Salvar 17: Consecration

“It is my hope that this place will become more than a place you stayed. I truly wish this to become a home for those who live here and that the time will come that this will only be the first of many places where our peoples live side by side. To meet, to connect with and to understand people other than humankind has long been a dream for humanity. This place represents the first concrete step in making this dream a reality.”

Speech by Donald Ray, the Director of Prometheus Corporation At the opening of Leotaur POW Camp #1 AKA Leotaur Camp

* * *

The Director looked around the Leotaur Camp after the speech and ribbon cutting. The place was still spartan, but he could see where homey touches had been added here and there. The speech had been attended by a few of the Leotaurs, and it was his first chance to see one up close. They were a beautiful people, both at rest and in motion. They were also massive. The leader of them was nearly eight feet of muscle and power and probably weigh at least 500 pounds. My party consisted of Tony, Rodolfo, Angelia, and I. We were set next to eat lunch at the Community Center (which someone had renamed with a handmade sign the Centaur Center.) Rodolfo was busy chatting with one of the Leotaur females in the Leotaur language. The language’s cadence reminded him vaguely of Gaelic, but as he spoke neither language, he had no idea if there was any actual correlation.  Tony was in an intense conversation with the Leotaur leader that had him looking thoughtful.

Angelia leaned over and said, “The Leotaurs are making connections. This is better than I thought.”

“Yes. I had hoped for something like this eventually, but this is already happening. My dear, this may just be awesome.”

Angelia looked sharply at him. Awesome was a word that he saved for special occasions when he saw big things changing in a good direction. Once again she wished she could see what was going through his mind. Long ago he had promised her that they could change the world together and he had fulfilled that promise many times over.

They entered the community center an the first thing he noticed was the lack of chairs. There were folding chairs along the walls, but the Leotaurs obviously could not use them. The human staff grabbed their chairs on the way in, and most likely put them back on their way out. The tables were spaced out a bit more than was usual to accommodate the Leotaur’s long lower torso. A central table had obviously been prepared in advance with chairs nameplates in appropriate places. The Director helped Angelia to her seat and then took his. The Leotaurs sat down with all their legs folded under them.

The Director turned to the camp director and asked. “Is Leotaur food compatible with Human digestion?”

Jeff chuckled, “More than human food is with Leotaur tastes. The have more sensitive taste ans smell than we do, so their food tends to be a bit bland, but I find that judicious use of ketchup and steak sauce can make up for it. It’s funny that even though the’re form another world, the eat a lot of the same things we do and they have taken a real liking to potatoes and fries.”

The Director’s party all ordered a human portion of the Leotaur course. (The human portion is a plate, while the Leotaur portion is a platter.) When the food arrived, the Leotaurs sang a short but solemn song before eating.

Jeff noted, “That seems to be the Leotaur equivalent of saying grace. Not all of the Leotaurs do so, but Salvar always does.”

Angelia gasped when the Leotaur leader took out a pair of simpler prosthetics with a fork and a spoon on them … and then casually took off his hand. She looked around the room and became aware that all the large gloves that the Leotaurs wore were actually prosthetics for where they had had their hands cut off. She tried to keep herself calm, but she could not keep the tears from flowing. Her empathy for all the pain and suffering as well as finding the courage to begin again just overwhelmed her.

The Director leaned over, “Are you OK?”

“I finally understand why we must fight and why we must win this war. I need to cry for a bit, but I’m OK.”

The meal went on and the Director learned the names of the four Leotaurs at his table. That Salvar had three of the few females in his household was a matter that made the Director’s curiosity itch, but years of training by Angelia was able to restrain it. Salvar and Favla were obviously talented and already working for him with ties to his leadership group. This merited more attention from him, as it could accelerate a number of his plans greatly. He just needed a way to get them more involved as soon as possible.

When the dishes were cleared, Tony spoke softly to Salvar. “Now would be a good time.”

Salvar stood and moved a little ways away, and then turned toward the Director. He prostrated himself, laying with his face on the ground, “Dee-rect -ter, will you hear what I have to say?”

The Director was caught completely off guard by them. Angelia prodded him and he said, “Yes, of course.”

Salvar raised his upper torso off the ground. “The Leotaur here have been made family by our pain together. We have named us the Leotaurs of the Human Family. This was not done easy. Our own people betrayed and cut us apart, while your people rescued and healed us. We have decided to join our walk with yours and serve your plans. Further I promise myself to do everything I know for you to help in this war. I was once called the Voice of Saving and served as the great war-leader and general of the Leotaur. I now give all of my strength and mind to you, and the Leotaurs of the Human Family will also give all to you.”  Salvar then abased himself once more.

The Director was thinking furiously. This changed a lot. But he had to stop to address the Leotaur before him. “Get up Salvar. I accept you as champion and war leader. I accept your people as my own people. I am dedicated to bringing this war to an end, and you will be a crucial … important part of that. Will you be my strength and stand beside me until peace … is between our peoples?”

Salvar rose to his feet, “You have my promise before the One Speaker.” The room erupted in cheers and stomping from the Leotaurs and applause from the human staff.

* * *

The Director boarded the helicopter for the ride home. He had approved Salvar adding more Leotaurs to the security force and had watched him run through the weapons course twice. He was an amazing warrior and he needed to find him a place in the leadership quickly. He found out from Tony that he had already solved the problem of the exploding control rooms, which would mean more intact prisoners and technology. He has the potential to change so much, but I can’t just hand him power and authority without causing a huge backlash. Where can I place him that will let him earn it himself. The Director sat up and laughed to himself. Suddenly all the pieces fell into place. The sound dampeners were working as the helicopter took off and headed home. The director called up a vid-link on his tablet and waited until it was answered. “Herman I need you to build a specialized battlesuit for someone.”

* * *

Salvar watched the king of the under-mountain realm leave in his flying mechanism. The consecration had gone well and the king had accepted both him and the clan. Tomorrow he would induct both Giggles and Bulgur as reeves, That would free him to serve as the king’s war-leader. The only problem with being the king’s war-leader is that it would take him away from Favla’s side and this was not good. She was an amazing doe, but she was still fragile. For that matter, so was everyone in the entire clan, himself included.

He walked up beside his mate and she leaned into him. “Gracious doe, things have been happening so fast that I have not been able to consult with you as I would like. Although it is late, I wish to hear any wisdom my mate has for me.”

“Noble stag, to deal with a urgent matters is why we have leaders instead of just councils. We do need to set up a council as well.”

“I had not thought that far ahead. I am glad that I have such a capable doe by my side, for I make far too many mistakes on my own. Are there other matters that we should attend to as clan leaders.”

Favla laughed and then looked down. I was relieved when I realized that she looked embarrassed rather than fearful. “My mighty stag, I take it that you have not worked closely with a clan council before. The workings of councils was much of what my family did. There are a multitude of things that need to be done and recorded.”

“My gracious doe, could I beg your assistance in these things as I have no knowledge in such matters? Perhaps your cousin Sadra might help as well?”

“I will consider it noble stag.”

“Is there anything that this humble stag can do for the beautiful and accomplished doe that stands before him?”

Her attempt to look proud and aloof was broken by a giggle. “At least you have a silver tongue to persuade the council with. Do you have anyone whom you would see in the council?”

“Tebdur, Darca and Favla are the only ones that come to mind, and perhaps I am a bit biased on that last one.”

“My mighty stag, you are forgiven, you do not need to continue to flatter me.”

“My gracious doe, I truly believe that you would be an asset to the council with your knowledge of other tongues, your skill as a scribe and association with the Chaos-Kin. My only hesitation is that as your mate, I am not the appropriate one to nominate you.”

“You, mighty stag, will set my thoughts with the birds if I am not careful. Was there anything else noble stag?”

Salvar sighed, “Gracious doe, as I have embarked upon the path of the war-leader again, there will be times in which I will be temporarily parted from you. I am worried that you may feel betrayed by this.”

“My noble stag, If it were just you and I and your departure would leave me alone again, it might be too much for me to bear. But, besides becoming my mate and companion, you have given me kin, clan, and home once more. I will miss you terribly because you are my mate and my love, but my family and clan will keep the screamer form entrapping my mind.”

Salvar’s eyes misted over as this was the first time she had declared her love for him. Then he realized that he had never declared his love for her and felt immediately remorseful. “My dear gracious doe, how could I be so remiss as to not declare my deep and abiding love for you. You have given me such joy, comfort and peace as I have not felt since before I went off to war after the desecration by the Winged-Kin. You have stirred in me an attraction such as no doe have ever done. I wish to declare that i will love you forever, but I dare not lest I anger the One Voice. There is so much I wish to do and provide for you, but I can only start with my abiding affection.”

“You words are a true song to my ears, mighty stag. Come, let us return to our home, lest I behave inappropriately in public.”

* * *

Angelia accompanied the Director back to his office. Once the door had shut, she confronted him. “Don, did you know?”

“I had hints from reports, but never expected something like that, Angel.”

“They have savants among them. Salvar is definitely one and I’m pretty sure his mate, Favla is one as well. I need to get them counselors at once. Hell, I need to get the whole camp counselors, but where do you find counselors for Leotaurs?”

