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Life Goes On

    The third and final day of the gather dawns bright -- and cold. The clear skies seem to leech heat right away, and serve to remind that winter is coming. This does little to dampen the high spirits of the people as they get ready for the last day of this Gather, though, and gives many an excuse to be close together 'for warmth.'

    As they have done for the other days of the Gather, and also before, the Indigo's crew gathers at the Silver Egg for breakfast. Vash, Douglas, and Sakura all turn up from their various pleasant new families to talk before another busy (and sometimes confusing) day begins. Kawaii has followed Sakura in, but goes over to snooze next to the fire, where Zildjian is resting very sluggishly, coiled in close to the heat. In fact, Kawaii soon disappears behind coils, as Zil reacts to the heat by curling up around him as well. The restaurant is busy, and the crew has a few minutes to talk before Aykuh comes over to them.

Vash is sitting partly to one side, huddled with his sword in the crook of his arm and a hot cup of coffee (or the local equivalent) in his hands, blowing the steam from his cup. The cold isn't wearing well on him, either, but he keeps an ear cocked to the conversation. Sakura giggles at Kawaii. "Kawaii seems comfortable." She chews her bottom lip. "My Clan initiation is today... I'm a little nervous."

Douglas is tired, but not horribly so. The day before was pleasant enough, and he's still curious about not only fox kits, but troll kits- er, children. He wants to wait for a bit before asking any questions, though. In the meantime, he keeps an eye out for Strander and the other Federation person. If they're both morning people, he's going to have to gag them in the interests of their own protection. He nods quietly to Sakura, taking in a gulp of coffee. "You'll do fine, Sakura-chan," he says, smiling quietly. "Bandé and Larrikan have already told you what it will entail, haven't they?"

Sakura smiles at Douglas, "Thank you, Douglas. I'm certain that it will be okay. Can't help but be a little bit nervous, though."

Douglas grins softly and nods. "That's understandable. I imagine any fox would be, going through the same thing. Or anyone, for that matter.

Sakura nods, "It's pretty important in the local customs."

Aykuh is cheerful, as she's already being warmed by the morning sun in her upper leaves, asking what people will have for breakfast. Once orders have been placed, she moves off in an impossible way through a table to speak to some others, and to the kitchen. Hotspur comes out, carrying a tray, and sets it down at the crewmates' table, serving them. He says, "Hello. Captain Vash? Kerry asked me yesterday to tell you he'd gone to see the Aztekans. I haven't seen him since."

Vash nods softly and sighs a bit. "Yeah, I know, Hotspur. Thanks, I appreciate it. And, uh... tell Zil thanks for the coffee when she wakes up."

The next sound heard is Doug choking on his coffee. He sets the mug down, hacking wetly as he tries to get his breath. Vash looks up at the... minotaur while Hotspur is speaking, then back into his coffee as the minotaur departs. "Breathe, Doug, then swallow."

Sakura drops her spoon loudly onto her plate, "He did what, Vash-sama?"

Vash frowns a little. "He found what he was looking for, Sakura. At least, he found someone who'd give it to him. I don't know what he's paid for it... but he finally got what he was after."

Douglas bobs his head, trying to do as Vash suggests. It takes a while. The coffee was somewhere above lukewarm. Even when he stops hacking he still coughs slightly, grimacing and not trusting himself to talk just yet, looking at Vash with an oddly crooked expression. Sakura nods and picks up her spoon. "He can fly, then? And at the mere cost of betraying his crewmates?" She begins to eat again.

Hotspur looks worriedly at Douglas, but then back at Vash when it is apparent the cougar will figure out aspiration again on his own. He rumbles, "Okay. I had a message, and now you know." He adds, "Maybe you should go see if he's okay? He hasn't been down since." He smiles politely, then moves carefully back off through the crowded restaurant.

Vash takes a breath. "Yeah. Yeah. I guess whatshername had the mojo to do it."

Sakura nods, "How very fortunate for him. I certainly hope he enjoys his wings..."

Vash puts his coffee down after a moment's pause, and rises. "I'm going to go upstairs and see if he's okay. I won't be accused of leaving anyone for dead. If he leaves us, it'll be under his own power."

Sakura says, "Of course, Sir." The vixen, however, remains right where she is, determined to finish her meal even if the taste has gone a little off.

