nods. "Of course."
27-03-2004, 03:37
Kraah paces about a bit. "Yessss....there should be a decent pay rate, variable depending on experience in the requested fields. A benefits package to bring in skilled labor, as well. Educational scholarships for the hatchlings, children, kits or what have you. Full medical and dental through Kastaa Med. retirement options? Maybe we can go over that later. Right now, it won't be a major issue."

Kraah looks at the map, and scans it thoroughly. "I think that we should indeed remain mainly an Earth-bound business. We can expand if our efforts bear fruit. I think the Governer of Zzaudd would welcome this opportunity. It would be an economic boost, and quite a political coup. he still has a grudge against the Governer of Guaah for luring a contract for a Jugg arena there, when he vied so hard for it to be built in Zzaudd. Heh heh."

"Now, then. There is one thing we seem to have skipped. What will we name ourselves?"
27-03-2004, 17:58
"Hrrrr... 'Kraah' is simple to say," H'zta ponders, "compared to some of the stranger vowel-rich combinations found in Sakkran."

"Like 'Eeorrouh,' boss?" Lowell smiles broadly with an impish look.

"Funny," H'zta growls good-naturedly, "but yes, like Eeorrawh. You will just have to accept the accent. I think it is fitting we name the company after Kraah, as it was his idea."

"Still," Hortense broaches, "although the good Advisor is respected, we cannot work on name recognition alone. Especially given the futurist attitude of any business that isn't in the stock trade..." Xavier shrugs. "A connection to the past is good, but we don't want to make that our staple."

"Well, we've got H'zta too," Lowell offers, "if we stick to just names, we could throw her in too, as she'll probably be the most visible 'icon' of the company."

"Kraah and H'zta? I'm not sure. The glottal stop in H'zta's name throws off the sound." Hortense rubs his chin. "Inverted... and you get H'zta and Kraah. That sounds snappy."

"H'zta and Kraah Material Enterprises? HKME?" Lowell rubs his chin.

"Or just H-and-K," Cho offers with a quiet chuckle.
27-03-2004, 17:59
"Hrrrr... 'Kraah' is simple to say," H'zta ponders, "compared to some of the stranger vowel-rich combinations found in Sakkran."

"Like 'Eeorrouh,' boss?" Lowell smiles broadly with an impish look.

"Funny," H'zta growls good-naturedly, "but yes, like Eeorrawh. You will just have to accept the accent. I think it is fitting we name the company after Kraah, as it was his idea."

"Still," Hortense broaches, "although the good Advisor is respected, we cannot work on name recognition alone. Especially given the futurist attitude of any business that isn't in the stock trade..." Xavier shrugs. "A connection to the past is good, but we don't want to make that our staple."

"Well, we've got H'zta too," Lowell offers, "if we stick to just names, we could throw her in too, as she'll probably be the most visible 'icon' of the company."

"Kraah and H'zta? I'm not sure. The glottal stop in H'zta's name throws off the sound." Hortense rubs his chin. "Inverted... and you get H'zta and Kraah. That sounds snappy."

"H'zta and Kraah Material Enterprises? HKME?" Lowell rubs his chin.

"Or just H-and-K," Cho offers with a quiet chuckle.
27-03-2004, 22:32
Kraah bobs his head slowly. "H&K ... H&K. It sounds good! Authorative, and easy to remember. Cho, you may have hit on something there. I'll let my mate come up with some manner of logo now that we have a name and a purpose."

"H&K Enterprises. Definitely a keeper." Kraah paces about a bit. "Now then, since we are coporate officers, we should have accomodations that reflect this. For when entertaining guests and possible customers of note. We can't let, say, the Minister of Khenala find himself walking on dirt floors, can we? No, suitable residencies will have to be established."

"I'm going to open up my personal finances for this. It will give us a good start. We'll have 37 billion to get this operation off the ground."
27-03-2004, 23:52
"Thirty-seven... billion?" The Scolopendrans look at each other rather stupidly before H'zta takes charge. "Pardon... but we have been used to essentially sharing the same few rooms for the past... few... whatevers."

Time is never an easy subject to a Scolopendran.

"We will adapt, of course... but I am afraid we will always be used to being roommates of a sort. We will never be fully comfortable in anything luxurious... hopefully elegant will suffice."
27-03-2004, 23:53
"Thirty-seven... billion?" The Scolopendrans look at each other rather stupidly before H'zta takes charge. "Pardon... but we have been used to essentially sharing the same few rooms for the past... few... whatevers."

Time is never an easy subject to a Scolopendran.

"We will adapt, of course... but I am afraid we will always be used to being roommates of a sort. We will never be fully comfortable in anything luxurious... hopefully elegant will suffice."
28-03-2004, 03:19
Kraah claps his hands together. "Gentle-beings, your living arrangements will be yours to determine. I'll commision an architectural team to have a residence built to suit whatever needs you may have. As for the nature of my finances, let us say that several promising investments were made, normally under a 'ghost-broker' as it were. That they have yielded such results is fortunate."

"I will speak with the Governor of Zzaudd, and see about zoning laws there. Then lot reservations should be made. perhaps employee lodgings for those who would come a long distance, and their families? Ah, this is an exciting time."
28-03-2004, 23:30
"Yes, quite exciting," H'zta replies with shining eyes, "and I thank you for the opportunity."

* - * - *

Five Days Later

Advisor Hertzfeldt carefully sets the manilla folder in front of Speaker, respectfully stepping back when complete. "I went down to the Legislative Unit's Cultural Integration Committee as you requested. They dropped their current agenda and saw me immediately concerning your proposal. I argued for it as best I could."

Speaker-to-Animals does not even try to hide his grimace as he thinks of the potential ramifications of that statement. Jon, you are a good man, but not the best speaker...

Jon smiles softly. "You are now mandated by the LU of the FSS to take means up to and including the extended absence of the Tibetan Extractee population to rebuild the kzinti culture. There was some debate by a few more reactionary legislators to the effect that you rebuilding the Patriarchy would create some sort of sub-government--"

Speaker scoffs.

"All I had to do was remind them of historical examples of some democracies worried about, say, Roman Catholic leaders being puppets of the Pope. That shut them up pretty quickly, especially seeing where most of their backgrounds lie."

"Good," the kzintosh lets out a sigh of relief he hadn't realized he had been holding in, "good. I would hope from our history of service that we are trusted."

"You are, certainly." Jon smirks. "There are, as there will always be, a decided few who will refuse to see reason. The problem is theirs."

"Indeed." Speaker leans back into his chair, looking out the window idly. "I have been looking through executive resources for contact information for the Extractees. A good many I can call up through the Defense Corps. I would like my advisors to provide contact information for those in their sections. I will collate them, then compose and send a message to them personally."

"Could mean quite a bit of trouble, calling up fifty thousand citizens out of the blue... I'll also make sure their families are taken care of while the elders are out. I know for one that the Expeditionary Force M'sha heads will have to go to her XO... and she's got a kid at the University... still, shouldn't affect them much."

Speaker nods. "If they cannot leave, they can keep in contact via telepresence. I am not too concerned about that. I am concerned that they may have a conflict of duty."

"Won't happen in the Science Section, at least," Hertzfeldt asserts, "and I'm sure everyone else will make sure they're free. The problem will be those on civilian side. It'll be tricky to get funding through the LU or even through the Executive slush on the scale needed to keep your people paid and the corps happy. 'Course, there's always the political concern that if the corps go dunning, then they look pretty bad..."

"Play up that angle," Speaker says simply. "I will see what I can do to find appropriate funding."

"Understood, sir." Hertzfeldt smiles. "Good luck," he offers before he turns and walks through the door, shutting it quietly behind him.

From the couch in the office, the local S.H.O.D.A.N. avatar looks up. "Funding, hmmm, for a maximum of fifty thousand workers for an unspecified amount of time?"

Speaker nods slowly. "Hrrr. It will be difficult."

S.H.O.D.A.N. adds some numbers in her head. "And the need to compensate their employers for what might be almost a one-percent reduction in workforce."

"That only makes it worse."

"And maintaining those businesses run and owned by extractees..."

"Yes, I know," Speaker sighs, "this is Quixotic."

"I can do it." S.H.O.D.A.N. smiles impishly. "I practically own the profits of Zero-One, and I've always skimmed a healthy amount into reserve. I think it's time for a good deed in the name of better PR... the fact that I want to do it nonetheless is secondary."

Speaker frowns slightly, looking over at the avatar. "I should thank you... but... I am unsure that I can force a debt like that on my people."

"Either they'd owe me or your own taxpayers," S.H.O.D.A.N. shrugs, "and I have the unusual advantage of making it not a debt. More like... a payment for services rendered." She smiles slyly.

"What 'services?'" The kzintosh furrows his brow slightly.

"Let me help. I know that you're not going to allow gawkers. In fact, from your musings, you're having it on a relatively unsettled portion of the Ring for that very reason. If you let me help you collate the data, you will be more effective at your task and I learn things that I would otherwise not know. Mutually beneficial."

"Hrrrrrr." Speaker folds his hands, elbows on his desk, and rests his chin atop those furred fists. "You understand that I am... unwilling to accept payment."

"Of course," the avatar chuckles, "honor and all that. I'm not going to force you; just remember that I leave the option open."

Speaker nods slowly.

"After all," Shodey says quietly, "my people are also extractees. You may not know it, but we feel a... kinship, having nearly lost everything. Being creatures of data, we did not lose our past, our culture... but we cannot imagine what it would be like if we had." She frowns slightly. "We are more than willing to help."

"Out of pity?" Speaker sighs.

"No, no..." S.H.O.D.A.N. shakes her head slightly. "Out of an understanding that, if things had been a little different, we would be exactly where you are. Out of realizing we got lucky."

* - * - *


~>Route: Automata AK1 - Angelus Mainframe - Titan YutLink - Sakkra Interchange - H'zta
{Sad to see you go from the service. I still haven't been able to thank you enough for getting Sakkra}
{so close to us... you're an example to the Diplomatic Corps. I hope everything's going well; you left}
{rather quickly. Even Speaker's worried about you disappearing so quickly. With everything going on,}
{he wanted to send this to you personally, but I couldn't help but tack on my own bit.}

{Do take care of yourself.}
~>Route closed

--- (
Alshai "Bob" Kommetrez

Ztgekzbaksh-prlok'thewt lughcivekti f'eenj, 'w wopo imekhakeerg zeez'aasi yahughnost'ss zhu eelo wtunu imekhakeerg prag chost. 'W 'ksargunj oc', k'tohazrl vraanj the chizhs tai wtis hrrwweo 'w k'tfuk't.