“The same place you find counselors for anyone. You find people who care and are willing to be a part of their lives and you teach them from there. Eventually you will find counselors among them, but that will take more time than we have now. When you can’t do what you want to, then you settle for what works until you can do things right.”

“What about the other aliens?”

“They’re probably in as bad a shape physically and mentally as the Leotaurs are.”

“I’ll need to get people in position as soon as possible. I also need you to get as many prisoners to us as you can. We don’t need than to be abused by humans as well.”

‘What about the soldiers we capture that weren’t maimed by their own people?”

“Honestly, I don’t know yet. We will have to get people to look into that kind of stuff and report on it before I know what to do.”

“What does your gut tell you?”

“Right now, it wants to string them up by their eyeballs, but I’m angry right now, so I’m not listening to it.”

He laughed, “I do think that bringing people from other races into the fold may be a key to winning the war, but I’m pretty sure that this is going to take any number of approaches. Just what we needed, my dear, a big complicated new project for our spare time.”

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Salvar 16: Clan

 Camp log
Director Jeff Morgan
Leotaur POW Camp #1

Everything is going well. We are setting everything up for the official opening tomorrow. The houses are all changing from empty rooms to homes with prodding from Tessa. She loves taking the Leotaurs on shopping trips. If it wasn’t for the language barrier there would be no stopping her. The Leotaurs seem to love working as we continue to build the camp. Several have shown aptitude in construction and farming and there seem to be a fair number of cooks among the lady Leotaurs. Even Salvar of all people turned out to be a baker. We are finding jobs for all of them and this threatens to become a real town given time.

* * *

It seems the camp will be consecrated tomorrow. I could not figure out what the Chaos-Kin were planning for the longest time, not because they were trying to hide it, but because I still do not understand the tongue of the Chaos-Kin well enough. They were talking about “the official opening” every day, but I thought they were going to set up a gate or some such. I wonder what the Chaos-Kin rituals are like. I have seen rituals from many of the seven peoples along my path, but if my time serving the Chaos-Kin has taught me anything, it is that I should expect to be surprised.

A joy has been added to my path in that Jeff the guard has introduced me to Chaos-Kin who follow the path of the bow. A number of them came to visit the camp and they showed me their bows. Some were simple and familiar, while others were complex mechanisms as would be expected from the Chaos-Kin. They said that the bows that they brought were not suited to my size and strength. They promised to talk to one of their artificers or “in-jin-ears” whom will try to make a proper bow for me.

Their bows are used like their casters; a stationary warrior fires in a way to gain accuracy at great range. The were interested in the Fleet Ones way of archery and I was able to set up a short course of targets for them. With a borrowed bow I made four runs, but was not able to hit more than three targets on my best run. I turns out that some nations of the Chaos-Kin have a similar form of archery. The Chaos-Kin had long ago domesticated some of the herd beasts of the plains, and would ride them while shooting their bows. Only the Challenging-Kin have ever done something similar.

Alas, it seems that for each joy that is found along the path that a challenge must also appear. Once I had joined my path with Favla I could not imagine anything but joy in being in my home, but the One Voice has seen fit to strip away another layer of my arrogance. Each of the houses built by the Chaos Kin have four dwelling chambers. When Favla insisted to Sadra that she should come and live with us, I was overjoyed that our family had increased under our roof, but her friend Giggles came with her and since then my troubles have increased.

Giggles flirts constantly with every stag in sight, which is but a few sharp pebbles along the path. But she also flirts with the doe and even the Chaos-Kin! This disturbs me on levels I was not even aware of before. The Chaos-Kin are our masters and I was afraid such unseemly behavior might anger them, but I talked with Jeff the guard and he assured me that it did not particularly bother them. Thus I am only left with grumbling in my discontent … and I suspect that this only encourages her. I am at a loss for what to do so I will talk to Sadra this evening about her friend.

Sadra has apprenticed herself to Favla and I am told that is is a quite diligent student and assistant. Despite all of the tragedies on her path, she is showing herself to be quite the gracious and talented doe. It is a crime against the One Voice that she has been treated so badly for so long. Perhaps I can learn from her the secret of dealing with Giggles before the doe robs me of my sanity. I must tread with great caution lest I rob this house of the peace and joy that is has acquired.

When we were preparing to go to go the the Center for the evening meal, I saw a chance and approached Sadra. “Gentle doe, might I have a word with you?”

“I am at your service mighty stag.”

Her speech was overly polite, which seemed out of place. “I wish to speak to you of your friend.”

“Has something happened to her, mighty stag? Has she caused trouble again?” She dropped to the ground and seemed prepared to abase herself. “If there is …”

I interrupted her pleas before they could go any farther. “Calm yourself, gracious doe! Nothing has happened to her, and although she is quite troublesome, she is not in trouble.” I had to back a few steps down my path. She was obviously as fiercely loyal to her friend as her friend was to her. “Gentle doe, You are of my mate’s clan and therefore kin by marriage. You do not need to be so formal with me.”

“But mighty stag, you stand in judgement over us.”

“Gentle doe, I am but a reeve in the service of the Chaos-Kin. I have only the duty to find if any Fleet One might be a danger to out village. Although your friend may vex me, she is not a threat.”

“But I was stilled and we each had a hand removed because we were said to be a threat. We have also had to flee for our lives from a city more than once because we were considered a threat. If a stag is able to judge whether we are a threat, then that stag definitely stands in judgement over us.”

It seems that Giggles was not the only doe that could vex me. “It is neither my intention nor my place to stand in judgement over you. You have been accepted as a part of this community, and therefore it is my duty to defend you, at the cost of my life if necessary.”

“Thus is the duty of all reeves, and yet I have had many harass and attack me and none defend me.”

Her words left me speechless. Her reasoning could not be assailed because it was from the path she had trod. I now realized that although I had come to ask her to chastise her friend, I was the one who was chastised. “Gracious doe, you have given me much to think upon. If you will excuse me, perhaps we may finish this conversation at a later time.” I helped her to her feet and headed to the Center. I did not join the others in the main hall, but went to my “offise” contemplate what I had heard. All of the Fleet Ones at this camp had been treated badly by leaders of the Fleet Ones, myself included. I now found myself in the position of leader, no matter how much I tried to deny it.

Now that I thought about how to solve the situation, I realized that my uncle the Listener would have thumped my head for my stubbornness. Since my fall from from the position of war leader and general of the Fleet Ones, I had not forgiven myself for my failure. Far worse than the loss of my hands or title, I blamed myself for failing to stop my people from entering this blasphemous war.

I went willingly to die because I found it a fitting punishment for my failure. When I was spared by the One Voice, I did not truly accept my pardon. Then I found myself among Fleet Ones that had been betrayed, maimed, abandoned and captured by a strange people. They needed a leader to lead them through these trials, but I hid from the mantle. These poor stags and does followed me anyway, even as I fled. It was finally time to stop running and be the leader that the Fleet Ones needed.

 * * *

All of the Fleet Ones were gathered in the Center’s great hall for the evening meal, along with a number of the Chaos-Kin. Jeff and Tessha had even eaten at the same table with us. Giggles was toying with Tessha and Tessha seemed to be enjoying it in a way that made my earlier grumblings seem silly. I turned to my gracious mate who had put up with so much, “Favla, I need to address the Fleet Ones. Could you translate for the Chaos-Kin?”

“Of course noble stag.” She looked puzzled, which could only be expected as she had no idea what I was about to do.

I walked to one end of the hall. “FLEET ONES, WILL YOU HEAR WHAT I HAVE TO SAY?” The hall quieted and I continued in a normal voice, “Tomorrow, the Chaos-Kin will consecrate our village ‘The Camp.’ By our own traditions, It is always a clan that consecrates a village. The Fleet Ones here have all been betrayed by our people’s leaders and had our homes, our lives, our hands and our progeny taken from us. We have been taken in by the Chaos-Kin, and they have treated us far better than our own have. I have a bold proposal for these noble stags and gentle doe here. I would propose that we should be a clan based not upon blood, but upon the suffering that we have shared. I would further propose that we would be the clan of the Chaos-Kin and forever bind our fates to those who rescued us when our own betrayed us. What do you say?”

There was silence for a moment, and then the room erupted. All the Fleet-Ones cheered and stomped their feet. I was astounded! I was expecting discussion and debate, but their overwhelming approval showed that I was headed on the right path. I returned to my seat feeling humbled by their trust.

Tebdur rose and walked to the end of the hall. “Fleet Ones, will you hear what I have to say.” The room silenced once again for the old stag. “I have traveled many paths in the many years and seasons I have seen. In all of that time I have never seen a mighty stag to equal our Salvar! I say that we should make Salvar and his mate the leaders of our clan. What do you say!”

If anything the resulting cheering and stomping was even louder than before. I turned quickly to Favla, “Will you accept this gracious doe?”

“I am honored, mighty stag.”

I rose and addressed the hall once again. “Then kin of the Clan of the Chaos-Kin, I pledge my life, my honor and my sacred fortune to you. I will do all that is within my power to bring you prosperity and safety. This I pledge to you by the One Voice that created all!”

