A STRANGER APPROACHES

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A STRANGER APPROACHES

Post  Kahtenny on Sun Dec 04, 2011 2:30 am

The warwagon eased its way out of the charred remains of the Angeles National Forest and slowly approached the rubble-strewn streets of Pasadena. The driver scanned his detection screens through narrowed eyes. Nothing close, but something – or a lot of somethings – was putting out a healthy heat signature a couple of blocks up the street. Heat and motion detectors on full and all cameras operating, he slowly approached the suspect area.

Suddenly they came, spilling out of doors and windows, racing around the corners of the ruined buildings, 50 or more of them, screeching and waving clubs and knives, intent on only one thing – to catch whatever was in that vehicle, kill it and eat it. “Damn! Mutes!” he muttered, punching a button on his console. A hatch in the top of the modified van opened, and a minigun appeared, already spinning up to speed. The driver stopped, giving them a chance to bunch up, then lay a spray of lead across the mob. At more than 100 rounds per second, it took only one pass, across and back, to destroy any living thing in the path of the firestorm. Driving carefully down the street, trying to avoid the worst of the mess, he put missiles into the buildings from which the mutants had come. “Well, Tsosie, that should’ve cleaned out that nest of them.” Tsosie Acho looked up from his bed between the seats and snuffed. <More later,> he bespoke his human partner.

Kahtenny the Apache, once known as Lt. John Eagle of Seal Team Six, had found the animal his second day out of the Guadalupe Mountains of New Mexico. Following the spoor of a deer, he was surprised to find the animal down, and a wolverine feeding on a haunch. Preparing to shoot the scavenger on general principles, he heard a voice in his head, <No kill.> Kahtenny was stunned. “Wh-what?” <No kill,> the voice replied. <You feed, I wait.> For a long moment the Apache wondered if he was losing his mind, but rejected the idea. He had been told long ago that he was too neurotic to go crazy. The wolverine backed away from the deer and sat down to wait.

Kahtenny butchered out a good-sized steak and built a small fire to roast it on while he tried to puzzle out the strange occurrence. He had always been close to animals, all animals, and sometimes it seemed they were trying to tell him something, or to understand what he was saying to them. Perhaps something had happened to him, or maybe to the wolverine, to allow them to communicate. “I wonder… <You hear me?>” he tried to mindspeak. The animal raised its head, but gave no indication of understanding. <You hear me?> he tried again. This time the beast looked him in the eye and answered, <I hear.>

Kahtenny camped there for a week, learning to control his mindspeak and becoming first friendly, and then friends with the wolverine, whom he called Tsosie Acho, small warrior. When he decided to continue his journey, Tsosie accompanied him, with no question. Their first stop was at Holloman Air Base, where Kahtenny knew a cache of special ops weapons and equipment had been hidden years before. Luck was with them. He not only found the weapons, but the warwagon, a nuclear-powered armored vehicle armed with all the latest gadgets a tech-warrior could desire. It was the ultimate ATV, equpped with 4-wheel drive, a half-track that could be raised and lowered as needed, and amphibious capability. Stuffing it with surveillance and demolition gear, and a 3-year’s supply of arms and ammo, they headed for Los Angeles in style.

Now they were in a dozen miles of their destination. But how to find those for whom he sought? Looking ahead, he saw a rocky escarpment, apparently forced up by a recent earthquake. Driving along the base of the cliff, he spotted a hole leading down into the rock. He stopped just beyond rifle-shot, and opened a vent in the passenger door. <Go check for danger,> he told Tsosie.
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Re: A STRANGER APPROACHES

Post  Kahtenny on Mon Dec 05, 2011 12:48 am

The wolverine slipped out through the vent and disappeared behind a nearby rock. Even knowing where he was, it was almost impossible for Kahtenny to follow his path through the rubble. Finally he spotted the animal sniffing around the opening, and smiled as it slipped into the hole. Soon Tsosie bespoke him - <Empty.> Well, that was good. He’d half anticipated another pack of mutants. <Anybody been there?> Kahtenny asked. He could almost hear the impatience in the wolverine’s thought as it replied, <No. Empty.> His lips twitched in the nearest he’d come to a smile in a good while. The devastation he had seen on his cross-country trip had burned the humor right out of him.

