Post 40: By her count, Ilya hadn’t bathed in a little over two weeks.

Writer’s Notes:  Another super, shorty.  And, apparently I really want to take a bath.

Mari crawled back across the bed and its sleeping man, motioning for the tiny woman to follow. Ilya watched her push at a hidden seam in the wall, and a narrow section gave before springing out. Behind it followed a basic, rectangular tub shrouded by opaque, plastic curtains that seemed to be self-illuminating. Steaming, hot water was already pouring in from cleverly hidden gaps along the sides.

“Stay en ghere as long as jyou want, but… ahh…” Mari glanced back at the naked man still sitting in the chair, “I would suggest staying en ghere at least an hour.”

Ilya’s eyes bulged.

“I know Sieffre envited jyou ghere and everything, and I know jyou need our ghelp so that’s fineh, but jyou kind of enterrupted something. Look, I’m going to turn on the shower function to mask any noise. See?”

After a moment, Ilya shrugged off the ugly, green fur coat. She took a giant step over the edge of the bathtub to stand in the hot water with her clothes on, staring at Mari woefully with water raining on her head.

Mari grinned. “Thanks.”

The tall woman shut the curtain, and Ilya was alone in her tiny, glowing closet of wetness. She sat down and let the hot water soak through her clothing and into her tired bones. By her count, Ilya hadn’t bathed in a little over two weeks. While trapped on Lukas’ ship, it seemed more important to avoid his attention than to find out how to make a shower appear. She fumbled along the sides of the tub until she found a skina sunk into the porcelain. It reacted to her touch, and changed from a solid white coloring to a translucent, blue glow. She was presented with a series of buttons with words she couldn’t read. Without thinking too much, she started tapping at them. Jets of waters shot against her legs, then her back, then ceased; a pink, murky cloud rolled through the water, then blue, churning into a purple before bubbling up, releasing a flowery aroma. Ilya sighed and let herself sink further into the tub.

She heard a low chuckle from the other side of the curtain and an unmistakable moan. Ilya, in horror, slid herself further down so that only her nose and mouth remained above water. She wondered if she could sleep like this.

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Post 39: “I mean, I can’t smell you, but my opinion is still valid.”

Writer’s Note:  This post came a little more easily.  I even have 4 characters contributing to the conversation which I’m not so good at.  It’s usually two heads talking with the rest staring on in assumed silence.  Still working on how all the different languages affect interaction.  Ilya can only understand her language.  Cael and Sieffre (and Alberich) are the only ones who speak it fluenlty.  Mari can speak it if she has Sieffre feeding her real time translations (and if she isn’t too drunk).  So I have Mari understanding Ilya, but replying to Cael in “commons” speech, which Ilya doesn’t understand… why did I do this to myself.

 

Everyone turned to look at the snoring figure twisted up in the bed sheets.

“Ghe may be awhile.” Mari shrugged.

“We’ll see about that.” Cael clumsily made his way to the head of the bed, pushing Mari forward as he crawled over her and nearly straddling the sleeping man before hesitantly shaking his shoulder. “Hello. Um… Hello?”

Ilya turned to Sieffre in the kampdator screen and whispered, “What is he doing?”

“Trying to wake that gentleman.”

“Why?”

“Well?” Sieffre’s face twisted up in consideration. He took a breath. “We are all trying to get off the moon, yes?”

“We’re trying to go home, yes.”

Cael began to shake the man harder. “Hello!”

Sieffre cleared his throat. “Yes, well. The only way Mari and I can do that is by contacting our ship, which is waiting on the other side of the gate… somewhere. However, it looks as though we can’t even get a signal to the Zhouwen Gate, let alone through it. Are you in a similar situation?”

“I… I guess. I think Cael was trying to get us a ride back home with the transport ship he and Alberich came on, but… the man at the hatch wouldn’t let us on.”

Sieffre waited expectantly for her to continue, but she realized that was it. “Well, I guess we decided it would be best to rest for the night and figure something out in the morning.”

He nodded thoughtfully.

“But, you have a ship. Then, maybe we could leave with you.”

“No,” Cael interjected as he continued to hover over the sleeping man.

“Why not?” Ilya cried indignantly.

“Jyes, why not?” Mari asked in commons.

