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Futuristic The Darkness of Space (Supernatural Scifi)

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  2. Adventure
  3. AU
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Mikotsuhime

One Thousand Club
Morei was surprised. Whether that was a pleasant or unpleasant surprise, he was currently deciding.

He cursed in Ferendin as Vanya kicked him in the groin, clapping one hand over his crotch as he stumbled backwards. Why the hell did that hurt so much? Who in the world decided that humans needed to have their reproductive organs and dangly bits hanging out all the time?

It was just poor evolutionary design. But also very effective.

"Does that work on vampires too," he asked, pain still lingering in his voice. Renza seemed impressed, and gave Vanya a thumbs up. He wasn't really sure he wanted Morei punching her back, for a multitude of reasons, but he could appreciate a good nutjab any day of the week. As long as it wasn't happening to him.

"Disappearing is a neat trick," Morei said, and Renza really wasn't sure he liked the look on his face. He looked like a dog who had just been given a new toy.

Renza probably should have been insulted that he wasn't enough to make him look like that.

Morei fell back onto the balls of his feet, grinning as he shook out his hands. She was fast. Renza's thoughts were a blaring warning of 'don't fucking kill her I swear to god' so he tuned him out. He wasn't going to kill her. He just wanted to catch her.

Once she activated her distress signal, he gave her a few seconds of grace period before he lunged for her. He reached for her collar with one hand and her hair with the other, trying to anticipate how she would dodge and disappear so he could counter it. Renza glanced back, then pulled out his coms and sent Leese a quick message before smashing it on the ground.

"Smash her coms, too," Renza said. "It'll look more authentic."



Leese leaned back in her seat, letting out a sigh of relief now that they were free of immediate danger. She glanced down at her communicator, seeing the message that Renza had sent. Her face twisted like she'd eaten a sour lemon.

Renza was asking her to do the one thing she absolutely did not want to do. He was asking her to look at her biggest mistakes and repeat them. If he was anyone else, she would have probably hated him a bit for it.

But Kas was right, they needed to plan. There was only a limited time before the vampires sent people after them. She hated Renza's idea, but she didn't really see any alternative.

"Now we head back to Albaques," Leese said with a tired sigh. "With the vampires after us, we need to regroup. We also need those disrupters, if our plan is going to work."

She sent a message to Hanabelle, her mouth twisting into a frown.

"We are going to get Vanya and Renza back. He has a plan for that, but... Right now we're going to Summerfield spaceport."

Summerfield was not an up and up station, and Leese kind of hoped Kas would be ok with her taking the Nocturne there.

Unlike the tiny drug bust Hanabelle and Renza had sent the vampires on, Summerfield was a real den of nasties. Unscrupulous characters and mercenaries tended to gather there, but the place was located in a jurisdictional grey zone, so it was hard to crack down on. Leese hated it, but Hanabelle had the owner in her pocket, so it was the best way they could get on planet without being caught by the authorities.

Fenrick was still quiet, but after a moment he sat up.

"Your brain thing, does it work always? Only when you are awake?" he asked abruptly, and Leese blinked as she craned her neck to look at him.

"What are you thinking?"

He frowned, scrunching up his nose. He wasn't really sure what he was thinking. Vanya's discussion of how Montrose' biggest boon was the contamination effect had gotten him thinking more about the issue.

"Nevermind. Could I look at disrupter, when we get them? I have theory, but I am not sure. It might be nothing."

He shifted awkwardly, looking out the viewport to the void of space passing them by. The vacuum was... not exactly like home, but not unlike it, either. He wondered what Albaques would be like, since Leese had said over and over again that it was different. Leese guessed what he was thinking, and she offered him a small smile.

"You might be overwhelmed when we land. Just stick with me and Kas, ok? Wear your glasses. Hm... Actually, Kas, do you think Vanya has earmuffs or headphones somewhere around here?"

She really didn't want Fenrick to have a panic attack at the spaceport. Ferendin had towns and clans just like humans and vampires did, but they were much smaller and more spread out. It was unlikely for many adults to live in close proximity, and she had no doubt he'd be surprised by just how many people there were at a busy spaceport, even if it was only medium sized.

"Actually, nevermind, I'll take care of it," she said after a moment, sending Hanabelle a message. "We'll be meeting my friend in Summerfield, and she'll help us out a bit. After that, I suggest you connect with anyone planet-side who you think should be in the know. It'll be at least a few days before we can rendesvous with the others, so we should prepare as much as possible."
 

Reynarda

Nerdy Vampire
Vanya arched an eyebrow, annoyed that he'd figured out she wasn't human. Also annoyed that he thought she'd give up that information. Just because she was working with him, that didn't mean she trusted him.

Still, she smirked a little at his obvious pain. That's what he got for looking at her like he could blow her over with a deep exhale.

At his grin, Vanya rolled her eyes. "It's not disappearing. It's--oh silver!"

She darted out of time as Morei lunged for her but then tripped and fell backwards. Losing her concentration, she fell back into time and fell hard on her butt. Right in Morei's path. She scrambled out of the way of his feet, hearing Kas yell at her to always pay attention to her surroundings and not to just reflexively use her sight.

Vanya felt a wave of panic roll over her when Renza suggested Morei smash her comms. She tried to remind herself that it was completely backed up on her ship but the thought of not being able to contact Kas or her family made her want to take off running. But no, Renza was right. It had to look real. And she'd catch up with Kas soon, so she didn't need to be able to contact him.

"You'll have to get it from me first," Vanya hissed, then darted out of time--paying attention to her surroundings this time--and, popping back into time, stomped towards Morei's instep as hard as she could. Kas had told her all the really painful places to kick someone, and she was deeply grateful.

She could hear the sounds of maneuvering thrusters outside the habitat and figured she may want to let a punch land. Well, she didn't want to, but she probably should.



Kas glanced over at Leese, frowning. He thought maybe he should point out that the Albaquese military might just hand him over to the vampires to avoid a war. But then Leese clarified what she meant by "Albaques".

Kas' lip twisted. It was a smart move, but that didn't mean he had to like it. "I hate both these plans. And I don't know what Renza's plan is, but I hate it."

He wasn't going to add that he didn't really trust Leese's troublemaker to get his troublemaker back to him in one piece. In fact, he really wasn't sure he trusted Renza at all. He had gone from serene priest to pain in the ass so fast Kas still had whiplash.

Kas forced himself to take a deep breath. The person he was really frustrated with was himself. Renza was just the scapegoat. He was the actual spec opps. He was supposed to have a handle on this. He was trained. He had done several hundred missions without a single screw up. But Vanya kept saving him by sacrificing herself, and he hadn't even had the guts to tell her what that meant to him until right before he might never see her again. And he had let her do it again.

He startled slightly when Fenrick spoke and blinked at him. "Uh... sleep dampens the effect a little bit, but not enough for it not to have no effect on a vampire."

Kas licked his lips and cleared his throat. He wasn't sure if this would help, but he should probably mention it. "Don't uh, don't tell Vanya or anything, but I've noticed it, um, shifts around her." He felt his cheeks heating up because when he mentioned it to one of the military doctors, she had asked why this vampire changed his brain chemistry when other vampires didn't. "It doesn't effect her as much as it used to. She thinks she's just used to it but... it's not her. It's me."

Kas paused when Fenrick asked for a disrupter. "You do realize those things will have a negative affect on you, right? You won't be able to use your sight--uh, ferens--without a lot of concentration. Sometimes Vanya strains so much she bursts blood vessels and gets nosebleeds. I'm happy to help you get some but... I just want you to know."

