Waking Up Is Hard To Do

Character: Mazun Contreras
Location: Unknown
System: Unknown
Date: Unknown

The last thing Mazun was sure of that wasn't a dream was getting stuffed into a cryotube by a pack of rude and ruthless vargr corsairs. It was appalling to be treated like merchandise, frozen like some dinner rations to be served later. He was so steaming mad that it's a wonder he froze at all.

Naturally, sedatives in the chemicals in the cryofreeze mixture dissolved his anger. He expected a dreamless sleep as his prior low berth experience had demonstrated, but this time was different. Everything he'd read indicated that the cryofrozen did not dream and his own experience bore that out.

How did he know he was dreaming? It was all too strange, albeit lucid. He rode a primitive paddle wheel boat, whose thrust came from a coal-fired steam engine, down a lazy river on some temperate planet. The other passengers were dressed in odd costumes, like something he'd seen in holovids about ancient Terra. It was damn near laughable but he played along.

He was engaged in a conversation with a lovely woman when the ship rumbled. The captain declared that the ship had run aground on a sandbar and advised everyone to go ashore.

"Good heavens," the woman declared in a charming accent, "Does this mean we'll be stranded here?"

"Not at all," Mazun reassured her. "The captain is just lightening the payload. With less weight, the ship should float free of the sandbar and once it's in deeper water we'll be able to re-board. Though I am surprised that sonar didn't pick up the sandbar."

"Sonar? What's that?"

Initially surprised that she didn't know what sonar was, Mazun explained, "It's a device that uses sound waves to measure the depth of a body of water."

"That sounds like a wonderful contraption. Do y'all have those sonar devices up north?"

Confused by what she meant by "up north", Mazun simply said, "Yes, we do."

"Now how will we get to shore?" she asked.

Mazun looked over the rail. "It isn't deep. We can walk in."

"But my dress will simply be ruined if it gets all wet."

Mazun was surprised to hear himself say, "I'll carry you."

"What a gentleman!"

Mazun jumped into the water, which was only knee deep. The woman dropped into his arms. He was surprised at how light she felt, but it was a dream after all.

Once they were on shore, the clouds rolled in. A great mechanical beast rose out of the water and grabbed the steamboat in its jaws. It crushed the vessel in one bite, bits of wood planking falling into the river. The passengers on shore screamed and ran into the forest. In the chaos, Mazun found himself alone.

It was night when he stumbled upon the factory. Hellacious fires burned within. Thick black smoke rose from brick smokestacks. He entered what appeared to be a shipping and receiving yard. Driverless forklifts went about loading and unloading pallets of boxes on wheeled freight trucks.

When a forklift approached Mazun he realized he should hide but he's actually in a box with a faceplate he can see out of. The forklift came over and placed him on a pallet, which was then loaded on a truck. The truck rumbled along for some time. Once it reached its destination, Mazun's box was unloaded from the truck and placed up on a shelf in a dimly lit warehouse. He doesn't know how long he's on the shelf. All he can do is lie there and stare at the box on the shelf above him. And it's very cold.

After what seemed like an eternity, the warehouse melted away, replaced by a bright light.

And that's when the dream starts to end. He hears voices.

"He's coming around." The voice of a vargr female speaking in Gvegh.

Mazun tries to speak but his tongue is glued to the roof of his mouth and his lips are sealed shut.

A hard plastic tube digs its way into his mouth and soon after releases water. The drops are slow at first, but as the water dissolves the glue holding his tongue in place the flow increases. It is the first thing he's tasted since breakfast with...with...his crewmates back on the ship at...Dekilari.

Tears have welled up in his eyes. He blinks them away, bringing some form of focus to his surroundings. It looks like some sort of hospital and the light isn't as bright as he thought it was. The female is close by. He can tell by her voice. There are two others in the room, males. He still can't move his head but he can hear various machines. Their whooshing and beeping remind him of some claptrap robot his roommate built back in college.

The female comes into view. Maybe it's his burred vision, but she looks well groomed and friendly. She smiles in a non-threatening manner and says in perfect Galanglic, "Wonderful! You're awake. Don't try to move. You're still recovering from an extended period of cryosleep. Your muscles are severely atrophied but otherwise you seem in good health. Your heart and lungs are operating on their own and that's a great sign." She places a latex glove covered paw on his chest. "Just be patient and give us time to get you back on your feet. I promise you'll be out of here in no time."

Mazun's tongue is free and his jaws are no longer locked in place. He thinks he can ask her a question, but he'll have to keep it short and simple.