'Sraap t'kpoowra t' Fisi Ssekt'r ch'heprgehv-prlok'thewt yahughnost'ss, preede zhu hroku wtunu zhu Sko'lopendraaati CDC, guwicamw hefvti ksnut'k shrri', zhu t'kovaryti wtunu zhu Zeez'aasi Kshukm. 'Sraap kchkets'patz keho wtun irgeeth yebp, ztarw irgeeth divc; 'w kzoowboow hveci yahughnost'ss k'tul irgeethkeho chjeztmeh'. Ztarw irgeeth divc chsse yebp, weerayeevy guse hvoyg hvizhti ###-###-####-#### icaad'rg irgeeth divc uhuk sonjoce zhu kzip.

Hrjoowksmawt g'cu zhe zrejoz'unj jeehaz.'sskin
Subtitles: "Kzin,
"Thirty years ago, we left our homeland and the life of our people behind. We adapted well, but it is time to rebuild what we lost.
"I go to Ring Sector Twenty-Two and, with the assistance of the Scolopendran Civilian Defense Corps, setting up accomodations for us, the survivors of the Tibetan Extraction. I request that all of you come, if you can; we will arrange transportation and manage your affairs. If you cannot come, maintain contact via telepresence at ###-###-####-#### so you can contribute to the cause.
"Luck on the Great Hunt.
* - * - *

H'zta pauses with a start, staring at the message on the screen, face disquiet as she absorbs the information. Noting the sudden pause in their conversation, Lowell looks up from his scribbled notes, face deepening slightly as he observes the kzinret's unusual stillness. "Is something wrong, boss?"

She mutters something softly in her native tongue, then slowly leans back, thinking. "I need to go."

"Go where?" Jim blinks. "H'zta, what's up?"

"Hrr..." She shakes her head. "I need to go home. I'm needed."

Lowell gets up slowly, concerned emotions playing over his visage. "You're not looking well... anything I can do, help with, what?"

"Timing is... simply impeccable," H'zta sighs, leaning forward to hold her face in her hands, pads gently rubbing.

Dammit... these are the kinds of things Cho talks to her about, I bet. Lowell steps forward, hands out to assist. "Anything you can talk about?"

"It is my problem," H'zta hisses, flashing an angry look at the human before setting her jaw and taking a deep breath as Lowell backs off suddenly, confused. "Sorry... that was uncalled for."

"I'm just trying to help," Lowell says quietly. "I can't if I don't know what's wrong."

"You cannot," the kzinret says slowly, "because your kind caused it." She looks up, yellow eyes latching on the human's blue. "It is our problem to deal with."

Putting the pieces together, Lowell sits back down heavily, moving with the half-controlled motions of someone just shot. "I'm... sorry."

H'zta frowns, sorting through the varied emotions and thoughts swirling in her head, and sighs, filled with the rekindled anger of loss and despising herself for taking it out on someone undeserving. Getting up, she places a gentle hand on the human's shoulder with a slight squeeze, then turns to walk out, needing to talk to her new employer.
01-04-2004, 04:26
Hearing the news, Kraah is surprised and a bit disappointed. "And so there goes our CEO. But not to worry. We can make this work still. I may have to pull double duty until H'zta returns, though. I wonder why she left so swiftly......not my business, i'm certain."

"Now then, what should be our next step? Perhaps scouting out the proposed area, and talking with the Governor of Zzaudd about our needs?"
01-04-2004, 20:21
Transmitted via Standard Civilian Protocols
Origin: DISL Spaceliner en route to Titan
Human Resources Director Kraah:

I apologize for leaving so hastily... but my culture needs me. We are trying to rebuild it... and as one of the older survivors, it needs me. I will keep in contact as best I can; information forthcoming as soon as I get it.


The Next Day

Allahu Akbar!

Alhamdu lil-lahi rab-bil 'alameen. Alhamdu lil-lahi rab-bil 'alameen.

Ar rahma nir-raheem. Ar rahma nir-raheem.

H'zta half-opens one eye with a jolt as the voice of the muezzin resonantes through the dormitory bay, the faithful already deep into the Fajr prayer while those who follow different paths sleep soundly, long since used to the vowel-rich intonations.

Maliki yawmid-deen. Maliki yawmid-deen.

Iyyaka na'budu wa iyyaka nasta'een. Iyyaka na'budu wa iyyaka nasta'een.

The kzinret rolls slowly out of the oversized cot, rubbing her haggard face with broad hands. Blinking the dust from her eyes, she carefully makes the cot as she found it, according to the specifications of the Civilian Defense Corps. She had arrived with practically no money, but her retirement papers easily got her into government billeting for those down on their luck. The elf in charge of the facility had raised an eyebrow at her indicated profession of "Chief Executive Officer, H'zta and Kraah Enterprises," but did not pry. There was something different about the kzin now.

Ihdinas siratal mustaqeem. Ihdinas siratal mustaqeem.

"Guide us to the straight way," H'zta says quietly to herself, idly humming the prayer to herself in her fatigue. It is coming back to me... been so long...

Siratal latheena an'amta 'alayhim. Siratal latheena an'amta 'alayhim.

Ghayril maghdubi 'alayhim walad thal-lee-ee-ee-ee-ee-ee-een. Ghayril maghdubi 'alayhim walad thal-lee-ee-ee-ee-ee-ee-een.

The meaning of the last line had changed over time, yet it remains intact. Some certainly angered Gods, and others certainly went astray, but the old parentheticals about the Jews and the Christians had long since fallen away in this part of the orthodoxy. It was not good for the Capricorn Group's business, H'zta thought, remembering her citizenship class from thirty years ago. She was nineteen then. Nineteen and with a full name--what an honor!--surpassed in that regard only by M'sha, three years her junior. K'zta, the only other remaining full-name she ever heard about, was her age. Cousin, actually. I have not kept in touch.

* - * - *

The streets of bustle with activity, the market bazaars filled with strange dark people wearing curious clothing, all looking at her oddly. She had somehow lost the rest of the group, out here in Tunis, and now wandered alone through the ancient streets of the trading city. Some larger buildings, of glass and steel, could be seen down some of the straighter streets, but they didn't suffice for constant landmarks. Not here, surrounded by the strange smells and sounds, the eerie quietude that followed her as she wandered alone, the curious looks and the odd expressions that she did not recognize as fear and would come to learn as pity.

Despite towering over the crowd that maintained a respectful distance, she felt very small.

H'zta shakes her head with a gruff noise, shocking herself back to reality. Looking up into the blue sky of topside Stonozka, she blinks at the yellow-orange sphere of Saturn peeking behind the clouds, an odd disquiet dead for years re-emerging. I miss the Moon. Again. Still, the sparse air is an odd comfort, even if the acclimation from near sea-level Sakkra makes it difficult. The moderately dry, thin air... it's like home. Home displaced a trillion meters. Frowning to herself, she surveys the sparse crowds along the street. Topside wasn't appropriate for the old bazaars--calls didn't carry well in the thin wind--but far beneath her feet the trade is plyed much as it was for thousands of years back in the Mediterranean Basin. Struck by a thought, H'zta bows her head, looking at the concrete beneath her feet in meditation, eyes slowly following the chaotic non-pattern of tiny crushed stones and mortar. We must remember... we are not the only ones displaced. She listens to the noises, analyzes the scents that come to her nostrils. Five years. She'd been gone for five years in Sakkra, or so all the calendars said. Of course, she'd always known from the official communiques and their date, but... she had seen an entire age, essentially, pass in Sakkra. They lived for centuries, and she'd watched some grow old while she remained untouched by time... somehow. She had experienced day-to-day life for years and years... and yet, coming back, practically nothing had changed. An eventful five years, to be sure, but... how?

Shaking her head--There is nought but madness down that path...--she looks back up, eyes tracing the wire-thin arc of the Ring habitat. Now I need to get there. Gentle sigh. It is time to reacquaint myself with some old contacts.

* - * - *

It was unnaturally dark, the sun trying to break through the billowing clouds of black belched into the sky. Another concussive wave of sound knocked her onto her back, ears ringing as the village hall fifty meters away flew into smouldering splinters. Beside her, the metal-suited ones--still amazingly small animals, even with their artificial armor-- continued to stand on the rocky ground, the weapons in their hands spitting fire and smoke. She remembered that the warriors had such things, ancient relics passed down from the Great Ancestors of legend. The warriors who had been sent to repel the invaders.

She didn't know if there were any left.

Looking into the sky, she saw the giant metal ship, another thing of legend, descending from the sky. Not magic--nothing was, the race of heroes once knew how to make them, still knew how to make some, but lacked the materials--and yet unreal, how it slowly dropped from the sky with a grace belying its mass. Certainly it was the end times sometimes heard tell of on the radio, when legend once again becomes reality?

"Boat's comin' down!" One of the metal soldiers spoke, voice tinny if not mechanical. "Private, get 'em on the retrieval ship so we can blow this popsicle stand!"

Hard--but not rough--hands under her shoulders, the slight give of spongy padding over metal. "Can you move?"

Snarling, she flung herself to her feet. She was full-named by the Patriarch; she needed no help from animals. Looking towards the burning wreckage of the hall, she saw them. More little primates, wearing bulky suits of not-metal, coming over the ridge in one last desperate push. She saw red, red as the mist that billowed from the Patriarch's skull with the crack of thunder. It was all their fault.

"Goddammit, no!" Arms around her waist, feet dragging to slow her. Furred fists against hard metal, eliciting no more than slight grunts as the dropship roars behind them, landing gear retracting.

The one in charge fires the other tube with a bloop-noise. "Move it, Private, the"--explosion in the distance--"launch window's damned tight on this one! It's already taking off... we can bounce, they can't!"

"We don't have time for this," the one around her waist said, just before she felt the ground leave her feet. Suddenly she was in the air, supported by nothing more than this metal thing. A change in acceleration, a cutoff... then another burst, the ship coming closer. Then, not even a metal suit, just a curling tumble through nothing...

Into the arms and legs of her friends, paws gripping to steady her. Looking out the door, she saw the metal figure stretch out, coming in below the door... until a gauntleted hand clanks on the floor railing, fingers gripping hard. She moved from the hands of her kind, needing to see, not even ducking from the pinging heat and light of tracer fire against the armored hull.