He eased the warwagon up to the mouth of the cave, for such it turned out to be, and parked across the opening, effectively blocking it. He set the mini-gun’s motion sensor controls to “detect, acquire target, eliminate,” on the vehicle’s three open sides. Sliding out the driver’s door, he grabbed an emergency bag and joined Tsosie in the cave. Digging out a flashlight, he shone it back into the darkness. The passage seemed to go on forever. “Well, let’s take a look.” The wolverine, understanding the tone, if not the words, snorted a bit of dust out of his nose and started along the passage, which seemed to have a slight downward slope. Soon they came to a stream of water issuing from a crevice in the rock and flowing along one side of the passage. It was joined by another, and then another, till it took on the proportions of a healthy creek. It might even be called a small river in some parts of the country. Tsosie sniffed, then lapped the water. <Good.>

<Wait here.> Kahtenny left the animal on guard and headed back to the warwagon. Lowering the treads, he backed up the short steep incline and into the cave, stopping about a hundred yards from the opening. Taking a lump of C7 and a handful of detonators, he went back to the opening and carefully placed the explosive, a small lump here, a larger one there, studying the cracks in the rock to determine where he could get the most effect from the least amount of C7… the most buck for his bang. Setting the radio controlled detonators, he armed each one, then retreated to the warwagon and, standing behind it, pushed the button. “Crrump!” The sound was no more than an automobile backfire, almost drowned out by the sound of falling rock. When the dust settled, he went back for a look. No daylight showing. Good. All that would show from the outside was a natural-looking rockfall, but it was not so deep that he couldn’t blast out with a couple of missiles if he needed to.

Returning to the wagon, he slipped a pair of Springfield Armory model 1911 automatics into his leg holsters, buckled on his beloved Colt revolving shotgun pistol, strapped an LED lamp on his head, and slung an AR-15 over his shoulder. On a hunch, he reached into the back and pulled out a dive bag. Taking a plastic sign from a side pocket in the door, he hung in from the driver’s window. “Deadly! Do not touch!” “Peligro! No toca!” He closed the door and touched a button on his remote pad, arming the high voltage barrier. Anyone touching the vehicle without disarming it would now suffer a quick but quite painful death. Soon he was reunited with Tsosie, and they made their way deeper into the cave.

The Apache stayed on the lookout for any man-made artifacts, but nothing indicated that anyone or anything had ever used the cave. A number of passages branched off, but the pair stayed with the stream. Maybe later they would check out the side paths. After trudging about eight miles Kahtenny stopped for lunch. Tsosie ambled over to the creek for a drink, but suddenly plunged his paw into the water and flipped something shiny back over his shoulder. A fish. It landed in front of Kahtenny, who set his foot on it to hold it down. “What we got here? A goldfish?! A koi! I’ll be damned!” Tsosie could feel his partner’s excitement as he hurried over to claim his prize. <What?> he asked. <That is people fish. Where fish is, people are.> Unconcerned, the wolverine began to eat. <Eat now. Find people later.> For the umpteenth time, Kahtenny wondered just how intelligent Tsosie really was, and how he had gotten that way.

Back on the move, they covered another couple of miles when the cavern suddenly ended, pinching down to a passage about ten feet in diameter through which the stream flowed, filling the hole. Kahtenny stripped to trunks and tested the water with a foot, then pulled a wet suit out of his dive bag and slipped it on. He tied a rope off to a spur of rock, fastened on his dive helmet with rebreather pack, and stepped off into the water. <You stay. I go look, come back.> Gliding feet first, keeping a loose hold on the rope, he let the current carry him down into the passage. There appeared to be no increase in speed; that was a good thing, since he could swim back against the current with no difficulty. Coming to the end of his rope, he held there for a moment, shutting off his helmet light and looking down stream. Was that a glow in the water? He released the rope and let the current take him on down, gently kicking his fins to slow his speed. Yes! He saw light ahead, and the ceiling began to rise above the water’s surface.

