Emerald Legion, Chapter ten
“That which does not kill us, generally hurts.” – In which Rokk and Lydda redefine marital bliss
Lydda awoke to find herself alone, and Kand in her doorway, laughing roughly.
“Your pet outworlder has fled already, Jath. You offer him your name, and he takes it and runs like a mongrel with a scrap of meat.”
Lydda rose with a scowl and began seeking out her armor.
“Shall I help you prepare for the hunt?” Kand offered teasingly, shrinking back as Lydda hurled a blade into the wall next to her head.
“Leave. Or fight. But do it now.” Lydda growled, satisfied to see Kand’s eyes narrow and her back as she turned away.
Lydda prowled out into the common area to the sounds of her fellow warriors coarsely discussing the events of the night before, and Kand shot her a venomous glare of superiority. Brushing past her roughly, she reached the outer doors and hesitated for a moment.
“It is day, warrior. Death rides high in the sky.” Kand began, tauntingly, only to gasp along with the others as Lydda slammed the door override and opened up the portal. “Jath! No outworlder is worth this! I take back my words, do not risk this for that male!”
Lydda squinted at the glare of the dimly lit hallway and moved into the hallway, slamming the portal shut behind her and moving further into the soul-searing light of the Metropolitan day. She could hear her fellow warriors at the end of the hall calling, “Jath! Do not do this thing!” but she walked right out of the building into the full rays of the devil-sun, staggering to her knees under its’ merciless intensity. She felt her long hair streaming behind her in wild disarray, and knew that she was unfit to be seen, even by outworlders in such a state, her armor mismatched and her hair un-groomed, but she would die before she let this male escape with her pride.
She could only open her eyes the tiniest fraction at a time, and only for an instant, and then would stagger a distance before having to peek again. No matter how thinly she cracked her eyes, no matter how she shaded her gaze with her hands, there was always something bright and reflective within her sight to seemingly throw the fires straight into her fevered mind. She stumbled on, desperately trying to retrace her steps to the Venegarian Embassy, but unable to recognize any of the landmarks of the night among these bright buildings and milling outworlders.
A hand fell upon her arm and she whirled around to strike, but the deadly rays of Earth’s sun had poisoned her strength so that she could not even dislodge the outworlder’s frail grasp. “Oh, hey, are you okay lady, you look sick. I can take you to Met General…”
“I need to get to the Venegarian Embassy.” Lydda gasped.
“If it’s atmo poisoning, you need to get whatever mix your people breathe…,” the outworlder began, and seemed to be leading her towards one of the outworlders flying carriages.
“It is not. I breathe oxy/nitro. It is this cursed radiation. The Embassy,” Lydda insisted, feeling a tiny scrap of pride boil away as she added, “*Please.*”
“Okay, okay. Just sit here,” the elderly male said, and she felt a seat beneath her and felt a hatch closing against her side. Another hatch opened to her left and the vehicle shifted with the addition of new weight. “Clear for take-off,” the voice added, laughing and then the vehicle lurched forward. Lydda attempted to open her eyes ever so slightly, but the elderly man was wearing white pants, and she was immediately blinded by reflected glare. He could be taking her anywhere, and she was not strong enough to even fight an old human male in this light.
The vehicle stopped and the voice returned, “Okay, here’s Venegar. Boy, she’s got a thing for green, I guess.” Lydda was already prying at the hatch, but it opened before she found the fastening. “Okay, last stop, all ashore who’s going ashore.” The old man cackled, apparently having succeeded in amusing only himself.
Taking his arm and leaning heavily on it to pull herself out of the low-slung seat, Lydda quickly pulled her arm free. “I am in your debt.” She quickly unsheathed a blade from her wrist-sheath and the man gasped and pulled away.
She stumbled forward and gripped the man, placing the blade into his hand. “It is a blade of steel. My payment to you.”
“Alrighty then, you have a real nice day.” The voice quavered, lowering in volume as he beat a hasty retreat.
