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We Live in the Ashes



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Tue Aug 24, 2021 10:16 pm
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SilverNight says...





"Is that it?"

The aged man standing next to her looked over. "The convoy comes in in three days. Our spy on the radio broadcasts intercepted the message this morning." He slid his hands behind his back and turned his gaze back out across the dewy meadow stretched before them, glistening pale silver in the moonlight. A dead, brown line had been cut through the middle by scores of heavy truck wheels, tracing towards the city lights on the other side.

The woman stared down the scar in the meadow grass. "And you want to take it."

"It shouldn't be that complicated. In fact, I'd prefer to stage something bigger, but this is what we've got to work with." Another man was standing further back, his arms crossed over his chest. His face was serious, as usual, but only made more somber by the darkness of the forest. "The steps we're taking towards our goal are far too small."

The woman turned around, glancing up at him with dark eyes. "Too small," she echoed quietly. "You'd like us to charge out, both of you. Our wrists and ankles are tied, there are no bigger steps."

"If we were tied up, then we'd start with freeing ourselves," the man said grimly. "And we should be doing that now."

The older man stepped back to the woman's side insistently. "We can't keep shirking risk. It's the price of our freedom now, you know that."

Her eyes flashed up to his. "And when the Teviran's hand falls? What then?" She looked between the two men, meeting their gazes. "No one will enjoy freedom when it comes as death."

"There's always going to be survivors." The man in the shadows leaned back against one of the trees, with a glint in his eyes that was clearly a challenge. "We just have to make sure it's us."




After a crescendo of unrest, both from inside and out, Misericord fell to the Tevirans from the northern border. In thirty-seven years, a slowly growing, hidden resistance hasn't been able to break the nation free from the iron grip of their tyrannical conquerors, but in secret more and more fighters are calling for stronger measures, while operatives and spies from Teviran are cracking down on anyone suspected of links to the underground. Soon, the resistance must either rise stronger than it's ever dared before, or be pulled down forever.

Silver is a chemical element with the symbol Ag (from the Latin argentum, "shiny" or "white") and atomic number 47.


okay but does this mean I have a melting point of 1763.2 °F



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Sat Sep 25, 2021 7:00 pm
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Stringbean says...



Image


The eastern sky was a swath of black and blue pricked by the evening’s first cold stars. Under the dark eaves of her cottage, she jiggled the key in her front door lock and checked the knob. She slipped the key away into her blouse and pulled her cowl close. Silently, she turned, glancing frostily over the three, dark-suited men waiting along the walk. They followed her to a sleek car idling at the side of the road and two of them slid into the back seat beside her. The muted rumble of the engine shifted into gear.

Beyond the tinted windows, bare fields and the charred, broken remains of homes bombed long ago scrolled by. The car jolted onto an ancient cobblestone street and wove through the heart of a subdued city lit by posts glinting sickly yellow lamplight. In a large square, they stopped. The man on the woman’s right jerked his chin to the door and ushered her out behind him. She squinted in the last ray of the setting sun as she stood. Across the square, a hunched man in a threadbare coat shrank away into the dark door-well of a boarded shop with his broom. The woman’s dark eyes lingered on him. She glanced up sharply at her escort as she turned to the looming building spread across the head of the square.

With one suited guard ahead and one behind, she limped up the wide steps to the heavy oak doors of the Shanoa Minor House. She stared at the tangled faces and dancing figures carved into the wood while a soldier with a gun slung over his shoulder patted her limbs. He straightened and nodded them through the door with a grunt. The guards led her to an upper floor and a wood-paneled hall, to a closed door with a silver name plate. Another soldier was stationed in front of it. He stepped inside. They waited in silence. A moment later, the door swung open and the woman went in.

The office was musty, the panes of its wall of windows sticky with dust. The heavy desk in the middle was neat as a pin, but the cushioned seat beneath the windows was strewn with papers and spotted with ink. The woman looked it all over slowly with disinterest.

“Natalia! I hope I didn’t keep you waiting too long.”

“Less than usual. You must be in a hurry tonight.”

The thin, elderly man who had stepped out of an adjoining room tried to mask his sneer with a smile. He tugged the lapels of his suit jacket. “My business is none of your business, except in so far as you serve it.”

Natalia looked the man, Shetzle, over coolly. He was nearly fifteen years her senior and his narrow face of sagging wrinkles was even more pinched than usual. “I only said that you were prompt tonight,” she said, openly studying the fine black silk he was wearing.

He tugged his lapels again and smoothed his jacket. “Nevermind. Your report.”

She tipped her head in a small nod. “My report. Word from around the country is that things with the public are much as usual. No riots, no talk of riots, no plots to dispose you yet.”

“Feeling a bit lippy tonight?” Shetzle was busy scrolling through computer files while standing at his desk, but spared Natalia a warning glance over the monitor.

She paused and went on emotionlessly. “There are minor flares of rumors here and there, a few pamphlets, posters in the train depots, all usual things. There’s been a small up-tick of resistance talk in Nor’burn over the last two weeks, but I don’t think it’s anything serious. My rounds will bring me there next month and I’ll take care—”

“You’re going this week.” Shetzle pushed his computer mouse away and straightened expectantly.

She paused again. “It really isn’t an urgent matter.”

Shetzle waved her off disgustedly and came around his desk. “I’ll decide what’s urgent. Two weeks ago it was not. Today it is. I want you to take care of it now.”

Quietly, Natalia answered, “I see.”

Shetzle smirked slightly. “Not half of it really, but allow me to continue.” Natalia regarded him silently as he leaned back against his desk, gazing up at the ceiling as he collected his thoughts. “There are going to be some changes across Misericord,” he announced at length. “And change, you know so well, is a delicate business. The Teviran lords expect things to go smoothly because I’ve told them things are going smoothly—and that’s exactly how I expect them to keep going. I’ll be increasing the police presence in Nor’burn and all these other incessant problem areas, so if you don’t want to see more citizens arrested you’ll work a little harder to squash this resistance sentiment out of them.”

“What sort of changes?”

“They’ll be announced before the end of the month. That’s your deadline. These ‘minor flares’ are unacceptable, clean them up.”

Natalia felt the familiar burn of bile in her throat. “I’ll take care of it.”

Shetzle straightened with a sly grin. “You always do.”

He pressed a button on his wristwatch and a guard opened the door, filling the frame with his shoulders. Natalia pulled her eyes away from Shetzle’s face and turned, the guard stepping aside to escort her out. Shetzle called behind her. “Oh, and, Natalia—do this well and I just might be able to let that cousin of yours out of prison.”

Natalia hesitated in the doorway. She turned her head, not meeting Shetzle’s eye. With that understanding between them, she left, shadowed by Shetzle’s sentries.

A frosty night wind blew across the front steps as the heavy door closed behind her. The hem of her skirt danced around her shins. She stopped and scanned the lamp-lit square below. The old marble fountain gurgled quietly in the center, steam rising from its heated pool. In the shadows of a shop across the cobblestone, a motionless figure stood watching with his broom.

“Let’s go,” the lead guard ordered, prodding her shoulder.

She glanced sideways at him and pulled the hood of her cowl up. She kept her gaze on her flats until she was sandwiched into the back seat again. The car circled the fountain back to the main street. No one spoke. In the rearview mirror, she saw a second set of headlights bob around the corner. You were in a hurry tonight, she thought. Silk suit.

A hand turned the mirror slightly and Natalia was looking at the narrowed eyes of the man in the front passenger. She turned to the side window. She watched phantom shapes in the dark street flicker by past the barrel chest of her guard until the pale beam of the other car’s headlights slid across the shop fronts as it turned off onto the street that would take Shetzle to the old Council House. Unseen, a small drone was following him in the sky, she knew. Natalia let her gaze drift back to the front windshield and pushed her cowl down, brushing wispy strands of silver from her face with a steadying breath.

I always take care of it…
  





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SilverNight says...



Image


Finn examined the marker piece in his hand before turning his attention back to the setup on the table. Small tree pieces and pebbles were scattered around on either side of a gray stripe of fabric meant to represent a road. Three small trucks, like the toy cars he might’ve played with if he hadn’t been given toy swords instead, were positioned on the road, in between a stretch of trees and boulders. And on the corner closest to him, there were figures of people like the one he was holding, ready to be placed on the display.

