HistoryDude

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You ended on a cliffhanger and you hinted at events in the next chapter. I can’t wait until Tuesday. I’ll also likely think of something to ask about over the weekend, but I’ve got nothing now.
 

HistoryDude

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What chapter does the Battle of Aoraki take place in?

Also,has Amaya lost one of her eyes yet?

@Tantomile are you actually going to get Mami a drink? Or are you not allowed to do that because she’s a taihara.
 

Macavity116

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What chapter does the Battle of Aoraki take place in?
Hmm, I'm nowhere near finished writing Chapter 4 right now, but I looked at my plan for the rest of the story, and it looks like the event will play out in Chapters 5.4 and 5.5.
Also,has Amaya lost one of her eyes yet?
Nope. Amaya still has two eyes.
@Tantomile are you actually going to get Mami a drink? Or are you not allowed to do that because she’s a taihara.
Tantomile said:
I did! Blake deleted the scene!:mad:
Tantomile's right. At one point Chapter 2.4 did have a scene where Tantomile gave Mami some Madu Cabolo and Mami got a little drunk. I cut it out because it was clunky and wasn't very fun to read. In the end, I just didn't like those paragraphs, so I axed them.
 

HistoryDude

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Hmm, I'm nowhere near finished writing Chapter 4 right now, but I looked at my plan for the rest of the story, and it looks like the event will play out in Chapters 5.4 and 5.5.Nope. Amaya still has two eyes.Tantomile's right. At one point Chapter 2.4 did have a scene where Tantomile gave Mami some Madu Cabolo and Mami got a little drunk. I cut it out because it was clunky and wasn't very fun to read. In the end, I just didn't like those paragraphs, so I axed them.

So we still have some time until the Battle of Aoraki.

Also,it’s interesting that Tantomile actually got Mami a drink.

Also,the whole taihara thing doesn’t make that much sense.Oh,you killed a Levakian,I hate you! It doesn’t matter that I was going to kill that same Levakian because I was in the middle of a war and he was on the opposing side…
 

Macavity116

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Also,the whole taihara thing doesn’t make that much sense.Oh,you killed a Levakian,I hate you! It doesn’t matter that I was going to kill that same Levakian because I was in the middle of a war and he was on the opposing side…

The divided state of Levakian culture and the circumstances of Hūria's death are both to blame. Mami took down a renegade lion on an active battlefield. Many Partogans and Levakians alike will see her actions as justified. Right now, the lions most likely to hate Mami for being taihara will be the Levakian Nationalists and Separatists, because they'll think she killed a "heroic freedom fighter" instead of a traitorous criminal. Some lions such as Tantomile will be willing to forgive Mami, because they either think (1) her actions were justified or (2) they're genuinely loyal to the Kingdom of Partoga.

Only some lions will hate Mami for being taihara. Most, including Tantomile, will be forgiving to some degree. But those who do hate her are going to be extremely vocal about it. Especially in Chapters 3, 4, and 6.
 

HistoryDude

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The divided state of Levakian culture and the circumstances of Hūria's death are both to blame. Mami took down a renegade lion on an active battlefield. Many Partogans and Levakians alike will see her actions as justified. Right now, the lions most likely to hate Mami for being taihara will be the Levakian Nationalists and Separatists, because they'll think she killed a "heroic freedom fighter" instead of a traitorous criminal. Some lions such as Tantomile will be willing to forgive Mami, because they either think (1) her actions were justified or (2) they're genuinely loyal to the Kingdom of Partoga.

Only some lions will hate Mami for being taihara. Most, including Tantomile, will be forgiving to some degree. But those who do hate her are going to be extremely vocal about it. Especially in Chapters 3, 4, and 6.

That makes much more sense.Thanks for the explanation.

Also,telling of further events in chapter 2.5 is cruel. Especially because I know when it is being posted…

Additionally,of all places,Mami has fantasies about ruling Aoraki. Really? Isn’t it a barren tomb world?
 

Macavity116

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That makes much more sense.Thanks for the explanation.

Also,telling of further events in chapter 2.5 is cruel. Especially because I know when it is being posted…

Additionally,of all places,Mami has fantasies about ruling Aoraki. Really? Isn’t it a barren tomb world?

You're welcome. And trust me, I've only hinted at Chapters 3 and 4 here. ;) Little to nothing about Chapter 2.5 has been revealed over the past two hours.

Mami Tamihana said:
Hey! That's my barren tomb world. Aoraki's MY HOME. My family lives there, I was born there, I spent most of my life there, and hopefully I'll die there! I love my home, harsh as it is.
 

HistoryDude

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@Tamihana,Mami Ah,you like it because it is your home.That makes sense,I guess.

You're welcome. And trust me, I've only hinted at Chapters 3 and 4 here. ;) Little to nothing about Chapter 2.5 has been revealed over the past two hours.
You still ended Chapter 2.4 on a cliffhanger,which makes it hard to wait for the next update (Tuesday).
 

HistoryDude

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Few more questions:
What’s Mami’s full opinion of Tantomile? (And can Mami respond to this?)
Do any of the main characters become Psionic?I have a sneaking suspicion Tantomile does (white fur and purple eyes)?
 

