Tag Archive | character: yira

Foedus Planetarum – The Tod’cxeckz’ri Paper Part Interlude

First: The Tod’cxeckz’ri Paper Part I

Previous: The Tod’cxeckz’ri Paper Part VI

I wanted to poke at these guys again, so here’s a little ficlet, since the bit between Part Vi and this seems to have stalled me.

Jahnan woke to the sound of muffled clinking very near her. She opened her eyes to find Yira Trembane less than a meter away, diligently working at the Tod’cxeckz’ri collar locked around his neck.

“Stop that,” she snapped. her head hurt. Her eyes hurt. Everything hurt. “You’re still my bounty, and I’m still going to turn you in.” She put a hand over her eyes to block out the light. “Wait. Did I fall asleep? There’s no time for that.”

“You were knocked out. We were knocked out.” When she peeked at him, Yira had put his hands back in his lap and disappeared whatever he’d been using as a lockpick. “We were talking to that — that thing, whatever it was—”

“Brain slug,” Jahnan muttered. Those only existed in children’s sensie vids, she was pretty sure, but that’s what the thing had looked like.

“That thing. And then the air got thick. I woke up first. I out-mass you,” he added defensively.

“Don’t try to take the collar off. For one, I am still turning you in for the bounty, and for another, we don’t know what it’ll do to you.”

“Glad my well-being is so foremost in your mind.” He stretched, and Jahnan’s eyes followed the movement. Even sitting, his fingers touched the ceiling, which itself seemed to be made of something soft and pliable. “Now can we try to escape, or do you have more orders for me, kozel-wife?”

Every time he used the Tod’cxeckz’ri term that meant mistress, Jahnan noted, Yira sounded a little less sarcastic about it.

They had to get her ship back, and fast.

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Trope Bingo – Foedus Planetarum – The Tod’cxeckz’ri Paper Part VI

To fill square one-four (caffeine failure) on my card for [community profile] trope_bingo.

First: The Tod’cxeckz’ri Paper Part I

Previous in Trope Bingo: The Tod’cxeckz’ri Paper Part V

No Ao3 standard warnings apply.

Nehanani Jahnan woke with a pounding headache, her head pillowed on something soft and warm. The sound of something thudding down next to her finished the job of shaking her into wakefulness.

She was – she had – “Shit!” She opened her eyes and sat up, sending stabbing pains through her temples. A bag landed near her feet, and her doppleganger-sister waved from the rigging of her ethership.

“We just need to borrow the Maru for a couple days. We’ll be back to get you long before the food and water run out. Sorry!” She had to shout to be heard over the flapping of the sails; even the rigging was out of reach. “Have fun with your ‘temporary husband!'”

“Shit, shit, no. Covair!” Jahnan lifted her voice to a shout, despite her headache. “Covair, it won’t work! Maru won’t work for you!”

“Oh, we can be very persuasive. Thanks, sis! We’ll see you soon.”

The ethership shot away, its sails snapping in a sudden wind, leaving Jahnan standing, swearing, watching it go.

“…nice family.” Yira sounded groggier even than Jahnan felt. “They dumped us, hunh? Where are we?”

“That… that is a good question.” Jahnan looked around. Yira was lying on the ground, surrounded by the three large duffel bags Covair had dropped on them. There was a half-wall past him, and past that, more walls. To three sides of them, what looked like the ruins of an ancient city, crafted in brick and adobe, tumbled outwards. The fourth side was a precipitous drop. “So, a ruined city on a cliff. Could be almost anywhere; I haven’t explored this alternate too much. What’s in the bags?” She began digging in one bag as she asked; Yira grabbed a second.

“I’ve got coffee beans, water, food supplies. Three meters of rope and a tarp.”

“I’ve got more water, clothes – how considerate – another tarp and another three meters of rope.” She inched over to the cliff edge. It was so sheer, it might have been cut or built that way, like a giant building. “The drop is at least fifty meters.”

“Of course it is. Your sister is a real piece of work.”

“Your mother aimed a gun at us. What’s in the third bag?”

“More water, more food, no rope. A flashlight and some flares, two nice knives.” He jangled his cuffed wrists. “Unlock me?”

“Not yet, no. Where were those coffee beans?” She dug in the second bag until she discovered the bag – and a small grinder and press. Those would have to wait. She could chew beans now. “All right. Let’s find out what we’ve got.”

The bags were heavy, but they’d both hauled worse, although Yira’s bound wrists did make things awkward. They took turns carrying the third bag as they paced off the confines of their dump zone.

It was a mesa, it turned out, about a mile on a side, the whole place filled with old buildings and falling-down ruins, and every side of the perfectly-square mesa far too sharp. How the ancients had gotten up here was anyone’s guess – maybe they’d used ladders long since rotted away. How they were getting down – well, obviously Covair didn’t mean for them to. They were supposed to stay here until she came for them.

Jahnan chewed another bean. The pounding headache was beginning to fade. They had one more side of this damned place to walk, and then they could look for shelter.

“Watch out!” Yira’s warning came almost exactly as the creature attacked Jahnan. It looked like some sort of twelve-limbed big cat, all fur and stripes and anger. Jahnan barely had enough time to bring her knife and her duffle bag up to slash and to guard, and then the thing was on top of her.