He felt like a chess player, ready to move out his pawns, except this wasn’t a chess board in front of him. This was a battlefield, and he knew better than to consider it a game. The stakes were a lot higher than that.

Finn set the first marker next to a boulder, to the side of the second truck in the convoy and sat back in his seat.

“Don’t choose there,” Daya advised. “They’ll be visible.”

He frowned. “Truck drivers can’t see a lot of the road. They have blind spots, especially along the side and back.”

His mother shook her head. “There’s still three trucks that are going to be stopped, so even if the front truck doesn’t see them because they’re in the back and the second doesn’t see them because they’re to the side, the third will still be able to see them just fine.”

Finn rested his chin in his hand, with one elbow on the table as he scanned the setup. After a moment, he moved the figure to be behind one of the boulders instead.

“Better,” Daya said with a nod of approval.

“How tall are these trees?” he asked, picking one up absentmindedly. He set it back down immediately, however, when his mother shot him a look. She didn’t want him to mess up the correct position of everything.

“I don’t know their exact height,” she admitted. “This isn’t perfectly to scale, since all our trees in this model are the same height, though they’ll look different there.”

“If they’re tall enough and have dense foliage, we could have a few people up there.” Finn bit his lip as he took another fighter marker, staring blankly at it. “Of course, that isn’t very safe for them,” he added, wanting to take his suggestion back. The weight of responsibility wasn’t a comfortable burden for him.

Daya gave it some thought. “Not a bad idea, but since we only have the relative positions of the trees and don’t know what they look like, I think it’d be too risky.”

Finn nodded, starting to arrange the figures where they’d be covered and safe as possible. He’d already counted how many there were, but he did it again anyway. Sixteen fighters, hiding in the trees waiting to strike.

He wondered which one of them was him. Of course, that was up to his father to decide, since he would assign the roles after they made the plans. But one of them was.

“Got any inside knowledge who else is going?”

His mother thought for a moment. “Not really, just a few people he might want. But I believe he’s planning to assign Jay to the convoy too.”

“Jay’s coming with us?” Finn asked.

“I think so,” Daya said.

“I told him this morning he wouldn’t be going, even though he knows I am.” Finn sighed. “I guess I spoke too soon.”

“You’ll still have time to let him know after we’re done here.”

Finn nodded, glancing back at the map and resolving to get this done quickly. “Right. So, what do we know about this convoy again?”

“There’s enough weapons for eighty troops in the back of each truck,” Daya said. “If we get those, we won’t have to worry about ammunition and our armory stockpile for a while. However, there’s two guards in the back of each truck who can get backup if we’re not fast enough, so if we don’t get this shipment and they stop us, we’ll have a much bigger problem on our hands than a gun shortage.”

“Reassuring,” he muttered.

“You’ve done this kind of mission plenty of times,” his mother reminded him. “So has Jay. And your father’s going to be there too.”

That last statement was pretty obvious, since Rowan Chase always went along. As the leader of the resistance fighters, he seemed to think he needed to be there for every mission, no matter what kind or how small it was. Or maybe it had nothing to do with leadership and he just wouldn’t turn down a chance to fight. Finn wasn’t sure these days.

“Yeah,” he said bluntly, looking away from her and back at the fabric road. “And… there’s going to be something on the road that’ll make the first driver stop so we get our chance?”

“There’s something hidden that’ll destroy one of the tires as the truck drives over it,” Daya said with a nod. “We’ve already got it there, and the road is only for shipments this way, so there won’t be anything driving there before the convoy does later today. The road can also get rather rocky, so that’s what they’ll blame it on.”

Of course she’d have thought of that. His mother didn’t leave any loose ends in her strategies.

“Right,” Finn said. “So, is that all that’s left?”

Daya tilted her head towards the door. “I know you want to give Jay some warning. That’s okay, go ahead and do that. I’ll take it from here.” Finn wasn’t surprised she’d guessed his intention.

“Thanks.” He gave her a smile as he got up, but it was a little weak. His mother returned it and briefly patted his arm when he passed her on his way out, before she turned her attention back to the miniature scene of what was about to happen in a few hours— or what was supposed to happen. The gesture was meant to be reassuring, but it worried him a little more. She wasn’t often that affectionate with him without a good reason to be.




Finn found Jay in the room where the resistance kept their files. His best friend was sitting in a chair with a manila folder open on a table, holding a mug of what smelled like freshly brewed coffee in his hand. There was a map spread out next to the folder, and Jay’s finger was hovering on a point, tapping it distractedly as he kept reading.

“Are you doing research?” Finn asked, walking around to his side of the table.

Jay looked up, and his face brightened. They’d seen each other just a few hours ago, but his smile showed he was still excited to see him. “Just a little bit of work. Come on over, there’s space.”

Finn settled into the seat on his right, leaning over to watch what he was doing. The location under Jay’s finger was an old underground train station, which Finn knew had been abandoned since the war thirty-seven years ago. A bomb had fallen on it and it hadn’t been repaired since. It seemed a strange thing to be reading about, but the folder Jay had taken matched.

“Did someone give you a city history project or something?” he asked.

“If by ‘someone’ you mean the impulsive voice in my head that spoke up around 4AM last night, yes, I have received an assignment,” Jay answered, taking a sip of his coffee.

Finn chuckled. “Four in the morning? What were you doing awake then?”

In response, Jay tapped the mug and raised his eyebrows.

“Oh, seriously,” Finn said with a sigh. “You need more than two hours of sleep if you’re going to work in the morning, and coffee doesn’t count.”

“Two and a half,” Jay protested. “And it hasn’t killed me yet.”

“Didn’t I see you have two cups this morning already? That’s way too much coffee.”

Jay lifted the mug up and made direct eye contact with Finn while he took a large gulp, maintaining a perfectly straight face.

Finn rolled his eyes. “Okay, we’ll work on self-care when you’re a little less caffeinated. So, why are you looking at train stations?”

“Not just any station.” His friend tapped the eraser end of his pencil on a photograph that was attached to the file by a paper clip. Finn took it out and lifted it up to get a better look. The picture was of a stairway leading underground, but the area around it was taped off, and the entrance was partly boarded up. It didn’t look like anyone had needed to go to the trouble of all that, though, because the area looked intimidating, not to mention a little dangerous. “This was one of Misericord’s most iconic stations before it got bombed.”

“Teviran doesn’t care for Misericord culture,” Finn said. “It didn’t decide to repair it, especially since it’s got to be beyond restoring, let alone saving. That place has to be falling apart.”

“That’s what I thought, but I came across the rest of this.” Jay flipped through the folder, looking for what he had in mind. When he’d found it, he slid it across the table towards Finn. It was another set of photographs, but they looked very different from the first one. Finn frowned and leaned closer.

He could tell from the quality of the photos that they had to be about twenty years newer than the one of the entrance. The only light in the pictures had to be from the camera flash, but the details were still clear. One photo was of cracked, faded mosaics on a train platform. Another had a collapsed tunnel and deformed rails, with a gaping hole in the tracks. There was also a picture of a crumbling staircase, but it looked like you could still walk there if you wanted to.

“How did someone take these pictures?”

“Apparently someone went down there a few months ago, and they took a camera with them. They walked down those stairs, right past the boards and tape, and they had a perfectly safe stroll around a historic ruin.”

“That’s so crazy.” Finn shook his head in amazement.

“I know, right?” Jay grinned. “I think it’d be cool to explore sometime.”

“Oh, so that’s the impulsive thought you had early this morning? Wandering around a structurally unstable site that could cave in on you at any moment?”

“I’d have a flashlight!”

“Which is definitely a good protective measure to stop stone ceiling chunks from falling on your head,” Finn teased. “Who needs helmets and common sense anyway?”

“I’m not walking around with one of those plastic caps that come with flashlight bands,” Jay said. “I may lack some common sense, but I do have a sense of fashion. Besides, it’s not the pile of rubble it’s made out to be anyway.”

“You’re unbelievable and just a little weird.”

“Only a little?” He sounded disappointed.

“Fine, very.”

“Thank you.” Jay winked.

