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Authors: Joseph Picard

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BOOK: Watching Yute
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On the other hand, you’re
free.” Marcus tried to point out a silver lining, but Cassidy
wasn’t too moved. She looked back out onto the sand. “Yeah, well, I
hope Brandy is feeling better about her freedom than me. Freedom is

The silence that came now bore heavier
on Cassidy than before. Marcus decided to change the topic. “So,
Cassidy, do you follow World Cup at all?”

Cassidy gave the hint of a chuckle.
Marcus had the wisdom to know when to leave things alone. Why she
opened up to her new C.O. like that for no real reason, she
couldn’t put her finger on. Nonetheless, it was good to vent a


The man who Kirison finally met with
after lots of waiting and an entirely new appointment, was
significantly less terrifying than he had feared. He expected some
chain smoking, overweight, middle aged man with sunken dark eyes,
massive rings on every finger, an expensive yet tasteless suit, and
an expression as warm as an undertaker.

The reality of “Mr. Irving” was a
downright skinny old man, tall and lively. He was also dressed
business casual, not too far from what Kirison had chosen for
himself. That was good.

Regardless, Kirison’s paranoia found
little difficulty imagining a viciously dark evil side to Mr.
Irving, with a wide wicked grin and some kind of hammer dripping
with the blood of someone who’d crossed him.

Let’s not think about that. Let’s sip
the drink, and let the Mr. Irving think. That won’t get you

Unless the drink was

Okay, stop thinking like that. The nice
skinny beanpole career criminal has no reason to kill

Well Mister Kirison,“ Mr.
Irving said with a light enough tone, “I really don’t think I can
help you out.”

What?! Why not?” Christ,
that was less than respectful. The drink doesn’t smell like
almonds, does it?

Two reasons. For one thing,
it’s not really our kind of turf. At all. By any stretch of the
imagination. I’m sure you can understand.” Kirison nodded, and
waited for Mr. Irving to continue. “The other thing is, with things
being the way they are now, anything nanite-related is kind of a
spicy area to get into in general. And besides that, there’s really
zero profit in it!”

Kirison stared at the wet ring on the
table where his glass had been earlier, and sighed. “Well. I
certainly understand that. I wouldn’t touch this with a ten foot
pole, if I could avoid it.” He sighed again.

Look.....” Mr. Irving took
a genuinely sympathetic tone. “I know of this group… they might be
interested... but you might have to be… creative… they ain’t as
stable as you an’ I, if you get my drift.”

Beautiful. The rabbit hole suddenly
looked just that much deeper, and the fall was only gaining


:::C /06


Cassidy awoke in the early afternoon.
There was other activity in the barrack, but she had been sleeping
through it just fine. She sat up and enjoyed the horrors of morning

Good morning.” It was
Wanda. “Were you that tired that you fell asleep with your hat on?
Not used to an overnight shift?”

Cassidy took a few moments for the
words to sink through the haze of waking, and looked over at Wanda
with a long lazy glare from under the brim of her hat. “Huh? Uhm…
No. I mean yes. I mean.. overnight was fine. Things went smooth.
And the hat... I always wear it. ‘Cept the shower.”

You meant to wear it to

Cassidy nodded. “Yuh. Keeps my ponytail
in line. Otherwise I wake up and my hair’s a mess.” She leaned over
the edge of the bed and went into her footlocker for a shot of

What’s wrong with an
elastic hair band?”

Cassidy swallowed the mouthwash with a
grimace, and thumbed the brim of her hat, almost affectionately.
“There's one in there too. But my hat would get jealous if it was
just the hair band there.”


Cassidy had her shower. No little
lizard visitor today. She put herself together and wandered over to
the mess hall. Cipriana was there, having some toast and OJ. It
almost seemed odd to see Cipriana tending to lowly mortal
necessities such as eating. Suddenly, the serene presence from the
barracks seemed human after all. The toast caught Cassidy’s eye, so
she fetched the same from the kitchen and went to go sit across
from Cipriana.