At Leese's question, Kas nodded. "Several of her hats have noise-cancelling hardware, I'm pretty sure. You could probably grab one, Fen, I'm sure she wouldn't mind."

If we ever get her back lurked at the edge of his mind, but he ignored that. She would be fine. She wouldn't do anything stupid like pick a fight or anything. Surely.

Kas sighed. He didn't have that many friendly contacts. Most of them were people on the shady side that helped him out for money when he was on missions. The only person he should think he should contact was--Kas sighed again. He should probably send her a message. His mother was frantic--in the stoic way that she tended to be frantic.

Pulling up a com box, he keyed in his code and then the number for his mom. He typed up a message.

Mom, I'm fine, and you've probably guessed I haven't kidnapped anyone--the person I've supposedly kidnapped is Vanya, by the way. Sylvestr is just trying to stalemate us because we have info he wants. We're working to save the dimension so any help you could give would be great. Love, Kas

He knew that wasn't enough information, but he figured anything else he would need a secure line for. If she could help, she'd reach out to him.

Sending it, Kas let out yet another sigh. "I sent a message to my mom. If she's in a position to help, she will."
 

Mikotsuhime

One Thousand Club
Really, Morei wasn't entirely sure what a vampire was. Looking into Renza's head, that was the word that came to mind, and he could gather that they were different from 'humans'. Different kinds of othersiders made things more confusing, but he didn't really care much for the specifics.

Right now he was just fascinated by the idea that somebody could just pop around like that. It made him want to catch her.

Although she was perhaps not as agile as she first seemed. He swiped for her when she fell backwards, but missed. When she stomped on his inseam, he grit his teeth, but his grin didn't waver. Instead he spun around and grabbed her, using the momentum of his swing to toss her into Renza.

Renza went down with an 'oof', the breath knocked out of him. He grunted, struggling to get up before Morei walked over and casually placed his foot on the priest's shoulder.

He bent down and wrapped his hand around Vanya's neck, twisting her head to the side and inspecting her. Hm. She did look a little different from the priest beneath her. The ears, for one thing.

He eyed her communicator and reached for it, but he was distracted by the sound of the ships arriving outside. Hm. Inconvenient, that he had only noticed them now. These humans had poor senses. It was a wonder they survived so long.

Renza grunted as Morei dug his heel, into his shoulder, and the Ferendin warrior's lips twitched into a smug grin at the list of expletives that was coming through their mental connection.

"You're very creative. I don't know about othersiders, but where I'm from, you can't actually force a head up that orifice," he teased. Renza glared at him, but he knew that the station was being invaded. They had to act quickly.

"Vanya, hold tight," he said, then kicked up as hard as he could.

Two nut shots in one day was far from pleasant, and it made Morei lose his grip on Vanya's neck. He grunted as he stumbled backwards, and Renza pulled the small vampire towards him. They had to look pitiful, like two people who had been kidnapped against their will. His face went soft and stricken with panic, his eyes wide as his hands shook in front of the man who had just beaten the crap out of him. He looked just the picture of an innocent civillian who had been dragged into something far bigger than him, fear and despair written in his features.

He was a good actor. Morei complimented him mentally, and was told to fuck off, with not a single hint of it appearing on the man's face.

Interesting.



"I hate Renza's plan, too," Leese said bitterly. "But it's probably the best one we have at the moment."

Fenrick wondered what she meant by that, but he was more distracted by the brain chemistry thing.

"So... You like Vanya, so it does not work on her good," he inferred. Interesting information. "And I do not use sight much, so it is not problem. But..."

He trailed off, wondering how he could say what he was thinking.

"It is not issue for now, but I want to see how disrupter and brainwaves affect contamination. Of course, we need to stop Montrose first. But Renta did not seem in as much pain when we were on the ship. It made me wonder if your special brain helped."

Leese looked up, a little surprised. She hadn't really noticed that, but Fenrick was more sensitive to that sort of thing than she was.

Right now he seemed highly distracted. Leese wondered if it was the fact that they had left Vanya and Renza behind, or the fact that he learned about Montrose drinking blood. It could be either, or something else entirely. She didn't know, and she didn't have time to worry about it. That fact alone bothered her, but they would all have time to unpack all of the emotional trauma after the threat was dealt with.

"I messaged Hanabelle, so we should have an escort when we land. I trust her to take care of the Nocturne as well, but maybe help me lock the computers up before we leave," she said with a sigh.

Hanabelle wouldn't steal information for any nefarious purposes, but she was always curious, and would no doubt want to read about how the stealth ship worked.

"She'll also give us a place to stay. I'll explain Renza's plan when we meet up with her, so we can go over it once and be done. For now, we need to focus on getting back planet side. This is a good ship, but I might need your help figuring out the atmospheric re-entry procedures, Kas."
 

Reynarda

Nerdy Vampire
Vanya had expected to be punched. She had not expected to be thrown. She let out a yelp of surprise and pain as she slammed into Renza and went down in a tangle of arms and legs. She hit her head on something--hopefully not Renza--and blinked. There was something she was supposed to be doing.

A voice that sounded suspiciously like Kas' was shrieking, "Get up, stupid! Get up!"

Vanya's eyes widened, and she tried to scramble away, but Morei was on her before she could figure out how. She thought maybe he might grab her collar or something, but when he grabbed her neck, she went rigid. It lasted for just a second before her survival instincts kicked in, and she hissed and spat like an angry cat, clawing at his hands.

But it was Renza who saved the day, and she gasped, even though he hadn't exactly been squeezing. Vanya snarled, ready to go kick the Ferendin while he was down, but Renza pulled her backwards to him.

The door to the habitat exploded inward, and Vanya remembered that this was a pretend fight and they had bigger problems to worry about. She pressed back against Renza, snarling at Morei as if she were trying to protect the civilian and too beat up to do much besides bare her fangs.

A squad of armored vampires rushed in, and two popped into existence behind Renza and Vanya. The rest surrounded Morei, their guns trained on him even though he was unarmed. Assuming he was human, one of them yelled at him in English to put his hands on his head and get on his knees.

"Agent Zmey, are you alright?" one of the space philos behind her asked.

Vanya rubbed a sleeve across her nose as if it were bleeding and nodded. "I'll live. The priest is worse off, though. Don't kill him," she added, nodding to Morei.

She wasn't really sure of the plan, but she was pretty sure Morei dying was not part of it. She glanced at their insignias, looking for the one that said which ship they were marines on. When she found it, she cursed under her breath. Of course it had to be the Dark Nova. Because it couldn't be captained by someone who actually liked her a little bit. Escaping had just gotten a whole lot harder.

Vanya wished she and Renza shared a language the vampires behind them did not.

"Do you need help getting aboard?" the space philos asked, switching languages for Renza's benefit.

"No, we can manage." Vanya rocked to her feet and turned, holding a hand out to Renza. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see a vampire approaching Morei with handcuffs. They looked like dampening cuffs, which made her shudder. Had they thought they would have to use those on her?

"It's OK, Father Richtail," she said, trying to let him know with her eyes that they were in real deep trouble. "We've been rescued."

"Yes, you have," agreed a dry voice behind her. "And you have a lot of explaining to do, Zmey."

If nepotism had a physical form, it would be that of Andrei Sylvestr. He looked a lot like his cousin, Pyotr, though a tad younger and darker haired. He never would have risen to admiral if Pyotr hadn't made sure of it--or, at least not so quickly. As much as Vanya would never admit it, Andrei was cunning and had charisma. He was good at his job, if a tad ruthless.