She switched to sitting in the lap of the man across from her so she could prop her feet up on the bed and face Cael. With still only a pillow for modesty, the now fed and alert Moungren didn’t seem to mind as he lit another cigarette around the lanky woman.

Cael let a long sigh of frustration has he gave up trying to shake the sleeping man awake.

“I swear, he’s just snoring louder.”

He turned around sat on the edge of the bed again. He couldn’t avoid Ilya’s hopeful eyes as they bore into him.

“Ilya, I told you… it’s, it’s moot to think about, they can’t even contact their ship. And… and even when they do, they wouldn’t even be heading toward Bhara.”

Mari shrugged, but Ilya couldn’t tell if it was to concede his point or to say anything was possible .

“Then what is our plan, Cael?”

Cael looked away.

“Once that man wakes up. Then what?”

“He tells us how he and Rayner got a signal out.”

“And then what? We call a cab?”

Mari snorted.

Cael took a deep breath and ran his hands up and down his stubbled face.

“Look, you want me to get us out of this? Let me worry about it. I work best one step at a time, okay? And… and step one was, I BELIEVE, finding a place to rest and wash up, right? RIGHT?”

Ilya sat back in her overstuffed chair and nodded, plate held tightly in her lap.

“Then step one accomplished! You’re welcome!”

Cael jumped to his feet, looked from Ilya to Mari and then turned and crawled back over the bed toward the door.

Ilya called out, “Where are you going?”

“It’s too cramped in here.”

“What about me?”

Cael opened the door and turned back. He took a moment before replying, his tone measured and tense.

“I would suggest washing up while we have the room. We all stink…. Mari will show you how to work the toiletry compartments in a room like this.”

He was already gone and the door closing before Ilya could respond. She turned to Mari in the lap of a nonchalant Moungren and then Sieffre in the kampdator. Both looked back at her with an expression of pity.

“I don’t think you stink,” Sieffre chimed. “I mean, I can’t smell you, but my opinion is still valid. And I believe you get the credit for finding a place to rest.”

Ilya continued to look at Sieffre.

“It was YOU who finally responded to me message, anyway.”

Mari sighed and lifted herself out of the chair.

“Come on. I’ll open the bath closet for you. You deserve a good soak, no?”

Post 38: “Then why es et so sticky?”

Writer’s Note:  Oh my god, you guys.  This has been rrrrough, and that will probably be reflected today’s post.  There’s just so much stupid exposition I’m trying to get to in a way that isn’t so god damn clunky, that I find myself avoiding it with things like sticky phone buttons.  Gonna keep going, though.  I may end up smoothing this entire chapter over A LOT when it comes to presenting something… publishable.

Also, you may notice I haven’t quite established the rules to Mari’s accent, except that it will get heavier with drinking and when speaking Ilya’s language.

 

Mari led the way past weary looking Moungren guards into the dark hallway. Ilya shrank against Cael as the recent memory of the jail closed in, and he instinctively tightened his arm around her again. Mari popped open a door the with a flourished bow and he practically carried the small woman through.

Two more of the faux antique lamps sat in opposite corners of the tiny room, perfectly performing their role as barely-there mood lighting. Ilya could just make out the naked silhouettes of two Moungren men as she was brought in. One tangled in the sheets of the bed, snoring, and a larger man collapsed in an overstuffed chair. The lamp next to his head sharply detailed the bold features of his face and the muscles in this neck and shoulder. He seemed to rouse as they moved in to the room and had the presence of mind to pick a pillow up off the floor to cover himself. Ilya couldn’t help but compare him to her Kostya and Osip. The large eyes and round, soft features of her people she thought of as refined and delicate now made her husbands childlike compared to the man sitting before her. The spark of a lighter brought a cigarette dangling from his lips made her realized she had been staring again. Ilya darted her eyes away before Cael could notice.

With nowhere else to go, they stood awkwardly between the wall and the foot of the bed. Mari knocked into the lamp by the door before bounding over the bed to sit facing the seated man. She motioned with two fingers and the cigarette was handed to her for a drag.

“Sit, sit.” Mari motioned to the empty chair as she handed the cigarette back. “Here,” she patted the end of the bed, “et appears that Frantz ghere can sleep through anything.”

Cael and Ilya exchanged a look before she climbed into the chair and he delicately nudged a foot to sit on the edge of the bed.