Hanging off the side, the metal warrior looks up, faceplate reflecting her haggard face. "Dammit, get inside!" Looking back down, it unslings its rifle and fires at the mass of tiny insects far away, tracers pouring into the lines streaming from the valley tops. Not about to take any more orders from these monkeys, she reached down, grabbed the heavy suit by the shoulders, and pulled with all her strength--and the strength of those supporting her.

Dragged inside, the warrior immediately got to his feet and prepared to close the door on the village hidden by smoke and wispy clouds. Looking out, she saw small triangular ships zip past the ridge, which then exploded in a rage of fire, followed by streams of smoke and light from inside the village. They fought more fiercely now... now what? The door slammed shut and latched in place, the soldier turns around and lifted his faceplate, revealing something that looked a lot like the invaders.

She looked at him with obvious curiosity--why fight harder now?

Sensing the unasked question, he spoke carefully in the language he had learned over six months. "You are all safe now." He grimaced. "The invaders will pay," said the one labeled CHO.

The Mobile Infantryman lifts his visor, letting his eyes speak for him in concern and understanding over H'zta's sudden pause. The kzinti had been doing that a lot, lately... and no surprise. They'd been through a lot. Respecting the silence, he stepped back, standard powered armor clinking slightly as he folded his hands behind his back at parade rest.

"I am... sorry." H'zta shakes her head. "The pattern of your armor has not changed much over thirty years..." She smiles almost sheepishly. "I have had no cause to remember that until the past week."

The infantryman nods. "Quite understood, ma'am. The Supreme Emperor has also not quite been his usual cordial self as of late. We're..." He pauses for a moment, eyes breaking contact to think before reconnecting. "We're only sorry you have to suffer so."

She nods slowly. "So I have heard for thirty years. Maybe, soon, we can put that hurt behind us." She manages a wry smile, edges of her lips turning upwards. "Diplomacy is my trade, as you can see. Is Tuyc-ta... is Speaker-to-Animals available?"

The battlesuited human nods. "Yes. He's been preparing to leave over the last few days, but I think dustoff is scheduled for tomorrow. Would you like me to announce you?"

"No... I will do this myself." She chuckles softly, looking up towards the rather simple small house that makes up the residence of the oldest kzin alive. "Thank you, Master Sergeant," she says softly.

"Pardon, ma'am?" asks the corporal.

"And you too, Corporal."
04-04-2004, 18:51
Speaker-to-Animals looks up from stocking his duffel bag with camping gear and the loose-fitting clothing of the old style, bat-wing ears twitching slightly at the undemanding tones of the doorbell. Immediately checking his wrist-top assistant, he growls quietly to himself. I do not have any appointments now... in fact, I have none all day. I am on leave. Grumbling quietly about how lax the M.I. are today concerning visitors, he leaves the duffel open on the bed, items arranged neatly beside it.

* - * - *

The path leading up to the door of the current Chief of State residence is covered by an arching and gently undulating trellis made of metal, ivy and crawling flowers twining with its close-placed beams. While certainly aesthetically pleasing in a sort of sylvan-tunnel way, it serves the dual purpose of protecting whoever is answering the door from snipers by eliminating line of sight.

The residences of Supreme Emperors have always met two requirements: Firstly, there are no palaces for leaders of the people. Such accoutrements only serve to distance the leader from the people they are to serve. More mundane acommodations keep the two closer together, and prevent any thoughts of extreme separation. After all, the Supreme Emperor is a citizen first and Chief of State second. Secondly, they are always a short distance from the Executive Apartments--in Kommetrez's case, within the office building itself. Thirdly, it must be defendable... a sad commentary, but a necessary evil. The leader is still a valuable asset and must be treated as such; thus residencies are always a balance between the need to be no less than neighborly and as secure as needed.

Again, more ancient Civics and Ethical Philosophy notes slip through H'zta's mind as she follows along the short path, leaves and flowers and their gentle scent wafting through the breeze. At the door, the button that activates the chimes pressed, she stands back as she thinks rapidly. The Mobile Infantryman stands, forgotten, to her left and one pace behind her; as H'zta's mind races, her carelessly-moving segmented tail sometimes taps against the side of the corporal's armored shin.

Speaker-to-Animals opens the door, then hides his surprise as he finds he has to look up slightly. The kzinret has him beat by five centimeters; and he blinks. It's...

H'zta bows slightly, one hand over her chest in the Sakkran style, picked up after so many years (centuries?) of living amongst them. "Hrjoowksmawt g'cu zhe zrejoz'unj jeehaz, nubezecj 'tsaar Tuyc-tasskin," she says humbly, raising her head up as she stands upright again.

The kzinti never truly understood the human gesture of looking down one's nose in the sense of it being a sign of imperiousness or superiority. It leaves the throat open.

"Iteeh lughcivekti t'chssseee vuul 'tsaar grr'ajerg, nubezecj hvyats H'zta," the kzintosh replies, repeating the gesture with just a smidgen more sincerity. Looking down to the M.I. corporal, he nods. "It is safe. Dismissed."

The battle-suited trooper nods and steps away, still keeping an eye on the kzinret. Chuckling softly with breath huffing through nostrils, Speaker stands back from the door, motioning with one furred hand for H'zta to enter. H'zta properly allowed in, the door shuts, leaving the trooper to stand on alert by the door. Just in case.

Speaker-to-Animals indicates a chair in the living room as he moves into the kitchen, carefully masking an awe ingrained since childhood with blithe cameraderie. Continuing to speak in his native tongue, he putters about in the kitchen, speaking through its bar-like window to the living room. "To what do I owe the honor? It is not every day that the unnamed son of an unnamed father has one so blessed by the Patriarch to serve with proper hospitality."

H'zta blinks slightly, sitting down. Could he still be awed by such a thing after so long? Certainly I was an accomplished hunter and impressed the Patriarch sufficiently... but what does that mean now? "For one 'unnamed,' as you say," she begins slowly, "you have excelled." She almost says more, but years of diplomatic experience says that is enough.

Speaker chuckles again with a hint of wryness. "I see you learned well in the International Relations Section. Still, my question remains unanswered. Maybe I pry too deep. Is there anything I can do for you?"

"Hrr..." H'zta flaps her ears gently as her stomach speaks for her. "I have not eaten yet today."

The kzintosh nods. "Firstmeal, then. I hope you can tolerate my bachelor's cooking... or lack thereof. How has time treated you?"

"Oddly." The kzinret frowns to herself, shaking her head. "Relative, fluid time is... disorienting. I can see how some go mad of it. I retired six days ago."

"So I heard." The gentle bangs of pans and such emanate from the kitchen. "An era passed, certainly."

"The era 'passed' when you left, sir," H'zta finds herself replying, "by that time the Sakkrans were already allies and brothers and I'd fulfilled my purpose. Everything after that was..." She sighs gently. "Hanging on to threads. Advisor Kommetrez, albeit a good man, is not as good at his post as you were."

Speaker shakes his head with a noise of dissent. "Please, hvyats, no more honorifics from one honorably retired. In my home, I am only Speaker-to-Animals. Or 'Speaker' for short."

H'zta scoffs. "Only if mutual. I am known universally as H'zta... or even Hizz among close friends who go back for years."

The kzintosh blinks at that, peeking around the corner with head slightly canted. "You take it so lightly, H'zta?"

The addressed kzinret only arches a brow, looking at Speaker wryly. "What is in a name, Speaker?"

Speaker just barely winces before looking down, pondering momentarily. "Honor," he replies quietly and slowly, "respect, recognition from superiors, and..." He sighs. "It has been too long. I cannot explain the stigma to you now."

As Speaker returns to making breakfast, H'zta frowns to herself, hands folded in a mixture of thought and a quiet sensation of guilt. It really does mean a lot to him... but he is already honorable, respected, and recognized. So I have a full name because I slaughtered dangerous beasts? I am respected by a few and recognized by a few more. Certainly...

Her thoughts are broken by the yellow dog quietly examining her, carefully sniffing along her leg before retreating back and sitting quietly, observing the kzinret's movements. H'zta looks back at it curiously, noting how it tends to avoid eye contact. "Interesting animal. A pet?"

Speaker-to-Animals nods, bringing out two large plates of steaming omelets and handing one to H'zta. "Yes. I acted on a whim several years ago and he has been a constant companion since. Julius will be taking care of him while I'm gone." Sitting down in his usual chair, Speaker smiles to himself. "One cannot call me completely lonely with such friends."

"No one did," H'zta replies, "and... I did not mean to offend earlier, Speaker." She says the name carefully, adding respectful intonations. "It has been a long time... and I was of a noble family, and began with a half-name..." She frowns. "But you are respected and recognized. A full name does not guarantee that."

"Not guarantee, no," Speaker says softly, looking at his plate of food, "but it does indicate it. My mother and father worked dutifully for the Patriarchy and, because they were not hunters, never recognized for it. My family have always been Tenders-of-Fields, feeding others, and yet their contribution went unrecognized. I championed contacting the humans, I did contact them, I took the initiative to get their help... and all I received in return was a sarcastic not-name. All the full-named, appropriately, laughed at the joke." He frowns. It is never good to insult one's company. "The chance to rectify that is long gone."

"If it bothers you so much," H'zta replies slowly, "why not change it? You are no longer bound by the Patriarchy."

Speaker looks up with a frown. "You know it does not work that way."

H'zta nods slowly. "I understand. Still... even if it was sarcastic, and even if I did laugh... something I now regret," she says with a wince, "believe it when I say your name is now recognized and respected. Have you heard kzinti speak of you? They say the syllables with the awe and respect one hears in humans intoning the names of their ancient prophets. No one else could call the population together like this; not I nor K'zta nor M'sha, and what other full-names are there in positions of any import?"

Speaker sighs, leans back slightly, and smiles a little. "You may be correct... but this has bothered me for years. We will see how such things turn." He chuckles wryly. "Everyone has their own special neurosis, no?"

"Quite." H'zta chuckles, then starts into her omelet. "Mmrrr. Excellent. You are a better cook than you suggest."

Speaker shrugs. "It is a hobby. Razak taught me."

"It is a useful skill to have, even if meat is better raw," H'zta chuckles, "I cannot cook at all."

"Then you should find someone to cook for you," Speaker responds in better humor. "Then again... is your mission staying together? I saw that you all turned in your papers nearly simultaneously."

"Yes... we are going into business with Kraah. A collection of old, dried-up friends trying to make a difference."

"'Dried-up' is hardly a proper adjective to describe you. Else I would be utterly desiccated."