Lydda leaned against the side of the Embassy, still cool in the mid-morning shade, and followed the wall around until she found the entrance, which, of course, was in the middle of the brightly lit sunward-side. She was all-but crawling by the time she made it through the front portal, and slid down the wall to the side, out of the sickening light and heat.
She rested for a moment, trying to determine whether or not she was gathering her strength or laying down to die when a heavy footfall came into range. “Hey!”, came a male voice, “are you hurt? I’ll call a medic…”
A large hand, like that of a beast, gripped her shoulder and she squinted to see a large outworlder, one of Venegar’s Champions. Abandoning any attempt at subtlety, she whispered, “I need darkness. Light is poison.”
“Right. Dark you want it, dark it will be.” The male said as he pulled her to her feet and led her into a side-chamber. She heard him turning off the sources of illumination, but light still shone into the room through the open doorway, not at all blocked by the gauzy translucent curtain. “Right.” The male said, stepping out of the room and turning off the lights in the hallway. “Is that better?” he asked, sounding inappropriately concerned for a woman not his own.
“Yes.” Realizing belatedly that she had only a single blade remaining, and might have need of it soon, Lydda pulled a silver ring off of her finger. “You have my gratitude,” she said, tossing him the ring. “If I might also have some water?”
“Uh, sure,” Garth said, placing the ring down on a shelf. “But water’s free. You don’t have to pay me for that…” He returned with a pitcher of water and a glass.
Lydda looked at the extraneous container and set it on the shelf, drinking directly from the pitcher until the roiling in her stomach settled.
”You’re that Kathooni security person, right?”
“I am Jath. I am seeking my mate.” Lydda added, leaning forward and seizing the male’s wrist.
“Oh, I’m taken. But thanks.” Garth said, trying to dislodge the woman’s grip, which seemed ridiculously strong for someone who couldn’t get up a minute ago.
“Your words are nonsense. Your mating status is plain to see,” Lydda said, irritated by the male’s attempts at deception.
“No, really,” Garth grunted, trying with all of his strength to budge a single one of this woman’s steely fingers. “Spoken for, most strenuously spoken for…”
She released his wrist suddenly and Garth fell back. Only the presence of a wall stopped him from ending up on the floor as the tall woman stepped right up to him and placed her hand on his chest.
“If you are spoken for, outworlder, why do you advertise your availability with this display?” her hand traced the white lightning bolt down his chest, onto his stomach and Garth involuntarily laughed as he stepped aside before her hand could trail lower. “Any can see where this line leads. Why draw attention to what you do not offer?”
“Cultural misunderstanding,” Garth babbled, still backing away. “That doesn’t mean anything to us, just, y’know, a lightning bolt. Which is me!” his hand crackled with a display of electrical energy, and Lydda recoiled from the sudden light.
“Sorry, light bad. I forgot…”
“Enough of this babbling about your ignorance. Summon Champion Krinn to me now, I have words for him.”
“He’s not here. Do you want to wait in his room?”
“Is there light between this place and that?”
“Well, yes, but I could turn them all off…” Garth began, “or, I’ll be right back!” and he dashed out of the room at a dead run.
Lydda stood, unsure of what to do next. The outworlders were all insane, and she had sold her honor cheaply to a male who respected nothing. She wanted to cry, but tears were for children, and so she stood, turmoil eating away at her.
The heavy footsteps of the male returned, clearly running and out of breath, and she placed a hand upon her last blade, in case of treachery.
Garth swung around the corner, only to get momentarily tangled up in the curtain. In his hand he had a device that Lydda could see no use for, but at least it did not resemble a weapon.
“Okay, this might work. What spectrum of light do you see in?” Garth said breathlessly and Lydda thought back to her lessons.
“Ultraviolet is our primary spectrum. We also see in what humans call the ‘visible spectrum,’ but our sensitivity is such that under any lighting conditions comfortable to your eyes, we are blinded.”