Hey, mind some company,

Cipriana gave a welcoming smile and
nodded towards the spot Cassidy seemed aimed at.

Wanda said people call you
‘Cip’... was she just being silly? ‘Cipriana’ is such a pretty
name, seems a shame to cut it short.”

Cipriana swallowed her mouthful. “Yes,
most people call me ‘Cip’, but either way you want is fine by

Cassidy leveled an analytical eye at
Cipriana. “….. Cip….. Cipriana.. Cip….. I don’t think Cip does you
justice… but I’m lazy, so ‘Cip’ it is. Oh, and if you want, I’ve
been called ‘Cass’ off and on.”

Cipriana held a small giggle behind her
calming smile. “Cass? Not Cassidy? Or Cassie?”

Cassidy almost choked on her toast.
“No! Not Cassie, good lord, not Cassie.”

Cipriana couldn’t help but to smirk.
“Alright then, ‘not Cassie’, which do you prefer, Cassidy or

Cassidy thought for a moment. “If you
were like me, I’d say ‘Cass’, but you’re not. You sound better
saying the full name.”

what? Why?”

Because you talk… slower
than me. You sound like you’re taking your time talking, not in a
rush, like the words are worth saying. Me? I’ll rifle off any
gibberish that jumps into my head. I don’t have time to say whole
four syllable names like SIP-REE-AN-AH, when there’s a billion
other less important words waiting to come out. Wanda can sound
okay saying ‘Cass’, just like she sounds right saying ‘Cip’. Maybe
it’s a casual or formal thing. Wanda and I are pretty casual, where
you come off a bit more formal, so using more formal forms of names
sounds right coming out of you.”

Cassidy stopped talking, and Cipriana
took a slow sip from her OJ, while staring at Cassidy with
incredulous eyes. She put down the glass, swallowed, and at length,
broke the vacuous silence that followed Cassidy’s spiel. “Alright
then, Cassidy. I also see what you mean. You have a talent for
gibberish when you put your mind to it.”

Absolutely,” Cassidy
chuckled, “I’m fluent, always have been.”

By the way, how was your
first watch?”

Oh, fine. But you just
reminded me. Speaking of watches, I wonder if I can get a new
battery for...” Cassidy looked at the watch which had been dead the
night before. It was now operating, and the time was even still
correct. “Well, son of a... never mind then. I thought my battery
was dead last night. Maybe the display is just on it’s last

Well, you may as well leave
it behind when you go on watch anyway. It’s not generally done;
taking high tech stuff to the temple, that is.”

Cassidy shrugged. “Tradition?

Cipriana shrugged back. “I never found
I really needed a watch on duty anyway.”

That was true enough, in retrospect.
Eight hours went by pretty fast. Sure, she had been talking with
Marcus off and on, but even still, there was a lot of silent
standing and it didn’t drag on like she’d expected. Maybe the
scenery helped.

Cipriana put her glass on her empty
plate, and stood to leave. “Oh, by the way, Cassidy, you made me
curious. What do you think Marcus should call you?”

Hmm… He’d been calling me
Leftenent Cassidy for a while… last night it was ‘Cassidy’ .. But I
think he could get away with ‘Cass’… he’s kinda folksy.” Cipriana
only replied with a short thoughtful gaze off into nowhere, half a
grin, and a shrug before leaving. Cassidy gobbled up the rest of
her afternoon breakfast. She then wandered off to the base
entrance, intending to go for a little walk to explore the area a
bit. On the way, she spotted Maxine ahead of her, also headed

Maxine was carrying a wooden staff,
with red tape around one end. It had a small side handle, just like
the spears used on watch. “You got the home-made model?” Cassidy’s
comment took Maxine by surprise. She turned, and held the wooden
spear, much the same as the real thing was held on duty. “Eh, It’s
just for practice. Some of us kinda exercise with em. Well, me
mostly. The weight room can get a little tedious

Crap! Weight room?

