[Gemini Sector RPG] Doctor Ulannajirak's Exploration

This story is based on the RP logs of Gemini Sector RPG.

Given this, the structure of this story may not be as tight as a specially written fanfiction novel, and there may be some characteristics from an RPG in wording.

Thanks to GMs and all the players of this RPG! Together we made this story possible.

I hope the rating of this novel could be PG.

Now, let us get started...
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Looking at the booster load value on the indicator that was already slowly approaching overload, he whispered a prayer, his voice trembling.

Fortunately, the global system frequency boost as a test function could still be enabled, otherwise the shuttle he was on should have been caught up by the pursuers long ago.

However, this did not help much to unlock the system. The manual controls and communication systems were all locked and uncontrollable, while the system's preset navigation target was the renowned enemy ship - well, this time it could be the only possibility, or say, the only hope.

The unlock program on the portable terminal continued to run, but how long it would take to succeed was unknown. The two bright spots on the radar, symbolizing the pursuers, were slowly approaching.

The pursuers should be sending a warning, forcing him to stop immediately or he would be treated as an attack target. No, maybe they had already finished warning and were in hunting mode, just waiting to get into range.

"Already met the limit? " he let out a bitter laugh. How should he explain to the ancestors? He himself was just unknowingly framed as a rebel, without even a chance to explain?

"This war, it's really ridiculous."

Suddenly, several bright spots appeared on the radar - he immediately realized that this was an ambush by that enemy ship. A combat here.

There was no doubt that he himself, who was in communication silence, would definitely be the target of the attack, by both sides.

The unlocking attempt was still in progress.

A low growl came out of his throat.

"Gods, if I'm right, please get me out of this! "

A fighter lunched a missile, and at the same time, the terminal finally showed the indication of successful unlocking.

He lost consciousness in the shock. He didn't even hear his distress signal broadcast out by the communication system [1].

"Because this era, has not given us an answer."

[1] A tribute to the last line of Heart of the Tiger, Chapter XXX.
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The battle is over. The remaining Imperial fighters retreated, leaving that strange Naktarg alone here.

The Naktarg powers down it's engines... The armor is buckling at the exhaust, this was driven way faster than it should.

<< Run like the goddamned cowards you are! >> Silence radios, clearly agitated and tempted to break off and continue firing. It's been ages since he got a kill. But he stays in formation.

Karen tightbeams, <<Not that I'm advocating more death... but there's still this ship here... that would see the location of our base... Shouldn't we like... do something about it?>>

<<I don't suppose anyone's interested at all in whatever the deal with that cat that's powering down?>> Tsunami remarks before she starts to make a call to the Majestic.

Glancing briefly at the damaged Sabre while the others handle comms, Silence pulls up behind the Kilrathi craft and holds near its engines, ready to start firing if he needs to.

<<Kilrathi craft. Report your designation and intentions.>> Iceblade radios.

Cyric moves to intercept the strange unidentified object, ready to kill it from the edge of effective combat range if it so much as fires a warning shot in their direction.

Suddenly, all the pilots receives the broadcast from the Naktarg via public channel.

"This craft requests protection! このエアシップは保護を要求しています! Ce vaisseau demande une protection! ¡Esta nave requiere protección! Dit schip heeft bescherming nodig! "

"エアシップ? Airship? We're not even in atmo..." Tsunami mutters to herself in bemusement.

<<That voice didn't sound too human to me.>> Karen tightbeams.

Iceblade passes over the craft, giving it a scan. He detects that the shuttle has a single laser cannon, it weight approximately 120 tons and flies worse than a jalthi.

<<Kilrathi vessel. Name>> Iceblade radios again.

Karen tightbeams Iceblade, << Should we radio the base and inform them of the situation? >>

<<Sure thing. Just don't let Karen handle negotiations if any are needed.>> Tsunami remarks with a snicker as she flys into position to help Ona's ship make it back without any more damage.

The ship repeats this distress call, seemingly on an automatic loop of the recording.

<< Seriously? >> Silence radios. << We're not blowin' it outta the sky? Could be a bunch of spies just waiting to send a tight beam back to their buddies as soon as they know where the Majestic is. >>

Iceblade replies on tightbeam to Karen, <<Probably a good idea.>>

<<At least one of us should escort Ona home ASAP so she can get some medical help!>> Cyric tightbeams to his squaddies. <<Majestic, Ona is severely injured and requires immediate medical help. >> Cyric tightbeams to the TCS Majestic.

<<TCS Majestic, reporting a potential defector situation at Ambush nav; Rho Flight out.>> Iceblade tight-beams back to the Majestic.

<<Please escort them to Nav 5. We shall have them dock with the TCS Baden Powell.>> The majestic comm officer on duty replies. Obvious chatter in the background.

<<Roger that, Majestic.>> Iceblade responds. Iceblade tightbeams Tsunami. <<Tsunami; suggest you escort the Sabres back on a faster route, we will take this Kilrathi to Nav 5>>

<<Escort her home on an arcing path to not give away our position Lt Karde. Is she stable?>> The Majestic comm officer on duty replies to Talon.

<<Barely>> Clearoff says.

<<We'll be going as fast as these Sabre's can still manage, without giving anyone a straight line back home.>> Tsunami remarks to Ice with a snort, <<Alright ready when you guys are, Black Cats.>>

<<Rho flight, escort pattern around the Kilrathi craft.>> Iceblade orders.

<<Ona's condition is marginally stable but uncertain, Majestic. Her craft's primary systems are mostly undamaged but for the lucky hit on the cockpit.>> Cyric radios back. <<Tsunami will escort Ona back home. I will stay with Rho flight as ordered escorting the potential defector's craft.>> Cyric tightbeams to Majestic.

<< Copy that, >> Silence grumps.

<<Roger that...>> Ona says, <<My blood type is O positive>> Then she adjusts her autopilot.

<<Belay that, we will intercept that flight with the odysseus, it has a medbay and is 20 minutes closer Sigma.>> The Majestic comm officer corrects the course.

<<Kilrathi vessel, fly next to Rapiers.>> Once more, Iceblade attempts to communicate simply. But the Kilrathi craft still remains silence.

<<Copy that Majestic. Heading on the new course.>> Tsunami remarks to the Majestic's correction, then giving the order for her little group to hit the autopilots to get Ona to safety.

Meanwhile in the medbay, the Cag sends an urgent message: "All right, who wants a speed trip to a destroyer riding in the back of a stiletto?"

Iceblade moves alongside the Kilrathi ship and tries to get a data connection. The ship's systems seems as if it is waiting for this connection. Iceblade sets autopilot.

<<Ona, Tsunami, proceed ahead of us.>> Iceblade radios.

<<Unidentified Kilrathi craft, here are your coordinates. Do not deviate from the projected course or you will be fired upon.>> Cyric radios after sending the nav 5 coordinates to the strange Kilrahti ship nav computer.

The craft remains quiet, flying calmly in accordance with the transmitted data.
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Here's a pic of the Naktarg (Edit, it was low res compared to other ships since it was used in engine and downsampled to ~40x40 pixels)
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"My master, you sent for me?" the human teenager stood respectfully at the bottom of the stairs.

"Leonard, forget again? There's no need for all this red tape when we're the only ones around." He waved his paw, signaling the human teenager to come over. Then, unlocked the silver collar from the human cub's neck. "Come, talk to me."

"You know, I have a mission coming up in eight days, to the front line." He twirled the collar with one finger, "Although I will still be a doctor there, there may be more things to do. May not be back soon."

The human teenager was slightly surprised to hear this news and seemed to want to say something, but fell silent, then looked up very formally and said, "May the gods bless my master."

"I know that you like Nala. Before my departure, it is good that you are married. "

Hearing this, the human teenager's jaw dropped, then said with a red face, "Master, that, it's too early, we ...... we're only 17, that's too young for humans."

"How dare you! You've learned to disobey orders?" He roared with mane bristled. The human teen sat down in fear.

Then he laughed with delight, "Well, well, well, look at you wuss. "Think it's too soon, do you? Then... what's that ape word called? Engagement?"

The human teenager was at a loss for words.

"That's it. When I am not at home, be obedient, otherwise if father is not satisfied, he may sell you to another clan, and you may be eaten – oh, haha, just kidding, you are the lord bestowed on our hrai as non-sale goods, always."

He looked up at the clear sky in the distance, a colling breeze coming down from the hills.

"What does the future hold? "

"Where am I... now?" He wakes up.

He has no notion of where he is, but he can tell by the metallic shades that he is no longer in a kilrathi vessel.

He slightly extends his right claw and scratches on his left arm which was shaved off the hair. Although it is not heavy and does not actually hurt himself, it obviously makes a little pain.

"Yes, it pains. I’m awake now… I'm alive." He says silently to himself.

"It worked. So, am I on a human ship now?" He looks around. This room is so small and appears to be a cell.

"Ah, you have awakened, do you also follow the word of the lord? I am Brother Barabas." Suddenly, a voice coming from the side answers.

"..." He turns his head and looks in the direction of the voice.

He sees a solid steel wall.

"..." He keeps silent and waits for the voice to sound again.

"I was carrying out the will of the god of man when I thought my journey beyond was about to being, but my hand was cowardly, and I ejected. I believe this prison is my penitence for having faltered in my faith." The trembling but bombastic voice chants.

"And you, it sounds like you were breathing the void... Your voice is so deep and amelodic... Have you prayed?" The voice continues.

"..." He is still silent, wondering if this is a pre-recorded voice clip.

"I see, I shall pray. May I have your name so I may pray for your salvation from this wretched technology?" The voice inquires, still fluttery with a singsong tone.

"Is this an interrogation? If so, please go on." He speaks in Terran language with some accents. Although with a little growl, it is less pronounced accent than the average Kilrah English.

"An interrogation? My brother, it is never my place to judge. But to execute the god of man's judgement." That voice booms the last part, and he can hear a yearning for pride in that call to action. "Alas, I cannot see you, but I assume that you two have been captured by these degenerates."

Oh, it's not a recording, at least it's an AI. He thinks.

"My brother, your voice is very hoarse, almost beastly, have you been unfortunate in your pursuits and spent time in the cold void?" The voice asks.

"..." What are they doing? He is a little confused. This isn't quite like the harsh interrogations one would expect, even though he knows that human interrogations are different compared to the Empire's. From the information obtained by the clan, it appears that here in the Terran Confederation, at least in principle, each captive is treated mostly as the Empire treats its own internal high-ranking nobles - starting with the spiritual aspect, rather than the direct use of torture.

Suddenly he hears the voice becomes impatient. "Heathens, you shall not sway my righteous path with tawdry offerings!" And the sound of metal flying and hitting a force-field. Another voice replies... "Yeah yeah, gotcha... it's lunch time... you have... a ham sandwich." He hears a sound of force-field deactivate, and the sound of reactivate soon.

Then a human followed by two large guards appears outside this cell.

"As for you... looks like the staff want to get on your good side, here's your meal" The man slides a metal tray at the bottom of your cell. The two guards have mass driver shotguns pointed at him.

He hears the forcefield repolarize.

He is a little surprised for a moment. This is the first time he sees with his own eyes human-beings who are not under control. And, on the contrary, this time, he himself is a captive.

He sees a moderately thick gauge tray. In it, there is a sort of porridge, it is bright red with buoyant white gelatinous cubes in it, as well as a distinct aroma of rotten plant matter as well as pungent seeds. Green rings adorn the top. On its side is a plastic glass with a greenish steaming liquid that smells as though it has been boiling more leaves. A white bowl of grain is left to the side.

"This is food? for me?" He cautiously sniffs the food on the plate. The feeling of hunger returns to him. Indeed, it has been more than eight hours since the last meal.

It smells unappetizing... he can smell the fat which is attractive, but the liquid smells of plant matter and the bowl of food gives off a strong iodine and rotten smell as well as some heat. Upon closer inspection, he can see minute chunks of greyish meat.

The amount of saltiness in the meal is way too high for him.

He also sees a strange tool was given to him, it is made of a plastic, and has a short thin shaft ending in a concave surface adorned with dull teeth at the end.

He recalls the human meals that Nala's parents cooked when he was at home. Those were made from ingredients prepared by the human slaves themselves, includes plenty of plant ingredients. He had tasted it himself, and although it didn't fit, it obviously looked a lot more decent than what is in front of him now. He tastes some of it, just a little. Yes, it is edible.

The tool looks like something called "spoon" uses by Nala's parents. But the one in front of him is not made from metal.

He recalled the way Nala using a spoon, and then he smiles dumbly, starts eating the semi-liquid food with his rough tongue. At the same time, he begins to think about what he just heard.

"This food has been befouled by the taint of technology, oh how I long for the soy and algea farms back home! My brother, I've never seen the guards protecting the server... even when I hurled feces at him... I have not heard as much as a peep out of you. Are you a pirate of Notoriety? Perhaps Redbrandt Rory?" The voice sounds once more. It seems that the man tries again to strike up a conversation.

To be honest, he is more or less expecting this voice to appear again. He raises his pitch, making his voice as close to human's as possible, and then responds: "Hello, man, I just got picked up by them." He does his best to recall the way Nala's father speaks. "You know, I... I'm having a little trouble with my ship's navigation system being tampered with by some bastards."

"Ah, well my brother, I was trained for this situation. All you need to do is answer their questions by ‘I need legal council’ or ‘I do not recollect’, I am glad to hear your voice returning to a natural timbre." The man named Barabas replies with enthusiasm.

"Alas, they might want me to be hunt, so that these cops just got trophy hunting, and the gang could live comfortably for a few days." He tries his best to recall some of the human holomovies about privateers.

"Hunt? how poetic. Well, my brother, if you are released before I… before I experience my release, I hope you can tell my colleagues of my fate. For now, I need to pray." Barabas answers. You can hear him eating his sandwich loudly, with audible 'nom's of satisfaction.

"Anyway, thanks, man." He replies.

After the strange Terran meal, he falls into a deep meditation, since he would like to think about what happened in the past eight hours.

But soon, fatigue makes him quickly fall into a deep sleep.
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The medical plots designed in this chapter of this story are fictional. Please do NOT link it to real life!

He is roused out of his meditative trance by a rythmic pounding sound. It is very deep, and he hears a lot of power behind every "thump".

He sees the lights have shifted in hue, everything looks a little brighter and sharper. The color is more in the red end of the spectrum, instead of the dull blues seen typically in a human environment.

"What is up?" He wonders. "Is it time to start the interrogation?" It doesn't really matter, as a doctor himself, he doesn't really know anything critical. Of course, those bastards probably put some fake classified information in the shuttle to make him looks more like an active rebel.

"Let me leave it up to fate."

Then he feels harsh shaking of your cell.

"What is happening?" No, that's not the interrogation, but a combat out there. "Did they find this Terran ship?" This is obviously a very bad situation. If this ship is attacked and then sunk by the Imperial fleet, there will be no last chance to clarify himself.

The lights flicker and the low pitched hum of the force field ceases. You see a white flash and nothing after. Except for the sound of a very heavy metal on metal 'clunk'.

He quickly forms a defensive posture to deal with the possible next impact.

However, at this time, he suddenly hears the voice from the human named Baabas.

"Liberation is at hand... I know it... my friend... I am scared. May you live a good life and I wish the light shines on your soul." Barabas's voice is much more meek and trembling, none of the bombast of yesterday. It sounds as if Barabas is hyperventilating.

"Goodbye... my friend..." He hears a sickly sound of meat hitting the ground.

He realizes that the human seems to have fallen. "Hey! Ba... Barabas? Are you OK? Protect your head and neck with your hands, crouch down quickly and stay away from angular objects!" The kilrathi roars, but in a human way. "What is wrong with you!" As a doctor, the kilrathi quickly realizes that the prisoner next door is in more serious trouble now.

However, there is no answer.

"Keep talking to me! Are you hurt? Don't sleep!" All of a sudden, he realizes that he is instructing as well as rescuing a human, a creature "not of the blood", just as he once did at home.

It would be nice to get close to him! He raps on the cell wall with his paws, "Anyone here? There's someone here who might get hurt and may be unconscious! Somebody!"

The only reply he gets is... silence.

This time, he regains his original voice and let out a loud roar. The halls tremble in fear... but... no answer. He starts to feel that he is on his own there.

"I just can't get out of the cell!" He tries again to call out to the human in the next cell, but there is still no answer.

Suddenly, he notices that the field of the cell is going down, even weaker. "Is the main power system already down here?" He knows this means he has the possibility of leaving the cell. He also hears the deadbolt close on the main cell block, which means that there may not be anyone coming to rescue for a while.

He puts a tip of his claw to make a test. Yes, the forcefield was completely relieved just now. He carefully steps out of the cell.

Peek into his neighbor's cell, he sees a small human lying on the back. The man is convulsing and foam is coming out of the mouth. The smell is more "bitter" than expected.

He quickly comes to this human and calls to him. "Hey, come on! Can you hear me? Answer me in any way!" But the man did not respond.

He retracts his claws and placed his right paw carefully on the human's throat. Fortunately, the profusely sweating man's heart beat is still there. Although there is clearly a very high heart rate and some problems with the heart rhythm.

The heartbeat is fast and strong... at least two beats a second. The human's eyes are open and unfocussed with the pupils dilated.

He quickly takes a general look and initially determines that the man does not appear to have suffered a serious impact to his spine or cranium. For a kilrathi, it is also an instinct to judge whether a creature is injured. He adjusts the man's posture to prevent him from inhaling the vomit and suffocating. Luckily enough, the man's gurgling foam of stomach fluids mixed with saliva slowly drains the the side from the adjustments. The man can now breathe again.

He reaches out with one claw tip and stimulates vertically on the outside of the human's index finger. The human's eyes twitch and a groan escapes the lips while the hand retracts.

Then the he rips the human's clothing away with his claws. And he finds the human has severe bruising on his lower spine, as well as scars from a recent crude surgery there.

"What is the surgery this human just had on his back?" He is a little anxious, "Anyway, I need more information."

"Someone? Someone here needs medical help!" He roars outward.

Getting no response, he put the human down gently on the side, "I'll be right back in seconds." Then he rashes out of the cell and get to the corridor outside. He knows that there may be some first aid tools in the corridor. Luckily, he sees a big white box with a red + sign on it.

He knows the sign is the emblem of the human doctor clan. He comes to this stuff and finds a large box with pulleys. Well, it seems to be a first aid kit at least. He then pulls the stuff into the cell.

The kit is well equipped. He finds everything he needs, such as a scanner module. There is definitely a power button. "It is surely powered by battery, right?" He presses the power button.

A green face appears: "Hello, I am Nimueh, what is the medical emergency at hand?"

He is slightly surprised, and then recalls that there was something similar in a batch of human supplies that he has seen before. He was quite impressed by such things.

Yes, this kit could at least be a semi-intelligence assistance. That is so good!

"Monitor this patient's vital signs as well as making diagnostic tests!" He makes his command.

the scanner replies "The patient appears to be kilrathi, in good shape, approximately 20 years old, male... "

"Not me! You stupid ape machine!" A low growl of anger escaped his throat, "this human on the floor!" Then he pulled over the stupid box and pick out the modules as he remembered, to start the examination manually.

"Condition critical. Heartrate : 143. Blood pressure: 210/120mmHg. SpO2: 93%.... " The AI prattles on.

The result of the tests makes him nervous, especially very high blood pressure. He knows the Terran is in danger.

"The patient's condition is critical, please follow the prompts of this system to do emergency treatment." This stupid ape box finally says something reliable. But...

"Recommend administration of Beta Blockers to prevent an intracranial hemorrhage."

To prevent an intracranial hemorrhage, that's certainly reasonable. However, he vaguely recalls a human medical book he read before, which mentioned some treatment contraindications.

"This ape stuff is still unreliable." Then he uses a safer symptomatic treatment, quickly and precisely.

The support provided by the kit is pretty good. The human's blood pressure is lowered. And the portable scanners of this system work quite well, better compared to the one he used a few years ago.

He initially makes exclusion of intracranial hematoma, Stroke, Thyroid storm, Pheochromocytoma crisis, etc. for the man. In addition, the surgery on the man's lower back appears to be used to implant a type of spinal instrumentation.

However, the blood and urine test results given by the system raises his eyebrows.

"Analyzing anomaly... Indications are a lethally high dose of ultimate"

"Ultimate?" He reads out the strange Terran word on the screen. "What is this? Seems like I've heard of it somewhere. Yes, it seems to have been mentioned in the human privateer holomovies."

"Substance known to synergise with Beta Blockers to increase blood pressure. Analyzing trendlines..." The AI speaks with an absolutely calm tone.

"Projected blood concentration levels will double in 5 minutes."

He realized that his previous judgment was correct, however what now disturbed him is the description of the use of this substance in the holo movie plots.

Yes, that's a pretty dishonorable thing. So, this Barabas, is he a dishonorable Terran male?

He doesn't have time to explain to a stupid ape machine. He just despises the humans here for a moment, how could these soldiers allow a prisoner to bring something like that into the cell? Ridiculous.

Common sense dictates that, according to his knowledge of things that are not honorable, he would simply provide the proper support to stabilize Barabas's status and wait for someone on this ship to come. But the machine's alert just now makes him very nervous. "Projected blood concentration levels will double in 5 minutes."

It wouldn't make sense if the man had just simply used that dishonorable stuff, according to his memory.

He suddenly remembers the situation of a gang leader in a privateer movie - implanting a pump in his body so that he could evade most checks. Then he carefully Barabas' spinal area again. This time, he finally finds a pair of "bladders", one has ruptured.

Turns out, the expertly done surgery on the lumbar that installed spinal alignment hardware (Titanium screws) works a perfect disguise! A seemingly normal lumbar surgical implant is masking a subcutaneous problem! Yes, the swelling of the incision makes the occupation effect of the dishonorable implant less obvious. And the spinal hardware attracts most of people's attention. That's why it was not discovered by the humans on this ship.

"That must be the answer!" He growls. "Brother Barabas? Brother? Huh, you bastard!"

Then he hesitated. He knows that if he does not remove this dishonorable stuff, the fate of the Barabas would soon be... But...

In addition to the risks of the medical treatment itself, what would the humans on this ship think of him? Would there be any misunderstanding? After all, he knows he himself is just another prisoner here.

What is more...

And, is it really worth the risk to save such an dishonorable human being?

Yes, he's seen a lot of humans. There are some who still maintain a decent life even as slaves. But the man in front of him is like a villain out of a human holomovie, perhaps.

The projections of toxicity are increasing polynomially.

"... my brother..." Suddenly, he hears the man's voice. Barabas wakes up.

"My... my sight has left me, I fear I will not be here for long... please go... the power is out... you should esca..." Then, the man passes out again.

Hearing these words, he realizes something else.

This Barabas, is the first one he encountered after being framed and thus becoming a escapee.

So, could it be that he was also framed?

He remembers more of the human books he has read. In fact, what he said to Barabas yesterday, being betrayed by the gang so that the bastards can live a few days of peace, that's a plot from a human novel.

The world is complex. Many things are not as simple as they seem, and there is a wide middle ground between glory and dishonor.

In a flash, some words lit up his mind like a lightning bolt. It was told to him by that old master with pure white mane.

"Yes, grand master, this cub will follow your advice!" Then, he a deep breath, "Prepare to begin implant pump removal surgery."

He looks at the ape machine, "As I know, you accept voice control, Ni... What's your name again?"

"As estimated, the patient has four minutes fifty-four seconds until 50 percent probability of intracranial hemorrhaging starts." The AI has a female authoritative voice.

"Now let's get started. Start your Lumbar Surgery mode." He puts on a pair of surgical eye-wears. He doesn't want to be contaminated by that dishonorable substance.

"Ape's nose... is too narrow!" Luckily, the eye-wares are useable.

"Prepping disinfection." Nimueh states, as it designates and disinfects the area. The patient's back looks cleaned.

"Ni... you do the anesthesia, I am only responsible for surgical position, tracheal intubation, etc." He doesn't look back and starts making his own preparations.

"A suitable 9 mm hose is available in the first aid kit as well as a respirator and 12 minutes of O2" Nimueh informs. "Administering anesthetic on your mark. A pair of syringes jut out from the leg. A milky white liquid is in one."

"This patient needs general anesthetic." He growls as he performs tracheal intubation, then finishes it quickly, among other things. "Your turn, machine. Keep me informed on his vitals."

Looking at the exposed area in the operating field, he realizes that even the muscles of a "strong" human are actually weak compared to an average kitathi's, not to mention the skinny guy named Barabas'.

Then he has his already shaved paws, forearms and elbows disinfected, and covered with high elasticity aseptic layer. Not sure how the material of this Terran membrane is. I have to be careful not to extend the claws to prevent poking through. He finishes the final preparation.

A marine comes to the door of the cell area and tries to activate the door. <<Engineering Control. This Sgt Wilson! Prisoner cell area is still closed but all feeds in the room are out.>> The marine radios.

<<Wilson, we're currently under attack, we will get to it when the emerg is over, until then, man sector 12, commander is setting up a choke point there.>> Engineering radios back. Ensign Smith does take note and increases patrols by that corridor though, nothing is getting out of the cell block, then smirks.

<<Roger Control, diverting to sector 12.>> Sgt. Wilson radios back. He takes only final look at the door, sighs knowing a Kilrathi is lurking behind the door, and leaves the area.

"I have to be very careful, and minimize the amount of operative hemorrhage." He asks the AI system without turning back his head, "I don't think you have enough prepared blood here, do you?"

"Negative, we can put in a request from medbay, accessing wireless network..." Nimueh replies.

After cutting through the skin and superficial fascia, the mysterious object is finally exposed to his naked eyes.

There is a pair of vesicles with three chalasae binding them together. They look strangely like... sausages. one white, one black. The white one looks like it is lightly ruptured. White powder is visible on the inside.

"These are..." He has never seen such a stuff before. "Ni... Nimueh, can you identify the model of this stuff? I'm not familiar with your human things." He finally recalls the AI's name.

"These appear to be implants, one contains a kind of substance called Ultimate. The second contains hepta-fluoro-astatine. If the two substances were to come in contact, an exothermic reaction of 12 kj per 20 mg would occur. Estimating explosive yield at .003 ESK." Nimueh answers matter of factly.

"Exothermic? Explosive? What are you talking about?" Then he suddenly realizes what the situation is. He breaks out in a cold sweat.

"I see..." His mane bristles, "Is there anything wrong with me just removing this broken thing off?"

"It is not attached to the body, excision difficulty rating evaluated at trivial." Nimueh replies in the standard dead-inside voice AIs tend to have.

"Okay, I'll trust you for once." The kilrathi discreetly begins to remove the "broken balloon".

<<Holy sh*tballs! The kilrathi got out of it's cell and is killing the retro! RED ALERT, Sgt Wilson, take Frenchie and Aislin, get in there and stop the kat!>> Smith radios. He just restored the visual feed from the cell block.

Sgt. Wilson and Aislin arrives with an explosive charge outside of the door. "W-wilson... you think my riffle can stop a raging cat... I.. I've never seen... " Frenchie asks.

"You! Get that rifle up and stand back there a ways." Wilson says the other marine.