H'zta chuckles, allowing herself a playfully appraising glance. "No, I think that also would be inaccurate."

Speaker simply chuckles once again. "It has been too long, H'zta. Still... what brings you here?"

"Nowhere else to stay," H'zta answers with a frown. "You are the only one I know in the area, from working together for so long in the International Relations Section and previous.

The kzintosh nods. "I am leaving for Ringside tomorrow. You are welcome to come along if you wish."

"I would be honored," H'zta says sincerely, then points a finger with a stern look. "No arguments on who honors whom, got it?"

Speaker laughs, a violent sound between coughing up some vital organ and a quiet hicupping roar. "Yes, ma'am."

H'zta scoffs.

Subtitles: H'zta: "Luck on the Great Hunt, esteemed elder Speaker-to-Animals." // Speaker: "One year does not an elder make, esteemed full-named H'zta."
08-04-2004, 06:25
Another Day...
Ring Sector 22

Speaker climbs out from the dorsal hatch of the superficially battered red-and-black avian spacecraft, bat-winged ears twitching as he instinctively shields his eyes from the unexpected brightness of the lamps thousands of kilometers overhead with one broad hand, scanning the landscape. Finding it unnecessary--the thick clouds wafting up against the mountains in this area block the artificial sun--Speaker puts his hand down against the metal hull. This part of the Ring is a series of high-altitude plateaus nestled in densely mountainous terrain, covered in the hardy foliage of the mountains, most of which owe their genomes to Tibet and the higher altitudes of India. The civil engineers called up from the Civilian Defense Corps had done a good job; this area now serves the purpose of a makeshift airfield, constantly receiving shuttles and small craft from above, led by mobile operation centers in nearby trailers and tents. Citizen-soldiers in blue utility uniforms directed the streams of shades of orange and black towards a clearing in the mountainous forest, elsewhere on the plateau, quickly handing them off to kzin guides and pointing them towards trails.

Even if they were welcome, they would not wish to impose.

Kneeling on the gently curving dorsal hull of the craft, Speaker-to-Animals holds a hand out to H'zta, balancing his duffel bag on his opposite shoulder. Accepting the hand, H'zta climbs up with her own bag in tow, examining the area after she steadies herself atop The Magician's Nephew. Speaker pokes his head back in the craft, flashing retinas looking into softly-glowing brown eyes. "Thank you."

"Not a problem, old friend." The once-human nods quietly with a soft smile. "Luck on the Great Hunt. We of the Archailect, especially that portion of the confluence which was once Xanone, wishes you well? kin."

Speaker chuckles softly with a quiet undertone of emotion. "Hrrr. Please forward my regards, Alshai."

Kommetrez returns the gentle chuckle. "What do you mean, forward? You speak to one of Us, you speak to Us all."

Speaker nods sagely, even if upside-down. "Yes... I sometimes forget time has acted on us all."

"Life is change," the dark-skinned Angelan says simply with a smile. "Do what you can, friend."

Speaker nods again and lifts himself up, climbing down carefully from the top of the ship, H'zta following. Unshod feet padding softly on the hardy grass, he nods to the CDC sergeant checking over Magician who snaps to attention in his leader's presence. A gentle order to carry on, and the two kzinti follow the others to where their remembrance hopefully lies.

* - * - *

The trees are short but thin, needle-like leaves keeping their moisture from the dry, thin air. Their grey bark forms the sentinel-like posts that make up the outline of the large clearing, nestled in the valley between two large mountains that cup it like two hands. A small river of clear, potable water bisects the large clearing; no more than the slightly sparser ground cover and the makeshift wooden huts dotting the ground indicate that the forest, until recently, covered this area as well.

The sky is bright, only the slight tufts of clouds spilling over the protecting mountains making a meager attempt to block the artificial sunlight. In the brilliantly-lit clearing, among the piles of fallen needles that used to make up the area's foliage, roam thousands of kzin, some in groups talking, others wandering aimlessly. Their dress runs the gamut of Scolopendran casual style, which generally ranges from whatever utilitarian clothing is comfortable to none at all. All move with a sort of expectant listlessness, a sense of having come so far and then having suddenly lost all direction.

It was not supposed to be like this, Speaker thinks to himself as he and H'zta break into the clearing. I had hoped there would be initiative... He frowns. I hoped too much. Where does one start when rebuilding a past? As he walks closer, some of the outlying kzinti catch a glimpse of him and start talking amongst themselves in hushed tones. Seeing this, Speaker frowns internally but keeps his bearing, moving towards the center of the clearing, as there was simply no other place to go. The quiet murmuring is broken by a clear roar of kzints'utng, curiously enunciated in the honorable form.

"Chazd, baaic! Zhu ts'ehv otkawezh'!" Every kzin in the area stands still, then turns towards the direction of the yell, bowing shortly while arching their necks up. The kzintosh who called the area, a hulking brute of a felinid wearing naught more than a simple baldric with some very old dry ears strung off of it, runs up to the two, repeating the gesture deferentially. The baldric, a well-preserved bit of woven cords, crackles quietly with age as he moves, and is decorated with a series of kzinti words in ancient red paint. Two much newer, metal insignia--a nameplate in English and a steel myrapodal S--identify him as K'zta of the Scolopendran Defense Squadron.

"Sir," he begins in the Hero's Tongue, "we have awaited your arrival. I have done what I can as a Warrior of the Patriarchy to maintain order. We only await your lead." Looking over to the kzinret, K'zta nods curtly. "Cousin."

Despite his surprise, Speaker refuses to show it, using a careful nod to cover his surprised blink, making it look sagely. "Thank you. What efforts have been made?"

H'zta chuckles slightly and, leaning over, speaks in an undertone into Speaker's ear. "I told you so."

"We arrived before the humans were ready. I directed them to create the shelters you see. The terra-engineers confirm that this area is plentiful enough to subsist our projected population and so I recommended to the CDC that they mind the airfield."

"Understood. Hopefully fending for ourselves will help us to remember."

"That was my idea, sir. Also... we were..."--K'zta frowns--"...uncomfortable in their presence, and they were uncomfortable in ours. This opens deep wounds, sir."

Speaker nods again, jaw set with determination. "What other way is there to mend such a break but to reset it?" Thinking on the fly, the de facto leader of the kzin comes up with a plan. "Warrior K'zta, you are going to be my lieutenant. Go around and tell the kzinti to gather in areas of expertise. Those who remember our art, our songs, our stories. Find volunteers for scribes; they shall become our new Conservators."

K'zta blinks slowly. "Sir, the Conservators were... are? selected by their prowess as warriors and their skill of memorization--"

Speaker frowns. "K'zta, our forefathers made the mistake of relying only on the meat in the heads of a few and pretending it to be strength. The strength of the few was a weakness to our culture when that meat was scattered."

K'zta and H'zta wince as one as images long repressed come to the fore again. "My apologies, sir. I will do as you request."

Speaker-to-Animals nods, then chuckles sympathetically as he places a hand on the warrior's shoulder. "It may only be on a temporary basis. We will have to reassemble our culture from scratch, friend. I am by no means dictator."

"Understood, sir. Shall I go?"

"Please do. You are authorized to deputize whomever you need."

K'zta bows curtly again, exposing his neck, then runs off to herd the others as directed.

"Hrrrm." Speaker rubs his chin, watching his new lieutenant's retreating back. "Yes, you told me so." H'zta merely nods with a triumphant little smile as Speaker continues. "Now, if only I can keep this from turning into a dictatorship where what I say goes."

"Well?" H'zta folds her arms. "That is what you are trying to rebuild."

"Hrm. We will need to fix that." Speaker-to-Animals frowns. "Too weak."

Subtitles: Yell: "Area, attention! The leader arrives!"
[edit] Remind me to never use Word to write a post ever again.
09-04-2004, 03:01
After points are made and some loose startegy is planned, Kraah takes his leave, and journeys to Zzaudd to speak with the governor there. Traveling by manually-controlled Sweeper, outfitted for his girth and featuring a dry-bar. He lands at the Zzaudd shuttleport and disembarks, where he is greeted by the Governor Kremm, and his retinue.

"Governor Kremm. It is good to see you." Kraah puts forward one arm, under-arm side up exposing the scent markers. The Governor clasps the arm and the scent-markers meet. It is a greeting Sakkrans only use among each other, and is told to have the purpose of leaving a reminder of themselves for a long time.

"Advisor Kraah. I welcome you to the city of Zzaudd, and extend every courtesy to you." The pair turns, followed closely by the retinue of minor officers and bodyguards. Kraah produces a tube, sealed at both ends. "Here is the proposal, and blueprints for the space we'll need."

The Governor takes the tube, but does not open it. "I will look these over with the Civil Engineers, but I can safely say that I foresee no trouble with meeting your requirements. As you requested, we have begun a recruitment drive of the local populace for skilled and unskilled labor." The Governor then looks about.

"Wasn't there supposed to be a K'zin present?"

"She was called away on urgent family business, so I am spearheading this part for now. Her part will come later." I only hope she can make it here for it. "For now, how has the open-call for architects turned out?"

"Not too poorly. Several are at some of the cafes in town, poring over proposals that they hope will catch your eye. I must confess, many have more motivation than skill from what i've seen, but there may be surprises." Kremm nods his head forward at a rather beaten and worn limo. "Our chariot."

Kraah stifles a gut-laugh, but lets a small whiff escape. "I see you are definitely not corrupt, which is good. I hope the shocks on this thing work."
11-04-2004, 03:46
Scolopendran Independent News
"Because it sucks to be S.I.N.-less"

"Our leading story tonight is concerning the rather odd situation concerning the kzinti. Ever since Science Advisor Hertzfeldt appeared before the Cultural Integration Committee two days ago and the Legislative Unit passed a mandate on the matter in record time, the kzin community--and, vicariously, all of Scolopendra--has been on edge with excitement. Businesses and bureaus across the Segments all report sudden absences of almost all kzin over thirty-five, universally claiming 'personal reasons' as cause.

"We here at S.I.N. have discovered several things concerning this cause. From the transcripts of the Legislative Unit, we know that Supreme Emperor Speaker-to-Animals--also absent--is legislatively mandated to rebuild the kzinti culture with means apparently including requesting the presence of all kzin who remember Tibet well. While a great deal of emphasis is on culture, what is the culture that they are trying to resurrect, and what will its effect be on the rest of Scolopendra?