Macavity116

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Few more questions:
What’s Mami’s full opinion of Tantomile? (And can Mami respond to this?)
Do any of the main characters become Psionic?I have a sneaking suspicion Tantomile does (white fur and purple eyes)?
Mami Tamihana said:
I remember hearing about her on the news after she was born. Everyone thought Empress Jemima was going to disown the older sister (I don't know her name) and make Tantomile the heir to the ...gaza...Ganzi...genzu... whatever the Levakian throne is called. Guess she didn't. Personally, I never really cared about Levakian politics. I serve Queen Marie, and so should the lions. Besides, there aren't any lions on Aoraki, so that's another reason not to care. Heck, I didn't even know Tantomile went into exile until she showed up on the Rauuira.

Tantomile herself? She saved my life, saved my friends lives, gave me facial reconstruction, and allowed us to stay on her ship with food, water, and a place to sleep when she didn't need to. She's also helping us get home even though some of the lions here clearly don't like us. I'm really grateful to her and I definitely want to pay her back when we get to Fort Odina. If I can't... I dunno. Maybe when I get out of the military I'll find Tantomile and thank her properly. At the very least I owe her a drink now... just not Madu Cabolo. That stuff gets me drunk really quick.

Oh, hey! I said I heard about Tantomile's birth on the news, right? You wanna know a cool detail about her? Her birthday was a few days ago, on Hōngongoi 29th. She's two years old now!
Your sneaking suspicion is spot-on. Tantomile was confirmed to be a Gifted Lion all the way back in Chapter 1.2. Check this excerpt:
Faith in Chaos Chapter 1.2 said:
Normally, the combination of white fur and purple eyes signified a Gifted Lion. However, Tantomile had never exhibited the faintest trace of Psionic aptitude. At just 19 months old, she was far too young to be Gifted Lion. Mental powers would only manifest in an adult lion, usually around the age of 3 years. The lack of powers hadn’t stopped Tantomile from becoming a force to be reckoned with, though.
Tantomile should expect her powers to start coming in shortly before her third birthday.

Mami, Eteka, Arahu, and Rapati are not Gifted. In all of written history, only two Gifted Partogans have ever been confirmed to exist: Mira Mihaka and Manaaki Ranginui. Both of them lived nearly 270 after the events of Faith in Chaos.
 

HistoryDude

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Your sneaking suspicion is spot-on. Tantomile was confirmed to be a Gifted Lion all the way back in Chapter 1.2. Check this excerpt:Tantomile should expect her powers to start coming in shortly before her third birthday.

Mami, Eteka, Arahu, and Rapati are not Gifted. In all of written history, only two Gifted Partogans have ever been confirmed to exist: Mira Mihaka and Manaaki Ranginui. Both of them lived nearly 270 after the events of Faith in Chaos.

The excerpt wasn’t exactly clear. Tantomile has never exhibited the faintest trace of Psionic aptitude… is unclear as to whether or not she will and up having Psionics.

Thanks for Mami’s answer. Was the exile of the Levakian princesses even known to any Partogans?

And happy (late) birthday,Tantomile!

Also about “270 years after Faith in Chaos”,we both know this isn’t the whole truth.This being After Everything’s “sequel-pretending-to-be-a-prequel”
 

Macavity116

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The excerpt wasn’t exactly clear.

Was the exile of the Levakian princesses even known to any Partogans?

That's my fault. The narration itself is intentionally unclear. Tantomile's Gift (or apparent lack thereof) will be addressed in a future chapter.

The average Partogan in the street doesn't know about Tantomile and Coricopat being exiled. They also do not know about the high-level Pride Takeovers or the recent resurgence of the Levakian Separatist movement. Empress Jemima has stuck to her word and tried to keep the political crisis under wraps. However, Queen Marie, her government, and the leadership of the Partogan Royal Military are fully aware of what's happening.


we both know this isn’t the whole truth
There's a much bigger story out there. It's already started to collide with this one.
 

HistoryDude

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Oh,that makes much more sense.Thanks.

These answers just beg more questions, but I know you won’t answer them because spoilers.
 

HistoryDude

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On second thought… (Also, new post because post edits don’t give alerts)
Kendra the Peacemaker decorated her eyepatch with it.

Remember this?If Amaya didn’t lose her eye at Aiowa,when did she lose it?

Also,since Partogan days are 36 hours long…why do they have the same days and months as humans? Doesn’t that make their year equal to one and a half human years?
 

Macavity116

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If Amaya didn’t lose her eye at Aiowa,when did she lose it?

You are very deep in spoiler territory now.
Proceed at your own risk.

Why did Titohara take Amaya's place on the Rauuira crew?
Why did Titohara prevent Kewhena shooting Mami in the back?
This story has a villain.

She has not been idle.

She knows.
============
End of Spoilers


Also,since Partogan days are 36 hours long…why do they have the same days and months as humans? Doesn’t that make their year equal to one and a half human years?

The Partogan timekeeping system is a bit of terrible, horrible, and awful worldbuilding I did once when I was 12 years old and never revisited. (I'm 25 now) I don't have an answer for how Partogan clocks are reconciled with Earth ones. I don't even think its possible. I tried to make the two systems work in After Everything, but like I said, I don't think it could have been done. In the end I just had to handwaive the issue away and forced the Midak crew to use the Gregorian calendar and 24-hour clocks while they were on Earth. To avoid confusing readers, I'm trying to minimize all mentions of Partogan 36-hour clocks in Faith in Chaos. They're not important to the story, and they were also a bad idea from a soda-fueled middle schooler.