Holding the side wall, he peered out into the chamber. The light, though hidden and dim, was bright enough to show the room was empty. He spotted a door on the far side of the room. That was good enough for him. Door equals people. Submerging silently, he quickly finned his way back upstream to find Tsosie and his gear. Tucking everything into his dive bag, he left room for the wolverine. He did his best to give a mental picture of what would happen, but felt the doubt in Tsosie’s mind. Walking back to the second bend in the passage, he bespoke, <This far. No more.> The beast was unresponsive until they returned to the end of the cavern, then reluctantly assented and crawled into the bag. Kahtenny cracked a small tank of oxygen and sealed the waterproof seams. Knowing now where he was going, he made short work of the swim, emerging silently and coming out of the water near a cluster of rocks. Looking around, he was struck by a strange sensation. This was a holy place. He had never seen one just like this, no altar, no figures, no candles, but big medicine, nonetheless. And something about the atmosphere was familiar....

Opening the dive bag, he stood back to let the wolverine crawl out with a snort of irritation. Quickly he changed his clothing, leaving the dive bag and his rifle hidden among the rocks. He cracked open the door, peering down the – hall? tunnel? – while Tsosie poked his nose into the crack below. Nobody. Nobody close, anyhow. They eased their way through the door, closing it silently behind them. Kahtenny tried the knob, unpleasantly surprised to find it locked. Well, that settled it. Couldn’t go back, so they’d might as well find somebody. Moving quietly, he strode down the – tunnel – keeping an eye out for unfriendlies. Turning a corner, he nearly walked head-on into a young man. If it had cost him his life, he would still have said it. There was just no stopping it, short of cutting out his tongue. Raising his right hand in the peace sign, he said with a straight face, “Take me to your leader.”


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Re: A STRANGER APPROACHES

Post  Prince on Tue Dec 06, 2011 2:14 am

Normally quiet and somber Medic Stephen Reese couldn't help it. He began to laugh. "Um... yeah... sure thing, ET. I'm on it. Right this way." Taking out his walkie talkie, he asked, still laughing, "Hey, KC. You got a line on the boss? Somebody's asking for an audience."

"Who's asking?" a young sounding female replied.

"Does the alien have a name?" Reese asked the newcomer facetiously.
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Re: A STRANGER APPROACHES

Post  Kahtenny on Tue Dec 06, 2011 2:32 am

"Eagle. John Eagle," he replied. "I've come a long way looking for you people." He cautioned the wolverine, <Relax. He's friendly.>
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Re: A STRANGER APPROACHES

Post  Prince on Tue Dec 06, 2011 2:40 am

Reese nodded. "Tell them his name is 'John Eagle'," he said into the walkie talkie.

Almost before he could reholster the devise, Min arrived in the tunnel. "You found us!" he blurted gleefully. "I knew you'd survive it!!"
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Re: A STRANGER APPROACHES

Post  Kahtenny on Tue Dec 06, 2011 2:54 am

For a long moment, Kahtenny could only stare, flabbergasted at seeing his old friend. "Min? You're in charge here? Well, I'm a son of a...." He grabbed Min in a bear hug and lifted him off the floor, then set him down with a slight frown. "The others? They all right?"

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Re: A STRANGER APPROACHES

Post  Prince on Tue Dec 06, 2011 3:13 am

Min laughed, returning the hug gratefully. "I'm one of the big shots, but no, Uncle is still the one we all report to. He still does the job better than the rest of us, I'm afraid." He gestured for his old friend to follow him. "And we're all still fine. Busy, but good."

Reese went silently back to his own work, seeing the two men comfortable in one another's company, thinking how good it was to find an old friend in these difficult times with so many lost. Maybe there was hope his own were still out there yet...
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Re: A STRANGER APPROACHES

Post  Kahtenny on Tue Dec 06, 2011 3:20 am

Bulking large beside the more slightly built vampire, Kahtenny accompanied him, signaling Tsosie to follow. <Relax. Friends.> "What is this place?" he asked. "And where is it? I must've come in the back way."