There was more cheering and stomping and then every stag and doe came in turn to give us their congratulations and pledge their loyalty. It was truly a festive atmosphere, and although many grumbled about it, I was secretly glad that spirits were not freely available with the consecration happening tomorrow. We returned to our home long after the sun had set. I was weary in my soul from what I had risked and despite everything turning out better than I had anticipated, it all took its toll. I flopped on the cushions ungraciously and sighed wearily.

Favla came to my side, “Are you well mighty stag?”

“I am fine, just weary. My beautiful and gracious mate, can you forgive this hardheaded stag for not understanding what you so plainly told me so many times?”

She lay beside me and snuggled up next to me although we were in the front room. “My mighty stag, stubbornness is a powerful trait that must be used with extreme caution. I have known that you were stubborn from the hour I met you, else you could not have pulled me from my nightmare. Why did you not tell me of this beforehand?”

“I did not plan this when I left this house. I realized what I needed to do when I went to my room in the Center before the meal. Once I came down, I spent the mealtime gathering my courage.”

Giggles spoke up in a scoffing tone, “The mighty general had to gather his courage for this?”

“Courage is a strange thing. It may appear easy to grasp, but it is often very slippery. To stand before the group and ask them to embrace a destiny that would bind us together in a way that could not only get me killed, but could end with them all dead as well; that courage seemed a very slippery thing to grasp indeed.”

“And yet when all is said and done, you have the power to stand in judgement over us.”

“Do you think you could do the proper job of a reeve, unlike the bullies and abusers you have known.”

“Of course!”

“You know that a real reeve must put their life on the line to protect those under their care.”

“I have done so often enough, and more than one gone against those who held that title.”

“Well enough. I have one more thing to talk to the Chaos-Kin leaders at the consecration tomorrow. My gracious mate, I think I have rested enough to retire to our quarters. Would you join me?” I stood and offered my hand to Favla and she arose with me.

Giggles was perplexed and starting to get concerned. “What are you going to talk to the Chaos-Kin about?” I turned and walked toward our living quarters as if I had not hear her. “Noble stag?”

Without turning I said, “Rest well, my clansman. Tomorrow promises to be a very busy day.” And I closed the door.

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Salvar 15: Family

This is a Report by Salvar the Security

There are forty-three Leotaurs that are healed enough to go to the Camp. Humans call us Leotaurs but we call us the Fast Ones. The Camp is good because we will have room to run and this is good for us. We will live with the humans and they will find jobs for us to walk. I hope that the tablet is writing good because I am talking and it is writing and I can not read human words yet. Jeff the guard has told me about bears, but I do not fear. I have seen bears before. I am armed and if my weapon can take down a Leotaur, it can take down a bear. The only thing that fears me is GreyCloudonFarm. He is number eighty-three. He still follows the Leotaur trail and may kill if he is not stopped. He fears me and will not act when I watch, but I can not watch him day and night. Perhaps he will attack me and I can finish him. I practice a lot and have set up a fighting trail. I will do my best to protect Fast Ones and Humans at Camp.

* * *

General Moore finished reading Salvar’s first report. As rough as his English was, it was concise and informative. “Grey” was one the first two Leotaur soldiers captured that had not been surgically crippled. A broken leg had put him in the hospital and that may have saved us from a serious mistake. He drafted orders that would require an interview process before any POWs could be transferred to a medium security facility, and then drafted another that designated Leotaur POW camp #1 a medium security facility. It would not do to have security threats during this week’s activities.

* * *

Salvar laughed as he prepared to make another pass through his combat training run. His accuracy with the sleep-shock caster was getting to the point he felt confident again. The javelins he had made were a bit more challenging. He was able to hit the target well about half the time and getting any better was a matter of getting better with his artifact hands. The javelins were nice enough, but he longed for a good bow or spring caster. His attempts to make a proper bow had met with repeated failure and his admiration for bow craftsmen continued to rise. He sprinted full out and fired the caster once at one target and threw three javelins at another. It was a good run as he had hit with the caster at twenty paces and made two solid hits on his Leotaur log target with the javelins. He was trotting over to recover his ammunition when he saw Jeff the guard waving at him.

“Welcome Jeff. Is there duty?”

“We just got [something] from General Moore. He wants you to [something] any new new Leotaurs before that are allowed to stay here. Grey is going to be sent somewhere else.”

“That is good! His staying here is a trail that would have only ended in death. Do you have a duty for me now?”

“Yes. We have two Leotaurs for you to [something].”

“What is “in-ter-hue?”

“It means to ask them questions. We want to see if they are a good fit for the Camp. They were being held elsewhere because they were not [something] when they were captured.”

He wondered who was holding them and what good that would do, but decided he had probably misunderstood something. “Do I have time to get my weapons?”

“(Shur), meet me at the (co[something]) center when you are ready.”

I still don’t know why they call it the center when it is in the north of the village, but it is the biggest building in the village. I put away my weapons and head for my “offise” room and make sure my “baj” is in place. There are two unfamiliar doe in the outer room and one of them gasps when she sees me. Two “fi-els” of paper are on my desk but I do not know enough human words to do more than look at the pictures. The only thing I notice is that they were not in good health when they were captured and time with the Chaos-Kin had improved their state noticeably. I move the human seats out of the way before calling the first doe in.

She walks in a way that is obviously meant to be sensual. I pretend not to notice. “What is your name gentle doe?”

“It is Brown Eyed Daisy mighty stag.” She tries to catch my eye and I ignore it.

“That is obviously not your true name gentle doe, but it matters little.  Whatever path that we once trod is over and we are now servants of the Chaos-Kin. Our tradition in this village is to return to the name we had as younglings as a way to start over and find a new path.”

“I was known as Giggles as a child. Even I do not remember what my proper name was.”

I let her lie pass uncontested as I do not wish pick at old wounds. I ask a number of other questions but it is clear to see that although she may be troublesome in some ways, having her in the Camp will be fine. I welcome her to the village and ask her to send the other doe in.

The other doe walks in with her eyes on her feet. She has most likely recognized me. “What is your name gentle doe?”

“I am the Spring that Blossoms, a doe of the soft path.” The soft path is the gentle name of a pleasure seller. Her shame is obvious, in contrast to her companion.

This will be more difficult as my heart is softened toward her. I need to be gentle with her without leading her astray, as my path with Favla is firm. “The paths that we once trod, whether great or humble, no longer matter as we are now all servants of the Chaos-Kin.  Our tradition in this village is to return to the name we had as younglings as a way to start over and find a new path. I have returned to the name Salvar, and my mate has returned to the name Favla.” At the mention of Favla’s name her head snapped up.  “What were you called as a youngling?”

“I was known as Sadra a few lifetimes ago.”

“Will you not return to that name and walk a new path as a servant of the Chaos-Kin? Leave behind your old life and begin a new path from now on.”

“I will take up that name once again. I would like nothing more than to leave my old paths behind.”

“What skills do you have gentle doe?”

“I have some skill as a scribe, but I am willing to work hard at any task that you would set before me noble stag.”

Her desperation was obvious, as was the fact that others had used that to abuse her. “A scribe is a rare gem. We have been blessed to have one in my mate. To have another would be a truly unexpected blessing that would make our much more clear and straight.” I asked a few more inconsequential questions and then escorted our new does to meet Darca, who would arrange to settle them in with the help of some Chaos-Kin of the way of the Mother.

As I returned to my “offise” to get the “fi-els” of paper, I could almost hear the laughter of the One as I was stripped of one more layer of the folly of my arrogance. I had once thought myself a fair and generous stag, but I had nothing to do with criminals, beggars and wanders. Now I was surrounded by them, and I was far more content than I had been in the company of the elite and powerful. I was quite fond of our little band of rogues and I would place my life on the line for them without hesitation. I was now friends with every sort I had once looked down on. I can only wonder what the One Voice had hidden on the path before me, for I suspected that he is not done with me yet.

* * *

When Favla returned from the underground kingdom, she was tired but content.

“How was your path this day gentle doe?”

“It was exciting dear noble stag. I got to match wits with one of the Swamp-Kin today. They had much more knowledge of healing that we ever knew and the Chaos-Kin are trading him favors for his knowledge.” She was in a good mood which saddened me because if the news I had went as I suspected, her friskyness would be lost. She noticed my melancholy. “Is something wrong noble stag?”

“I am not sure gentle doe. We had two doe join our village today. Jeff the guard gave me a “fi-els” for each of the doe but I cannot read enough of the words to understand them. Perhaps when you have rested some I could beg for your assistance.”

“I am not so tired that I would not do my utmost for my noble stag. Let me see one of the paper stacks.”

I handed her the suspect paper stack (that is a good definition for “fi-els.”) and she began looking it over and soon frowned. “Is something the matter gentle doe?”

“She looks familiar somehow, but I do not know from where.”

“Her youngling name is Sadra.”

Favla nearly dropped the paper stack, but managed to close it and set it down. “When I mentioned that my mate’s youngling name was Favla, she was startled, and she too has some skill as a scribe. Did you know a youngling doe named Sadra?”

“When I was a youngling I had a cousin named Sadra, but I lost her many years ago.”

“What happened gentle doe?”

“There was a great scandal. My father’s twin was accused of theft of a great deal of money. At that time Sadra and I were so close that they said that we were twins from different mothers. There was a great deal of arguing and screaming from the adults and there may have been blood spilled. I cried and begged on my face that we would save her and adopt her into our family. I have never cried so much, not even when they took … my hand.”