"Maybe you can get Father Richtail something warm to drink before you begin the interrogation?" Vanya suggested, trying and failing to not be antagonistic.

Andrei's eyes flashed, but he looked Renza up and down, taking in his priest's attire. He glanced over at the human his marines had surrounded and were attempting to cuff. "And who is this?"

Vanya subtly elbowed Renza. This was all him.






"What?" Kas said, his face flushing and his eyes wide. "No! I don't like her!" He paused, a realization hitting him. "Oh, you mean like friends. Yeah. I guess. As friends. I like her as friends. But I don't like like her."

The last bit was said a bit like a sulky child and therefore lost some of it's credibility.

He frowned slightly at Fenrick. He wasn't sure how he felt about his "special" brain being able to help Renza. Mostly he just worried about the kid now that he was off with another Ferendin. He also hoped Fenrick wasn't thinking of him as a possible cure in the same way Morei had thought of him as a secret weapon. He just didn't think it would work. It was just a weird biology quirk that had developed after meeting the vampires--well, some claimed they had had it long before then, which went along with the old vampire stories--and helped humans combat vampire sight.

Kas chuckled. "Well, I think Vanya has rigged the Nocturne to respond to no one but the three of us. This is a spy ship, if the computer doesn't recognize you, it shuts down and won't be reboot without some sort of ridiculous passcode string. I watched her reboot it one time--it was like a paragraph. It's probably her thesis or something."

Actually, Kas had a feeling it was the names of her family, but he wasn't sure how she had inputted it--birth order, reverse birth order, random?--and wasn't sure if she used their birth dates as well.

"And anyway, it requires bioID, and I have a feeling it only answers to Zmey bioID, so maybe ask your friend to not to get us locked out of our nice stealth ship."

Kas let out a long breath. Right. He knew how to do that.

"Well, the cloaking doesn't work because the shield has to be up," he said, thinking through the one time Vanya had insisted her ship was rated for atmosphere and had given him a lecture on why vampire ships had lower drag values than human ships. He pulled up the manual, which appeared to be written from Yva Zmey to Vanya Zmey. It was very specific about the ship not being able to reach a certain acceleration with the cloaking system running, and Kas wondered this was an argument the two had had. Still, at least the re-entry procedures looks fairly standard beyond handling the cloaking device and the heat redistribution.

"Yeah," he said after a few minutes of scanning the manual. "I got it. How long until we get there?"
 

Mikotsuhime

One Thousand Club
The doors burst open and almost immediately, Morei was surrounded by vampires with oddly shaped sticks.

He raised his eyebrows at them, wondering what on earth they were threatening him with. Renza very urgently supplied him with the image of a gun blowing somebody's face off, but all he did was curiously tilt his head to the side. That sounded fascinating. If he was in his original form, would it hurt him? He'd love to go up against one of those guns and see who could win--

Renza was internally cursing at him, so he sighed and followed their instructions. He looked bored more than actually threatened, and he grinned savagely at his captors.

Well, at least he looked intimidating. Renza didn't have time to worry about him, his hands trembling as he clutched at Vanya's sleeve. He didn't want to be too personal, but clearly he was shaken. He needed something to hold on to, something to ground him. Vanya was the closest familiar thing, so he was holding onto her, even if it might be improper.

When the new vampire - goddamnit, he looked almost exactly like the old bastard who had started this - asked who Morei was, Renza licked his lips.

"We don't... We don't know who he is, sir," he said, his voice shaking as he clung to Vanya's sleeve tighter. "We think he's from the rip. Miss Zmey... I... I'm sorry, am I saying that right?"

He was nervous, and overwhelmed, and clinging to the last shred of what he knew to be true.

Inside, he was quickly coming up with a timeline of events. They had to come up with a reasonable misunderstanding to clear Kas' name, while also making use of Fenrick showing himself to the vampires to get Renza back. He also had to relate all this to Vanya, and had no idea how to do that.

He turned his thoughts towards Morei, even though he had a feeling Vanya would not be happy about it. Morei frowned, because Renza had a subconscious image of using him as a telephone, and even not knowing what a telephone was, he was a bit insulted. He was also nowhere near at full strength, but he decided to humour him as he brushed up against the very edge of Vanya's mind.

Complicated. She had too many thoughts, and their energies weren't compatible. Two-way communication would be impossible, but he could try sending a message.

'The priest wants me to send you his plan. I'm not looking in your head, so don't throw a fit.'

Morei glared at the vampires and their strange guns, one eyebrow rising as he wondered if he should allow himself to be taken into custody so easily. It worked for their purposes, but it would look strange, and it also rankled his pride a bit. He did not like being restrained, especially when he was in no condition to break said restraints. He elbowed the man behind him, fighting their attempts to lock him up, though he kept his fight weak. He had suggested just killing everyone here to send a message, but the priest was intent he not do that. He had no idea why.

"I'm sorry, I. I can explain everything, but I'm very tired," Renza admitted, sounding ashamed and frazzled that he couldn't gather his thoughts.


Fenrick blinked, a little surprised by Kas' reaction.

"If you do not like her, you would not be sad about leaving her," he pointed out, though he sounded more confused than anything. "Does like mean something else?"

"He thinks you're implying he's courting her," Leese translated, and Fenrick couldn't help but laugh.

"Oh, no! I do not think you are courting!" he exclaimed, though that was more because it seemed like Kas couldn't figure out his own feelings more than anything. They seemed to be in the stage of 'pre-courting', though a look from Leese kept him from expanding on that part.

Best to leave that can of worms alone for somebody else to deal with.

Fenrick quieted down after that. He didn't seem to notice Kas' discomfort, though he was thinking about a lot of things. He was curious about the field given off by Kas' brain, but mostly he was curious about the replication of it. If he could figure out how those disrupters worked, he might be able to compare it with his knowledge of contamination and genetics. It could lead nowhere, but he needed to think about something right now.

If he didn't, he would think about his brother, and he was trying hard to avoid that.

"Hanabelle is a good person, but she doesn't really listen to requests," Leese said with a chuckle. "But if I explain it to her, I'm sure she'll leave it alone for now."

She would undoubtedly pester everybody until she could talk to Vanya herself, but that was a problem for the future.

She settled into the pilot's chair and tried to let herself relax a bit.

"An hour or so before we need to start re-entry procedures," she said, while she watched Serlain pop up from below. The Kaltsrit meowed as she used her tentacles to maneuver her way over to Fenrick, and he startled when she began to climb up his leg. He must really be distracted, Leese thought with a grimace. She should probably talk to him, but she had no idea where to even start.
 

Reynarda

Nerdy Vampire
Vanya couldn't help but wonder if maybe she should try showing a little more emotion to be convincing. Renza was doing a great job at acting scared--she knew he was faking, but even she felt like maybe she should comfort him and tell him it was alright. But a glance at Andrei's face told her he didn't find anything out of the ordinary. She supposed he expected her to be petulant regardless of the situation.

And anyway, the adrenaline from the day was starting to wear off, and Vanya remembered that she hadn't slept except for that nap she had had in Leese's home. It was going to be fine. Kas and Leese and Fenrick were safely away and she had Renza and Morei and they were going to get away from Sylvestr and his machinations and meet up with the others and save the dimension.

Yeah. That would work.

Vanya felt all the fight drain out of her as Renza explained that they didn't know who this guy was but he was probably from the rip. Ok. So they were talking about the rip. Great. Good to know.