Finn laughed, shaking his head. “Have fun touring a deserted train station, I guess.”

“You’re still invited if you want to tag along.” Jay gave him a smile as he folded up the map and closed the file. “So, how was strategy planning?”

“Oh.” He’d almost forgotten that he’d wanted to tell Jay something. “It went as usual, I guess. My mother’s probably got it all figured out now.” Finn winced. “Jay, I know I said that you wouldn’t have to be going on this, but I was wrong and it looks like you are. I’m sorry I misinformed you.”

His friend’s smile fell all of a sudden. “I see.”

Finn sighed. “I wish you didn’t have to. I could try to talk my father out of it still.”

“He wouldn’t let me get away with that,” Jay said, a little regretfully. “I’m not exactly on his good side right now.”

“Why not?”

“Because I tried telling him that you shouldn’t have to go on this mission.” He took a sip of his coffee, staring off at the wall. “I don’t think he liked that very much.”

Finn groaned, putting his head in his hands for a moment. “He probably wasn’t planning to make you go before then. It’d be like him to get back at you that way.”

Jay shrugged and nudged him with his shoulder. “It won’t be that bad. Besides, you’ll have some company other than him this way. Right?” His tone was lighthearted, but he could tell it was to cover up his disappointment.

“Right.” Finn tried to smile, but he wasn’t sure it was convincing. “We’ll just see how it goes.”
Silver is a chemical element with the symbol Ag (from the Latin argentum, "shiny" or "white") and atomic number 47.


okay but does this mean I have a melting point of 1763.2 °F



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SilverNight says...



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Even if he’d wanted to go on this mission in the first place, Jay would’ve been having second thoughts anyway. Rowan Chase had a bit of a reputation for wanting to rush forward with plans— he tended to take larger risks than many in the resistance thought was best. And now he intended to take them to intercept a convoy that he’d found out about only the evening before, with a strategy created just a few hours ago.

Jay trusted the work Daya and Finn had done, but he’d learned by now to question Rowan’s safety preparations.

He lingered by the doorway after the briefing with the group was over, standing to the side to let people filter out. Rowan would be leaving last, so that was how it was easiest to confront him. When Finn passed by, his friend gave him a serious, slightly grim look, guessing what he intended to do. There wasn’t time for him to talk Jay out of it, but it seemed like he thought it wasn’t a good idea.

Another thing Jay had learned was that Finn’s father didn’t like to be challenged on his decisions, but he’d decided to call him out anyway. He wasn’t getting off that easily.

When the room was empty, Rowan glanced up, just realizing that he was still there. He scowled, as if sensing his intention. “Yes?”

“Finn doesn’t need to be going on this and you know it,” Jay said.

Rowan’s frown quickly deepened. “We’ve been over this. We need people on this mission, and I don’t expect to pull it off with lower numbers.”

“You know that’s not what I mean,” Jay said, moving in front of the door a little more. “You could’ve chosen anyone more experienced to go, someone who really knows what they’re doing. I’m sure you could’ve gotten plenty of volunteers instead of forcing your son to go along with you.”

“How do you think fighters get experience?” His friend’s father narrowed his eyes. “They get it by going out there. He’s going to need it more than anyone if he wants to amount to anything one day.”

“He’s already quite something, thank you very much.” Jay heard an irritated edge enter his voice. Something told him that this would go just like all the other times before, but he didn’t know how to give up on it. Now that was something he had never learned. “And it doesn’t help him any if he’s unwilling. Why don’t you try not forcing him to do anything, for a change?”

“How about you stop making excuses for him?” Rowan was glaring now, and the familiar expression reminded Jay of someone else, just enough that part of him wanted to take a few steps back to stay out of range— but he stood his ground anyway. “Finn is leaving with us.”

“You’re not going to change the way he is,” Jay retorted.

Rowan gritted his teeth, and he knew right away he’d lost his patience. “You need to learn your place, Wilde. Maybe start by taking orders from your superiors.” He pushed past Jay and left the room without another word.

This is definitely the reason he decided to send me on this, Jay thought. Of course it wouldn’t go any differently than earlier today.

But learning his place wasn’t something he’d done yet either. He didn’t plan on doing that anytime soon.




Two hours later, the trucks were driving down the road.

There were three of them, just as they’d been informed. The first one was twenty yards away and still approaching. Jay was hidden behind a rock, next to Finn. The other fighters were all in their positions, ready for the ambush. They’d all been given guns, but a few such as Rowan and Finn were also wearing bulletproof vests; Jay was not. There was a shortage of those, and although Finn had been trying to get Jay to wear his, he’d always turned it down.

He was expendable to Rowan, but then so were a lot of the other people with him.
Jay could see the fighters tensing up as the first truck approached the trap, seemingly counting the seconds until it would stop. But no one moved yet.

Just a few moments later, he heard a slight pop sound, and the truck jolted a little as it came to a halt. The other two trucks braked quickly, barely avoiding a collision. Jay’s heart was racing. Had they felt the bounce strongly enough to realize something was wrong?

But the driver stepped out calmly, not seeing the people hidden just a few feet away. He bent down to inspect the tire, shaking his head as the guards stepped out of the back. Jay couldn’t see it from where he was, but he hoped there wasn’t anything left of the trap to be seen.

“Flat tire?” one of the guards asked, gun at her side instead of in her hands. That was a good sign at least.

“I think so,” the driver said. “Must’ve driven over a rough patch. Mind running back there and let the others know what’s happened?”

The guard turned back around, knocking on the side of the other trucks to get those inside to step out. To Jay’s right, Rowan held up a hand, preparing to signal them out. With a sinking feeling, Jay saw the safety of his gun was already off. It was about to get real.

They waited until everyone in the trucks had exited, and then Rowan lowered his hand.

The first gunshot went off, loud and sudden, but soon it was indistinguishable from the bullet fire that followed. Jay didn’t point his gun at any of the guards, or even look at any of them. Instead, he aimed for the tires of another truck, so that they wouldn’t be able to drive off and escape. He fired a few shots, then took a deep breath and tried to aim for another tire, but his heart was beating too fast and he was already shaking. He couldn’t stay still long enough to acquire a target.

Now that they’d gotten all they could have out of the element of surprise, the fighters were charging out of their positions for the next part of the ambush. The guards had recovered from their initial shock and were already pulling out their weapons. There was a ratio of about two fighters to one guard, but the Tevirans were better armed. They just had to count on their numbers being stronger than their equipment.

Where was Finn? Hadn’t he been right next to him a moment ago?

Jay looked around, briefly panicking until he saw him standing on top of one of the rocks they’d used as cover. His friend was drawing the fire of one of the guards so that the rebels would take advantage of the distraction. That was a risky choice, maybe too dangerous, even with the bulletproof vest.

“Finn, you should get down from there!” he shouted, not sure his voice would carry over the noise. But somehow Finn heard him despite it all. He glanced in his direction, and Jay just barely had time to notice his blue-gray eyes widen.

Something heavy slammed into him, and Jay was knocked into the boulder behind him. He winced as he felt the jagged rock scrape against his back. He’d lost his grip on the gun, which had tumbled a few feet away. Instead of dashing to get it back, Jay looked up. The Teviran guard who had made him fall was squinting at him. He was clutching his arm— he must’ve gotten hit earlier— and wasn’t pointing his gun at him yet. Maybe he’d decided shooting someone at this close range wouldn’t be pretty. Or maybe he’s realized I’m a lot younger than almost everyone else here, Jay thought.

Either way, he took advantage of the guard’s hesitation, and charged as soon as he got to his feet. The guard swung his gun at him, using it as a blunt weapon rather than a firearm. Jay ducked out of its path and quickly followed it with a kick to the chest. It would’ve been easier to hit the guard’s injured arm, but he hadn’t wanted to do that. The guard stumbled back and swung again, this time more clumsily, and Jay dodged it easily.

But now the guard seemed to have gotten over his reservations about shooting him, and he shakily pointed the gun at him. Jay dived out of the way on instinct, landing on the ground before he pulled the trigger, but the gunshot rang loudly in his ears and he couldn’t hear anything else for a few moments.

I knew I should’ve gone to see Diego instead of making my own coffee this morning. That was the only coherent thought he could focus on.