I enfolded her trembling form in my arms. “I am so sorry gentle doe. I am ashamed for I feel like I have jabbed a knife into an old wound.”

“It was only you following your duty. I can handle the shadows of the past as long as you are at my side.” She was silent in my embrace for a time and then asked, “Is she well.”

“The Chaos-Kin have cared for her well and she is in good health now, but the shadows of her path still haunt her.”

“Will you take me to see her?”

“Of course gentle doe. I will always walk at your side no matter how dark the path.”

We walk toward the doe’s cabin and I knock on the door and it’s answered by Darca “What can I do for our royal stag and doe this evening?”

Where did royal come from? “My mate wishes to speak with the doe Sadra on a matter of some importance.”

“You may come to the outer room and you may take your rest there. I will escort you mate to Sadra.” Darca was walking the path of the mother admirably. Despite her attributing royalty to me, I was in her place and I would follow her rules for the duration of my visit.

I sat down and a few does who were in the outer room asked me questions about the future. I answered where I could until Giggles appeared and stood before me in a challenging manner. “What does your mate want with my friend?”

So Giggles was brave and loyal where her friend was concerned. This was a useful thing to know. “My mate and your friend have important things to discus that stretch back to when they were younglings.”

“She better not hurt her or I will…”

I cut her off “She will not hurt her, or rather they both have deep wounds that only they can help each other heal from.”

Her fury was undiminished, “You had better be right stag!”

The outer room has both a music player and a picture viewer, but only the music player is on right now. After some time Favla and Sadra emerge. Both of their faces are tear streaked but they are holding hands. I take this as a good sign that family connections have been restored. Giggles finally relaxes and goes to them and the three of them are introduced and talk for a time. I hope that I am a wise enough stag to know that when it is time for the does to talk, it is time for the stags to stay out of it.

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Salvar 14: Leotaur Camp

Construction log
Director Jeff Morgan
Leotaur POW Camp #1

Well, this camp is coming together with incredible speed! The buildings already have water and power and the security grid is already up and running. There is still plenty of work to do before we have a functioning town, but they tell me that it’s better for the Leotaurs to put many of these things together for themselves. We have twenty-three housing units put up and a community center as well as a number of shop spaces. A number of the staff from the Leotaur ward are going to be transferring here as well as a number of new staff. Some of the staff are going to be commuting here and some will be living on site. From a security perspective, having the staff live with the POWs is completely unorthodox, but that’s Prometheus for you. Salvar has accepted the position of deputy director of security, but I’m pretty sure that his understanding of the situation and ours still differs quite a bit. In the end I trust him to do a good job.

The shelter is also progressing well, although it will take much longer. It’s not exactly a good idea to hurry while drilling into a mountain. Having a strong place to hide in case of trouble is just one of those things you want to have. I have made the decision to have Salvar in the loop on this project even though it is high security. He has already made a number of suggestions for improvement that have proven the wisdom of that choice.

An alien POW who is also the deputy director of security. What an odd time we live in!

* * *

It has been a grand and exciting time in these last days here in the “ward.” We take a trip to the new village nearly every day and all of our group has had a chance to visit it and run under the open sky. This alone would have been enough to buoy our spirits but the Chaos-Kin have fulfilled their promise to give us hand devices! These wonderful artifacts are astounding beyond anything the seven peoples have ever created. I can grasp and flex each finger individually and they move with the same speed and grace of a real hand. They cannot match what the One Voice said for us to have because there is no feeling and the fingers and thumb, and they do not move side to side, but it is still a truly wondrous achievement.

They have also fitted some of the Fleet Ones who have lost legs with mechanisms that that have allowed them to walk again and they say that they should even be able to run again eventually. I have met two of the artificers who will be at the village every day to help us with these mechanisms. We have to trade out the hand artifacts each day so that they can be fed enough life to last the next day. I have gotten the impression from them that creating mechanisms to replace lost limbs is their life-work and having the opportunity to work with another people is an exciting challenge for them.

If this wasn’t enough, I have been placed once more on the warriors path! While I am only a reeve watching over the village, it is something that I never dreamed would be opened to me. The One Voice is truly wonderful and mysterious in his ways! I will have a place, duties and a stipend. Favla thinks that this means that I have been made a freeman once more, but I am more cautious. I know it is better to assume I still am a servant and be wrong than to assume I am a freeman and be wrong.

Favla has also been given place as a translator and scribe. She now has her own tablet that she works with constantly. She too has duties and a stipend and we both received a “baj” with our picture on it. She spends part of each day out among the Chaos-Kin teaching them the languages of the seven peoples. I have been taken out on many excursions into the underground kingdom of the Chaos-Kin with Jef the Guard, Leesha the Food Mother, Ahrik the Translator and Tessha. (I’m still not sure what Tessha does.)

Since I am a reeve now, Jef the Guard took me to a cave of weapons where I was allowed to fire weapon that took down Sekesh. They seem to be impressed with my marksmanship, but I am not. My artifact hands are not so accurate but the range was short and I was standing still. When we get to the village I will have to practice in a more properly challenging environment. I was allowed to observe the Chaos-Kin as they practiced their war arms. They have considerable aim and can hit a target from a great distance as long as they are standing still. I guess that is the Chaos-Kin way of combat.

Leesha the Food Mother took me to a great food market. She showed me many fruits and vegetables both familiar and unfamiliar. I was impressed with all the breads that they had, as I spent my youth in a bakery. They also had many meats and drinks (but no shakes). The most amazing thing that they had were foods encased in metal with their picture in paper wrapped around them. Almost as wondrous was the foods that had been frozen and the great devices that kept them cold. I am told that we will have such artifacts in the village as well.

Ahrik the Translator led Favla and I around the Great Market several times. They have so many wondrous and confusing things there that I always feel like a youngling there. Speaking of younglings, I saw many younglings of the Chaos-Kin at the markets. As you would expect, they were endlessly curious though wary. On my latest outing I was allowed to sit down in an area where they gathered and a few of the braver ones came up and questioned me and even clambered on my back. The younglings are so cute and fragile. I see why the Chaos-Kin defend them so fiercely.

Tessha has taken us an many outings around the kingdom, including out under the sky. She likes to run or ride one of the many mechanisms that the Chaos-Kin have to take them places. She encourages us to buy trinkets and decorations for our room, but if there is any real pattern to what she does, it is beyond me.

We are finally becoming a part of the world of the Chaos-Kin. They are still very strange to me and I still see that many fear the Fleet Ones, but we are no longer hidden in a hole and they have set us to tasks and fitting ones. I am filled with cautious hope that we might have a good life here together, for Favla’s sake. I will be content to keep our group safe from harm on the path of the reeve with Favla at my side.

* * *

 Occupational Therapist Report
Contessa Maldera,

This last week and a half has been great! We have finally seen the Leotaurs start to assert their individuality! Salvar and Favla have gotten jobs here at Prometheus and are doing great! I have been encouraging them to redecorate their rooms in their own style and to their own taste and it’s been awesome! They tend to like things in their rooms that are calm and centered and stay away from things that feel busy or in motion. This is in contrast to their everyday lives where they seem to be always in motion if not running. They love to run! If we ever start up selling things to the Leotaurs, the car makers are going to be the big losers! They could easily run forty to fifty miles a day if I could ever get an exercise program approved. At least I should be able to get things started over at the Leotaur Camp. I’m moving over there so that I can be right in the center of the action! We really need to give the Leotaurs freeway passes because they can outrun just about anybody on wheels! We also really need to figure out what equipment to get over to the camp so that they can start up their shops! At least we got the prosthetic hands to them and they have been practicing and practicing! I don’t know about Leotaur instruments yet, but at least we know that they can sing because Salvar sings all the time! Maybe we can get a chorus going or something, but we really need more female parts. Well, we can’t exactly order more Leotaur females. The Leotaur leaders must be like incredibly mean because they made sure that none of the Leotaurs we captured can have babies and I think that if Salvar and Favla had a baby that it would be so cute! Anyway, I am so psyched that the Leotaur Camp will be opening next week!

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Salvar 13: New Horizons part 2

We continued our journey in the great cart and passed out of the Chaos-Kin city and almost immediately began to enter a region of hills and mountains covered with quill trees. I was surprised to see so many Chaos-Kin lairs dotting the landscape. Is there nowhere that the Chaos-Kin do not dwell? I have seen them on the plains, the hills and in caves. What an amazing people!

Our path wound through hills and gorges, mountains and meadows until we finally took a very bumpy road that opened up onto a hidden plain surrounded by mountains. The great cart came to a rest and the back wall lowered once again. We came out and Tessha donned her uniform and mounted her riding mechanism once again. Favla and I loped along the trails leisurely. It was an interesting place with wide open spaces, lakes and canyons. One interesting thing was that this was the first place I have seen where the artifacts of the Chaos-Kin were not everywhere. You could find where their presence had marked the land if you looked, but there was no sign that they dwelt here.