Aislin drops to a knee, aiming his riffle at the door, a safe distance away.

"And don't point it at me!" Wilson adds.

Aislin, in a cooly laughs at the joke, having mastered firearm control, Frenchie is too twitchy, the line flew over his head.

Lucikily, the removal goes well. As his paw slips in, the light force of removing the broken bladder causes the three membranes to snap and the second bladder is now free. His paws covered by membrane stains some blood with the offending part in them. He begins flushing the incision area. This way at least no dishonorable substances will continue to enter Barabas' body.

"I don't think I need to touch that implant instrument, it's more than what's needed at this point." the Kilrathi says to the machine, "Nimueh, patient's vital?"

"Viable but dropping, estimating 10 minutes until transfusion is required."

"Give the patient blood substitute, maintain the perfusion volume." He orders.

Wilson sets the device and backs up, with rifle at the ready.

Three...two... ONE!!!

He is very focused on the operation, his paws remain stable and he did not drop the bladder, the explosion did however rock the entire area. Nimueh fell to the side.

"I... I see 'im sarge!" Frenchie squeels.

Wilson races in first. He immediately checks the situation. Wilson points his gun at the Kilrathi and yells "CAT, GET YOUR PAWS ON THE GROUND AND GET AWAY FROM THAT MAN!"

"SHIT!" Wilson says as he spies the kind of injuries the human has.

"Oh my god! What is it doing to him! You'll pay for this." Frenchie yells, and fires a warning shot that hits Nimueh.

"This Terran male was suffering from Ultimate overdose due to an implanted pump rupture. I have got the pump removed, medical support is needed now." He turns his head back, and of course, freezes.

Wilson responds to the cat, "Just keep yourself there...HOLD YOUR FIRE" Wilson turns to Frenchie.

The marines see a kilrathi covered in blood, hairless paws drenched red. The area looks worse than it is... a large pool of blood is on the floor, but it is mostly saline from the flushing.

"Y... yes sir." Frenchie says... gun trembling.

He smiles slightly, "I knew this would happen", then he said, "What do I do now? It's against the rules of surgery to put my claws up back my head."

Wilson shoulders his firearm and heads over to the guy.

Aislin chimes in. "Calling medbay, we can get him in stasis with our droids and bring him over there."

"Do it!" Wilson orders.

"Attention medbay, we have an emergency, we need a medbot, lots of blood and a surgeon in cell E as in echo. A kilrathi is... performing surgery, and his assistant bot was damaged in the altercation" Aislin radios.

"I hope your medical team moves faster, and that your ape machine is sturdy enough." He takes a glance at the machine. "Good job, Nimueh."

"Frenchie, out into the cooridor and wait for a doctor or medic to arrive." Wilson orders. "You, what do you know of human medicine," Wilson then asks the Kilrathi.

"As to why there was a chemical 'reactor' in this patient's body, I don't know, that's your business." He then falls silent.

"I don't care about what was in him, can you stablise him and keep him from bleeding out!?!" Wilson says hurriedly.

"I will try." He begins to do the processing quickly and precisely.

"Do it" Wilson stands up and gives the Kilrathi and patient a few meters of room. The marine's hands are on his rifle, fingers near the trigger. The marine should be able to turn the gun toward him within one second and fire.

Luckily it is a surgery in the lumbar region and there is not a lot of hemorrhage. Otherwise, him thinks, perhaps Barabas would have gone to meet his ancestors.

Wilson is confident that he could fight off this particular Kilrathi in hand-to-hand if needed.

"Almost done. By the way, prepare me some Xark... Forget it, sugary milk will do." After the high tension is lifted, he feels some physical strain.

"MILK!?!?" Wilson asks incredulous.

"So, then I go... I sees the kilrathi right... and I was like... preparing suppressive fire... but the ai bot... it... it was an assistant to the kilrathi... I... I saved Wilson from it... " Frenchie is muttering to himself while pacing in the corridor.

"All the work I can do has been done, the following thing is yours. Give him advanced anti-infection, or we'll have to see something terrible in the next few days." He steps back, and takes a deep breath, again.

"In here!" Wilson yells out with attention on him. "Don't mind him, he's helping not hurting the patient..." Wilson then mutter, "apparently."

Dr. Meiko makes it to the holding cell at least 30 seconds before the rest of the team, hardly breathing hard at all, while the rest of the team is panting fairly heavily as they try to keep up with the doctor. "What's going on here." She asks as she looks in, and then adds, "And what'd the Med AI do to get shot?" in her usual snarky manner.

"Twitchie finger Frenchie fired a warning shot and missed the wall." Wilson grumbles.

"It went rogue, it was helping the Kilrathi! I saved you all." Frenchie cackles.

"Stay in the corridor Frenchie... and out of the way." Wilson adds.

"Aye sir! I'll- I'll make sure no other AI turns rogue!" Frenchie stammers.

The rest of the team arrive. The red alert light go off. The attack is over.

"Someone, either needs a break or a mental evaluation." Meiko mutters to herself, as the Kilrathi backs away from the Retro, and she's able to look over the damage for herself. When the rest of the team shows up, she says, "Right, get him on a stretcher and to medbay. We'll need to make sure he doesn't get any infections from this. And to fix whatever other damage he might've done to himself."

Frenchie says something else nonsensical.

"Okay, Cat, back up a bit." Wilson says.

He smiles slightly and steps back to a range that is safe for humans.

The room gets a bit more dull in hue for him, as the lights shift towards the blueish tint.

As Meiko starts to follow after the team taking the Retro to Medbay, she adds to the medic who's just scanned the kilrathi, "Oh, smack that guy around a bit, and try to straighten him up to, before you head back." What a bad day for that medic, having to get close to an unknown cat, and now being told possibly seriously to hit a Marine.

Wilson goes over to whisper into Meiko's ear, "See to it that Frenchie gets a psych evaluation."

Meiko gives a nod at Wilson's whisper, seeming to take that at least more seriously than the suggestion on just punching Frenchie.

Once the retro is gone, Wilson looks at the Kilrathi. "What is your name, cat?"

"Name..." He hesitates.

"Yeah, what other Kilrathi call you. Or would you prefer to be called cat for the duration of your stay with us?" Wilson clarifies, rolling his eyes.

"My name is Ulannajirak..." He does not say his clan's honorific, thinking it best not to do so as a captive. He closed his eyes, prayed silently.

Grand Master, now this cub knows you are right. Yes, sometimes understanding, or even saving your enemy, might save each other.
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Ulannajirak glances at the muttering pirate or bounty hunter in another cell. This guy is much less of a pleasant conversation than Barabas. Every 5 or 10 minutes, Ulannajirak hears the guy chargng at the invisible wall and land firmly on his backside. Anyway, the protests are muffled by the forcefield.

Ulannajirak smiles and turns head away, closing his eyes to think about his own business.

He has spent a long day in this new cell. It has been a few hours since a guard came to check on him... even though he doesn't have any means of telling time, it seems longer than usual.

I hope I don't have to operate on this new neighbor. Ulannajirak thought silently. He thinks back to the operation he had performed on the male human named Barabas yesterday. Yes, there were certain problems, but that was close to the optimal solution in that situation. He was escorted to this new cell after the incident, then received sugar milk for a quick energy boost and a very nice meat meal. He remembers very clearly the surprised face of the human soldier named Wilson when he bowed as appreciation.

Ulannajirak knows he likes the feeling, pretty much.

He looks at his paws and arms which had been shaved off the fur. Yes, that barrier was tough enough so that his claws should not have been exposed and thus came into contact with the surgery field. I hope nothing is wrong with Barabas. Ulannajirak thought.

Then he hears the mechanical whir of the cell block door opening. Three security guards walk into the cell block. They are in full body armor, wearing red visors and all have mass driver scattershot and laser sidearms. They stand two meters apart and are holding their shotguns finger outside of the trigger.

The neighbor mutters obscenities at the guards and describes what he would do to their parents. Before rushing into the force field for what seems like the 20th time today.

The center guard has an over-sized pair of handcuffs. He nonchalantly tells Ulannajirak: “All right prisoner, face the wall and place both paws behind your back” Ulannajirak hears his voice is male and quite distorted through the helmet's modulator.

Ulannajirak slowly stands up and acts as ordered.

Both other guards take a kneeling stance towards you. It is not a question of reverence, but precaution. Ulannajirak hears the forcefield depolarize. Even without looking, he knows several lethal weapons aimed at him.

Ulannajirak knows that now he has to show as much obedience as possible, whether according to human or Kilrathi rules.

The metal cuffs feel loose, they were last used on a more sturdy warrior, with full fur. They will however keep Ulannajirak's claws in check.

"Up" the guard states, "Follow me." He passes between the guards as they keep a bead on the kilrathi.

Looks like an interrogation is coming. Ulannajirak doesn't know what he will face. But in any case, it should be better than being taken back to the Empire, he reassures himself.

They bring him down a corridor and turn past some barracks, several marines scowl at the prisoner and laugh amongst themselves. Finally, Ulannajirak arrives at a medium sized room with two guards at the door. There is a table inside. The room is well lit but surprisingly chilly,16 degrees C, perhaps.

The guard motions for Ulannajirak to enter the room. "Sit." He points at the chair away from the door.

In the moment of passing through the corridor just now, Ulannajirak seemed to smell something special. This makes him a little suspicious. But then he tells himself not to be distracted by other things right now.

Oh, humans really make interrogated prisoner sit down? It's true what they portray in their plays. Ulannajirak thinks. Then he sits down slowly.

The room is extremely well lit, shadows are harsh. The colors seem muted, the lights must be more on the blueish side of the spectrum. The guard hands salute the two at the door and leaves, there are now only four guards with mass drivers. Two facing Ulannajirak, with the weapons trained on the prisoner, two facing the door, keeping trouble out.

Ulannajirak lets his fur lay flat, and ears erect. This is a standard submissive posture for the Kilrathi. Also, he keeps his tail stay still and doesn't wag from side to side to show anxiety.

Then he hears a slow click click.

The sound is getting louder but the cadence is constant. A medium framed woman walks in, she walks with a certain swagger in her hips. She looks youthful and strong, she walks with intent. She sits in front of Ulannajirak and stares. She then brushes her auburn hair aside with her hand , thus in a split second, revealing a large trio of scars on her left side. Her hair falls back into a natural position, hiding the scars.

She says nothing and appears to be sizing the sitting kilrathi up and down.

Ulannajirak keeps his ears still and doesn't change the posture because of the willing to track the direction of the sound. When he sees the human, he also does his best to keep eyes natural, not showing confrontation by looking at the human.

"Good, you know our culture. if you look across the room, you will notice industrial forcefield emitters. These are not callibrated for human or kilrathi sensibilities, so know that there will be an impenetrable wall between you and me right now." She presses a button on her quine. Instantaneously Ulannajirak's manacles unlatch and fall to the ground. He smells ozone and other free ions from the field that polarized between him and her.

"I understand." Ulannajirak replies calmly.

She silently assesses his reaction and starts her delivery is stiff and memorized. "This interrogation has as a purpose to determine whether or not you are really defecting as you stated and where your loyalties lie. If I determine that you are indeed a spy, double agent or other liability, under martial law you shall be delivered to the civilian government of Nitir to do as they see fit." She tries to hide a sadistic smile at what the civilians would do without the code of ethics every officer pledges allegiance to. "If on the other hand, you aid us and are an asset, we shall grant you asylum and a path to confederate citizenry. Do you understand?" She leans forward, in an aggressive posture.

It looks like the previously recorded distress signal was successfully broadcast. Ulannajirak rejoices silently. On the way of escape, he used his portable terminal to record the voice request for protection in multiple human languages. He wasn't sure if his grammar was correct, and in fact there may have been some grammatical and wording mistakes. But there didn't seem to be any major problems.

"Yes, I understand." Ulannajirak replies.

She flashes her teeth with a grim smile. "Good, now let's start with some easy questions. What is your name and your caste?"

"My name is Ulannjirak." Ulannajirak still withholding his clan honorific. "Caste... I come from a hrai of doctor. However, anyway, I am an outcast now."

"Ulannajirak, Hrai Doctor, I see." She says her kilrathi accent sounding somewhat more teutonic. "You flew in using an jury rigged an atmospheric shuttle for spaceflight. And just happened to encounter a patrol, the odds of that are... minute." She looks very suspicious so far.

"Are you ordering me to give an statement?" Ulannajirak glances up slightly at the human.

"Would you care to elaborate how you found the engagement?" She clarifies.

"In fact, I have no idea about it. My ship's operating system was locked for some reason and almost everything was pretty much out of my control, all I knew is that the auto-navigation was aimed at the approximate area where... you are located." Ulannajirak replies. In fact, if it weren't for the fact that he was still able to activate the global frequency boost as a testing function, he would have been shot down by the pursuers halfway on the road.

She slams her fist on the table in anger at the response. "We are located? you knew our location? What would a Doctor be doing with military hardware and military secrets?"

"Just the general area." Ulannajirak answers calmly. But he knows it wasn't important. As long as the act of fleeing to the human ship appears to be established, then his identity as a fugitive would have been seated.

It's ridiculous isn't it? In order to survive and thus have a chance to clarify myself, I have to first really become an escapee. Ulannajirak thinks silently.

"As for what a doctor knows. I think you have my portable terminal, I hope you didn't break it." Ulannajirak continues, "But there is nothing in it that is of direct value to the military, and if you find anything else, all I can say is that it's none of my business, and I make no promises about their authenticity."

"Do you have any direct affiliation or link to the Kilrathi imperial army, navy or space force?" She continues.

"As for the affiliation", Ulannajirak smiled, "How should I start..." In a cultural sense, even doctors are still considered to be on the side of warriors. Whether it is for the battle-wounded who are considered not yet supposed to go to meet their ancestors, or for the injured who survive a duel, doctors are useful. But in his own case, the past few days have been like a troublesome nightmare, starting with his sudden assignment to the front line.

She leans back expecting a long philosophical diatribe meaning yes in her checkbox.

"All I can say is that I just came to this sector, you Terran call it Gemini Sector, right. It's only been about eight days."

"As per Baron's instructions, I just left my homeworld to come here and do some support work." Ulannajirak added.

"You know what Baron means, right? Our honored clan elder as well as my master. Of course, as I said, I'm an outcast now, so perhaps I'm not qualified to mention his honorable name anymore."

"You arrived with the invading forces then. Who is the Baron, consider that you have the choice of us returning you to the civilians or granting you refuge? Are you talking Kohl or Zheklan."

She groans. "You will throw your life away to protect the worthless name of the one you claim wants you dead. Pathetic."

Ulannajirak is upset to hear this, but he keeps his composure. He knows that making a prisoner's emotions fluctuate is a normal method of interrogation. "I was sent by Baron to assist a kil named Hajjnah." He tries to lead the topic to another direction.

"Hajjnah... name means nothing to me. Instead of performing your duty, you defected. I will need you to explain." She probes deeper.

"Ah..." Ulannajirak sighs , as if he is struggling the will to go on. "I disagreed with what he was about to do because such behavior would be bad for the honor of our clan. But he was hell bent on doing it. In accordance with the authority given to me by Baron, I decided to return to my homeworld, and then, something happened, as you see." Ulannajirak looks at the woman. "I am framed, I think."

"If I understand, this is an internal Kilrathi affair. You are persecuted by one or several clans now." She leans and stares him down some more.

"Thank you for your understanding." Ulannajirak raises his head, and shows his throat. For a Kilrathi, exposing throat to another one, indicates respect and trust[1]. "I have nowhere to go," He remembers what the white maned grand master had told him. Yes, once he reached this point, from his hrai to the entire clan, all of them would no longer be responsible for him.

"Are the clans after you in the following: Kiranka, Caxki, Kira, Qarg, Sikhtag, Kur'u'tak, Ragitagha or Sutaghi" She asks.

"With no offense to you, would you be interested in having me make a brief introduction to our noble clans?" Ulannajirak finds this human is actually not familiar with the eight clans, which could be a topic of conversation.

She stares blankly. "Do enlighten us on your clans if you will, I want to know if it's one of the big eight."

He cleared his throat slightly and spoke in a very respectful tone,

"We Kilrathi have Eights of eights clans, of which the most honored are the eight top noble clans. They are the eldest and most honored nar Ki'ra, followed by nar Qarg, nar Sutaghi, nar Ragitagha, nar Kurutak, nar Caxki, nar Sutaghi, and of course, the Imperial Royal clan, nar Kiranka, respectively."

As of the narrative order, Ulannajirak deliberately put the Kilrah Emperor's clan last, following the Sutaghi, who is considered to be the lowest of the eight noble clans.

"Of course, over the years of engagement, I believe you already know many of Clan's celebrities to a greater or lesser extent." Ulannajirak continues, "Some of them are still in active service and some have gone to meet their ancestors."

"As for the current situation, because of some things, as I think you all know, the warrior in power under his Majesty the Emperor recently is Crown Prince Thrakhath, grandson of his Majesty," as well as a dangerous, arrogant Kiranka, Ulannajirak thinks silently.

"Now if we could return to question at hand, and I will reformulate it. Are you being pursued by one of the major 8 houses, or is it a minor house?" She replies, unphased by the glowing exposition.

Ulannajiarak then realized that he has only been saying what he wants to say, and he apologizes, "I am sorry, I will answer your question now. Actually I am not sure, but I think... Hajjnah... knows all the answer. The identity of the pursuer does not matter; once they have been ordered, the pursuit is duty."

"I see, I assume we will not be going further on this line today" She says vexxed.

"Now our engineering team has put your terminal in quarantine, storage has been removed and the power supply as well as any other potential explosives are in isolation. If you wish to provide decryption keys, it would expedite that investigation." She starts a new subject.

"No problem. I will cooperate." Ulannajirak replies, "Maybe you can find the answer to the question in it. I'd also love to know which dishonorable Kil was framing me." No matter who they are, you are definitely one of them, Hajjnah. Ulannajirak thought silently.

"Now let's get to the pressing matter, not one day after your incarceration. We find you... forearms deep into the back of a cellmate." Finally the woman starts the topic on the incident yesterday.

"Oh," Ulannajirak sighs in relief, as if dropped a heavy load. "The man called Barabas? I was doing operation on him. It is a duty for a doctor. Mabe it is a bit strange to you."

"Yes, the retro inmate." However, the woman's voice is not as friendly as expected. "Eyewitness accounts from a sergeant Frenchie says that you were viciously mauling the prisoner after a struggle. However the security camera feed show that your assault was more slow and deliberate."

"How can we trust a monster such as yourself on this ship!" She gives Ulannajirak a dark look, knowing his life is weighing in on what is said next.

Sure enough, Ulannajirak smiles bitterly. Humans are still very biased. And of course he knows that after years of war, this prejudice is not at all surprising. "If I really wanted to, say, hurt him, how many seconds do you think it would take me to.... finish the damage?"

"No offense to you, but please look at my claws", Ulannajirak slowly raised his right paw, palm to the diagonal back outward, and slowly extended the claw, which were four five-centimeter level sharp objects that glinted in the light.

"I know your type. You never want a clean kill, you toy with your prey, for hours or even days. You went for the nerves you sick bastard... Trying to stimulate pain receptors? I've seen it before." She pulls up her hairline again deliberately exposing the three scars on the side of her skull above the ear. "Do you know what these are?"

This time, Ulannajirak sees the scars clearly. That's definitely scars of... claw marks. Ulannajirak now realizes what happened to this woman before. He knows he made a stupid mistake just now.

"To answer my question, about the scars, I am a liberated slave from Vega 4." she points at her scalp, "This cut was given to me when I was 14. I did nothing wrong. A guard suspected I was thinking of running. You kilrathi are evil and shall be exterminated by our hand."

Ulannajirak can see the rage seething from the woman. She wanted the cat sitting here dead, now she doesn't think that's enough.

Tormenting the prey? Boring Kiranka game... Ulannajirak thought to himself. "Barabas' nerves should not have been physically damaged, and I am confident that he is recovering now." Ulannajirak shows a confident expression, which is the first time in this interrogation.

"I find your statements be they true or false, insufficient to grant you asylum!” The woman is going to hand down that verdict.

However, her quine beeps fervently.

She looks outraged at her device for interrupting her rant. “What is this? A Nimueh unit has put a commendation in for you? How can it have up-linked to the main network and have a functioning terminal?"

In the following seconds, Ulannajirak sees the expression on woman's face changing dramatically.

"I... I suppose such a voucher would suffice for a conditional asylum. Just know that you’re on thin ice. This is a large ship, I hope I never see you again.” The woman slowly utters these words, revealing a full of disappointment and resignation.

She turns to the guards. “Take this prisoner out of my sight!” Then she gets up and leaves.

"Do I have the chance to know the current situation of Barabas? He is my patient and I am responsible for him." Ulannajirak looks at the back of the woman.

Ulannajirak just hears her kick the wall a few steps away... and a sniffle, maybe.

Receiving no response, he closed his eyes, luckily that now I would not be sent back to the Empire.

A guard answered. "We'll handle your paperwork place your claws back in the manacles and come with us."

"Yes, I see." Ulannajirak stands up.

The guards return Ulannajirak to his cell.

"Now that you have a conditional asylum, you may access green zones on the ship. A yeoman will handle your release. You are to be escorted during a probation period by an MP. And... er... congratulations on the asylum. Engineering will also contact you for decrypting your data." The guard leaves.

"Appreciated." Ulannajirak now thinks of the scar on the woman's head. Maybe you should thank the guard for his... kindness, although limited. Otherwise you won't even have a chance to form the scars.

But the thought of something else then comes to him. He shakes his head, and sighs.

Ulannajirak certainly wishes to get out of cell and look around at the environment here, but thinking of the woman's words just now, he decides to stay in the cell first. It is safe here, for me, and for you all.

But then, he recalls the smell, or say, odor in the corridor. What was that?

[1] Action Stations, Chapter Four
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0900 Prison Block D, TCS Majestic.

Ulannajirak is sitting in his cell, a very unpleasant cacophony is being emitted from the neighboring cell. "And so he goes he says... I like the cut of your jib, and I go, good to hear cuz it's the only jib I got!" This has been going on for hours.

Ulannajirak is bored with it. However, he recalls what White maned grand master's words. "Yes, I will not be distracted by external things and have a mind like still water." Ulannajirak thinks. Then he tries his best to keep calm.

A guard comes to the cell block escorted by a very portly man that looks surprisingly light in his step.

"Bad is good baby! down with government!" The other prisoner greets the duo.

"Ulannajirak?" The yeoman has granted you a probationary tour of the majestic, as well as a couple possibilities to integrate you into the crew. " The guard states. "Senior Specialist Dallas Seelig will be showing you around."

These words still catch Ulannajirak's attention. Oh, this is the first time I have personally heard the slogan of human against their masters, well, maybe not masters, just... something else.

"Oh, sorry." Ulannajirak raises his head. "You mean I will be led to have a look at this place?" He asks.

"That is the idea, kilrathi... why someone volunteered to do it is beyond me." The guard stops hiding his contempt.

Senior Specialist Dallas Seelig... Ulannajirak keeps this this name in his mind.

"Kilrathi? I just, uh, I just uh, wanted to use, the uh, and so he says Evil's OK in by my book what about yours and I go Yeah Baby Yeah! Yeah! I just wanted to uh, wash my hands…" The cellmate answers, learning he is next to a mortal foe.

I'd rather choose Barabas as my neighbor, if I had the chance. But after all Ulannajirak knows that is not something he should ask for.

The door depolarises and you hear a battlecry. "AN OBJECT AT REST...CANNOT BE STOPPED!" as the cellmate runs at his cell door, not realizing Ulannajirak's was the one opened. He is greeted by 96 kilonewton/meters of resistance and falls on his butt.

The larger man unleashes a belly laugh. "I twerked the settings on that cell door, may have less bounce in it than standard issue."

As the forcefield goes down, the air in the cell is slowly changing... you smell what can be described as partially detonated explosive as well as onions and fermentation.

Ulannajirak's nose twitched slightly a few times, taking in the smells. He recalls the smell he got before the interrogation. But this time he doesn't find it.

He stands up slowly, and looks outside.

"Kilrathi, do you want to stay in this prison, or come along for the selection of duty process?" The guard asks.

"No hair off my butt either way." Seelig adds.

"What should I do now?" Ulannajirak asks, "Clawcuffs?"

"Ifin yer wanting... but in my experience, its easier to use an oaf." Seelig pulls up his quine. "I'll start by sayin' yer in a pocket of air, in space. Escape is not an option, and if ya did... you'd be flyin to death. I am unarmed, and yer main lifeline at this moment. Do you promise to behave?"

"I do. Appreciation from Ulannajirak for your trust." Ulannajirak makes a very formal bowing. A little different from the common Kilrahi bowing, he has this salute with both paws folded and hugged together.

"Will you keep a 2 maks (kilrathi unit of distance) from any other individual in the ship if possible?"

"At your service." Ulannajirak replys, "And, My Blood Warms at the Sight of Thee, Mister Seelig."

Seelig grunts at the reverence shown to him.

The trio walk out of the cell block. The guard is keeping a certain distance from Seelig and Ulannajirak.

"Ey, I was axed to keep my peepers on you for the next hour. Suffice it to say, I’m getting some r&r&r out of this equation, as well as meeting another kilrakhra. So... I understand that you were given the choicest decision to make, what to do with your time? The insecurity footage showed you are pretty nimble wit’ your digits, they could use some help in engineerding. Our techs could always use some more tor queue. And of course medbay could use a disorderly. Comon, let’s go see the jerbs." Seelig asks Ulannajirak. "First, let's see the enge bay?"

"Yes, sir..." Ulannajirak suddenly notices a word from those unintelligible statement, a kilrahra!?

He wants to ask, but after thinking about it, he doesn't say anything.

"As your arrangement, Mister." Ulannajirak replies politely.

They go down the corridor, to the left, and up a lift. They arrive at a room where many officers are working. The office is wide open and the people look to be less muscular than the typical officer. They all have their eyes glued to their monitors and do not notice Seelig enter with the following guests.

A particularly skinny balding man with a curved back, pencil line moustache and very little muscle tone doesn't turn away from his monitor. "Go away flunky, we can all smell you."

Seelig answers in a meek tone but an impish grin "I came with a prospective refugee intern, any of you wish to show him the engineering marvels you concoct?"

This reminds Ulannajirak of his previous experience when White maned Grand Master took him to see Ki'ra's advanced R&D factory. Those humans wear silver collars.

Although Ulannajirak has seen the working conditions of human beings in a free state from the holovids data, today is the first time he has seen this kind of scene with his own eyes.

"Fiiiiiine... welcome to the engineering deck of the TCS Majestic, please ingore our underling who brought youHOLYCRAPITSAKILRATHI!!!!" the engineer says finally bothering to turn his head and look at the team.

Seelig can't hold in his laughter.

"That alone was worth the volunteering fer the jerb." He casually slips back into his dialect.

"'Ere you would be doing the 'old jazz hands routine at the confusers to project jump trajectories, avoiding hyperspace bum holes and repolarizing shields... iffin that's yer thing." he continues.

"..." Ulannajirak regrets that he did not carefully learn the human language courses to the advanced level. He had been thought that it was OK as long as he could communicate with each other, or say, his slaves.