Douglas gives another *hack* (rather glad that a propensity for hairballs in his kind went out with the habit of self-grooming with their own tongues) and mutters something unintelligible. Louder, "Captain, permission to go to the Alshain and change the entry codes for it and the Indigo. I dislike the idea of the Aztekans having access to the ships through him, whether willing or not."

Vash says, "Yeah. I'll go with, Douglas... you'll need some of my codes to finish the job. I won't be long. This should only take a minute." He smiles softly to his crew. "Just... finish your breakfasts for right now, guys. We have to make plans soon." Douglas nods to Vash, then coughs a little. He looks like he finally got the rest of the coffee from the wrong place in his throat, but still doesn't look too comfortable talking. He settles for paying increased attention to his breakfast.

Aykuh comes up to the table, carrying something square and familiar looking, although she seems uncomfortable with it. She sets it on the crewmates' table, "Kerry asked me to give you this. He also asked you not to look at it in public, and that you'd know how." She seems a bit befuddled by that conflicting set of directions, but discretely sets Kerry's data pad on the table in front of Vash.

Vash picks up the pad. He nods softly, "Thank you, Aykuh." She nods, surreptitiously wiping her hands off on her leafy 'clothing' as she steps away and into a wooden wall.

Douglas frets a bit. "Where... uh, where should we...?"

Vash frowns at the pad for a while. "I'm going to go upstairs."

Douglas nods quietly, "Should we wait for you down here, or come with you... Captain?"

Vash murmurs, "I don't expect it'll really matter either way, Douglas. You can do whichever you'd like." So saying, Vash walks to the stairwell and climbs until he reaches the midway point. He looks to either side to see that no one is in earshot, then activates the pad. Douglas nods and stands, moving with Vash to examine the data-pad. Sakura stands up and follows her captain up the stairs.

The message is set to come up automatically when the abandoned data-pad is turned on. The bat's voice is rough, occasionally choking back tears. "Captain. Doctor. Engineer... I'm sorry. I didn't intend this to happen, but I didn't think ahead enough to stop it. I screwed up... fairly permanently this time."

Kerry sighs. "I acted like a child. I've been acting like a child ever since Drekaris, if not before. I was sure that my blunder with the Federationers was a fluke, and that I could handle the Aztekans. So I went off to prove it, and Xochihualpilli handled me instead. She's a fanatic, and dangerous... and she offered me what I've been looking for since I got here. A way to fly. I thought she intended just a taste -- well, I wanted to believe that. I didn't want to believe that she'd do what she did... and now I'm stuck."

Kerry's message continues, "Even using the data-pad to record these last messages is intensely uncomfortable, and painful if I go on too long. Even if you'd have me back, I'm... not a pilot anymore. I doubt I could manage to board Alshain, let alone fly her..."

He stops again, clearing his throat before continuing. "I've gone and sold my soul to slave-owners worse than the Texans. I don't know if I'll survive it very long... it depends what they ask of me. If I do, maybe I can help interface between the Azteka and the Company -- I'll understand something of both sides. If it can be done. If there is any common ground. If Huitzilipochtli doesn't decide I'm dangerously heretic and order me sacrificed instead... tell Zil... tell Dow... " His voice breaks then, and he cries, "...goodbye." The recording ends.

Vash drops the pad. A moment later he murmurs to no one in particular -- maybe to himself, "I hope it was worth it." Douglas lets out a quiet breath, leaning against the wall.

Sakura sighs, "Uragirimono." She says this in Japanese, fairly certain that the translators won't translate it, because she doesn't usually speak Japanese here.

Vash sits down heavily on the stairs, and just stares at the data-pad for a while. "Damn it."

Douglas's jaw works a little bit, and he fidgets only a little. Finally he says softly, "We might want to avoid the Aztekans for the rest of the time they're here."

Sakura says, "I can't believe he betrayed us... I can't believe it."

Vash says, "I guess we all finally got what we wanted. Even the Company. A resounding success for The Aurora Group. Heh. Cagada."

The group can hear footsteps coming down the stairs. Vash stands up slowly and picks up the data-pad, tucking it into the waist of his kilt. Sakura looks up the stairs to see who is coming down. A moment later Sergeant Tenotch's cloven hooves and shaggy legs appear... he pauses when he catches sight of the group, his long face going quietly expressionless. He nods politely. Vash nods in response, and steps aside to let him pass. "Sergeant."