"We have learned that apparently this meeting is occuring Ringside. While no journalistic presence has been requested, it has not been formally denied either. Despite having lost contact with our elder Kzin correspondents much in the same way as other industries, we still have a man on the scene, who's standing by now."

The image cuts to a business-like Caucasian male with the kind of face that looks like it hails from a corporate cookie-cutter. Wearing a field vest, he stands off to the left third of the camera's field of view, the rest centered around the activity in the clearing about a hundred meters away. Fires are beginning to spring up in the failing light, including a large one in the center of the clearing.

Are you there?

"Yes, Ms. Estes," the man responds quietly, obviously listening through the earphone whose cord trails down from his left ear, "I'm reporting from the kzin meeting site."

What's been happening?

"I managed to get this close about eight hours ago... during that time it looks like they've been moving in and out of various stations. There's been some larger discussions... I don't quite know the language, but I've been streaming data back to S.I.N. for analysis. So far, it's like some sort of odd convention. Several seem to have been delegated to bookkeeping, and the rest are all cycling through."

We're sorting through that information; it looks like they're reassembling stories and mythology, along with some smatterings of what sounds like some sort of government. The word 'Patriarchy' has been mentioned several times. What does the command structure seem to be?

"Well... it started out rather disorganized, and then Speaker-to-Animals showed up, and it started showing order. It appears that he's acting as a major coordinator with who appears to be Colonel K'zta and Sky Marshal M'sha as assistants. Right now, it just seems like they're just assembling information."

Have you asked any of them what's going on?

"No... I haven't seen any humans in the area and they don't seem to mind the lack of them. I'm still very much of the opinion they wouldn't like my being here."

* - * - *

Razak blinks, looking up from his desk at the news. Aw, hell. Brushing his paperwork aside, he begins bringing up the communications protocols from his desk's integrated computer.

* - * - *

The reporter, twenty-five years old at most, shuts up once the system engineer tells him over his headset that the live feed is cut; walking over to the small camera on its spindly bipod, he gets it ready to move with a slight sigh, looking over at the campfires as he does so. Hell, I shouldn't be here. But nooo, have to get the story, have to let the people know. Man, what's so important about a little convention. Still...--he sits down and starts taking close-up shots with the camera--it's what I get paid for...

Hearing the snap of a twig behind him, the reporter flinches, then gets a very green expression on his face as he turns around slowly to see a very large kzinret--the previously-mentioned M'sha--tossing two halves of twigs over her shoulders. She doesn't look very happy. This, however... He manages a crooked smile and a half-wave. "Hi."

* - * - *

"PseudoEmperor Razak! What a welcome surprise!"

"Can it, mediamonkey. What the hell are you doing, putting a reporter around a bunch of emotionally stirred-up nostalgic kzin when no one asked, eh?"

The voice on the other end of the line immediately turns harder. "If Speaker-to-Animals is planning on resurrecting the Patriarchy, it's a clear issue to democratic Scolopendra as a whole. We can't wake up one morning and find ourselves under a dicta... an absolute ruler."

Stunned silence. "You're... worried... that Speeks is going to come out as the absolute authority over the kzin and lead a coup or some such?" Another pause. "What are you on? He's more of a democrat than I am, and he already runs the damned country!"

"There's no need for secrecy if what he's doing is benign."

"There's no need for announcing it to the whole goddamned multiverse and making it a media circus, buster! Ever hear about scientific systems and isolating them? You show up, you'll just start fudging everything up because they won't be comfortable." Razak's voice turns grim. "As the person who got us all into this damned mess in the first place, I am not going to allow you or anyone else to interfere with a legistlatively mandated mission. Quote me on all of this. Have a good day."


Grumbling, Razak pages Advisor Hawke. It's mandated; we can assign federal forces... Looking up, he sees an unhappy M'sha listing on the screen.

"Bloody hell."

* - * - *

Speaker-to-Animals sighs, shaking his head as one hand works up and down the shawl-like band of coarse fabric that acts as his station of office. Looking over at the very small-looking human sitting in the corner, he waves out all the others. "Sraap' tuyc preede 'vre... H'zta, irgeeth grrring vuul tuyic. Meezs."

All except the addressed kzinret leave the wooden hut. While not exactly large, being full of unhappy kzinti certainly made it claustrophobic. Sighing again, Speaker returns to using English. "The camera is on?"

The reporter nods. "Never had time to turn it off, sir."

Speaker gives the camera a tired look, then kneels on one knee next to the human, folding his arms on the forward one, slightly furred segmented tail twitching. "I am sure you understand that we are..." He cants his head slightly, then chuckles. "Not amused."

"I figure so." The reporter turns a shade greener.

"Still, I for one am not annoyed with you. You are performing a benign task."

"One that we would have preferred you rejected," H'zta offers.

"Er... sorry?" The young man shrugs meekly.

Speaker nods slowly. "Yes... but you are here now and are our guest. What do you want to know?"

The man blinks. "Pardon?"

"What do you want to know?" H'zta repeats, chuckling. "You are a reporter. Ask questions."

"Ummm..."--the reporter scratches the back of his neck--"who, what, where, when, and why. Who, where, and when are covered. What are you doing?"

"Rebuilding a culture," Speaker says simply, extending his thumb idly. "We have been working today to assemble the scraps of rememberances; we can collate them later."

"Uh... what's the Patriarchy?"

"It was our form of government in Tibet," H'zta replies as Speaker extends his index finger, "a patriarchal autocratic monarchy. It had great weaknesses, sexism and non-redundant autocracy being the main ones."

"Er... are you... rebuilding that too? I wasn't briefed on my way down." The reporter offers a weak smile.

The kzintosh chuckles, extending a third finger on one hand. "For here and now, apparently so. If that stays..." He shrugs in an almost human fashion.

"The Segments do not have to worry that Tuyc will become a dictator," H'zta adds, almost sneering at the idea, "or even a sub-government. We are as loyal as we ever were." Her voice drops half an octave, the consistency of gravel. "Fiercely so."

The reporter looks down at Speaker's hand. "I suppose I get one more question?"

Speaker extends the last finger and holds up his four-fingered hand. "And that would be it."

"Aww," the human groans wryly, "weak." Momentary pause. "Still... I guess I'd best not complain."

Speaker takes hold of the camera and looks into it momentarily. "That is your story for tonight. We will tell the rest when it concludes. Have a good night." He taps the power switch and returns the camera to the reporter. "The CDC will escort you back to wherever you should be."

"Thank you, sir." The reporter bows slightly in his seat. Chuckling, Speaker shakes his head and lifts the man's chin with one hand, offering only "No, like this" for explanation.


Speaker taps the man's throat as H'zta replies. "Sign of willing deferral to the other, and of trust."

"I see. Thanks."

H'zta chuckles, breath huffing softly as the two lieutenants come to the door bearing blue-uniformed CDC troopers. "Have a good night, reporter."

* - * - *

Trails of white phosphor streak over the sky, in rows and short succession. Stepping outside, Speaker looks up and shivers, fur fluffing out slightly. "Vraanj the vuul t'kizhcnn h'een wrir' 'sraap k'tyut'kjaztz arow."

H'zta nods as she stands close, offering a sort of holding hug as she rests her chin on the kzintosh's shoulder (and leaning over to do so), watching the trails herself. Speaker's ears twitch momentarily as he tilts his head slightly to look over at the kzinret, then shrugs internally, ends of his lips curving up as he watches the artificial meteors again. "Razak tsekecd shrri' yeezd."

H'zta squeezes slightly. "'Sraap keeheelabp 'vre kzezicl."

Subtitles: Speaker: "I will talk with him... H'zta, you are a diplomat. Stay." // Speaker: "It has been a long time since I have seen that." / Speaker: "Razak looks out for us once more." / H'zta: "I wish him to succeed."
17-04-2004, 05:12
The yowling of tales and trading of rememberences continues long into the night, the amorphous mass of life slowly finding form. The makeshift Conservators split up, forming groups around them, specializing. "Stories! Tell me your stories! You know a smattering of the Song of the People? Go over there!" The two full-named Warriors go about, collecting half-named and no-named troopers to fill out the ranks, helping the crowds mill from station to station, resolving what few disagreements there are and supervising the work of the Conservator-clerks. Speaker-to-Animals and H'zta make the rounds, checking up on each group, making sure everyone is taken care of inbetween idle conversations to each other. Passing through the crowds, Speaker at least learns to not show surprise at the deferential looks and bows he receives, even if they still do raise his fur uncomfortably. Eventually the two break away from the group, sitting along the edge of the clearing and looking up at the Ringside sky, Saturn as always stuck right at the vertical, seemingly held up by the regularly broken line of the Arch. After being silent for a few minutes, H'zta breaks it in the Hero's Tongue, quiet words softly spoken. "You are serious. You never knew?"

Speaker chuckles. "No, H'zta, I did not. I thought I said so... and I am still not comfortable with it."

"Why not?"

The kzintosh leans back, arms folded behind his head as he looks up idly at the stars. "I am a peasant, H'zta. Son of a peasant and a peasant. My family down to Riskadh is filled with naught but peasants."

"Yet honorable," H'zta replies, quietly matching the motion. "You are a respectable kzintosh, and they are only showing you the honor you deserve."

"And more," Speaker chuckles slightly with a quiet huffing noise. "They treat me like a Patriarch, but I am not nobility. I am a peasant here"--he traces the veins of one arm with a single finger--"and a peasant here." He taps his brow gently. "I am nothing special."

"Nothing special?" The kzinret gets up on one elbow, looking curiously at Speaker. "Thirty years ago, you were nothing, like the rest of us. Now... you lead the nation that saved us. You are an example to us all. As for nobility..." H'zta sighs, laying back down and ending up slightly closer. "Perhaps that is a good thing. Our belief in the 'specialty' of nobility made us weak when it vanished. The respect you receive is based on your achievements, not your blood. That, perhaps, is a better measure."

"Perhaps." The kzintosh sighs softly. "Tomorrow we will make more progress. Some structure has already reappeared... we may have to decide whether it becomes more permanent, and in what form."

"A great deal of our culture is locked in the Patriarchy, it is true," H'zta replies, curling up slightly. "To rebuild one needs the other, but we have additional loyalties now."

"There is a solution." Speaker sets his jaw. "We will find it."

"Of course." H'zta yawns broadly then nestles quietly. "But it is a matter for tomorrow."
25-04-2004, 05:34
Speaker yawns, stretching slightly as he keeps his eyes closed, resting comfortably as birds chirp somewhere in the early Ringside 'morning.' Nestling in a bit more--No need to be on the bounce today...--he sighs contentedly when the soft surface his head is resting on stirs.