We ran and walked about for quite some time before Tessha signaled us to follow her back to the great cart. Ahrik was waiting with his tablet. He called us over and addressed us in the language of the Fleet Ones. “Our path this day has been big. You both and others are strong, so we need a house for the Fleet Ones. This place and the other place are good for the Fleet Ones but you must choice. Chaos-Kin will help make house and farm and mechanisms.”

Well, that was clear as swamp water, but was pretty sure I knew what he meant. What I should answer was a different thing entirely. Ahrik showed Favla something on his tablet, which left me time to think this over. Was this a test to see if we knew the right answer? No, it didn’t feel like that and I was pretty sure the Chaos-Kin doted on us for their own inexplicable reasons. They honestly seemed to be asking where would be the best place for the Fleet-Ones to dwell. I now realize just how right Favla had been about the Chaos-Kin looking to me for leadership.

The first location had the open plains that just beg one to chase the wind. It was without a doubt the kind of place that a clan of the fleet ones would claim for their own, especially if there was water nearby or a well could be dug. It seemed the obvious choice, but my experience as a soldier made me hesitant. As much as openness and freedom called to me, I also knew that it also meant exposure and vulnerability. How many of the Chaos-Kin would want to challenge one of the Fleet Ones avenge their losses or regain their honor. Were their other clans of Chaos-Kin that might want to raid us for captives or vengeance. I saw how the Chaos-Kin had dividers and barriers all along their trails and across the plains. What would be the penalties if one were to cross such boundaries? There was so much I didn’t know and ignorance could be fatal.

On the other hand, we have the hidden plain. It is surrounded by looming mountains, dense forest, deep canyons. It is enough to leave any Fleet-One who dwells here to feel uneasy at all times, which may be what is needed. It is difficult to get to and seems far from where the Chaos-Kin dwell and roam. There are many hiding places and natural defenses close at hand that the general in me feels it is perfect on many fronts.

I decided to look in on what Ahrik and Favla are doing. On Ahrik’s tablet, I see a picture of the land before me with drawings of houses, farms and shops on it. Favla was moving the drawings around to form a typical clan dwelling. She then touches something on the tablet and there is a picture of the location on the plains and she begins the process again. I watch her use the Chaos-Kin artifact with a small smile on her lips like she is playing a game.

When she shows me the completed map, it is with a smile of pride. “Noble stag, we could have a town like for all the Fleet Ones who have healed.”

I smile despite the unease that nags at me. “So which do you prefer, gentle doe?”

” I am a scribe and I can work anywhere, so it doesn’t matter greatly. But, if I have to choose, the open sky calls to me.” I must have frowned because she said. “You look troubled, noble stag. Have I upset you somehow?”

“By no means gentle doe. The problem lies within myself. The open plains are the obvious choice for those who are born to run under the sun, but the path of the warrior that I trod for so long tells me that this hidden plain is the place where the Fleet Ones would be safest.”

She looked concerned, “Then you would recommend this place, Noble Stag?”

“Each time I become convinced in my mind that I should go this way, I begin to doubt myself. I have no real basis for my fears. Would the Chaos-Kin place us in a dangerous location? How dangerous are other groups of Chaos-Kin? Are the other groups far or near. There is just so much I don’t know.”

“Noble Stag, when you were a great general among the Fleet Ones, did you not run into similar situations where you lacked enough knowledge to be sure of your decision?”

“I can think of a number of times where that was true gentle doe.”

“Then what did you do, oh noble stag?”

“Well, first, I sought out more knowledge…”

She interrupted me before I could continue, “Then that is our first step.”

She walked over to Ahrik and requested his tablet and then requested Jef the Guard to join us as well. She brought up the picture of the of open plains site with the drawings on it. “Is there danger here?”

Jef and Ahrik looked at each other and Jef laughed at Ahrik, “Told you.” He looked at us. “There is [something] danger here.”

We looked at Ahrik, and he said in the tongue of the Fleet ones, “A small danger.”

Favla changed the picture to that of the hidden plain that we were on, “And this place?”

Ahrik answered, “There is less here.”

Favla turned to me, “It seems that the Chaos-Kin agree with your warrior’s fears. It was your abilities that helped break the deadlock of the War of the Seven Peoples. I think we can trust them in a lesser matter such as this.”

 Security Report
Officer Jeff Morgan
Scouting expedition for a Leotaur settlement.

The day trip with Salvar (Subject 7) and Favla (Subject 22) in Contessa’s RV worked out well. We were able to visit both sites and get feedback from the Leotaur perspective. We went to the ranch location first, and got to see what an unrestrained Leotaur running looked like. They looked very much at home there, so it seems to be a viable site.

Tessa said that she clocked them at 40 mph on her bike, but I would take that number with caution. On the other hand, their speed and mobility would make them excessively difficult to keep in a secure location without their permission. I have no idea how high they can jump yet, but I wouldn’t underestimate them at this point. I am constantly surprised at their physical abilities, and it must be remembered that these Leotaurs have been deliberately crippled. I really don’t anticipate much problems from them running away but Salvar indicated that there might be some problems with them staying within boundaries.

This brings us to our next location. The high alpine valley on national forest land is reasonably remote and difficult to get to on land, but only a ten minute ride by air from the main campus. This area is much more secure in so many ways and I have always favored it. It doesn’t hurt that the scenery is gorgeous. Salvar seemed to pick up on the same security concerns that I did and recommended this site as well. When we returned, the staff got together and after some discussion, voted for the site as well. I also recommend that we hire Salvar as part of the security staff once the site is operational. I firmly believe he is trustworthy and devoted to the welfare of the Leotaurs we have here. I also am convinced that he has no love for Leotaur government that is running this war. It is my opinion that we should get to work on the site as soon as possible.

Incident Report
Alicia Dobbins Ph.D.

I am this close to strangling Contessa Maldera! After all the work I’ve done establishing a baseline for a healthy Leotaur diet, She takes them to  Burger King of all places! Tomatoes and onions are both on the restricted list! I am going to have to watch them closely for the next several days to see if there are no adverse reactions. We simply do not know enough about them to be feeding them junk food willy nilly. I asked Favla about the meal and she admitted that the food burned her mouth. I checked and didn’t see any signs of chemical burns in her mouth. It needs to be remembered that getting information from the Leotaurs about whether something is unpleasant is very difficult. Despite our care, they are still very fearful. Considering how awfully they were treated by their own people, I can see how they would be distrustful of another species. This has resulted in the Leotaurs being overly polite, to the point of fawning. This leads them to minimize or downplay anything that is unpleasant or painful. Today was a case in point. Favla indicated that she felt like her mouth was on fire from eating a burger with tomatoes, onions, and ketchup and she reported that the sodas burned as well, but it seemed to never occur to her to not eat what was offered to her of tell them it burned. We still need to be cautious because we do not want to accidentally poison our charges.

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Salvar 12: New Horizons Part 1

I am inside some sort of great cart mechanism with Favla, Ahrik, Tessha, Jef the Guard, as well as a few other Chaos-Kin that I don’t know. But all of that pales next to the fact that I can see the sky again! We were escorted out of the “ward” that has been my home for as long as I have belonged to the Chaos-Kin. We passed innumerable Chaos-Kin (who stared) and mechanisms (which ignored us) until we finally arrived before a striped wall that turned out to be a great door that rolled up into the ceiling with a deep growling noise. But, beyond that was sunlight and breezes that I had not felt for so long. The urge to run and stretch my legs was almost overwhelming, but Favla and I remained at rest although she was nearly dancing with excitement.

We all loaded into the great cart that was waiting for us and it rumbled and growled and soon it was moving at the speed of a bird in flight. Favla and I watched with rapt attention as the alien landscape passed by. There were strange plants and a multitude of artifacts of the Chaos-Kin strewn across the countryside. There were also many buildings that must be the lairs of the Chaos-Kin. They came in so many shapes and sizes it was dizzying to think about. Such a strange people.

Eventually, the great cart came to a stop and stopped its rumbling. The back wall fell slowly becoming a ramp once again. Tessha shooed us out of the cart and we looked around and found ourselves on a wide, dry plain. Ahrik took out his pad and showed us pictures of a number of dangerous plants and animals that were native to this area. Strangely enough, most of the spine plants and crawlers were familiar to me. Although they were often a bit changed in form, they were immediately recognizable.

Tessha brought out a wheeled mechanism and donned a strange uniform. Ahrik let us know that we could run on the paths here and Tessha would follow us. The mechanism started rumbling loudly and Tessha sat astride it. Suddenly, it began kicking up dust and moved off at a great pace. Ahrik smiled and waved for us to follow her. Favla and I looked at each other and then ran after her.

I cannot express the joy of being able to run again after my infirmity and confinement. No other people can run like the Fleet Ones. It is our birthright and joy, and it is so important to us that a Fleet One who can no longer run will usually die within a matter of a score of weeks. So great was our outrage at the hamstringing of our people by the Winged-Kin that it drew us into the War of the Seven Peoples.

After the euphoria began to wear off, I returned to my senses and saw that poor Favla was struggling to keep up. I deliberately slowed my pace significantly. “Are you all right gentle doe?”

Although her breathing was labored and she was sweating heavily, she was still beaming. “It has been far too many seasons since I have run like that noble stag. I would not be a burden to a such a grand warrior as yourself, Please allow me to return to the great cart while you take the opportunity to challenge the wind.”

