Prologue 3: Stranger At the Gate

Once again I find myself standing at the gate, like a poor relation. I know my posture is anything but compliant. I am impatient. I have been left standing here for over 5 hets. It is bad enough I was being treated like a pariah, but made to wait for the the dubious honor of meeting my new keeper is too much. I gave up everything so the universe would remain stable. I gave up the meaning of my life. I took the damn oath. No students would I every take. No new Ma'hy would I make, my life on this.

I fold my arms around my chest, trying to hold back the heart ache. I knew they still didn't trust me. I guess I had hoped that my change of heart would have been enough. But I forgot, I am not dealing with humans, I am not dealing with people who care. The ruling governors are still running scared. So I get stuck with a librarian as a babysitter. Some luck. I am never going to go anywhere again. I am going to be stuck at this temple doing useless things.

"Damn the universe. Damn them for their tiny minds." I mumble under my breath. "I should have just jumped the first shuttle out of here." I could feel my jaw clench at my building anger.

"Where, in dark storms is this ... Palto." I gaze around, taking in the archways and the clean lines of the buildings around me. The ancient stone work, so different from rest of the city. The alien runes running up and down the columns. All saying majestic words that taste like ash on my lips if I would bother to utter them.

Coming from one of the outer arches I catch sight of someone. He is moving at a slow pace. In no hurry to join me.

He is a head shorter than me, with an extra set of upper appendages. At least he is in the same range of skin tone as me, rather than the blue or fluorescent orange that I had previously been working with. There are very few humanoid biped's with only a single pair of upper appendages. They are the high races. I think sometimes that is why I am treated so reverently half of the time, and like crap the other half.

I uncross my arms and let them hang at my side as Palto and I meet for the first time. I can tell that he is no happier than I about this current arrangement. He sizes me up with the same measured care that brought him to my face.

"So, what do I call you?" he asks me. His imperial clipped and harsh to my ears. I am used to the soft tones of my friend Heack.

"I don't really care," I grumble back at him. Crossing my arms over my chest in a protective gesture again, I glare at him.

"Fine," he gives me a short nod of understanding. "What are your augments?" He looks me over not seeing any obvious ones.

"Not the politest of questions," I hiss at him. I am outraged that he should even ask.

I stalk away from him and head into the temple. I know I should try to make nice. I will be under his command for the time being. But it is hard. I gave up everything and yet am shown no trust.

He follows me as I impolitely try to leave him. The high ceilings and wide breeze ways of the temple are not made for losing a pursuer. They are made to give everyone the impression that we defend beings not unlike gods. In the end I let him catch up to me and simply let him walk with me.

It is then he starts with his maddening questions.

"Do not tell me you don't have any. Everyone knows the Mahy were crazy to have mechanical augmentation."

"I know." I say more quietly as I remember my master, Vashe. His augments were so many and sophisticated that he could not live without them anymore. His master had so many that he had extra parts fitted on.

"Arm and optics," I finally say. Waving my right upper appendage and pointing to my eyes.

"That all?" He doesn't look very impressed.

"That is all. I declined anymore after my first set." I have to work hard to keep my voice calm and level. Who does this guy think he is? He is no better than me. I took the same pledge as he.

"You are a strange one," Palto laughs right then. His laughter shakes me out of my anger. It is beautiful, rich and full and humorous. He was in no way mocking me, only laughing because he found something funny.

"It would seem we are in agreement on one thing. I am a strange one," I quirk a half smile at him.

"What is your race?" Again not the most polite of questions. "The manifest doesn't give any," he adds remembering how touchy I was about my augments.


"Could you be more specific?" He gives me what looks like a friendly smile.

"Homo Sapiens Sapiens. Terrestrial stock." I tell him.

He waves his lower set of arms in confusion. "Never heard of it."

"No One has. Don't let it worry you," I found myself giggling at his confusion. The waving arms are just too bizarre.

"Oh," he looks me over again. "What is your races'... ?" He seems to be having trouble putting into words his next question. I only look at him blankly. "Don't take this the wrong way, but your skin looks a little, saggy. are you dehydrated?"

Now it was my chance at confusion. I touch my face and throat. I don't feel any sagging.

"No, lower," he points to my chest and waist. I follow his finger to see that he is pointing at my belted up trousers and tunic.

"Clothing?" I say plucking at the tunic. He winces at the motion. "I am wearing covering. My race is very sensitive to changes in temperature and light and wind."

"Oh," He laughs some more. I let his laughter roll over me. "It is not often I see clothing, just robes and some modesty covers."

"I know." I nod with him. This time I look him over and see that He is only wearing a tool belt over his modesty cover. I get a good look at the rest of his body. Now that I am not sulking I realize He is hot!

Chapter 1 ยป

Story tagged with:
Post Apocalypse /