She rolled, grabbing the creature by the throat, and tumbled sideways until she was out of reach of most of its claws. It took all her strength to bear down on its throat, and she had none left to provide the coup-de-grace. “Yira!”

“Will you unchain me after this?” He was already moving, finding the right angle and driving his knife into the thing’s heart. “This is stupidly awkward.”

“You did all right.” She pulled herself to her feet as the creature twitched. “Not bad at all.” She had a few scrapes, but nothing too deep. She could wash it all off when they made camp. “Let’s finish the circuit and find a roof. This place may be nearly desert but I bet it gets cold at night.”

The second creature attacked them within three hundred feet. This one was mostly lizard, although it was nearly as big as Jahnan. It got a good bite in on Yira’s forearm before they dispatched it.

They managed to kill the third one before it reached them. By that point, they’d gotten back nearly to where they started and the sun was beginning to go down. They turned inward, heading down an old road, stepping over the crumbled remains of buildings and dodging the occasional threat.

By the time they found a standing building – almost in the center of the ruined city – they had killed ten creatures, none of them the same. “Is your sister usually murderous?” Yira wiped the blood from his face with the back of his arm.

Jahnan chewed another coffee bean. Her headache was gone and her entire body felt tight. “No more so than I am.”

“Lovely.” The building had stairs circling the outside, stone or brick in the same dull buff as the rest of the city. The third floor had a door still mostly intact, and, better yet, a floor still intact. If they settled at the very back corner of that floor, they should be mostly safe.

At least from creatures. There was no guaranteeing she was safe from Yira Trembane. Jahnan chewed another coffee bean and found, deep in one duffle bag, both medical supplies and a large bed roll. It was the matter of a few moments to clean and bandage both their wounds. Nothing attacked them. Yira didn’t even say anything; he had not been chewing beans, and he looked dead on his feet.

Not dead, no. Sleeping on his feet. She didn’t want to think about dead. The sun was going down, and there were monsters everywhere. She chewed another bean and leaned against Yira. He was warm, notably and pleasantly so against the chilling air.

“She even gave us a bed,” he murmured. “How considerate. Maybe we won’t d–“

“Shh, none of that.” Her words were slurring. She closed her eyes, just for a moment. Just for a moment.

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Trope Bingo – Foedus Planetarum – The Tod’cxeckz’ri Paper Part V

To fill square One-Five (annoying sibling) on my card for [community profile] trope_bingo.

First: The Tod’cxeckz’ri Paper Part I

Previous in Trope Bingo: The Tod’cxeckz’ri Paper Part IV

If you are reading from Trope Bingo, Part IV is not part of the bingo but an integral part of the story.

No Ao3 standard warnings apply.

Nehanani Jahnan gestured at the vessel floating in front the Maru. The etherboat was a big ship, looking more like a sea caravel than any space-faring vessel – at least, any space-faring vessel in the universe Yira and Jahnan had come from. Its sails were tight against an invisible force – not wind, not out here, but ether. Two great air bladders held it aloft.

And captaining that thing: “Nehanani Covair is my sister. Or my doppelganger, but we’ve always gone by ‘sister’, and she’s younger than me by a few years.” She glanced at Yira, who nodded shortly. He looked more worried than interested, but since she hadn’t released whatever hold the Tod’cxeckz’ret collar had on him, she couldn’t really blame him for that worry. “I met her the first time I ended up in this splinterworld – Yeah. I’ve been here before. This is the fourth time. I think the Maru likes this place, and when the what-if drive gets… conflicting signals.”

She caught her breath. She had to make sure things were tidy before she faced her dopple-sister. “All right. I apologize. You can talk… you don’t have to be quiet anymore. Sch’ket,” she added, the Tod’cxeckz’ret word for end order, just in case.

He put both hands to his throat. “This is why I don’t like what-if drives. A space-twister doesn’t put you into Alternate Universes.”

“Let’s yell later. Right now, a woman with a very similar upbringing to me who happens to be an ethership pirate is about to bring the Maru on board. We’re going to need to work together to get offboard with our sanity intact, and we can’t pull the what-if in an enclosed space. Can you work with me?”

Yira’s eyes narrowed for a minute, and then he nodded. “Thirty days to get this collar off of me, and we’re already down a day. Yes, I can work with you. I’m not going to run away and leave myself stranded in an alternate dimension, especially not one where they go through space in sailboats.

The mechanical claws of the etherboat grabbed the Maru, shaking it slightly. Jahnan nodded. She didn’t trust Yira, not as far as she could throw him, but he had a point.

“All right. Maru?”

“Yeah, boss? Want me to shake the boy up a bit? He’s got a nice butt, you know.”

Oh, yeah. This was one of the universes in which smart ships were smartasses. Jahnan sighed. “I know. Please get him in walking restraints. And we’re on pirate protocols. Take care of yourself and remember that Nehanani Covair is not me. Check?”

“Nehanani Covair is not you. Check.” The guest chair wriggled a little, shaking Yira, pushing him around, and clasping restraints on his wrists.

“Stay close,” Jahnan murmured. “Maru, open doors.”

