Tag Archive | Jahnan

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.

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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.”

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