Opening his eyes, he looks up and finds himself comfortably curled up with H'zta, who looks down at him with happily twitching bat-winged ears. "Good morning."

"Hrr..." Speaker looks left and right, gentle attempts to disengage thwarted by equally gentle pressure from the kzinret's similarly engaged arm. "Sorry?"

"Do you see me complaining?" H'zta chuckles with a slight huffing sound, segmented tail twitching along with her ears. "You nodded off and just leaned over. Nothing to be ashamed of."

"You could have pushed me off..."

H'zta rolls her eyes. "I chose not to. I found it rather comfortable as well." Her ears twitch a bit more, answered by Speaker's.

"Fair enough."

A quick wash downstream, standard lack of a nudity taboo ensuring that it's a simple affair for all involved. There might be a few more glances stolen than usual between a few, but it's generally mutual and certainly not minded.

The day begins and progresses where the last left off, stories told and collected, the Song of the People slowly added to. The story of the Great Hunt slowly comes together, to be organized and determined later... not everything could be accomplished immediately, for sure. A new form of organization emerges, that by the fifty Houses of the Kzinti. There were originally five hundred, so the stories tell, but they intermarried and mixed, some lines dying off and others disappearing into the fractal universe, until only ten percent of the total remained. From this ordering, the fifty tribes of kzin began ordering themselves, assigning seniority to age and respect.

From this internal organization came the question, voiced by unconnected minds thinking the same thing: "What of the Patriarchy?" How could it be organized? How would it be implemented? What would it do? How would the humans accept it?

The only question left unasked was whether or not it was to be done. The answer to that, of course, was a given.

Speaker sits at the tip of an elongated circle, more like an ovoid, flanked by his makeshift conservators and chief warriors, their respective notebooks and coarse sashes denoting their positions. On the wide end of the egg-shaped pattern are the fifty elected, appointed, or otherwise decided leaders of fourty-nine Houses.

The fiftieth, House Riskadh, is represented by Speaker. The silence, hanging heavy, is abruptly broken by his voice. "Are there any suggestions on the matter?"
The question brings forth odd looks, somehow. The dictator refusing to dictate? "How do you mean?" asks the representative from House Tzkiigaaarath.

Speaker chuckles, ears twitching. "Suggestions. It is obvious we want the Patriarchy re-established. How do you think we should go about it? You go first, Tzkiigaaarath-Speaker, since you asked."

"Hrrr..." The kzintosh frowns. "I do not know, sir. I'm not an organizer by trade."

"Then why are you leader?" Speaker replies without malice.

"Because I am old and understand both our culture and those that surround us."

"What does your experience tell you about our culture and how it relates to others?"

House Tzkiigaaarath's speaker thinks for a few moments. "Our culture is linked with the humans, with Scolopendra. We have worked with them to build our nation as siblings. We cannot threaten that bond."

Speaker nods. "How can we accomplish that?"

"The authority of the Patriarchy cannot conflict with the authority of the state, at least not in matters where loyalty would come into question."

"I have a thought," offers Prayer-Writer, Priest of the Dark Pelt.

"Speak, House of the Theologians."

Prayer-Writer nods. "As the senior member of the Faith of the Fanged God, I have been trying to maintain our religion as best I can. You know this."

The assembled kzinti nod.

"The human religious leaders have been surprisingly helpful, especially the dervishes of the Mohammed-Prophet. Faith structures exist seperate from the rules of the state. You know this as well."

"True," Speaker-to-Animals replies slowly, "but how can we adapt this to our needs, Prayer-Writer?"
"Many human religions cover the same purpose in their cultures as the Patriarchy does in ours. Ceremonies, honors, naming... all of these are religious traditions to the humans. We can establish the Patriarchy as a secular religion."

The kzinti sniff the air carefully, raising their muzzles in puzzlement. "How so?"

"Many religions--like ours--have a definitive structure. The Patriarch is also the head priest of Kzedf'sraz, as you recall. While we can no longer say that Kzedf'sraz is the father of the Patriarch and the Patriarch is the father of us all, the Patriarchy can be the secular extension of our religion. Dealing with morality rather than legality, we do not conflict with the state any more than any religion. Using their precident, we can recreate the structure of the Patriarchy without concern."

Speaker nods slowly. "Without concern except over the weaknesses that brought us to this state. No, the old structure of the Patriarchy is ineffective," he says resolutely, "and must be revised. For one, we have been shown what evils can come from the stubbornness of a poor Patriarch."

Slow, extremely careful nods.

"Thus, there must be a matter of choice in the matter. We cannot let accident of birth determine our leadership. For two, we now see the error in a truly patriarchal system. It cuts our potential for excellence in half."

Slight chuckles, especially from the female house leaders.

"Therefore, the 'Archy' may be Patriarchal or Matriarchal depending on the circumstance. We must maintain high standards, and thus must remain a meritocracy, but not a meritocracy by combat as much. What good is a warrior doing a Conservator's duty? When they were supposed to be conserving our culture, the old Conservator-warriors were out getting shot. Their aggressiveness, which gave them their strings of ears and their status, became their doom. We must base merit not only on sheer strength but cunning and the task in question."

More nods. "But what of the organization?"

Speaker twitches his ears. "Think of something. I cannot do all the work."
01-05-2004, 10:14
The discussion continues into the day, Speaker sitting back and watching the group come up with solutions. What about a simple hierarchal structure side-by-side with the clergy of Kzedf'sraz? No, that gives too little power to the established Houses. Going through the houses gives them too much power and enhances the power of a few--

"House Riskadh," Speaker offers, "is, for example, much smaller than house Zrraaghah. I will not accept such an imbalance even in my favor."

Still... a secular hierarchy, spiritual hierarchy, and a familial hierarchy is simply too much. "We could combine the secular and spiritual hierarchies," Prayer-Writer offers, "for we do not worry about blessing our preachers or what not. They can be elected by local communities and act as channels for the faith taught via the Conservators. It can be a series of councils, each elected by the lower level. Local areas elect regional priests, regional priests elect a Mouth that speaks to the Patriarch."

"That sounds good," the others say, "but how do we balance that with the Houses?"

"That should not be difficult," H'zta replies, "in the old system, Patriarchs were the heirs of the Rrit house. It only makes sense that house leaders be in succession for the 'Archy, but to prevent infighting, they will be elected by the voices of the people... the priesthood."

"So we have the voice of the people in two ways... by the family and by the community," Speaker nods. "How do we balance them to keep them true?"

"How do you mean?"

"We need a section that is not as fluid. The priesthood is a republic, it will flow up and down as priests are elected and removed by their virtues in the eyes of the people. The Houses depend on the internal structure of each House, which could be rather aristocratic. We need a third party to balance the fluidity of the people's say and the static nature of the Houses' say."

"Maybe," the leader of House Raathaki replies, "that is where the Conservators come in. They maintain continuity by being in control of religious doctrine, our stories, and such."

"Quite," Prayer-Writer says, "we can have a head Conservator who heads a several faceted branch which, while lacking direct power, wields power by maintaining the culture."

Speaker nods. "It can be split into four branches: A priest to maintain the faith, a historian, a minstrel to manage public affairs, and an administrator."

The debate on structure continues on past noon and into the early evening, the Conservators drawing crude diagrams in their notebooks and crumpling each revision that fails to meet the needs of the many. Lines connect circles and triangles labeled with the commas-and-dots of kzinti writing, webs indicated and segmented by dotted lines and notes concerning relations and purposes. A final draft hashed out, the Conservators present it to Speaker-to-Animals, and the ovoid group adjourns for hunting, having not eaten throughout the long day. Meanwhile, warriors are sent out to gather the people for a proclamation once the hunting parties return.

* - * - *

"A productive day," Speaker says quietly, body low to the ground as he stalks, not looking over at the kzinret a few meters away.

H'zta nods quietly, crouching lower with a pause, pointing with one finger. "Prey," she says softly, indicating a herd of deyr foraging in a clearing.

Nodding, Speaker uses short hand signals to indicate a plan: He goes over to one side, she goes to the other, and they work in a pincers movement. H'zta nods her acknowledgement and the two kzinti split up, stalking silently around to opposite ends of the clearing, keeping contact with each other. Both in position, they tense up, tails moving slowly back and forth as they eye each other. The kzintosh flicks his ears and H'zta bounds from the underbrush, claws out and toothy jaws opened wide with a roar. The deyr break and scatter the opposite way--towards Speaker--who rolls to dodge one as his clawed arm shoots out, grabbing one in the neck and jerking it off its feet. "We make a good team," he chuckles as the kzinret bounds up, both of them quickly dispatching and devouring the impromptu meal.
07-05-2004, 02:25
Speaker sighs heavily with relief, ears flicking at the silver-haired man on the screen. "Raoowh arow yeezd."

Razak chuckles. "Livoligg Ztsotsmughhr Tufugh sughpee. Eegonj'yi ztgekzbaksh grrring g'cu jipi g'cu Sakkzrra."

"'Z'asr the vuul tzazi ch'ikughps."

"Ch'owb arow the zofr 'w k'tozoow vuul h'zeeztbughh' hirazbeydsibd-kzin."

Speaker sniffs slightly, raising his muzzle, then performs the human analog to that action--raising a furred eyebrow. Seeing Julius' wink, he blinks as ideas connect and he guffaws, a harsh sound. "Excellent! There is a story behind that."

"That there is. I just read the reports of our mislaid nobility... and they'd be totally outlandish if our own little cavalier's report didn't confirm them word for word."

Speaker wipes a tear of mirth from his eye. "Thank you, old friend. This is very good news. We have made progress here and are almost ready to adjourn. I will tell you more when I return."

"I look forward to it." Razak smiles and nods, then looks at the top of the screen. "Okay, trooper, you can shut the portcomp and go back on patrol."

The armored Mobile Infantryman chuckles. "Hooah, sir," buzzes from the suit's speakers as the powersuited trooper closes the armored computer case then replaces it to the side of his jetpack. "Have a good day, sir," he salutes to the kzintosh, then pivots and runs back towards the treeline, leaping into the air, jets spurting out to support his flight.

Subtitles: Speaker: "Say that again." / Razak: "National Contingency Black cleared. All three are now in safety in Sakkra." / Speaker: "Black [as death] is a bad color." (A pun on kzinti synonyms with alternate meanings) / Razak: "Apparently, that is why we sent a white knight."