“Opening doors, boss. Don’t be gone long. You know what happens when I get bored.”

“Yes, hon Maru.” She smiled brightly and took Yira’s arm in a firm grip as the doors dilated open.

Nehanani Covair looked like Jahnan. She looked like Jahnan if bounty hunting had been a far rougher occupation than it had, if Jahnan’s fashion sense had been Military Harajuku, and if Jahnan had never dyed her green hair orange.

Her two associates were much the same: a Pallidus with the notable white skin and oversized mouth, and a probably-a-male of a variant Jahnan didn’t recognize, with pointed, hairy ears and what looked like a thin pelt of fur.. They were both wearing circus military chic, brilliant colors and elaborate insignia. They were also both carrying sabers and sidearms. Covair was smiling, but Covair was always smiling.

“Jahnan! I haven’t seen you since that event on Bolt Hole! And who’s this?”

“Covair.” Jahnan smiled warmly back at her doppleganger-sister. “Maru, Yira, this is Nehanani Covair, my doppleganger-sister. Corvair, this is Yira Trembane, my temporary kiczka-husband. It’s a long story,” she added, before Covair could pester her. “We’re just stopping in on our way to visit Yira’s stepfather.”

“Noted, boss,” Maru whispered into Jahnan’s commlink. “Good call. You’re cuter.”

“Oh, come on, let me show you around the ship, at least.” Covair took Jahnan’s arm. “We’ve added some neat features since the last time you were around our neck of the woods. And have a drink? We picked up a batch of Nevarian Whisky when we were in Yola last time. Here.” She took three glasses from her Pallidus escort and held them carefully while the other escort, the furry one, poured. “To family, wherever they may be.”

“To family.” Jahnan took one glass and nodded to Yira to take the other. “And to crew and associates, friends and good bounties.”

“To all the things that bring in money,” Covair laughed.

It was surprisingly good whiskey, with a hint of something earthy about it and a kick that hit Jahnan almost before she’d finished swallowing.

“..Speaking of which,” her dopple-sister was saying. Or Jahnan thought she was saying; everything was a little fuzzy all of a sudden. “I need to borrow your fancy-pants ship for a couple days, Big sis. Hope you don’t mind.”

Jahnan’s legs and her consciousness failed her, and she landed on the deck, finding it surprisingly soft. Somewhere nearby, Yira made an oof of complaint that sounded as sleepy – as drugged – as she felt. Then there was nothing.

Next: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/930862.html

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Trope Bingo – Foedus Planetarum – The Tod’cxeckz’ri Paper Part IV

To fill square Three-Five (au: steampunk) on my card for [community profile] trope_bingo.

First: The Tod’cxeckz’ri Paper Part I

Previous in Trope Bingo: The Tod’cxeckz’ri Paper Part III

No Ao3 standard warnings apply.

It wasn’t that Jahnan thought her captive was serious. He had just admitted to attempting to seduce the lion’s share of his captors, generally to escape.

It was just that it had been a while, and he was a handsome man, if you liked the type – which, she was finding, she did. And his hand was warm, and his fingers just strong enough, and all in all it was more than a little bit distracting.

She slid her fingers over the controls while Yira slid his fingers over her, setting the coordinates he’d given her and checking them – twice – against her navigation charts.

Then she threw the switch, just as Yira demonstrated exactly how thin her ship-silks actually were.

The world twisted, the probabilities aligned, and they came out in open space.

In open…

“That,” Yira complained, “is in no way space-worthy.”

That was a caravel, its sails furled, floating cheerfully in mid- well, in mid-something.

It took just a moment for the Maru’s sensors to pick it up. “That’s because,” Jahnan said slowly, as if the facts might change if she took her time, “it’s not in space. It’s an etherboat. See the balloons?”

“A… Eth… no, no, no.“ Yira thumped his head back against the headrest. “This, this is why I hate what-if drives.”

“And this-” Jahnan lifted Yira’s unresisting hand off of her lap and deposited it in his own, “this is why you should never distract the pilot. Now think quiet and calm thoughts, and I’ll get us out of here.”

“I don’t trust you.” He grumbled and shifted in his seat. Jahnan glared at him.

“I said be quiet.“ She turned back to her consoles as he made a strangled noise. “All right. If we’re lucky…”

“Attention the Maru. Prepare to be boarded.”

“Right.” She glared at her intercom, which had turned on without consulting her. “So lucky isn’t going to be the thing, check.” She brushed her hand over the “transmit” button. “Attention aggressor, we have no room to be boarded. You’d be better off boarding a lifeboat.”

“..Jana? You got a new ship!” The voice on the other end went from mechanical to a squeal of glee. “Nehanani Jahnan, I never thought I’d see you back in my neck of the woods. Hold on, I’m bringing you aboard.”

Jahnan made triply certain the intercom was off before she leaned back in her seat and swore, quietly but eloquently.

Yira made a soft noise, and then another one.

“What?” She was just about done with – “…what?” His tan skin was ashen and he looked more miserable than she’d known he knew how to look.

Very slowly, as if moving hurt, he touched the collar with two fingers – and flinched.