As far as Faith in Chaos is concerned, I've gotten rid of the original Partogan timekeeping system. It was phased out in favor of the Stellaris in-game calendar. (Which in-universe is being called the "Galactic Timekeeping system")

I'm doing this because keeping track of the day, month, and year is an extremely important part of Faith in Chaos. I want the reader to quickly and easily understand when every event in the story occurs relative to both each other and the plot of After Everything.

Since nearly all of us use the Gregorian Calendar here in the real world, a Gregorian date will appear at the top of every chapter for the reader's convenience. This is supposed to help readers understand how much time has passed between each chapter.

Some chapters take place on the same day, such as [2.4 and 2.5] and [3.3, 3.4, 3.5, and 3.6] and [5.3, 5.4, and 5.5]

For this story, the Partogan calendar exists in name only and the 36-hour clock only applies to Partoga itself. Off-world, the more standardized Galactic Timekeeping system is used. (Again, this is just the Stellaris in-game calendar with a fresh coat of paint.) Partogans will refer to the days and months of the year with Partogan names because the English language doesn't exist on Partoga. The Galactic Council does not name the months or days of the year. They just use numbers.



TL;DR #1: I nerfed the Partogan calendar into the ground and it is now just flavor text. Nothing more.

TL;DR #2: I'm using Gregorian calendar dates to make certain future chapters easier to read.

TL;DR #3: At the end of the day, Timekeeping systems are a part of worldbuilding I just suck at.
 

HistoryDude

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Thanks for the info. I’m pretty sure I’m done with the questions before the next chapter.Probably.
 
Chapter 2.5: The Snowskin

Macavity116

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Chapter 2.5
The Snowskin

August 2, 1928 A.D.
LVK Shieldbreaker, Nithascal Star System, Kingdom of Partoga

As soon as Tantomile terminated communications with Fort Odina command, she turned to her Chief of Security. Jonnar was a big male lion just over four years old. He was muscular and had a shaggy brown mane that drew the eyes of most lionesses. Jonnar was one of Tantomile’s earliest Thralls, having sworn allegiance to her over a year ago. He had listened to the entire conversation with Major General Ranginui and was already in motion by the time Tantomile addressed him.

“Get the hunters together and keep it quiet.” Tantomile instructed, “Listen everyone, we’re gonna treat this like a Kahgarak hunt. Think of Titohara Nopera like one of them. Don’t raise any alarms, don’t make noise and do not hunt alone. We have to assume she’s already a Taihara or she’s capable of becoming one. When you find Titohara, stalk her for as long as possible, so that the rest of the hunters can join you. Stay in cover and use concealment. We’ll take her down as a pride. Am I clear?”

Jonnar and Admetus both took half-a-dozen lionesses and left the bridge. Tantomile took a few more lionesses and set out as well. Luckily for Tantomile, the vast majority of Partogans aboard the Shieldbreaker were either in the infirmary supporting Mami or they were in the Mess Hall getting dinner. The hunt was going to be carried out very quietly.

Tantomile met Admetus again on Deck Three about five minutes later. He was holding the jacket piece of a Partogan Royal Navy uniform.

“I found this in the room you gave to the Rauuira crew.” Admetus said. “It has a strange scent. It might belong to the Titohara girl.”

“Give it to me,” Tantomile commanded,

Admetus handed over the jacket and Tantomile smelled it for a moment. A bizarre concoction of scents hit her nose.

“Petroleum jelly... aluminum silicate... mineral oils...” Tantomile mused, then she sniffed again. “Titohara is wearing a huge amount of makeup... hell, this might even be body paint. It’s wiped out her scent entirely. Pretty clever.”

Tantomile threw the jacket down and addressed the gathered hunters.

“Everyone, fan out.” she said, “Sniff out any Partogan who’s wearing makeup or body paint. Focus on anyone who doesn’t seem to have a natural body odor.”

The hunters and huntresses moved out again, and Tantomile was about to follow them into the hallway when she heard a loud voice in her head.

-mile doesn’t loo -

Tantomile spun around.

“What did you say?”

Admeuts gave Tantomile a puzzled look and shook his head.

“I was just waiting for you.” he said. “I didn’t say anything.”

Tantomile disregarded the strange sound and returned to the hunt. Following the scent of body paint and hair dye, Tantomile ordered a lioness named Rhassa to follow her and started combing the halls. They pushed open doors with the butts of their Slugthrower Rifles and made sure to get a good sniff at every Partogan they encountered. After about fifteen minutes of searching, Tantomile was close enough to the infirmary to hear the sound of the crowd cheering on Mami Tamihana. She was just starting to walk past the infirmary entrance, sniffing the air attentively, when she heard a Partogan speaking from inside the room.

“These stripes will represent the speed and swiftness with which Mami struck down her foe!” declared the Tohunga-tā-Moko,

His voice was followed up by the high-pitched clink-clink of hammer meeting chisel and a pained groan from Mami Tamihana. Tantomile began to move away from the infirmary door, nose twitching. She had matched most of the odors in the room to one Partogan or another. While a few of the females in there did wear makeup, it was nowhere near as excessive as the smell Tantomile was tracking.

- et her some ice f-

Okay, this time Tantomile had definitely heard a voice.

She looked around for whoever might have spoken, but Rhassa was only one in the hallway, and the voice Tantomile just heard had been male.

“Hey, Rhassa... did you just hear a voice? A male Partogan talking about ice?”

Rhassa shook her head.

