Look, Cyne, its really not that complex. Youve been drawing on magic for a good little while anyway, right? This isnt something new and confusing; hell, Im actually removing steps from the casting process here.
And its about as simple as removing the milk from the ice cream-making process, Darrell.
Darrell and Cynewulf were sitting cross-legged on the floor of the Starfires main recreational room. Darrell had been spending the last hour or so of hyperspace travel trying to explain his new improvisational magic to the man, but to little avail; so far hed not so much managed as to light a candle with the ability.
They make that, you know. Zohar cut in suddenly.
The little finori had been watching the proceedings with much amusement for the past ten minutes or so, but had been strangely silent up to this point.
Cynewulf gave him a look. What?
Non-dairy ice cream. You can barely tell the difference, actually.
Speaking of ice cream, would you guys like some? You mentioning it made me realize Id like some, and I figured, hey, if either of you want some, you can get me some while youre up.
Darrell and Cynewulf exchanged glances.
Zohar, go elsewhere, were busy. Darrell said simply, giving him a look the brooked no argument.
Jerk. The little finori muttered, but he hopped up and walked out of the room.
Opting to go after that ice cream after all, human to fetch it or no, he took the stairs down into the lower bay and made for the pantry.
Oh, Dogu, you know my heart will never let you go, even now.
Zohar blinked. The sound had come from the cabin Terra had claimed as her own, but somehow the finori didnt recall a Dogu being onboard the ship. Shrugging, he walked up to the door and pushed it open.
Terra was sitting on her bed, soda in one hand, watching some sort of soap opera on the rooms vidscreen.
Where in the world did you get this? I didnt know the Mediator watched the soaps.
The young woman almost jumped at the voice she hadnt seen him come in then rolled her eyes. He doesnt, and neither do I, generally. But when we landed on Zion I set the long range scanners to download something off of Union Cable; its been a long time since I watched any vidscreen.
Obviously you were missing out on a lot. Is Dogu the monkey?
No, Dogus the short one with the bea
Not that youd know, of course, you dont watch these, generally.
Terra sighed, and turned her attention back to the screen. Quiet, youre ruining the experience for me.
God knows, daytime cable is the only way to prepare for lavoid battle. Should I tell Cyne and Darrell to come in here and watch with you? Obviously theyre going about this training all wrong, Dogu is the key to our victory.
She threw a pillow at him without even looking up.
Easily ducking the projectile, he rolled his eyes. Okay, okay, have fun with it. I dont suppose you want any ice cream though, do you?
Terra arched an eyebrow. Why, are you offering to get some?
Gee, someones lazy, the finori began, putting his hands on his hips. I thought maybe if you wanted some ice cream, you could go get some, and bring me some too.
Youre lame, Zohar. Youre really lame. Now go away.
You humans are all the same. He shook his head sadly and retreated from the room.
A few minutes later, Zohar had retrieved a canister of vanilla-flavored non-dairy ice cream from the pantry and was trying his best to eat it sans utensils (the idiots who he lived with on this ship hadnt thought to remove the silverware from the dining room when they sealed the depressurized zone off) when he came across Mathius room. Bored and in desperate need of further amusement, he decided to see how the kid was doing.
He found Mathiu, still bandaged and bruised, lying in bed trying to read a book one-handed. As he awkwardly tried to turn one of the pages, Zohar nodded and flashed the young man a grin.
What ya got there, kiddo, some sort of romance novel?
Mathiu blinked, but didnt give the finori a look. Hi, Zohar. And no.
Not going into detail, though, I see. Lemme give the thing a look, man, I dont want to have to tell your parents I saw you reading a dirty book and didnt stop you.
He reached up and snatched the book away before Mathiu could really react, then danced back out of reach as the young Hunter struggled to sit up and grab him. Closing the book, he gave the cover a glance.
History of the Galactic Powers? What the hell is a kid like you doing with this? Youre not allowed to read this kind of crap until youre old and boring or Darrell, one. The finori shook his head sadly. Let me guess, it was the only thing you could find, right?
Just give it back, you damned finori.
Zohar frowned, and snapped his fingers, and the book immediately burst into flame. He dropped it on the tile floor and watched it burn. You forgot the magic word, dear heart.
No, Zohar mumbled as he tried to force his tongue down into the half-empty ice cream canister, the magic word was I have a spoon, smart guy.
Thats more than one word.
Thats why they call it a magic word.