Jahnan stared at him. “What… aw, rot.” She didn’t have time to deal with this. “Does it hurt?”

He seemed to give that some thought, then shook his head.

“Can you talk?”

Again, he thought about it, then shook his head. He looked worried. It was an interesting look on him.

“Can you breathe?

That one didn’t require thought. He nodded.

“All right. All right.” She nodded to herself. “So – That. On the comms, about to bring us into her ship. That is my sister.”

Next: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/930668.html

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Trope Bingo – Foedus Planetarum – The Tod’cxeckz’ri Paper Part III

To fill square one-two on my card for [community profile] trope_bingo. Story three of a new series.

First: The Tod’cxeckz’ri Paper Part I

Previous in Trope Bingo: The Tod’cxeckz’ri Paper Part II

Previous in Story: Standards

No Ao3 standard warnings apply.

“Do you seduce every bounty hunter that catches you?” Yira Trembane had his hand halfway up Jahnan’s thigh, and it was creeping ever higher. She was having trouble focusing on the navigation – not a good idea, when using a WhatIf drive. She didn’t want to end up stuck in some alternate-history where he had captured her.

“You make it sound like I get caught a lot.” His hand slid just an inch further up.

Jahnan closed her eyes and thought about trees. “Your dataslip says you did. Seventeen arrests since you turned twenty, and half of those for escape-from-custody. How many times did you escape by seduction?”

“Only three. Four if you count… well, three. But I can’t get away from you, don’t you remember?” He tapped the collar around his throat. “We don’t know what this thing will do to me… kozel-wife.”

The Tod’cxeckz’ri clerk had locked the thing on him, the same time said clerk put an earring on Jahnan’s ear and a bracelet on her wrist, the same time they were, through a paperwork misunderstanding, declared husband and wife by a Tod’cxeckz’ri law. Jahnan had just wanted to claim her bounty on the infamous thief; Yira had just wanted to get back into jail so he could escape again.

“‘Four if you count…?’” she prompted.

“Oh. Well, there was this one time.” He leaned back in his seat, his hands tangled in his braids. “I didn’t escape, exactly. I was planet-hopping, having just disposed of an Mestonian Diamond-”

“A Mestonian Diamond?” That one wasn’t in his dossier, and Jahnan could see why. The Meston Syndicate was unbreakable – or so their reputation would have it.”

“Not that I’d admitting to anything. But I was planet-hopping, as I said…”

    and there I found myself on an omnibus between Soffen Seven and Mark Four. The public transit in that part of the galaxy is really nice, posh, polite, and they don’t ask questions. I’ve used it more than a few times – in the past, of course.

    But this time, I found myself sitting right next to the bounty hunter Ueda Tsutomu. Now Ueda has quite a reputation to begin with – I’m sure you’ve heard of him – and, while I really wouldn’t want to cross him, he’s generally very polite. However, I had at least two bounties on my head at the time, to say nothing of what the Mestona might have done under the radar. So Ueda was pretty much the last person in the universe I wanted to see.

    And for about the first third of the trip, I thought I might be doing okay. Sure, my braids are a bit distinctive, but I’d done the old dress-as-a-pilgrim trick that covers nine-tenths of everything you might notice about me, and I was hunching down in my seat and reading an old flat-screen comic on my reader. And Ueda was reading notes – he wasn’t hunting me, you see. He was after a small-time criminal who’d pissed off even more ‘wrong’ people than I had. And I think I would have gotten away if the Omnibus hadn’t tried to occupy the same space as a tour liner.

    So there were were, all of a sudden, skid-slip-starcrud, crash-landed on a backwater planet that had three exports: an opiate-like thing, its lovely boys and girls, and tourist kitch. And the way the bus landed, well, Ueda Tsutomu landed right on top of me.

    Have you met him? Ueda Tsutomu is a very handsome man, and he’s built out of rock and brick – solid, absolutely solid. And he took a good look at my eyes, and then one braid escaped, the way they do – they don’t have minds of their own, we’re not actually Medusas, that’s just a myth, but sometimes they, ah, snake out – and he was there, looking at my eyes and that nose, and one Medusa braid, and, well, he knew who I was.

    What would you do? I mean, we weren’t going anywhere for a while, but the place we’d landed on didn’t have enough civilization for me to get properly lost in. So I kissed him.

    Don’t let anyone lie to you about Ueda Tsutomu. He may be a hard-ass, but he can kiss like nobody’s business. And as for the rest…

    …we were stuck on that backwater for two weeks while they sorted out the wreckage. Tsutomu and I left our little cabin… maybe twice. Three times, I lie. Because we went to the beach. Although that’s a little bit fuzzy. That opiate-type they sell? It grows in a seagrass on all their northern beaches, and, yes, we’d landed in the north. The southern hemisphere, I’ve been told, actually has industry.

    “The long and the short of is is, Tsutomu never asked my name, and I never told him. We went with the polite fiction that I was, indeed, a Medusan on pilgrimage back home, just… not the one I was. And I left there with far more of a working knowledge of that particular bounty hunter.

Yira ended his story with a leer. Jahnan, who couldn’t help but notice the way Yira’s hand on her thigh twitched and moved every time he mentioned Ueda Tsutomu, could only shake her head.