“No, your Highness” She said, “Maybe-”

But at that moment, the infirmary door opened and a teenage Partogan boy emerged. Tantomile recognized him as Arahu Ranginui, a member of the Rauuira crew. As he darted past Tantomile, he said:

“Excuse me, I just need to get some ice real quick.”

Tantomile’s jaw dropped and she turned to watch him leave. Then she suddenly knew what was going on.

“Damnit! Not now!” Tantomile groaned, beating the side of her head with one paw, “Not... right... now! STOP!”

Tantomile was furious! Not at any person or the situation, but her own brain. She was the age where lions reached physical maturity, and also the age where young Gifted Lions would start to show the very earliest signs of Psionic aptitude. Tantomile had always known she had the Gift. She had also been warned by many lions that she would start hearing people’s thoughts sometime around her second birthday... but now!? NOW!? In the middle of a hunt!?

Now that Tantomile knew what was happening, she was ready for the next instance of uncommanded mind-reading.

What's wrong with her? She shouldn't hunt if she’s ill. Rhassa's stray thought was so loud Tantomile could hear it with no effort at all.

Since Tantomile had been expecting it, she had managed to intercept and read the entire thought. But this wasn’t going to help anyone. Without the proper tools or training, Tantomile would have no way to harness or control her Gift. She would just suffer, unwillingly reading the minds of anyone who got too close with no way to make their thoughts go away. It would be torture.

“Shut up!” Tanotmile snapped at Rhassa, “You keep hunting, I’ve gotta do something about this.”

Leaving her fellow lioness behind, Tantomile scrambled back up to the bridge, ignoring everyone and anyone she encountered. Every time she passed another Partogan or Levakian, she would involuntarily invade their minds, catching snippets of thoughts, opinions, and fantasies. After a few minutes, it began to get even worse. The “range” of Tantomile’s out-of-control telepathic hearing extended to several Bios around her, and soon she had developed the unwanted ability to hear the thoughts of every Partogan and Levakian for about 20 Bios around. Tantomile’s mind was bombarded with the thoughts of nearly 50 Partogans and Levakians, the inner monologues chaotically rained into her mind, pressing up against one another, begging for Tantomile’s attention:

- d I leave my deo -

- ter pay more tha -

- ody paint. Titohara was o - .

-onto us. Where the hell are y -

- e war. Can’t the Quee -

- oks terrible. Is that what I lo-

- ss my cubs. I wann -

-was that yo -

-f we can’t pay the Assurian merc-

-ite Levakian looks rea-

-kets to Enutanga’s concer-

-think about wher -

- nt of hair dye. Titoha -

- starting to scar... time for th -

- is really hur -

- ess hall. Mess hall. Mess hal -

- got the scent -

- y right hand feels itc -

- hurts! Please let it be ov -

- ika . I already found yo -

- That’s her! right the -

- ell is calling m -

- g away! We should go bac -

- ere’s my de -

Finally, Tantomile made it back to the bridge. She elbowed her way past an Ensign and entered the Captain’s Office. The little space had been made her own. It had a desk, computer workstation, bookshelf, a wall covered in starcharts, and a bed for her to sleep on. The most important thing, however, was along the far wall. Tantomile had kept it here... ready for this very situation.

One whole wall of Tantomile’s office was lined with potted Harakeke plants. Their thick, broad leaves reached up to the ceiling like arms, soaking in as much artificial light as they could. Of course, Tantomile already knew why this plant was outlawed in Partoga. Harakeke contained a potent chemical that acted as a depressant on the brain, impairing and inhibiting higher level brain functions. Right now, Tantomile needed a little impairment.

In general, Partogans preferred to dry Harakeke leaves, roll them up, and then smoke them. Levakians, however, would simply eat the leaves whole. Tantomile pulled a few of the thickest leaves off the stalk of one plant, stuffed them into her mouth and began to chew, making sure to crush the Harakeke and expel as many of the juices as possible. For about a minute, nothing happened. Voices continued to echo around Tantomile’s head... but then they started to sound tinny, as though Tantomile was hearing them through a badly tuned speaker. Tantomile swallowed the leaves. The voices sounded very faint now. They were no louder than the hum of a Hoto bug. That was good enough for Tantomile. She exited the bridge and rejoined the hunt.

It didn’t take long for her to catch up. Tantomile ran into Admetus in only a few minutes, and he told her that Titohara had been found in the Mess Hall. She was being stalked by a few lionesses while the rest of the hunting party assembled in the rooms and corridors outside.

Jonnar and his hunters were covering the elevator doors when Tantomile arrived on deck three.

“Mess hall’s going to be down this corridor.” Jonnar explained, “Take a left turn, then it's the fourth door on the left.”

“Right.” Said Tantomile. “What does she have in the way of escape routes?”

“There are two entrances to the mess hall. One leads this way and the other goes aft, towards the armory. My hunters got there first and closed off that route. She’s cornered.”

Tantomile called up to the bridge and ordered all of the surrounding rooms and corridors to be evacuated. A plan was hastily developed to overwhelm and capture Titohara before she had the chance to put up a fight.

An unarmed Levakian messenger walked into each of the rooms and hallways surrounding the Mess hall, asking or ordering the occupants to leave and go to other parts of the ship. The exodus took about three minutes. Then both doorways leading into the mess hall were covered by Levakian hunters. The ambush was set.