“UV. Great. I’ve got these old-style pilot’s goggles. They were a gift from dad, from when I finished pilot’s training.” The male babbled, pulling out a small container and spraying some foul-smelling substance onto the round glass portions of the device. “And this,” he said, shaking the container, “is the super-dark green spray paint that Sarya’s been using on every single damned thing she sets eyes on…”
He swirled the items through the air, and Lydda tensed, as she now recognized that the ‘goggles’ bore close resemblance to a throwing snare for catching flying prey. “Okay, it’s dry now. Just put them on.”
Lydda accepted the item in her hand, and closed her eyes, resignedly asking. “How.”
Garth reached around and attempted to fasten the goggles, only to be hurled back into the wall so hard that he spent the next minute catching his breath. “You will not dress me!” the woman shouted, dropping the goggles onto his lap. “Demonstrate.”
Garth picked up his goggles, ruined now with the lenses blacked out for this crazy bitch, and showed her how to put them on. “See. Like that.” He then pulled them off and flung them at her head.
Lydda snatched the ‘goggles’ out of the air, puzzled at the male’s attitude, but resigned to the fact that she would never understand their outworlder madness. She put the goggles on and the room was blessedly dark. She peered out into the hallway and she barely had to squint, even looking out into the more brightly lit areas.
“This is acceptable.”
“So glad you sprocking approve. Rokk’s room is this way.” Garth said, pushing past her in a manner that had Lydda reaching again for her blade, before realizing that this male *claimed* that he was the property of another, and she had no idea as to his bid price. It would not be acceptable to damage him when she did not know if she could repay whatever value his mate placed upon him.
They reached another chamber, the same size as the others, with a strange net against one wall.
“This is Champion Krinn’s chambers?” Lydda exclaimed in disbelief.
“Yes.” Garth muttered in his best surly tone, arms crossed as he stood in the doorway.
“It should be larger than the other rooms. I misjudged his status.” She complained. “Where are his sleeping quarters?” she said, looking around.
“He sleeps on the hammock.” Garth ground out, each word sounding like it had been dragged kicking and screaming from his mouth.
Garth just nodded his head and Lydda stared again. “Wrapped up in ropes, like a snared beast? Hanging above the ground?” Lydda shook her head again. This was the least of the madness. She crossed to the room controls, next to Garth, who moved slightly away as she approached, and turned off the lights in the room. Still light poured in from the hallway, and Lydda extended her hand towards the container he still held in his hand.
Garth tossed it to her and walked away as Lydda began spray-painting the flimsy curtain with a thick coat of dark green.
Imra! You *have* to meet the missus… Garth broadcast through the Ring, dripping sarcasm as thick as paint.
With a forced smile on her face, Imra stepped out of Rokk’s room, to see Garth leaning against the wall in the hallway, rubbing his chest, where a bruise was already forming, and sporting a clipped smile to match her own.
Interesting lady, huh?
~Psychotic, solipsistic, self-centered, violent, ill-tempered, delusional, barbaric, primitive, rude, condescending, arrogant, sexist, possessive…~ Imra trailed off, still clearly not done yet.
~Territorial! Nasty, crazy, freak *bitch!*~
I think you’ve covered her better qualities, yeah. Garth added as he wrapped his arm over Imra’s shoulder and they walked down the corridor away from their new guest.
Rokk awkwardly sashayed through the doorway, a large package of puffed pasty stuffed with cream cheese and crab meat in his hand, and he idly munched one of the freshly-made appetizers, savoring their steaming warmth as much as the sweet blend of flavors. Humming to himself, he continued to (badly) dance his way down the corridor to Imra’s quarters, where his Ring had already informed him his two fellow Champion’s were in residence. Knocking on the doorframe he could see that the two were clothed and sitting upright, so he leaned his head in and juggled the package of treats only to frown as the two wordlessly pointed in unison towards his room, wearing matching dour expressions.