“I thought you didn’t like being called Medusan. Me – Shimestrians, that is.”

“We don’t.” Yira grinned widely at her. “But when a man like Ueda Tsutomu is talking, believe me, you’ll let him call you anything you want.”

Jahnan watched the way he smiled, and wondered, if the story was true, who, exactly, had seduced whom. “So,” she coughed. “You only seduce most of your captors. I feel so special.”

Next: IV

If you are reading from Trope Bingo, Part IV is not part of the bingo but an integral part of the story.

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/893899.html. You can comment here or there.

Trope Bingo – Faoedus Planetarum – The Tod’cxeckz’ri Paper Part II

To fill square one-two on my card for [community profile] trope_bingo. Story two of a new series.

First: The Tod’cxeckz’ri Paper Part I

No Ao3 standard warnings apply.

Jahnan had one of the richest bounties of her career literally in her grasp. She also had an earring that said that she’d married him under Tod’cxeckz’ri law and a paper telling her how to get rid of him and the earring, and a Tod’cxeckz’ri clerk smirking at her from behind the safety of his counter.

She ran her thumb down the list. “Okay. First choice is your parole officer. Kill two birds with one stone that way.”

“No way.” Yira Trembane shook his head. “I am not going within a star system of that maniac if I can avoid it.”

“You know the terms of your parole included not leaving the star system.”

“Why they were stupid enough to parole me in the first place I’ve never figured out.” Yira smirked. “He’s out. How about my ex-wife? Well… my first ex-wife.”

“Isn’t that the one all the media were calling ‘Bonnie to your Clyde?’” That had been several years ago – and two prison escapes and a parole violation past.

“Right until she Bonnied right up my Clyde, yeah. I’m sure she’s willing to say I’m a lousy husband.”

“And I’m not willing to get within a planet of her. All right. How about…” She ran her finger down the list.

“How about my mother? She’ll get me out of anything.” Yira’s grin was irrepressible.

“That’s what I’m worried about.” Jehnan shook her head. “Well, where’s she live?”

“Berich, Oswurn system.” He threw it off like he was talking about something in the core. Jehnan snorted.

“No. We’ll find someone else. That’s out in the Lawless territories.”

“They’re not really Lawless, you know.” It was the smirk that did it. “Worried about losing me?”

“Fine. Fine, we’ll go talk to your mother.” She was going to regret this, she knew it. But better losing the bounty then ending up stuck married to Yira Trembane.

“If we leave now, we ought to be able to catch the cross-system shuttle. It doesn’t stop in the Oswurn system, but it does stop in Cephapren. Bing, bang, boom, back here in ten days, plenty of time to get me out of your hands.”

It was Jahnan’s turn to smirk. “Who says we’re taking public transit? Come on, kiczka-husband, let’s go.” Every time she used the Tod’cxeckz’ri word for “submissive spouse,” he flinched. She was going to used it as often as possible between here and Berich and back again.

“I could start calling you ‘Kozel-wife,’ you know.” He wasn’t so much following her out of the claims office as he was allowing himself to be dragged along. It was better than the fighting-every-step-of-the-way he’d been until here, so Jahnan would take it.

“By all means, please feel free to call me ‘Mistress-wife.’ I’m sure your mother will love that.”

“My mother doesn’t speak Tod’cxeckz’ret.” Yira looked around; the spaceport was not exactly bustling, with nothing but a couple shuttle flights and some private ships waiting. “If we’re not going to the cross-system, where are we going?”

“My ship.” She did enjoy the ability to surprise someone like Yira Trembane. “What, did you think I followed around bail-jumpers and parole-skippers on public transit? I’d never catch anyone.”

“Fine with me. Then I’d still be in the wind.” He squirmed against the restraints; Jahnan tightened her grip. She’d lost him twice that way.

“Oh, someone would catch you. A big famous thief like you? All the bounty hunters are looking for you.” She pushed him forward with a hand on the small of his back. “Here’s my ship.”

He’d almost slipped the cuffs, but it wouldn’t matter in a moment. “This?” He whistled. “How’d a bounty hunter afford this?”

The Maru wasn’t a big ship – it could hold four people, sleep the same four, and had two coldsleep pods for emergencies – but it was sleek, pretty, and fast. “Let’s just say you aren’t the first high-profile runner I’ve caught. In with you.”

“Unh-unh.” He dug his feet in and balked. “Ships like these have those bratty smart computers.”

“Yeah, and you don’t think that collar you’re wearing does, too? You want to be my kiczka-husband forever?” She caught him just as he was turning around, the cuffs hanging uselessly off of his left wrist, and gave him a pointed shove. “Maru, catch.”

“Catching.” The nearest passenger seat rotated and pushed forward, shoving into Yira’s calves. He stumbled, and the armrests caught his wrists and wrapped restraints around both. “Caught.”

“Umnf.” Yira shifted. “See? Bratty smart computers.” While he got situated – the Maru wouldn’t let him go – Jahnan settled into the pilot’s seat and began punching in coordinates.

“What sort of drive – ow, I need that – does this thing have?” Yira shook his braids out of his face and wriggled against the still-moving seat. “Is it a Tungarian Twister? Those are pretty fast.”