Douglas perks his ears, looking up, and moves out of the way to let whomever it is through. He blinks when he sees Tenotch, and blinks again when he sees the goat's expression -- or lack thereof. He nods politely and quietly. Sakura steps out of the goat's way, never taking her eyes off him until he has passed beyond her range of sight. The goat rumbles quietly, "I have interrupted... grieving? Pain sharing I also."

Vash says, "You've lost someone?"

The sergeant shakes his head slowly, his expression fading slightly into weariness, "No. Have you. Apologies mine for pilli lady, Honored One new." He sighs, then adds quietly, "Honor have she own way hers... will gifting you for chichimec loss."

Douglas grimaces, partly at the odd word and in an unusual flash of irritation, but bites his tongue sharply to let Vash answer. Vash smiles a little at that and shakes his head. "Thanks, Tenotch. But... I guess there's no point in grieving. He got what he was after... one way or another."

Tenotch nods his head slowly, although there is still old pain in his gaze, "Aya. Willing be must, to offer." He steps forward, turning one hard, dark-palmed hand up and extending it towards Vash, "Strength, brother." His hand is offered... not insistent.

Sakura looks a little confused. Douglas looks up a little oddly, between Vash and Tenotch. Vash reaches out and takes Tenotch's hand. "Strength, brother." He claps the goat on the shoulder gently with his free hand. "All we got to hang on with, you and I."

The sergeant nods, his lips turning up slightly in a small, tired smile, his grip firm, "Aya. Gratitude. Gift exchanged will bring I, you wish? -or to Her come you?"

Vash thinks about that for a few moments. "I should probably speak to her myself... if only to make things official."

The sergeant nods slowly again, "Then so will be. Offering show, audience give shall." He smiles quietly at the armadillo, nods politely to the others, then continues down the stairs. He looks both a little tireder... and a little more relieved, somehow.

Douglas has only a little trouble understanding what Tenotch is saying, but is mildly appalled and shocked that Captain would meet with the Aztekan priestess. He squelches his shock immediately and guiltily. This is the way Vashti is, Doug. He nods politely to the goat as he moves on, then looks expectantly to Vash. Vash watches Tenotch go. After the goat disappears downstairs, he folds his arms and grins lopsidedly. "Wish I had more cash. I'd buy him away from her... no doubt."

Douglas says, "Er... why so, Captain?"

Vash says, "You know that old saying... 'there but for the grace of God'..." He grins a little, then shakes his head. He holds up one of his hands; between his talons is held a small golden token. "Tough old bastard."

Sakura blinks, "What's that, Captain?

Vash says, "Our ticket. We're off to see the wizard."

Douglas blinks at the token, his ears cocking oddly at the token. "Er... pardon?" He shakes his head quietly. "Again with this 'wizard'..."

Sakura nods, "Douglas and I should go with you, Sir. No disrespect intended, but I think it would be safer." Douglas nods quietly and assertively in agreement with Sakura.

Vash says, "Wouldn't have it any other way, Doctora." Sakura smiles. Vash flips the heavy token -- although being heavily gem-encrusted it flips all of once before landing heavily in his palm -- and tucks it in a pocket. "I think we should see if Kerry is still in the building. Unless he's in her quarters, in which case we'll see him at the audience... or we won't see him, period."

Sakura nods, "Yes, Sir."

Vash turns and climbs the stairs, taking several at a time, before striding down the hallway and rapping once on the door where Kerry had been staying. Sakura follows quietly along with the Captain, and Douglas brings up the rear. The door creaks slightly, swaying open an inch or two at the firm rap. Vash says, "Hm," then pushes the door open a bit more.

The bat is sprawled on the bed face down, his breathing the only indication that he's even alive. He's dressed in Aztekan fashion, cotton/feather robe and gold jewelry, and the room -- or maybe Kerry -- reeks of incense and the electrical-lightning smell of ozone. His wings are spread out -- and covered in red, swollen wounds in patterns similar to the older scars on the priestess' wings. The room looks a bit ransacked, and one wing-claw clutches a small velvet box.

Vash says, "Dios mio." Sakura sniffs a little at the air and crinkles her nose up at the smell.

Douglas blinks quietly, peering over Vash's and Sakura's heads. "Great Maker..." he murmurs.