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Re: A STRANGER APPROACHES

Post  Prince on Tue Dec 06, 2011 3:40 am

"This is the Colony. It runs under what used to be DI's LA offices and continues beneath the city, exiting at each of our satellite buildings. They're all connected by tunnels, with everything we need for far more survivors than we've found so far to continue. We built multiple living quarters, offices, hydroponic farms and such between them. We've got basically three floors of carefully built structures, some areas still earthen but with strong supports, then one of strictly earthen catacombs with doors leading to a dug out to create a space of flowing rivers and high arched mountains. Uncle insisted on that for when Nait came home. Plus a chapel, of course. Uncle commissioned it's construction when the military started focusing more on the Nova bombs. Instant holocost, without all the residue. No reason for a country not to launch if it won't stay in the atmosphere, they said. Nevermind that the emp blasts would absolutely destroy the foundations of every city, and every living it touches would meet their end by burning or mutation. Hey, what's a little mutation among friends, right?" Min sighed, pausing in his tirade. "Anyway... I really am glad you made it. You came in through Nait's space, it looks like. The incline leading up to the more inhabited spaces. We're in the uppermost level. I'll show you the way."
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Re: A STRANGER APPROACHES

Post  Kahtenny on Tue Dec 06, 2011 4:01 am

"Hunh. Big operation." Silently, then, he accompanied Min through the tunnels, the wolverine trailing just behind. Considering Min's words, he wondered what the security situation was. With multiple entrances, they'd have to keep a strong watch against mutants, to say nothing of ordinary scavengers and thugs. Something to discuss with Radu, after he'd got settled in. He smiled at the thought of meeting Radu again, and all the rest. Talk about coincidence... walking right into their layout as if he'd known just where it was. Hunh.
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Re: A STRANGER APPROACHES

Post  Prince on Tue Dec 06, 2011 7:07 pm

"Sometimes it seems too big," Min admitted. "But what were our choices? So few prepared. So few survived. All of humankind lost. Well, almost all of it." He shrugged it off. "I know there are other places out there. At least, I hope there are. And I'm grateful to Uncle for his foresight in having this built, even when the rest of us thought him mad for it. But I still often wish it hadn't been needed."
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Re: A STRANGER APPROACHES

Post  Kahtenny on Wed Dec 07, 2011 2:31 am

Kahtenny nodded. "Woulda been nice. But you know what they say: 'Wish in one hand....' Considering what I've seen topside, I'm damn glad it's here. There's a few other places, from what I've picked up, but they're few and far between. I left a couple hundred tribesmen back in the mountains, about 75 fighting men. Thought about bringing them up here, but I think they're better off where they are."
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Re: A STRANGER APPROACHES

Post  Naitachel on Wed Dec 07, 2011 8:00 pm

Naitachel had settled in the main room on a stool with a book in hand and iPod's earphones in his ears, knowing that Radu was certain to be busy for some time with the security concerns going on. As he himself was of little use for such, he thought to indulge in such pleasantries; after all, a few of his favorite authors had produced things since his isolation, before the bombs hit. The Seraph wanted to discuss with his mate taking up some kind of chores in the colony, and see what he thought. Working with animals sounded like a good activity...

Feeling others enter the room, Naitachel looked up from his book with a smile--and his eyes widened as he saw Min leading a familiar giant in. He dropped his book on the table, beaming brightly with joy and surprise. "John Eagle?" he asked, awed, rising to his feet and losing his earphones to follow his book. "Heavens! Thank God--you made it!"
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Re: A STRANGER APPROACHES

Post  Kahtenny on Thu Dec 08, 2011 1:09 am

Kahtenny strode forward, extending his hand with a grin. "How, Nait. Yeah, made it. See you did, too. Was tryin' to find you when the bottom dropped out." Well, that answered one question; now he knew why that Holy Place had such a familiar feel. "Where did you finally make contact?"