“Oh, no. The last ship I had was a ‘Twister but this one’s a What-If Drive.” She flipped three switches and grabbed the handles, feeling the faint tingle through her hands. “You said Berich, right? Oswurn system?”

“A… No, no, no, no, no, no, let me off this ship right now…” Yria began struggling in earnest against the seat. The Maru hummed in his ear and wrapped him up a little bit tighter, soft restraints covering his forehead and his lap.

“Almost there. Close your eyes and think of home.” She squeezed the handles and pushed forward, using the mundane rockets to lift them off the ground. “Five, four, three, two, one…”

Yira screamed. The Maru moved between worlds, stopping briefly in the infinite of possibilities.

“Okay, where are we landing? It’s a big planet.”

“Bienville… starcrud, I hate those things. I always think I’m going to leave part of me in another dimension.” He twitched against the restraints. “Can I have a hand?” For the first time, Yira Trembane sounded plaintive. “Just to check?”

“Bienville Sud or Bienville Equatorial? Big planet, Yira.”

“You know Berich?” He peeled his eyes open. “Oh, we’re really there. Bienville Sud-Est, there’s a tiny spaceport at-” He rattled off coordinates; Jahnan punched them in, and checked to be sure they led to an actual landing place. “My mother’s place isn’t far from there, if we rent a carre.”

“I can tell this is going to be fun. Still, sooner we do it, the sooner I can turn you in.”

“And the sooner I’m free of your insane ship. It’s pinching me!”

“She likes to do that.”

It took them twenty minutes to land and another twenty for Jahnan to get Yira back in proper restraints and into a waiting carre. She’d pulled up his mother’s name from the dataweb and used that to find the woman’s address – it was actually rather close to the Bienville Sud-Est spaceport – rather than trust Yira’s directions.

The carre zoomed along the packed-dirt roads – Bienville really was a backwater, but at least the rental carre had good lifts – while Yira squirmed and fussed. “Maybe we shouldn’t…”

“It was your idea. And there aren’t many people on that list that we’d both want to talk to.”

“But I mean, do I have to be in these?” He held up his hands the short centimeters the chain would allow, displaying the shackles linked to his belt. “They make me look like some sort of-”

“Theif? Jailbreaker?”

“Criminal. Here, to the right before the swamp,” he gestured awkwardly. “It’s the little road you can barely see between the mock-cypress and the weed-tree.”

The carre’s positioning software was telling her the same thing. Jahnan swung right onto an even less-maintained dirt path, the carre’s lifts having a hard time of the potholes and – really?! – tire tracks. But the software said they were almost there.

Yira’s mother, it appeared, lived in a crate home, a sealed-seam collection of plastifoam shipping crates, this one stacked three high and at least four deep. A crate had been cut in half lengthwise to serve as a porch, and the front door was salvage from another crate. Jahnan parked the carre next to an older but still-quality carre of a very similar model.

“Don’t go to the front door. Nobody but government and cops go do the front door.” Yira tilted his head off to the side of the structure. “Over there. She’ll know we’re coming, of course.”

“Of course.” Jahnan unbuckled Yira from the seat and “helped” him out of the carre – keeping a grip on him the whole time, of course – and walked as casually as captor-holding-tight-to-captive could walk up to the captive’s mother’s side door.

The door was open before Jahnan could knock, and the barrel of a pulse rifle greeted her. “What are you doing with my son?”

“Ma-ma-a-n,” Yira whined. “Don’t shoot.”

Jahnan cleared her throat. “Hon Joceye” (or so the data had said she was called), “I’m a bounty hunter, name of Nehanani Jahnan, and in claiming Yira Trembane as lawful catch-”

“There’s nothing lawful to catch my son at!” She waved the rifle in Jahnan’s face. “So there’s no way he could be your lawful catch.”

“Be that as it may,” she glanced at Yira, but he was cringing away from his mother as if the rifle was pointed at him, “the bounty was posted, and I was attempting to claim Yira-”

“My son ne est pas un criminal!”

“I believe you, ma’am. However, the bounty was there- Yira?”

“She won’t listen to me any more than she will to you.” He shrugged. “Maman, Hon Nehanani caught me.” He held up his cuffed wrists. “And the Tod’cxeckz’ri-”

“What were you doing in Tod’cxeckza?” The bellow was ear-searing and the rifle was now pointed at Yira. “Only criminals and perverted little beans go to Tod’cxeckza, and I did not raise you to be any sort of perverted criminal, Yira Mikalla Trembane.”

Jahnan put herself between mother and son. “Hon Joceye-”

“Don’t you hon me, missy. Get out of the way and let me deal with my son as he ought to be dealt with. Being on Tod’cxeckza – Yira, what are you wearing around your neck?” Her eyes slipped from Yira’s collar to the earring on Jahnan’s ear. “Oh, no, you don’t. You two get off my property.” She shook the rifle again.


“You get gone, now, or I will remind you what it is to be your maman. You don’t come back until you’ve cleansed all Tod’cxeck poison out of your mind. I did not raise you to be someone’s pet. And you.” The rifle pointed steadily at Jahnan’s skull. “I don’t ever want to see you again.”