Andrei glanced at her for conformation, so she nodded. She couldn't really negate that. She felt like she was walking through a room so dark even her vampire eyes couldn't make anything out. She wished she had been thinking less of proving she was more of a threat than Morei thought and more of what the plan was. She wished she had been thinking less of making sure the others got away and more about how she was getting back to them.

"From the rip?" Andrei demanded, looking between Renza and Vanya and then glancing over at the shirtless human who was snarling at his marines. "There are people there?"

"Admiral," Vanya said dryly, patting Renza's hand. "Father Richtail is clearly in no condition for an interrogation."

She felt stupid now, for having Renza come with her. She knew that Sylvestr wouldn't just let the priest go and might have gone running after the others if he just had her, but she probably would have been able to strike a deal. Maybe she could have just told him everything. He probably would have let Renza go if she did. Probably.

"I am not interrogating," Andrei said, his tone just showing a hint of irritation--which Vanya considered a solid win. "I am merely trying to determine what is going on here. Are you telling me this man is not human?"

Vanya shrugged, not really sure what to do with that. "He looks pretty human to me."

Andrei considered Morei and then considered Renza. Vanya could practically see the mental shrug as he turned to his marines and said, "Take the prisoner to the brig."

Vanya felt something in her head, like someone had trailed a wet, icy finger down the back of her neck. She shuddered and was not at all prepared for Morei to say something into her mind.

It startled her so much, she grasped at time around her. At the lest millisecond, she remembered Renza was still holding tightly to her. It had been a long day, and her day had started over twenty-four hours ago. She already felt frayed and raw from her panic earlier--which was stupid because Renza had just been being a dork, he didn't know anything.

She just felt stupid. She had just reacted with her emotions then, and then she had dragged Renza and Morei--even if she wanted to get her hands around his neck, she didn't want him in trouble because of her--into another emotional reaction. She should know better, she was a philosopher. She was smarter than this.

But Vanya just wished Kas were there to talk sense into her and she knew it was just her emotions being stupid because of course Kas cared about her, they were friends, weren't they? He didn't mean anything by it. He had just never said anything before and she hadn't really said anything before besides off-handed things and--

Vanya took a deep breath, forcing her thoughts to still. She filed away that to be over-analyzed later. When she wasn't dealing with all this nonsense and the fate of two dimensions was not hanging in the balance. She had to focus on the current problem: dealing with Sylvestr's croonies. Step one: answer Morei.

Vanya shot the Ferendin the dirtiest look she could muster, imagining lasers shooting from her eyes and turning him into a pile of shirtless ash. He said he wasn't reading her thoughts, so she wasn't sure if he would be able to hear a mental reply. But she did her best to organize her mind and shift to English and be as understandable as possible.

Mentally, she shouted, What is it? And you look at my thoughts and I'll rip your throat out.

As the marines started bullying Morei towards the ship, Andrei turned back to Renza and Vanya. "I can give you bunks, of course. But Representative Sylvestr wanted to meet with you first."

Vanya frowned. "The priest and I have just been through--"

"That is what I was to tell you, Zmey. He's in the guest office, come."

Vanya would have liked to say she thought Pyotr would trust his own cousin enough to bring them right to him back on Yassen, but she wasn't really that surprised to learn he had come with. Huffing, Vanya slid a supportive arm around Renza's waist as if she were helping him keep steady. She was, of course, half his height, but she felt a little better and more like she could protect him this way. She had already decided she wasn't going to just leave him. If they did get those bunks they were promised, she would make sure hers was in the same room as his.

"Come on, Father Richtail. We'll go tell his royal assness that you need a nap before he drills you with questions."




Kas only flushed darker as Fenrick pointed out that he was "sad about leaving her". But when Leese translated and Fenrick clarified he didn't think they were courting, that only made it worse. Kas was starting to feel like a stupid school boy whose friends were teasing him about the cute smart kid he sat next to in science class. His defenses were probably having the opposite effect.

He ran a hand across his face as if doing so could wipe away the red. He really hoped they walked out onto Summerfield Spaceport, and Leese's friend met them with, "Guess what, I have a plan to rescue your friends and save the solar system and it's SUPER easy!"

But that was unlikely to happen. He didn't know what Renza was thinking and he didn't like Renza's plan regardless. But the only other thing to do was worry about Vanya and Renza--one of them picking a fight with the wrong person and getting the shit beat out of them. And whatever Vanya had been dreading so much.

Kas glanced around the ship, trying to think of anything but that. He chuckled at Leese. "Well, we'll lock everything down, but I'd be impressed if she could even get on the ship."

Actually, if this person was as good as Leese and Renza seemed to think, he wouldn't be too surprised if she did get on the ship. Impressed, but not surprised.

His eyes fell on Fenrick, and the tension in his shoulders softened. Fenrick looked... not great. At least that was a problem he would do something about. "Hey, Fenrick? You ok, buddy? You seem a little... upset."
 

Mikotsuhime

One Thousand Club
Right. Renza wished that they had the time to discuss this beforehand, but he figured that using Morei to beam a rundown of his thoughts into Vanya's head was the next best thing.

He detailed the plan as best he could, which... was not very well.

'We can't hide Ferensen anymore. We need to establish them as an independent country with their own rules and leaders. It will be a political mess in the future, but it's necessary. Don't mention Montrose or anything regarding political discord. We just need to say that there are people in there, and if pressed, we reveal their monarch made contact with us. They're sensitive to radiation, so the lasers fired into the rip were seen as a threat. Once we establish Yasen as the instigators, in their eyes, we can... Christ I don't know,'

Morei didn't even bother translating so he understood what Renza was saying, just replaying the memory of his words to Vanya. He got the gist of the plan earlier. He just thought it was impressive how fast Renza's brain and emotions were working when he showed absolutely none of it on his face.

'Essentially, you and Kas were working with Fenrick to try and control outside elements. According to their culture, he's within his rights to attack first, but he didn't. We need to establish Fenrick is a kind and understanding ruler who wants to solve things peacefully. If we can make him sympathetic and likeable, it'll be better. God, but how do I fit into this. I don't know if we want to let them know about Leese and I. It might be showing our hand too much, but I don't know how else to clarify that. Oh, wait. Leese knew I was sick. She told Fenrick when you, her and Kas met up with him, and he was worried. God that's fucking flimsy, but it's all I've got. He called me his aide because... he was worried about me. No, Leese was worried about me and asked him to do that, and because he knew his people were a risk to the vampires, he did it. You and Kas have been on the same side this whole time, and it was Morei who was the one pursuing us. Sylvestr's information was jumbled, which is understandable, because the situation is far more complex than we first imagined. If we soften the blow to him, it will look more like his information network didn't have all the pieces and made a hasty conclusion, rather than malicious intervention. It would cast doubt on him without making us look like raving lunatics.'

'You're a very good liar,'
Morei mused, and he was very impressed by the creative insults Renza threw at him while still looking like a frightened and bereaved victim.

Complicated lies were always a bad idea. It was hard to keep track of them, especially when they had multiple people involved. But it was the only thing Renza could come up with that might be credible to them, so he'd go with it.

Renza clung to Vanya's hand like a frightened child, but his grip was steady as he squeezed it reassuringly. He had slipped up with Pyotr earlier, and the man likely had tapes of it. What did they have on him? They had his threatening Vanya to Fenrick, but that wasn't really viable. Was it?

God, there was a reason Renza never actually got into politics. He was good at this, but the man had decades of experience on him.

He felt a bit like a housecat facing a lion.