“Kssss yiyi?” It seemed as if the man was hissing to Ilya’s ears. However, it was a slurred, “whooo’re they?” That Cael and Mari heard.

“They arghe friends of mineh. Ghe is mah brotha, en fact.”

“Hmm,” the man mumbled noncommittally as brought the cigarette to his lips.

“So, ah, is there anything to eat?”

“Hmm…” Mari looked around the floor before bending down to peak under the bed. She sat back up with an antique looking phone receiver attached to a springy cord. Cael accepted it from her and saw that the cord ran under the end table between Ilya and Mari’s friend. Between the ear and mouth pieces was crude keypad numbered in commons.

“Dial one for thegh kitchen.”

“Ah… thank you.”

Mari leaned in to whisper something to her new friend, borrowing another drag from his cigarette.

Cael pressed the one button and heard the tone drone on as it got stuck in the phone.

“Damn it.” He worked to dig it out with his nail and heard a husky giggle from Mari.

“Ghaving problems?”

“It’s stuck.”

“Ha! Ghow did jyou manage that?”

“Gah!” The phone seemed to get louder has his nail kept slipping out of the crack between the button and casing. “It was not my doing.”

“Then why es et so sticky?”

“I’m really trying not to think about that.”

He heard a tinny voice from the ear piece.“Alo!… Alo?”

“Oh! Ah, hello.” Cael tried to keep the receiver from touching his face.

“Alo?”

“Hello!”

The tone continued to drone through their conversation.

“Ah, yes, I’d like to order some food for room, ah… what room is this?”

Mari leaned over and yelled at the phone, “Mari’s room!”

“Ah, wi, mesy…”

 

Except for the sleeping Frantz, everyone was staring quietly at one another as they chewed at their beef pates, which Ilya discovered to be peppery beef patties with a crispy fried crust, and fried balls of dough. It became apparent to Ilya after a while that Mari was carrying on a private conversation in her head with Sieffre.

“Mari?”

The bald woman blinked slowly as she surfaced from her inner world and looked at Ilya.

“You’re talking to Sieffre?”

“….Verghy ob-sergh-vant weth yourgh beg eyghes,”

“He isn’t here?”

Mari tried to suppress a grin.

“Would jyou like to talk to him?”

Cael spoke up with a mouth full of dough, “I would too, actually.”

Mari kicked up a leg and dropped her heal heavily on top of the table between the two chairs. A hidden kampdator sprung up in the center of the table and she leaned forward, leg still propped up on the table, and swiveled the boxy face toward her to turn it on. When the screen woke up it blasted light into the room, causing everyone to whimper and cover their eyes.

Mari cried out. “Sieffre, can you turn it down?”

“Oh yes! I always forget!”

The screen of the kampdator dimmed obediently.

“Zha gau! What’s this? You’re taking orders from her now?” Mari barked her own language, knocking the side of the kampdator.

Sieffre responded cheerfully in Sakhimi. “She is much nicer to me.”

Ilya snorted and took another bit of the dough to cover it.

“Fine! Talk to her then!” She wrenched the kampdator violently on its pivot toward Ilya and then sat back on the bed with her plate of food.

Ilya was greeted with the bright, smiling face of Sieffre. She couldn’t understand how he could still be so awake and energized at this end of the long night.

“Did I make her mad?” She whispered.

“She’s not really mad.”

“Iygham, thoo!” Mari replied with her mouth full.

Cael turned the kampdator towards him a little.

“Sieffre, are you in communication with the ship? … Assuming Mari still has the ship, I mean.”

“Hey!”

“She does, or did… until we lost communication.”

Cael shook his head. “I couldn’t get through to the Zhouwen Gate earlier.”

“Yes. My signal keeps bouncing around the moon but I can’t get out. The satellites are there.”

“A gentleman in the lobby blamed it on Novafolk sabotage.”

“It doesn’t look good.” Sieffre chirped.

The naked Moungren man eating in the chair perked up.

“Novafolk bastards didn’t know dey were beat. After all da shit dey put us through dey still had to get one last dig at us, but we still won.”

“Yes, I heard the recording coming in, so how did that get through?”

“You have to ask Frantz, dat. He has to deal wit dat stuff wit Mister Rayner.”