“We’re leaving, maman.” Yira tugged on Jahnan’s arm with both hands. “Aren’t we, Kozel-wife?”

Jahnan let herself be tugged. “Yes.” She hadn’t had a weapon pointed at her in quite a while. “Yes, let’s be leaving.” She hoped Yira had more than one parent still alive.

Next for Story: Mad in Atter
Next for Trope Bingo: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/893899.html

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/888191.html. You can comment here or there.

Standards, a story of Jahnan and Yira for Three Word Wednesday

This story is posted out of sequence, because I STILL haven’t quite finished Square Two on my Foedus [community profile] trope_bingo card. It will require some filler, I think, but will probably come after Mad in Atter

Written to the Three-Word Wednesday Prompt: Distracted, genuine, modest

New to the setting? Jahnan is a bounty hunter who has caught Yira and is attempting to return him for the bounty. However, Complications Ensue.

Yira Trembane’s hand had landed on Jahnan’s knee and was sneaking slowly up her thigh.

“I should have left you in the handcuffs,” she muttered. Getting to their next destination would not be a difficult navigation – if she wasn’t distracted.

“It’s not like I can reach any of the navigation from here.” Yira wiggled the fingers of his free hand in the direction of the input panels. “Or like I can get out. Your ship’s got that handled.”

The Maru’s “Guest Chair” was holding Jahnan’s prisoner firmly, bands pressed against his chest, forehead, lap, and ankles, but his lower arms had been left free, because, as he pointed out, he couldn’t reach any navigation instruments

He seemed to be doing some instrument-free navigation of his own, however, his fingers squeezing and creeping, squeezing and creeping. “Besides,” he purred, “you’re a very attractive woman. And it’s a very small ship.”

“You know,” Jahnan picked up his hand and moved it to his own lap. “I might be more flattered by that if you had a single genuine, honest bone in your whole body.”

“Oh, don’t be modest.” He moved his hand back to her knee. “You must know you’re an attractive woman.”

She moved his hand again. For such a big man, he had surprisingly delicate fingers. “There are over a hundred different human variants in the Known Universe, Yira, and, say, a hundred, two hundred nations, colonies, and cultures for each variant. At absolute smallest estimate, that’s ten thousand different definitions of attractive… and the last time I checked, your natal variant and nation is quite different in their tastes than mine.”

He set his hand much more gently on her knee. “And within those ten-thousand-plus nations, there are also millions of people, each with their individual tastes, which often don’t match the variant or nation’s average. Or you wouldn’t find me attractive, either.”

Jahnan left Yira’s hand where it was this time.

Next: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/893899.html

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/884818.html. You can comment here or there.

Thimbleful Thursday – Mad in Atter, a story of Foedus Planaterum

This belongs to the Foedus Planetarum setting and the Tod’cxeckz’ri Paper Story.

Previous in Story

“I suppose we could try my father,” Yira Trembane had suggested. They needed an acceptable relation to void their contract, and visiting Yira’s mother had turned out messily-at-best. “It’s just… he lives on Korsakoff. I don’t think he’s going to be much help.”

“I visited Korsakoff once.” Jahnan wince. “It was…”

“Memorable?” Yira’s teasing come out rough-voiced.

“Ouch. Yeah. Something like that.” She leaned back in the seat of the Maru and closed her eyes. “I landed…”

    Nehanani Jahnan set down her little star-bouncer on the neglected landing field of Atter, Korsakoff’s largest city. There were only two other ships in the field – a Foedus bureaucracy ship, probably census or taxes, and her quarry. There was dust over her quarry’s ship, but Korsakoff was known for its heavy dust that coated everything – he could have been here a day or a week.

    She fitted a filtered mask over her face. Korsakoff’s air wasn’t exactly poisonous – but it wasn’t any fun, either. Not if you wanted to leave anytime soon. Chances were, her target was just down the road. Unless he’d thought to mask, hoping she’d – ha – forget.

    She found Fess Entiror in a bar, just inside the city limits of Atter. The bartender aimed a desultory wave her way, and passed her a drink. Jahnan paid and headed for the table where Fess Entiror was already talking.

    “…and so I headed into New Malibu…”

      And there, in the middle of the town, there was this statute, this giant thing, larger than life, of a naked woman, with her hand… well, there’s ladies present. And there, sitting at the base of the statue, with his hand… sorry, ladies, well, there was my target.

      And the moral of the story is, never go into New Malibu drunk, or you’re just going to end up a sitting duck for whoever’s hunting you.”

    There was no point in talking to him; he had the glazed eyes and rambling speech patterns of someone already suffering from Korsakoff Syndrome. Jahnan couldn’t resist, anyway, as she slapped the cuffs on him.

    “And the moral of the story is, never go to Korsakoff when you’re on the run from the law, or you’re going to end up mad-ass in Atter, waiting for whoever’s hunting you.”

Yira coughed. “Or, well. Maybe we could just visit my stepfather, the first one.”

To January 8th’s Thimbleful Thursday prompt, approx. 400 words

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/883945.html. You can comment here or there.

