Nirantrilin Yistolk was happily munching on the variety of foods on his plate. He loved the Feast of Community, indeed almost all Dizyntk did. In Trilin's case it brought back his happiest memories of home. Having grown up in a very rural area on the frontier world of Zekala, it was only during this hakin long holiday that he was usually able to spend time with many of his neighbors. It was during the Feast of his eighth cyanka that he met the Dizyntk that eventually became his first lover. He sometimes wondered what had become of her. They parted on friendly terms shortly before Trilin had decided to join the military. He had not seen her since he left his home world five cyankas ago.
The current holiday was by far the largest version of it he had ever attended. This was because he was at the Feast of Community being held at the Royal Palace on Sapphire. The mood, while definitely celebratory, was more reserved than was normally the case. The reason was the same as the one for Trilin's being here; the battle that had taken place on these very grounds just three cyans previously. His unit, the Third Zyrestrim Battalion, had arrived here to help defeat the attempt to take the Palace by forces of the Duchess Caliarena. They had remained to help provide security due to the near destruction of the Palace Guard in holding back the enemy before his unit's arrival. He had been told that the Palace Guard would be fully reconstituted in about another cyan. Personally, Trilin was in no hurry. He was enjoying his assignment at the palace thoroughly. That he was able to share a comfortable bed with a pretty female every night had absolutely no bearing on this enjoyment he told himself. This thought was quickly followed by a laugh as he could not believe his own lie.
As he savored the flavor of the grilled meat he was eating, he looked around to see what his sniper partner/lover, Sergeant Melissa Watson, was up to. It took a couple of minutes to find her as the crowd was quite large. Finally he spotted her near one of the food tables. She was filling her plate and talking with a couple other members of their unit. Just as he was about to walk over to her, the battalion XO Captain Zeranfelen tapped him on the shoulder.
Trilin turned and, after seeing who it was, gave a small nod of his head. "Yes, Captain?"
"I have been going over the unit's records, Specialist Nirantrilin, and you have not taken any appreciable leave in nearly four cyankas." he said sternly to his subordinate.
Trilin nodded in understanding of the problem. "I know that we are encouraged to take leave every cyanka, Captain. It is just, well, I have never had anywhere I really wanted to go."
"What of your family?" the Captain inquired.
"There is only my father and sister at home. My mother died when I was young and there were no others in their mating group. I have never been sure if I wanted to travel all the way to Zekala just to be there for a four tasin visit before leaving again." Trilin explained.
Zeranfelen nodded. He understood part of the problem. Zekala was a long trip. Just getting there and back would take up a big chunk of a soldier's normal leave of two hakin. This was even more problematic right now as the unit was on Sapphire. From their base on Kalantk, Zekala was about six tasin away on a normal transport. Sapphire was another three tasin farther. The Captain had known this before he approached Trilin however. He had also come up with a solution.
"The day after the Feast of Community has ended, there is a large transport vessel taking supplies and vehicles to our garrison on Zekala. They are not scheduled to leave Zekala until two hakin after they arrive. It just so happens that they are short a pair of ship's troops. I have told them that I will give them two of ours for the trip, so long as they can take leave on Zekala when they get there." he said with a smile on his face. It was, he thought, a very elegant solution to the problem.
Trilin laughed a little at the guile being displayed by his commander. "Who else have you conned into going with me?" he asked.
"I though that I would leave that up to you, Nirantrilin." he said as he let his gaze fall onto Sergeant Watson.
Trilin looked to see what his officer was looking at and immediately understood the offer being made. He bowed his head deeply. "Thank you, Captain Zeranfelen. We will enjoy the leave immensely."