I slowed us gradually to a walk. “Gracious doe, although your words are like the melody of a brook, I am reminded that we are both newly mended and should be cautious. Let us return together to the great cart at a more gentle pace.” As we loped together toward the Chaos-Kin mechanism, I took the time to gaze at my mate and marvel at her beauty. Despite our mutual maiming I could see nothing but … the bush I just ran into.

I managed not to stumble but I had some trouble spitting out the bitter leaf that had somehow made it way into my mouth. Alas gentle Favla tried to keep her laughter hidden, but any dignity I had at that moment had apparently been left behind in the bush. I laughed and this released Favla’s laughter as well.

We arrived at the great cart in good time, but nowhere near as fast as Tessha’s mechanism. I must admit that the artifacts of the Chaos-Kin left the pride of the Fleet Ones in the dust. I had no doubts anymore that it would be the Chaos-Kin that would bring down the Fleet Ones from the mountain of their pride. I just hope that the fall does not destroy the Fleet Ones and the rest of the Seven Peoples completely.

When I looked up from my musings, the Chaos-Kin were loading up into the Great Cart once again and Favla was looking at me with concern. “Is something wrong noble stag?”

I lowered my head and lifted my shoulders and in negation. “I worry about our people as a whole. It is merely a conceit from the days when I was a leader among our people. Such thoughts serve no purpose anymore.”

“You are still a leader, although of a vastly smaller people. Even the Chaos-Kin recognize this in you.”

“They do?”

She sighed as we walked into the great cart. “For such a stag of great vision, you can be surprisingly blind sometimes.” Favla gasped and dropped her eyes and shrank away as soon as she realized the boldness of her words.

Her reaction is like that of a slave that has been beaten by a cruel master and it surprised me so much that I just stood there as the ramp became a wall again and the great cart rumbled to life. I knew that she had been maimed and stilled as I had, but because I knew how common that had become, I had not really considered why she had in particular.

As my mate had said, I was sometimes completely blind to what was right in front of me. She was obviously a brilliant doe from a prosperous family and was furthermore very skilled in her family’s profession. She wouldn’t have been charged with some petty crime. It was much more likely that she had spoken out against something ridiculous that a false listener had said. She was still afraid to move even though some time has past. I maneuvered around in front of her (which was not easy in the great cart) and knelt in front of her so that I could look directly into her lowered eyes. “Gentle doe, I am your mate and protector. There is no need for you to fear when I am near.”

Her eyes seemed to focus on me. They began to tear and she began to tremble. I locked eyes with her and then stood up. This made her bring her head up as I rose. “You are my mate. If you see something I am blind to and tell me about it, then I am made stronger and only have reason to be grateful that my mate is such a brilliant doe. So please be my strength and sight and tell me what I have not seen.”

“Th-the s-stags of the Fleet Ones all look to you to lead. The Chaos-Kin have seen this and they come to you first with any problems in our group, especially since the fight between Bulgur and Sekesh. They come to you first and ask your opinion on any changes and often have you announce it instead of doing it themselves. You are the heart of our group and everyone knows it except for you.” She watched me intently as she finished speaking, looking to see my reaction.

The great cart started into motion at this point, pushing me into her. I felt no need to move away from her and in fact took the opportunity to bring her into my embrace. “Thank you, gentle doe. I had not realized that; or perhaps I had dismissed the possibility. Perhaps I have been trying so hard to walk the path of a slave that I had not realized that I has reembarked on the path of a leader.”

I carefully maneuvered around so that I stood by her side again. Favla did not lean into me as she usually did, but she did not shrink away as she had recently. I did not know what else to do at that moment, so I just stood by her.

We watched to countryside race past for a time, which helped with the awkwardness. Watching a new and unknown world pass by was endlessly absorbing. The dry plains stretched out in every direction with little other than cattle, beasts and Chaos-Kin artifacts to break it up. We rode until the sun had passed its zenith and entered another Chaos-Kin town. The town seemed much larger than the last one, but for all I know it could be the same one entered from another gate. The great cart stopped at a Chaos-Kin lair and Tessha and two others got off. Ahrik told us that they would be back soon and in the mean time we should stay away from the windows so as to not draw attention to ourselves.

To occupy us, Ahrik started the language game where he would speak in the language of the Fleet Ones and we would answer in the tongue of the Chaos-Kin or “Inglish.” We would then correct each other on words and pronunciations. Of course, Favla and Ahrik are much better at it than I am but neither of them seem to mind that I lag behind on this trail.

Tessha returned; triumphantly carrying a number of bags made of an odd material. The odor coming from the bags was definitely that of food, but it was mixed with many other strong odors as well. She seemed excessively gleeful and said that she was glad that Leesha was not there so that we can have “real human food.” She began handing out food to all in the great cart and unwraps and spreads out a number of them for Favla and I to try. The first thing I tried is some yellow sticks she called “fries.” The fries are good but the sauce she dips them in is far too spicy for me. Next she gave me a meat bun called a “burgur.” I tried it and my eyes teared up from the all the spices on it, but I finished it dutifully. I notice that Favla is having a similar difficulty, but she is bearing with it as well. We then try “chic-in-stips” which is meat wrapped in a spicy coating. At this point I realized that the Chaos-Kin seem to love very spicy food. Even the “cola” drink burns. The “isetee” doesn’t burn but is very bitter and sweet at the same time. Only the “shakes” seem soothing, but they seem to be made of snow, I guess to cool off their burning tongues.

As the meal is wrapping up, Favla makes a disconcerting discovery. All the bags and wrappings that the food came in is made of paper! What is even worse is that she finds out from Ahrik that they are just going to discard it like refuse! Just from that one meal alone the paper that they have used would be be worth many weeks wages. Being a scribe, Favla is horrified at the loss. I remind her that we are slaves and must learn to accept our masters’ ways. She agrees but I catch her staring longingly at where the paper is stashed several times.

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Salvar 11: Ward

This day starts out with a visit from Dug the Examiner. He has decided to remove the casing the Chaos-kin call a “kast” from my foot. He fusses over me almost like a mother with repeated instructions to be careful and to let him know if it is reinjured. I try to hide my amusement at his worries. Besides, with Favla there, there is no chance that any problems will go unnoticed. He has told me that he is a “dokter” which seems to mean that he watches over all aspects of healing except for making medicines.

Favla and I have been given permission to go about the corridors of the “ward” without a guard. There are still many areas that we cannot go, but our new found freedom has allowed us to meet many more of the Chaos-Kin. There are actually many more females than males in the “ward.” The Chaos-Kin males seem to have the same protective streak that the Fleet One stags have and have taken most of the more dangerous jobs like dealing with the Fleet Ones.

Both sexes of the Chaos-Kin are very industrious and seem perfectly at home surrounded by artifacts. There are artifacts everywhere in the ward. They even have artifacts that produce music! I am not as skittish as some of our group, but I don’t understand how they can be comfortable with so many mechanisms all at once. However it seems to me, it is also obvious that this combination of healing and artifacts is very effective.

Ahrik has been asking every stag and doe about what they did before the war. This is a great relief to me. Rest is one thing, but idleness is a curse. Hopefully they will have good tasks for each of us. Favla seems to have a task as Ahrik’s assistant. I had hoped that I could help as well, but I just do not have the skill at words and languages that she has.

* * *

I go with Dug the Examiner on his “rownds.” The word seems to mean circle, but what this has to do with his work remains a mystery. They bring in new Fleet Ones often. Many of them will heal and join our group over time. A few are unable to leave their rooms yet due to continuing infirmity or lost limbs.

Dug and Ahrik assure me that they are working on artifacts that will allow them move or even walk again. They also tell me that their artificers are almost done with hands for us all. The Chaos-Kin are so clever that they continue to amaze and surprise me. I try not to fear, but I occasionally stumble on my path.

As much as I see hope for many, there are still others whose path is not clear. There are some who have been brought in who have never woken, and it is a sad fact that some of them never will. I sing to them in hopes that the One Voice will guide them to the path of healing. Even harder is those who seem to be on the path of healing whose path suddenly ends. I do not know what happens to the bodies of the fallen, and I have not found a good time to broach such a subject to our masters.

On the subject of our masters, I do not know how they see us, but it has become clear that the Chaos-Kin treasure us for some reason. We are being cared for like doting parents do their children. Neither Bulgur or Sekesh were harshly disciplined for their fight. Ahrik spent a great deal of time trying to find the reason for their fight. After talking to both stags the best answer I could give him was, “Because they cannot run, they fight.” I am grateful to the one voice that there have been no one else has come to blows, but there have been several shouting matches.

Now Ahrik has been asking an endless series of questions about our homes and how the Fleet Ones live. I have described our houses in great detail and Favla has drawn many pictures. We have then described our communities and life-paths in just as much detail. I am not sure what this is all leading to, but the Chaos-Kin seem to be very excited about all of it.

Medical log
Dr. Douglas Parton
Subject Salvar

It is with great pride and a bit of sadness that I am declaring Salvar both physically and mentally ready for discharge. It pains me to do so as he has made himself nearly indispensable around here. I’m not exactly sure when he crossed the line from patient to unofficial part of the staff. He has been our ambassador to the other Leotaurs that helped open their world to us. There is still a long way to go, but I am looking forward to the day when I look him in the eye as an equal and friend.