Vash moves quickly toward the bat. He kneels down a bit, and gently nudges him with the tip of his scabbarded sword. "If he's dead, we may have quite an incident on our hands."

Sakura clears her throat, "Want me to look at him, Sir." Her tone indicates that this is something she'd rather not do, but will do if ordered by her Captain.

Vash says, "I think it's a good idea."

Kerry stirs at the nudge. "Wha... dusk a'ready?"

Douglas remains by the door, simply letting his size and bulk act as an ersatz door. Vash says, "Kerry... it's Vash."

Kerry blinks, then curls up his wings and rolls over, hissing in pain as he sits up. He forces himself to look the armadillo in the eyes. "Ah... Captain. I... wasn't expecting you."

Vash says, "No... I don't expect you were."

Sakura walks over to the bat and carefully checks his vitals first. She keeps her mind clearly focused on her job by reciting to herself, A. B. C. D. Airway, Breathing, Circulation, Deadly Bleeding... S.A.M.P.L.E. Symptoms, Allergies, Medications, Past Medical History, Last Oral Intake. Events leading to injury...

After a moment Sakura stands up and looks at Vash. "It's quite bad, Sir. Ritual scars. Looks a little like what that Priestess had on her wings, only it's more simple. If I didn't know better, I could swear he was hit by lightning... only, lightning doesn't make injuries quite like that. Also, Sir," this part she whispers, "-those earrings, collar, and the anklet. They aren't coming off. Slave collars, I think, Sir."

Vash says, "But I think you know me well enough by now... you should know that I-- that we weren't going to just sit back and watch." He nods to Sakura, face impassive. "Thank you, Doctora. I appreciate it."

Sakura steps back, "In my Medical Opinion. He'll survive."

Kerry nods at the doctor's comments. "Oh, yes. It was lightning. Under control of Huitzilopochtli, which is why the wounds are so odd. She painted the designs on me, chanted a spell, and then zap." He shakes his head, then grimaces. "Earrings. For Keero. That's damned annoying."

Douglas remains at the door, glancing back out into the hall and feeling, well, uncomfortable. Slave collars. Oh, Lord. And it's a tossup between which is worse: the Texan one or the Aztekan ones. He shakes his head quietly, shifting his position so he blocks not only casual entrance, but also casual glances and, hopefully, casual eavesdropping. The similarity between the two names is not lost on him. Does it matter? Aztekan, Texan... either way, you loose your soul.

Kerry shakes his head, looking down at the floor. "I should've listened to you. I was an idiot. And you know what they say... be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it."

Vash frowns. "I don't know if I can help you now, Kerry. I wish I could come to the rescue... but you might be beyond my power to help now. I'm not here to make recriminations... I spent all my anger already. I just want to know one thing, Kerry."

Kerry looks back to Vash. "Just one? I'd like to know several..." A ghost of a chuckle, stretched thin over hysteria. "No, I owe you whatever answers I can give. What?"

Vash says, "Look at me. Look me in the eye, Kerry, and tell me why."

Kerry looks at Vash, looks down, and looks back again. "I... can't. Not really... I was an idiot. I was jealous. I wanted to fly. I thought I could make up for what I did with the Federationers..." He looks down again. "I was wrong."

Vash kneels down, and lets out a long breath. He seems to get quite a bit smaller as he does so, maybe because of the set of his shoulders or his posture. Something goes out of him. He puts his hand on Kerry's shoulder. "I don't know what I can do now, Kerry. I might not be able to do anything. Not by myself. I'll... talk to the Company. I'll do what I can." He pauses, then takes a deep breath, "I can't fix this. I wish I could. You are, no matter what, one of my crew. I won't ever condone what you did, Kerry. But I understand why you did it."

Kerry nods, and starts to bow formally -- he stops short, though, grimacing as the scars stretch. "Thank you, Captain. You deserved better from me. You all did..." Tears are glittering in the bat's eyes again. "If things work out, perhaps we'll meet again. If not... this was my fault, not yours. You did everything you could to stop me."

Vash steadies the bat gently. "I'm done with recriminations. What happens now... happens."

Kerry nods. "I doubt that the Aztekans will be interested in the ship... but just in case, change the access codes to lock me out. There's nothing left on board her that I can use."

Vash says, "We'll look after the ship."

