III - Gifts from the Shore

Though the metal crate they were carrying likely weighed more than they did, the two Eliksni gave Saint-14 a wide berth on their way to the Eliksni Quarter.

"You see how they distrust," Saint grumbled. Amanda Holliday scanned the crate into her datapad, the unexpected shipment of emergency supplies from the Tangled Shore nearly offloaded.

"Don't be such a sourpuss," she said lightly. "Mixing with new folk's good for the soul."

"I mix!" objected Saint. "But the Fallen… they do not enjoy my company. And I feel the same for them."

"Maybe that's exactly why Ikora picked you for this," Amanda said.

Though Saint was fully helmeted, she could swear he rolled his eyes.

Two more Eliksni came bearing another crate. One noticed Saint too late and stumbled, dropping the crate—its security locks popped as it crashed to the ground. A young Eliksni wearing House of Light colors and a bright orange and blue Vanguard lanyard scampered over in distress.

Saint sighed. "It is fine," he said to the Eliksni. "Spider probably sends more surplus from old House of Dusk. Knowing you carry supplies from our enemies is great joke to him." He dragged the crate out of the walkway with one hand and knelt to repair the locks.

As Amanda scanned the damaged crate, the young Eliksni came closer. He eyed Saint warily, then held up a sheaf of paper like a shield. "Manifest," he stated haltingly.

"Thank you," Amanda said with unforced brightness. She tapped her datapad. "I've got it digitally."

"You got it digitally," echoed the Eliksni. He fidgeted for a moment, then proudly held up the badge on his lanyard, which read TEMPORARY.

Amanda smiled. "What've you got there?"

"Authorization for unloading of supplies from Tangled Shore. Of supplies sent from Spider," he said. He leaned in slowly, looking carefully at Saint and Amanda.

"My gentlemen," he added slyly.

Amanda snorted so abruptly that Saint fumbled with a lock, crushing it in his hand.

Saint looked up. "Can you two not be quiet?"

"C'mon now," Amanda admonished Saint lightly. "I don't hear you practicin' your Eliksni, and this fella's doing his best to bridge the gap."

Amanda turned back to the Eliksni. "That ain't exactly right, but you speak our language pretty well," she said.

"Thank you," answered the Eliksni, clearly eager for conversation. "Do all Humans here serve Spiderkell?"

"Serve Spider?" Amanda spat. "Spider's nothing but a—" and the five spirited words that followed were replete with hard consonants.

The Eliksni froze, wary of her tone while not understanding her words.

Amanda caught herself and took a breath. "…which is our way of saying he's a kind and generous individual," she said to the Eliksni, who nodded along with her.

"This lock has been ruined by distractions," Saint said as he rose to his feet. He removed the lid and looked inside, then lifted a loose coil of rubbery tubes.

"Servitor plugs, filters, Ether circulators…" The Titan made a confused noise.

"Something wrong?" Amanda asked.

"Not at all," mumbled Saint as he picked up a small golden cylinder trailing braided sapphire cords. "This rebreather alone is worth more than my ship."

Amanda moved toward Saint and looked for herself. She recognized a few necessary survival items—condensed prefab ceramic plating, vapor distillers, generator couplings—but amongst the tubes and filters were otherworldly treasures: A nanomesh sphere filled with thick pink liquid. A chrome conduit splitter with entropic plating. A glimmering opal sparkling in a nest of delicate lavender sponges.

"The hell is Spider playing at?" Amanda said to herself. She called out to the Eliksni: "Are they all like this?"

"Yes. Each one is very full. Full of delights, from our culture. From our home. We are very thanks." He cocked his head and clicked. "Thankful?"

Amanda nodded. "Let me see that manifest," she said, taking the papers from the Eliksni. He nodded and rejoined the other workers.

"They will still need many of our resources to stay here," Saint said as he carefully resealed the crate, "but this will make things easier. I am surprised Spider is so generous, even to his own people."

Amanda frowned at the manifest. "This doesn't make sense," she said. "There's a note at the top: 'Don't know what half this stuff is, but it's got to be good if Spider had it.' It's all written by hand, and there aren't values for anything on here."

Saint looked at the papers over Amanda's shoulder. "The crates came from Spider's storehouse," he said. "If he did not send them, who did?"

"Look at this listing!" Amanda continued. "This item says 'best osmosis filters (hidden in his bottom drawer).' This item is just a row of question marks. Here's one listed as 'a clock thing.' This line says 'noisy cube: smells bad but everybody likes it.' And what's with this signature?"

Amanda squinted at the shape scrawled at the bottom of the form. "It's a… ship?" she guessed, handing the paper to Saint.

The Titan turned his head as he looked at the drawing. "Aha!" he cried, slapping the paper with the back of his hand. "Look, is bird!"

Amanda looked again at the uneven charcoal lines and could just make out a wobbly black bird. She let out a long breath and shook her head. "Awful artist," she said, "but I guess he's an all right guy." And suddenly, she was smiling.


Category: Book: Beneath the Endless Night

IV - Conspirators

III: Bannercloth

Category: Eliksni

III. Heart-Truth

III - Cold Forging

Category: Ikora Rey

III. Heart-Truth

III - Cold Forging

Category: Saint-14

III. Heart-Truth