An idea ferments in the crowd. It started as a silly thought by one, shared for a chuckle... but was a good idea, and so it spread. Now it is a movement, known by practically all. Now it is shared with H'zta.

H'zta laughs, the meaty yet rasping sound of lungs being evacuated with yowling coughs. "He will never go for that," she replies in kzints'utng, "neither one. You would have to force it upon him with united voice, and he would not allow the vote."

"We hoped you could help with that."

H'zta barely sniffs the air. "Pardon?"

"Hrrr... you have been by his side for the entire summit," the speaker says, "and perhaps you could talk to him and distract him long enough for us to pull up a vote."

"'Distract,' hmm?" The kzinret flicks her tail left and right in a secret smile, lids barely coming down over his eyes slyly. "I think I can do that. How long will you need."

The conspirator shrugs slightly in the human fashion. "As long as you can provide."

H'zta's bat-wing ears twitch quite a bit. "Out-standing."


Speaker-to-Animals adjusts his coarse sash as he climbs atop the somewhat flattish hut which had doubled as a platform throughout the week. Looking over the faces of the thousands of tiger-like felinids collected around the platform and out over the clearing, he announces in his best voice, respectful: "The People of Heroes, I announce good news. The Houses and the new Conservators have met, and we now have a new structure of the Patriarchy for their efforts!"

A roar of triumph from the crowd, along with several compliments--apparently, the humble discounting of his own contributions fools no one.

"This plan solves the weaknesses of the Patriarchy we lost, and ensures a common voice in our affairs. The first method of this will be the Circle of the Houses, formed of the chiefs of each of the fifty Houses. Those chiefs are appointed however each House deems appropriate, and they will elect a first among them, the Mouth of the Families. The Mouth of the Families is their spokesperson to the Patriarch, and every member of the Circle of the Houses is in the line of succession for the Patriarchy. No longer will our highest office be given by accident of birth.

"As our religion has no sacrements, only philosophy; as it has few holy writs and many stories, we will not have an established priest-class. Priests will be determined by the local congregations of kzin by their own merits. These priests will form Regional Circles as is expedient and will elect from their number a Region-Priest, who will join other Region-Priests in the Circle of the Race, coequal with the Circle of the Houses. The Circle of the Race will elect a Mouth of the Race which will be its spokesperson to the Patriarch and confer directly with the Conservators to maintain our religion. While the House Chiefs are in the line of succession for the Patriarchy, the Circle of the Race will elect one to fill that position whenever the last dies, retires, or is deemed unfit by both Great Circles. Thus is their power balanced.

"Finally, there will be the Memory of the Race, the Conservators which will maintain our culture, raised to their stations purely by merit in trials of strength both physical and mental, so they will be qualified for their posts and not only warriors." Speaker bows with a wry chuckle and a flick of the ears to M'sha and K'zta, who return the gesture. "The Conservators will be lead by the Mouth of the Ages, the wisest and strongest Conservator. Under that one will be the First Priest, who will speak directly to the Mouth of the Race to ensure our faith remains true to its roots; the First Warrior-Poet to chronicle the Song of the Race and continue it throughout time; the First Minstrel, who will assist in spreading our stories and culture, assiting both our people and those others who wish to learn of it; and finally the First Librarian, who will maintain in physical form the produce of our culture, coordinating with the First Warrior-Poet, First Minstrel, and First Priest. The First Librarian will also be responsible for maintaining the organization of the Patriarchy and ensuring its efficient operation.

"All these posts, including the Patriarchy, are open to all worthy. As we have learned since Tibet, it is foolish to repress the feminine." Another soft chuckle. "The new Patriarchy is no longer such... perhaps 'Archy' is better, but that is not for me to decide.

"The Patriarch--or Matriarch, as the case may be--is elected from the House Chiefs. The Patriarch is the pinnacle of our culture, resolving disputes, declaring articles of faith, and officiating major ceremonies, fulfilling all the nonpolitical duties of the Patriarch of old. The Patriarch is the only one authorized to full-name but, as the population of the Race expands, the Patriarch's House is authorized to assist in assigning half-names in the name of the Patriarch."

Speaker removes his sash and holds it up. "The first Patriarch will be elected by plebiscite of those present of the Race. Volunteers and nominees will be accepted for consideration." He places it on a branch jutting out from the top of the hut he stands on. "May it go to the most worthy. For my own part, I--"

M'sha coughs and elbows the side of the hut as hard as she can, shaking it and toppling Speaker with a softly gasping 'hrowar' of suprise. As K'zta jumps up top to start directing the actions of the appointed Conservators, Speaker-to-Animals stands up, looking around with flat ears. "That went with less dignity than I could have hoped," he grumbles.

"I would not worry about it," H'zta offers, slinking alongside the kzintosh. "It went well."

"Yes," Speaker nods, then looks up at the hut, "but I should get back up to organize and announce that I'm not runni--"

"K'zta seems to have everything well under control so maybe you should share the limelight for once," the kzinret says with a teasing chuckle. "Besides," she continues as she taps her tail against Speaker's leg, "you have done a great deal. Perhaps it is time to relax?"

Speaker shakes his head. "I am not done quite--" Another tap of H'zta's tail and he looks down, "--yet..." H'zta moves her tail back slowly, tip moving back and forth quite slowly while Speaker follows it with his eyes. "Besides... the election will begin soon, and..."

"The election will take time to organize," H'zta replies with flickering ears, tail slowly moving, tip sweeping lazily back and forth. "Certainly you can spare a little time. Everything is under control, and you have earned some relaxation."

Speaker blinks slightly, but that does not manage to make his eyes lose their lock on the tip of the kzinret's tail as he feels his higher mental functions lose speed. "Some, I suppose."

"Come along, then," H'zta says in a low voice as she backs away slowly, "and relax for once in your life. If someone needs you, they will call for you."

The kzintosh nods dumbly. "Right. Of course." He unconsciously follows H'zta away from the crowd as she continues talking about things that would almost make sense if his brain were running fast enough to put connected ideas together. "I found a rather secluded area just north-anti-spinward from here. Some low-lying brush, rock overhangs, a stream... quite nice."

Speaker blinks again and figures from the sound of the kzin behind them fading that they're going quite some distance away, but he still follows H'zta's motions with his eyes. "Hrrr... about that relaxation... what exactly do you have planned?"

H'zta pauses long enough to look over her shoulder with flickering ears, eyes lidded slyly. "I thought you would never ask..."
09-05-2004, 00:29
The Next Morning

H'zta scritches her fingers along the back of Speaker-to-Animal's head, quite comfortably curled up with the kzintosh in question. Speaker nestles in a little closer, then yawns broadly before stretching luxuriously.

"Good morning. Sleep well?" The kzinret asks, continuing the gentle attentions as she unconsciously stretches in return.

"Mrrrrrr. Quite." Speaker nods gently, eyes still closed, simply enjoying the moment as higher mental functions return to their previous state.

This, of course, includes an overactive sense of duty.

Eyes shooting open, Speaker looks up and then groans with a soft growl. "Morning? I must have missed the election!"

H'zta nods, ears flickering. "Probably. Certainly you do not..."--she ponders for a moment for an appropriate word, bat-wing ears twitching and an impish light in her eyes--"regret missing it?"

Speaker twitches his ears and nips playfully. "Hrr. How do I respond to that?"

"You are the diplomat," she replies as she returns the nip, "you tell me."

"You are a wily one," Speaker chuckles.

H'zta just twitches her tail and ears, mischievous light in the eyes. "I cannot deny it. Shall we wash up before we return?"

The kzintosh snuggles with a soft chuckle. "I cannot see why not."

* - * - *

"Hail, Speaker!" M'sha waves as the two kzinti enter the clearing. "We could not find you last night."

"Hrrr... I know..." Speaker scratches the back of his head. "I was otherwise occupied. My apolo--"

"No matter, I can tell you what happened." M'sha flicks her ears about happily, winking at H'zta. "First," she recounts dryly as she walks back to the center of the clearing, "you have a new name."

Speaker blinks as he follows along.

"A half-name, actually."

"Hrr..." Speaker blinks again, willing his mouth to work. "Who may I thank?"

"Your cousin, Teacher-of-Students." M'sha indicates that kzintosh with a finger; Teacher looks up and waves, flashing a sign of congratulation.

"So... that means the Patriarch has to be from my house." Speaker rubs his chin with one hand. "Who won the election?"

M'sha folds her hands behind her back, ears and tail flickering in the equivalent of an mischievous grin. H'zta chuckles softly. "Told you."

Speaker turns to H'zta with a surprised look. "You knew."

The addressed kzinret nods her head firmly, ears twitching almost uncontrollably. "Yes. It was quite the conspiracy. I was the diversionary element. This worked for me, because I had other primary motivations that worked quite well with that secondary one."

"You are sly." The kzintosh can't help but flick his ears in return. "So how come my cousin renamed me without my say-so?"

"It was demanded by the populace," M'sha said, "and they were quite vehement about it. Only you could--and still can--give yourself a full name, but they were rather insistent. To keep the crowd civilized, we allowed your kin to half-name you, Speaker-Rrit."

"Rrit?" Speaker-Rrit blinks again. "The Patriarchal house name?"

"It fits, does it not?" H'zta says with a sly sideways glance.


"Any complaints?"

"By the Fanged God, none." By now, the party is up on the makeshift stage, the sash still where Speaker put it the night previous. Once again the kzinti gather, all of them chuckling amongst themselves.

Speaker looks out over the crowd. "You are all sly and devious tricksters!" M'sha takes up the sash and proffers it to Speaker, head up and throat exposed, the crowd repeating the gesture of willful submission. Taking the sash, Speaker looks over it carefully in his hands, holding it close before looking back up. "And I am honored to lead such a people of hunters and heroes." Putting his head back, exposing his neck, he carefully dons the baldric.

"I accept the duty and honor you have bestowed upon me. Thank you."

The people's roar in response can only be described as deafening.
24-05-2004, 17:59
Returning from the soiree in the backwater nation, Kraah settles into his haet-chamber for a moment before continuing on with his day. relaxing. I wonder how the Chief Engineer is faring? he should be here soon to look over schematics. He hears a 8bweep* from his message console, and voice-commands it to play audio. The voice issued forth is a pleasant enough sound.

"My mate,

I am returning to help you oversee the construction of the employee residences. Suffice it to say, my trip was successful. I will arrive in half a cycle. Make sure that the heat chamber is readied for me; I am quite tired and will probably rest for the better part of a cycle.