Jay rolled away from the guard, just in time to avoid the next shot. Pain flared up in his jaw— he must have scraped his face against the rocky ground. Jay pushed himself up with a grunt and slammed into the guard as hard as he could. The gun went off again, but the shot went wide. The Teviran soldier fell down, his head hitting the boulder he had been hiding behind earlier. Jay backed up, breathing heavily, away from the now-unconscious guard.

He finally had a moment to scan the fight. Finn hadn’t been able to intervene, being stuck in a combat of his own to draw fire away from the others, but he’d made it out safely and was now defending another fighter. Rowan was a short distance away, breaking into the truck in the back. Jay met his gaze for a brief moment, and the hard look in his commander’s stony eyes made him turn away quickly.

Maybe Finn had been right about Rowan wanting to get back at him. Why else had the rest of the fighters decided not to help him while he’d been facing down that guard?

The fight was almost over, though, and there wasn’t anything for Jay to do. There were only two guards left standing, and they’d be dealt with by the rebels soon enough. Jay turned his back on the fight and followed Rowan into the truck, feeling strangely numb.

It was stocked with weapons and ammunition, just like they’d been told. One of the rebel fighters had taken a gun out of a crate, running her hands along it and nodding in approval. “These are new models,” she told Rowan. “They’re in perfect shape.”

“They’re ours now,” the commander said. “They should be done out there by now. I’ll give the order for transport of our own to come in and take them away.”

Jay’s head was pounding, and he stumbled out of the truck in a daze, wanting to be somewhere far away. He felt someone brush against him and he instantly froze up, every muscle tense.

“Jay? Sorry, I didn’t mean to catch you off-guard.” Finn’s concerned voice cut through the blur. “Are you okay? Would you prefer not to be touched right now?”

“I’m fine,” he mumbled weakly, leaning against his friend like he might fall over without someone to hold him up. “It’s okay.”

“You look a little bruised up.” Finn gave him a weary but understanding look, putting an arm around his shoulders as loosely as he could while still holding him up. “We’ll be back soon, alright?”

Jay nodded feebly, closing his eyes. All he could think about was how badly he needed to talk to Diego. He’d been starting to doubt his choice from a few months ago, but he was fairly certain he’d just turned out to be right.
Silver is a chemical element with the symbol Ag (from the Latin argentum, "shiny" or "white") and atomic number 47.


okay but does this mean I have a melting point of 1763.2 °F



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Jason briefly touched a point on the map south of Nor'burn. "There it is. Number Seven station on the main track--they can't get anything east without it 'less they take the river." His eyes flicked up to his companions across the table and he shrugged one shoulder. "I've already worked it out, a few operatives, a few bombs." He looked at Rowan, hoping to reap some of the fruits of the commander's latest labor. "If we play our cards right afterwards, we can take advantage of their redirected shipping routes."

Natalia watched the two men's faces in the low glare of electric light. The hooded bulb over the center of the table hummed dismally and from somewhere within the headquarters' underground shafts, a cold draft from the world outside gently rocked it back and forth.

Rowan's usual scowl made it hard to tell if he was impressed or not. "I recognize that's an important location in that area, but it's far away from the capital. It's better to keep our forces concentrated here, where we can focus on the most important issues."

"Things are too hot around Shanoa right now. I think you shook the Tevirans up a bit with that last stunt of yours. I can hardly get any of my people close to anything sensitive." Jason glanced back and pulled his chair up to the table, going on as he sat back, his elbow propped on the armrest. "Anyway, there isn't another point like Number Seven. None of the other stations are so isolated."

"I can't travel there for this, not that easily. It'd be too suspicious. Besides, the resistance members in Nor'burn have a tendency to get themselves... noticed." Rowan's hard gaze flicked across the table to Natalia's. "They're less organized over there, and they don't take orders nearly as well. I don't have anyone over there that I trust well enough to do this efficiently."

"Not to worry. You may not be able to get there, but the police aren't tracking dead people," Jason said with a faint smirk, refering to himself of course. "I can be there by Wednesday with seven or eight of my own people, that should be enough I think." He glanced over at Natalia, clearing his throat faintly and letting his gaze rest on the table. "The commander's right though, things in Nor'burn have been getting a bit dicey. It might make this a little trickier."

Natalia drew a deep breath, holding back a sigh behind slightly pursed lips. She nodded. "Yes, I know. Keep things quiet. I heard it all last night."

Rowan let out a resigned sigh. "You cannot keep playing the dead person card," he muttered under his breath to Jason, who chuckled slightly, but he turned to Natalia without further argument. "How did your meeting with Shetzle go?"

Her eyes flicked to him and she pulled her cardigan closer. "Well, you're right--Nor'burn has caught his attention, and he's unusually nervous about it. I'm leaving before the end of the week."

"Well, then maybe you can help get my people in," Jason suggested.

Natalia shook her head. "No, this is tight. He wouldn't talk about what it is, but something's coming. He gave me till the end of the month to settle everything down. I think we should save any more big plans for later."

"How inconvenient that it messes with our newfound plans to take over a crucial trading point," Rowan noted, glancing at Jason. "Did whatever he had in mind seem to be only about Nor'burn, or on a larger scale? If it's a threat to the city, we may have to evacuate our members."

"No, the whole country. I think it may be something from Teviran, Shetzle left right behind me last night. My man trailed him to central command." She looked at Jason. "He also said he's increasing police presence in Nor'burn and some other places. So maybe we should work on getting some of our people out anyway."

Jason's brow had furrowed thoughtfully and he nodded. "Yes..." After a short silence, he said, "But I'd still like to go through with this," tapping the map. "If the Tevirans are anxious to have us in line then it must mean that resistance now would be especially troublesome for them."

The commander was silent for a few moments before he spoke with an indifferent tone. "If all those extra police members do end up arresting you and your group, should you fail and get caught, what are you planning to do? Show them a fake passport and hope your false identity is credible enough to make them let you go?"

"I doubt they'd be letting me go, but don't worry, I won't tell on the rest of you," Jason replied a bit impatiently. He stood though, losing any trace of sarcasm. "This is the best time. I'll take a few more people than I planned and we'll strike quick. If I leave tonight maybe we can even be there before the bulk of the police arrive."

Across the table, Natalia was staring at him. "You can't be serious." Jason sighed slightly before looking at her. "They're ready to cut any resistance down, on the spot."

"And when are they not?" he retorted with a sudden scowl. "We're always taking that risk, it isn't any different now."

"There'll be heavier retaliation!"

"Why should that be worse than whatever they have planned for the country?" Natalia pursed her lips, still meeting Jason's eyes. He jabbed a finger at the world above them, though he lowered his voice. "If they want us to lie low and take what's coming, then we need to fight it. That's the purpose of resistance. I'm not here to do whatever the Tevirans say."

Natalia stiffened and the room fell silent.

Jason's gaze faltered, his face slowly draining of its heat. "That isn't what I meant."

Natalia looked away without answering.

Rowan had been staring rather blankly at the map, a hand on his forehead and his weight resting on the elbow he had propped up on the table. He sighed tiredly. "Maybe you're letting today's success get to your head," he told Jason, sitting up again. "However, that did go well. We seized the weapons and didn't get soldiers called on us. There were some..." He paused, looking for a word. "There were issues with a few of the fighters, acting out, challenging orders. But I can deal with that, and aside from that, everything went perfectly fine."

Natalia brushed a stray wisp of hair away and looked over, her expression still a bit tight. "Who was challenging orders?"

"Any guesses?" Rowan said. There was irritation in his voice, but it wasn't directed at her. "It's those boys. One of them asked for the other to get out of the mission, not once but twice."

"Oh," she said softly, some of the tension easing from her manner. "I take it they both went anyway?"

The commander nodded. "They needed some discipline."

She met his hard gaze for a moment. "That's a rather hard discipline," she said quietly. "It is their lives afterall."

"I'll raise my son how I see fit," he said sharply. "And this is my jurisdiction within the resistance, not yours."

Natalia studied him briefly, relenting with a small nod.