"R-right," he said, clearly flustered. "I... I'm sorry. This shouldn't take long, right? I want to get things sorted, but I just... I'm very tired."

He rubbed the bruise on his temple where Morei had punched him. If nothing else, he could keep acting confused. That was... a terrible plan, but it was all he had.


Morei snarled at the vampires who were manhandling him into the brig, and he sneered as he was locked up. They didn't look nearly as frightened of him as they should be. He tested the very limited scope of his power, feeling it flex around him. It wasn't much. The lightbulbs above his head flickered a little, but other than that, there was no great effect. Pathetic.

"If you don't get your hands off me, I'll rip them off and feed them to you," he snarled in Ferendin. Renza may not have been able to control his weird hybrid DNA, but Morei knew how to manipulate Ferens. His teeth were sharp and jagged as he showed them off, even if the physical changes were subtler and much harder to control than usual.



"Probably not," Leese agreed. "But she's creative."

Fenrick stiffened when Kas addressed him, and he tried to put on a confident smile.

"It is fine. I am... I am fine," he insisted, though his voice was unconvincing. He was trying to be fine, but it wasn't really working. He was a bit embarrassed that Kas had picked up on it so fast. He cast a glance towards Leese, but to his surprise she actually stood up.

"Kas, I need to use the loo. Can you watch the autopilot for a minute?" She asked, then slipped out of the room.

She knew Fenrick wouldn't open up as long as she was there. He knew she felt bad about what had happened, and she wanted to give him the room necessary to actually talk about his feelings. She had no idea how to comfort him about the current situation, and this was the only thing she could think to do.

Fenrick watched her leave, chewing his lower lip. After she was gone for a moment, he finally caved in.

"I do not want to kill my brother," he admitted, his voice small. "I did never want to kill him. He is a bad leader, but he is my brother. But... he has ruined himself beyond help. I do not know what to do, to make nobody else get hurt."
 

Reynarda

Nerdy Vampire
Vanya had... questions.

But there was no time for that. Renza would just have to handle anything that Sylvestr threw at them. Well, she hoped he would. She was starting to think the whole tired act was not, in fact, an act. He hadn't slept super well the night before and Morei had sort of beaten him up. She squeezed his hand back to assure him they would figure this out.

She figured as long as they painted Fenrick in a friendly light and kept somewhat close to the truth while making it clear they were all on the same side, it would be fine. Probably.

Seated behind a military-style desk, Pyotr Sylvestr had his features curled into self-satisfaction when Andrei ushered Renza and Vanya into the office he had taken over. He opened his mouth to say something very cutting about effort expended for naught and ending up back where they started when Vanya beat him to it.

"Before you waste time, it is imperative that you get us back to the others," she said. In politics, her dad had told her, always be the one to set the tone. Don't be on the defensive.

Frowning, Pyotr closed his mouth. That was not what he had expected. "Is there a reason you are being so dramatic?"

Vanya rolled her eyes and Pyotr tried to remind himself that she was just fresh out of adolescence. "We obviously weren't kidnapped--well, until now? That was more a hostage situation, though. Thanks for the assist, Admiral." Here, she nodded at Andrei. Get the others in the room on your side, her father had advised. Andrei nodded back. "Oh! And Father Richtail needs medical attention. I think he may have a concussion."

Vanya wanted to laugh at the look on Pyotr's face. His neutral face tended to look smug, but this expression brought to mind a presenting scientist shuffling through cue cards to see if they helped him answer an audience member's particularly pointed question.

Unfortunately, Andrei came to his cousin's rescue. "The priest says the man we found threatening them was from the rip."

Pyotr flicked his eyes to Renza. "He is? How do you know?"

Andrei cocked his head, listening to something. After a second, he turned his eyes on Pyotr. "Sir, my marines say the man in the brig is not human."

"Not human?"

"Not human?" Vanya echoed for Renza's benefit.

Pyotr stood and came around the desk in a swirl of blue representative robes. "Then let us go see what we can learn from our guest."

"Sir," Andrei said, "it could be unsafe."

Pyotr cast a smug smile over his shoulder at Vanya. "Nonsense. I have the most powerful time philos to protect me. Come, Vanya. You can bring the priest."

Vanya pressed her lips together, trying to not let it throw her off her game. Stay on the offensive. "This is a huge waste of time. You can question him later. Right now you need to get us back to our allies. It's of the utmost political importance. Surely you can understand that."

Without turning around, Pyotr said, "And yet you've failed to tell me why it's important, child."

Vanya tried to refuse to feel small. He always made her feel small and helpless. "And the priest is not well. He may have a--"

"Concussion, yes, you said." Pyotr suddenly rounded on her, and Vanya shrank back against Renza as he towered over her. "The thing about that little trick is that you have to maintain the momentum you build up. You can't just keep repeating the same two demands. Politics aren't your area, child. Leave that to your concussed priest."

He turned around and strode off again, and Vanya could feel her face heating up in shame and frustration. She had told herself she was going to be tough and strong, but here she was cowering at his first attempt to intimidate her.

The door to the brig slid back to reveal several riled marines. They were hissing to each other, trying to figure out why this man had such sharp teeth in his mouth and whether he had energy sight. They all came to attention as the admiral strode in.

"What does he speak?" Pyotr asked, looking the very shirtless man up and down. He didn't look like something he thought would come from the rip.

"Not sure, sir," the marine sergeant said. "It didn't sound like a human language."

"Perhaps he speaks English?" Pyotr eyed all the pockets on Morei's pants. "And why is he wearing cargo pants? Is he friends with the Jaager boy?"

"He attacked us--" Vanya started, but Pyotr ignored her, his eyes on Renza.

"I'm done talking to you. Your skills are sorely lacking so stand over there like a good boy."

"Girl," Vanya said, her voice scratchy. She had only managed because her inner Kas was swearing at Sylvestr for it.

Pyotr cut his eyes to her. "My apologies. Your skills are pathetic, stand over there like a good girl."

"Apology accepted," Vanya said, her lips quirking slightly. She silently thanked English's habit of gendering things and Kas' insistence on getting her gender right in English. It hadn't mattered much to her, but Kas had once insisted that he needed to know the proper pronouns to use when he was threatening her. But Pyotr had made a mistake, and now he had lost momentum.

Pyotr huffed as if he could not believe he had to deal with adolescent vampires all the time. He returned his eyes to Renza.

"Good to have you back," he said a little smugly. "Perhaps you can shed some light on this"--he gestured to Morei--"man from the rip?"





"Yup, sure," Kas said, turning to look at his screen to keep himself from giving Leese an annoyed look as she was abandoning him to help Fenrick on his own. He knew nothing about Ferendin culture beyond the little tidbits they had shared. How was he supposed to be comforting? He toggled the Autopilot over to his control even though he figured it would do its job without much help from him.

When he finally spoke, Kas wasn't actually surprised at the sentiment, but he was surprised that was the first thought. Kas nodded slowly. He remembered one time when Vanya had been off her game and he had asked why, and she had caved and said she had had a fight with Edwin before she left. He hadn't really understood what the fight was about--apparently Edwin had been mad that she was taking it upon herself to protect the whole family instead of asking for help. Ok, so maybe Kas understood what that fight was about now. But she had said something along the lines about how she wanted to strangle him and Kas had asked in horror if she hated her brother. She had looked confused and said she would die for him. In the end, they had paused their fight and she had called Edwin to apologize.

Sibling relationships sounded complicated.