Eric and Tessa have been working nonstop trying to get things ready for the Leotaurs to move on. The biggest thing that they seem to need that we cannot provide at this facility is room to run. We think that some of the increased aggression we have observed is due to the Leotaur version of cabin fever. Giving them some room to move and exercise should alleviate this.

There has been a lot of debate as to where the Leotaurs should be relocated. It’s pretty obvious that there is not enough room on the main campus to give them their own area, but both the security and military people are insistent that they must be close enough that that the forces from the main campus can react in an emergency. They are still technically POWs, but I am beginning to think that the Leotaurs don’t see it that way.

We’ve managed to whittle down the choices to an old crazy camp in the local mountains and an old ranch that’s not too far from here. The camp has better security and the ranch has better terrain. I’m rather proud that my suggestion to break the deadlock was accepted.

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Salvar 10: Conflict

Our group continues to grow and we now have twenty stags and five does that gather in the great hall. Many of those who are joining us had such terrible injuries, that it is only due to the artifacts of the Chaos-Kin that they were able to survive. Back home, many of these would be shunned and have to take up the way of the beggar due to their disfigurements, but here we are all disfigured to some extent and such things as appearance tend to fall to the side of the path over time. That is not to say that out path is smooth.

“You pathless son of a pleasure seller!” The screams that followed were those of two stags trying to kill one another. I was with Favla learning the language of the Chaos-Kin called Inglish. I was to my feet and running toward the sounds before I even realized what I was doing. Bulgur was standing over another stag that was on his side. He still held his opponent’s foreleg in his good hand. That limb was bloody and obviously broken and Bulgur was getting ready to pounce on his downed opponent.

“Get back!” I roared in a voice that had once commanded armies. Bulgur either didn’t hear me in his fury or didn’t care and leapt for a crushing blow … only to be broadsided by me mid-air. He crashed at least a body length away into several tables and pallets before coming to a stop.

I looked to see who the downed stag was only to see a bloodied Sekesh ready to leap at me. There was a strange pop and Sekesh went rigid for a breath and then collapsed. Beyond him Jef the guard stood with his weapon in a position that told me that he had just fired it. He lowered his weapon and took a deep breath, and the shouted something of which I caught “… go back to … room!”

I hoped that adding my voice to his would not be considered defiant. “Everyone get back to your rooms.” I was glad to see that everyone started moving immediately as all the guards had their weapons at the ready. Ahrik rushes over to have a hurried conversation with Jef as I go to collect Favla. Ahrik intercepts us on the way out and says “Please stay,” in the language of the Fleet Ones.

Dug the examiner rushed in with others and began checking the fallen Sekesh. I was relieved to hear a painful moan from him as it meant that he was alive, but Jef the guard was to motioning me toward the submissive form of Bulgur, who had two guards with their weapons pointed at him.

“Please, general, don’t let them kill me. I’ll do anything; just tell them not spare my worthless life.” He slithered forward while begging without even raising his chest from the ground.

“Is he safe?” Though I understand all of the words, Jef the guard’s question does not make sense to me. Bulgur is prostrate before him surrounded by guards and his opponent lies defeated: Why would he be at risk? Maybe he is asking if Sekesh is safe.

“Bulgur is surrender.” This reply seemed to satisfy Jef the guard and the other guards as the other guards moved to moved away to help escort the other Fleet ones to their rooms.

“Tell him to stay there until the [something] check him.”

“Stay here until the Chaos-kin tell you to go and you will not be harmed.”

“My obedience is my life, general.” I wish I knew enough about the ways of the Chaos-kin to assure him that all will be well, but I know not to pave my way with lies even if it seems to make the way smoother.

Dug the examiner calls me over and Jef the guard does not object, so I go to where Sekesh lies.

“It’s a bad break with a [something] but he’ll be fine in time. Will he still be [something] when he wakes up?”

I think for a breath and finally give up and discerning his meaning. “I do-not understand.”

“Will he still want to fight when he wakes up?”

“No, he is defeat.”

Dug the examiner then turns to the Chaos-kin that accompanied him and says something I cannot follow. He then grabs my elbow and leads me back to Bulgur.

“Please ask him where he is hurt.”

“Tell me where your pain is stag.”

His eyes are filled with fear and I can see him trembling. “My pain is small! I can still be of use!” I paused for a few breaths to find the proper words.”

“What did he say?”

“His fear breaks his words.”

Dug the examiner seems puzzled for a breath, “O…K… let’s just give him a [something] to help him calm down.” He kneels down and begins a manipulation of the purring manacle on Bulgur’s arm. Bulgur slowly stops trembling, and to my surprise, the next sound out of him is a snore. Dug the examiner seem satisfied by this and instructs the other chaos-kin to help him load Bulgur onto a wheeled couch. Once Bulgur is loaded, he turns to me. “Salvar, are you hurt?”

“It is little.” Favla touches my shoulder and there is no denying the concern in her eyes.

Dug the examiner sighed. “Soldiers seem to never want to [something] that they’re hurt. Show me where this little hurt is.”

I point him to the place on my lower chest where I impacted with Bulgur. True to his name, Dug the examiner, examines the area thoroughly and occasionally painfully. He then checks my hind-foot, which seems to have escaped further injury. “You need to be careful and not … do anything like that again for a while.”

“I only did what I must, and will only do so again if I must.”

“Soldiers never listen; I don’t know why I bother.”

I went down before him with my eyes to the floor. “I mean no disrespect. I would never disobey if I had any choice.”

“Salvar, look at me. You did well today and kept anyone from getting [something] hurt. I just get [something] when people get hurt, but that’s not your fault, it’s mine. Without anyone telling you to, you have already taken everyone here under your protection, and would risk your life to keep them from being hurt. You do what you need to, and don’t let me being [something] stop you.”

I am not sure what he means, but somehow I am reminded of when I was being instructed by my uncle the Listener. I think something profound is being said but I can’t understand enough to quite grasp it.

Medical log
Dr. Douglas Parton
Subject Salvar

We had a fight today, although Jeff insists on calling it a “security incident.” I was present, but did not see what set it off. Let me tell you something, Leotaurs can roar. I’ve never been in the same room when a lion roared, so I can’t  really compare them, but I’m pretty sure that they were close. Sekesh seemed to have gotten the worst of it, seeming to have broken both the radius and the ulna from my triage exam, but he is not part of my caseload. Bulgur was terrified that he would be punished for fighting. Eric says that Bulgur thought we were going to kill him. I had to tranquilize him on the spot because of how scared he was.  Bulgur got off with just some bruising, which just goes to show just how tough Leotaur males are physically. I saw Salvar run into him at full speed and I fully expected to see broken ribs in both of them.

I am pretty sure that Salvar is the most physically fit and best trained of the bunch, and I was still floored by his speed and agility. He seemed to go from standing still to flying across the room, and that’s with a cast on one foot. For the first time I got to see what a fully trained Leotaur warrior looked like, and let me tell you, it’s scary! On the other hand, if anything, I feel safer around him. He took down an enraged five hundred pound Leotaur male without harming him. When I told him that he shouldn’t do that again, he reflexively replied that he would do what was needed, and then was immediately bashful for talking back to me!

I never thought I would send a recommendation to General Moore to recruit one of my patients, but if there was ever a man who was born to lead, then Salver is your man. (Leotaur? person? how do you say that about another race anyway?) I just have the feeling that if we have him on our side, then we will be a lot closer to victory.

Security Report
Officer Jeff Morgan
Altercation between Subject #5 Bulgur and Subject #23 Sekesh

The two subjects came to blows today in the common room of the Leotaur ward.  I have no idea at this time what the cause of the altercation was due to the language barrier and I will send a supplemental report if and when this becomes apparent. The entire incident may have lasted five seconds at most to put in perspective our actions or lack thereof.

I heard raised voices and looked to see both of them rearing up on their hind legs and roaring at each other. Bulgur pulled a move that looked practiced that ended up with Sekesh on the ground with a broken arm. Bulgur reared again and I was about to fire a tazer grenade at him, when Salvar (#7) broadsided him out of nowhere. Bulgur went down and did not get back up. I think he got the wind knocked out of him. Sekesh got up at this point and started to attack Salvar. Sekesh has repeatedly told me (as best he can) that he didn’t know it was Salvar, and I believe him. I think he was just lashing out in confusion and pain. The good news is that the tazer round worked perfectly. It took down an enraged, male Leotaur without any permanent injury.

The biggest difficulty came afterwards because the two combatants seriously thought we might kill them, which says something about how harsh their culture is. Bulgur peed himself because he was so scared. Neither of them calmed down until Eric Black told them that Salvar had intervened on their behalf.

Which brings me to Salvar’s part in all of this. Holy crap, he’s good! I was never much of a soldier and nowhere near good enough for special forces, but he reminds me of the few times I have seen special forces soldiers in action. I have no doubt that if I had not fired, He would have taken down Sekesh just as easily as he took down Bulgur. Should it come down to a confrontation between him and I, I seriously think I wouldn’t stand a chance. The odd thing is that, despite me shooting another Leotaur right beside him, he made no aggressive or defensive posture toward me or any of the other guards. The only thing that seems credible is that he is already on our side in his own mind. At least I hope so.