The tour continues, it goes on to the flight deck.

"'Ere's the flight deck, ya see the nak'targ o'er dere?" he points at your shuttle, partially dismantled.

Dismantled? Without authorization!? Ulannajirak is surprised, but he is aware that this is the normal situation, and he should never voice any objection on it.

Hope you put my shuttle to... good use. Ulannajirak sighs silently.

"The tin foil hat brigade took it a part. Always looking out for the next threat. I've been tasked with re-fabricobbling it back together in mostly one piece. Some assistance wit da cocktail napkin plans would help. Heck, maybe we can get you to fly it again, iffin that's yer cup-o-tea."

"Fly it?" Ulannajirak finally finds the topic. "Mister... Seelig, May a ask a question on this issue?"

"Best way to be dissapointed by an answer." he replies.

"I think you know what occupation I am, right? I am not a fighter pilot." Ulannajirak says carefully, "I am a doctor."

Seelig blinks blankly at Ulannajirak. "A doctor... so we could use some o' dat clawful precision in the microsolders. But ya may prefer the third work item yer offered then. Shall I put this offer in the faqit bucket."

"As I think you have seen in my shuttle, it is equipped with only the most basic defensive weapon." Ulannajirak continues, "So, I hope you are not expecting me to... fight... the other... Kilrathi..."

"Nobody would, I was tinkin' ye may wish to perform exterior inspections on the maje's outer casing. Make sure the greeble is still positively affixed in place." He replied.

"Eh... my pleasure... but could I know who is... Maje?" Ulannajirak is confused, "A Male or a Female? Age?"

"Da ship ye'r on. The tcs Majestic." He points at the flight deck where the name is emblazoned in bright yellow paint.

"Ship?" Ulannajirak realizes what the point is. "Oh, I see."

"Seeing as how ye'r a doctor, how about I show ya da last potential jerb. It's in the medbay." Seelig changes topics.

Ulannajirak realizes that It is time for the Patient rounds. Hope you are recovering well, Barabas.

Seelig escorts the refugee to the medbay.

The medical bay is surprisingly quiet. After entering the medbay, Ulannajirak is noticeably more confident.

A nurse is startled by the Kilrathi. "Ah, we've been expecting you. We need an orderly, and this could be a good integration point for you. We saw the security footage of your work."

Ulannajirak notice a few things here. Namely the lights are even more blue than usual. You suspect that there's some constant UV light disinfection going on. He also smell Seelig less. The air is at a lower (negative) pressure. Keeps bugs inside.

Ulannajirak bows again, this time to the nurse. "May I have a check at the nursing chart of the patient names Barabas, Madam?"

"Uh... you mean... Brett, right?" She asks.

"Brett?" Ulannajirak is confused, "I mean the patient... I operated on."

Seelig sees Ulannajirak's relaxed posture, he understands that the job was chosen. "I see yer picking this job. I'll wait here while you do yer rounds."

"Appreciated, Mister Seelig." Ulannajirak replies.

The nurse escorts Ulannajirak to a disinfection/de-dusting post which seems like a giant vacuum.

Ulannajirak then sees the same man he saw before, with better color, he looks hydrated and clean shaved. He is reading a book by Degrasse Tyson about the wonders of technology.

He is still hooked up to the sensors. His heartrate jumped from 55 to 110. He looks startled to see Ulannajirak.

"N-n-nurse.... this is against the prisoner of war accords... what are you doing?" He looks really panicked.

Ulannajirak is relieved to see Barabas is in a good status. But then he realized the point. He slowly crouches down.

"What is this??? why are you bringing that thing to kill me? what happened to do no harm?" He is very distraught.

Ulannajirak speaks in a raised octave tone he used at the time, "Don't be afraid, man. It's me, your neighbor, the guy who was framed by the bastards."

The man pauses and wonders, as if wondering whether the kilrathi swallowed the other prisoner whole?

The nurse interjects... "He.. " She looks at Ulannajirak to make sure she didn't misgender him. "He was your cell mate, he saved your life"

"Well, thanks so much for guiding me... Now they have released me from cell and have allowed me to live on this ship temporarily," because of the operation on you, perhaps, Ulannajirak thinks.

"Oh... you know me by my dead name then... Barabas died on that floor. I was told that the drugs were blasphemous, but they injected me with them without me knowing." Damnit I shoulda said unbeknownst. Brett replies. "You can call me Brett Finley, it was my name before I joined the church of man."

While listening to him, Ulannajirak looks at the nursing charts. He sees that the patient had spinal alignment done in New Detroit, then formed a habit of painkillers... until he moved to rynkel where he stopped alltogether. He is in decent shape for a human, not as strong as a confed officer, but he should be able to live to 120.

"Well, so you are also framed, right?" Ulannajirak looks at Brett kindly, "You had a pair of Chemical reactor sets in your body. It would have been a disaster if it was not removed in time." For you, and also for me as well as the others here.

"I was betrayed. Father Benengeli personally asked me to carry a mission out for him, giving me a most revered name in the process. I should have known by the fact that my medical screening required an anesthetic, but it happened so fast. They had my flying a Talon to stop fleeing civilians from spreading their evil technology. But I was stopped by a wing of sabres. I ejected, and then was captured and brought to prison. The last year was a wild ride... and now... I think I need to repay society." He answers... he looks fatigued by the emotional rollercoaster and bloodloss.

"Don't get agitated, what you need now is to rest and recuperate." Ulannajirak says, "Oh, sorry, I don’t think I have introduced myself yet. I’m Doctor Ulannajirak. Nice to meet you, Mr. Brett."

"I still can't believe I was saved by a... you. Why did you come here?" he replies with confusion.

Ulannajirak pauses for a moment, thinks about it, and then tried to start the conversation, "I think you know about the long years of war between the Empire and the Confederation..."

Brett nods.

"Yes, the long years of war have left both the races with deep animosity towards each other. However, even if it seems weird and even absurd, not all of the two races meet with bloody conflict." Ulannajirak tries his best to make a statement that makes sense.

The nurse rolls her eyes behind Ulannajirak, she lost her sister to repleetah.

"Like the rebels of Ghorah Khar, or... " Ulannajirak also recalls the group of "M", but he stops here. "Well, I am not saying I am one from Ghorah Khar, I am from another world. Any way, I am an outcast now. Also, anyway, for my hrai of Doctor, it is always my duty to save lives, no matter who, or what they are."

"That must make you... unpopular? back home" Brett asks.

"Well..." Ulannajirak smiles bitterly, "Certainly."

"Why help those that scorn you?" The man continues.

”I guess my items have been taken away from the pedigree in the hrai shrine.“ And there should be two Vacant seats in the pedigree in the shrine now. Ulannajirak sighs, but that should be the best, parents would not be responsible for his escapement.

Brett looks quizingly at Ulannajirak for that last statement.

"Sorry, some hrai... family issue. I mean, for us doctors, if there is no order to give up, we will always try to save lives. But for even more reason..." Ulannajirak recalls the words from White Maned Grand Master.

"Saving the... foe, may save both." Ulannajirak finally speaks out the words he heared before he left his home world.

"... Ah, well, I have nowhere else to go... when I get better, I will be serving my time." Brett answers, with his own issues. "Why? though... I should have died back there, and few dozen times before." Brett replies. "Well, I may have been ready before to take the final step... but I think I could make amends for previous transgressions." Brett continues. "For what it's worth... I am in your debt."

"My debt?" Ulannajirak smiles, "You don't owe me anything."

"I owe many people even if they don't think so... and I hope to have a chance to make amends." The man looks at the ceiling, as if he sees the galaxy.

This conversation touches Ulannajirak's thoughts. He suddenly realizes that he had many doubts about what the Empire means to the Kilrathi race, once more...

He has always heard the propaganda of the Empire that it would take only four more years to conquer humans, but now it is more than three eight years, The war seems to have no end, and the blood of the Kilrathi is constantly being consumed. Is it a debt to the race?

Then, what is human? As the propaganda of the empire says, foolish prey? Or just telling the truth, the completely equal opponents? Or even...

The nurse approaches. "Will you take on the role in medbay? You do sign... right?" The nurse offers Ulannajirak the signup sheet to be an orderly in medbay.

"Oh, sorry!" Ulannajirak is pulled back to reality from his contemplation.

"Of course I am honored to be take the role, as long as you... you feel safe." Ulannajirak looks at Seelig who is standing at the entrance of the room.

"Eh, as I said, I've escorted you here. The tin foil hat patrol's gotta worry about security." Seelig answers.

After signing, Ulannajirak is escorted back to his cell, he will work 6 hour shifts in the medbay.

”Appreciated, Mister Seelig.“ Ulannajirak bows to the human again.

Sitting in the cell, Ulannajiraka recalls what Brett said about being framed, and then he shakes his head, laughs dumbly. That's true. Humans are a lot more similar to us than it seems to be.
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It‘s been a few hours since the last engagement. Several pilots have come to the medbay to check in on Ona.

Lt. Bradford enters the medbay and surveys the room.

Ona is looking fairly good, all things considered. Megan is with her, dressed in shorts and a tank top.

"Hi, guys," Ona says.

Kanani wanders in not much after Phillip enters the medbay, and says to Ona, "Hey there, how you feeling today?" looking over the room idly as she moves over to where Ona is.

Elsewhere in the Medbay, Meiko's lurking talking with one of the nurses as she does her rounds.

"Pain's largely gone", Ona replies, "Healing up nicely too."

"She's getting a pieing later," Clearoff adds.

Iceblade heads to Ona. "That's good, maybe you can be back in the quarterback seat again; nuking frigates for us."

Cyric comes into the medbay. "Hello, Ona! Clearoff, Kanani, Phillip! Good to see everyone in one piece after that battle. How are you feeling, Ona? Has the Doc been taking good care of you with some decent pain-killers?" Cyric asks.

"Decent painkillers, yep," Ona replied. "But limiting them so I don't get addicted."

Cyric looks off in the corner and does a double-take before casually turning the doc aside. ANOTHER CAT on the Confederation's only remaining Carrier in this system!?! Is the Brass trying to get us all killed in our sleep? "What is that Cat doing in the corner, doc?" Cyric whispers. "Are we running a pet shelter for lost Cats on this ship now? Does command still know there is an active war on against the Kilrathi Empire?"

"I was just about to ask about that." Phillip adds.

Ulannajirak is checking medical records in the corner. Seeing the pilot talking, he is a little nervous. Of course, he knows that's expected.

"Pretty sure that's the one we grabbed a couple days ago." Kanani remarks with a shake of her head.

"Isn't he a little short for a Kilrathi?" Phillip asks while taking a good look at this kilrathi with light red mane, who has shaved hair from his paws to his elbows.

"Considering I've only ever met a few of them in person, I couldn't say. Most of the ones I've talked to were sitting in cockpits." Kanani muses with a chuckle at Phillip's question.

"Don't know", Ona repllies. "I'd have to check our guides again."

Cyric sighs. So, it was true. "So, I guess Intel has put him in our medical bay around our wounded because of some classified purpose far above our pay-grades? Great. That's great. I've heard of keeping your enemy close but I doubt they meant near your jugular within easy claw reach." He adds in a whisper.

After thinking about it, Ulannajirak put down the tablet and carefully steps forward, then bows to the pilots.

"Hello", Ona said.

"Hello, what is your name?" Phillip asks in simple English.

"My Blood Warms at the Sight of Thee, warriors." Ulannajirak gives a very formal greeting.

"Hello, My Blood", Clearoff says.

"I am Ulannajirak, a doctor." Ulannajirak introduces himself, "and thank you so much for rescuing me."

Cyric looks at Clearoff as if she went crazy for a second - My Blood? - before turning back to the cat. "Hello, doctor. What brings you to our side of this interstellar war?" He asks with stoic casualness.

Ulannajirak sighs, "Simply put, I was framed."

Clearoff doesn't say anything, but remembers some of the names they used in Puritan England.

"You know much about Human anatomy Ully?" Phillip asks.

My Blood? Ully? It seems that humans like to simplify Kilrah words. Ulannajirak thinks, just like Ula, the way Nala calls me.

"Ah, I'll answer your question. Yes, I have studied human medicine in my homeworld." Ulannajirak answers the question from Phillip humbly.

"What were you framed for, who framed you, why were you framed, and how did that lead you to turn against your own people?" Cyric asks evenly with the same stoic calm.

Kanani just tilts her head slightly at the statements from the Kilrathi, listening quietly as the others shotgun out more questions.

Ona turns to listen to all this.

Turn against MY OWN people? Ulannajirak gives a bitter smile, then shakes his head. "Alas, I was framed as having defected to you with so-called secrets. My shuttle system was locked and targeted the approximate area where you all were at the time."

"Who framed me... I shouldn't tell my guess until I have a definite answer, it's a matter of reputation. I hope you understand." Ulannajirak bows again.

"So, you defected for real?" Clearoff asks.

Phillip listens and grows a little concerned and confused.

"I didn't have a choice at the time or I might have been shot down with a stigma that didn't belong to me. It's ironic, isn't it? Now I really become one of you." Ulannajirak pauses, then continues, "if you could accept me, just like you accept the people on Ghorah Khar..."

"That's not up to us, actually." Phillip comments simply.

Cyric listens quietly and almost reflexively nods his head at Phillip's comment. "As they say, acceptance such as it is must come from our superiors. We must abide by their commands in order to keep our honor intact. I am sure you understand, doctor." Cyric answers stoically.

"Well, provided you don't try to kill us." Ona says.

Hearing Ona saying this again, Ulannajirak replies very formally, "Please be assured of this, the doctors of my family cannot challenge others, nor do we accept challenges."

"Challenges?" Ona asks.

"Well, in other words, we do not do duel." Ulannajirak says.

"Well, I wasn't asking for a duel..." Ona asks.

"Unless you want a pie duel," Clearoff quips.

"We don't much anymore either... well except in the sims." Phillip says with a smile.

"I think that's where the Cat's fight it out for being the top cat." Kanani remarks to Ona, with a snicker, holding up her quine to show a picture of a pair of spotted kittens wrestling around. "Like that."

"I know you wasn't asking for a duel." Ulannajirak realizes that Ona may have misunderstood him.

Ona resists the urge to aww when she sees the picture of the kittens.

"Aww" Clearoff goes at the picture.

Hearing this, Ulannajirak is a bit eager to correct these human prejudices against Kilrathi culture. Even within the warrior class, dueling is not something that can be casually proposed. There is a complex system to prevent unreasonable over-the-top challenges. But is here the right place for me to explain it?

He must also admit that during recent years, the level of violence within the warrior class is higher than before, and some unnecessary conflicts occur from time to time.

He sometimes wondered if this was really what the Empire needed. Or... is this exactly what the court needs?

"No, no duels are necessary, doctor. We understand that your caste is other than the Warrior caste of your race and that you are not allowed to engage in honor duels of that sort. Thus, we welcome you to our carrier however as long as our superiors wish it and your behavior remains that of our honorable guest." Cyric answers the Cat's unspoken query.

"Yes, so don't try to kill us", Clearoff replies.

Phillip raises an eyebrow at Cyric's somewhat unexpected response. "So how come you know so much about humans?" Phillip asks.

Ulannajirak sees Clearoff kindly, "Please don't worry."

Cyric glances at Phillip and shrugs slightly with stoic resignation in response before awaiting the Cat's answer to Phillip's question. It was a fair one given the fact the only way he could come by such experience was only through prisoners or slaves taken by force for experimentation purposes. Biological warfare, perhaps?

Clearoff smiles.

"Well, now, while I may not be qualified to speak on behalf of my family or our clan anymore, as a statement of fact, I would still like to say that there are indeed some of us who are working hard to understand, or say, comprehend human civilization." Ulannajirak pauses, "You may think it is a dangerous thing for you, a preparation for conquest and enslavement. I do not completely deny the existence of such purposes, but at the same time, I would say that human civilization, at least, attracts a part of us, although perhaps this part is not much at the moment."

"That's nice", Clearoff replied. "You're not all trying to kill us, which I suppose is something."

"Okay??? So, what's are those?" Phillip asks.

"For a long time, we Kilrathi don't admire intellect, only brute strength and courage." Uannajirak repeats the words of the White Maned Grand Master. "Maybe there is something we need in human civilization."

"I think you are the first Kilrathi to openly admit that." Phillip says.

"Well, we haven't met many Kilrathi," Ona adds. "Not face to face."

"Perhaps in your eyes, we are all beasts with a bloodthirsty appetite, right?" Ulannajirak smiles bitterly and continues, "Well, now while that is true for you most of the time, I should say that we are also creatures with unique lives, and families, relatives, friends."

"Pity your leadership has been trying to snuff our unique lives out then," Clearoff comments.

Ulannajirak don't know how to answer this query for a moment. "Eh..."

He knows that not only some of the top nobles and warriors, but many commoners, and even pariahs, are looking forward to conquering humans and enslaving them like enslaving the races they had conquered before, to do with them as they pleased. However, there are some who are different, I know this fact exactly.

"It is what it is, that is not for us to answer here but on the battlefield where such answers are found. As I said before, we welcome you to our carrier for however as long as Command wishes it and your behavior warrants it. We give you the peace of the day." Cyric says with even more formality. "Good to see you doing better, Ona! Say, Doc; how much longer are you going to keep Ona around here?" Cyric asks with more friendliness in his tone.

Phillip adds, "Yeah, we are due some sim time soon."

"Well..." Although according to Kilrathi's prevailing values, a wounded warrior should return to combat sequences as soon as possible, Ulannajirak knows that Ona actually needs more rehabilitation.

"She's not yet cleared for full operations," the doc says.

"But she can do sims."

"The burns aren't quite fully healed."

"In terms of the will to fight, she should be able to pick up a weapon again even now, but ......" Ulannajirak hesitated, "she's actually not fit for actual combat right now, I suppose you all don't mind admitting that, do you?"

"No, don't mind admitting that," Ona replies.

"Great news! At least you won't be bored to death while waiting on the new skin to form and the old scars to heal, eh?" Cyric turns to Phillip and adds half-jokingly. "When do we get started simming around in Hornet II's, Wing Commander?"

Phillip's eyes widen, and he tells Cyric to hush with his eyes.

Ulannajirak is happy with Ona's response. His professional advice as a doctor is respected, unlike the past eight days in the imperial fleet, when the warriors of those other clans focused only on willpower and despised the facts.

"We are scheduled for the sims within the hour." Phillip comments.

"Sounds good."

"See you there, guys!" Cyric adds and nods in the direction of the Kilrathi doctor. "It was an honor to meet you, doctor. With any luck, we will meet again. In the meantime, I grant you the peace of the day." Cyric waves good bye at the gang, gives a salute to the Captain on the bed, turns around and marches off to get ready for the upcoming sim battle.

"Indeed, I will join you shortly," Ona says.

Ulannajirak bows again to requite.

Phillip nods. "I will be heading out, see you soon." Then the pilots walks out.

Looking at the back of this group of human pilot, Ulannajirak has to admit that for the first impression, he actually feels better here than he did before in the Imperial fleet.

Perhaps I could find the answer here, White Maned Grand Master. Ulannajirak secretly thinks, this cub will work hard, for the future of my family, for the clan, and even for the race.
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The mess hall is full of new faces. This is the "green" zone, guests and declassified people only.

Guided, or say, under escort by the guard, Ulannajirak comes to one of the entrances here. There are audible gasps from some civilians in the area. Others don't seem to notice... He is greeted by some jazzy standards playing in the hall.

Ulannajirak can see many civilians that were rescued in the last few sorties.

"Excuse me, sir." Ulannajirak asks the guard, "Who are these people here? What is going on in the hall?"

The chef responds first, "Now ah was warned in advance 'bout another kilrathi being on board... but golly, look at ya." he continues, "These are some refugees that we're keeping safe while their ships are being patched up."

Ulannajirak notice that everyone even though they are minding their business are giving him a 3m berth.

"Refugees? I see..." Ulannajirak is careful to put himself in as inconspicuously as possible, avoiding direct light, and sits down.

There are a couple of people who don't flinch as you approach though, either by ignorance, bravado or curiosity.

Ulannajirak is still a bit nervous. After all, he rarely sees so many humans at the same time, alone. On is a diminutive female with longer hair. She looks shorter but stocky, as if she is used to high gravity training. She smells like an odd mix... Artificial strawberry sweetner and anxiety. Opposite her is a Terran male, who is chatting with the woman.

Ulannajirak makes himself appear as gentle and friendly as possible. He almost curls up. He glances at the human female, then leaves his eyes and looks down, avoiding looking directly at her for a long time, so as not to put pressure on her. He can hear the woman yammering on about something... it sounds like gossip about local celebrities or something indecipherable.

Also, he sees three empty glasses next to her with syruppy residues in them. Ulannajirak remembers the smell, it is close to something from Nala's father's stuff.

The man looks at the glasses, gets a whiff of the glasses, then turns to the lady, "I wonder if some of the folks here just had a Flaming Carlin..."

The lady turns around and sees Ulannajirak. She doesn't seem as put off as she should. She looks him up and down.

"Hi, guessing you're in the refugees? I didn't read about any kilrathi being rescued here... "
She then sees the guards behind Ulannajirak. "Ohhhhhhhhhhh"

Ulannajirak raises his head, "Hello, ma'am."

"Enforcer," she turns to the man, " I think you haven't met our latest refugee... I- I haven't yet either, but I was briefed... You can call me Julianna. What do you wish to be called?" She looks up at the kilrathi.

"Nice to meet you, Madam Julianna." Ulannajirak answers politely, "I am Ulannajirak, a doctor."

Julianna blinks... "You were flying that shuttle right? Those weren't doctor moves. Want to sit with us Ulannajira? I'm down between missions." She eyes the security guards behind him. Ulannajirak can tell she's not used to kilrathi words, and she's not mispronouncing on purpose.

Missions? Ulannajirak is surprised, "Excuse me, Madam Julianna. You say missions... You mean you are...?"

The man keeps a watchful eye, making sure that nobody causes undue trouble.

"I am a pilot... I've seen your kind before. Out there... they don't act as they do on the carrier. It's complicated." Julianna sighs. "But I was about to get another strawberry smoothie, Enforcer, want one." she is mindful to use his callsign in public, it's up to the man himself if he wants to reveal more.

Ulannajirak stands up, faces to Julianna, then formally bows, "My Blood Warms at the Sight of Thee, warrior."

Julianna purses her lips at the word. Then her smile returns to her fourth rate poker face. She gets up to get the drinks.

Julianna returns with three glasses filled with overly sweetened strawberry juice. Ulannajirak would estimate about 200g of sugar per glass.

Looks like everything is ok in the mess hall... for now.

Ulannajirak straightens up slightly, knowing that his height, though only medium for a Kilrathi male, is obviously too conspicuous here.

The man graciously takes his glass and waits until Julianna is ready. He then raises his glass in thanks and takes a sip. It is the first time he has had anything this sweet since childhood, and it brings back some fun memories.

"Eh... I ask your forgiveness for any disrespect I may have shown, but may I sit down as not to disturb others? " Ulannajirak speaks to Julianna with a formal and polite tone.

Julianna drinks half of it, and puts the glass next to her three empties. She turns to Ulannajirak and answers "Please!". She slides a chair out, making sure the back has a gap between the seat section, as if she was trained well in that aspect at least. The man looks around the room, seems to be in an attempt to see what food is being served at this hour.

"Thank you!" Ulannajirak carefully sits down on the chair, in order to avoid make any noise, then put his tail in the correct place.

Julianna narrows her eyes... she definitely noticed something... but can't process what it is yet.

Ulannajirak is tempted to ask Julianna if she is one of the members who rescued him at that time, but for a while he doesn't not know how to speak.

"Ulannajira, you came to us... anything shock you culturally yet?" Julianna asks first, sipping on the rest of her "smoothie".

"I should say, the commonly presence of women warriors like you is what makes me feel admired." Ulannajirak speaks with a formal tone. This is something he admires very much in humans. In the human fleet, the proportion of female warriors is quite high, and brave in combat.

Julianna puts an open palm on her heart area and replies 'aww'. It is clearly a rehearsed move. The man is so preoccupied with looking for a good cut of beef that he misses the nuance in Ulannajirak's voice.

Ulannajirak notices this move, but he just continues, "You may know that in Kilrathi traditional, females are not supposed to fight on the front lines."

"Of course, please allow me to say that in the cold weapon era, it was considered immoral to let women go into battle because our females' physical conditions were so different from those of males. Then this tradition has been last for eights of eight generations." Ulannajirak continues to avoid a possible insult.

"I heard they occupy more religious roles and administrative ones... except for one that has attacked us a few months ago... Bonechain. "
Julianna squints... She can't put her finger on it yet... "But you grew up on the same planet and environment... right?" The woman asks with a lost look in her eyes. Ulannajirak seems to feel a change in the aura emanating from this human female. It is subtle, but certainly present.

"Same planet? " Ulannajirak then gets the point, "In fact, like the Condederation, we Kilrathi now have a large number of colonized planets, or say, fiefdoms belonging to various clans. I am not sure where the female warrior you mentioned was born, but I guess she is not from my homeworld."

Julianna pauses. "I- I meant, you share the planet with females... women... so... they survived OK before on Kilrah" She probes. The waiter arrives at the table and drops a chipped beef sandwich in front of Steele. Looks like the finest meat to come out of a can. "This looks perfect! Thank you!" The man takes a bite of the sandwich while listening to the conversation. The food appears to have prevented the sugar rush, and subsequent crash.

"Kilrah..." Ulannajirak pauses a while, then continues, "Since Kilrah is the Emperor family's planet now, it's probably not appropriate for me to talk much about this world."

Yes, although Kilrah is the planet where the Kilrathi species and civilization were born, it has in fact belonged to the Emperor since the time of interstellar voyages eights of eights years ago, and other clans have been moved out one after another. Ulannajirak thinks silently.

"Your family is not that of the emperor?" Julianna's mouth remains slightly agape. "And .. and you're saying it as if they are unwelcome. I would assume it goes both ways..." She looks at Ulannajirak at the head.

Hearing this, Ulannajirak suddenly notices that he may have inadvertently revealed his true attitude towards the Emperor's family. But then he is relieved, it is the human's ship here after all.

"May i ask... how... how" she pauses trying to not cause a massive security breach "do you see this ending... the little I know, is that if the emperor says to go to war, the entire race leaps to action..."

"I should say, I have never been to Kilrah." Ulannajirak tries to switch the topic. "My father and grandparents have been there as doctors together with our Baron. But in my case, it is the first time I left my homeworld." Ulannajirak smiles bitterly, "and then... I have faced some troubles..."

"I- I don't see a viable solution forward unless more pe- kilrathi do what you did. Was your honor pushing you this way, or were you forced to leave?" The woman looks Ulannajirak straight in the eye. For an instant the 75 cm difference in height and over 100 kg difference disappeared.

Ulannajirak watches Julianna's eyes, "Madam Julianna, do you have the time to listen to me? Or, do you really trust me... at the moment?"

The security guard states: "All right Kilrathi, time to return to your room, we have too many people staring."