Kerry nods. "Thank you... she's a good vessel. I'll miss her. Better clean out the rest of my stuff here, too... my pistol's over there. I tried holding it earlier, but even that's too much tech for me now. The clothing is apparently unacceptable to my new..." He shakes his head. "...station... about the only thing I'm taking are these." He holds up the box.

Vash says, "We'll bring it back with us, yeah."

Kerry skrees, "So..." He looks at each of his old shipmates for a long moment. "I've got my fancy collar. Sergeant Tenotch might not understand it, but I'm no more free than he is now. I just get a few more privileges..."

Vash says, "I think Tenotch understands more than you think, Kerry. You should treat him as well as you can... if you're above him now."

Kerry skrees, "I intend to. I'm hoping he'll tell me some of what I need to know -- he'd certainly be a more honest viewpoint than Xochihualpilli." He shudders. "You didn't see the look in her eyes after she'd given me to her God."

Vash doesn't say anything at that. "I don't know what other advice I can give you now, Kerry." Sakura stands quietly behind Vash, just watching.

The people in the room can hear calm footsteps on the stairs, going up. A moment later Sergeant Tenotch pauses on the landing and glances at Doug in Kerry's doorway. Should Doug look at the goat, he nods politely, then continues up the stairs. Douglas does look that way; he's primarily there so that an unpleasant surprise doesn't sneak up on them. He nods gravely and politely to Tenotch. As Doug nods, he sees the goat is carrying a laden tray, and several bags slung neatly over his shoulders. Once Tenotch is departed quiet falls again.

Kerry slowly and carefully stands up. "I wish you all the best of luck. I... may see you before I leave. Or I may not. I'm not feeling too well yet."

Vash stands and picks up his sword. "I will do whatever I can to help you," he says softly, "Gods or no... I always keep my promises."

Sakura nods slightly to Kerry. "Goodbye and best of luck to you in your new life."

Vash says, "If you have something to say, Douglas... you'd best say it now."

Douglas nods quietly to Vash, then looks to Kerry. He lets out a breath, and shakes his head. "Only 'good luck,' Skydancer. That is all I can really say."

Vash nods. "Then... I think it's time to go." Sakura steps past Douglas and out of the room... Vash waits for the others to go, before walking away. He pauses in the doorway, slinging his sword over one shoulder. He turns, "I'll see you again, Kerry." Then he's turning the corner, and gone. Kerry sighs and watches them until they're gone. Then he turns, looking at the remnants of the colonel's life before heading up the stairs to become... whatever he will become.

Sakura walks downstairs to see if her breakfast is still on the table. She's hungry, cold food or not. Douglas is, likewise, hungry, finishing what's left of his meal. But he stays away from the coffee. Hotspur has been kind... when the small group emerges from the stairwell he brings out hot food for them. Vash sits down at table again, and drinks down the last of his cold coffee. He stares at the dregs in the bottom of his cup, then puts it down, remembering something. "Oh... shit," he says, rising again. "I guess I'd better go tell Zildjian." He shakes his head. "Doug... do me a favor. Order me a stiff drink while I'm gone. It's gonna be one of those days."

Douglas thanks Hotspur warmly for the warm food, and blinks to Vash as he stands. he winces quietly. "Should I order one for Dr. Zildjian as well?" he asks seriously.

Sakura looks at Doug, then looks at Vash and back at Doug. When Vash has left the table she says to Doug, "Better make that two, Douglas. I think he's going to need more than one. Just my medical opinion..."

Vash pauses. He thinks about that for quite a few moments. Finally he says, "Yeah. Better make it two. Fuck it, Doug... I'll just buy us all a round."

Sakura smiles and jokes half-heartedly. "See... no one can ever say that I don't know my Captain." Douglas nods, half-smiling, and stands to go over to Aykuh.

Zildjian is still curled around the fire, which Aykuh has built up. The dryad is sitting, in fact, next to the somnolent lamia, lightly stroking part of her scaly tail. She has a somewhat worried expression on her face when she looks up at the approaching Vash and Doug. Vash puts on a weary smile as he approaches. "Um... hey, Aykuh. Is Zil awake yet?"

Aykuh hesitates, then whispers in her usual very soft speaking voice, "I... do not know, Captain Vash. She is cooler than usual to the touch, I believe... but I am neither reptilian nor mammalian, so I cannot tell for sure." She adds a little unhappily, "She... is very still..."