Tsosie edged forward to get acquainted with this new creature. It had a totally unknown scent, and a strong mind, but he felt no unease around it. His partner was relaxed and happy to see it, so it qualified as friend, for the moment, anyhow.
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Re: A STRANGER APPROACHES

Post  Naitachel on Thu Dec 08, 2011 1:39 am

Naitachel shook Kahtenny's hand, then laughed and gave him a hug as well, if brief in consideration of the man's comfort. "My mission, I hate to say, went wrong--a failure in truth. I was pinned to a wall at a little run-down church somewhere, yet even I cannot tell you where now. Some cult had called on themselves a demon, but the creature was too wiley for myself, and though I drove it into hiding, they thought I made a great emblem on their wall." The Seraph made a face, a grimace. "Beyond that, all is in pieces, as I was wavering in consciousness until Radu and the family found me there and came to my aid."

Looking down at the wolverine with a smile, Naitachel bent to one knee and offered his hand for sniffing. "And who is this? I see you have found a companion-beast. However did you acquire such? Over time, it has become so very rare over the years, until I thought I might never see another such relationship between man and beast again..."
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Re: A STRANGER APPROACHES

Post  Kahtenny on Thu Dec 08, 2011 1:48 am

The Apache shrugged. "Found him eatin' a fresh-killed deer, an' managed to talk him out of part of it. Funny, I never mind-talked to an animal before. People either, for that matter. Maybe it's him, not me... maybe the plague made him smarter... I don't know." He absently reached down and scratched the wolverine's ears. "When I moved out he tagged along, and we've been workin' together ever since."

He looked around. "Where's the rest of the folks?"

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Re: A STRANGER APPROACHES

Post  Naitachel on Thu Dec 08, 2011 2:40 am

"Some abilities develop over time, or only if you are aware of their possibilities. Or mayhaps it is from changes in one or both of you... It would be hard to say without testing to see if you can hear others as well, or just him. Would you mind if I test you?" the Seraph asked warmly, straightening back to his feet. "It should be quite painless..."

Naitachel turned and settled back on his stool, shaking out his robes before sitting so as to be more comfortable with wings and tail. He hadn't worn these old robes before the bombs fell, but it was nice to be in loose and comfortable--and more concealing--clothing.

"I believe Radu and Tommen are still seeing to some security issue. Mircea is around here, somewhere, however, as are Vlad and Soraya. Michael is somewhere among the colonists, and the twins are jumping between them and here. I believe Matty and Brianna are in their own rooms or also wandering the colony. Min is right here. At times, it is difficult to pinpoint family when I am still confused by the layout of this place myself, though I am pretty sure all but Tommen and Radu are near." Nait tilted his head to one side like a bird, trying to figure out where everyone was, then shook his head and shrugged in his dismay. "My pardon. I am not even certain about up or down in here half the time, and their speed does not help!"
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Re: A STRANGER APPROACHES

Post  Kahtenny on Thu Dec 08, 2011 3:56 pm

Nait wrote:"Some abilities develop over time, or only if you are aware of their possibilities. Or mayhaps it is from changes in one or both of you... It would be hard to say without testing to see if you can hear others as well, or just him. Would you mind if I test you?" the Seraph asked warmly, straightening back to his feet. "It should be quite painless..."
Kahtenny smiled. Naitachel was as impetuous as ever. "Don't mind, but could I maybe find a place to sleep first, and bring the rest of my gear in? Didn't want to unload the furniture till I found out if I was welcome." He raised his head, nostrils dilating. "Do I smell coffee?"
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Re: A STRANGER APPROACHES

Post  Prince on Fri Dec 09, 2011 2:57 am

"Would uncle keep a hold and not have tea and coffee for us?" Min smiled. "So, how exactly did you find us? Last I remember, you weren't anywhere near Los Angeles." He went to pour his friend a cup before adding, "You've a place here with us, as always. In fact, I suspect your skills would be very welcomed right now. I'm afraid we've got a bit of a security problem."
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Re: A STRANGER APPROACHES