The woman pilot stares down the guard. She may look up the guard's manager.

"Got it," Ulannajirak sighs, and stands up, bows again to Julianna. "Thank you so much, madam."

"Ulannajira... stay safe... We'll meet again."

Ulannajirak says kindly, "I believe so, you have appreciation from Ulannajirak."

After Ulannajirak is escorted out, Julianna turns to the man. "Shoot, I was supposed to ask him about that professor."

"Is he supposed to be leaving soon? You should have a chance to speak with him again." The man repiles.

While walking back to his cell, Ulannajirak smells something else... something musky and feline.

He thinks back to the conversation he just had. The woman pilot named Julianna didn't seem to know much about the Empire, except for a few moves showing respect. Where, or rather, with whom, did she learn them?

Another Kilra'hra mentioned by Senior Specialist Dallas Seelig? Ulannajirak checks the smell carefully.
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After finishing his work, Ulannajirak leaves the medbay. Escorted by guards, he comes to the entrance of a venue that looks a little different. A poorly printed banner that reads "Bugs and Cats. " is suspended over the entrance.

Ulannajirak had thought that the place where he had talked to Julianna earlier was a makeshift conference center or something, and that some VIP was coming for a lecture. By the time he got back to the Cell, he realized it was the dinner place - and he hadn't eaten anything.

But it was okay, anyway. Otherwise, he might have been the center of attention just for eating.

"Well, sir, where is this place?" Ulannajirak asks the guard. He decides to know the usage of this place first this time.

"Movie night, cat, it's entertainment for the crew." The guard answers... he obviously would rather watch the screen than answer the questions.

"Entertainment? I see..." Ulannajirak smells some complex mix of odors from the entrance.

"Am I authored to... take a look here?" he asks very carefully.

"Yeah, we can go in, you're scheduled for cultural learnings soon, consider this an intro." the guard answers, nonchalantly.

"Thank you very much, sir." Ulannajirak bows to the guard, and he finds food vending.

After a general look, he chooses a creamy ice cream - a snack that could be licked even for humans, so it might suit Ulannajirak now. Then he carefully steps into the movie theater.

Ulannajirak sees the screening hall filled with soft red lights. He remembers what he had read before, that the human visual system cannot see visible light for Kilrathi that is in the long wave band.

Ulannajirak sees an empty seat against the aisle and the neighbor next to it sits... Julianna, that woman pilot. It is the only seat in the theater left.

Julianna doesn't flinch and just says "Hey Jamie."

Jamie? Ulannajirak notices that Julianna might have the wrong person.

"Excuse me, Madam Julianna. It is me, Ulannajirak." A quick reunion, Ulannajirak thinks.

Julianna inhales sharply from the deep voice's surprise. "Oh, hi Ulannajirak... I just smelled the vanilla, assumed you were... someone else."

"Nice to see you again here." Ulannajirak says, "Do you mind if I sit next to you?"

"You're free to do so, I don't mind." Julianna smiles. "Aww what a cute birdman, it almost looks like those Firekkans."

"Oh, thank you very much!" Ulannajirak carefully sits down into the small seat. It is indeed a little small, but it is okay. A birdman? Firekkan? Seeing the character, Ulannajirak remembers the Firekka event a few years ago, and even Ghorah Khar rebels, and the forbidden name...

Julianna watches the movie plot with outright disgust. "What does he mean... woman hater?" She looks incensed.

Ulannajirak glances back at the guards who is still in a guarded posture. He knows that the guards' mission is to watch him, not to watch the movie. So, he doesn't say anything, but just looks at the screen.

"Huh, he couldn't hit a duck in a barrel." The lights turn back on as the movie finishes. "Well... that was something."

"What did you think about the Hata Mary? Ulannajirak." She learned his name, finally. "It's funny, historically animated non-sentient animals were used for alegory... what were the chances that it has a new meaning now like it does." She continues.

Ulannajirak is pulled back to reality by Julianna. "Ugh!" He is embarrassed. "Sorry, the lines in the movie were a little fast for me."

"Daffy duck is a speed talker allright. And his voice was made to modulate what they assumed a duck would sound like."

"Daffy Duck? Oh, I see." Ulannajirak gets the point, "In the empire, Daffy and his rabbit foe are recognized as Terran war heroes."

Ulannajirak does not say that the imperial court intelligence had developed a ridiculous set of provocative phrases for these cartoon characters. And this is almost a joke that cannot be openly laughed out loud for his clan, who really have understanding of human culture.

His french is so good. Julianna thinks.

The lights dim and the next movie starts.

"I heard nothing of the sort. Last kilrathi to taunt us... Tsunami mocked to oblivion." The woman pilot replies.

The lights come back on. As the light turns blueish, Ulannajirak notices a Terran comes to the other side next to Julianna. That's the man having meal with Julianna last time.

"Hey Enforcer, welcome!" Julianna sees the man snuck in during the second film.

"Greetings, Karen!" The man walks over and sits down.

Karen? Ulannajirak wonders for a second, Oh, it is Julianna's family name... or...

"You know... I'm a fan of bureaucracy... it prevents mistakes... but this blind faith in the law is a bit extreme, no?" Karen asks. Face full of popcorn.

"Well... Maybe... but..." Ulannajirak is hesitate to continue his words, "I read something else from this."

"Ah, what did you read?" Julianna asks.

Ulannajirak hesitates a bit, wondering if he had said too much in front of the humans, such as the last time he had inadvertently revealed his displeasure with the Emperor's family.

"Well, using Kilrathi's traditional mainstream perspective, those two ridiculous preys were just fighting for their lives in front of their predator." Ulannajirak pauses, "But..."

Hearing this, Julianna, or say, Karen looks at her feet, realizing how prey-like she behaves sometimes...

Ulannajirak looks at the man called Enforcer, then continues, "If you change the perspective, the rabbit and the duck are still seen as two warriors, then something makes us feel a little uneasy."

"Fighting with words... that is a good way to put it." Enforcer looks at Ulannajirak's clothing, trying to determine whether he was of noble or common birth.

"For example, a certain lord makes two warriors fight each other, so that he could benefits from the tussle or something..." Ulannajirak doesn't say that this plot makes him remember two clans with long generations of conflict, and the Kiranka royal family have gained a lot from this.

"Ah, you mean their abuse of power in order to leverage people against each other." Julianna seems to be interested.

"Funny how the fierce loyalty to a tribe overrides the loyalty to the peer. We do that too. We did that a lot, World War 1, 2 and 4. 3 was economic though." Singh comments.

"Wabbits?" Karen wooks bemusedwy at Uwannajiwak. How does he stay so cool? Julianna wonders.

"You haven't heard Imperial pilots... talking about them in combat? For example... oh never mind." Ulannajirak suddenly realizes that the topic could not continue, because some of those provocative terms are very vulgar and not suitable to be said in front of a lady.

"It regrettably does, Karen. You also see that with ideologies. Look at the country called the United States in the early 1860s."

"Finally, however, as the rabbit and the duck formed a consensus, that predator became the prey." Ulannajirak finally tells his idea to Julianna and Enforcer.

The lights dim for the 3rd and final movie.

"Gremlins? Our techs exterminated most of them." Karen mentions, "Enforcer, you hit any in your plane? The Russian landscape looks so bleak... I wonder if Cyric would agree." They lowers the voice.

"I've dealt with one or two in my day. They can be dangerous."

Karen covers her mouth trying not to laugh at the old thumbtack in the butt joke.

"Well, the predator said he was only hunting for sporting purposes, not to fill his stomach. I think there is a great similarity between Kilrathi and humans in this regard." Ulannajirak carefully says, "Something that was meant to be done for survival, slowly detached from its original purpose and turned into something else."

"Is this movie a propaganda piece mocking the enemy filmed during human's second global war?" Ulannajirak asks while looking at the screen.

"Was jack-ass a common insult in the day? two movies so far have that curse." Karen asks.

"Second... not sure... Earth history was never my strong point... maybe?" She shrugs back at Ulannajirak.

"Yes. It goes with the stubbornness of the donkey, which they used to nickname an ass or jackass."

"I see..." Suddenly Ulannajirak has a very unusual idea: Will there be such a propaganda moive for this war now? Seriously, he wants to see how ridiculous the royals of the Kiranka family were portrayed ridiculous.

"My nonna used to cook ass when I was younger... she had to special order it from earth. Tough meat." She recalls.

But I don't want to say this, especially after knowing that there are other Kilra'hra on this ship. Ulannajirak thinks.

Keyan notices Ulannajirak’s hesitation. "You are among friends here. Please do not be perturbed."

"Friends?" Ulannajirak looks at Enforcer. "Do you really regard me a friend?"

"Certainly." Karen looks away. "I- I consider you a safe acquaintance. But you're in a safe place" Karen continues.

Ulannajirak remembers the words that the White Maned Grand Master had told him: Never talk about the royal family in the imperial fleet, since no matter how good partners they seem to be, all those words would reach the ears of relevant imperial departments.

"Thank you so much for this, Mr. Enforcer." Ulannajirak decides not to talk too much on the Kiranka topic here., though it is a human ship here.

Finally, Ulannajirak tries to change the topic, "Eh, I don’t know if it’s appropriate to discuss this here, but I have some personal belongings on my shuttle, such as clothes - well, I haven’t changed this outfit for several days."

"We can put in a req with the Yeoman. But, I'm not sure how much has been inventoried... we can check... there is another option though... " Julianna mentions. "The captured kilrathi freighter has a lot of swag, and we don't know what to do with a lot of it. Normally it gets incinerated on the 3rd of every month."

"Eh! You mean disposal?" Ulannajirak shows a anxious look. "Please! There is one thing really important for me on my shuttle!" Ulannajirak is in a hurry, "Please keep it."

"None of these long robes fit us. Maybe if I stood on Enforcer's shoulders..." Karen continues, not noticing Ulannajirak's panicked look.

"It is an instrument in a case -- a Terran instrument!" Ulannajirak is almost like praying.

"Let's see the flight deck?" Julianna asks the guard.

"I got it from my s... well, I got it in the process of learning about human culture." Ulannajirak continues, "It is important to me."

Ulannajirak looks at the two humans in front of him, and the guard behind him, "If possible, please lead the way."

Julianna smiles, as if she is making a guess with Ulannajirk's words, and gets something funny. "Let's go." Karen muses.

Karen walks up to the flight deck with the guards, and Ulannajirak, as well as Enforcer. "I'll stay here... but you can ask the technicians for access to your effects." Julianna says. She appears to not want to enter the flight deck. Upon entering a certain pungent aroma greets you.

"Thank you, madam." Ulannajirak bows, and quickly steps to the technicians on the deck.

"'Ey, it's the Kilra'hra! Come to see the progress in reverse enginerding your shuttle?" A large technician greets Ulannajirak.

"By the way, I tooks the freedumb of collecting your gear, didn't want to stain your garb with molybdenum disulfide." Seelig continues.

"My blood warms at the sight of you all." Ulannajirak quickly asks, "I just wonder if you got a Terran style small case on my... on the shuttle?"

He nods at a box in the corner, with several robes. a couple golden sashes and a white ash sliding box.

"Eh..." Ulannajirak just wants to get it, but he carefully stops and asks Seelig, "Can I take them back to the cell? I think you have checked them, no dangerous."

"No hair off my butt, I had to get rid of them by tuesday, yer doing me a favor."

"You have my gratitude, Mr. Seelig." Ulannajirak bows to Seelig as well as the others, then opens the case. There are the clothes, and also, in a sub-case, a musical instrument made of bamboo that looks like a flute.

"Ah, you are here safely, my old buddy." Ulannajirak breathes a sigh of relief, closes the case.

After one more bowing to Seelig and otheres, Ulannajirak takes the case out of the deck, and says to the guards, "Now please take me back to my cell."

"And, great to see you again, Madam Julianna and Mr. Enforcer." Ulannajirak bows to them, "Please expect something new from Ulannajirak soon."

Karen looks nonplussed. "What could that box contain though?"
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The lights dimmed across the ship.

"What happened?" Ulannajirak looks at the reddish light in his cell. Before that, Ulannajirak finally changed into his new clothes, and then tried to wash the old robe he had worn for days by himself. This may be the first time he seriously did so. After all, there are no slaves around now.

The cell doorbell chimes. A guard warns the guest, "Patrol sighted nearby, we switched to low emission mode, all non-essential staff need to gather away from the windows. Come with us to the mess hall."

Ulannajirak stands up. "Yes, sir." After thinking about it, he takes the little box, and walks out of the cell.

Escorted by guards, Ulannajirak arrives at the mess hall. Unexpectedly, there is a Kilrathi face on the big screen high there.

There is a giant smiling kilrathi noble greets everybody. “My fellow Kilrathi! It is I, Azran nar Kiranka, heir to the Rajinka system. I wish to inform you that I have ordered a full liberation of the system. Soon the apes will be relocated to Illudium mines in Varni space, and the planet shall be terraformed to meet our needs. This will be the gem of the sector. Prepare for a piece of heaven far from Kilrah, you will be able to hunt targ and laze under the ulanna trees. I expect our Qarg co-regents to join in with this new world!”

"Eh?" Ulannajirak is a little surprised. That's true. Humans really allow enemy propaganda videos to be shown in public.

That is a face Ulannajirak have seen often before, this Kiranka noble named Azran had been speaking on the broadcast a lot in recent times. Hearing the words of "I expect our Qarg co-regents to join in with this new world!", Ulannajirak secretly laughs, Qarg co-regents? Well, Ragitagha Season now? He remembers the Bugs Bunny cartoon.

A large pungently odoriferous man laughs and snorts his beer out of his nose while watching this spectacle. "'Ey! O'er 'ere! ya seen the latest bile from k-tube? Just like that Jamisson air displacement device." Seelig waves over Ulannajirak.

"Oh, nice to see you here, Mr. Seelig." Ulannajirak is called back by the funny tone.

"Chek'em. We gots here a bonafried hit piece on da kat..." Seelig muses, "I guess he musta rubbed some peoples in da wrong derection."

Ulannajirak knows that the two clans Ragitaghah and Qarg are hostile to each other, and direct conflicts between the nobles have occurred from time to time over the years. And the emperor's family gains a lot from this. Not sure what would Mr. Seelig think if he knows such situation. But surely, it might not be the correct place to talk about this here.

"Well, for me, it is weirdly surprise to watch... Imperial programs here." Ulannajirak shows an embarrassed expression. "Should I stay here with you? Or should I get away from this?"

"It's a free ship, who am I to stop ya?" Seelig nods. "Maybe I could get some outsight on the whosits and whatsits of the schituation. If you'd pardon my french. This is da first time the k-tube feed sent us a real life royal. Looks familiar if you know what I lean." He swigs his drink. "This is interesting.. .with a capital exclamation mark."

"About this Kal nar Kiranka," Ulannajirak hesitates, then continues, "he has been on the broadcast for a while, but this is the first time I see him on this channel."

"Ah... he... looks like the pleasant sort. I imagine if 'e were to get his meat hooks on ya he'd be takin' ya a-part real gentle like." Seelig grunts.

"Oh, Kal means noble lord." Ulannajirak adds, in case Seelig doesn't understand this word.

"Mostly we get adverts for Gar's slightly used sarthas and different, re-runs of bladelord, thankfully censored. and other kids stuff." Seelig continues, "Occasionally we gets the odd bio of an ace our boys in blue decomiserate real fast. Like a couple of min ago, Sigark "Bloodtiger" nar Qarg. No hair off my lower back how 'e goes."

"Eh, excuse me, Mr. Seelig, but..." Ulannajirak is a little embarrassed, "My Terran language is not good enough, what do you mean?"

Seelig sits up straight from his slouching posture, and smiles, "It takes a big man to have that kinda courage. I was saying that they advertise aces, I don't mind, our boys and girls always manage to return. I don't know if it's luck, or better teamwork, but that team really is something."

"Oh, that is it." Ulannajirak lower his head. He knows the name of Sigark. Is Julianna dog-fighting with him now? Are they both... alive now?

Seelig looks around and sees some other people he may recognize, he returns to a slouch and dull look he practiced for most of his life.

Thinking about it, Ulannajirak feels a little uneasy inside. Yes, now he is already on the human side, and if Sigark was now standing in front of him, Sigark's attitude could be imagined. But, although the decision of requesting protection from the humans was made more easily because of the pressure to survive while escaping back then, now, Ulannajirak suddenly finds himself hoping both sides of the hostile would return alive.

Then, Ulannajirak glances coldly at the Kiranka boasting on the screen. All those lost is because of you, Kiranka.

"Wouldn't mind playin' on the insides Glorified Shuttle Talon wannabe or a corvette in fighter's clothin'." Seelig's eyes gloss over, "They look so roomy to work in, I wouldn't need to get my 90 lb tripple jointed neo-manilan assistant to fetch the spanner outa the fuselage when the 10 mil socket pops off."

At this time, both of the two see a man is coming over here. Ulannajirak stands up as he finds Enforcer coming, "Oh, nice to meet you here, Mr. Enforcer." Seelig just simply nods to Enforcer.

"Well... Mr. Seelig and Mr. Enforcer," Ulannajirak pauses for a while, then continues, "May I ask you two a question?"

"Certainly, Ulannajirak. What would you like to know?" Enforcer shows his kindness.

"Sure, you scratch my butt, and I'll scratch yours." Seelig answers. His attitude is obviously much more casual.

"What are you really fighting for?" Ulannajirak looks at the two humans, "For being alive? For not being enslaved?"

Seelig pauses and thinks... an unusual sight. "Just like any other hot pissed person, I don't want to die. But I'm good at fixing thing. Things are better than people. They're much easier to fix. They don't talk back. And I grew up with some lousy people. If I didn't fight, I would be enslaved to debt, malice, and incompetence that surrounds me. I see the confederation as my ticket to actualization." He returns to his surly facade. "Also, this is a way to keep away from the exe wife. You think a kilra'hra's scary, you 'aven't met Tammy."

Ulannajirak struggles to extract fluent information from these words. He could probably understand what Seelig is talking about. But what slightly surprised him is that the human in front of him so casually lists very personal, even slightly selfish reasons to a kilrathi who had been an enemy just a few days before.

"Tammy?" Ulannajirka also wonders who has that name.

"Don't mention dat name. She's the devil distilled with a beautilful evil pair of... nevermind." Seelig shakes his head with eyes closed.

Ulannajirak suddenly knows the point. He realizes he should switch the topic. He turns to Enforcer, looking forward to his answer.

"I remember reading about the Iason incident. I just can't understand why a greeting, a gesture of friendship, could be received so...inversely." Enforcer's tone is much more serious. "Do you happen to have any insight you can share?"

Iason incident... Ulannajirak remembers the phrase. A Terran ship was attacked and sunken by the Imperial fleet even before war started. A Caxki commander fired on the poor ship who was trying to send a friendly signal. That was a misunderstanding. However, after thinking about it, he knows that even if there was no misunderstanding, what else would that blockhead Caxki commander do?

He doesn't know what to say for a moment.

"Now your turn, why'in the hell did you panic for that fooden box, what's in it?" Seelig speaks up, breaking the awkwardness.

"Well... Could I ask about..." Ulannajirak hesitates, "If there are some humans working in Kilrathi's worlds, being protected, and form with the masters a kind of... better relationship. Do you think this is more or less... acceptable?" saying this, Ulannajirak avoids contact with the humans' eyes.

He lowers his head, and sees the small case.

Enforcer replies with confidence, "I'm not sure how Seelig feels about it, but it was apparently a part of my family's history. A far distant ancestor of mine fought to end that kind of servitude and was saved by someone named...I can't place the name, but his first name comes from Roman mythology."

However, Seelig's answer is definitely different.

"Slaves? we got'em 'ere. 900 creds and you can get a personal servant. My family's casino owned 40, 'ad to put down 3. It's 100% legal in Gemini, and these are sub-people. Unlike you" he nudges enforcer. "Never had one myself, never wanted one, but I know of them."

"So... I know about the situation of Ghorah Khar. They are now part of the Confederation." Ulannajirak looks at Seelig, "I heard that the Kilrathi here are being granted federal citizenship. Is that real? Do you really trust them?" He pauses, "Citizenship? An identity very close to the subjects, right?"

"I trust'em as much as I'd trust a human, a mopok or a firekkan... scratch that... I wouldn't trust a mopok." Seelig answers, "Humans are capable of real garbage, it's easy being a saint while angels lick yer ampits. But down in Jolson... it's kick the nuts or get yet nuts kicked in first." He continues.

"Slaves, as a form of Buyout low class subordination were once common in the history of humans as well, right? I mean..." But at this time, Ulannajirak suddenly noticed the discomfort on Enforcer's face.

"Ulannajirak, I sincerely apologize, but I'm going to depart before a regrettable incident occurs." Enforcer stands up.

"Eh, sorry, Mr. Enforcer, I am not deliberately offending you. Just..."

"Yes, though if you would like to, I can continue that discussion in private." Enforcer bows in respect of Ulannajirak's culture, then turns and angrily glares a la Randy Savage "Dallas, you have a point. We can discuss this later."

Ulannajirak scrambles to his feet to requite. He knows he might have screwed up something. Sure enough, it's still too early to discuss this.

"Commerce keeps all afloat. Proof, our politicians are all bought out. Menesch bad, but the difference in betwixt him and the udders, is 'e was caught." Dallas continues obliviously.

"Anyway, I have no such... subordination now, since I chose to be here." Looks at Enforcer's back, Ulannajirak shakes his head.

Seelig continues drinking. grabbing a second beer and being obliviously mirthful. It seems that he doen't care what Ulannajirak said.

"Mr. Seelig. Maybe you don’t know that since the age of interstellar travel, Kilrathi began to enslave other species, so that we no longer have to enslaved each other internally." Ulannajirak smiles bitterly, tries to let the conversation contiune, "It was considered an historical advancement. But..."

"Do ya really though? Look at that Kiranka... to my understanding all kilrathi are slaves to that family, and that family is slave to one indy-vidule." He replies.

Hearing these words, Ulannajirak frowned, but decides to continue his own topic, "Many clans insist that other species ,those not of the blood, should just be treated as prey and be squeezed at will... regardless of the fact that they are actually... somewhat..." Ulannajirak wonders how to express his idea.

"Low calory?" Seelig looks a little scared.

"Eh?" Ulannajirak is surprised. "No!!!!! I mean..."

Seelig stares into the kilrathi's eyes and waited for an explanation.

"Some of the races had fought honorably, some were obviously more intelligent but had lack the military prowess to stand against Kilrah." Ulannajirak speaks what White Maned Grand Master told him.

"They may have been intelligent, didn't mean they was smart" Seelig replies.

"There is something in some of us' mind, that is... pitied the conquered." Ulannajirak raises his head, says these words seriously.

"Pitied the conquered? The ways I fingers it, you have time to pity when ya feel safe." Seelig replies.

Ulannajirak has no idea what to reply. "Maybe... but..." He looks at the Kiranka's face on the screen again, then turns back, "Maybe there will be an answer..."

"The ways I sees it, we're all capable of being awful, evil what have you. The only way out is being mutually useful. You wouldn't kill someone if you know they'll kill ya back, same with commerce and cash."

"So..." Ulannajirak knows the point. Maybe Julianna is dogfighting. Maybe she is in danger now, maybe she is safe now. It is only suitable to think more when you are safe.

Ulannajirak puts his small case on the table, opens it.

"So, the sooner Kilrah wants to buy terran wares, and sell their crafts and services back, the sooner we can all get rich and buy our own moons." Seelig tries to continue, just noticing the box.

Enforcer returns as Ulannajarik grabs the item out of the box. He stares Seelig's eyes, as if he finds something about him just now.

Ulannajirak takes out an instrument in the case. "Excuse me, Mr. Seelig and..." Ulannajirak sees Enforcer is back again, "Mr. Enforcer, but do you mind I perform a melody?"

"Sure!" Enforcer shows his curiosity.

"let's hear it." Seelig replies.

"Sorry, I am still a beginner, if I had more time to practice in my homeworld, I could play better now." Ulannajirak picks up the instrument, closes her eyes and starts playing.

After the performance, Ulannajirak says secretly in his mind, Leonard, are you okay now? Are you getting well with Nala these days? Be well, and I will be too. I will learn this piece of music in its entirety.

This piece clearly dilutes the tension between Enforcer and Seelig. "You are quite the accomplished flautist. What is the source of the melancholy in your melody?" Enforcer asks.

"Thanks so much for your encouragement." Ulannajirak hesitates a while, then continues, "I think it is a melody from a Terran place called Ireland."

"I haven't been there in years. The gentle rolling hills and forests can inspire and warm even the coldest of hearts." Enforcer replies kindly.

"But the instrument came from another Terran place. The instrument is called DongXiao, they calls it an eastern Asian instrument." Ulannajirak notices Enforcer's attitude changing.

Seelig is still amazed with the flute being held so delicately... it's like a body builder making origami. He is figuring out the mechanics of it. How come the kilrathi is holding it like a drinking straw? He grease stained hands are not going near that flute. He'd get Molybdenum disulfide all over it.

"Bamboo, right? Would you mind if I took a closer look at it?" Enforcer shows his interest.

"Sure!" Ulannajirak hand his instrument carefully to Enforcer.

"Thank you!" Enforcer gently accepts the instrument and marvels at the delicate and intricate craftsmanship. "If you don't mind my asking, how old is this particular instrument?"

"I am not sure... but..." Ulannajirak heard that this Instrument was made before the war started, and it is back to a human ship now. "Maybe several decades, it is hand made." Ulannajirak looks at the instrument.

"Intriguing." Enforcer examines more closely, "Do you happen to know if the maker left a mark somewhere?"

"Never been a fan of that anistropic organic foam. Can't weld it, when working it, the chips go everywhere, and are a pure fire hazard. The only safe plant matter I see are in liquid form." Seelig continues to drink his beer.

Enfocer takes a few pictures before gently returning the instrument. "I'll see if I can find out something about its history and maker."

"Uh..." Ulannajirak suddenly realizes that these two people might probably see this instrument as a looted item by the Kilrathi. "I should say, I got it legally, even in human's rule." Ulannajirak says.

"Well, I think I should practice more." Ulannajirak looks at the clock on the wall. "Oh, sorry, maybe it is time to go to work in the med-bay."

"Ah, send my regards to Meiko ifin you sees her." Seelig raises his eyebrows and nods as he comments. He's still amused of a kilrathi playing a flute like a straw... maybe he could charm a snake?

"I understand. However, I have found that the story behind someone or something's history can open one's eyes to a wealth of knowledge undreamed of by most. I look forward to hearing more of your ongoing musical journey!" Enforcer bows to Ulannajirak, proactively.

"Thank you!" Ulannajirak carefully puts the instrument back to the case. "Please expect even more music from Ulannajirak." Ulannajirak bows to the two, and other humans surprised around.

Looking at the Kiranka's face on the big screen once again, Ulannajirak shakes his head, and leaves the mess hall under escort.
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The medbay is surprisingly quiet.

A nurse takes her courage in her hand and says: "I'm glad our air filtration system works so well, it would have been difficult for you to cover up sufficiently." She tells Ulannajirak, trying to start some friendly banter.