Jason glanced from her to Rowan and lifted his eyebrows. "Well. I suppose we're holding off on the railway plans for now." He drummed the edge of the table with his fingers and stood, his chair scraping the bare floor loudly. "I suggest we all use the time then to rest and build our plans."

"Fair enough." Rowan stood up and rolled up the map.

Jason looked to both of them and nodded goodnight. "Until Friday then." He glanced to the doorway and murmured as he headed out, "I'll signal if it's clear."

Natalia nodded slightly and watched him go. She glanced at Rowan once more as she turned to take her coat from a peg.

"You'll be leaving after Friday, won't you?" Rowan asked on his way out, stopping in the doorway.

Natalia pulled her silver braid over her collar. "If I can manage it."

He nodded grimly. "Do what you have to."

She puased for only a fraction of a second as she was taking her scarf down. "I always do."

In a few minutes, a small bell tinkled in the hall, the signal from Jason that the street was clear. Natalia lingered in the doorway of the meeting room, listening to the shuffle of feet and coats and watching shadows play down the hall as men and women of the resistance trickled out. When things were quiet, she sighed to herself and turned down the musty passage.

The file room was at the end of a rather narrow hall that, like the rest of the underground portion of their headquarters, had been hastily finished with cheap, dark wall paneling and elaborately patterned red carpet remnants, and never touched since. Together with the bare bulbs strung at sparse intervals along the ceilings, the atmosphere had always felt rather suffocating to her. But then, that matched how this resistance work had always felt, and the air underground grew staler every year.

The door to the file room was already ajar, a wide beam of light stretching out into the hall. Natalia drew her hand from her coat pocket and pushed the door open, titling her head as she peeked inside.

She saw Finn sitting by himself at a table in the center of the room, reading glasses on, going over a folder. The file appeared to have a coffee stain on the edge, even though there was no mug on the table. He looked up when he heard the creak of the door, quickly taking the glasses off. "Ms. White-- sorry, Natalia-- it's nice to see you! I'd say good evening, but I don't actually know if it's evening or night." He cleared his throat. "You know, not much natural light."

She smiled gently and stepped in. "About nine-thirty now I think. Sorry, I didn't mean to startle you."

"No, it's alright." Finn smiled back and glanced at the folder. "Sorry about the stain, although that wasn't me. You're free to sit down if you're here for something, of course."

She made her way to one of the many file cabinets lining three walls of the room, glancing at the folder in front of him. She crouched at the cabinet and opened a lower drawer, running over the file labels with her finger. "What are you looking at?"

"Jay was looking at information about this train station earlier today, and I remembered he forgot to put it away. So I came by to do that and I ended up reading it too." Finn flipped to another page. "I didn't give it much credit, but it actually seems interesting." He looked back in her direction. "What are you up to?"

Natalia pulled out a few files and stood, leaning against the cabinet for support. "I have some work in Nor'burn," she said without looking at him. "These are just for brushing up." She laid the files on the table across from him and sat down.

Finn put his reading glasses back on. "It's not related to another mission, is it?" He sounded worried.

She shook her head reassuringly, finally looking up. "No, not this time." She opened one of her folders, slowly scanning a few pages. "Actually, I don't think we'll be having any missions like that for a little while."

"No?" Finn paused. "That's... good?"

Natalia glanced up with a flicker of a smile. "For the best. At least for a few weeks."

He let out a relieved sigh, his shoulders falling into a more relaxed stance. "It's good to hear that."

Leaning over to reach a notepad and pencil, she nodded a little. Instead of going on, she looked across at the upside down print and pictures in the file Finn had and nodded to it. "That's the Dove Winds Station isn't it?"

"Yeah, it is. Jay seems to think it's not actually that dangerous and it'd be a great place to explore, maybe at night. That's not where he is right now, though," Finn added hastily. "At least, probably not. He told me he'd be elsewhere."

"I hope not," she said with a bit of a worried frown. "The station was hit pretty hard in the war. I doubt time's done anything for it."

Finn nodded. "I think so too. Hopefully he'll find something just as exciting that's a little safer."

"Hopefully," she agreed quietly. She turned to her work for a few minutes, skimming pages and marking down a few brief notes. At length, she glanced up at Finn again. "Your--father mentioned that you and Jay both went on this last mission."

"Yeah, we did." Finn looked down at the folder. He was silent for a little longer before he added, "Jay really wanted me to get out of doing it."

Natalia stiudied him and glanced down with a soft hum of understanding, then a halfhearted bit of a smile. "It's not the first time."

He shook his head. "It isn't. And like the other times, it didn't go great for him."

"The commander isn't one to let up much," she said quietly.

Finn was quiet for a few moments. He turned to another page in the file, but he didn't seem to be actually paying any attention to it. "I wish he would more often."

After a thoughtful silence, she asked, "Has he ever shown any sign that he might let it go? The tradition?"

"I've asked him to, believe me," Finn said with a tired laugh. "But he's still convinced it's in the blood."

"Ah..." Natalia nodded once and twisted her pencil in her fingers. "Because of your family's Gift?"

"No, not really. It's just been something we've done long enough that he wouldn't know what to do without it." Finn shrugged one shoulder. "For better or for worse, I haven't had any dreams lately."

"No news is good news, so they say."

A thin smile ghosted over his face. "Exactly." He closed the folder and set it flat on the table, coffee stain face up. "Do you need an omen for something ahead? Maybe whatever you're doing in Nor'burn? I can keep an eye out for those."

Natalia studied Finn's face a second, then gave him a small smile and shake of her head. "It'll be alright, thank you."

"Maybe I can just wish you good luck, then." Finn laughed.

She chuckled softly, looking down at the files in front of her. Good luck. Not for the first time, she had to wonder what that would look like. "Yes, thank you..."

The smile fell off Finn's face as his expression turned more serious. "Are you going to be alright?"

"Of course." She gave him a reassuring smile. "Afterall, I have been so far."

Finn met her gaze, a distant look in his eyes. He seemed to be lost in thought. Finally, he nodded and smiled back again. "Right." He yawned, rubbing at his eyes. "I have to get home for the night, but it was nice seeing you."

She nodded, the corner of her eyes crinkling. "Take care, Finn. Good night."

"You too." Finn stood up, pushed in his chair, and set the file back in the drawer it belonged in, waving at her on his way out. The sound of his footsteps echoed down the otherwise quiet hallway back to her.

Natalia watched him go, then hummed softly to herself through a sigh as her gaze grew thoughtful. After a few moments, she slowly looked back down to her papers, reading and marking notes under the hooded lamp.
  





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AceassinOfTheMoon says...



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With the evening hours getting late, the library was a much quieter place. Most of the people had gone already, and there were just a few people left browsing the shelves or sitting down with a book. Soon enough, it would be closing time, and then the library would be empty except for a few librarians doing their last tasks before going home.

Deserae's fingers left ghostly prints behind on the glass door as she pushed it open. A quick glance at the clock above the front desk informed her that she didn't have much time, and so her steps were more hurried than usual as she approached the librarian working behind the desk.

"Excuse me," she said cheerfully, leaning on the desk.

The librarian looked up, seeming to almost see right past her. But her gaze eventually focused on Deserae, and she smiled at her. "Can I help you?"

"Yes, actually! I'm looking for a book. Any book, really- do you have any realistic fiction recommendations? Preferably something a little bit older, but that not a lot of people have read. I know it seems like an odd request, and it's alright if you can't think of anything, but humour me, if you will?"

"Hmm." The librarian looked thoughtful. "Well, we do have plenty of books in a storage room back here that people have never checked out. I've never read any of them, so I'm not sure I can recommend any of them exactly. But if that's what you want, I can go grab a cart of them and we can look through a few."

"That would be lovely, thank you!"

"I'll be right back." The librarian turned around and went into the room behind the desk. She returned a minute or so later, pushing a cart with a few dozen books stacked up on it. "I didn't really look through them and just grabbed a few at random, but there's plenty more back there if these don't do it for you."

Deserae's eyes lit up with the approximate joy of a child in a candy shop. She took a book off the top of one of the book stacks and flipped through it quickly, before setting it aside and taking another one. "These are perfect, don't worry." She set the second one aside and took the third one. "Oh, my, you have this one in your collection? That's not fair, I've been trying to get my hands on one of these for centuries, and there's only two other copies that I know of. Both of which are owned by a very rude museum curator who won't sell one of them to me no matter how much money I throw at him. I may need to take this one for a little while..." She set it aside, but in a different pile than the first two.