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Salvar 9: Celebration

This morning has been one of high emotions. I was afraid that the stags would be angry and distrustful toward me, but instead, they were joyous that I had not been taken from them. They seem to think that now that the Chaos-kin know of my former status, it will increase that value of our entire group. Who knows if they are right or wrong? I can only trust that the path before me is the one that is meant for me.

The news of my pairing with Favla has brought me many well wishes tinged with a bit of envy from the other stags. Darca, the other doe, has drug Favla from my side and the two of them have spent a great deal of time in excited whispers. Despite our circumstances, the day has taken on a festive air. Although the big room is one of the largest halls I have seen, there is still not enough room to get up to speed before reaching the wall. I suggest a contest to see who can touch each wall ten times as a test of both speed and agility, although I must beg off because of my hobbled foot. After that we use the things in the room to set up courses with obstacles to dodge around or leap over. This continues until Leesha the food mother calls a break for lunch. Some of the stags are reluctant to abandon their games, but a firm calling of their names and a request to assist me in putting the rooms furnishings back in order are enough to bring them back to their senses.

As we are moving the tables back to their places, a stag stumbles and falls to his belly. I look to see that it is Tebdur. He is traveled such a long path that I fear that he has been injured. I moved to his side I noticed that Dug the examiner has come as well. Tebdur struggles to rise but is forced to sink back to his belly.

“Noble stag, is there any way in which I might aid you?”

Tebdur waves away my assistance, but let’s does the examiner look him over. “Ah my dear general, it seems my legs have traveled a bit too far this day I should be fine just a bit of rest.”

Doug the examiner turns to me, “Is he [something]?”

I waved to Favla, and she and Ahrik head over. “I am trying to tell Dug the examiner that Tebdur is tired because he is made so many journeys. He says he will be fine with the rest. Unfortunately, I do not know the words.”

She thinks for a moment and then asks for the tablet. She then draws furiously for a moment, and then shows us. It is a series of small, crude pictures of Leotaurs going through the various stages of life. The first picture shows a youngling with his family. The next few pictures show the youngling getting larger until he is an adult. It then shows him choosing a mate, and then having younglings of his own. After that are several pictures of him traveling and finally a picture of a grave barrow. She circles the last picture before the grave, and then points to Tebdur.

Dug the examiner and Ahrik talk between themselves far more quickly than I can follow. At this point, Tebdur tries to rise again, and succeeds. Although everyone seems to be relieved, I must wonder if they understood what we were trying to say.


Medical log
Dr. Douglas Parton
Subject Salvar

Well, today has been another day of unexpected discoveries. All of the Leotaurs were in an excited mood today. I think it was because Salvar and Favla became an official couple. They set up a number of games and played at them for several hours. Alisha thinks that it may be some sort of wedding celebration, but who knows. On the other hand, dang these guys are fast and agile. If there’s ever an inter-species Olympics, we are going to get creamed in the track and field events. It’s obvious that the provisions we have for exercise for the Leotaurs are wholly inadequate. I’ve sent a request to review this up the chain of command, but who knows if and when they will act on it.

The time that the Adjutant General has spent interviewing Salvar and Favla has brought about some unexpected benefits. We had been planning on bringing the members of the different races together for socializing since the beginning, but they had been separated for ease of treatment. The fact that we now know they had just been through a massive interspecies war where everyone was against everyone else has completely tossed that idea out the window. The general also spent some time working out phrases to get enemy soldiers to surrender. Favla turns out to know quite a bit about languages of other species. This gets me some hope that we can get some POWs that don’t look like they have been through a meat grinder. The patients I have seen so far have been victimized by soldiers on both sides and sometimes it makes me feel so helpless and angry, but then something like this gives me some hope that my efforts are making some kind of difference.

Medical log
Dr. Douglas Parton
Subject Tebdur

Tebdur collapsed today. We suspected that he is old because of his fur is mostly gray, but we had no way to know for sure that this was an indication of age in Leotaurs. One of the biggest difficulties in working with alien patients is that our equipment is designed to work with humans. This is especially true with the Leotaurs as their body layout is so different from ours. I need to contact the engineering department and see if they have made any headway on something like a wheelchair for Leotaurs. If Tebdur keeps having trouble, I want something we can do for him. Many animals, including people… er humans tend to fade away and die when they are no longer able to rise on their own. We learn from convalescent care that assisted mobility can allow them to continue to be active in interact which extends their lifespan. Hopefully this will be true with Leotaurs as well.

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Salvar 8: Proposal

I talked with Moar the General until the third meal. When they came in, the other Fleet Ones kept their distance as soon as they found out that I was talking to a Chaos-kin general. This was probably good as it might have angered some of the stags that I was talking about military issues so freely. As it was, there was little I told them that was not common knowledge to our enemies during the war of the seven peoples.

Poor Favla was a bit conflicted. She was delighted to be learning so many new words and letters, but she found it a bit disquieting that they were mostly about war and killing. I think she had hoped that all of the Chaos-kin were as gentle as our masters here, but the real path of life is never as easy as we dream it to be.

Moar the General said that he would be back to visit me when he had time, which gives me some hope that I will be allowed to stay for a time. It is a selfish hope, but I cannot force it from my heart. I have become fond of our little group of Fleet Ones, and although I am far from the eldest, I have become a leader that they all look to. I want to make sure of their well being, but as a slave, I have no power to do so. I fear their eventual disappointment when they see me helpless in the face of our master’s decision.

But now, I am faced with a much different difficulty. Jef the guard has led me to Favla’s room. “Will you stay here?”

It is such a simple question for such a difficult answer. It is not right or proper for me to stay with her, especially since I have realized how much she means to me. I look to her and see such a hopeful and shy expression and I lose any will to resist. “I will stay.”

This seems to please Jeff. “We’ll send over some of your things in the morning.”

His attitude seems a bit odd to me. Perhaps this is the Chaos-kin’s idea of a reward for talking freely with Moar the General. Whatever unknowable things the Chaos-kin are thinking must wait, as I have a doe before me who is full of both hope and fear.

“Will the noble stag stay with this humble doe?”

“If it were allowed, this poor stag would share a path with the gentle doe before me for the rest of my life.”

She gasped and moved closer. “You would choose me as mate?”

“I would, and I do not say such things lightly. I have never shared a path with any doe, and there are only three things that hold me back now.”

She looked down and her ears drooped visibly. “What hinders you, noble stag?”

“First, I cannot give you the children that such young and healthy doe such as yourself should deserve.”

“This is something that has been denied both of us, but as you yourself said, this can be survived. What is the second thing, noble stag?”

“I cannot give a proper bride price to your family for as intelligent, beautiful and accomplished doe as I see before me.”

“Again, I will use the words of the noble stag. We are both slaves of the Chaos-kin. All of what we were has been stripped from us, including names, family and accomplishments. And, even if we were in that former life, your accomplishments far outstrip my own. All would say that it was my family that would be honored in such a pairing, and although my sire would grumble, none would object. What is the third thing, noble stag?”

“The last is the hardest. We are slaves of the Chaos-kin. It is not way of a slave to direct his own steps. If our masters decide that we must be parted, though I crawl with my face on the ground before them, I must obey.”

“You spoke truly of this being harsh. Then I have a question of you, noble stag. If we were parted, would you work tirelessly to return to my side or bring me to yours until we were reunited or one of our paths had ended?”

“I would gentle doe.”

“Then this too, can be survived. Noble stag, would you walk the path beside mine?”

“Gentle doe, I would gladly walk together with you until the end of our days.” In my excitement, I reached for her hand, forgetting that both hands were no longer there. A clunk brought me back to my senses and I settled for linking the hooks on our tools together. I then looked into her eyes as we said the ancient words together.

“Then by the One Voice, let our paths be one!”


Prometheus Security File
Leotaur Prisoner #7 “Salvar”
Tony Moore, Adjutant General

I’ve done a few interrogations in my time, but this Leotaur is both the most cooperative and frustrating guy I have ever worked with. Most of the frustration came from the language barrier. We must have spent better than half the time trying to work out vocabulary so that we could get ideas across.
Despite that, it was time well spent. According to Salvar, the Leotaurs are in charge of the invasion and their objective is conquest. The language barrier made it hard to get any more specifics on their military capacities.

The other area in which I got some useful information was about the relationship of the Leotaurs to the other races. The Leotaurs seem to be rulers of the six other races that we have found survivors of. This seems to have been a recent development and Salvar seems to have gotten his rank while fighting this war. He often referred to the races in aggregate as “the seven” which indicates a long term association between them. There seem to be other known races as well, but could name off about ten and indicated that there were probably more.

This difference in how they view “the seven” and how they view other races seems to have been Salvar’s downfall. According to him, he objected to this invasion as being bad, and had his arms chopped off and was sent on a suicide mission because of it. Why he found it bad I was unable to determine because of the language barrier. It is also possible that he made that last part up in order to appear more favorable to us, but I personally doubt it. Anyway, I think that there will be a great deal of good information that can come from him and there is a good possibility that we can bring him over to our side, if we play our cards right.

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