We’re back with a fresh update for The Hungry Stars. In this chapter, more questions about the League come up as Echo and Leah pursue their study of humanity’s long-lost and sole free world. But the League is secretive, and small holes are beginning to appear in their claims. Is this just reflexive paranoia coming to bite them on the tuckus? Or is there some other goal at work and if so, what is it?
Speaking of investigations, we also take a look on Rally. Poor Charles Proctor’s life hasn’t gotten any easier. He and his wife are still being squeezed by CIS for anything about their traitor daughter, while their friend circle gets increasingly small and still no answers can be had. Millirysa offers a chance to get some of those, but first she’ll need something from Charles. The road to hell is paved with good intentions and a father just trying to find out the truth about his missing daughter might be all too willing to lay those stones himself…
Below is a snippet from Millirysa’s perspective as the young woman carries out her end of the investigation, looking to work a fresh contact. For the full story, check out the links above. Hope you all enjoy it!
The club was full tonight, loud and boisterous. Most of the patrons here were Verrish, but there was always a good number of humans. Some were locals, but on the weekends the place always got more than a few guests from the ‘right’ side of town. The Painted Tail was considered safe enough for the upper classes to visit whenever they wanted a thrill crossing into the Blue Quarter. From time to time, the place would even get some Tribune customers. The four-eyed vanqwi liked to throw their weight around and remind the Brutes of their place in society. Most of the time only bad attitudes and words were exchanged. Infrequently, things between the two sides would get out hand… but one way or another, those same Tribunes wouldn’t be coming back to cause trouble.
Millirysa sat at the bar drinking a strawberry and watermelon daiquiri. She didn’t know what it was about Earth-strain watermelon, but they smelled like meat with a sweet, watery taste. It was a popular flavour with Verrisha and she nursed the drink slowly. Every so often one of the men in the bar would come up to try and talk to her, and she made some small talk here and there, but she wasn’t interested. She was here for business and wasn’t looking for courtship. At least, not in the usual vein. In a corner booth, there was a small cluster of human men and a pair of women all talking amongst themselves.
Like a lot of weekenders, they were slumming it, looking for a bit of excitement and danger by hanging around ‘Brutes’, like visitors going to the zoo and climbing over the fences to get close to the animals, completely confident that they were safe, no matter how close they got or how much they teased those same animals. But like with the Tribunes, sometimes the exhibits bit back. And sometimes, she thought as she caught the eye of a particularly nervous young man in the group and waved coyly, his compatriots hooting and giving him comradely shoves in an attempt to get him out of the booth. It’s because they want us to.
Millirysa was two years younger than Allyria. She hadn’t known the old stories all that well, so she didn’t have the same regard for humans that Allyria and the handful of older children did. She’d thought it was weird and she’d resented her unwanted foster family as much as the Tribunes that had taken her from her parents and shipped her and tens of thousands other Envoy Children hundreds of light-years from their home. She’d acclimated better than some had… and worse than others. After the Proctors had taken Allyria under wing, Millirysa had accused the other girl of abandoning her real family and becoming a house pet for the humans. That had destroyed their friendship for years afterwards. Millirysa still had scars on her right shoulder from the fight.
It had taken a long time for Millirysa to realize that Allyria wasn’t letting herself be domesticated. The Proctors had genuinely cared about her and Grace was a good friend – for a tinta-less elf. Eventually, Millirysa had swallowed her pride and apologized. She understood. It had taken years, but she understood why Allyria had started to behave the way the rest of the world wanted. That was how she acted now, and how she encouraged others to act. We can’t let them break us, but unless they think they have, they’ll keep grinding away until there’s nothing left that can be put back together.