The librarian squinted at the book in confusion. "You... recognize that? I've never heard of it."

Flipping through a fourth book, Deserae nodded distractedly. "Mm. It's one I've had my eye on for a while, of course I recognize it." She set the fourth book into her 'don't want it' pile and picked up a fifth one. "Gods and Goddesses," she mused. "Wonder if I'm in it. I'll be quite offended if I'm not- especially since the cover is him. If he gets to be in a book about the gods and I don't, I'm going to curse something."

She set the book on her 'want it' pile.

"...Is that so?" The librarian blinked, at a loss for words for a few seconds. "It... sure would be a shame if you cursed something, yes." She absentmindedly unstacked a few of the books into smaller piles so that more covers were visible, looking like she had many questions but wasn't sure how to ask any of them.

"Wait!" Deserae said suddenly, snatching a book practically right out of the librarian's hands. "... oh my," she murmured, looking at the title, then the author's name, embossed with gold on the cover in some kind of flowing script that was nearly impossible to read. "Wintermere... another quite special book." Apparently forgetting all about the rest of the books on the cart, she flipped to the first page and fell silent, scanning the page quickly with a half-smile tugging at her lips.

Now this was an interesting mystery. This was definitely her book - written by her, that is - but she didn't remember writing it. Of course, she didn't remember a lot of things, but she felt like she'd remember writing a book. Perhaps this book was written by some future version of her, which raised the questions of when, how, and why? And most importantly, how did it get to now?

"I didn't know we had this many special books in the back room," the librarian said, sounding perplexed. "Should I be shelving them or something?"

"Oh, please don't," Deserae said absently. "I shudder to think of the damage the general public would do to these books."

"Right," the librarian said slowly. "That one does appear to be in fragile condition. What's it called?"

Deserae closed the book and examined the cover. "We Live in the Ashes," she replied.

"I haven't heard of it. Hopefully it's realistic fiction, like you wanted."

"Mm. Looks like it's set in this universe, actually, so I don't think you can get that much more realistic. Unless there's suddenly dragons halfway through. I have a few books like that- they start out realistic, then go off the rails. It's fun, but not what I'm looking for."

The librarian nodded. "You're planning to read that one, then?"

"Oh, absolutely. I'll take those other two as well, of course, but I think this one is what I'm most excited about."

She glanced at the small pile of two books, then the one Deserae was holding. "I think those two are in good enough shape to check out, but the other one looks like it's barely holding itself together. You can still read it, but you'll just need to stop by for it without taking it home. None of these are exactly in demand, so you shouldn't have to worry about late fees and due dates at least."

Deserae looked down at the book for a moment, then looked back up. "Y'know," she started carefully, "books in this bad of condition are usually just... thrown out or given away by the library. And if it's not in high demand, that increases the reasons to get rid of it, right? You don't want to keep a book like this, surely, so how about I simply take it off your hands?" She flashed the librarian a blinding smile. "Please?"

The librarian raised her eyebrows. "Uhhhh... I thought you said it was... special, for whatever reason, and we try not to get rid of... special books."

"It was worth a try," Deserae said, without losing her smile. "Alright. I'll read it in the library, then."

"Have you got a library account with us?"

"... one second." Deserae pulled her wallet out of her pocket and opened it, flipping through her cards quickly and praying that the librarian wasn't paying close enough attention to see all the library cards from places that - to the librarian's knowledge - didn't actually exist. "Damn. Doesn't look like it."

"That's okay," the librarian said in a friendly tone. "We can set you up for free."

"Lovely. Let's get to it, then-" Deserae glanced at the clock. "-it's almost time to wrap this up and for me to get home."

The librarian, who seemed to have lost track of time entirely, glanced at the clock in surprise. "...So it is." She stepped back behind the desk. "Okay, getting you a library card first of all. What's your name?"

"Deserae Wintermere."

The librarian smiled. "Oh, is that a family member's book you want to read? Your grandmother's, maybe? How sweet." She typed in the name, getting it wrong a few times before she figured out the spelling. Once it was in the database, she scanned a new library card, then handed it over to Deserae. "There you go."

"Thank you!" Deserae said, tucking the card into her wallet and returning it to her pocket. "Can't believe I didn't have one of those before. I've lived here long enough that I should have one."

The librarian looked her over, no doubt thinking she couldn't be any older than a college student. "...Right." A few moments of silence went by, then she cleared her throat. "Sorry, I forgot. Was there something else you wanted me to do for you?"

"I think all I need now is to check out these two books," Deserae said, setting the book she wasn't allowed to check out down and picking up the two she would be taking.

"Oh, yes. Sorry about that." The librarian shook her head as if to clear it, then picked up the books. No one had put barcodes on the back of them, thinking that the books would live their entire lives in the back of a dark room, so she had to search for them in the system. The process took longer than a simple scan would have, but the task got done eventually. "Congratulations, you now have your first books checked out."

"I'm going to go home and celebrate with cake now," Deserae said, completely straight-faced. "This is truly a momentous occasion." She picked up her books and gave one last, longing look at We Live in the Ashes. "I'll be back," she promised the book quietly before looking up at the librarian. "Well. Have a good night!"

She nodded. "You too. Oh, and you can ask for me to find this again for you whenever you stop by." She patted the book's cover.

"Alright- what's your name, then?"

"My name's Diana. I forgot..." Diana looked down at her shirt. "...to wear my name tag today."

Deserae shrugged. "Oh well. Nice to meet you, Diana."

"Nice to meet you too, Deserae." Diana glanced at the clock, which now indicated two minutes to closing. "Oh, wow, already? I had better let you go on your way, but I'll see you back around here for that book, won't I?"

"Of course!" Deserae assured her cheerfully. "I'll see you around!" With that, she turned on her heel and strode quickly out the door, the beginning of the library's "we are now closed" announcement playing in her ears as she left.
I resonate with my villains more than my heroes and I think that says something about my state of mind

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AceassinOfTheMoon says...



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“The rebels hit one of our convoys.”
In the darkness, it was hard to see Eilanawyn nod, but Dominic had been in the Chei Dynami’s office long enough for his eyes to have adjusted to the black light.
“Casualties?”
“We lost two guards, and the rest were badly injured. One of them might not see the sunrise."
"See that the families of the deceased are taken care of. Whatever they might need to adjust to their loss. Send our condolences, as well." Eilanawyn lifted her wineglass to her lips and took a sip. The black illumination of the overhead light reflected off the liquid inside, but Dominic couldn't tell what it was. Most likely water or fruit juice; Eilanawyn wasn't much for day drinking, even in circumstances such as these.
"Of course. I'll have Avis see to it immediately."
"Good." She rose from her chair, moving across the room to look out the black-tinted window. "Was there anything else to report? I assume all our supplies were taken- did we lose anything important?"
"Only weapons. Not a significant loss for us, but…"
"Now they're in the rebels' hands, and that could prove to be quite dangerous," Eilanawyn finished. "Yes. See to it that any personnel travelling through Misericord is aware of the danger. Increase the amount of guards assigned to each convoy." She glanced over her shoulder at Dominic. "Lethal force is… inadvisable, but mistakes happen in the heat of battle, if you understand what I mean.”
“I’m sure the soldiers will understand just fine.”
Eilanawyn nodded and turned back to the window. “Of course, the real problem is how the rebels heard of the convoy in the first place. That wasn’t public knowledge.”
“Alessia’s suspected for a while that not everyone in our ranks can be trusted.”
“I’m starting to suspect she’s right.” She took a long sip from her wineglass again. “Perhaps it’s time to make sure everyone working for us understands the meaning of loyalty. Have Avis start running unobtrusive scans of our main system to make sure there aren’t any… undesirable messages being sent and no one is receiving anything they aren’t supposed to. Once he’s done that, move on to secondary systems. The Seros Literi Voithos can help work through their specific provinces, and monitor transmissions to catch any stray signals drifting toward Misericord. While that’s happening… keep any information that isn’t vital for anyone outside the Aristocracy to know within our circle. Drop bits of conflicting, false information to different people and see how the rebels react. Start by talking to those closest to us, then move down the ranks.”
“I’ll see to it immediately.”
“Have Alessia help you. Her katáskopoi can be trusted, as well- have them help in the search for our traitor.”
“Of course.”
Eilanawyn sighed softly. “We need to find this traitor as soon as possible. Our hold on Misericord is tenuous enough as it is.”
“We’ll find them. Alessia and Avis know what they’re doing; our spy should be gone in a month.”
“One can hope.”