Vash sighs heavily. "And I don't have any good news. It's shaping up to be a pretty bad ten-day. I hope the rest of winter's a little kinder to us." He kneels down near to Zildjian and gingerly touches her scales. "Hey," he murmurs, "Zildjian? Es Vashti... qué pasa?"

Aykuh nods slowly, still gently stroking the lamia's scales. The lamia is breathing slowly, her pupils narrow ebony slits in her golden pupils. She's lying mostly on her side, soaking up as much heat as she can with her belly scutes, and as close to the fire as she can get. A moment later her tongue flicks out slowly, scenting the air... and gradually her pupils widen. It takes a bit... but she finally breathes softly, "Vashti... como 'stas, mijo?"

Vash smiles a little, the kind of tight, tired smile that comes of putting on a little relief in the face of strain. "Usted está viva... pensé que le perdimos." He grins just a little, "Como usted esta soportando?"

Zildjian takes a moment to brace herself up on her elbows and accept a steaming mug of something from Hotspur, with a quietly hissed thanks. She sips cautiously, then sighs in relief as she swallows warmth. A moment later things start to register for her, and she says curiously, "Um... Vashti, why're you speaking Spanish, mijo? Is something wrong?"

Vash grins a little more, sitting back a bit. "Sorry. I thought it might cut through the background noise a little." He takes a deep breath, "But... actually, yeah. Something is wrong... but it's nothing to get worked up about now. I wouldn't disturb you at all, except that I was asked to let you know."

Zildjian looks curiously at the armadillo over the mug, making a muffledly inquiring noise as she drinks. Vash says, "It's about Kerry." He waits for Zildjian to finish drinking before he continues, having seen how this already affected Douglas.

Zildjian swallows, then nods tiredly, "He went to visit with the Aztekans alone yesterday, yes, and asked Hotspur to tell you." She sighs, then shakes her head once, "Poor fool. How bad is it?"

Vash says, "He's gone, Zildjian. Just gone. He's decided to go with them."

Zildjian thinks about that for a moment... then sighs, sinking down to rest her chin on her crossed forearms. "Hijo..." She's silent and still for a moment... then reaches out one golden hand to rest it on Vash's clawed fingers as she turns her gaze to the armadillo. She hisses softly, "I'm so sorry, Vashti. It's not your fault, mijo, believe me. Not any of your faults. You all did everything you could."

Vash smiles a little and nods, "Yeah... yeah, I know. Thanks, Zildjian... that means a lot. I'm going to have to take Douglas out to the ship again soon... we need to report in, and change the codes and all that, just in case. But... the ship will keep. Sakura's got her clan fostering, and I've got to help out with the last of the Gather." He laughs ruefully. "Two of my crew have gone completely native and one of them vanished. If I was still in the Border Corps they'd court-martial me." He grins crookedly, "But TAG'll get their trade agreements... the green will flow, and nobody will much care. That's fine with me."

Zildjian smiles slowly, "Interesting. Where I come- came from, they'd be impressed with how smoothly you've integrated, and the extensive and excellent contacts you all have." She grins, "And... then they'd probably ask you to go do the same thing someplace else, would be my guess. But that's just me... maybe things are different outside of Texas." Her grin widens, "Maybe just a little..."

Vash grins a little. "Either way, commended or forgotten, I'll live. I'm not too worried about the rest of the crew. Doug and Sakura... they'll live. And they have new families to lean on. It's a bad day... but we'll file our reports and life will go on. Hey... that reminds me. I think I might know how to help you out."

Zildjian nods quietly, then squeezes Vash's hand gently, "Don't forget, mijo... you have someone too. Blue loves you a great deal. I can smell it."

Vash smiles, "Don't worry... I could never forget."

Zildjian smiles affectionately at the armadillo, then nods, changing the subject slightly, "You were saying... help me out?"

Vash says, "Oh. Uh, yeah... since Doug and I gotta go freeside for a while, as long as we're up there I think we might have some little battery-powered heaters in the trade cargo. If we do, maybe, you know, we could bring down a dozen or so... help you get going in the morning."