For a split second, Mazun considers jumping and starting a fight right there. After all, he was put under by Vargr pirates and there he is, waking up surrounded by Vargr. Somehow, he decides not to. Maybe it is the charming female from his dream being mixed up with the friendly Vargr female. Or maybe he just realizes that he is probably so weak from cryosleep that he would not be able to put up much of a fight. Atrophied? That can't possibly be right. Instead, he blinks again and tries to take in as much of his immediate surroundings as he can, and starts testing his muscles.

"How... <cough> how long?", he asks, in Galanglic.

She leans in close and says, "Slow down, sir. There will be plenty of time for questions later. You need to save your strength while your body recovers. I promise we'll answer your questions when you're better." Her smile appears sincere. Mazun can see it in her eyes. Her tail is wagging, striking his bed. "You're safe, and among friends."

His muscles are weak—a child could hold him down. He's never had this problem before after a stint in a cryotube. "Please... I need... to know." Even his breathing is labored.

There's a sad look in her eyes, but the pleading look in his wears her down. "If the data on your cryotube is correct, 80 years."

80 years? Is that even possible?

Stunned by her declaration and exhausted by the effort to wake up and talk, Mazun ceases his struggles. His eyelids are heavy. He closes them, intending it to be brief, but he falls fast asleep. His dreams of the steamboat on the lazy river return, but the woman he saw before is gone. Instead, children play about the deck with puppies. Dark clouds obscure some mountains in the distance, but they never encroach upon the river.

A New Day for Mazun

Character: Mazun Contreras
Location: A hospital in a city
System: Unknown
Date: 1202.??.?

Mazun wakes up in a bright sunlit room. Although tired and still a little weak, he nonetheless feels somewhat rejuvenated. Nothing hurts and that's good. He sits up in bed and peers through the window; the curtains are drawn back. In the distance, he sees forested hills underneath a yellow sun, mid-morning perhaps, however long the day here may be.

The room looks and smells clean, though the musk of vargr is present at tolerable levels. Looking to his right, Mazun spots an empty, unmade bed and beyond that a door.

Curious about his surroundings, Mazun swings his legs over the side and discovers that he is naked save for some loose fitting standard issue hospital gown that covers his torso and not much more. Everything that should be there still is. He examines his body for signs of incisions or scars but finds none.

Mazun gingerly slides off the bed and puts some weight on his legs. They feel tired, as if he spent all night running, but they're supporting his weight. He glances over at the door, half-expecting someone to rush in and tackle him, and then slowly walks to the window. His feet ache with every step but he makes it to the window without collapsing. He rests his arms on the windowsill to take some of the weight off.

Outside lies a small, modern city. The buildings are a mere 10-20 stories in height. Grav vehicles fly in the distance. The street below has electric cars. There are various shops with vargr of all ages going about their business. All things considered, it looks rather peaceful. It certainly doesn't look like a slaver's camp.

The door to the room opens and Mazun hears a gasp. "What are you doing up?" It's the woman from the room he woke up in. She isn't angry, just surprised.

"I thought I'd check out the view," Mazun replies, pleased to hear his voice is working fine again.

"Well, there will be plenty of time for that later," she says with a smile. "Please come back to bed. While I'm pleased to see that your strength has returned, you still need your rest."

Mazun complies with her request for now.

"Since you're up, I will keep my promise and answer your questions." She grabs hold of a monitor tethered to an arm extending from the wall and directs it so that Mazun can face it. "First off, I'm doctor Zan Aegzgorr. I'm a specialist in cryogenic medicine. And you are?"

"Mazun Contreras."

"Good. We'll take that to mean that your memory is intact and that the cryostasis pod data is accurate. You were in there for a very long time. There are plenty that do not survive for so long."

"When I woke up..." He isn't sure when he woke up.


"Yesterday. You told me that I'd been in stasis for 80 years. Is that true?"

"Yes, by the old Imperial calendar, the year is 1202. Fifth day of the twelfth week."

"I didn't think that being in a pod for so long was possible."

"Nor did we," she says with a chuckle. "We thought your roommate had the record with 76 years. But you edged him out. It's a testament to the technology of your day."

"Yes, I suppose it is."

Mazun's mind starts racing. Something does not add up. Surely technology must be even more advanced now? And what is that with the "old" imperial calendar? No, he must have misheard that. Although it would be just like Lucan, starting a new Imperial calendar on the day of his final victory. He shakes his head at that thought. Speaking of which, Lucan must be dead now, go figure how he solved the succession issue. If he won.

Mazun breaths in, stopping all the chains of thought that the woman's comments have started.