***


The light-proof doors to Eilanawyn’s office hissed shut behind him as he stepped out into the tiny room separating Eilanawyn’s space from the rest of the hallway and the office building. Slowly, the overhead lights in the tiny chamber turned on, allowing him plenty of time to adjust from Eilanawyn’s black-lit office to the regular light of the hallway above. Still, his eyes stung a little as he started down the hall to the Seros Voithos' office. He tapped on the door and received a cheerful "enter!" from the occupant.
Avis was sitting on his desk, his perfectly comfortable chair left cold as usual, varied papers left neatly organized and ignored across the remaining wooden surface as Avis quickly turned his phone over, hiding the screen. Dominic could guess what he'd been doing, though, and he sighed inwardly.
"You can't play games at work, Avis. Save that for home."
"And good morning to you too, my beloved cloud of doom and gloom!" Avis replied. "What can I do for you?"
"Pass along some condolences."
"Did Alessia's plant die again?"
Dominic gave him a steely glare, and Avis sighed softly. "Yeah, sorry, that wasn't funny. The guards who died, right?"
"Their families are to be provided with everything they need to recover and adjust to their loss."
Avis nodded and reached for his laptop, his long, golden nails clicking against the metal as he flipped it open. "Right. I've already got the report and the families' contact information pulled up."
"Maybe make sure you've got Richter's family's info, too. He might not make it through the night."
"Damn."
"Language."
Avis shook his head. "The rebels are getting vicious. You've seen Bitch Boy-"
Dominic gave him another withering look.
"-Shetzle's reports recently, right? The trouble up in whatever backwater town it is? Lessi's worried."
"We all are. Shetzle's been ordered to take care of it, but Alessia's got men in there watching the situation, too. We can only pray it doesn't escalate to the point where they have to act."
For a moment, the only sounds in the room were the humming of Avis's laptop fan and the click of false nails against computer keys.
“It’s gonna escalate, y’know,” Avis said casually. “With what we’re about to do? There are gonna be riots all over Misericord.”
“Then we’ll take care of the riots, just like we have for the past thirty years. They don’t have enough men or weapons to fight back if we decide to use even a fraction more force with them.”
“I dunno, Dom. Desperate people do desperate things, and desperate things can lead to lotsa blood from both sides.”
Dominic sighed softly and crossed the room to sit in Avis’s chair. “I know. We all do. We’re doing the best we can.”
“I know you are, baby. I’m just saying that maybe this isn’t the best.”
“This as in our occupation of Misericord in general, or… this?
This. It’s gonna rile up the people, and with the rebel activity lately, maybe now isn’t the best time. Take backwater-town for example-”
“Nor’burn.”
“Backwater-town,” Avis continued smoothly. “They’ve always been restless, but if we can’t get them under control before this happens, there’s going to be blood. Our blood. They’ll be the most extreme, but everywhere else is gonna have a pretty strong reaction too.”
“Or maybe we’ll get them under control, we’ll get everyone else under control, and we’ll have a strong enough presence to keep anything drastic from happening.”
“If you say so, babe. Messages sent, people provided for.” He closed his laptop and leaned back, brushing his silvery hair out of his face, the light catching his green-yellow eyes at the perfect angle to make them sparkle brightly. “Anything else you need me to do?”
“Eilanawyn wants to run a debug and scan through our main and secondary systems.”
“She’s finally taking Lessi seriously?”
“She always takes Alessia seriously.”
“Mm.” Avis sat up straight and reached for his laptop again. “Well. I’ll get on that, then. I assume I can recruit my subordinates for this task?”
“Indeed.”
“Lovely.” Avis was quiet a moment, tapping his long nails against the laptop keys, sending messages to the far ends of Teviran. “Anything else?”
“That’s all.”
“Alright. See you at home, then, babe. Love you.”
“Love you too, Avis.” Dominic got up and walked around Avis’s desk toward the door, lightly kissing his husband’s cheek as he left.
I resonate with my villains more than my heroes and I think that says something about my state of mind

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Fri Nov 26, 2021 1:19 am
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SilverNight says...



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Jay was always fully prepared to walk for a half-hour in the morning just to get some coffee. There were plenty of coffee shops closer to home, but none could compare to the Lighthouse. The Lighthouse Café, or just the Lighthouse for short, had a white and red color scheme on the outside and an anchor as a logo. The road it was on was just a short distance away from the waterfront, and it was known for its artisans. It was lined with shops where bakers, brewers and others sold their goods, many of which had been there for generations. For Jay, that meant there was some good coffee to be found here.

Jay opened the door, and a bell chimed to greet him. The smell of coffee and fresh-baked bread mixed with the scent of the ocean, and he felt better right away. The worker at the counter was turned away, but Jay could tell who he was. His dark hair was falling in his face from keeping his head down, focused on the espresso he was making. Since Diego’s parents were both Caladian as opposed to just one of Jay’s, his heritage was more evident, easily seen in his brown skin and dark eyes. His apron was clean, besides a few crumbs that must have fallen off from a muffin or bread roll.

“Welcome to the Lighthouse, what can I get for you?” Diego asked after he’d finished, turning around and looking down at the notepad in front of him.

“Can I get the usual, please?” Jay asked.

Diego’s head shot up at the sound of his voice, a smile spreading across his face. “Jay! I thought you might turn up for a morning coffee.”

Jay smiled back. “It’s hard not to show up. A certain barista keeps getting me discounts.”

“Shhh, not so loud. They can’t know I do that, or they’ll all want free coffee.” Diego reached over the counter at the same time Jay did to hold hands. His gaze turned concerned when it landed on Jay’s cheek, where a scrape from the day before was still visible. “Are you okay? It looks like something happened.”

“Can’t talk about it here.” Jay looked at the other customers out of the corner of his eye. None of them appeared to be listening or paying them any attention, but he couldn’t be that careless with resistance activity. “It’s fine, really. I’ll take care of it later.”

Diego shook his head. “We’ve got first aid supplies in the back, and that should get disinfected. I’ll make your usual drink and let someone else take over, and then I’ll meet you there, okay?”

Jay knew he was going to insist on this, so after a short pause he nodded hesitantly. “Okay.” He pulled out his wallet and set a few bills on the counter.

“No, you don’t need to do that. Discounts, remember?”

“That’s not me paying, that’s a tip,” Jay said, smiling.

With a laugh, Diego opened a door in the side of the wall that read EMPLOYEES ONLY. Of course, Jay had been in there plenty, so they’d been disobeying that somewhat. He walked around the counter and stepped inside. The door closed behind him.

Jay turned on the light. The kitchen was another room behind the counter that he had also visited, but this room was used for storage. Shelves lined the walls, holding coffee beans, tea blends, sugar, and all the other ingredients that the café used. Jay sat down on a wooden crate of flour that was large enough for two and waited.

He only had to be there for a few minutes before Diego came in and sat next to him on the crate, holding two mugs. “Sorry, there was this new drink on the menu that I wanted to try.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Jay reassured him, taking his coffee and breathing in the smell of caramel latte. He ordered it nearly every time and hadn’t needed to specify. “What’d you make?”

“It’s this spiced tea they’re calling a harvest blend. Maple tea with cinnamon and cloves.”

“That sounds really good.” Jay took a sip of his coffee. He was definitely a coffee lover, but Diego tended to be more of a tea person. They’d had to make different drinks for themselves whenever Jay stayed at his apartment, but that hadn’t happened as often the last few months.

“The problem was, it was my first time making it, and I wasn’t really sure what I was doing.” He lifted his mug with a grin. “So this might be a little heavy on the cinnamon.”

Jay smirked. “You say that like it’s a bad thing.”