Kas sighed, casting about for words. He was so not good at this. He glanced over at Fenrick and Serlain on his lab. Kas' gut said to go and squeeze Fenrick's shoulder, but his eyes said there was a cat with tentacles over there.

Kas huffed. Fenrick was clearly in a lot of emotional pain. He stood from his chair and crossed to Fenrick's. Sitting on the decking next to Fenrick's seat, Kas squeezed his forearm. Then, after a second of hesitation, he scratched Serlain behind the ears.

Looking up at Fenrick, he decided to address what he said first. "Ok. I think that's admirable of you." Kas hesitated. "So what if we found a solution that involved not killing your brother? And I know you said he can't be helped but... is there a way to like... get him off the blood? In this dimension, people sometimes get addicted to things. It's bad for them, but they need it. So we work to take time to get them off so they don't need it anymore."

He had a feeling that there was more to it than just blood--he had sort of ripped up his own little brother--but that was maybe the first thing they could tackle.

"And you or Morei or someone said something about needing resources. We would be happy to help your people. Maybe for trade or something, but we could tell Montrose that. He might be less inclined to attack."

Kas felt a little like he was drowning and searching for a flotation device. So he just said to Fenrick what he would tell Vanya.

"Fenrick, none of this is your fault. Montrose is responsible for his own actions. But I understand and admire that you still want to save him. He's your brother. And it's unfair of us to ask you to kill him. So I think we should look for a way to stop him but without killing him."
 
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Mikotsuhime

One Thousand Club
Renza had a headache. He had had a headache for a while now, Morei's presence not helping, but now it was worse than ever. Vanya was right that the tired act was not all an act. He was still upright by the power of stubbornness and adrenaline alone, and sooner or later, those were going to fail him.

When Pyotr asked him how he knew Morei was from the rip, he looked visibly defeated. Like a man who had been caught in a lie and now had no recourse but to tell the truth.

"I... Leese told me," he admitted in a small voice. "She said... I'm sorry, I'm very tired. She, Miss Zmey and Mister Jaeger were investigating an odd signal picked up from the rip, and she said they encountered someone there..."

He closed his eyes and pressed one hand to his head. He was clearly distressed, and the information he could give was halted. He squeezed Vanya's hand back, both for reassurance and to let her know that he wasn't quite as bad off as he seemed.

He also wasn't as well off as he'd prefer, but that could be kept a secret.

Judging by the feeling of smugness coming from his head and the panicked aides running about, Morei seemed to be having fun down below. It was almost a relief when they were dragged down to see him.

The Ferendin warrior was clearly having fun scaring the marines, showing off his sharp teeth and snapping threats at them. Renza's very limited knowledge of Ferendin language told him he was currently giving the marine in front of his cell a very detailed description of how he planned to eat his intestines.

'You know there's poop in those, right?' he thought with a sigh, and regretted it when Morei laughed. Thankfully, that could just as easily have been from the poor Marine's reaction.

'You don't eat intestines raw, othersider. You have to stew them first. It's his fault for being stupid and not knowing that.'

Renza's face didn't change from its worried mask, but he did his best to portray a mental eye-roll.

'What are they saying? They're not using your funny words,' Morei asked next, and Renza had to fight not to shrug his shoulders. He hadn't bothered learning vampire languages, since he had never thought he'd need to use them. At least they switched to English soon enough.

"Oh? Should I show them a little something special?" Morei asked, and then proceeded to not wait for an answer. He followed Pyotr's gaze down to his pants, then snorted and yanked them down. He pulled them off and tossed them at the bars, making a very strange hand gesture that Renza would assume was something rude about sex, if it wasn't for the weird finger wiggling and odd hand positions. At least the meaning of 'fuck off' was clear enough.

"I-- I think he might... He might have found those on the station," Renza tried, because he didn't want Pyotr to have any way of pinning this on Kas. "And Miss Zmey was very helpful! Without her quick thinking, I think we all would have died."

Right. Cast Vanya in a good light. God, he was tired. He wanted to sleep.

"She... We distracted him so Leese and Kas could get away. If not, he would have killed all of us at once, I think."

Renza shrunk under Pyotr's gaze, looking small and nervous.

"This man is boring. Why did we have to get caught by him, anyways? I could just blow up this stupid island," Morei grumbled, clearly having grown tired of watching the show. Since nobody understood his language anyways, there was no point of speaking only by mind anymore.

At least he was still translating for Renza.

"I don't know-- I think he's dangerous, but I don't--"

His eyes widened as a sudden, searing pain hit his head and his stomach, and he stumbled back into the wall. Morei was looking at him with a cool and calculating expression, but he didn't show any signs of having done anything.

'You're sick. Act sick,' he said dryly, and if Renza wasn't clutching one hand to his stomach and trying not to vomit, he probably would have flipped him off.

"I don't think I can--"

He tried to say more, but another flare in his stomach had him doubled over and retching. He felt a little bad that Vanya had cooked for him, because now it was all over the floor.

Morei smirked.

"I think your friend needs to lie down," he said to one of the marines, tone conversational.



Fenrick looked a little startled when Kas walked over, then practically crumpled into him as soon as he was shown the slightest bit of physical comfort. Physical affection was only common among equal peers, and Fenrick didn't have many of those. It had been a long time since someone had truly touched him without the intent to hurt.

"I am sorry," he mumbled, because Kas was certainly going to be uncomfortable and think he was weak. Serlain purred and rubbed her head against his chest, then pushed it against Kas's nearby forearm. Fenrick found his eyes welling up, and he sniffed as he wiped them and then stared down at his hand. "Everything is blurry. Why is water in my eyes?"

He hated how his voice wobbled a bit.

"I don't... We have never found other solutions," Fenrick said quietly after a moment. The idea of helping Montrose had never occurred to him. "We have never tried to get off of blood before. People on blood are violent, and we..."

He bit his lip, closing his eyes.

"You will think we are very bad people. But if someone is sick, they die. They don't need to eat. More food is for the rest in colony. Warriors hunt meat, so healers help them, but if somebody is sick and dangerous... it is better they are gone. Sick people need food and care. They need water... All water is for children. We don't have enough for sick people."

It felt kind of raw to really open up about this, but just the small amount of time he had spent with Kas and Vanya had told him that vampire and human culture was very, very different to what he was used to.

"It is best for everyone if he dies, but I don't want that. I want to have enough water and energy for all my people, and I want my brother to get better. I want to have a place like Albackee or Yasen where people can get better if they are sick."

He rubbed furiously at his eyes, knowing that he wasn't making a lot of sense.

"I am sorry. I am not... I am making you comfort me, when we have important things to do."
 

Reynarda

Nerdy Vampire
Vanya knew that Renza was acting, but she didn't know how much was an act. She couldn't help resting her other hand on his shoulder when he winced in pain. She kept close to him, hovering by his elbow like an anxious shadow.

Andrei and Pyotr both eyed Morei with curiosity and wariness. That changed of course when he removed the little clothing he wore. Both admiral and representative looked personally offended.

Vanya let out a short strained laugh, and they both glanced at her. She tried to cut it off, but all she could think of what Kas' embarrassment of Morei's lack of pants. But then she wished desperately that he was there to cover her eyes and act all awkward, and the laughter died into something that sounded like she was choking. Oh, hell, she could not be getting emotional in front of Pyotr Sylvestr.

Pyotr slid his eyes to Vanya for the briefest second when Renza insisted that they would have died without her. Somehow, he doubted that, but he allowed, "Miss Zmey has her uses."

