Monday, May 30, 2016

September 13, part 1

What a happy, happy day. I was sorry to see it end.

Katrina’s clanning ceremony to Clan Wotref was a resounding success. The Temple of Life was splendid, of course. I didn’t think it could be any more beautiful than yesterday, but Master Rivek and the rest of his group did an amazing job. There were flower arrangements everywhere in that main hall with the tree columns. That was where the ceremony and reception took place. The bursts of color in all that whiteness was simply breathtaking. Maybe Katrina hadn’t wanted frou-frou, but no one could deny the setting was gorgeous.

Katrina was stunning too. She had not thought to do anything in particular with her short gray hair, but Candy convinced her to let her play. As always, Candy was a genius when it came to styling. She curled our friend’s hair in artful waves. She used a jeweled barrette to somehow anchor a pearl necklace so that it served as an amazing headpiece. I was awed, as was everyone else who saw the ‘do.

Katrina’s trim figure looked amazing in a turquoise outfit that boasted more pearls and sweeping fabric. It made me think of a peacock with fabulous plumage.

Her men were polished as well, all groomed within an inch of their lives in their dress uniforms. Even Nobek Siko was a far cry from his usual savage aura with his hair brushed and tied back in a braid, his beard neatly trimmed, and his knee-high boots gleaming with a mirror shine. He stood stiffly, as if uncomfortable, but the warmth in his eyes as he looked at Katrina leant him a softness rarely seen.

The ceremony was every bit as short as Katrina had vowed it would be. The priest from the ship recited a few vows, the four members of Clan Wotref affirmed they would abide by them, and then they were presented as a clan for us to cheer.

The change from ceremony to party was remarkably swift. Tables of food and drink were set out and the toasts began. My eyes goggled to see all the leshella Governor Ospar had donated for the celebration. I guess running a colony pays pretty darn well for him to be able to lay out that kind of expense.

And boy, did we ever drink. The whole ship’s complement had been invited to the ceremony and reception, but a few people had been forced to remain on board the Pussy ‘Porter because of their duties. Tep was one of those, what with injured crew still recovering from the Tragoom attack we’d suffered just before gaining Empire space. He’d been more than happy to volunteer to keep Anrel as he made his rounds. I’d planned to bring her to the ceremony, but Tep insisted she and I would both have more fun if she stayed with him.

He was right. The medical staff stuck on the transport doted on Anrel, playing with her and making her laugh while I got happily tipsy drinking leshella on Haven.

It wasn’t the dance party Katrina had envisioned back when the Pussy ‘Porter was in one piece and we’d planned to have everything on board the ship. But there was a lot of laughter nonetheless as we shared stories with the priests of Haven and Governor Ospar’s staff. Wotref, Ret, and Siko made fun of each other, adding to the hilarity. Katrina had a few stories of her own to tell about her new clanmates. Stories of the trip began to be recounted. That was when my name started coming up a few too many times. My exploits were by far the most exciting of the tales, earning their share of gasps. Nobek Jol kept looking at me like he couldn’t believe all the trouble I’d found.

I was too joyfully buzzed on leshella to want to relive any of the less fun times of my trip. I began to edge my way towards the door of the temple, thinking I’d make an escape before I became too notorious to those people.

Oses figured out what I was about pretty quick. He whispered to Betra, “Help her get outside without anyone noticing. I’ll meet you in a minute.”

Betra raised a brow, but he didn’t argue. He blocked me from view as much as possible as I slipped out of the temple, using his body as a shield.

I stepped out into the sunshine and took a deep breath. The nearby stand of trees had a sweet aroma that made me smile. Betra chuckled as I sighed with pleasure.

“Not enjoying your celebrity?” he teased.

“Not hardly,” I answered, drinking the last swallow of my leshella with regret. “I wished they’d stuck to talking about the happily clanned couple – uh, couple of couples. Quadruple?” I set my glass down for someone to pick it up later. I gave Betra a sad face. “It’s a shame I felt the need to leave. The poor governor. I feel terrible he’ll have to lug any leshella home because I wasn’t there to help drink it.”

Betra laughed at my show of drunken generosity. “Maybe they’ll move on to other subjects and you can return to save him the trouble.”

“No need.” Oses came outside with an armful of bottles. “Where shall we take our private party?”

I squealed with delight and relieved him of one bottle. Then it occurred to me that maybe my sweeties didn’t want to leave so early. “Just because I’m being a party pooper doesn’t mean you can’t stay.”

Oses shook his head, grimacing. “They’re telling about Finiuld. I don’t want to stick around for that.”

Betra shrugged and raised his glass to us before draining it and grabbing a bottle from Oses. “Where you two go, I will follow. Where are we going anyway?”

I motioned to the trail the hover shuttles used to get from the temple to the settlement. “A walk? It is a nice day.”

So off we went, drinking and talking and laughing about memories that didn’t hurt.

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