Post  Kahtenny on Sat Dec 10, 2011 12:12 am

Minhea wrote:"Would uncle keep a hold and not have tea and coffee for us?" Min smiled. "So, how exactly did you find us? Last I remember, you weren't anywhere near Los Angeles."
"I was back with the tribe," Kahtenny replied. "After the worst was over and people started wanderin' through, we were busy holdin' off the scavengers and bandits. Every now and then we'd hear a rumor of someplace that had some law and order, most of them dictatorships. But once in a while we'd hear of a place in California where people could get help and shelter. I set out lookin', and here I am."
He went to pour his friend a cup before adding, "You've a place here with us, as always. In fact, I suspect your skills would be very welcomed right now. I'm afraid we've got a bit of a security problem."
Kahtenny's only reaction was a blink and a nod. "Glad to do what I can. Brought a few toys with me that might help. That's good coffee."
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Re: A STRANGER APPROACHES

Post  Prince Children on Sat Dec 10, 2011 1:19 am

"John Eagle!" a delighted little voice came from behind Kahtenny. The man would barely have time to react before a blur of a six-year-old girl barreled into him, squealing happily.

"I told them you'd find us!" Brianna grinned, hugging him tightly, her large bright blue eyes looking up at him.
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Re: A STRANGER APPROACHES

Post  Naitachel on Sat Dec 10, 2011 1:36 am

Naitachel chuckled as Brianna came charging into the room to hug the large man, and shifted his robes so he might sit on his stool comfortably again, reaching out to switch off his iPod and set a bookmark in his book. "You are always welcome with us, John, regardless. I am certain the guest room... Heavens, I wonder if we need to take off the footboard of the bed there for you," the Seraph mused as the thought hit him suddenly. "Well, easy enough to solve, I imagine. You might stay with us here, rather than the colonists--unless you would prefer otherwise? I am sure they have space available as well. As for testing your telepathy--as you said, there is plenty of time once you have rested and settled in. You... will be staying, yes? Or do the tribes need you again soon?"

While he understood the man had obligations to his kin and clan, so to speak, the Seraph still hoped Kahtenny would be staying with them a while again. It had been a long time, and he was considered part of the family.
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Re: A STRANGER APPROACHES

Post  Kahtenny on Sat Dec 10, 2011 1:39 am

"Hey, easy, kid, don't spill my coffee!" Brown eyes, crinkling at the corners with good humor, looked down into blue ones. He set the cup down and lifted her high, then gave her a hug before setting her on her feet. "Yep, I found you. Brought you another friend, too." He bespoke the wolverine, <Come, meet friend. Cub.> Tsosie stood with a grunt and ambled over, his rolling gait eliciting a giggle from Brianna. He sniffed her legs, then dropped his snout into her palm. "This is Tsosie Acho, Tsosie for short. We travel together."
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Re: A STRANGER APPROACHES

Post  Kahtenny on Sat Dec 10, 2011 1:50 am

Naitachel wrote: "You are always welcome with us, John, regardless. You might stay with us here, rather than the colonists--unless you would prefer otherwise? I am sure they have space available as well. As for testing your telepathy--as you said, there is plenty of time once you have rested and settled in. You... will be staying, yes? Or do the tribes need you again soon?"
The Apache's lips twitched at Naitachel's verbosity. He had always been a talker. "I'll be staying, yes. Might be in and out once in a while, but not for long. I hope. I'd as soon stay with the family, if Radu is willing. We've got some catching up to do." He retrieved his coffee cup and took another sip.
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Re: A STRANGER APPROACHES

Post  Prince Children on Sat Dec 10, 2011 1:59 am

Brianna laughed heartily as John Eagle lifted her and hugged her, returning the embrace with much enthusiasm. She had always liked him. He was sometimes a little strange, and he was certainly a man of few words in general, but he always had a few kind things to say and a way of making her laugh by acting cross and grumpy when, deep down, she knew he was just a big teddy bear.

"Oooh, he's not scared of me," the girl whispered, almost awed. She remained as still as possible while he sniffed her hand, afraid to break whatever spell this was. She had never been able to have any pets, as animals were usually afraid of her, being what she was. "Nice to meet you Tsosie."

She was rather oblivious to the more business-like talk going on between Naitachel and John Eagle, other than noting the fact that he'd said he preferred staying with them. That suited Brianna just fine.
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