Vanya bristled at both of those insults, but she didn't really have a good comeback for either. And she wished she knew what Morei was saying. She figured it was mostly insults, but she still didn't like not knowing.

All her concerns evaporated when Renza doubled over. Was he faking? This didn't look like faking. She gripped his arm. "Renza?"

All hesitancy dissipated as soon as he threw up on the deck. She crouched next to him, rubbing his back and crooning softly while his stomach attempted a coup. She looked up and glared at the two Sylvestrs watching Renza with curiosity. Clearly they'd never seen a human throw up before. It was a lot less red.

She flashed her fangs at the pair of them. "He's sick! I told you! And you assholes didn't listen! He needs a doctor right now!"

"Admiral," Pyotr said lightly.

Andrei inclined his head. Then he turned and gestured for one of the marines to get Renza. The big vampire lifted the priest with apparent ease and began following his admiral to the med bay. Vanya squeezed Renza's hand and started to follow.

"Vanya, a word," Pyotr said, and Vanya froze.

The marine carried Renza up to the medical bay where a doctor fussed at the lot of them. She got him hooked up to some machines--which beeped in alarm as his non-vampire vitals, and the doctor grumbled while her tech helped her re-calibrate it for humans.

"I'm going to give you some anti-nausea pills for your stomach," she told him once she had confirmed with a medical text that it was safe for humans. "May I examine you?"






Vanya shifted her feet. "I need to tend--"

"He'll be fine." Pyotr jerked his chin at the remaining marines. "Don't you have posts to get to."

The marines quickly saluted and hurried from the brig. Vanya thought about making a break for it, but there weren't many places to hide on a ship. Pyotr took a step towards her, and she reflexively took a step back. But he only stepped around her and strode over to a wall terminal. He tapped something, and with her stomach twisting in knots, she realized he was turning off the cameras in the brig.

"What really happened?"

Vanya glanced nervously at Morei and realized she trusted some guy from a whole other dimension whom she had met thirty minutes ago more than one of her own species whom she had known nearly her whole life. But she also figured Sylvestr was doing this down here in front of him for a reason.

She resolved to be her usual petulant self. "We told you. And what does it matter anyway? You twist the story into whatever you want."

Pyotr allowed himself a small smile. "No, just what serves Yasen." He ignored her rolled eyes. "Besides, since you seemed to care more about the Jaager boy than your family..." He shrugged casually. "Yva was frantic."

"Do not speak her name you sorry excuse for sentience," Vanya snarled, her resolve shattering as it always did when he mentioned her mother.

Pyotr smiled again. "Abandoning your own mother for some human boy."

Vanya flung her arms wide. "That's not what this is about! This is about the entire dimension!"

"That is one thing your mother and I disagree on," Pyotr continued in what Vanya knew was his "fatherly" tone. It always rubbed her the wrong way. "That Jaager boy is nothing but trouble. He compromises your effectiveness."

Vanya wanted to scream. This wasn't fair. Finally she had a friend who didn't treat her like a traitor--to her family, to Yasen, to philosophy, whatever--and Pyotr wanted to take that away from her.

"I'm not going to hurt him--you can't make me," she hissed.

"Wouldn't dream of it," Pyotr said. "I thought I'd just have him assassinated."

Vanya panicked. She fell backwards out of time and crouched down in the time-less zone, trying to not cry. She was tired and stressed, and she just wanted to go back to her ship and take a nap in her bunk. She could not deal with this right now. She needed to get back and check on Renza and make sure he was okay so she could get the both of them back to the others all in one piece. She would deal with Sylvestr and his assassination threats later. She ran her sleeve across her eyes and rose shakily to her feet. Without thinking, she slipped past Sylvestr.

And was yanked back into time. One non-second she was walking past him, and the next second she was being thrown to the ground. She smacked her hands hard on the deck, yelping as she tried to break her fall.

"Well that was foolish."

Vanya squeezed her eyes shut, trying to ignore the pain shooting up and down her spinal cord. He had done that once before, when he had first come to her after her graduation, and she had forgotten about it. She didn't know how he did it. As best as she could tell, he couldn't leave time like she could. But it was almost like he could see her--or predict where she would be. She didn't know how it worked. But having someone else drag her back into normal entropy was excruciating.

Pyotr gave her a few seconds to recover before he crouched next to her and grabbed her chin. "Look at me."

Vanya could hardly keep her vision from spinning, much less focus on something. But she knew his grip would only get harder if she didn't do what he said.

Once her eyes were on him, he asked, very quietly, almost conversationally, "Are you going to take care of your problem or do I need to do it for you?"

Vanya had told herself she would never beg. She was too proud for that, had too much self-respect. But this was Kas. "Please."

Pyotr scoffed and pushed her head away as he rose. "People will only disappoint you, Vanya. You let that boy too close--let your emotions get involved. You're only opening yourself to betrayal."

Vanya knew that wasn't about her and Kas anymore, but at least on that front she was wise enough to keep her mouth shut. Her resolve not to let Morei see her weak and beaten was entirely forgotten. Knowing from experience that getting up too soon would only get her slapped back down, she sat back on her heels, keeping her head bowed so her hair afforded her some privacy. "Don't make me do this. I'll do whatever else you want. Please."

He laughed. "Oh, that is a stupid offer, my child."

"Please, Pyotr," she said, hating how pathetic her voice sounded.

He turned on her. "What? You think calling me by my given name is going to elicit some sort of sympathy with your stupidity?"

Vanya spread her arms as if opening herself to attack. "Then what would you have me call you?"

They stared at each other for several long seconds. Pyotr looked away first. "You're willingness to break all your personal rules for this boy just shows how compromised you are. You are useless to me if you'll follow some human around like a lost dog."

Vanya swore she would never cry in front of him, but she could feel a sob clawing up her throat.

"He's only going to hurt you later, so really I'm doing you a favor. Now. Are you going to do it, or shall I?"

Vanya choked down the sob.

"Well? That wasn't a rhetorical question."

"I'll do it!" she nearly shouted, feeling a wave of nausea washing over her.

Pyotr allowed himself a small smile. "Good. You know how best to hurt him. But keep in mind if it's not done to my satisfaction, I'll finish the job and it will be a permanent solution."

Vanya bowed lower over her knees, trying desperately not to cry. "Can I go?"

He stood in silence for just a few seconds before jerking his head towards the door. "Go. Tend to your priestly friend."

Vanya staggered up and ran from the brig.

Pyotr watched her go before turning back and looking Morei as if just remembering he was also there.

"Children," he said with a shrug. "They can be so stubbornly stupid sometimes."

He eyed Morei for a minute. "And then there's you. I think you can understand me. The other one--the prince? He could understand me. I think you're just playing stupid."

Pyotr paused, clasping his arms behind his back. "So, why are you here? What do your people want? You were going to attack my ship. Are you here to start a war?"




Vanya staggered back into time. Some minutes had passed for her. She guessed from her throbbing headache she had been in the time-less zone for a good twenty minutes. She wiped at her eyes, but then thought it probably didn't matter if Renza noticed she had been crying. She didn't really care anymore. She wasn't some tough intelligence agent. She was just a stupid philosopher that had been blackmailed into being a politician's personal spy. And now she was going to have to remove the only person who really knew her and that she wasn't constantly lying to from her life for his own safety.

She wanted to call her mom and sob over the coms but she couldn't tell her mom. Her mom would only blame herself--or worse, be horrified that her child had ended up in the very life she had worked so hard to keep her out of. She wanted to get her dad's advice but he would only try to stop Sylvestr and get trampled. And she wasn't about to burden Edwin. And the twins were twelve.