Ulannajirak purposely twitches his nose for a sniff and then makes a mischievous expression, "I see. I thought I had my nose allergic and that's why I couldn't ask for the smell." He is happy that the nurse begins to say some easy happy jokes to him.

Senior Medical Officer Dr. Meiko makes her way into the medbay after a few minutes stretching a bit and rubbing at her arm, as she looks around, at the nurse and the cat. "So how's everything looking in here so far? Any trouble?"

"Brett is recovering well and will probably be discharged in a few days." Ulannajirak answers Meiko's question. "Ms. Ona is also doing well, I think in another eight days she will be the same as before." He continues.

"We have a large amount of sprains and bruises, an acceleration absorber glitched out yesterday and the whole cargo bay suffered negative G forces while people were in it. I am triaging, I think Corporal Martel and Nigoya have a broken arm and ribs respectively." The nurse replies.

Glancing at her quine, Meiko nods and says, "Sounds about right to me on both of them. I'm sure Ona will be glad to get back on the flight line." Considering the nurse's comment she mutters, "Lucky that's all they've got, and that it wasn't worse than it was."

Another nurse stands tall and smiles, but is tired, he handled triage solo for the last few hours having drawn the unlucky shift. "Yeah, imagine if a bulkhead or container floated on one of them... yeesh, you'd be microsutering nerves for a week." He rubs the back of his neck nervously.

Rolling her eyes, Meiko mutters, "Don't even joke about that, Nurse Ted. Only thing I can think of worse than that is trying to do surgery, -after- getting shot."

Ted looks at Meiko and Ulannajirak, pulling out the portable X-Ray scanner and splints from the cabinet. "Ulannajirak, Kilrathi bones don't break as often... I imagine they do take longer to heal. Are you familiar with splinting techniques and casts?"

"Yes, I think so." then Ulannajirak added, "but I very much hope to get your guidance." He remembers his first surgery on a human... that family slave who was injured as prey by a barbaric Caxki because of... incident.

"I'll help, of course." Ted smiles.

"Thank you!" Ulannajirak says with ease.

On the other hand, Ulannajirak also cares the battle outside Majastic.

Is Juliana safe now? Who is she up against?

Then his thoughts returns to the conversation with Seelig and Enforcer. He gradually finds that the angrily leaving of Enforcer was not because he raised the topic of slavery, but because of Seelig's answer.

Yes, humans also have slavery, which was once common in their past, and it still exists today. Ulannajirak doesn't know how to evaluate this fact for now.

We are so different, yet so similar.

Ulannajirak has been thinking to himself, if he did not come to Gemini as that kil's assistant, would he, as the White Maned Grand Master said, be called to Repleetah as cannon fodder by the empire court?

Maybe I can write some diaries. Ulannajirak thinks, but he knows such request is not something that should be made lightly, since this may be considered something like a part of secret reconnaissance.

After handing over to the next shift, Ulannajirak went back to his cell to take a shower, and then put on his new robe with golden belt. Then he walks to the mess hall under escort, again. Yes, I could always find something new about human here. He thinks.

This time Ulannajirak tries to order a cup of sugar milk, sits in the corner, and drinks slowly.

Julianna also walks into the mess hall. She looks exhausted, waves at Iceblade and Talon who are off to the showers.

Julianna goes up to the bar "Coffee, black and straight double height with whipped cream, soy creamer, pumpkin strawberry syrups, agave and honey, as well as crumbled cake sprinkles."

The barman hands her a cup of what looks like sweetened condensed milk with some coffee in it.

"Hey Ulannajirak, sampling the bar, I see?" Julianna asks.

Ulannajirak sees Julianna. Oh, she came back safely.

"I don't know the kilrathi metabolism that well, but the strawberry syrup is cheap and plentiful."

"Glad to see you here, Madam Julianna!" Ulannajirak stands up to make a greet.

"awww" Julianna gets up and mimics the bow, crossing her feet at her ankles. "You don't need to show me defference, it's just me, plain Julianna." She chuckles, blushing at the attention.

Ulannajirak wants to ask some questions about what happened outside in the past few hours, but he knows it is not something to ask, especially for himself.

Julianna feels strangely comfortable asking this... maybe it was her stop before that brought it on. She sits, patting the table and jesturing for Ulannajirak to sit again "May I ask you something about your culture's perceptions?"

"Of course, M... Julianna, please. I am very glad to answer." Ulannajirak looks at Julianna, expecting questions about Kilrathi culture from a human.

"The kilrathi... they have a warrior culture by our standards. I am sure some clans more than others." She pauses. "How do- how is it viewed... when a family member, doesn't.... come... home?"

Hearing this, Ulannajirak freezes for a moment, then slowly lowers his head, "For what reason?"

"I try to leave a chance for enemy combatants... to... stand down. And they seem to refuse, a lot. They seek the glory of death (she swallows), but what of their families... you.. have families you take care of... right?"

"Eh, this one..." Ulannajiraka hesitates a while, then continues...

She fidgets with her glass.

"We have... There is a former farewell before a warrior goes out on a campaign. May your talons be wet and, if fated not to return, may praise be sung of thy name." [1] Ulannajirak speaks slowly.

Julianna looks away and sighs. "So... if a warrior of great repute or skill does not return... say ... The Fang, would the family swear an oath of vengeance on him, would his community, his clan?"

"So... would the troups be less demoralized on their side if a warrior such as Bonechain were defeated, then on our side, if someone like Talon's number gets called?" she presses lightly.

"Sorry, Madam... but, what do you mean by that?" Ulannajirak is not sure what Julianna is talking about.

"We often hear rumors on our side when aces are in the sector. A few have not returned home. As these warriors have great reputations, there is a boost in morale when one is removed. However, I wonder what the impacts on the morale of the other side are. I never saw wingme-wingcats falter after such an defeat."

"I guess... the situation may be more complicated." Ulannajirak thinks a while, "This varies depending on the specific warrior, the clan they belong to, the soldiers they lead, and other factors."

Ulannajirak raises his head, and sees Julianna's eyes." Ulannajirak raises his head, and sees Julianna's eyes.Julianna, you just said you try to leave a chance for enemy combatants... to... stand down, right?"

"I know it's poorly viewed. But I give them the chance to live another day... I was flying in the apocalypse belt before, between Troy and Capella, and I had engaged retros a few times. they ... well... they were just kids that needed to talk to someone." Julianna says.

"I was lucky, flying a broadsword meant I could talk them down before they could chip my paint." She continues.

"Still, I brought 15 people to justice without firing a shot." She smiled. "Since I joined the majestic.. the enemy seems more ready to throw away their lives." The smile disappeared FAST.

Ulannajirak notices that Enforcer is coming close, but he still focuses on this topic. "First of all, I should declare that since I am a doctor, thus should not speak on behalf the warriors. But, the situation you are saying is normal... in the imperial fleet."

Quietly, Steele says under his breath: "That's because war. War never changes."

Julianna sighs at the motto. "I know the saying. Enforcer, how old are you if I may ask?" she looks him up and down.

"35. Simply put, I wasn't always a pilot."

"You were 5 when the war was declared." She calculates "Do you remember not being at war?"

"If you defeat an opponent on the battlefield, then he is honored to be ended his life in your... hands." Ulannajirak pauses, "If you refused to do so without a very valid reason, then you are..." Ulannajirak looks at the ceiling, as if he sees the star ocean, "...then maybe he will think that you despise him, since his life worth nothing for you."

"Did I make it clear? I guess certain... mind also existed in certain human cultures, right?" Ulannajirak looks at Julianna and Enforcer.

"Not everyone enjoys fighting. Some of us do what we must." Enforcer sighs.

"I see." Ulannajirak stares at Julianna's eyes, "May I have your opinion? Madam?"

Karen gasps audibly. "I... I... see."

"However, Madam Julianna, I think I can understand you." Ulannajiraka looks at Julianna seriously.

"After fighting for so long it's all we know. I wonder if there's a way to... continue after." Julianna measures her words as sometimes peace can be seen as a word of cowardice. Thanks TCN!

"The lust for conflict is what drove us to the brink several centuries ago." Enforcer adds.

"Anyway, since I'm here now, let me tell you something. Although, those warriors who left in the war, their mothers shows that they feel honored and even glad for them on the surface, but... at silent nights, there are so many tears on the pillows." [2]

"Perhaps glory and sorrow go hand in hand, and that has been the case for so many generations. But..." Ulannajirak seems to be looking at the Galaxy, "but there seems to be something different."

"Pilgrim wars... My family was in an awkward situation I imagine." Julianna finishes off her latte. "I was born on Titan. So we had the pilgrim museum there, as we had the trade route, much like Sarajevo has that first world war museum." She giggles at the quaint thought of just a planet being at war.

"Pilgrim wars?" Ulannajirak remembers this phrase... "I thinks I know little about it, but... If I recalled it right, that indicates something similar between Kilrathi and Terran."

The three falls into silence.

"Hey, I'm on a second shift soon, want to catch a film before my sortie?" Julianna raises a topic.

"Oh, a movie again? That's my pleasure, M... Juliana." Ulannajirka stands up.

"Let's go. I think the silent film "airship destroyer" is playing. Also, this time, take a doggybag." Karen grabs a random MRE for her mission later, she'll eat in the cockpit.

Following Julianna and Enforcer, Ulannajirak goes into the theater. He looks at the screen. The movie is The Airship Destroyer by Walter R. Booth.

Oh, that's a silent film.
Ulannajirak knows this kind of movie appears soon after Terran knows how to record images. No color, no sound, very very simple.

"Such a happy couple, I am surprised by the stark contrast in their clothes. Also what was that floaty thing." Julianna observes.

"Are they lair mates?" Ulannajirak trys to reply Julianna with a question.

"lair mates... I guess?" Julianna smiles coyly.

"Oh, lair mates means... they are trying to or have formed a hrai." Ulannajirak explains.

"I've heard, did- did you leave a lair mate?" Julianna asks in a shy voice.

"Eh," Ulannajirak is a little embarrassed to hear this. "Not yet... I am a cub and I don't have any commendable achievements yet, so..." Then he lowers his head, "not to mention now I am..."

"Pfft, if you were on earth mothers would line up their daughters... or sons, to court you, a doctor's a desirable career here." Julianna jokes.

"Eh... did they take equipment for a kind of sports called tennis?" Ulannajirak is a little shy, then shows his interest to another topic.

"Oh, I thought they were snowshoes... that makes more sense! But I've never seen a tennis court in the woods." Julianna muses. "Huh, those floaty things must be zepplables. or were they dirigablins?" Julianna observes.

"Wait, this is the craft named Airship?" Ulannajirak suddenly notices the airships on the screen.

"I suppose, a nice balloon of hydrogen and a scaffolding underneath." Karen looks down on the first steps of humans towards flight.

"Eh..." Ulannajirak remembers something, "Madam Julianna, are you one of the squadron pilots took me back here?"

"I think so. As well as Tsunami, Silence and Iceblade." Julianna answers, "That vehicle had such good armer and 3 cm diameter tires. odd"

"Thank you for your protection. I suppose you have heard my pre-recorded messages in multi-Terran languages." Ulannajirak is embarrassed, "I think I called my ship... an airship in at least one language version."

"Fortunately, there was no misunderstanding." Ulannajirak smiles bitterly.

"Yes, well, it was a shuttle designed for atmospherics as well as space. It made sense." Julianna answered engrossed with the film.

Ulannajirak watches the screen, and finds what is happening in the story.

It is a strike. Ulannajirak thinks he finds the answer. It seems that the people on the ground have no way of preparing for this. Is this an ambush?

"Wow, they can take out a building with those bombs!" Karen observes, she pulls a packet of peach marshmellows out of her pocket and is chomping on them, she holds the bag out to the side.

That was typical unprovoked attack, and with all the bombs, one building was blow up. Although Julianna is hiding it with sugar, Ulannajirak could definitely feels that she fumes internally.

It is definitely the beginning of air strike era for humans. Then Ulannajirak remembers the knowledge he learned from the Kilrathi history books. Traditionally, Kilrathi has considered attacks on defenseless civilian facilities to be a low-value and even dishonorable act. But... there was certain incident on civil wars went this way.

It is somehow interesting. Ulannajirak thinks, in this human war movie, there is no blood-curdling battle chanting, no fiery battle scenes. There is only the destruction of homes. About half of the film is about civilian casualties. What is the director saying?

There is a man rescuing a woman from the burning house, and then a man. Seeing the people on the screen preparing something, Ulannajirak knows the counterattack begins.

The intruder's airship was shot down, and people on the ground cheered. Ulannajirak finds there is no scene of the awarding of honors, but only the lair mates...

"Wow... that ... was quick." Julianna waves. "I need to prep for my next job. Take care Ulannajirak."

Ulannajirak is suddenly brought back to reality from his contemplation by Julianna's words, and when he looks up, he finds that the two pilots had already walked out of the screening room.

The screening is over now, and the lights in the screening room turns blue. UJ stands to leave, leaving the surprised stares of the people behind.

[1] A tip from Action Stations, Chapter Seven
[2] A tip from Fleet Action, Chapter Five
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"Really? Last minute much?!" An irate voice can be heard from accross the hall.

Ulannajirak strains his ears toward the direction of the voice.

"Ok I'll be ready in two..." the high pitched voice stops, and a beep of a hangup can be heard. Ulannajirak recognizes Julianna's voice and her footsteps returning in his direction.

"Oh, M... Julianna, I was fascinated by the movie. It made me though a lot." Ulannajirak stands up.

"Huh, the movie, yeah..." Julianna says... staring accross the room. Her eyes darting as if Ulannajirak were a giant whiteboard with a multivariate equation to solve scrolled over it.

She was back so quickly from her "next job". Ulannajirak finds something. But then he tries his best to get out of such speculation. Knowing less about things you shouldn’t know is an important part of ensuring your own safety.

Julianna focuses on what is in front of her. "Sorry... yeah, that movie had some interesting points... I was surprised by how the villains were portayed with such large round shapes, where as the heroes were angular."

"So the ending of the movie is just lairmates plot." Ulannajirak seems to be talking to himself. "No rewards from the lords, no victory chanting with the mass."

"Lairmates plot, you mean romance?" Karen overhears and inquires, raising her eyebrows twice.

"Yes. I should say I have watched some human movies before, and lots of them have such endings." Ulannajirak continues, "It's not quite the same as the imperial ones. Empire movies often end with the warrior being honored by his master for his battle achievements and roaring with his companions."

"The only form of imperial entertainment was lost on me... JarKa nar Caxki... his videos play on intell feeds." Julianna tries to hide her disgust. "Say... want to head out to the O-Deck? I have an hour or so to burn." Julianna asks.

"Oh, O-Deck, could I be there?" Ulannajirak is a little surprised. "If so, I am honored to go there with you."

"He goes by the name Bladelord, paints himself as a clown and shows very little respect, even by human standards towards his peers, both his elders and his fans." She shrugs.

"And he also runs a K-Tube channel." Ulannajirak tries to match this topic. "I guess you don't like him, right?"

Julianna takes a step out of clawing range. "I'm... not sure how... how to put this..." She stammers. "I know you... you are different than me, I know... you think differently... how can a society have doctors like you, and laugh at the dismemberment and slow painful deaths of your peers as a prank. Yet he is incredibly popular from what I gather..."

"You... would you find humor in your hrai being pushed down some stairs?" She asks utterly shocked remembering her videos. Her pronounciation of Hrai was poor at best.

"Do not worry. There is no problem for such discussion. I will not be easily offended by the benefactor who saved me." Ulannajirak notices Julianna's moves, then continues, "About this topic... I think I should begin with the different tradition of the clans."

They stroll to the O-Deck.

"In history, Kilrathi had seven major civil wars, known as dynastic wars. The lord of the clan who won in each war became the emperor." Ulannajirak looks at Julianna, "The first warrior who unified the whole Kilrathi was Xag, a legendary warrior who left a lot of books on warfare."

"Xag... got it." She sits on the couch.

"In Terran chronology, it was about... four hundred years ago that the Seventh Dynasty War ended with the establishment of the present Kiranka Dynasty." Ulannajirak took a long breath, knowing that anyone must be very careful when it comes to the subject of the Emperor's clan if he is in the Imperial fleet.

"Kiranka... Yes, I know of them... royal family. I think it means even more than English conveys."

"The timely end of this war was due to a great compromise of the eight clans." Ulannajirak carefully continues, "so, the situation that has lasted until now was formed."

"Uh, these are all public histories, not secrets, so please feel free to accept them... if you trust me."

"In fact, there are some differences in the cultures of different clans." Ulannajirak looks at Julianna's eyes, "May I mention something a bit... sad?"

Julianna looks away lightly before returning eye contact. "We need to learn from each other if we are to co-exist, not just show the easy parts. Please go ahead."

"Mr. Enforcer asked me about... the Iason incident." Ulannajirak lowers his voice. "Do I have the chance to explain something about that?"

"Sure... " Julianna tries to look like she paid attention in history class.

"Now the Kilrathi intelligence has learned that Iason was sending a signal that Terran thought was a friendly message, but... but by that time, the Imperial commander thought it might be jamming the ship's system."

"At least the mess here serves a decent cup of coffee." Enforcer appears. He grumbles as he gets his thoughts together.

"Something the Zhalthi has mastered." Julianna notes.

"Oh, nice to meet you here, Mr. Enforcer." Ulannajirak hesitates a bit, "I think I have thought a lot on your question."

Enforcer's eyes open up, and a pensive look comes across his face:" "The Iason?"

"Let me continue. In other words, the nar Caxki commander assumed that the strange ship was an enemy." Ulannajirak's voice is even lower.

Julianna's eyes narrow, as if she just got something familiar in her mind.

"That's a practice of the old words of Va ka garga ka naru ha garga, those not of the blood must have... their blood spilt." Ulannajirak finally tells the two humans this important issue.

"So, you treat Bogies as Bandits unless proven otherwise." Enforcer adds.

"Wait... but you said there were several clans... are they not of different blood?" Julianna asks.

"Woa, Madam Julianna, you surprised me!" Ulannajirak can't hide his amazing. "That is the point, I think. In the Kilrathi main stream culture tradition, other groups are either prey, or another hunter who are competitors."

"So... would a show of humor from a nar Caxki be as unamusing to you a... er... " Julianna pauses. " Did you mention your clan before? I am assuming not nar Caxki because of your responses."

"If only this cat read some of our own history..." Enforcer thinks to himself.

"So, in the history, we had lots of civil wars... until..." Ulannajirak's eyes narrow, "... until sometime after the 7th dynasty war, the Empire got something new... the interstellar traveling technology." Ulannajirak stops here, since he thinks it is not good to mention what the Empire did on the race who brought the technology. "So the Kilrathi could stop enslave each other. Instead, the enslave of other species started."

Karen looks away.

"So, in the culture, those not of the blood gradually became other species in the universe. But, some of us have a different opinion on this issue... more or less." Ulannajirak's voice lowers.

"Although we don't know what happened to those from whom you received the technology, I doubt that it was...friendly." Enforcer comments seriously.

Ulannajirak closed his eyes, sighed, "I am afraid you are right."

Then he opens his eyes again, "I don't think the Empire did the right thing, in every sense."

"Do you think that there is any hope for the Kilrathi's redemption?" Enforcer looks at Ulannajirak.

"Even if they were to change their ways, would we remember how to not fight?" Julianna asks. playing with her hair and looking away.

"We don't admire intellect, only brute strength and courage. We let our slaves do the thinking when it comes to the making and running of our machines." Ulannajirak repeats what White Maned Grand Master told him.

"Knowing how to fight is merely the acquisition of a skill. Knowing when to fight takes much more." Enforcer speaks while pointing at his head. "There were some on a beach at Marathon who thought that way. They pushed forward to break the enemy line, not realizing that it was a trap. They failed not because they lacked brute strength and courage, but because their adversary outmaneuvered them." Enforcer comments.

"Yet, you are a doctor, you spend time trying to save lives... I'm guessing the least funny job in Kilrah." Julianna squints at Ulanajirak.

"And some of us wonders what the future should be." Ulannajirak looks upwards, "Then we met you humans."

"Perhaps a doctor cub is pretty much suitable on this issue." Ulannajirak watches Julianna and Enforcer, "Should I ask you something... offensive?"

"We unified you... didn't we?" Julianna asks.

"Va ka garga ka naru ha garga, these words may be terrible to you, but..." Ulannajirak stares the humans, "As I know from what I learned from the Terran history, there are, or at least there were similar ideals in human history."

"And I think that bigotry is something with which every civilization has struggled. There have been bright spots in our history, but there have been a great many atrocities as well." Enforcer continues.

"I have heard a certain theory in human books: A hunter spotted a creature when he was trekking alone in the jungle out of sight , that theory holds that the safest thing to do is to kill the creature with a jak-tu... ambush, in human words." Ulannajirak continues, "Do you think it is true?"

"You mean the possibility that any and all civilizations alien to our own have the potential to dominate and anihilate us?" Enforcer frownes.

"I am just talking about something I know from certain human books." Knowing there is the possibility of misunderstanding, Ulannajirak hurrily clarifies.

Karen looks paralyzed... "We probably need to go out to the forest. Does this creature have a precedent of attacking us?" Hobbes would be happier than Rousseau here.

"Although there is merit in that paranoia 'There's always a bigger fish', it also lead to a particularly tense geopolitical equilibrium in the not too distant past. We called it MAD - Mutually Assured Destruction." Enforcer looks at Ulannajirak.

"Ironically, if Iason had believed in this theory, perhaps they would not have been the ones who were... hurt." Ulannajirak sighs, "So I am a little confused."

Karen snaps out of the torpor. "You know what? This is a contrived situation brought forth as a thought experiment forcing you to chose out of a false dichotomy. When you are in a forced situation, are you responsible for your actions?" She shoots the question back at Enforcer and Ulannajirak responding to that dark theory.

"May I ask... what kind of situation?" Ulannajirak would like to know if he understands Julianna's question.

"Your theory... but you were talking about the Iason... I always wondered why they didn't retreat and send a probe." Julianna replies.

"Again, that's NOT MY theory, and the phrase is not even voiced by the Empire." Ulannajirak is a bit hurry, "this is something I found in... human books."

"Only inasmuch as you have not been levereged, Karen." Enforcer says.

"Would you jump into an unknown like that?" Julianna replies.

"If you are in a position where you must act -- think the "'Fight or Flight' response -- then you should be held liable only for actions unrelated to the forced action."

Karen's quine chimes... "Ah, got the next flight in 5. Hopefully it's a 3 point patrol of a rockfield."

"If I feel that my jumping into the unknown is the best course of action given the circumstances, I would. I admit that it would give me pause, as I do not consider myself to be recklessly adventurous."

"Va ka garga ka naru ha garga, it might be terrible for you, but I think the human dark theory is even more... sorry, I have no word to express my feeling." Ulannajirak tries his best to organize his idea.

"Vaca garga kana roo ha garga, with friends blood?" Karen replies.

"Ulannajirak, I consider it to be equal parts intriguing, as it is thought provoking and disturbing, as I can't personally recall a situation where I needed to do something such as that." Enforcer adds.

"That's the thing about philosphers... they come up with stories that don't apply in reality." Julianna taps Keyan's arm reminding him the flight awaits.

"That Kilrathi phrase means, it is either a prey to be hunt, or a competitor to be expelled, if the opponent is not of the blood. Yes, let me be clear, because we kilrathi are basically... predators, in your words, this phrase is not strange for us. But... the dark theory makes me feel cold." Ulannajirak looks upwards.

"It seems that under this theory, there... wouldn't even be a possible lairmate in this forest, there would just be loneliness, struggling to survive."he continues, "In uttering that old Kilrathi phrase, at least many of our warriors feel the excitement of pre-hunting, but this theory, however, leaves me cold. And that is from some human books..." Ulannajirak sighs, "I know, if Iason was a believer of this theory, they might be the survivor in that incident. But... I..."

"Thank you, Karen." Enforcer turns back to Ulannajirak, "That makes sense, as a predator is usually looking for those additional dangers. That said, duty calls, Ulannajirak, I hope we can continue this later."

"Oh, sorry, I got indulged in my confusion." Ulannajirak stands up.

"And I wish to let you both know that I am not as prone to reacting violently to the words of others as some... warriors form certain clans, so please do not worry."

Then Ulannajirak bows to the two pilots.

Looking at the backs of the two pilots, Ulannajirak is once again lost in thought. Humans are complex. Fortunately, the humans he has met here so far are friendly, or at least seemed to be.
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The lights are low again.

Staying in the cell, Ulannajirak picks out his instrument. He hears a chime on his cell. Outside a blonde nurse is standing holding a bottle.

Ulannajirak stands up, greets to the man out there.

The man in a white nurse uniform is standing awkwardly... He is looking off to the side and is holding a pair of cans, avoids eye contact and starts: "Hey... er... I wanted to thank you for helping me lift the crewman off the stretcher today... I coulda totally handled it on my own, but... I think seeing you made him resist a lot less." He holds out of of the cans.

Yes, that's Ted Mullins, the nurse who has a relatively good relationship with Ulannajirak in the medbay. He is an average sized atheltically built man. He looks like a "great value" captain america but has more of a clark kent manerisms vibe. Superman not included.

"My pleasure." Ulannajirak replies happily. He knows he now has a position on the ship, as well as among the humans.

An older man, nearing what would be mandatory retirement in peacetime, walks around and sees the exchange out of the corner of his left eye. He is a mountain of a man, 6'6" and approximately 245#.

"I was asked to thank our newest staff member, and well- uh- keep him here while 'huCay-ai is getting his ysicalphay." Ted darts a look at the bohemoth of a man.

A stern look is in Highway's eyes. He's simply getting too old to deal with the younger staff and their lack of confidence in themselves. "Carry on."

Ulannajirak looks at the man carefully, and then moves his gaze to another place.

The ships lights shut down suddenly and shift to red. Officer Murphy's voice blares (Blairs?) over intercom. "All non-essential staff, follow the lines to the refugee position. Green Knights and Star Kings ready for magnum launch, this is not a drill."

Highway nods in acknowledgement.

A yellow line appears on the floor, guiding the people to their sites. Ulannajirak freezes for a second, then walks out of the cell, following in the footsteps of the two humans, with the instrument in his paw.

The guards at the door have already deserted their posts.

Looks towards Ulannajirak while running towards his post, Highway asks Ulannajirak, "How well can you shoot a turret?"

"Shoot a turret?" Ulannajirak shows his confusion, "What is that?"

"How well can you sanitize an operating theater?" Ted snaps back, following the line, and breathing rapidly. "Talking to Highway, I can probably man a turret as well as he can prep an OR."

"Depending on the specific surgery, and most importantly, the time remaining." Ulannajirak continues, "Will there be a large number of wounded soon?"

"There might be quite a few, but that's preferable to the alternative." Highway nodes his head.

"I can probably sanitize it, but outside of emergency medic prep, that's about it. Get ready for the casualties, and I'll try to keep the list as small as possible." Highway deftly runs towards the turret stations.

"I can probably fire a turret, but I don't promise many casualties that way too!" Ted replies.