Go to the back wall of the
mess, and look left. The door is kind of hidden by a freezer unless
you get close. It’s nothing fancy. The wood spears are tucked in
the back of the supply closets though.”

Geez, I’m observant. Any
water slides I didn’t see? Maybe a nuclear submarine in the middle
of the barrack that I may have missed?”

Hey Cassidy, do you want to
come outside and play? We can grab another spear…”

Cassidy had nothing better to do.
“Sure. Oh, and you may as well call me ‘Cass’.”


Yeah, Cip and I had a big
discussion about it.”

A little off the path from the base to
the temple, there was an open square area tucked between somewhat
taller bits of ruins. Cassidy imagined that it might have been a
marketplace once upon a time. Her imagination summoned imagery of
rows and rows of shop stands, and browsing, noisy crowds. Today
however, it was just an empty space between deteriorating
buildings. Despite its fall from grace, this place still had a
certain welcoming air to it, much like the temple itself. The sun
seemed to flow with the gentle, silent wind, watching the
‘children’ come to play on the ancient stones with their little

Cassidy casually tapped the red-taped
tip of her spear on Maxine’s. “Hey, go easy on me, I’m guessing
you’ve had a lot more practice with these than me.”

Maxine looked back at Cassidy with a
mildly confused expression. “Huh? Oh. I’ve never really sparred
with them.. uh.. it’s more like.. I don't know... tai chi with a
stick.” Maxine demonstrated with slow sweeping motions. She had
always just made them up, but she had been doing it long enough
that she looked like she knew what she was doing. Cassidy

This isn’t much of a
workout…” Cassidy lightly commented.

Well. You asked me to go
easy on you. Hey, do you know anything about this Colonel

Yeah,” Cassidy replied,
copying another motion. “I only met him in passing, he’s the new
C.O. at Yute central.”

Yeah, I know. I was just
wondering if you’d gotten any impressions of him. He’s coming by in
a couple days.”

What? Why?”

Marcus says it’s an
inspection... more of a formality. The Yute temple base sort of
falls under the jurisdiction of Yute central, so he should at least
come check it out. So... any impressions? If he's an okay

Cassidy leaned on her spear, taking her
time to mull it over. She had only seen him two or three times. Not
much to get a feel for someone, especially with normal military
protocol in effect. “I didn’t see him kicking any kittens or
anything. I dunno. I guess he’s okay.”

Maxine snickered, and upped her tempo a
little. It now seemed plain that the motions were at least inspired
by fighting moves. “Usually the old Colonel only came by to escort
the Grand Elder, but the Elder is waiting until the other new
person arrives, get two bird with one stone.”

Cassidy tilted her head. “Huh? What?
Grand Elder? As in Armil? And what new person?”

Maxine came to a dramatic halt in her
exercises, flourishing gracefully into a standing stop. It seemed
chatter was the order of the day. “Yup! That’s one of the perks of
being posted here. I’ve met the Grand Elder, umm… Six times? It
makes my mum proud as heck, even if I am more modernized than she’d
like. I tell her I wouldn’t have been able to meet him at all if I
wasn’t in the military, so that’s afforded me a bit more slack with
her about that.”

Cassidy was a little taken aback. Grand
Elder Armil was the leader of all the Aguei aboriginals. The
position of Grand Elder was part political, and part spiritual.
Despite having no authority technically, just about everyone
respected what the Grand Elder said, whether they were Aguei or
not. “And… he’s coming here? What, to inspect? And what’s this got
to do with a new person?”

Ah. Well generally it’s
pretty rare for us to get new people, but Sergeant Eliot Hood is
retiring, so we have another replacement coming. The Grand Elder’s
a busy guy, so he’s waiting for the other newbie to be here before
he comes to do the blessings. Two in one visit.”

OK, can I ask a third
stupid question?”



Man, Marcus didn’t tell
you? Remind me to smack him. You’re going to be blessed by the
Grand Elder, and be made an honourary member of the Aguei

BOOK: Watching Yute
12.28Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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