On Tantomile’s command, both doors were simultaneously opened and no less than six Thunderflash bombs were tossed, rolled, or launched into the mess hall. One after another, they detonated! As a dozen Levakian hunters stormed into the room, smoke curled up from the expended Thunderflash bombs and triggered the fire suppression system! Alarms blared and water began to spray from strategically placed sprinklers in the walls and ceiling of the mess hall.

When Tantomile finally entered the room, she saw that two Partogan women had been subdued, forced to kneel on the floor, and were handcuffed near the center of the room: a middle-aged officer with grey dreadlocks and a teenage Ensign with long white hair.

As she advanced on the two captives, Tantomile made herself look and sound as terrifying as possible. A deep, nearly continuous growl thundered from her chest. She held her mouth partway open to reveal her sharp teeth. She also unsheathed her claws, raised her hackles, and flattened her ears to the top of her head. When Tantomile came to a stop in front of the two women, she looked like she was mere seconds away from tearing both of them to bloody bits.

“Which one of you is Titohara?” Tantomile’s voice was dripping with implied threats and an undertone of lust for violence. “SPEAK!”

The teenager looked up at Tantomile.

“Uh... that’s me...” but before Titohara could say anything else, the officer spoke up.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing!?” the officer stood up and faced Tantomile with a defiant expression. “In what universe do you think you can get away with treating us like this?”

Tantomile reached out with one paw and grabbed the officer by the head.

“Since you’re not the person I was asked to find, there’s nothing to stop me dumping you into space and telling Royal Star Command you died at Aiowa. They won’t know better unless I actually turn you over to them, Partogan. Now SHUT UP! OR I’ll-”

Whatever Tantomile’s next threat was going to be, no one ever found out. On her left Admeus suddenly gasped out loud:

“By the Mountain! She’s melting!”

All eyes fell on Titohara. She had been standing in the deluge of sprinkler water for nearly two minutes now, and she really did look like she was melting. Right before Tantomile’s eyes, the topmost layer of Titohara’s brown skin seemed to just wash away like dirt in a rainstorm, revealing flesh that was pale white instead. Something similar was happening to her hair as well. With each passing second, Titohara’s hair became darker and darker, until it was blacker than the darkest night. At her feet, colossal amounts of makeup, concealer, body paint, and hair dye swirled around the wet floor.

Titohara had seemingly transformed into a completely different being.

Everyone gazed in awe and wonder at the... well... she wasn’t a Partogan, was she? Partogans don’t have black hair or skin that was such a pale white color. Titohara blinked, and her eyes changed color as well. Her irises shifted away from the purple color shared by all Partogans and became an unheard of... and completely unexpected... shade of blue.

Everyone just stared at Titohara for a full minute before Jonnar dared to say the words out loud.

“You...” he breathed, “You’re... a.... You’re a Snowskin.”

The Snowskin dropped all pretense as the last vestiges of her disguise fell away.

“Sure.” She said quietly. “You can call me that.”

Moving too quickly to allow for anyone to react, the Snowskin pulled her arms apart and broke the handcuffs as though they were made of fiberglass! Then she did something that Tantomile had only seen other Levakians do.

She used the Gift.

Cold and harsh Psionic energy radiated out and away from the Snowskin, blasting Tantomile, Admetus, Jonnar, and all of the hunters off their feet. Jonnar roared loudly and charged at the Snowskin, teeth gnashing and claws gleaming! She turned to face him and shouted some strange words in an alien language Tantomile had never heard before:

“Watashi o hottoite!”

The Snowskin pointed her finger at Jonnar and a cone of purple flames erupted from her hand and engulfed him! The Soulfire burned every last part of the lion’s being, utterly annihilating him! Reduced to ashes, Jonnar’s remains collapsed to the floor. Tantomile raised her Slugthrower rifle and fired a single blast. The Snowskin flicked her wrist, and another wave of Psi-energy met the projectile head on, forcing it to make a 90 degree turn, then it embedded itself into the skull of another Levakian hunter.

Before anyone could recover, the Snowskin called out to the officer who had defended her, speaking once more in that freakish alien language:

“Hayaku koi!”

The Snowskin wrapped one arm around the Partogan officer who had defended her and pulled her in close; and with the other, she pulled out of her pocket a small object shaped like the handle, trigger, and stock section of a small firearm. Tantomile scrambled to her feet and charged on all fours towards the Snowskin!

At the same time, the Snowskin pulled the trigger of her device and Tantomile crashed headlong into something invisible yet very solid! The Snowskin had created some kind of Psionic shield, keeping Tantomile and her soldiers from drawing any closer to her. Tantomile slammed her paws and head into the Psionic barrier, while her soldiers fired their slugthrower rifles into it. Neither effort had any effect.

The device in the Snowskin’s hand had started working the second she had pulled the trigger. Heralded by the all-too-familiar hiss-hum-hum-hum sound, a semitransparent purple window split open! Right there, in the middle of the room, a small Quantum Wavefront opened up to its “full” size, just barely big enough for two Partogans to step through. The shimmering purple wall illuminated Tantomile and everyone around her in magnificent light!

“What in Miranda’s name is that!?” cried Admetus,

Just as it would do for a ship entering Hyperspace, the Quantum Wavefront lurched backward and engulfed both the Snowskin and her companion. Once it had swallowed them both up, the Quantum Wavefront shrunk down to microscopic size with a soft hiss and closed, vanishing from normal space entirely. Left behind was a group of confused and terrified lions, gunsmoke, and Tantomile; who silently vowed to herself that she wouldn’t take her final breath until she fully understood what had just happened here...