The yellow line leads to a cargo bay in the center of the ship.

All the "non essentials" are waiting in similar areas... Away from shrapnelly decompressy windows.

"Are we going to do emergency medical treatments here? All right." Ulannajirak follows Ted, steps into this area quickly, but carefully.

"No, we are staying in the refugee bay for the moment, medbay is fully staffed, more would hinder their job." Ted replies. As they enter the room, they are met with audible gasps.

Ted looks around to see what's the issue. "Ulannajirak, see anything?"

"Yes, I can see everything clearly." Though it is not bright enough for human eyes here, Ulannajirak could see everything without any problem, but definitely he missed Ted's point.

Some people in the cargo bay see a kilrathi, and Ted and UJ are doing Abbott and Costello.

Ulannajirak looks around. The guards here are staring at him warily, and most of the people here - seemingly civilians, have not noticed him yet. He loweres the posture as much as possible to make himself look less conspicuous.

"you know... it's now a waiting game." Ted informs Ulannajirak, "it normally takes an hour for the engagement after the early warning radar goes off." Ted warns

Suddenly the carrier shakes, as if hit by something MUCH larger than a torpedo.

Ted pulls his miniquine out. "Dr. Suzuki, we just got a blast here, you alright? need us? ... Uh... huh. Ok..."

What happened? Ulannajirak tries to make a speculation quickly. If it was a torpedo, the shakes may not be in this kind.

Ulannajirak looks at the people here, some of them fell down in the shake. One of them hit their hed pretty fiercely.

"Ted, we should ask them to squat or lie down and protect their heads." Uannajirak says to Ted with his voice lowered. "I don't think I am the right one to do this. Quickly check the one hit himself on the head," Ulannajirak continues. The man would be frightened if he sees a big feline in front of him.

"On it." Ted goes to the man on the floor. Ulannajirak tries to guide Ted, as he is the doctor here. But then he finds Ted is doing this so well.

Ted starts by keeping the person still and carefully putting him on his back. "Yesh..." answers the man.

"UlannaJirak, slurred speech, I think it's a concussion, we should immobilize his neck and get him to medbay stat, right?" Ted asks.

"Affirmative." Ulannajirak uses the human communication word this time.

Ted gets an autogurney and a portable shielf generator.

As he moves, Ulannajirak says to the surprised guards, "Please emphasize again to the people here, squat or lie down and protect their heads."

"How about we lower the gravity by 33%? Heads will be hit less hard." A guard asks.

"If you have this permission." Ulannajirak then escorts Ted moving the patient out of the cargo bay. Humans’ strike-resistance is indeed much weaker. Ulannajirak knows if that was a healthy Kilrathi adult, there will be no problem with this kind of strike.

They immobilize his spine with the shield gens forming a teal neck brace.

Ted turns to Ulannajirak. "I think you're better off staying here... They need a distraction and you... well you're doing a great job of that." He looks away while saying that.

"Got it. And, thank your so much for the prize." Ulannajirak bows to Ted, then back to the cargo bay.

Ted takes off with the wounded man, leaving Ulannajirak alone in the room with the non-essential crew... everyone waiting and jumpy.

"uh... sir?" A young female asks Ulannajirak.

Ulannajirak can see she's very rattled but trying to stand her ground. "Oh, can I help you, madam?" Ulannajirak tries his best to speak softly.

"You- I think you dropped this... is it yours?" she extends her tiny hand holding the bamboo flute.

"Oh, thank you!" Ulannajirak is a little surprised. He may have put the instrument aside while treating the wounded.

Seeing the nervous crowd, Ulannajirak thinks a lot. Yes, humans are so complex and diverse. They could be frightened by a single attack, but also, they could be warriors not weaker than any Kilrathi.

Everyone is sitting more or less facing Ulannajirak, who's still in a hunched squat position. the low light is reflecting off of the walls. The room becomes oddly quiet and serene.

The fear is present but spectators would look and say this was more of a renaissance painting in motion, not a room of people, tired and fearing for their lives.

Suddenly, Ulannajirak hears something.

A man in the crowd, just sitting on the ground with a big instrument. He is plucking the strings to making sounds.

This is a human instrument called guitar, and Ulannajirak is very familiar with this chord the man is playing. Yes, that's a piece of music Leonard's father often played.

Some of the people calm down hearing the melodic plucking. Ulannajirak feels a gentle sway form in the crowd.

Yes, Grand Master, as you said, I should do something in this kind of situation, with him. Ulannajirak pick up his instrument, let himself get involved in the melody.

The crewmen with their quines turn them on to record this event, the glow of the backlights fills the rooms with a warmth.

Yes, Scarborough Fair. I remember that this is a thousand-year ballad of Terran. Ulannajirak finishes the performance.
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The deck crew are busy. It seems the combat has been resolved.

To Ulannajirak, it was 2 agonizing hours of evasive manoeuvers knowing he was stalked by someone bvr. the crew were assigned to life boats. He was going to be assigned to one, they were "processing", but then the pilots came and saved the day.

Everyone is returning to normal. Ted returns from the medbay and tells Ulannajirak. "I'm probably needed for psych triage... you OK bud?"

"Thank you, Mr. Ted." Ulannajirak returns to reality. "I am well. What about that patient? The injured?" he then asks Ted in return.

"Stable, he's had a concussion, but he should be fine. Thank goodness for neural regenrators." Ted smiles... this obviously wasn't his first time seeing someone on a carrier do something dumb that ended in a head injury.

"You... are you wondering... Why do I know human medicine, right?" Ulannajirak hesitates for a moment, then still raises this topic.

Ted grimmaces... "Yeah, kinda... but there's also a part of me that really really does not want to know... I assume it wasn't a highschool exchange program."

"Don't worry, it's not what you think... disturbing." Ulannajirak thinks for a moment, "Let's put it this way, in my homeworld, we need to keep some humans... healthy, too."

"So... you're a vet?" Ted asks... doe eyed.

Hearing this, Ulannajirak tries to endure first, "Eh, Ted, you are so... " but finally burst out a happy roar, "What is the Terran word for this? HUMOR?"

However, his face is slightly more serious. "There is no problem with my words, however, it may be an offense for you to speak to other ...... Kilrathi in this way, since you probably don't know what his profession is." Ulannajirak continued, "In the case of my hrai, my family has been in the service of the Lords."

"So, if he is a bad-tempered doctor from Cakxi clan, you ask this question, it is equal to..." Ulannajirak makes a face.

"Humor? What are you talking about, Ulannajirak?" Enforcer walks in, a few slight nicks on his face from a typical ultra-close Marine shave. "Greetings, Doctor. May I..." He motions towards Ted "...share a speculation?"

Ted smiles, relieved yet nervous... "Ok, you have humans on your planet... I would assume... not of their own volition." He looks at Ulannajirak, waiting for the answer.

Ulannajirak greets to Enforcer, who is looking directly at the kat doctor.

"There are a lot of teaching materials, textbooks, diagrams, simulators and so on, right?" Ulannajirak knows what the human is expecting. "Of course... I have..." He glances back to the guard holding the weapon, making sure he is not in a nervous status. "I have..."

"What do I have?" Ulannajirak turns to Enforcer, "Please?"

"I think Ted's rationale behind calling you what I assume to be a veterinarian is actually logical based on the Terran implication. Whereas a standard Medical Doctor would practice with other humans, a veterinarian would need to understand many different anatomies as well as develop the intuition to help diagnose and treat an unknown species based on past observations."

"As such, he considers you a veterinarian because he implies your knowledge of alien anatomy, which, in this case, is our own, comes from this experience."

"I am not a professional vet." Ulannajirk smiles, "I am not responsible for the health of those species that are actually considered livestock." he pauses for seconds, "just speaking for my hrai, our clan. If we talk about other clans, the humans there may be... treated worse."

"So... you are then saying your hrai are Terran???" Ted looks stunned.

"Eh, did I say that?" Ulannajirak thinks for a while, "Yes, traditionally we Kilrathi consider all the aliens to be prey. But some of us now realizes something different."

Enforcer looks at Ted with a weird look in his eye because of that response. Meanwhile in the background, Julianna is seen walking in... she's eating a giant orange bag of puffs. She has the telltale orange powder all over her mouth, and an orange handprint on her side where she wiped her hand absentmindedly.

"Oh! Madam Julianna, nice to meet you here!" Ulannajirak sees Karen.

Ted's quine chirps... "Dang... I'm being called to medbay, more psych triage. I guess I'll see you soon, hraibud."

"See you later!" Ulannajirak realizes that he would be much more relaxed with this medical colleague.

Karen looks surprised to be recognized, she is hand full of orange puffs and in a different msg-based plane of existence. "huh?" She snaps to attention. "Ulannajirak, hey."

"Hey guys, you try the new puff flavor?" Karen hands out the bag.

Enforcer looks towards Karen, "Greetings! I see you're unwinding after our little roguish adventure in space. I normally don't, but I'll indulge in a handful."

"Yeah... I know we shouldn't talk about it... but I am glad to be outa that flight suit... yeesh." Julianna tugs on her sweatpants elastic.

Little roguish adventure in space, Ulannajirak knows it was combat. For a moment, jut in a flash, Ulannajirak seems to see in a trance, that the orange mess turned into... red blood. He closes his eyes and reopens them to find that it is just a snack that humans like to eat. Of course it is. But the... hallucination he had just had made him feel uneasy. He has always felt as if there was something hiding under the surface of this friendly looking woman.

And, of course, the previous several eight-minute battles must have sent many kils to meet their ancestors, maybe Terrans, too. Ulannajirak sighs.

Enforcer looks on in shock as his hand and uniform appear to transform into a powdery orange mess, as though the puffs are actually a sentient orange infection.

"Guess the flavor." Julianna hides the label.

"Jackfruit?" Enforcer is not quite sure.

"Jackfruit? nah... look at the color." Julianna says in a chipper voice, rubbing more powder onto her blue shirt without realizing.

Julianna smiles, "Give up?" then she shifting her weight from foot to foot.

"Well it looks orange, so...I'll say Orange" Enforcer nodes. "The only other thing I could think of is some sort of hybrid grapefruit. The citrus taste leaves apricots and peaches out of the running."

"Close... Ulannajirak, want to try?" Julianna hands out the bag, with an orange hand.

"Oh, thank you!" Ulannajirak slowly reaches out his paw to take a puff.

Julianna's hand slips off the bag slightly and shows the flavor label starts with an M. It is sweet floral citrus... Ulannajirak almost would think juicy.

"Give up?" Julianna's happy to have the attention on something a kilrathi can eat. She reaches for the bag trying to keep the puffs in from the new hole... with the word "Mikan" flash by.

Ulannajirak gets the puff, then extends one claw tip, easily rips the package.

Then Ulannajirak suddenly notices something... He needn't to do that with the already open package.

What is more... using the claws may be a threaten to the humans here.

He sniffs the puff very carefully... there is a smell similar to certain plants which he has an impression of, and then the smell of protein. He uses his tongue and licks a bit of it. It tastes okay. He tries to recall the look of Leonard and Nala eating.

Ulannajirak learned a lot of human eating etiquette before, but he really didn't pay much attention to the rules of snacking... he is embarrassed, and finally decides to use the easiest way to eat the puffs directly.

However, Ulannajirak still makes a bit cream smeared on the tip of his nose, and then he instinctively licks off the cream with rough tongue.

Nice taste, somewhat similar to some kind of cream food Nala's dad made. He is about to compliment her snack when he suddenly notices that the humans around him have stopped their noise and are looking at him. He is a little embarrassed. He knows that humans have a kind of pet... that looked a little like the Kilrathi. Humans really enjoy watching this pet do various daily activities... snacking and grooming... but not hunting.

Am I observed as a Terran cat just now? But, Ulannajirak then relaxed. Didn't I also observe Leonard's daily activities with great interest?

"Ok time's up! Mandarin! Isn't that fun?!? So what were you talking about before I interrupted with this fun snack?" Julianna has a giant sugar msg fueled smile.

Julianna nudges Enforcer and asks in a hushed voice, "Did I just break Ulannajirak", seeing him look off to the distance unfocused after eating an orange puff.

"You may have stunned Ulannajirak for a moment. The good Doctor will be ok." Enforcers smiles.

"So... what did I interrupt?" Julianna asks again.

"Eh... nothing, just... this snack is pretty good." Ulannajirak tries his best to give a positive answer.

Julianna smiles. "Ok, anyone up for a card game? We have some downtime and I don't know how to waste it."
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"I declare, I admit defeat." Ulannajirak is so embarrassed, looking at the cards in this paws, "I will do the house work for you guys." Then he shows cards. "I... I drew several cards at once, made my cards more than 5, and then saw one that seemed awesome..." He shows a Black Joker.

"Let's call it a draw... " Julianna pats Ulannajirak on the shoulder.

"I don't want to make anything not honorable in the game, so I admit defeat." Ulannajirak stands up. Maybe it is the first time a Kilrathi admits defeat on Majestic.

"Tell you what... I'll take the debt of honor... and call on it at some point... but it's only 10 minutes" Julianna smiles.

"But... Anyway, I am happy to play this non-warfare game with you." Ulannajirak seems very happy although he admits defeat.

"Mr Ulannajirak, security has requested your assistance in a ... cultural matter."

Suddenly, a guard stops the talking. It looks like he doesn't want a no for an answer, but is prepared for it, as his hand is near his stun baton.

Ulannajirak looks at the guard, then stands up, bows to Julianna. "Glad to play the non-warfare game with you... Well, I remember my house work."

The guard escorts the kilrathi refugee to the CAG's office. You see a guard standing on alert at the door.

The kilrathi doctor sees a smaller stocky man in a pale blue uniform. He is sitting at ease, you can see his creases around his eyes, and grey hair on his sides, his head is quite matte, you can not see much of a reflection on the top of his head despite the baldness.

It is finally here... right? Ulannajirak sighs. He bows to the man.

"Mr. Ulannajirak, please, make yourself comfortable, no need for formality here." The man says. "I'm Cmdr Phil Schmitd, have a seat?"

"Thank you." Ulannajirak sits down.

"How have your accommodations been? is everything satifactory?" The man dances around the reason Ulannajirak was invited.

"Thank you very much, sir. I feel pretty good." Ulannajirak answers politely. He knows this is definitely not the point.

"I am going to ask for a favor as you are an asylum seeker." He pauses "There is a large fleet out there... we need more info on it. First of all, I understand you are not military, so I know you would not know more about any activity in this area, however, we do know you worked with the military, no other way for you to have that shuttle."

"Do you have any knowledge of the fleet activities in the area? What brought you here?" He presses lightly.

"Got it, sir." Ulannajirak wants to explain that the shuttle is a private belonging of his hrai, but he decides to just show his attitude of cooperation. "I am not sure if you have met a kil named Hajjnah. I was sent to this sector to... cooperate with him."

"Yes, we have, intel reports he was encountered about a week ago. A professor in "killollogy" as he explained" the man looks befuddled by that alleged science.

"Hajjnah was once a... student... or say, apprentice of my hrai." Ulannajirak tries to find the exact Terran word.

"Ah, your kin." He turns. "You've met lt Steele, correct? he joined after our meeting with the professor."

"Steele?" Ulannajirak is confused, "Excuse me, who is Steele?"

"Ulannajirak, I apologize for not properly introducing myself. I am Lt. Keyan Steele." To Ulannajirak's surprise, Enforcer walks into the room.

"Oh, I am so sorry!" Ulannajirak stands up, bows to Enforcer.

Enforcer respectfully bows "No need to be sorry."

Lt. Keyan "Enforcer "Steele... I see. Ulannajirak also thinks about another issue, then... Julianna "Karen"...?

Then Ulannajirak realizes something. Yes, these two humans have been enthusiastic almost from the beginning. It seems likely that that is their mission.

"Well back to Hajjnah, why were you and he here... in Nitir?" The CAG returns the conversation back to the subject he needs.

"A long story..." Ulannajirak sighs, and raises his head, "I was notified at the time that I wanted to assist him in a research. He has been out of our hrai for a long time, so I was also surprised."

"But then I learned that what I should do was not letting him cross the line and cause damage to our family's reputation."

"In killollogy?" He asks.

"killollogy?" Ulannajirak is confused, "what do you mean by this word?"

"Hajjnah insisted many times in his transmission that he is "an eminent field in killollogy"" The CAG replies, "Could it be a tranlator bug?"

"Oh... I see... he calls his theory of destructive acts this way in Terran language..." Ulannajirak shakes his head, "That's why I was sent here, this sector. Our lords are afraid that Hajjnah will do something dishonorable in his research. Such as... using some contraindicated... chemical substance." He closes his eyes, maybe he is using such stuff now, under the command of...

"So chemical warfare, that seems to be par for the course, no offense intended..." The CAG replies carefully.

"Not weapon, sir." Ulannajirak opens his eyes open, "his research is aiming at... mental control."

"Ah... and why would he do it here, if I may be so glib. There are plenty of rear worlds that would be easier to test on." The cag asks, while Enforcer's looks almost the same, but with the gaze darkens.

"I am sorry, sir. I really have no idea." Ulannajirak shakes his head. "But..."

"Ok, another angle then... have any humans been collaborating with you? You obviously have some background in human culture with your east Asian flute." The cag probes.

Ulannajirak suddenly notices what is the officer really asking. "I should say, yes... There are a few human living on my homeworld. And..."

"I think I have sent two more cubs... to them." Ulannajirak smiles with his eyes closed. Hope you live well.

Then he opens his eyes, "I am honored that I saved two brave Terran cubs to my home world, a safer place."

The cag leans back in his chair... he heard many things... this is a first though.

"And that's why I had to leave Hajjnah, and then framed by certain unknown basters, since I deprived them of the opportunity to be promoted to the title, their opportunity through disgraceful means." Ulannajirak's mane bristles a bit.

Then he returns to peace, "Well, I thinks both of us knows... there are different viewpoints about what you human is, in the kilrathi."

"Lots of people in the Empire still hold that the human are no more than a kind of ridiculous and humble prey, only worthy of being enslaved by us... wantonly." Ulannajirak speaks carefully as to avoid possible insult, "While the others knows you Terans are also brave warriors."

"Yes, there is alas, only one opinion that counts." The cag replies.

Suddenly, Enforcer takes up the conversation, "Ulannajirak, If you don't mind my asking, what do you know of possible experiments on POWs?"

"POWs?" Ulannajirak is confused one more time, "Mathematics?"

"Prisoners of War. Those who are captured in combat, either through surrender or incapacitation." Enforcer stares at the big space feline.

"Oh... yes..." Ulannajirak lowers his head.

"I see... I should say, I DO NOT agree with such things." Ulannajirak speaks slowly, but firmly. Then he raises his head, stares at Enforcer's eyes, "I declare that I did not do these things." Perhaps that's why I am here now.

"Let's not mengele history into this, we should focus on the issue at hand. Have you seen any humans operating within your ... milieu?" The cag asks.

"Hajjnahn's private prison?" Ulannajirak sneers, "Yes."

"But I stopped him. OK, I am telling you the truth." Ulannajirak growls with fury, "He... they were even doing psychological experiments on humans as well as on our own blood!"

"Huh, own blood, which clan would this be? " Phil asks, cradling his hands.

"Not only did I save these two human cubs, I even had one of our own Kilrathi cub saved. I know they have arrived at my homeworld safely."

After coming to this human ship, Ulannajirak shows such an angry look for the first time. "I don't know why they treats the cub of the blood this way. Where is their glory? Where is their spirit of warriors?" He is almost roaring. "Nothing left!"

Then suddenly, Ulannajirak finds he may be showing an aggressive looking.

He calmed down his emotions, and his mane flattened. The guard lowers his riffle.

"Now, I totally knows why the people on Ghorah Khar choose to join you, sir." Ulannajiark looks at the humans.

"Now, we need information on the current presence in this sector... to protect our people. Do you have anything you remember about ... anything... how you managed to take your vessel, for instance. to give us an edge?" The CAG looks at the refugee.

"I have provided my identity to unlock my portable terminal." Ulannajirak says, "Have you find anything useful? I am not a engineer, I don't know much about it."

"We found some passages about communicating with terrans, certain poems used as tests. It makes little sense to us." Then the cag speaks smoothly, "We also found a neurotoxin in the life support system that failed to trigger."

Neurotoxin? "The shuttle belong to my hrai, it is not an offensive battle craft." Ulannajirak closes his eyes, "So they wanted to... end me by modifying my ship, locking my nav system, installing a poision device, but failed, right?"

"They wanted to end someone... The mechanism was triggered. But it looks like rodents chewed through the wiring." the CAG replies.

"Sir, do you have any of these poems?" Enforcer's interest has been piqued, "Could I..."

"I will tell you later, Mr. Enforcer." Ulannajirak turns to Enforcer kindly.

"I have the hardest time reading these things... " The CAG hands the padd to Ulannajirak.

"Well... if I should talk about the poems..." Ulannajirak says, "I have read some Terran ancient poems. From fairest creatures we desire increase, That thereby beauty's rose might never die, ..." He recites a poem.

"And... Another one is... 日照香爐生紫煙,遙看瀑布掛前川。 飛流直下三千尺,疑是銀河落九天。The purple clouds surge in the sun-shined Incense-Burner Peak, The waterfalls beheld afar as silver silks hang front, As if dashed down from three thousand feet high in azure creek. Is it outpouring down from galaxy sublime and wont?" Ulannajirak uses another Terran language.

"Even more... 我庭の小草萌えいでぬ限りなき天地今やよみがへるらし." The third is Haiku, another kind of Terran Eastern Asian poem.

Seeing the space feline recites poems in several different Terran languages, both the CAG and Enforcer show a little surprise.

"Well, we kilrathi culture has also decent wordings, such as..." Ulannajirak seems not to be disturbed by the stunned expression from the humans. He just thinks a second, then continues...

"My lord, I follow thy call for the hunt. Point out the prey to us and we shall spring upon it, but I beg of thee the right to point to other herds which thou might not have gazed upon." Ulannajirak speaks slowly. "The original text of this is used by our nobles when they had different opinions on the hunting plan of their superiors." He explains.

"Hmmmm..." The noise escapes Enforcer before he can curtail it. "Listening to this, it sounds that there were issues when your society revolved around hunting on your home planet."

"I think you can understand the elegance and nobility in this sentence." Ulannajirak looks at the humans kindly, "However, recently, such kind of elegance is rare, instead, lots of rude words are popular..." A trace of contempt flashed across Ulannajirak's face. Those barbarians...

"As for the hunting issue," Ulannajirak returns to a careful attitude, "I thinks I have mentioned it, we are predators in your words... I think you could understand it is normal to catch preys to feed ourselves in the history."

"Of course. Are there any other points you would like to share?" The cag continues, "I understand that. We have gone from Beowulf, The Song of Roland, and The Canterbury Tales to...WAP. In relation to your being predators, I understand that fully, having enjoyed the hunt long before this war summoned me."

"But on the other hand, I think I also said that I don’t think the Empire did the right thing to the race that brought us interstellar voyage technology. According to traditional concepts, the empire could have considered them to be prey and eat them, but now that we had recognized the technology they voluntarily sent, they should not be hunted... in such a way, anymore." Ulannajirak continues. "But... lots of the kils in the Empire still holds them as a joke..." Ulannajirak closes his eyes. "That is..."

"Well, then that's all for today." The CAG looks at Ulannajirak, seems to be thinking about something, "We may have a favor to ask you later."
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Sitting in his room, Ulannajirak is writting a piece of diary. Of course, he knows that all the words he wrote down would be isolated and reviewed separately. Actually he was assigned a mailbox shortly after the conversation. Of course, he can only send mails to the commander staff. Anyway, now he has a mailbox to save the diaries.

A large (in every dimension including aroma) man waddles to the quarters. "Gentleman, do I have a treat especial for ya today."

Seelig appears to be carrying a case with a three cylinders. "Straight from the big rock candy mountainous region of Perry, wit no taxpayer expense spared, I present this dingus holder! Note the knurled edges for better sticktion when you pick it up! It has been embiggened to ensure maximal crapacity. It also features a his and hermetic seal, for safety of heart and mind. The plastique casement is lightweight, and as it is glass fiber re-enforced nylon, you know it will be skookum as frigg!"

Ulannajirak sees Seelig holding up a cylinder. "It's drop proof, but more importantly, 20 proof!" Seelig opens the cylinder and it makes a fizz sound. He hands this stuff to Ulannajirak.

Then Ulannajirak is given a cylinder of Avalon beer. Seelig cracks the second one open. "Cheers!"

Seelig lightly taps Ulannajirak's bottle with his and starts chugging.

"Cheer...s..." Ulannajirak holds up the container, just like the human, and then starts to licking the liquid with the tongue. It is bitter, lightly acidic and bubbly.

Ulannajirak almost feel the foam having a creamy flavor. The bitterness is the main flavor though. Seelig stops chugging and lets out a huge belch. "It's refined in new constantinople to do that."

"Oh I also copied it's design for yer flute carrying case, but made it out of this useless organic anisotropic foam." Seelig hands Ulannajirak a second cylinder, same design as the first, but made of what looks like Jatoba (Brazilian cherry) with a Wenge inlay for the detailing work.

"Oh, thank you very much, Mr. Seelig!" Ulannajirak is very glad. Actually, after his last music performance, Ulannajirak decided to ask Seelig to make an easy-to-carry protective cover for his instrument. He has been waiting for the cover for two days. He receives the item with both paws.

Seelig cocks his head slightly.. maintaining eye contact before letting it go, knowing it's secured in Ulannajirak's paws.

Ulanajirak sees the case has a two toned wood exterior, with detailed texture down two sides to allow better grip. The interior has a steel casing, with a open cell Injection molded foam casing that controls the humidity. There are a pair of subtle eye hooks on each end, where a strap can be placed.

Ulannajirak uses the hook to install the cylinder on his belt, which has another hook on it. The hook on this belt is actually a device for the Kilrathi to wear their weapons. But now, it will carry something just for peace.

"Well, Mr. Seelig." Ulannajirak asks carefully, "I hope it doesn't look like I'm carrying a blade, right?" He pauses a second, "You know we doctors wears no weapon causally, but what will the others here think? Of course, I really like the design, and the feel of it!" Lest Seelig misunderstand, Ulannajirak hastens to add.

"A blade? Nah, you got 8 functional ones already... no need for more, looks like a cudgel ifin yer askin me." The human replies.

"Oh, that's a relief to me." Ulannajirak gets his instrument out of the original big case, and puts it into the new portable one. "If there is anything I can do for you, please tell me and I will try my best."He bows.

"Well, we may need some translation help later... My kilra'hra is rusty an' fankly, some of these schematics were designed by lawyers wit' rabies." Seelig style again.

"Eh..." Ulanajirak is confused by Seelig's words, but he is too embarrassed to say so.

However, just at this moment, a reminder of the mailbox sounds. Ulannajirak opens the mailbox in front of Seelig. The content of the letter surprises him a little.
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Ulannajirak is dressed in a brand-new light red robe, with a golden belt around his waist, and stands on the podium in the conference room with his back to the seats. He is waiting for the students to arrive.