I begin to see why the others hate you so very, very much.
Shut up. He turned and walked out, muttering about the corruption of todays youth.
Having wandered aimlessly for several minutes, he ultimately decided it would be best to head back to the cockpit and take in hyperspace for awhile, possibly take a nap in one of the more comfortable flight chairs. He passed Darrell and Cynewulf again at this point Cynewulf had somehow managed to cover a nearby couch with rocks and gravel, and seemed rather pleased with himself, though Darrell was less so then stepped in to find the last two members of their sordid crew sitting in the two most comfortable chairs in the room.
Obviously, something had to be done about Meryl and Kayla.
Good morrow, my fair ladies. I dont suppose either of you have a spoon, do you? he plopped down in one of the chairs adjacent to the women, who for their part did a fair job covering their disappointment at seeing him.
No, sure dont. Did you check the pantry? Meryl asked, fidgeting absentmindedly as she looked out the window.
She wasnt paying him much attention, which was no way for her to act if he was to succeed at this most serious mission, but she was being pleasant enough so he let it slide for a moment.
Why no, my dear, brave lady, I do believe the silverware was kept in the dining room. You know, the one that Taggart messed up. It had the finest in dining technology, spoons and forks I hear, but it is off-limits while we are in the vacuum of space.
Did you even check the kitchen? Kayla put in, trying her best to mostly ignore the little finori.
Zohar blinked, and cocked his head. Does this ship even have a kitchen? I assumed the food was generally already prepared, from the look of the pantry, and the silverware self-cleaning, like on all those fancy Dominion vessels.
No, theres a kitchen, Zohar. Meryl nodded. You have to remember, fancy or no, this ships about twenty years out of date with the rest of the galaxy. Where was the kitchen, anyway
Down in the hold, I think, just past the engine room. You should check it out, Zohar, I bet you anything theres at least a couple of spoons down there.
Zohar pondered for a moment, and looked at the chairs the women were sitting in. They did, indeed, look rather comfortable. And he did, indeed, want a comfortable chair so that he could have a comfortable nap. On the other hand, the bottom half of this canister of ice cream had proven itself to be quite wily at staying out of the reach of his mouth, and it was quickly getting melty and gross.
After one last longing glance at the two chairs, the little finori decided he could almost certainly come back after getting a spoon and resume mission: steal the chairs from the boring humans without a problem, and his nap could wait a few minutes. He hopped up and hurried out of the room.
Where did you just tell him to go, Kayla? Meryl asked, chuckling.
Thats actually the storeroom where we held those two other guys, Im surprised he didnt call me on it. But the auto-lock is still in the door, so if he lets the door shut behind him, hes out of our hair for awhile.
I do believe you are my favorite member of this little club, Ms. Narube. Meryl said, leaning back to take a nap.
Several hours later, the entire group all sat in a circle in the rec room, Zohar taking great pains not to look at Meryl or Kayla. While the finori had been able to teleport out of the storage room with little difficulty, his disappointment over not getting a spoon had been great, and his disappointment over being tricked had been greater.
For their parts, Meryl and Kayla seemed quite glad that Zohar had decided not to speak to them, as any thoughts of a nap had evaporated the moment the finori got back up to the flight deck.
So. Darrell said simply, looking around himself. He sat at the center of this group, the very model of composure. I thought it would be a good idea to have some sort of talk before we reach Grendel. Air everything out, get some sort of strategy together whatever it takes so that were all at our best when it comes time to fight.
Weve all come a long way from where we started from. Some of us just scared, fairly powerless kids, some of us trapped, just a long way. Ive learned a lot about myself and the galaxy at large, and honestly I cant say I regret much of this journey weve made.
He ran a hand through his hair, and closed his eyes. Though we came together under the worst of circumstances, its been for a good cause, and I thank you all for helping me become all that I have become, and for walking with me down this road.
Anyway, enough of that kind of crap, right? Were all here because we hate the lavoids, and we have an excellent shot at offing one. We do have something of an attack plan, which Ill hit on in a little bit, but uh first I guess Ill ask if theres anything anyone else would like to say.
Zohar stood up, clearing his throat. Id just like to say, that any crew that can forget the silverware in the dining room has absolutely no shot at taking out a lavoid, and I promise, I will not be attending your funer
The finori cut off abruptly under the withering gaze of everyone in the room, and sat back down. That is to say, tally ho, heres to a good hunt.