August 3, 1928 A.D.

LVK Shieldbreaker, Docked to Fort Odina, Nithascal Star System, Kingdom of Partoga



Every single inch of Mami’s face hurt. She felt as though someone had stabbed her in the face repeatedly with a sewing needle. She owed a drink... no, a hundred drinks to whoever had led her back to her bunk and laid her down on it. Unsure of how much time had passed since the Tohunga-tā-Moko had finished beating the Tattoo pattern into Mami’s face with a chisel and hammer, she rolled over to one side of the bunk and opened her eye.

She wished she hadn’t. Pain shot all throughout her cheeks as soon as the muscles started moving. Mami caught sight of Eteka and Arahu leaning against the far wall together, watching her. Then she closed her eye again as it began to water.

“You... creeps.” she groaned softly.

She heard Eteka shuffling his feet.

“Arahu was here first. He’s the creep.” Eteka explained, “I just came in here to hide from the Levakians. They’ve been on the warpath since yesterday.”

“Eh... Leva... wha-?” Mami grumbled into her pillow. “Can’t you guys let me have one recovery day without some new crisis? Lemme rest.”

“Not this time.” Arahu said in a depressed voice. “And for the record I was in here because I was waiting for you to wake up. I wanted to be the first person to ask you-”

Eteka cut off Arahu,

“You wanted to ask if women like being watched while they sleep, Ranginui? I thought the answer was obvious. Creep.”

Mami wasn’t in the mood to play this game right now.

“Shut up, both of you.” she mumbled, “then tell me what’s going on.”

Silence. Mami reluctantly turned her head and quickly opened her eye again. Right before it welled up with tears, Mami saw the two soldiers looking at one another uncomfortably. It seemed neither one of them wanted to tell Mami what was happening.

“It’s that girl who was with us on the Rauuira.” Said Arahu, “Ensign Nopera.”

“Uh-huh. What about her?” Said Mami. “Did Eteka go tell the Commander without me?”

There was an even longer and more uncomfortable pause.

“Mami,” Arahu said cautiously, “The Levakians told us... that the Green Guard told them...”

He couldn’t finish the sentence. Eteka did.

“Titohara’s dead.” Eteka said bluntly. “They found her corpse at Fort Daxia a few days ago. Someone shot Titohara and stuffed her body into a locker. She’s been dead for nearly five months. The ‘Titohara’ we knew is an imposter. The Levakians tried to arrest her yesterday while you were getting your Tuakiri. She killed two lions and escaped.”



“I don’t give a damn about your protocols! I want to speak to Tantomile now.”

Mami had just repeated her demand for the second time. She wasn’t going to make a third speech. The two Levakian huntresses guarding the entrance to the Shieldbreaker’s bridge looked at one another with confusion and apprehension. On the one hand, neither of them wanted to incur Tantomile’s wrath by breaking security protocol and allowing Mami onto the bridge. On the other hand, neither of them wanted to incur Mami’s wrath by denying her entry. They had seen her face, after all.

Mami’s new facial Tattoo had settled into its final form. A symmetrical design worked its way down from her forehead to the bottom of her chin. First, in the middle of Mami’s forehead, a black line descended the middle of her face, running along the bridge of her nose. At her nostrils, the line branched off into two “tributaries”, each traversed her face on an angle aiming towards the corners of Mami’s mouth. As soon as the tributaries struck Mami’s lips, they both turned sharply and ran down towards her chin, parallel with one another, before terminating at the beginning of her throat. Both of Mami’s lips had been turned black by Tattoo ink. Finally, both of Mami’s cheeks had been tattooed with a series of parallel lines. Running from left to right, Mami had four black stripes on each cheek, starting near her nose but not actually touching it and ending on the sides of her head before reaching her ears and hair. The ends of each line were tapered, making them narrow at the ends and wide in the center.

To a Partogan, this sacred Tuakiri Tattoo would identify Mami as a heroic lion-slayer.

To a Levakian, this disgusting mutilation would identify Mami as a barbaric lion-killer.

Deciding that Tantomile’s wrath was preferable to Mami’s, the two Levakian huntresses stood aside and allowed her to enter the bridge. Mami no longer needed to try and look intimidating. The Tattoo on her face was so fresh that her skin was still red and swollen, but that didn’t matter. The mark of the Tuakiri caused everyone on the bridge to fall silent as Mami approached the white lioness sitting in the Captain’s Chair.

Tamihana!” Tantomile sounded surprised, “I thought you were still in the infirmary. What do you want?”

The lioness got up from her seat and faced Mami. Standing on her hind legs and brushing the ceiling with her ears, Tantomile was more than twice Mami's height. but the ink on her face gave her a little extra courage.

“My friend just told me that Titohara Nopera, one of my shipmates, is dead.” Mami said, “He said he heard it from your soldiers. Tell me everything.”

Tantomile looked around at her comrades. Admetus was baring his teeth at Mami and growling. She lightly grasped Mami’s shoulder.

“Follow me.”

The lioness led Mami into the Captain’s Office, a small room just off the bridge. Just like the rest of the Shieldbreaker, the accessories and amenities of the room had been designed for a member of the Blorg species. Tantomile pulled up the strange hemispheroid platform that passed for a chair in Blorg circles and offered it to Mami.