Karen skiddishly enters the room. Her hair in a bun, and with a clear clipboard and acetates to take notes. Steele is in his old post-workout clothes from his time in the Marines. There is still a look in his eyes that hints that something isn't quite right.

"Hey Keye... " Julianna turns to Enforcer, then remembers unclassified ears are listening.

"Hey. Busy day, eh? I wonder if we can get the sports news soon: I wonder how my hometown robo-rugby team is doing." Enforcer replies.

"Ulannajirak, I think the commander asked you to brief us on Kilrathi etiquette in social situations, right?" Julianna turns to the Kilrathi.

Steele makes a slight bow of 15 degrees, "Ulannajirak, it is a pleasure to see you again!"

After a second of silence, Ulannajirak turns around slowly. He smiles, but says to Karen with serious tone: "Nice to see you here, Ms. Julianna and Mr. Enforcer. But how did you call me just now?"

"Uh... Ulannajirak? that's the name you gave me?" Julianna asks in a bemused manner.

"Since this is a Kilrathi culture class by me," Ulannajirak speaks slowly, "I expect you to call me with the title of gathika, which means teacher in Terran language."

Gothica? Julianna wonders, "Ah, would it be Ulannajirak nar Gathika? Gathika Ulannajirak, or just Gathika?"

"Well, in my home world, I always call our honorable teachers with honorific title, for example Kal Gathika, Gathika Harga." Ulannajirak explains. "And we students always use honorific expressions to the teachers."

"Kal kal kal... where have I heard that term before?" Julianna mumbles with muse. She writes notes, transcribing Ulannajirak's lesson.

Enforcer feels frustrated at his memory failing him. "Kal must be something important, though I cannot place it right now. I'll file that away to remember later."

"Well, I think it is time for our class now." Ulannajirak walks to the center of the podium. "Let's get started."

The meeting room is quiet for a while. Ulannajirak slightly shakes his head, "I am waiting for your greeting, students."

Julianna tries bowing at the neck while exhaling, as she saw Ulannajirak do before. Enforcer bows as he did earlier "Salutations, Kal Gathica. We are honored by your presence."

Ulannajirak nodes, "My Blood Warms at the Sight of Thee, ig'a." Ulannajirak gestures for the students who are standing to sit down, "Please be seated."

Enforcer sits down erectly and with an intent gaze, ready to learn. Karen muses as she sits down on her char, legs crossed at the ankle. Blood warms... that means they are exothermic... Karen writes.

"I am honored and at the same time surprised to have the opportunity to bring a Kilrathi cultural course to all of you from Terran Confederation." Ulannajirak gives the opening speech in a loud voice, perhaps for the first time since his boarding on Majestic.

"I know that with the current state of warfare between our two races, this course may seem a little awkward to someone. But it doesn't matter, since here, I am the teacher and you are the students, that's all." Ulannajirak pauses for a while, and turns to the white board, writes down some Kilrathi characters on it. "I am Doctor Ulannajirak."

"Before all the lessons begin, I have only one hope to offer." Ulannajirak writes down something else on the white board. "Rakh. That means RESPECT."

rakh means respek... Karen notes.

"I wish us to respect each other, whether we're talking about the war between the two nations or the peace between us now, I want us to respect each other as adversaries or as friends." Ulannajirak looks around, "Do you understand?"

Karen did not notice Ulannajirak's tail curl under when he said Rakh. Upon hearing that line, she sighs in relief.

"So, firstly, I would ask all of you a question." Ulannajirak seriously voices. "What are you fighting for?"

"What am I fighting for? now... I would say to protect those who can't." Julianna shows an serious expression and answers.

Ulannajirak nodes, "Reasonable." Then he looks at the other humans in the classroom.

Enforcer Stands up. "Please forgive me for what I am about to say, as I understand that this in not intended as a cultural insult. However, when growing up, I would often fight back when bullied. The current war, when finally declared, came across as fighting back against an act of bullying, and I vowed to do my part to help fight bullies."

"Not bad." Ulannajirak nodes with a satisfied expression. "Others?" He looks around. "No one else wants to answer? I repeat, there are only teacher and students here, and I want to hear what you really think, say what you want." Ulannajirak stares at the other humans.

Following that, Bob the intern says: "The news told me that the supply shortage was caused by me not killing... enough kilrathi!" He takes a look at the big space feline standing on the podium. The teacher just nods towards the student, then turns to the others, "Anyone else?"

"Doing this gets me action with the hot chicks!!"

A pilot makes such a playful remark that breaks the silence, triggering a burst of laughter. Enforcer quivers with anger upon hearing something this immature. But the teacher seems not to be unsatisfied. "Yeah, the lair-mate, or lair-mates, Good!" Ulannajirak laughs.

A female pilot speaks to the "smart" guy with a look of disdainful: "Too bad your device doesn't work when it matters!" The roar of laughter in the classroom grows louder.

"Silence! Only one student could speak at the same time!" Ulannajirka suddenly roars, stops the farce.

"Now it is me as the gathika asking you ig'a questions." Ulannajirak speaks seriously, "No small talks allowed!" The female pilot rolled her eyes.

"That's all?" Ulannajirak asks. It seems the roar from a feline teacher still shocks the humans.

"OK! That's it." Ulannajirak announces, "All the four students answered the question just now earned eight extra points of this course. And the others should submit their answers as the homework before the next class. I expect everyone of you answers me for the first time with your self-introduction."

Julianna looks rather self satisfied. The pilot in front of her looks outraged at the thought of extra work. Enforcer's eyes briefly pop when Ulannajirak shouts, but is more stunned that the apathy towards learning is still alive and well. The "smart" guy high-fives his buddy while winking at the female pilot. Definitely he's going to have some fun tonight.

"And!" Ulannajirak's words takes a turn, eyes locks on the guys did the stupid action called "high-fives". "As of you, what kind of punishment would you expect for disturbing the class for that stupid hand gesture just now?"

The "smart" guy holds his hand up for another high five, "Yo yo, you got no sway here, you're just a pussy cat refugee! now show us the respect we deserve"

UJ's eyes suddenly changes, into a gaze that had never been seen since he boarded the Majestic. Enforcer and Julianna, along with many others, draws in a breath.

"Stand, up." Ulannajirak speaks with a peaceful tone, but the tone was now serious. There seems to be still no question of who is superior in wisdom and would administer a sound thrashing if he is provoked.

Julianna rises to her feet. She would just report the officers to their superior. Enforcer snaps to attention. The "smart" guy, not so much...

"Now Tell Me Your Name." Ulannajirak speaks slowly.

"I'm Dylan Hunt, go by the callsign catslayer." The pilot says, feet still on his desk.

"1st Lieutenant Robin Myers, callsign 'Pagliacci'. I still don't know why I got that name." The counter part of Hunt's high-five is obviously a bit of a wimp.

"Fine." Ulannajirak raises his head and sighs. "I see. Again, what kind of punishment do you ask for."

"Well, I love piloting, you know? I'll get to smash kitties when escorting the garbage scows."

Some of the students suddenly find the teacher now has his claws extended. Enforcer wonders how much Ultimate this idiot must be smuggling... and using.

Hunt stand up. "Now hold on... you lay a finger on Myers, you'll breathe vaccum. We don't need your kind here."

Ulannajirak slowly steps down the podium, walks close to the provoker. His over two-meter height allowed his shadow to completely cover the two students. Oblivious to the gravity of the situation, the "smart" guy grabs some empty bottles.

Enforcer stands up and speaks: "Permission to speak, Kal Gathica?"

To everyone's surprise, perhaps, Ulannajirak turns his head to Enforcer, then to the other students, "Okay, students, according to your impressions of Kilrathi culture, what kind of behavior do you think such students are doing?"

Julianna raises her hand.

Ulannajirak looks at Julianna, "Karen?"

"Disrespecting their peers, their teacher and stepping out of line." Julianna says flatly.

"Others?" Ulannajirak looks at Enforcer.

Enforcer's right eye twitches ever so slightly, but as a result, the scar takes on the appearance of a water moccasin swimming through the water, "Sir, based on my admittedly limited knowledge, the young antagonist appears to be issuing a challenge to his superior through his insolent behavior."

"Correct!" Ulannajirak announces loudly, "Having no regard for superiors, then what kind of punishment could such cubs expect?"

"Per the Kilrathi, and, if I may add, some archaic Terran cultures, the cub may be required to show that his might makes right, for the punishment can include death."

"None, you can't touch him!" Hunt shouts unprompted.

"Distinguished Professor, with your permission, I would like to address the class regarding this." Enforcer points to his massive facial scar, as it is germane to what would be his response to Lt. Hunt.

"Enough." Ulannajirak waves his right paw toward Enforcer to show his refusal, and then he steps back towards the podium, "Students, that is the first lesson you have learned in Kilrathi culture."

"Even in the oldest and most honored... clan, such absurd insolence can lead to direct expulsion from the hrai, for example." Ulannajirak closes his eyes, "If it was in some other clan, like nar Kiranka, I think not to mention the cub himself, even his family might be..."

Ulannajirak picks up the name list of the class. "Class leader, mark the names of these two cubs, please."

Enforcer physically takes note of the names. He notices that nobody has stepped up, and therefore takes the initiative to mark their names himself.

Ulannajirak nodes, "Good. Let's continue our class."

Enforcer returns to his seat, giving Hunt and Myers a look of death. Myers sticks his tongue out at Enforcer, but waits until the Professor's and Enforcer's eyes are averted.

"Back to our topic. What are you fighting for." Ulannajirak pauses, "Well, there is certainly a standard answer in the Empire."

"For Honor, of course." Ulannajirak looks at the students, "for the honor of the hrai, for the honor of ancestors, for the honor of the clan, for the honor of the Empire, for the honor of race, for the honor of gods."

Right at the moment, two pilots appear outside the door - Iceblace and Cyric. They just come in.

Iceblade takes a seat, quine in hand to record notes. Cyric sits next to him.

"Stop." Ulannajirak waves his paw, gesturing for the two men to retreat to the door.

Iceblade does not rise from his just taken seat and just settles in to wait for the next session or whatever. Cyric quietly surveys the scene, wondering if someone is about to ask him to take off his shoes or something strange like that.

"I'm waiting to hear your explanation about being late." Ulannajirak announces with his eyes closed.

Cyric is waiting for Phillip to chime in with their reason for 'being late' like this was a classroom back at the Academy. He was late because he was trying to find out why Kilrathi lessons were added to his duty roster when he already knew enough Kilrathi from his Academy days already. Rank hath its disadvantages too, after all.

Then Ulannajirak opens his eyes, looks at the entire class, and says. "Students, in Kilrathi culture, the first thing a latecomer does is stand at the door, apologize to the teacher, and explain the reason."

Iceblade is confused by Ulannajirak's remark about lateness. "The message indicated two 1-hour sessions; not one two-hour block; I figured I was early."

"The message mandating these lessons for us was unclear and vaguely worded. Please accept our sincere apologies for our tardiness, teacher." Cyric answers in Kilrathi language with calm humility.

Also Iceblade has never encountered a training session like this with only one designated block; there has always been 2 or 3 slots owing to scheduling issues.

"This should be you explaining to the teacher at the door", says Ulannajirak, closing his eyes again.

Cyric suppresses a sigh, stands up, goes to the door and repeats himself: "The message mandating these lessons for us was unclear and vaguely worded given with little time to prepare ahead of time given our other duties. Please accept our sincere apologies for our tardiness, teacher." He speaks in Kilrathi again.

Iceblade turns his head and watches Cyric do this.

Ulannajirak nodes towards Cyric. "I see. Now come in and be seated."

Cyric walks towards his seat next to Iceblade again, his face drawn and carefully guarded. His fist unclenches briefly that his human superiors ordered him of all people to get Cat lessons. Orders being Orders, he obeyed his superiors.

Myers takes his hand and makes a circle then makes kiss noises on it when Cyric walks by. Cyric stops for a moment and gives Myers a death glare then states "I am ready to face you in the simulator or in the arena anytime, Myers." He turns back to his teacher. "I am here as ordered by my superior officers to learn how best to defeat the enemy in battle. I express my willingness to learn even from an enemy." Then he speals in Kilrathi again, "Please continue with your lessons, teacher. I am ready to learn." He returns to his seat and sits down quietly.

"I reiterate that in this class, there is only the relationship between the teacher, me, and the students, you. There is NO so-called enemy." Ulannajirak declares his ideas in a calm, but undeniable tone. "Do you understand?"

Cyric nods his expression and gaze become calculating and reserved revealing only little of his own thoughts.

"Answer me loudly." Ulannajirak stares at all the humans.

"Yes, teacher; we understand each other." Cyric answers, his voice filled with a deadly placid calm. "YES" Phillip blurts quickly, and is beginning to feel like this is waste of his time. He could learn more from a textbook in a two hour period than he is gaining from this mess.

Then Ulannajirak looks at the empty door again and asks, "What's the excuse of the other student?"

Iceblade rolls his eyes at this farcical and poorly organized seminar as he walks to the door. "Excuse me, but there have always been several sessions for any training exercises in the past particularly when dealing with around the clock operations of a capital vessel in space and the sheer number of individuals needing training/instruction." He says robotically.

"Well, I will response the situation to your superiors later." Ulannajirak closes his eyes, "come in and be seated."

Hunt smiles and pulls a chair out next to him. Iceblade takes the seat he just vacated; his mood about flipped on its head. Iceblade notices just how few of the people from the recent mission are even here.

"Good." Ulannajirak turns to the whiteboard. "Now let us continue with the topic of honor." He looks at the students, "That is true we fight for Honor, of course. for the honor of the hrai, for the honor of ancestors, for the honor of the clan, for the honor of the Empire, for the honor of race, for the honor of gods."

"I think that's understandable for you all, right?" Ulannajirak asks. But then he continues, "However, let me tell you what my Kal Gathika once told me."

"What are we really fighting for?" Ulannajirak asks, as if he is also asking himself.

"By that time, all the cubs kept silence at first, not dare to speak, but finally someone carefully submited his answer, then another one, even more..."

"Yes, Once there was the glory of the hunt and those who returned with red talons were acknowledged and glorified for feeding the clans.", Ulannajirak looks at Karen, as well as the others in the classroom. "For the clan, for the sake of the people we care about, and for the sake of our own ability to be recognized by those people. That is what the so called honor about."

"Do you understand?" Ulannajirak continues, "When the ancestors rode galloped through the vast prairies of Kilrah, rejoicing over the acquisition of prey and mourning over the loss of companions, honor emerged among us."

Then the teacher closes his eyes, "Anyway, that may have been a long time ago ...... Later, honor itself seemed to take the place of what was at its root."

Julianna raises her hand. "Gathika, could you please define honor? I see conflicting ways it can be applied. Does that mean to be honorable, the results are more important than the process?" She looks confused. This doesn't sound like Talon's lectures on honor and glory.

The pilot named Myers raises his hand, and the class wonders if he has a Death Wish. However, his words is pretty good. "From what I'm hearing, honor has to do with teamwork and shared sacrifice." He speaks timidly, not sure if the teacher or Enforcer will kick him out if he screws up again. "It is the effort that drives you."

Ulannajirak nods, and then he looks at Julianna. "That is a good answer."

But Julianna raises her hand again, "Kal Gathica, how would you say two equal warriors would address each other on the field if they were ... not expecting to see each other?"

"On the field? not expecting to see each other?" Ulannajirak says peacefully, "Explain the ideas in your question?"

"Er.. uh... I was given a poem about warriors roaming... and they sounded Kilrathi-like in their attitude." She stammers.

"Tell us the poem now." Ulannajirak nods approvingly.

"They were called Gilgamesh and Enkidu. Two warriors that crossed pathes. I was wondering... if this happened in Kilrathi culture.. what would have happened?"

Iceblade raises his hand, but avoids saying anything yet.

"One warrior was the finest a low born man can make, the other was half royal, half divine. They earned respect despite their separate heritages. After, they slew a terrible beast together... it was a Lion with the intelligence of a ma... " Julianna stops... She covers her mouth.

"And?" Ulannajirak shows his interest.

"Kal Gathica... I did not think this through... it is an ancient earth tale... We had no way of knowing any of what would happen..."

"They slew a beast... a man lion. and became friends over that. I like Phil's question more now." She says meekly gazing at the floor.

"If it is a long tale, Karen, you could raise the key point in it." Ulannajirak looks at Phillip, nodes, and turn back to Karen, "Did he make the right point?"

"Y-yes, yes he did." Julianna answers.

Iceblade sighs with his hand raised still, "To clarify, How do two Kilrathi warriors from separate clans greet each other? That must be a common occurrence."

"Well, as greeting, there is a commonly used phrase." Ulannajirak hesitates for a second, "My Blood Warms at the Sight of Thee - in Terran language."

Julianna poker faces. She heard that expression maybe 13 hours ago.

"And if there is an inbalance in rank or social standing; a minor one in particular?" Iceblade adds.

"Well, this is a relatively safe greeting for the first time meeters." Ulannajirak explains.

Julianna jots down more notes.

"It can cross many classes and is polite and safe. Of course, when a warrior faces Imperial royalty, there are some additional rules." Ulannajirak pauses, then makes a change of pace, "However, I don't expect you to have any chance to face an Imperial royalty. I think you know that I mean."

"In an imbalance again, is there a time where the minor one is expected to initiate conversation?" Julianna asks.

"Why not?" Ulannajirak adds, "What are you worrying about?"

"Nuthin' right guys?" Julianna says nervously looking at Iceblade and Cyric.

Iceblade seems to be thinking back some knowledge points. "Is it common for Kilrathi to greet each other claws extended... assuming both of the Kilrathi aren't low-born?"

Cyric has his eyes locked on the space feline on the podium, asks with a wan smile, "It may surprise you to learn that we have a self-avowed cousin of the Imperial Royal Family on board the Majestic with us now. Have you heard of Azran nar Kiranka? He defected to our side only recently. Have you had the chance to greet him yet?"

"Wait! Mr. Cyric! What did you say?" Ulannajirak suddenly notices something critical. His eyes glazes over. "Az... Who are you talking about?"

"I don't imagine that Gal Katica has heard much about what is going on around the ship, yet Cyric." Iceblade says. Its not exactly a secret for most of the pilots and some of the naval personnel that Azran nar Kiranha is related the Kilrathi Royal bloodline... the name gives it away.

"Wait... Mittens is royalty?" Julianna looks shocked and speaks without raising her hand.

"Indeed, Azran nar Kiranka claims to be of the Imperial Royal Family." Cyric smiles back darkly. "He flies missions against the Kilrathi Empire in a Terran Confederation Starfighter and is an active member of the 1087th Minutemen Squadron."

"Cyric, refrain from providing more information, though. I don't know what his clearance is and you most certainly do not." Iceblade whispers to the subordinate.

Freezing on the podium, Ulannajirak tries to hide the shock with his expression. "...Pardon me... but are you talking about Kal Azran nar Kiranka, the heir to the Rajinka system?" His voice is definitely not as peaceful as before.

"Of course." Cyric says studying the Kilrathi teacher/doctor closely looking for anything behind the obvious shock of this revelation. If this Kilrathi was a hostile and not a defector, then it would be better to know now than later when they were asleep and helpless.

"I'm not familiar with the system." Iceblade adds before ribbing Cyric to get him to belt up. "Say, how did his defection affect those around you?" He asks the teacher.

For a second, Ulannajirak wonders why there was the TV broadcast by "Azran nar Kiranka", but then he slowly understands everything that confused him before. Yes, why a member of the royal family - although not so close to the emperor's family lineage - has been throwing his weight around a lot lately, quite abnormally. That explains the videos playing on Ktube Julianna realizes. It turned out that it was all disguised, all fake, to cover up the defection of a high-ranking member of the royal family.

Cyric watches and listens to what is going on around him with rapt careful attention to the Cat's mannerisms and for the Cat's answer to Phillip's question with an almost predatory anticipation.

Ulannajirak knows after the rebellion of Ghorah Khar, Ralgha nar Hhallas, the prince of nar Hhallas clan, a close relative of the Imperial family, has almost became a name of taboo. It turns out that there are more... concealed by the empire. Ulannajirak is almost shaking. He closes his eyes and tries to demonstrate his shock.

Finally, Ulannajirak calms down. He raises is head, takes a long breath, and lowers his head back.

"A bit shocking what your Government likes to hide huh?" Phillip says guessing the reason for the long pause and agitation.

"I've flown with him a few times. Good pilot, agreeable warrior, he's earned my.... respsect." Iceblade responds with a small but noticeable pause.

"Well... My... students..." Ulannajirak looks at all the pilots here, especially Karen. "I assume you all have met Kal Azran long before my boarding, right?"

Julianna nods sheepishly.

"But you hide it from me, the pitiful refugee." Ulannajirak smiles bitterly, "Reasonable, Principle of confidentiality."

Julianna slowly lowers her head. "I figured it was not my place to tell you, not due to your standing, but since he has been out for so long on special assignments."

Cyric leans back in his chair sharing a glance with Iceblade before returning to study the enemy in his mind.

"All right..." Ulannajirak looks at the ceiling, as if he is looking at the ocean of stars. Then he smiles and shakes his head. "Very strange, I suddenly became relaxed."

Ulannajirak slowly turns to the three pilots and says slowly, "What is our current question? If I meets Kal Azran, what kind of greeting would we have, right?"

"Yes, but I am curious as to how you might answer Lt. Bradford's question. How did the Kilrathi Empire react to the news of a defector from the Imperial Royal Family? I am assuming that they didn't say much at all. Was it completely covered up?" Cyric asks.

In an instant, Ulannajirak's eyes changes. Unlike the former refugee who was humble in front of the crowd, and unlike the kil who had just tried to imitate his own teacher, this time his eyes are full of confidence. "I can certainly explain it step by step for you. However, I think a much better way would be for you students to watch by the side when I met this Kal, personally."

"I think we our questions will need to wait until he explains Kilrathi Honor and other concepts." Iceblade says to Cyric.

Cyric nods and leans back in his chair again awaiting the rest of the lesson with seemingly infinite patience.

"No private talk to each other in class! If you have a question, raise your claw and say it to everyone here!" Ulannajirak announced with a loud voice.

"Back to our topic." Ulannajirak turns to the whiteboard, writes down some characters - of course, in Kilrathi language.

"There is an ancient etiquette used to welcome distinguished guests." Ulannajirak continues, "It is more formal than the greeting we mentioned just now."

"The host needs to show his humility to the distinguished guest, with the wording of," Ulannajirak stares at everyone in the class room, "I put your claw on my throat."

Julianna's jaw goes slack.

"Then the guest should say, I offer you the gift from my clan." Ulannajirak says formally. "Then the last part of this greeting, is the two sides thanking each other." He continues, "Today, the first step is just a verbal etiquette, only exchanging gifts should actually be done."

"Ah, so there are gifts." Iceblade says as he makes a note - lowering his hand.

Cyric just sits quietly listening to the complex etiquette ritual that more and more reminded him of an ancient Japanese Tea Ceremony both in terms of its overwhelming formality and the complex layers of ritualized behavior existing beneath the surface layer of that formality.

"However, there is a saying that in the ancient past, this required the host to actually let the guest put the claws on his throat. On the one hand, it was to show mutual trust, and on the other hand, it was also to show their courage and ability to deal with accidents." Ulannajirak looks at the students, "Now, I would like to ask, I, as a guest on this ship, and you, as the owners of this ship, how about any of you join me in practicing this ancient welcome salute?" He smiles.

"Anyone?" Ulannajirak looks around, stares at every pilot sitting behind the desks, especially the "smart" guy Hunt.

Julianna bravely steps forward.

Iceblade face palms... "He is not in my squadron at least." Cyric watches with morbid curiosity as Karen steps forward to put the beast's claw on her throat.

Ulannajirak gladly steps down from the podium and shows his right claws, then retract all the four sharp shinning hooks, as a peaceful action.

"I offer you a place in my clan, the Illuminati." Julianna replies looking him straight in the eye.

"Thank you, Karen the honorable warrior." Ulannajirak carefully extend the right paw, but stops, "I offer you my best kindness."

Julianna bows, maintaining eye contact.

Ulannajirak then steps back, bows to Julianna, "Once more, greeting to the warrior. My Blood Warms at the Sight of Thee."

"As does mine, seeing your nobility" Julianna says, taking a step back.

The human pilot returns to her seat and rubs her throat with her open palm.

Ulannajirak goes back to the podium. Looking at the astonished stares of the entire classroom of students, he loudly announces:

"As you can see, students, this is the basic form of this salute."

Cyric's hands are steepled in front of him as plans within plans start circulating his mind about turning some of these Cats into infiltrator spies and saboteurs and unleashing them onto an unsuspecting Kilrathi Empire blowing the enemy up from the inside. Cyric thinks to himself with a smile hidden beneath a cool, placid facade.

"I, as a teacher, express my sincere admiration for the courage and, more importantly, wisdom of Karen, a glorious warrior." But then Ulannajirak's expression changes, "Before we move on to the next section, I, as the teacher, remind all of you of one very important warning." HE is becoming so serious, announces slowly. "NEVER let your vitals be exposed to the claws of a Kilrathi unless you know what you're doing."

Hearing the teacher say such a common sense so seriously, Iceblade spreads his hands and shakes his head. But he sees Ona appearing at the entrance. What is more, she looks a little dejected.

"Your reason for being late." Ulannajirak stares at the newcomer, "And I assume you are answering me at the door."

"Sorry, I'm late", Ona says when she enters. "I had to see the CAG."

"Oh, your superior? Reasonable. Please be seated." Ulannajirak waves his paw to let Ona come in. He also finds there is something wrong with her.

Ona goes to an empty seat and sit down, "What did I miss?" She asks. "If you have notes, please send them to me."

"First half of the 1st lesson." Ulannajirak looks at Ona, "I will make it up for you."

Karen scans her notes and beams them to Ona, they look like cat scratches and random incoherent comments on what is honor and how it relates to cupcakes.

"So, let's move to our next topic." Ulannajirak writes down more words on the white board. "You may wonder whether it is okay to just learn some basic greeting to act you just like a Kil."

Julianna leans back, eyes widened.

"I warn you all, that is IMPOSSIBLE!" Ulannjirak announces loudly. "If you don't understand the cultural context behind these manners, the best you can hope for is a friendly response from some kil who knows how to accept kindness." Ulannajirak continues, "I must say that in most cases this is difficult, especially since our two races have been in conflict for over twenty years now. Next I'm going to talk to you about the basis of these things, and while it's not possible to make you one of the blood right away, it will at least earn you some respect at some point."

Julianna raises her hand.

"Please, Karen." Ulannajirak nods.

"Do you think... a Kilrathi can... imitate a human convincingly?" Julianna speaks slowly, as if she is hesitate to ask.

These words seems to touch Ulannajirak's thoughts. He pauses, closes his eyes, then opens them. "Yes, absolutely yes." Ulannajirak answers slowly, "There are some of us could do that. I know I still have a very pronounced accent in my human language. But I don't count myself as a Kil who speaks human language very well." Ulannajirak looks at Julianna, and then all the students.

Julianna presses the point. "If a Kilrathi can immitate a human, how come a human can't immitate a Kilrathi? You were talking about the vocal pattern, not the content of the message?"