On the other side of the large clearing in front of the palace being used for the feast, another Dizyntk warrior was on duty. Captain, until very recently Lieutenant, Tikashira Relesintk was keeping a close, though unobtrusive, eye on her charges. Tika to her friends, she was the new head of the security detail for Princess Feyalisa and her family. She had received the assignment on an interim basis when Virathea had been unconscious and near death after the battle. She had received the temporary promotion simply because she was the senior surviving officer in the Guard that was not wounded too badly to take over the job. She had, in fact, received only minor wounds. She had taken a few projectile and energy grazes to various parts of her body, and two small pieces of shrapnel in her left hand. When, two hakin after the battle, she was informed that Virathea had approved her as her official replacement and she received a promotion to go with it, she was both surprised and delighted. She was also very proud that her training and devotion to duty had paid off. She knew that a bit of luck had played a role as well; bad luck in that so many of her comrades had died in the attack, opening the way for her promotion and good luck in that she had survived the battle relatively unscathed.
She was young to hold such a responsibility at only seventeen cyankas. This was actually the same age at which Virathea had been assigned the job, but she had possessed a distinct advantage. Virathea had been from a prestigious warrior family with old ties to both the Asarazyntk and Zerleen Houses. Tikashira had no such family ties. Her family ran a restaurant in Sapphire City, just four ishalt from the palace. Even her extended family had no noble ties. She was a common Dizyntk who had earned her place in the Guard through hard work. Not that anyone would dare to suggest that Virathea did not work as hard as Tika, it was just that this was all that Tika had going for her. Now she was officially in charge of protecting the heir to the Sapphire Throne.
She nearly jumped out of her fur when a hand alighted softly upon her shoulder.
"You are very tense, Captain Tikashira." Velakari said in a soft, soothing tone.
Tikashira could feel that her fur had all stood on end and she blushed slightly in embarrassment at being so edgy. "Apologies, Sister Velakari. I suppose that my nerves are not yet settled into the job."
Velakari laughed at this. "Do not worry too much about it, Captain. Virathea was much the same way her first few cyans on the job as I recall."
"Major Virathea? Nervous? I do not believe it. She has ice water in her veins." Tikashira said as she looked to make sure that the Princess was still safe and enjoying herself.
"One might think so to look at her in the past two or three cyankas, to be sure." Velakari replied while nodding. "But ask yourself this. How long do you think she trained to get like that? How many cyans of working at the palace and being responsible for the Princess' safety did it take before she was calm and collected all the time?"
Tikashira smiled a little at the point being made. She too would one day be as cool and unflappable as Virathea Tzilank. Until then she would do the job as best she could. That included getting to know the members of the family she was now responsible for protecting.
"Was your day at the Temple busy?" Tika inquired.
"Yes, it was." Velakari responded. "I would have it no other way during this holiday."
Tikashira looked out the corner of her eye at Velakari. She had heard that she was a very devoted Priestess, but she heard that about many priestesses. Having gotten to know her over the past couple cyans, she was starting to believe that the stories about Velakari's devotion were understated. She had worked eleven vallin today at the Temple outside the main gate of the palace grounds. She would do so every day of the holiday this hakin. Yet here she was, smiling serenely out at the crowd that had gathered for the night's feast and being thankful for how busy she had been. There was one other thing that always tried to sap Velakari's energy, yet never seemed to do so. She was currently headed right for them.
"Mother! Mother, mother, mother..." came the rapid fire exclamation from the blurred streak of a Dizyntk child as she ran at full speed to Velakari.
Asinalani had just turned three cyankas. She was the youngest child in the Princess' mating group. Her features were almost exclusively those of her mother. The exception was her hair/fur, which was the same color brown as her human father's.
She arrived at her mother's outstretched arms without slowing in the slightest. Velakari caught her, rose quickly and spun around; both to slow the momentum of her daughter and because Asinalani loved to be spun. She laughed uproariously as her mother twirled around and around with her. Velakari finally slowed her spinning and hugged Asina tightly.
"Have you been having fun, my dearest?" Kari asked as she nuzzled her daughter's ears.
"A lot of fun, mother." She said happily. As she went to say more, a large burp came out of her. A hand flew to her mouth and she giggled.
"Excuse me, mother." she said between giggles.
.... There is more of this story ...