For the next twenty minutes, Tantomile gave Mami a blow-by-blow recount of everything that had happened the previous day. Mami’s head seemed to spin as she became fully aware of the recent developments. Tantomile revealed how Student-Soldiers at Fort Daxia had discovered the corpse of the real Titohara last week and how the crew of the Ahkmou had discovered she was being impersonated. When Tantomile explained the bizarre way in which the false Titohara had escaped, Mami put her head in both hands and groaned.

“A Hyperspace Jump! She did a Hyperspace Jump INSIDE of a pressurized starship?! That’s freakin’ impossible!!”

Finally, Mami was brought up to speed. She was momentarily overwhelmed and didn’t know where to start, so she said the first thing to spring to her mind. A thing that was supposed to be common knowledge across the Kingdom of Partoga and all of its Vassals:

“B-B-But the Snowskins are extinct!”

History confirms Mami’s statement to be true: The “Snowskins” were a tribe of Partogans with pale skin and dark hair. They had appeared on Partoga at exactly the same time as the Partogans with brown skin and white hair. However, the Snowskins spoke a very strange language that no Partogan had ever understood. Both the Snowskins and their unknowable tongue had been destroyed by Queen Miranda the Great during the Wars of the Famine.

“Well there’s one alive,” Tantomile countered, “and they just spent the past five months pretending to be your crewmate. She’s got a handheld Hyperspace device, an accomplice, and a considerable head start on me. If there’s anything you know... anything at all... I’d be deeply grateful.”

Mami’s mind was working at a million Kios per hour. She was struggling to remember every moment in which she’d interacted with Titohara, or perhaps her imposter and killer. No matter what Mami thought, she was quickly forced to accept that she’d never actually met the “real” Titohara. The teenager who had greeted Mami in the Ahkmou’s construction bay had been a fake from the first moment.

Mami stood up, paced back and forth in the little office, then swore aloud.

“Uh-huh. You see the jam I'm in?” Tantomile responded.

Mami nodded.

“It’s a bad jam.” she admitted. “It sounds like it’ll be my jam soon, too. You said the Green Guard is talking to everyone?”

“Yeah.” Said Tantomile. “I knew you were in no shape to talk to them yesterday, so I lied and said you were still recovering from facial reconstruction surgery. Told them to come back later.”

Mami put a hand to her new Tattoo.

“You weren’t really lying, but thanks anyway.” Mami said, “No, I’m just as in the dark as you.”

Mami stopped her pacing.

“So, what happens now?”

Tantomile sighed,

“The Green Guard is still working on that.” she said, “They said they wanted to sweep my whole ship one last time before giving up the search. Then all of the exits have to be secured because an important politician is visiting the station tomorrow. Don’t want any loose ends, you know?”

Mami put her hands on her hips.

“Anything I can do to help?” she asked, “You covered for me, so helping you is the least I can do in return.”

Tantomile’s whiskers perked up.

“Help? Really? You really wanna help us, Taihara?”

Mami winced at the use of the word Taihara.

“Look, I don’t care what you call me or what you think of me.” Mami said. “You helped me out, so it’s only fair I returned the favor. The offer still stands.”

Tantomile studied Mami’s defiant face for a moment. Then she sighed,

“Alright, let’s talk.” she said, “Admetus and I were trying to brainstorm some ideas before you showed up. How the impersonator got away with it for so long, how that Hyperspace device worked, how the hell a Snowskin went undetected for so long. We need just ideas to work from. You got any?”

For the next two hours, Tantomile and Mami talked at length about Titohara, her death, her 5-month-long impersonation, and the possible identities of the killer/impersonator. They bounced countless ideas off the each other. Theories and hypotheses were developed around a wide range of topics, ranging from the identity of Titohara’s killer to the science of performing a Hyperspace Jump inside of an atmosphere. (Which should be impossible)

Tantomile also gave Mami an explanation of how the Gift worked, and Mami scolded Tantomile for shutting off her own powers with Harakeke right before the confrontation.

“Hey!” Tantomile protested, “Even if I knew what I was up against, I just discovered my Gift yesterday. I wouldn’t have been able to do anything with it! It takes months and sometimes years of training to master the Gift. I probably won’t be on her level till this time next year.”

Then the discussion turned to the strange trinket Titohara’s killer had used to escape. Mami had never seen a Hyperspace Module smaller than a one-room house, and had a very hard time believing this part of the story. Instead of trying to fathom how such a device worked, she tried to explain it away.

“Don’t the Turanic Raiders and Hiigarans have high-powered hologram emitter technology?” Mami asked, “What if you got duped by a hologram? She could still be on the ship while you think she’s gone.”

Tantomile flicked her tail.

“Holograms. No one’s thought of that yet, although a few lions have thought of other ways the killer could still be aboard.”

Tantomile and Mami both considered the Hologram theory a little more. Eventually, they were forced to discount the idea because the mess hall’s sprinkler system was activated at the time. The immense amounts of water flying through the air would have diffused a hologram.

Finally, they wrapped up their brainstorm with a theorizing frenzy that included outlandish ideas such as:


  • Titohara’s impersonator and killer were two different people who just happened to commit their crimes at roughly the same time... or
  • Titohara was the real killer and the corpse at Daxia belonged to someone else... or
  • Titohara was a time-traveler, and she had killed her past or future self... or
  • The entire universe had gone mad, causing all sorts of insane things like Sentient Sacrifice, Kavinikas and Muakas living together, mass hysteria, and the cancellation of Xenonian News.
At the end of Mami’s final rant, she collapsed into her seat and took a deep breath.