"Well, let's go slowly. I guess I would really appreciate some history holobooks and a reader, and maybe an Imperial travel guide for this world. Or just some net access so I can search for the stuff," he says, nodding towards the monitor. "But before that, first, I would like to know where I am and how did I arrive here, starting with where you found me and ending with where is the nearest Imperial world, I am guessing we are not within Imperial boundaries. Come to think of that, is there an Imperial embassy here? And while I am very grateful for you getting me back to the realm of the living," Mazun smiles, trying not to show any teeth, "there is also the question of why have I been reanimated and, let's say, what is exactly my status here." Almost as an afterthought, he adds "And last, although probably not very important if really eighty years have passed... who won the war?"

Zan sighs. She places a paw on Mazun's hand in a gesture of sympathy. "This will take some explaining and may be difficult to accept. There is a human expression that comes to mind: Keep an open mind."

She lets go of his hand and turns to face the meter-sized monitor. In Gvegh, she says, "Fae, switch language commands to Galanglic." She is apparently unaware that Mazun knows Gvegh. He decides to keep that little piece of information to himself for the time being.

A silver icon appears on the screen. It looks roughly triangular with flattened corners. The shape triggers Mazun's mathematical side. It's a Möbius shape.

"I've set the monitor to accept commands in Galanglic. You'll be able to access the InfoNet and become acquainted with our world at your leisure. You just have to address it as 'Fae'. I'll demonstrate.

"Fae, display starmap with our world centered."

The monitor comes to life and displays a starfield with "Tagan" in the middle. Mazun isn't familiar with it but he can tell from the image that it lies in a rift with its closest neighbor four parsecs in a trailing-rimward direction.

"We're on Tagan, my homeworld. It resides at 2611 Gotzdo. Humans call the sector 'Windhorn'."

Windhorn 2611? 30 parsecs into the Extents! Mazun realizes he's a long way from home.

"We're part of a small state called the Tagan Pack. Fae, zoom out and highlight Tagan Pack." The map zooms out to show you an area roughly two subsectors in size. Nine worlds are highlighted.

"You and several others were found by a Tagan Pack Expeditionary Force on a world with a cryoberth holding facility. I can't tell you the name of the world as it's classified. I don't even know its name though I expect it will be de-classified soon.

"We don't know how you came to be on that world. There's no tracking information. You were considered the property of the Touzagh corsair band, but we know that they disbanded in 1126. There's no information in the cryoberth computer about where you went after your capture. The Touzagh used to operate along the Imperial border so how you went from there to where we found you is a mystery."

She takes a deep breath and lets it out. "Now for the difficult part. No one won the war. The Third Imperium is no more."

"What do you mean, 'no more'?"

"An artificially intelligent computer virus was released in 1130. We don't know which faction developed it, but it affected everyone equally. In spread like wildfire, torching every system it could infect. At first it engaged in suicidal tactics—starships would plunge into planets or stars. But then it became aware of us—people—and it started killing us. Grav cities plunged into the sea with windows and doors open, orbital facilities opened up to vacuum, starships bombed cities..." Her voice trails off. She stares at the floor as if regaining her composure. "You get the idea."

Mazun stares at her in utter disbelief. He catches himself and decides to play along, but he is not buying it. He starts trying to remember his Vargr psychology seminars back at the Scout service and looking at the good doctor for body signals. Now, what was that with the ears...

She lifts her head back up to face Mazun. "As far as we know, the virus has toppled everyone. Over the years, survivors told us about the destruction of the Imperium's worlds, the fall of the Ngath Confederation, the 17th Disjuncture, the Opposition Alliance, and the Voekhaeb Society. Our listening posts in the Rift have confirmed this so far. There may indeed be states that survived the Collapse, but we haven't found them yet.

Mazun raises a hand. "Wait a second, doc. That means you do not really know what has happened to the Imperium, right? I mean, it is 11,000 worlds. You can't possibly have reports all the way back to Core or Massilia, can you?"

"We have the testimony of refugees recorded from the 1130's." Her ears go up. "If you want to cross-examine their testimony, you can do that on your own time. The larger point is, we haven't had any communication with any official polity since 1140. And the military says that our recon patrols haven't come across anyone either. If there is an Imperium out there it's a shadow of its former self. But yes, if it makes you feel better to cling to the hope that there's something left, by all means do so. It certainly is better than the prospect of a vast wasteland.

"Our location out here in the Windhorn spared us. The four parsec gulf was too much for the majority of infected ships. Our closest friend, Igodosakfell, helped too by proving to be unconquerable, although the price was high." Her ears droop.

"As for your status, once you've completed your physical therapy, you'll be free to go."

Mazun is surprised but tries to hide it.