Ah, excellent. It will be good to see her again after such a time separated. Kraah emerges from the chamber half an hour later, and dons a wrap around his waist, and robe over his shoulder. He comms his aid. "Inform the Governor that i'm ready to view the grounds, and the construction in progress."

An affirmative is given, and Kraah dons his fetlock guards. His personal quarters are exited after he sets the heat chamber for Sszeera's needs since he expects to be out for the better part of the day. The slightly disheveled vehicle meets him at the door of his temporary residence, and he waves in greeting as he approaches.

The car travels along a dusty road, with tall grasses in the distance evident. Avian predators circle the air in the distance, their wings stretched out to take advantage of the air currents. Tall trees in a scattered pattern come up in the distance.

Some light banter passes between the two Sakkrans as the car comes to a slow at the building site. Constructor suits and technicians, as well as architects in a central tent, are visible. A deep hole 50 meters deep is seen, with fresh resin being made by the Resin Beetles. Handlers wearing specialized manipulators form the resin into the foundation wall, a full 2 meters thick, of the building. This stage is nearly complete.

"Well, Governer, it seems construction goes at a good pace. Have we gotten the shipment of generators from Kastaa power yet?"

"I don't know. You'll have to talk with the foreman about that. But from what I see, I would say no." The Governor looks out over the build-site, and points out five deep holes with foundation walls already hardened. "That is where the solar and wind generators will be located. The single fusion backup will be located there ...." He points to the furthest pit from where they stand. "...and energy collectors should be made and installed after the generators are situated."

"Very good. How about showing me the employee residence section?"
Dread Lady Nathicana
27-05-2004, 15:59
Aboard vonKarma’s Loki, enjoying frozen treats as had been promised upon leaving a decidedly odd yet eventful ball in a backwater nation, several friends kick back and relax. Two in particular sit comfortably conversing in quiet tones, paying little heed to the revelry around them.

Speaker-Rrit toys slightly with his banana split. "I've heard from several reports that these past weeks have been quite exciting for you, tzobu."

Nathicana slowly sips a spoonful of her mochaccino shake, and nods. "Mmmm ... oh, aye Speaker," she says, a certain tightness showing around her eyes even as she smiles. "It has been ... a challenge. Still, I would say that you yourself have news, and of a much more pleasant sort."

"I will admit, my week in the wilderness was less stressful than yours." He absent-mindedly fingers the baldric of rough hemp-like material he wears. "I acted on your idea, kzaw-tzobu. You were right."

She pauses, her spoon part way to her mouth. "Which idea was that, mi amico?" she asks, one brow arched questioningly, not missing the gesture.

Speaker chuckles softly. "The one you had in the Outsets not overly long ago. Concerning collecting the kzinti and attempting to rebuild our culture."

Blinking, she tilts her head slightly, then smiles warmly. "I'd almost forgotten, Speaker. Judging by your name, and," she pauses again, looking over the baldric, "new mantle of office, perhaps, that it went well?"

The kzintosh smiles, ends of his lips turning up and bat-wing ears practically flapping. Even for one who doesn't know the body language, he looks like he's beaming. "Extraordinarily well. My people honored me twice ... behind my back, of course, but sly tactics make for good hunters. They awarded me both the title of Patriarch and a half-name, as I was not available to protest either."

Nathi smiles as broadly as she can without offering offense. "I can't think of one better suited, or more deserving of such honor, my friend. Congratulations. And again, for being able to claim such delightfully devious people who obviously posses a good amount of wisdom and foresight to see it needed doing." She pauses only for a moment before offering a tight hug, patting him on the back.

Speaker-Rrit gladly returns the hug, still practically beaming. "If that were not sufficient, my now-consort H'zta is the reason I was not available." He manages to wink in an almost human fashion. "I told you she was a sly one."

Nathicana laughs delightedly, giving him a comradely slap on the back. "Oh gods, Speaker ... you've got yourself a handful there, I'll warrant. I like her aleady."

"Truly, truly. I almost feel sorry for the businesspeople who will have to deal with her in Sakkra. Still," he says with a smile, "I am glad to see you noticed. I must admit I am proud of my distinctions, whether I had anything to do with gaining them or no."

"You look ... happy. Content," she notes after studying him for a moment, still smiling warmly, obviously quite pleased. "And you should be proud. What you've done is unprecedented. I can see she is quite proud of you as well."

"It is certainly mutual," the kzintosh replies, "and I still wonder how I managed to be so fortunate."

The dark-haired woman tilts her head, her smile becoming more contemplative and quiet. "I understand the feeling all to well," she says softly, her eyes looking a tad bright.

"It is for the best, certainly." Speaker nods, then manages to take a large bite out of the banana split using his oddly-shaped spoon. "There is no real reason in questioning as long as it is accepted. And I would be a fool not to accept it."

"Christ, boy ... you're as bad as others I know," she says with a light chuckle. "Some things simply are. So tell me, the organization of it all. How did you end up laying it all out?"

"The Patriarchy used to be a simple pyramidal feudal system. Now it is split into essentially three portions: one for the large Houses of the kzinti, one that is a combined priesthood and elected hierarchy of the people, and a third group that is meritocratic. It maintains the constancy of the culture while the two more fluid portions can react to new situations. I am head of all three and primarily ensure their function."

"I have duties relating to the assignment of names and statements of faith, similar to the head of a human religion, but mostly I act as a guide for the culture."

Nathicana nods thoughtfully as he explains, taking another spoonful of shake. "Excellent," she murmurs, then more loudly "I can't think of a better guide, Speaker. I have never seen you act with anything less than the utmost honor. Your people, your mate, chose well."

"If humility were a virtue among kzin, I would warn you that this is going to my head." Speaker flickers his hears. "As long as it is not hubris, pride is good. Thank you."

"Seeing you happy, my friend, is all the thanks I could possibly want. I've done nothing deserving of such thanks anyway," she says with a smile. "So, now that you have accomplished this rather impressive feat, and have yourself a partner to share your triumphs with, what are your plans, if you don't mind my asking?"

"Uphold my new office to the best of my ability," the kzintosh replies.

She nods and smiles. "As you've always done."

Speaker-Rrit smiles. "And what plans do you have from here?"

Nathi chuckles softly, turning back to her shake and toying with it idly. "Surviving seems a fairly good option at present," she says dryly.

"Hrrr. True." Speaker leans forward a little. "Is there anything you need help with?"

Giving him a sidelong glance, she looks back to her shake then turns again to regard him thoughtfully. "I don't think that at present there is much you can help with, Speaker. Though in the future ... if you will permit, I may indeed ask for such."

Speaker nods. "Of course. I owe my rank, name, and culture in part to you, and so you shall enjoy the protection of my House, such that it is."

"Oh the hell you do, boy. The hell you do. After what's gone on lately, if anything, I owe you. It is your nation, among others, who helped me secure my place again." Nathi looks down and oddly enough, blushes furiously. "I don't deserve such honor, Speaker. I truly do not."

Speaker-Rrit leans forward, speaking firmly. "I will be the judge of that." His flickering ears contradict the serious tone, however.

"Fair enough," she says softly, her eyes meeting his, seeming conflicted. "I'm just uncertain of how much to say just yet. There have been so many changes, so much happen in such a short time ... I'm still adjusting myself. I can't see the future, Speaker. And I can't think of a time in my life I'd rather have that ability than right now."

Speaker softens immediately. "I understand that feeling. If you ever want or need to talk to me, please do." He turns up the ends of his lips again, ears flapping gently. "The hospitality of my home is also open to you, if you ever need some time away from things."

"Very much appreciated, and ... likewise. You've seen my place - plenty of room to stretch your legs. And I can tell you now from experience, the back country is one helluva sight. I'm sure it's much more pleasant when one isn't worried about snipers and choppers and the like, but ... there you have it," she finishes with a wry sort of smile.

The kzintosh nods. "You have never been to the Segments, and it has been a while since I have hunted on Earth. We should take each other up on these offers sometime," he chuckles softly.

"I would be honored to once again share in the hunt, if you were willing," she says with a smile, remembering. "I agree. Things are, I believe, as well as can be expected in the Dominion at present. We're all still adjusting, bit by bit, still ... I'll look into my schedule." She looks thoughtful, yet smiles. "It's a damn shame it's taken me this long, really."

"Always willing," Speaker replies, claws extending slightly then retracting, "with an honored friend. I look forward to any impending visits."

"As do I, mi amico," she says with a quiet smile.
05-06-2004, 05:09
Kraah looks over the dusty plain as a dry wind whips up, sending small whorls of debris about. His temporary office will do for now, but the dryness is beginning to wear on him a bit. He scrolls through several screens on his messenger, and shuffles through sheafs of paper, perusing them each for a short time.

Finally he seems satisfied as he comes to a canary-yellow sheet of paper and looks it over. A button is pressed on his comm. "Send in the next one." In short order, a diminutive reptilian Burrower enters. "Ah, Haraak from Titan, yes?"

"Aye, sir."

"Hrrrmmmm." He looks over the paper again, adjusting his spectacles which are there just for show. "Looks like you had a good record as a maintanence technician before your change. Then there is nothing. Care to explain it?"

The Burrower seems to fiddle with the pads on his fingers a bit. "Well, my name is Hharaak, as my resume shows. There was an 'event' in Titan, which all of us in the area felt compelled to migrate to. I'm certain you have some knowledge of it?"

"I do. Please continue."

"Well, after the 'event' came to a conclusion, I started wandering around. trying to find my purpose. I did some odd jobs here and there; fixing an old generator; helping some neonates get their vehicles running; things of that nature. I have had good fortune during the time of your rule, and when I heard that you and some others were starting a private enterprise, I felt that good fortune would return."

"Mmmm-hmmmm. And it says here you have a neonate of your own in care. Now then, if I needed to send you to a satellite office, would this pose a problem for you both?"

"Nothing that can't be managed with discussion. Jhaar is a good lad, and knows that these times are lean. He has few friends since we're always moving around. A little more moving shouldn't be too strenuous on either of us."

"Mmmm-hmmmm. Alright, i'll send a message to you if or when you get accepted. If no word is heard after a week, then you were not accepted."

"Understood, sir. Thank you for your time." The Burrower then stands on his stout legs and leaves the office. After that, Kraah picks up a stamp, and places it on the resume. It says "ACCEPTED". He'll work well for us. He then presses a button on the comm after a few minutes. "Send in the next one."