Part II: Culture Clash
I was among the last to get on board the bus. I decided to keep my bag and bardiche with me. I searched around the bus for an empty bench and when I found one, I made my way through the alley. A few people were staring at me, but I paid them no mind. The human in the bench next to me was clearly staring, I looked a them and they averted their eyes.
The bus’ door closed, the engine started and drove just a few meters before there was a knock on the door. The bus stopped and the driver let a human male on board who apologized before picking a bench, the one right next to mine.
He looked a little winded from having run to catch the bus, his shaggy dark hair clung to his temple.
He and the other human in the next bench exchanged a few words before the other put on some headphones, cutting their non-conversation short. He then took out a book and focused on it.
The drive was mostly uneventful. Halfway through and nobody had dared to address me in anyway. I’d caught quite a few humans sneaking some glances at me. I mostly focused on my own device, unlike the human’s mine was integrated into my brain, transmitting information straight into my visual and auditory processing centers. My fingers moved across a keyboard visible only to me.
> Got the news that you are joined the silly dressed weirdos.
I smirked. It was Rahzo, my sister. Unlike me, she’d settled down in the United Kingdom, using her expertise to fix human machinery.
It seemed fun. <
> You are not a warrior, Danalar.
You should see those beside me, they are far from a warrior. <
In the past few hours I’d gotten a good look at the other Ravenhold applicants and I’d been less than impressed, they didn’t have the physique of warriors, I doubted they had any training either.
While I’d chosen to be an armorer, I’d still gone through eight years of basic combat and physical training along with the basic schooling, as was the norm on Resh.
> They have powers, don’t underestimate them.
And I have Bardiche and my expertise, any problem I face I can engineer a solution. <
> Just don’t do anything stupid, I wouldn’t want to lose you.
By the ancestors, is that an admission of love? <
> You are quite a handful, but you’ll always be my twin, Danalar.
I smiled. Even though we’d both enrolled in the academy together, Rahzo and I had always been the type to clash, split for some time before reuniting and making peace, it was just the way we were.
The boy in the bench next to mine spoke up, my left ear folding his way. “Hey.”
I turned around and saw that he was in fact looking right at me, having put his book away. I leaned toward him, inspecting him for a moment.
“Hello.” I answered.
“I’m Erik.” He gave me a little wave. “I didn’t expect to meet a.. er… Tzari.”
There was a tinge of embarrassment in his body language, it was kind of cute. I had to snicker at his awkwardness, I’d seen it a lot in humans who’d tried to interact with me and it had its charm.
“I am Nalar, son of Neerarin.” I answered. “That accent, is that Dutch?”
I’d spent some time in the netherland the year before, I didn’t remember a whole lot of it though, cognitive enhancement or not, it had been one big binge of the local products and people.
“Yeah, I’ve travelled a fair way for school.” He let out a chuckle. “Cool shirt.”
I’d been wearing a gryffindor shirt all day. “The series was a recommendation from when I was first learning English, not bad, dare I say.” I explained. “Far more interesting than many Tzari oeuvre, although that is not a hard accomplishment.”
Humans were flawed but their literature was one thing where they outshone us Tzaries.
“I admit I’m woefully unable to comment.” Erik answered. “I’ve not seen any Tzari literature or entertainment. Ravenclaw til the end though”
“You have not missed much.” I waved my hand in a dismissive motion. “Earth is definitely more interesting; the planet, the culture, the people. Even the choice of mate once you get used to it.” I gave him a grin.
“I’ve heard tzaris tend to be more easygoing on that… side of things.” He mumbled. He was right, where humans had all these rules about with who, when, or how it was appropriate to mate, we mated however we wished. “On Earth it’s still controversial to be bisexual. I’ve still not even told my aunt or uncle.” That had been a surprise, humans held taboo against same sex mating.
“Yes, your species can be quite prudish as I’ve discovered. And something quite protective of their youth’s… What did they call it?” I paused trying to remember the exact term. “Ah yes, their purity.”
He laughed. “Yes, something about saving it for ‘your one true love’” he moved his fingers up and down at the mention of ‘true love.’ “I’ve never really understood the fuss. Surely you’d want both parties to be experienced so it’s fun?”
“I like the way you think Erik of the Netherland.”
He laughed again. “Thanks. Whereabouts are you from? On Earth I mean. Your accent is sort of a big mix.”
“All over. I’ve been travelling quite a lot, spent most of my first year with the others in Spain but then I visited Europe before getting to this country in the spring. I guess it was my inner Qurhal pushing me.”
“Erm… what do you mean by Qurhal?”
“We’re a nomadic people from the steppes of Resh. My sister and I however decided to leave the tribe behind and enlist with the imperial academy.”
There was a pause as he absorbed the new information. “And that’s how you found your way on Earth. Were you a soldier then?” There was a second of pause before he spoke up, his voice a little agitated. “If that’s okay to ask.”
“Oh no, I was an apprentice armorer. Learned quite a few useful things. It’s how I made Bardiche.” I ran a hand over Bardiche’s shaft.
“You’ll have to show me when we’re not stuck in a small space.” He laughed once more, he was doing a lot of it, I liked that.
“I’m sure there’s plenty more I could show you.”
“I do need a friend to explore Ravenhold with.”
“That sounds good, perhaps we could even find a nice and quiet spots. Those always come in handy when you want to be alone.”
He bit his lip. “I would like to get know you better.”
“I’m sure we’ll have plenty of time to do that. With luck we might even live together.”
“I haven’t researched Ravenhold that much. The whole getting powers thing happened rather suddenly. My uncle called in a favour with someone in the Legion to get me here. I know you have a share a room with someone though.” His lips parted, exposing his teeth.
“I applied, thought it’d be fun, then I had Preator decide to vouch for me.”
“Oh wow. You know Preator personally?”
“Not quite, she just thought to give me some unrequested help. Got me out of county jail too.”
His eyes widened, he’d probably gotten the wrong impression from that. “O-oh.” he stuttered. “Last time I got in trouble it was for accidentally setting fire to the curtains after building a PC wrong when I was 11…”
I laughed at his little anecdote, I’d had my share of tinkering mishaps as a child. “The local authorities were less than keen on my attempt to aid this lovely lady at the diner. I was there, eating my meal when these three drunkards began making crass comments at her, one of them even groped her. Naturally I had to stand up for her, their behavior was just unacceptable.”
“Oh, sounds like you did the world and her a big favour then.”
“It went under appreciated.”
“Aww that sucks. When we get a chance to have a night on the town let’s get drunk in honour of your good deeds.”
“That sounds quite enjoyable.”
“It is. Leads to some fun hook ups too.”
“That it does, although perhaps we won’t need to go that far for that.”
“Yeah, I feel like Ravenhold will be a good time.”
Just then, the person next to Erik awoke and Erik’s attention went toward them. Clearly they knew each others. Shame our little conversation had come to an end, but we’d have ample time to make better acquaintances, perhaps even get alone and intimate.