Zildjian thinks about that... then says a little wistfully, "Warm... mmm... that'd be lovely, Vashti." She sighs, smiling a bit ruefully, "Hopefully by the time they die I'll be acclimatized or something... but yes, that would be really wonderful... if you didn't mind...?"

Vash grins, and his whole face finally relaxes when he does. "It'd be my pleasure, hermana mia. Something good should come of all this, hey?"

Zildjian chuckles quietly, "It will, Vashti, it will... things go the way they should go, I think. It's the nature of this place, or so I've been told."

Vash tilts his head. "Hey, uh, Zildjian?" Zildjian mms? from where she's sipping hot drink again, with steam wisps floating past her face. Vash grins a little. "It's been kind of a rough morning, y'know... so forgive me if this sounds funny, but... where'd your accent go?" Sakura looks over interestedly. She was just wondering the same...

Zildjian looks up at Vash a little perplexedly, swallowing, "What? What do you mea-" She pauses, thinking... then gets a funny look, "Testing. The quick brown fox jumps over... whoa! Uhh..." she looks confusedly at the others, "-when did this happen?"

Vash blinks, looking quite surprised. "Uh... oh-oh. Is mine still there?"

Sakura blinks, "Zildjian. That sounds almost like a soft East Indian accent... like someone who has been speaking English for a long time. How odd."

Douglas ambles back to the group, with a tray carrying several mugs filled with... 'something strong,' as per instructions. He sets the tray on the table, blinking curiously at the conversation. Vash says, "East... Indian?"

Zildjian gives Sakura a rather startled look, "Uh... but... but I never learned -- I don't know... what language is native there?"

Sakura nods, "One of my linguistics instructors was a Hindi-speaker and you sound like her." Zildjian looks utterly bemused. Then she changes her mind... she'll be bemused while drinking hot drinks, she thinks. Sakura says, "What language is native to India? Well... Hindi is widely spoken, but it depends on what province you're from. Hindi, Gujarati, Urdu, Bengali, Punjabi... Hindustani. The list goes on and on, really."

Vash says, "Zil... are the lamia here from India?"

Zildjian says, "I... don't really know, Vashti." She looks at Aykuh curiously, "Do you?" The dryad smiles and nods, still gently stroking the lamia's tail.

Vash says, "India. That's strange... does that mean..." He raises his head, "Does that mean we... will my accent get stronger?" Douglas blinks, his ears twitching a bit. He still hasn't quite grasped what's going on, or what might happen.

The dryad smiles quietly, "I do not know, Captain Vash. But I do know that the land speaks to those it considers its own."

Sakura blinks, "If everyone's accent is changing, I wonder what will happen to mine?"

Vash huhs. "If our way of speaking starts to drift back to our places of origin... then... Sakura, maybe ours will get stronger?"

Sakura nods, "I don't know what that means, exactly, for me..."

Zildjian hisses a little plaintively, "But I was hatched in Texas!"

Vash says, "I mean the places we'd be from if we were from here!"

Zildjian says, "Oh." She looks a little bemused, "Then... do I know... what was it... Hindi now?" She looks suddenly interested, "Hey... does that mean you know Aztekan, Vashti?"

Vash blinks. "Azte-" He pauses. "That's a good question..."

Douglas blinks slowly. Then his eyes widen. "Oh-shit," he mutters, then splutters, "I... I don't want to start speaking Aztekan!" For him, it's not a joke; he's deadly serious. Then he calms down, "No, wait... cougars are North American. Isn't there some... Iroquois Nation there?"

Aykuh says quietly, "If you know Aztekan, I cannot recommend that you let that information out, Captain... or no human here will trust you again." She nods to the cougar. Douglas looks moderately relieved at Aykuh's confirmation, and slips into his seat. But only moderately relieved, as he looks over to Vash. He nods quietly.

Vash says, "If I do know it, Aykuh... I'm going to do my best to forget it. I've had enough of Azteka for a lifetime."

Zildjian looks torn -- deliberately forget a language?! "Well... wait! Wait... could you speak it maybe just with me? Please? Just a little?"

Vash smiles a little, relenting. "Okay, Zil... with you."

Zildjian grins in relief, gently squeezing his hand again. "Thanks! I -- I know it's not a nice tongue, but still -- a new language!"

Vash smiles and squeezes Zildjian's hand. "It's okay, Zildjian. I trust you."




Last modified: 2002-Jan-27 19:31:18

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