He had purposefully isolated her. She had no one to turn to. She was isolated from her family by her constant lies, isolated from her field of study by her "decision" to go into special operations. And now isolated from her only friend. She was alone, and she didn't really feel like caring anymore.

But she still had a job to do. Vanya scrubbed her sleeve across her eyes and pushed into the infirmary. The doctor looked up from tending Renza and immediately tutted. She maneuvered Vanya into a chair by Renza's bedside and--partially-correctly assuming Vanya had been in a fight--gave her a warm lidded-mug of blood to sip.

Vanya took a sip of the blood and let the warmth settle in her stomach. She started to think maybe they'd get out of this Ok. "How are you feeling?"






Kas was a little surprised when Fenrick sagged against him, but he had to admit he kinda needed a hug, too. He rubbed the back of Fenrick's head as soothingly as he knew how.

"No sorry," Kas said when Fenrick apologized. He did have to chuckle a little when Fenrick asked why water was coming out of his eyes. "Those are tears. When our species are hurting, we cry to make us feel better. It's perfectly normal."

Kas considered quietly. "It sounds like you are low on resources, and your species is just doing everything it can to survive. Mine has enough resources. We can try to save those we love."

He kept rubbing Fenrick's back, just listening him. "Yeah, well, sometimes we do things that are good for just one person because we love them." Kas sighed. "Like how I just wanted Vanya to come with us--how I want to make sure she's safe above all else."

It felt a little uncomfortable to admit that, but he needed Fenrick to understand that it might not be logical, but that didn't make it bad. "And like how Vanya nearly died making sure I got out of the place she goes when she disappears. Sometimes we do things because we love people, not because it makes sense, and that's not wrong."

Kas hesitated. "I'm not sure about this, or anything, but the vampires might have something on Yasen that could help with a blood addiction. Well, I mean, I'm sure they do, but it might be more equipped to help your brother than an Albaquese rehab center. It might not be perfect, but I'm sure they'd be willing to try."

He squeezed Fenrick's arm again. "Hey, no, I'm happy to comfort you. Sometimes you have to pause the mission and help out your teammate. That's just as important. I care about you, and I want you to be okay. So I'm happy to comfort you. If you ever need it, you can walk up to me and say, 'I need comfort'. And as long as I'm not, like, in a life or death situation, I'll be happy to comfort you however you need."

He tweaked Fenrick's ear. "We're going to figure out a way to help your people. But first we have to start gathering stuff to trap your brother so we can help him. So let's focus on that step first. So we need to get to the station, meet with Leese's friend, and then we can go from there. Ok? We're just going to take this big task and break it down into steps. Then do one step at a time. And if you ever need me, I'm right here for you. Sound good? You with me?"
 

Mikotsuhime

One Thousand Club
Renza hated hospitals. He had always hated them, and lately it seemed that he was spending far too much time in one med bay or another. If he didn't still feel dizzy and nauseous, he would probably curse his own luck.

He tried not to lean on the vampire who was escorting him, trying to recall what little he knew of their social customs, but he quickly gave up.

His biology had more or less stabilized over the years, but that didn't mean that he understood it, or how to control it. Morei had taken his genetics and adapted to them like a fish in water, and it was frustrating. The man had a fraction of his original abilities, and he had still been able to manipulate the energy in Renza's body enough to push him that much closer to other. It made him weak and dizzy, and more importantly, it terrified him.

He was human. He had never wanted to be anything else. He had managed to cope with it for most of his life, but lately it seemed that the world was pushing him farther and farther away from his familiar origins, out into a world that he didn't understand.

With war looming on the horizon, he didn't even have the luxury of being afraid, or panicking, or facing it in any way. He just had to sit there as a big bastard scorpion pushed magic into his brain and played him like some he was an unfamiliar instrument. It sucked.

When the vampire asked to examine him, he hesitated. He shouldn't have, because it was suspicious, but he needed to think.

Nausea meant she would probably have to look at his stomach. He could feel that the anatomy there wasn't quite right, and he didn't want anyone to see it. He tried to call for Morei in his mind, but they were too far apart to communicate. That meant he had nobody to manipulate the ferens he was saddled with, and he had no idea how to do it himself. Bastard. Why had he kicked him out of the room like that? Maybe trusting him had been a mistake. Renza was starting to feel very out of his depth, and it wasn't a feeling he liked or was used to.

"Yes, of course," he said finally, his voice weak. He tried to focus, but he had no idea what he was doing.

The left side of his abdomen was badly bruised, patches of purple and yellow blooming over the skin. The lower part of his stomach was the problem area, and he thanked the clergy for the high-waisted trousers they considered part of their 'uniform'. It wouldn't stall for long.

On his side, near the level of his navel, there was a hard black bulge sitting just beneath the skin. It wasn't overly large or noticeable, but it was something humans definitely did not have. His skin itself had parted, forming a rather gross-looking slit for the protective plating to slide out of. Or, he was guessing. He hadn't actually studied Ferendin anatomy enough to actually know how any of it worked.

"I just, erm. I would prefer to keep my pants on," he said, sounding shy and embarrassed as he fidgeted with his blanket. "If that's not a problem."

Vanya came in then to save him, and he hid his relief as easily as he hid every other emotion... but he couldn't help it if his shoulders relaxed a few milimetres.

"Miss Zmey," he said with a sigh, running his fingers through his sweat-slicked hair. His face was pale and clammy, and he wasn't faking the trembling of his hands. At least Morei wasn't poking around his energy vessels or whatever the hell they were anymore. "A little bit like I got beaten up by a big mean alien."

He cracked a smile, but it was a bit weaker than usual.

"Did they... Are they still down there? I hope those bars are enough to hold him..."


Morei leaned back in his cell, lounging against the wall as Pyotr addressed him.

He had absolutely no idea what he was saying. He had underestimated how much power this stupid squishy body could handle, and trying to reach out to the little hybrid's brain from the other side of the ship wasn't working. He could, perhaps, try and slide into the vampire's brain in front of him...

He remembered how strange Vanya's thoughts had felt, and wrinkled his nose. He hadn't even touched this man's mind, but he knew it wasn't a place he would like to be. It would probably feel slimy.

"Sorry, my translator's gone. You can talk at me all you like, but I have no idea what you're saying," he said dryly. "You sure were viscious to the little one, whatever you said. I never understand people like you. If you want to hurt somebody, you can just stab them. You don't need to use twisted words."



Fenrick sniffled, then grimaced. His head felt stuffy, and he didn't like it.

"I do not like this tears," he said, his voice wobbly. "It feels like there is... fibre in my head."

He wiped his eyes again, then forced a small smile.

"You are very good at this," he said with a small laugh. "When you speak, I think it is ok. That everything will be good. It makes me... Hopeful? I do not know word."

His smile softened into something wistful, and he rested his head on Kas' shoulder. He was warm, and it felt a little bit like hugging a heater. He wondered if all humans ran this warm.

"You are... fast to care. But it is nice. I care too. I want to save Vanya, and Renta. I want to save my brother, and my people. I want to do many things. It feels... over filling? Flowing? Too much," he admitted. He had felt like he was covered in dirt and couldn't dig his way out. He had tried to decide which one of his goals was doiable, and the choice had been killing him.

But Kas thought he could do all of them, and it made something in his chest feel just that much warmer.

"Steps. I like that. I can do that. We will get things, and then we will save Vanya and Renta. I can do that."
 

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