"That is because, the honorable Kilrathi knows human culture." Ulannajirak answers, with obvious respect in his tone.

"They certainly don't respect it." Ona mutters from the back row, "nor respect humans."

Ulannajirak frowns with his ears trembling, but he just continues, "Not only vocal, but lots of Terran history, literature, art..."

"I know of a case where they chucked hundreds of people into space to suffocate." Ona says sadly.

"..." Ulannajirak looks at Ona, closes his eyes, sighs, "I am sorry to hear that..."

"There seems to be a lot of differences between certain Kilrathi and the rest of the species." Iceblade notes outloud.

"Likely Caste differences." Cyric asks. "How often do the Kilrathi marry outside their castes, Kal Gathica?"

"Yes, definitely.” Ulannajirak looks at Iceblade, "Even before the McAuliffe Ambush, the first massive battle between the Empire and the Confederation."

"I suspect differences by upbringing or experience; the cats seem to view us as prey animals beneath their respect.... even though we kill 2 or more of them for every one human that dies or is captured in battle." Iceblade comments in response to Cyric.

"A foe worthy of respect, an intellect as good as our own." Ulannajirak pronounces these words clearly in a respectful tone. "Learn their literature, hear their music, examine their history. It might shape how you feel. Do so at first with the intent of thus deciphering who they are in order to gain victory. Perhaps then you shall learn something more. Perhaps you might even grow to like them, frightening though that concept must now seem to one like those you who are eager for blood."

"Who said that and why isn't he Emperor?" another pilot asks.

"That is what my grand master told us cubs, when I was in my first class of Terran culture." Ulannajirak looks at the student, as if he remembers something important.

If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle. - Sun Tzu, The Art of War." Cyric says aloud but mostly to himself.

"Kal Gathica, would we be correct to say that this is not merely about thinking in our language and culture, then translating to Kilrathi? It is about thinking like a Kilrathi?" Enforcer asks.

"I was taught treat others how you want to be treated," Asks another student, "Something the Kilrathi don't, generally, seem to believe in. Was this hatred of humanity always there since First Contact?"

"Well, I know there is a human word... Xenophobia... right? It seems to be widespread. But..." Ulannajirak pauses.

"Oh, I know our history. Far too well. We have an annual day commemorating those who died because of it." The student nods.

"Several actually." Iceblade mumbles... remembering his earlier youth and his younger se;lf's negativity towards war.

"Although, perhaps the two opponents in the warfare must be divided into a winner and a loser, but perhaps, perhaps the two races should find a way to get along with each other in the future." Ulannajirak slowly announces. "And maybe... that is why I am here..." Ulannajirak raises his head, closes his eyes, as if he is looking at the galaxy.

"It's that or one is totally destroyed, yes." The student looks at the teacher, "Let's get back onto the topic, I would say,"

"What? You have met your kinsmen right?" Iceblade looks at this guy, then he turns to the ailen feline, "And what about all of those other races your species has wiped out?" He says outloud.

"I, am sorry." Ulannajirak looks at Iceblade, "So sorry."

"Obviously there is no way, our two races are so difficulty co-exist unless something drastic happens to the Kilrathi." Iceblade says a thought slowly given form from the past few years. "Just how loyal are the Kilrathi to the Emperor?" Iceblade asks... remaining seated, but his blood is slowly boiling at the moment.

But Ulannajirak just closes his eyes, "There was another side that of late he was forced to admit too…there was something inside of him that pitied the conquered. Some of the races had fought honorably and well, some were obviously more intelligent but had lacked the military prowess to stand against Kilrah. Now they were slaves, and in his heart he wondered if this course was necessarily the right one for long-term survival across the eons." Ulannajirak uses his respectful tone again, but this time, saying the words with his sight on Iceblade.

"I should say you Terrans have earned the respect from, at least some of the Kilrathi." Ulannajirak loudered his voice, "Back to our topic now, Okay?"

Iceblade simply nods and settles back to stew with his own thoughts.

Ulannajirak turns back to the white board. Loyal... He smiles, as he remembers Lord Ralgha nar Hhallas, and of course, Kal Azran nar Kiranka.

"Well, those manners we talked about just now, what are they based on?" Ulannajirak writes down several characters on the whiteboard, but this time, all of these are Terran words.

"The Honor and Respect paid from one Kilrathi to another to ensure that all serve in their caste roles within Kilrathi society and that all play their part for the Glory of their respective Clans, their Emperor, and the Kilrathi Empire as a whole." Cyric answers with calm.

"That's also a standard answer." Ulannajirak nods to Cyric, then loudly announces, "Hierarchy, blood ties. If I remember it with no mistake, Terran languages have these two words in it. These two concepts indicate the position of almost every kil of our race." Ulannajirak continues, "So, all the greetings are based on these two aspects."

Ona nods.

"You use different words to your superiors, and your subordinates; you use different words to your relatives, and to the members of a strange clan." Ulannajirak voices it seriously. "All your pleasantries must be placed in this system to be valid. Otherwise, your behavior is like rootless plant. I think for all of you pilots serving in the military, the concept of superiority and subordination is not difficult to understand."

Then Ulannajirak loos at the human pilots, "For example, you should never speak to your superiors in a commanding tone unless in certain emergency; instead, you should use a respectful form."

Julianna raises her hand. "How urgent?"

"Like... Your commander is making a serious wrong process in a weapon in a mission." Ulannajirak shows a weird expression, "I think it is nothing new for you, right? Getting it wrong in this aspect can be troublesome. At the very least, you will be met with some contempt from the honorable... clans. " Ulannajirak seriously looks at the students, "If you're in the... sorry, I mean if a kilrathi is in the Imperial Fleet, for example, sometimes such mistake can get him severely punished, even including getting killed."

"Also, don't casually use your statements in the name of the gods. There are certain tones that only high ranking nobles and priests are allowed to use." Ulannajirak turns to the other students. "A safer tone would be like thank the gods for certain things, or that I humbly expect certain gift from the gods. You can't go beyond the level to substitute for the gods in making judgments." Ulannajirak states seriously. "Understand?"

Some of the students nod, while the others show their expression full of disdain.

"Then, another issue." Ulannajirak looks at the students. "Bloodline and clan distance. Socializing among different clans, it is important that you know the basic concepts. If you are meeting a warrior from a different clan, where you two are each under a different superior and there is no direct hierarchical relationship, this is the time to be polite." Uannajirak is a bit anxious. He looks at the clock on the wall. There is few time remaining for this lesson.

The teacher seems to be talking about something very important, "How to be polite? First, if the other party is a noble and we are commoners, then the commoner must use a respectful tone with the noble as if he is your superior."

"How intermixed are the clans among Kilrathi vessels?" Iceblade asks with his hand raised.

"Secondly, if the social level of the two parties are actually the same, then politeness comes from lowering oneown's level and raising the counterpart's in tone." Frowning at Iceblade, Ulannajirak tries to indicate that the student should listen to the lesson first. "Very import issue!" He slightly knocks at the table with his claw tip. "Although the two warriors are equal, the way to respect each other is to take the initiative to be humble and raise your audience. That is, showing your politeness and respect to the other by artificially creating hierarchical gaps."

Iceblade keeps his hand raised, his question most certainly not answered.

"If you reverse these two aspect by mistake, you will make a joke, or in the worst case, cause an insult." Ulannajirak speeds up, "As the relationship between the two gets closer, this artificial level difference can slowly disappear. However, if in formal occasions, such as when a warrior is honored by a lord, his close friends should back to the respectful tone! Because this time the social hierarchical difference reappears!“

The clock chimes on the hour. Glancing down at his quine, Enforcer stands up, "Our apologies, Kal Gathica. A few of us have been summoned away. I would like to catch up on this at the earliest opportunity."

"Thank you, that was most informative from such a wise teacher," Ona says. And all the students start to stand up. Julianna bows to the teacher.

Ulannajirak takes a long breath. He nods to the pilots. "So, the last question of our first class: If you, as a representative of your own hrai, go to communicate with another hrai's member who has no affiliation with yours, how can you cite your own superiors? Humble form or respect form?"

Ulannajirak looks at the students already started heading for the door, he shakes his head, "I hope you will ponder. I expect your answers in the next class."

"Class is over."
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The last student here cautiously glanced up to the podium and goes out.

Now, there is only Ulannajirak himself left in the classroom. Looking at the empty rows of seats in front of him, Ulannajirak falls into a deep thought.

The past hours seemed to be so short, but yet so long. After the excitement of the first lesson fades out, Ulannajirak finds that he has eights of eight kinds of emotion coming up.

He now feels happy that he finally has the chance to be an honored Gathika, working like his revered grand master, telling some warriors those things really important, even though these students are actually the Terran pilots, which is a fact he could not have anticipated before.

He also finds himself still a little angry. He certainly felt the disdain, even hostility, from a significant portion of the students. This is to be expected, but what makes him slightly surprised is that the fact he still cares the situation a little.

He is also a little sad. He finds the fact that even those students who are willing to learn carefully just simply want to find the way to defeat the enemy in the battlefield. Of course, from their standpoint, there is certainly nothing wrong with that. Do you really not care some kind of that possibility? But he knows even he himself is not sure whether that vague faraway place really exists or how far away it really is.

Finally, there is one thing that even shocked him while some snickers. That is... the defection of the Kiranka noble. He is habitually slightly disturbed by this state of mind in himself, but he had a vague feeling that he will be, in a way, the beneficiary of this situation. And, what is more, it seems to take a weight off his mind.

Ulannajirak shakes his head, walks off the podium, and then slowly gets out of the classroom. There are still some issues to deal with.


1st Lt Philip 'Iceblade' Bradford, the following content is a mail by the course instructor of Dr. Ulannajirak.

Cmdr Phil 'Bury' Schmitd

Mr. Iceblade, as the instructor of this course, I feel I need to convey something to you.

First of all, I am sorry that I did not answer your question at the end of the last class. But I would like to make it clear that the first class of our course is not for question-and-answer. As a teacher, I have an obligation to complete my teaching schedule.

Regarding your question about the mixed composition of the different clans on the Kilrathi fleet, what I have the ability to answer you can probably be summarized in the following three points:

1. The empire has Imperial fleets that is directly under the command of the Imperial court, while each clan also has their own fleet.

2. Imperial fleets are generally a mix of elite warriors from various clans. And clan built fleets are naturally made up of members of their own clan.

3. Depending on the needs of the war effort, there will be staffing turnover.

The above is basically common sense. For more information, given my doctor status, forgive me for not being able to provide them.

Another issue. If I'm not mistaken, some of you seem to have some objections to the course itself. If that is the case, I would like to have the opportunity to talk to you about it, and you can reach out to me at any time.

Finally, since you did not hear the assignment topics I assigned at the beginning of the last class, I am here to inform you that you need to complete the assignment for this class and submit it to me by the next class.

"What are you fighting for?"

Dr. Ulannajirak


1st Lt Keyan 'Enforcer' Steele, the following content is a mail by the course instructor of Dr. Ulannajirak.

Cmdr. Phil 'Bury' Schmitd

Mr. Enforcer, first of all, thank you for your active participation in the class!

I am sorry that I denied one of your requests to speak in class. However, this is because I need to maintain order in the lecture. Now, I hope we can have a communication about your issue. If the situation allows, we can also have a discussion in person.

Dr. Ulannajirak


2nd Lt. Cyric "Talon" Karde, the following content is a mail by the course instructor of Dr. Ulannajirak.

Cmdr. Phil 'Bury' Schmitd

Mr. Cyric, as the instructor of this course, I feel I need to convey something to you.

I learned from your superiors that you had taken Kilrathi culture-related courses at the Academy, which confirmed my speculations in class. This is very good, and I hope you will take an active role in the classroom.

However, I am a little disturbed. I surely recognize your knowledge reflected in your statements, but I also sense at the same time the mismatch in your manners. If this comes from hostility towards me, a former enemy, then I can understand. However, what bothers me is that I fear you have doubts about the need for this course. You may think that you now know enough about the culture of Kilrathi, which I could see vaguely from your two long answers. If that is the case, then as a teacher, I would like to remind you one issue. Your answers are so standard that could be considered brilliant even in the Empire. However, I am afraid that you only got half of your answers right, and what I really expect you to understand in this course is hidden in the second half.

You mentioned the writings of Master Sun Wu, the famous military strategist from the ancient times of the Earth. You cited one paragraph, which is probably the most famous one in the book, from the chapter of Attack by Stratagem. That's brilliant. I wish you also have read the beginning of this chapter. And on the other hand, I'd be interested to know if you've thought of something further.

I look forward to seeing you perform even better.

Dr. Ulannajirak


1st Lt. Jackie "Ona" Bradshaw, the following content is a mail by the course instructor of Dr. Ulannajirak.

Cmdr. Phil 'Bury' Schmitd

Ms. Ona, As promised, I will now provide you with the highlights of the first half of the class.

1. Teacher is the teacher, students are the students. No enemy in the course. I wish us to respect each other.

2. Once there was the glory of the hunt and those who returned with red talons were acknowledged and glorified for feeding the clans. For the clan, for the sake of the people we care about, and for the sake of our own ability to be recognized by those people. That is what the so called honor about.

3. As greeting, there is a commonly used phrase crosses many classes and is polite and safe - My Blood Warms at the Sight of Thee - in Terran language. There is also another complex etiquette for greeting your guests that I wish I could have the opportunity to tell you about face to face.

In addition, I would like to get your response regarding the points covered in this lesson. I could answer you in the email or in the next class, as appropriate.

Since you did not hear the assignment topics I assigned at the beginning of the class, I am here to inform you that you need to complete the assignment for this class and submit it to me by the next class.

"What are you fighting for?"

Dr. Ulannajirak

Back in his room, Ulannajirak lays on the bed, could not find peace in his mind. He has just sent four mails to certain students - of course, under the help of the commander's staff as it is the current regulation. He even received Enforcer's speedy reply before he finished the last mail - the mail to Ona.

From: 1st Lt. Keyan “Enforcer” Steele
To: Professor Ulannajirak c/o Comm. Phil “Bury” Schmitd
Subj: Re: A message about the Kilrathi Culture course

Dear Professor Ulannajirak,

I would be happy to discuss the issue from class with you at your earliest convenience. Although limited, I may be able to shed some light related to my first few encounters with the student in question. However, if I had to speculate as to the reason for the student's behavior, I think that it stems from the old tradition of rivalries between the various military branches. In this case, the Space Force/ Marine rivalry asserts that pilots who are physically gifted but lack sufficient aptitude in the cockpit are sent to the Marines, while Marines who can't fight but who can fly become pilots.

Since this is available in the publicly available sections of my file, I would like to give you a brief background as a reference.

I served with distinction in the Marines until multiple injuries left me unable to fulfill my calling as a ground warrior. However, I showed great aptitude as a pilot versus other Marines, so I was sent to the Academy for an accelerated course. However, the old prejudices remain, and as a Marine, I tower over the average pilot, who, in the Space Force, is approximately 170 cm., thereby sticking out significantly. I understand that not all of the young pilots fully embraced me, and I readily accept that. I come from a different part of the military's culture, and I therefore started my Academy studies while older than even a few of the instructors. I would like to think that I imparted my personal code of honor among them. I know that my words of guidance were embraced by some of the pilots; I hope that – with time – the other pilots embrace it as well.

Once again, it was a pleasure to attend your class, and I look forward to meeting with you soon.

Cum Honore,

1st Lt. Keyan “Enforcer” Steele

Ulannajirak carefully reads Enforcer's reply. In fact, he has been given permission to compose his emails in the future without direct supervise. Of course for the time being, the mails need to be reviewed and forwarded by the commander staff.

Frankly, Enforcer's explanation was not what Ulannajirak was expecting. He had expected Enforcer to explain why the two provocateurs in the classroom would be so unfriendly to a former enemy, such as because of some sad past. Instead, Enforcer just explained that it stemed from the old tradition of rivalries between the various military branches.

The competition between soldier types, this reminded him of certain inter-clan conflicts within the Empire, there are really quite a few similarities between us.

Suddenly, he feels a pang of loneliness. He is a little disappointed. He had more or less expected the warriors here to have the brilliant strategic vision and a faithful expectation for the good future in those amazing Terran books. But it looks like it is right for him to lower his expectations, since lots of the humans just simply want to find a quick method to overcome the enemy in the heat battles... in a way similar as lots of Imperial fleet pilots want.

Rationally, of course, Ulannajirak understands all this, but emotionally, he is very troubled. For a moment, he feels himself missing Leonard and Nala so much.

Then, Kal Azran's face comes into Ulannajirak's mind. It is ridiculous from any perspective, isn't it? The defection of this Kiranka noble has been concealed from the Kilrathi mass by the Imperial court for so much time, and the situation will surely continue. The poor Kilrathi masses, and even many soldiers, are still in the dark. Perhaps some of the soldiers thought they were fighting a charlatan posing as an honorable imperial royal relative before they went to meet their ancestors.

Ulannajirak carefully recalls the odor he caught in the hallway back then. That must be that Azran... Interesting, perhaps the fact that he has not met this Kiranka noble so far is a deliberate isolation by the Majestic commander staff...

But suddenly, he thought again of Seelig's word - Kilra'hra? commoner? Azran is certainly a Thrakhra, noble. Is this simply a case of him saying the wrong word, or is there something more possible?

The ring sounds, pulling Ulannajirak back from his several eight minuts of musings, and he finds two more unread emails in his mailbox. One is from Ona, attached with her assignment. It's basically arguing she's fighting to keep humanity alive and kicking. A moderate expression, and it is good as an assignment, especially for the first time. Ulannajirak decides to give her an A, in the standard of what Nala's father had described to him, the common human academy grading scale.

But the other mail from Cyric... seems to be much more aggresive...

To: Dr. Ulannajirak c/o CMDR. SCHMITD
From: 2nd Lt. Cyric “Talon” Karde

Unlike most families in the Confederation, my family clan has always upheld a proud legacy of distinguished military service that has been reforged anew and rigorously handed down from one generation to the next for over seven centuries. Unlike many prior generations of my family, I am one of the only member of my family clan aside from my Esteemed Commodore Father who has chosen to fight in the defense of my race in order to ensure the survival of my family line into the next generation. You must understand that I have been raised from birth to understand that there are things in the universe that are simply and purely evil. I was taught from a young age that a true warrior does not seek to understand them, or to compromise with them. He seeks only to annihilate them in an effort to safeguard all that is good and honorable within himself and within those around him.

That said, I was also taught from a young age to study your race’s history, religion, culture, and art as much as as the extent of your race’s military strategies and tactics, vast slave-based industrial war manufacturing potential, the technical capabilities and limitations of your fleets, soldiers, weapons, and logistical support personnel in order to discover the first answer to Sun Wu’s question. I have trained almost from birth to pound the answer to Sun Wu’s second question within myself each day without any tolerance for deviation, weakness, failing, or error. The mind and body are linked together in a meshwork of oxygen, nutrients, hormones, and neuron health. Physical exercise drives that meshwork, stimulating the brain and freeing one’s intellect to excel in all facets of military life. I continue to train myself in a number of martial arts forms that are designed to provide the drive and dedication required to ensure the survival and continued freedom of my family clan and my race against all enemies that would threaten my homeland.

Please do not be offended if my manners seem at odds with my words. I only wish to remind you with respect of the harsh fact that our two races have been locked in a perpetual stalemate that shows little sign of abating until either your race or mine are utterly crushed utterly beneath the heel of the other. Given my current understanding of your race’s military, cultural, and religious traditions, I have come to the conclusion that nothing short of your Emperor declaring an unilateral end to this war in a way that would move the vast majority of your race’s warriors to simply stop fighting my race or face a dishonorable death at the hands of their kindred for committing an act tantamount to a form of sacrilegious treason; or perhaps far more likely, the complete and systematic annihilation of your Homeworld of Kilrah with all its ruling clans and clan fleets in orbit wiped out in one crushing blow would give the Confederation the breathing room it requires to unilaterally declare an honorable final end to this endless war with the majority of our respective races relatively intact. The only other I see is the complete and utter failure and defeat of the Confederation inevitably culminating in the death or brutal enslavement of all those I hold dear and have sworn to protect unto my death. Although it is true that no battle plan can anticipate all contingencies, there are always unexpected factors including those stemming from the opponent's initiative. A battle must thus become a balance between plan and improvisation, between error and correction. It is a narrow line. But it is a line one's opponent must also walk. For all the balance of experience and cleverness, it is often the warrior who acts quickest who prevails in the end.

Sun Wu's once said that “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” He also says, “Supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.” By that token, the best time to strike an enemy is when they are involved in preparations. To strike before the enemy is fully mobilized, and they will be unable to fight back. This may prevent a battle. This strategy involves using intelligence, rather than brawn, to win. This is how one subdues the enemy without fighting. Aside from spoiling the odd tactical offensive, the time to prevail without fighting has long since past away over a generation ago, sadly.

As far as the class itself, I would like to indicate with respect, Kal Gathica, that trouble-makers such as 2nd Lt. Robin Myers or 2nd Lt. Dylan Hunt are somewhat rare in our general rank and file. I suspect they were merely testing you in search of weaknesses they could exploit for their own amusement as much as a general eagerness to cause trouble out of the cockpit to relieve the stress of being on the frontlines of this conflict. In a cockpit, they are serviceable pilots who will follow orders, complete their missions, and keep their mouths shut. Out of a cockpit, they are a nuisance but are otherwise harmless in my limited social encounters with the pair of them. As you are the Kal Gathica of this course, the ultimate decision about whether or not to remove them from the class is yours and yours alone. Respectfully, I feel I must also warn you that some humans will not respond to reason and others will refuse to consider alternatives to their normal pattern of behavior. In such cases, an unexpected breaking of one’s own patterns can be an effective tool.

For now, I am willing to break the pattern to which I have become accustomed if it allows me to better understand my enemy and become more effective in fulfilling my duty to my race, my family clan, and to safety, freedom, and survival of my homeworld against all enemies. I shall learn from you if it leads to the survival of my family clan into the next generation whose duty it will remain to fight on in this war even after I die in this war to join my ancestors. On that glorious day, I shall greet them all without any stain of shame or dishonor so that I may take my place amongst their illustrious ranks in Heaven in Service to my God forevermore. I am living proof that my family's proud legacy shall remain unbroken on to the next generation. There is sufficient honor and glory in that fact for me.

Steel against iron is not a testing
Qith dux qithin'hav k'tothmo

2nd Lt. Cyric Karde,
1087th Fighter Squadron
TCS Majestic

Ulannajirak carefully read the mail over and over again to avoid misunderstanding. In the thousands of words of Cyric's reply, Ulannajirak reads a sense full of confidence, even a little conceit in it.

Ulannajirak sighs, begins to compose the reply.


Honorable Commander Staff,

Please forward the attached mail to 2nd Lt. Cyric Karde.


Dr. Ulannajirak

Mr. Cyric,

I am happy to receive your serious reply. I think I can feel a certain will you want to convey between the lines.

First, it is technically INCORRECT to use any command tone in a student's letter to the teacher. I hope you will pay attention next time.

On to the main topic.

Your description of the history of your glorious warrior family reminded me of a Imperial warrior I had met before. He once dismissively stated to me that he had been brought up to believe in the old Kilrathi adage Va ka garga ka naru ha garga, which means Those not of the blood must have their blood spilt in Terran language, and he considered all not-of-the-blood in the universe to be either orbak, competitors, or ukta, prey. Thus he doesn't bother to understand the culture of the Terran, and only cares about how quickly he could defeat them.

This made me feel for a moment that there were far more similarities between our two races than there seemed to be.

Just as some of us realize, although this old adage has been said of generations, the truth is the definition of so-called "not of the blood" is slowly changing. Perhaps, before Lord Xag established the first unified dynasty in Kilrathi's history, rival clans were considered to be "not of the blood". After the advent of the era of interstellar travel, the reference to this phrase has been turned into aliens. From my limited knowledge of Terran civilization and history, the word "evil" has been defined differently at different times in human history. Slavery, what is mentioned several times in your words with detest, had also once been mainstream in the history of human civilization, and as far as I know it still exists in some regions until now.

So, thousands Terran years ago, in the age of human slavery, was it an act of justice to help a slave escape from his master, or was it an evil to damage the master's private property?

Then I'm glad you're starting to try to learn Kilrathi culture after all. It's a good start, but I still doubt it is far from enough. How much of your knowledge comes from books that have been translated multiple times? How much of your understanding is actually a stereotype gained on the battlefield? Yes, as it is said in the fourth maxim of Xag, "No attack plan ever survives first contact with the enemy", there should be improvisation, but it requires enough accumulation.

You may know the ceremony of expedition, but you may not know the feeling of blood resonance among the battle chant. You may know the primogeniture of Kilrathi hrai, but you may not know the the joy and triumph a Kilrathi patriarch felt when having his first son in his elder age. You may wax eloquent about Kilrathi matrimonial system, but you may not know what kind of mindset a young cub has when confronted with his mass family. You may know the warrior codex "There is no treachery greater than the betrayal of comrade against comrade", but you may not know the anger, disappointment and sadness of a kil when he was framed. You may know lots of things, but you may not know them well enough. And all of these above may determine whether you will misjudge when your contact with the Kilrathi, and whether both of the opponents would suffer certain unnecessary loss.

In reading your expectations of the war situation, I was in a trance feeling that I was reading a speech by a federal head, which, although high level, may be very far from you and me here in this remote sector. Then it's up to me to ask a few specific hypothetical questions.

1. Suppose your squad is ordered to destroy an Imperial transport ship, but when you encounter it, you discover that it is transporting Kirathi females and cubs. If you had the power to decide, what would you do?

2. If the ship is still an ordinary transport craft, but it is carrying the lair-mates and cubs of an imperial general, do you fire without hesitation?

3. If you do not fire, are you guilty of disobeying orders? If you fire, do you consider that Imperial general who has lost their families may be angry enough to, let's say, harm some human prisoners and slaves? At such point you can certainly blame this on "imperial atrocities", but do you recognize that this is actually a choice that putting them in the harm's way in the form of you as compatriots who have no regard for their well-being, and the Imperial general who is the enemy, while you could have kept those prisoners and slaves alive and there is the possibility that they could have been saved in your next operation? By the way, I should make a remind that in imperial culture, attacking logistic ships is considered to be an act brings no honor.

I won't require you to answer them in the mails so as not to create an unappropriated impression in front of the superiors. I merely would like to evoke some thoughts.

Last but not the least, I'm still a little curious on one issue. You mentioned more than once that you were fighting for the future of your race, but what about the members of the other races? Like Firekkan, or even Ghorah Khar's rebellions?

By the way, may I assume that you submitted your homework in your last reply?

You could get an A for it, in human standard. But I expect you to achieve more.


Dr. Ulannajirak

Ulannajirak has repeatedly revised this reply. After much deliberation, he avoids some sensitive topics directed at the imperial court. After all, you should always be careful on such issue, not to mention that there is a rebellious Kiranka noble on this ship. Then, he solemnly submits the letter to the command staff. Now, it is time to have a good sleep for the next medbay shift.
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