Diego laughed, but he set down his mug after his first sip and sobered up. “Is it okay to ask where you got that scrape?”

“It was yesterday’s resistance mission that I didn’t know I was going until a few hours before it happened,” Jay said, keeping his voice low just in case. “Intercepting a shipment of weapons, that kind of thing. I got caught off-guard by one of their soldiers, but that’s the worst of it.”

“I’ll clean that up for you. Anything else you have that I can see to?”

Jay hesitated. He hadn’t exactly come here for medical care, but he’d upset him if he didn’t accept help. “Maybe some bruises.”

Diego nodded. “There’s a freezer back here too. I’ll get you some ice afterwards.” His shoulder brushed against Jay’s as he stood up. Although the words I'm glad you're safe weren't spoken aloud, they still floated in the air between them.

Jay closed his eyes, letting himself relax as he let out a deep breath that he didn’t know he’d been holding. There was a strange ache in his chest that didn’t seem related to any bruises, and he knew it’d only get worse when he left.

He opened his eyes again when he smelled the familiar scent of alcohol wipes. Diego sat down next to him, their sides pressed together. “Can I do this?”

Jay nodded slowly. “It doesn’t need a bandage.”

Diego dabbed his cheek with the wipe. It stung, but he did it so gently that Jay didn’t even wince. Once it was clean, he pulled his hand away. “Okay, now for the ice.”

Jay watched him get up and open the freezer, shoveling ice into a plastic bag and wrapping it up in a towel. It wasn’t the first time Diego had taken care of him like this. If he had a more serious injury, he’d go to a resistance medic, but Diego would help with the smaller ones like this that Jay had the bad habit of neglecting.

He was pretty sure this was the first time it had happened since things had changed, though.

Diego sat down next to him again. “Where does it hurt?”

“I fell on my back, but I think it’s mostly here.” Jay pointed to his right side.

Diego passed it over to him. “There you go.”

Jay took it and pressed it against his ribs, feeling the chill through his flannel shirt. “Thanks. I’m really okay, but I do appreciate it.”

“If you’re going to walk all the way here while you’re still sore, I owe it to you to do something.” He chuckled quietly. “How are you feeling?”

Jay let out a sigh. “I don’t know,” he admitted. “I’m frustrated with Rowan. He keeps making things worse for Finn, and I’m pretty sure that yesterday he told all the other fighters not to help me if I was locked in a fight.”

“What?” Diego’s voice immediately became more worried, and Jay reached for his hand again, holding it tightly. “Why would he do that?”

“He wants me to get off his back about giving Finn some choice,” Jay said. “I’m sure he doesn’t want me hurt or anything, and he must’ve thought I’d be okay. He probably just wants to teach me a lesson. He wouldn’t wish me dead.”

“Are you sure?” Jay saw doubt join the worry on his face.

“Yeah. Unfortunately, I’m still you-know-who’s son to him, and even though he doesn’t have too much of a conscience, I doubt he wants that on his.”

Diego didn’t say anything, just kept his gaze on the floor and squeezed Jay’s hand tighter. Jay knew it was up to him to break the silence.

“I think I should come by more often.”

“Really?” Diego’s gaze fell on their clasped hands.

“Yeah.” Jay breathed out deeply. “I miss you, Diego, and I know that’s my own fault. But—”

“It isn’t,” Diego said, firmly but gently. “Not your fault.”

“I mean that it was me who made the choice, not you. I didn’t even give you any warning.”

He didn’t answer for a few moments. Finally he said, “I just don’t want to get in the way of the choices you think are best.”

“Yeah. I know.”

Yesterday, Jay had felt just a little more confident that he might have actually made the right decision. But his certainty kept wavering and right now, he was questioning it all again. How was a choice that didn’t make either of them happy better?

Diego was silent again, so it was once again up to Jay to say something. “How’s the family?”

A small smile flashed over his features. “They’re doing alright. Aly’s still doing well in school, and she put in a few job applications over the weekend. I think Juliana got another client that’s planning a wedding, so the florist business is still going okay.”

“That’s good.” Jay reached up to distractedly brush some hair out of Diego’s face. It was a habit he hadn’t quite gotten rid of yet. “How about your parents?”

“They’ve been doing a lot better since Aly got that scholarship. Paying for stuff has been on their mind a lot, and now they don’t have to worry about that as much. They’re just happy one of us gets to go to college, since they couldn’t afford to pay for me or Juliana. That much is good. But—” Diego blew out a sigh, considering whether to keep going. “Now they’re worried about something else, something newer, I guess.”

Jay paused, his fingers just barely grazing his cheek. “About what?”

Diego shrugged after a moment. “I don’t know, really. Just some rumors that I’m not that aware of. They always keep an ear on the grapevine.”

He nodded, pulling his hand back. “Right.” He could tell he was uneasy, but he didn’t think he wanted to say anymore. “Can you let your sisters know I wish them the best?”

Diego nodded. “I’ll be sure to. They, um… they miss not seeing you much anymore.”

Jay smiled sadly. “You’ve got a good family. I’ll try to stay in touch more often.”

“Want a hug?”

“Sure.” Jay leaned into Diego, who let go of his hand and wrapped his arms around him. He closed his eyes for a moment. Usually he didn’t feel so good about being touched, but he’d never had a problem with Diego doing it. Finn was the only other person that he was nearly always fine with doing that. “You smell like cinnamon,” he joked, opening his eyes again.

“I’m telling you, it’s the tea.” Diego sighed dramatically with a laugh. “The one I messed up.”

“Who said cinnamon was a bad smell? I think it’s good on you.”

His cheeks flushed slightly. “Stop talking.”

Jay smiled again and took a sip of his drink. The familiar burn of the coffee helped him stay distracted from the thoughts that were racing around his head. I miss this a lot more than I’d like to admit.

“Wait, are you actually done talking? I didn’t really mean that.”

“I know you didn’t. You like having me around too much to have me shut up.”

Diego laughed, but his face turned serious a second later, even a little sad. “You always talk like nothing’s changed.”

The statement caught Jay off-guard, and he took a moment to speak. “I don’t want everything to have changed. I was hoping that I haven’t done that.”

Diego shook his head. “I don’t know. It’s not your fault anyway. But I guess you always act just like before and it’s hard to tell that anything’s different now, because it’s almost like you’re pretending they aren’t. It’s difficult to have a reminder that even though things look the same, they aren’t anymore.”

Jay opened his mouth to say something meaningful, but all that came out was “I’m sorry.”

“It’s not on you. I’m sorry, I probably shouldn’t have said that. I really don’t want you to feel bad about for something that isn’t your fault.” The two held each other tighter for a moment before both letting go. “I don’t want to keep you too long, and I’ve got to get back to work anyway. But be careful, okay? You’ve got to stay safe.”

Jay nodded, and his throat felt tighter when he spoke. “I will. You do too.”

Diego searched his gaze for a moment before giving him his best smile. “It’s really okay, Jay,” he said. Jay knew that he meant it, but he had trouble accepting that it really was. All he was able to do was nod in reply again. “See you again in a bit?”

Jay brushed a few more strands of hair out of his face. “I’ll be back before you know it.”

Before, this would have been the moment when they leaned in for a quick kiss, but neither of them did. With their mugs in hand, they both got up, and Diego held the door open for him. Nobody in the café paid them any attention when they stepped out. “Thanks for the free coffee,” Jay said, holding the ice pack to his chest.

“Keep it hushed,” Diego said, with mock sternness and a slight smile.

Jay laughed and headed for the exit. Before leaving the Lighthouse, he glanced back when he was at the door. Diego was watching him as he took another person’s order. They smiled and waved at each other one last time before he got back to work. The barista next to him was in the middle of changing the radio station. Jay heard the song switch just as he stepped outside.


It is not enough to be dumbstruck
Can you fill this silence?
You must have the words in that head of yours


-The Silence, Bastille
Silver is a chemical element with the symbol Ag (from the Latin argentum, "shiny" or "white") and atomic number 47.


okay but does this mean I have a melting point of 1763.2 °F



silver (she/her)
  








Also. Jack, why do I feel like you are responsible for spamming the site with the Bee Movie quote in the quote generator. *looks suspiciously*
— alliygator