‘Alrighty, then. Must be a lover’s quarrel thing going on. Best leave them to it.’ He gave up on the sad attempt at dancing-while-walking-while-eating, recognizing that he was already doing two more things than he could get away with, and just walked to his room, only to slow as he saw the green paint dripping from his lank, sodden curtain…
Gingerly pushing it aside, he looked into the very dark room, and immediately sensed a familiar armored presence.
“Hey honey, I’m home! Succulent cheesy crab-puff?”
Succulent cheesy crab-puffs exploded across the room as Lydda back-handed the offending offering away and shoved Rokk against the wall, with a blade to his throat.
“Okay, I’m trying to cut back, too…”, Rokk stammered, acutely aware of the press of cold steel against the suddenly hammering pulse in his throat.
“Do you wish to dissolve this mating contract, Champion Krinn?” Lydda growled right in his face. Rokk was momentarily distracted by the sight of ancient earth aviator’s goggles in the middle of her face, which also put them right in the middle of his face, and he could see that someone had painted the goggles dark green. ‘That whacky Sarya. Someone needs to take her paint-cans away,’ his brain offered by way of useless commentary.
“What? No, look Lydda, I don’t…” and then his face went numb with the force of her blow, and he was pretty sure that his jaw wasn’t really in the exact place it was meant to be. Sure enough, it clicked when he pushed it back into place, and *then* it really started hurting.
“You do not call me that name. Not until this dispute is done.”
Rokk stood up slowly, arms raised and palms forward in his best ‘I surrender, don’t kill me’ stance. “Look, Jath, I don’t know why you are angry. Please tell me what I’ve done wrong.”
“*What* you’ve done wrong?” Lydda said, knife slashing the air as she made her point, “*Everything* you’ve done wrong!” her hair whipped around wildly and she laughed hysterically. “Look at my hair!”
Rokk didn’t even know where to start. “Could you make me a list? We can start with the hair…”
“We had an agreement. We were to be mated. *I gave you my name!* And you, you, aaaa!” she turned around and ripped his hammock from the wall, “And you sleep in a fishing net! Like prey!” she flung the hammock to the ground and sat down on the floor, her hands over her face.
Torn between backing away and hopping the first shuttle back to Braal or comforting the sobbing woman, Rokk, as always, took the more dangerous route and knelt down in front of Lydda, carefully avoiding the side with the knife, and ran his fingers through her long hair, trying to unsnarl the tangles that had formed while she slept.
“Please, tell me what I’m supposed to do here. I should know, but I don’t. I know it’s my fault.”
Lydda regained her composure with effort and looked up, her silver eye-makeup glistening as it streaked down her face. “We are mated. It is *my* place to give you shelter,” she looked around at his room. “It is *my* task to return from the hunt with food, and to feed you,” she batted at an offending crab-puff. “It is *your* role to be there when I wake, to groom my hair and prepare me for the day’s battle. It is your task to bathe me and place my armor upon me. And when I return, you are to take the weight of my armor from me and cleanse my wounds.”
“I wake, and you are gone. You take my name and leave like a thief in the day. I must walk through fire and pain and death to find you. I must take charity from offensively-dressed and deceitful outworlders who mock our ways. I must wait for you in a shelter that I have not given you, and you come to me bearing food that I have not provided for you. Have I nothing to offer you?”
“Oh, Lydda, I had no idea,” Rokk ran his hands through her silky hair. He reached out with his magnetic powers and turned on the faucets to the bath in the next room. “I will bathe you, my big, strong, kinda scary warrior-woman. And then,” he added, handing her a crab-puff from the floor, “You can feed me.”
He rose slowly to his feet, pulling her up with him. “We’ll get this right.” She smiled slightly, and they crossed into the bathroom.
“You would use a week’s water ration to apologize to me?” Lydda said, her eyes wide at the sight of the filling tub.
“Uh…” Rokk began, but was cut off as Lydda pushed him into the wall.
“We must fight more often, my extravagant Thall.”