I trust youll be pulling your vanishing act the moment the fighting starts, as usual, my brave friend? Cynewulf asked, crossing his arms.
Hey now, bravery has nothing to do with it. Im just better able to utilize my powers if Im not having to worry with a physical form as well.
I wasnt complaining. Unless were planning on annoying Grendel to death, were all better served if you arent yapping.
Hey now, thats not fair.
Darrell rolled his eyes. Zohar, Cynewulf, enough. Id rather not spend the last few hours before the fight listening to you two bicker.
The young man stood up and stretched briefly, then stepped over to a nearby table. Between my own research and a chat with Cyne earlier, I think were going to be able to make good use of the weapons I took from Taggart. Im giving you his gun, Terra; I know you dont like them, and theres only four shots in it anyway, but its too useful a thing to be ignored.
I did some research into Lucias book about this gauntlet, and eventually figured out the set of enchantments I think has been laid upon it. Im not one hundred percent here, though the tests I did seemed conclusive, but Ill be using it myself. Mathius offered to use the Null Blades, and given our general lack of swordsmen I gave the okay, though it looks like he may be fighting one-handed. Now, as for the ether batteries
Ether batteries? What? I dont remember you taking anything like that from Taggart. Terra said.
He turned. I didnt. Theyre actually something of an old Dominion standard from what I can tell; all their agents and higher-ups make use of them. There were two old ones in the Mediators cabin; I made a few modifications, set them to charging. He held up two cylinder-shaped pieces of steel. They actually dont have much capacity, but if ether in the area runs low they should sustain a couple high-energy spells.
Anyway, Cyne and I are the two biggest ether users here, so well be making use of these. And of course besides the new toys we have all our standard faire: Meryls new railgun, my daggers, and so on.
There was a moment of silence, and Darrell leaned back against the wall, shuffling his feet. How much longer till we drop out of hyperspace? Meryl asked.
Only about twelve hours now; Id suggest we all try to get some sleep after this. The large man replied, leaning back in his chair. Anyway, Darrell, whats the game plan for when we get there?
I think you will appreciate it, my friend. Darrell grinned.
Only two more hours until our arrival. Darrell said over his shoulder as Terra entered the room. He had all of his equipment strapped firmly into place and was triple-checking its efficiency to get out some of his nervous energy.
The young woman took a place by him at the window, her eyes losing themselves in the swirling depths of hyperspace. How long have you been up?
About three hours. Trouble sleeping.
You scared too? she put a hand on his shoulder.
He looked at her quizzically, cocking an eyebrow. Scared? Excited, Terra. Ive been waiting on this day for a long time. Have a little faith, honestly.
Its not that I dont, Darrell. She pulled her hand back as though she had just been burned. But this is serious. You saw what this thing did to Zion. And its done that before, many, many times. I can have faith in our chances and still see that we cant treat this like a game.
He shook his head, almost violently. Is that what it looks like to you, Terra? You of all people ought to understand me better. I take this extremely serious. God, its all I can think about, you know?
Yeah, she said, her gaze going to her feet, I do know. I didnt mean you werent taking the lavoid seriously, just that well, even if we do win, we might not all make it through this fight. Were not all as strong as you and Cynewulf.
Thats been a risk since the beginning. And yeah, Ive thought about it. But Im not going to let it stop me; its not my choice for you guys to walk this path, that lies with you. His brow furrowed. Are you wanting to back out?
There were tears in Terras eyes when she looked him in the face. I never said that! Ill follow you anywhere you go but I cant be as confident as you, and there are thing I have to get out before I can face this.
Darrell, its something Ive needed to tell you for a long time. The young woman wiped her eyes, sniffing as she drew just a little bit closer to the grey-haired man. Ive been trying to since before all of this started, but its just so hard. Darrell, the truth is well, that is, I
He drew back. Dont, please.
She blinked, honestly shocked. I Darrell, what?
Not now, Terra. This is the wrong time for this. We fight in less than two hours, and neither of us can afford to have this on our minds then. So please, just save it until after, okay?
Does it even occur to you that we might not both be here afterward?
The young man grinned. You worry about you, Ill worry about me, and Ill try not to say I told you so when we all come out of this just fine. But for now, lets just get ready.
With a wave, he turned and left the room, leaving Terra alone with her thoughts.
My what trials and tribulations you humans put yourselves through, and all just for the chance to face certain death. Zohar.