“We just chased our tails in a circle for two hours and got nowhere.” She admitted.

Tantomile pawed at one of Mami’s hands and gave an equally deep and frustrated sigh.

“You’re not a Levakian.” she said, “So, you’re not allowed to make that joke... but yeah... you’re right.”

The intercom device on Tantomile’s desk buzzed. One of the Levakian crew members spoke through it:

“Your highness, Green Guards are coming aboard to conduct the final inspection. Important political dignitaries will board Fort Odina in 12 hours.”

Tantomile shook her head vigerously, sending white fur flying everywhere.

“You should go.” She said to Mami. “The Green Guard is going to take all of the Partogans off the ship before the dignitary visits, so you might want to pack up anything you don’t want to lose now. I’m leaving as soon as all of you disembark.”

“Where are you going?” Mami asked, “Aren’t you gonna keep investigating this?”

Tantomile nodded her head and growled.

“Damn right I am." she said, "I’ve never seen a Partogan use the Gift. It shouldn’t even be possible. I can’t help but think we’ve just stumbled into something bigger than both of us, and I’ve gotta know what it is. Not knowing would... oh, I dunno. Kill me, probably."

Tantomile and Mami both shared a small laugh. Then Tantomile continued,

"Anyway, I’m already planning to meet someone who can help me figure this all out. There’s a famous Gifted Lion living on Paku Nui named Sebakhira. She's wise beyond her years like you wouldn't believe. Anyway, she's currently in the service of King Waiparau. He's... uh, a close friend of my enemy, King Emerdon. When I reach Paku Nui, I'll have to somehow... convince... him to let me talk to Sebakhira. But that's my problem to solve. You'll probably be on your way back to your home base by the time I get to Paku Nui."

Mami rubbed her hands together energetically.

“Tell you what,” she said. “My home base is Fort Daxia. It’s where all of the Student-Soldiers of Kinloka Squadron go when we’re not in some field training exercise or being sent into combat. When I get back, I’ll do my own investigating. See what I can dig up about all this. Then I’ll contact you with whatever I find.”

“Why do you want to help me so much?” She asked, “We’re lions and you’re Taihara. It doesn’t make sense.”

“Yes, I’m a Taihara.” Mami answered, “But the way I see it, that shouldn’t stop me from helping a lion who needs and deserves it. You knew I’d killed Hūria as soon as you showed up. You knew I was Taiara and you had, what, two chances to just let me die? You didn’t. Clearly you don’t think I’m all bad, and I think the same about you. You helped me out of a bad place, so it’s only fair I repay the favor and help you.”

Mami scribbled her name and Hypercomms information onto a piece of paper and pressed it into Tantomile’s paw.

“You find out anything, or if that Gifted Lion gives you any leads: call me. I promise, I’ll share anything I find out and try to help if you need it; and if you don't call me, I'll call you.”

Tantomile looked down at the sheet of paper, then gave Tantomile a small smile.

“Thanks. It’s really good of you to offer to help out.” said Tantomile. “Almost like you’re a friend, you know?”

Mami raised her eyebrow. Friend, huh?

“Last lion that got close to me died.” she reminded Tantomile, unable to keep the sarcasm out of her voice. “Don’t get any funny ideas now.”

Tantomile flicked her tail and swatted at Mami’s hand with her paw. It was a playful gesture with claws retracted.

“Wouldn’t dream of it, Taihara.” she growled, equally sarcastic, “Or can I just call you Mami?”

“Mami's fine,” she replied. “Don't forget: If you don’t call me, I’ll call you. I think you're right about this being bigger than all of us. We've gotta work together to solve it.”

Tantomile smiled.

“I’ll remember, and I'll listen for you on the Hyperwave.” she said. “But don’t expect me to act all gracious and friendly to you in front of other lions. You’re still a Taihara. They won’t all be as forgiving as me.”

With one hand on the door, Mami turned around one last time to ask,

“Hey, do you know who the visiting dignitary is? A National Assembly member or something?”

Tantomile crossed the room, put her snout right up to Mami’s ear and whispered:

“The Queen.”


 
Last edited:

stnylan

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Unlikely allies, but both seem to possess a certain flexibility of thought that should prove useful.
 

HistoryDude

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I’m pretty sure “Titohara” is Paradox.

But that makes the Partogan Mira?

Also,about the whole “I’d need a year to reach her level of power” claim from Tantomile,so naive, and untrue… She just needs to get angry. I’m assuming we’ll get some answers (How do Mira and Paradox/Akira feel?) in Chapter 2.7.

Also,so inconvenient (or convenient?) a time for Tantomile’s power to fire…

Also,I’m assuming you’re making time fix itself when time travel happens…

And I’m starting the countdown to Chapter 2.7 now… 6 days…
 
Last edited:

HistoryDude

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I’m pretty sure “Titohara” is Paradox.

But that makes the Partogan Mira?

Also,about the whole “I’d need a year to reach her level of power” claim from Tantomile,so naive, and untrue… She just needs to get angry. I’m assuming we’ll get some answers (How do Mira and Paradox/Akira feel?) in Chapter 2.7.

Also,so inconvenient (or convenient?) a time for Tantomile’s power to fire…

Also,I’m assuming you’re making time fix itself when time travel happens…

And I’m starting the countdown to Chapter 2.7 now… 6 days…
Bumping this and pointing out that I’ve added a lot to it.