Trope Bingo – Faoedus Planetarum – The Tod’cxeckz’ri Paper Part I

To fill square one-one on my card for [community profile] trope_bingo. Story one of a new series. No Ao3 standard warnings apply.

“I need to claim this criminal as my lawful catch and bounty.” Jahnan repeated the phrase three times – once in Standard to the clerk, then again in Standard to the translation machine, and then in the local language – all while trying to maintain her hold on the criminal in question.

“Your Tod’cxeckz’ret is awful.” Her captive jerked, trying to pull away from her grip. Jahnan held on for life and profit. Not only did Yira Trembane outmass her considerably and have at least a decimeter in height on her, but he was slippery as all space and had gotten out of his bonds three times since she’d caught him. “Here, let me.” He looked at the clerk and spat out a line of Tod’cxeckz’ret, then translated into Standard. “She’s here to collect the bounty on me.”

“You’re awfully helpful all of a sudden.” Jahnan regained her grip on Yira’s forearm. She wasn’t losing this one, not again.

“Prisons are easier to get away from than you. Sooner I’m in custody-”

“The sooner you’re out and earning me another bounty. Fine.” She looked up at the clerk. “Claim?” She tried the Tod’cxeckz’ret word again, “Get’geld?”

“Yes, yes.” The clerk churred and clicked at the translator, which responded in a brusque tone in Standard. “Here, then, standard form, both of you thumbprint, sign, here.”

Jahnan expected Yira to balk, but once again, he cooperated. From the way he pricked his thumb and smeared the blood on the paper, he’d done this as many times as Jahnan herself had.

“Very good.” The clerk filed the paper away behind the desk. “If Yira Trembane would kneel to facilitate process, please?”

“Slip that to a black hole sideways.” Yira took a step back, pulling against Jahnan’s arm. “I don’t kneel.”

“If hon Trembane would kneel, process will be completed quickly.” The clerk stepped out from behind the desk; he was nearly as short as Jahnan, only coming up to Yira’s chin.

“You want to get out of here as much as I do,” Jahnan pointed out. “I want my wages, Trembane.”

“And I want my nice cozy prison cell,” he growled. “But I don’t do kneeling.”

The clerk produced a hand-held Taser. “Hon Trembane will kneel or hon Trembane will be helped to kneel. The process must be done properly.”

“Starcrud, I got it, I got it.” Yira’s hands were handcuffed behind his back, but he knelt gracefully anyway. “Next time you catch me, hunter, let’s skip Tod’cxeckza, all right?”

“Next time I catch you, I’m gonna put you in a coldsleep canister and tow you behind my ship.”

“Hon Trembane will not have to worry about that again.” The clerk set his hands around Yira’s neck, so quickly that the thief didn’t have a chance to pull away, and just as quickly removed them.

Where his hands had been, a solid circle of metal now sat.

“If hon Nehanani would sit, please?”

Jahnan pulled up a chair. Out of the corner of her eye, she watched Yira twisting and turning, trying to see what had been done to him. “You’re not doing that to me.”

“Of course not. Hon Nehanani has laid the claim.” The clerk showed her what he was holding – a bracelet of the same silvery metal as the collar Yira was wearing and a complicated earring.

She’d never said no to jewelry from strange men before. Jahnan sat down and allowed the clerk to apply the earring and bracelet: earring to right side, bracelet to left.

“There.” The clerk stepped back. “Hons Nehanani and Trembane are now bound and joined in Tod’cxeckz’ri Kozel-kiczka marriage. That is, ah.” The clerk gave the matter a moment of thought, “the closest approximation in Standard would be… master and servant?

“Wait, what?” Yira bounced to his feet faster than he thought possible. “No, no, no, get this thing off of me.”

“Marriage?” Jahnan shook her head. The earring jingled and jangled against her head. “You have got to be kidding me.”

“You claimed hon Trembane as yours and he agreed. Formal marriage ceremony has taken place, and you have thumb-printed the contract.”

That’s what she got for not reading the small print. “Okay, okay. But we didn’t want to get – damnit, Trambane, I think the translator is getting it mangled, you try.”

He clicked and churred through the Tod’cxeckz’ret phrases. “We don’t want to be bound together. This was a mistake. How do we undo it?”

“Tod’cxeckz’ri Kozel-kiczka marriages cannot be divorced, but they can be annulled.” The clerk passed Jahnan a list, written in Standard, Tod’cxeckz’ret, and five other languages. “To obtain an annulment, you must have a notarized document from one of these relations, stating that Hon Trembane is unfit for marriage.”

“Me? What about her?”

“You are the kiczka. The fault must lie in you.” The clerk nodded at them. “You have thirty days.”

Jahnan read over the paper again. “Well, shit. Come on, kiczka -husband. Let’s get searching.”

Next:The Tod’cxeckz’ri Paper Part II

Tod’cxeckz’ret is pronounced with glottal stops in the apostrophes; the syllables rhyme with Todd, check, and whet.
Jahnan is pronounced with a hard J (John) and stress on the second syllable with a breathy sound on the H. Her full name is Nehanani Jahnan.
Yira is pronounced Yee-ruh.
Hon is pronounced on

The IPA for the above, courtesy of [personal profile] thnidu:

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/880894.html. You can comment here or there.