Her ears return to their normal state and she wags her tail. "Pack Security is very interested in you and the others we revived." Noticing Mazun's worried look, she attempts to allay his fears. "No, it's not like that. They view you as someone who can help us. Your cryoberth computer listed you as an engineer and technician. Your knowledge of relic technology would help us find what we need to fight off the Vakh."

"The what?"

"The Vakh. It's a parasite which simultaneously feeds off of and controls its host. That's what we call them: the machines controlled by the A.I. Virus. When they were finally done with flying around and randomly attacking us, their tactics changed. They became scavengers; looking for spare parts to keep themselves going. Some have speculated that they may in fact start building cities or empires. It's positively horrific to think of such a thing, which is why we need your help."

Mazun breaths again and briefly considers the possibility that this is a psychiatric hospital and the good doc is actually a patient. He discards the idea as he notes her photo ID badge clinging to the lapel of her white lab coat, considers whether to simply play along, but then his curiosity makes him risk it.

"OK, doc, look, I am in your debt and I will certainly help you and your people if I can, you do not even need to ask. It will be my pleasure. Especially if you can get me some clothes before I leave this room." Mazun smiles. "But, well, I won't hide it from you, I am having some trouble accepting this story. Put yourself in my place for a second. If I get it right, a computer virus has managed to pack intelligence within the couple thousand lines of code such a virus usually has at most, and has gone to flatten out most of known space, killing millions of sentients spinward and trailing and outsmarting human and Vargr scientists, probably even Geonee ones." Even as he says it, Mazun can't help but think that it sounds exactly as the kind of crazy plan that the Lucan Navy would endorse. He shakes the thought away. "It apparently has had no difficulty jumping across fully incompatible computer systems, from Imperial to Vargr and from one Vargr state to the next, I mean, if I recall correctly the Extents were not exactly known for the prevalence of computer standards, and even in the Imperium some computer standards were quite virus-resistant. Now this virus has stopped killing and has distilled itself into, what is it, small parasitic machines which control sentients' bodies, full cyborg style? And you need me because of my knowledge of 80-year old, how did you call it, 'relic' technology, which is better than yours because in all this time there has been no progress. Again, glad to help if I can, and I am a highly qualified chief engineer, but I am having a hard time picturing this."

She scowls as he says this and seems ready to snarl but instead says, "From what I understand, many people didn't believe it at first either. By the time they accepted it, it was too late for them to do anything about it.

"And I didn't say anything about it controlling people. You're confusing slang with an actual definition. While there are organic vakh out on some worlds whose victims act like zombies, the Vakh I'm referring to is with a capital V. It's slang. The Virus takes hold of ships and robots and anything with a large enough computer in it..." She pauses and takes a deep breath to tamp down her irritation.

Mazun raises a hand, trying to remind himself of how short-tempered Vargr are. He is not used to interacting with them in an all-Vargr environment, usually it was them who had to be careful with the human ways. He says simply, "I see. I misunderstood that, sorry."

"I'm not a computer programmer. I can't argue with you about how a computer virus works or the compatibility of computer systems. I do know the destruction out there is real. You're welcome to use InfoNet to learn all you want about it. If that doesn't meet your needs, I'll arrange an interview with someone from our IT department.

"As for our technological level, I'll have you know that we're at B, or 11 if you prefer, on the Ikalabakag scale, which, if my history lessons are correct, would've been considered average Imperial back in your day." Her voice is elevating in volume. "I'm sorry if that's too primitive for you, but as we're devoting our resources to helping other worlds climb back from being bombed back to pre-spaceflight tech levels, there's little left for scientific indulgence."

Mazun sighs and tilts his head a bit, hoping she will interpret it as surprise at her brewing outburst. But if she wants to get angry, there is little he can do. "That's not what I meant, doc. I just thought that after missing 80 years of technical development, I would be pretty useless. If you say I am not, so much the better. But yes, sure, I am familiar with higher tech levels than that." He keeps an even voice and does his best to ignore the doc's volatility. His mind flashes briefly back to his time in the TL-16 Amaya Technical School, and he suppresses a smile.

She doesn't say anything, but at least she isn't growling.

"Doc, is there a human ex-Imperial minority in your world by any chance, maybe refugees? I mean, we are around 30 parsecs from Imperial space, the Imperium does not exist anymore, and yet you speak excellent Galanglic and a hospital computer is pre-programmed to accept Galanglic... I guess that is not just by chance?"

"Yes!" she practically barks it out. "There's a Dr. Ann Patel on this floor.

Maybe I should've had her break the news to you from the start." She speaks into her wrist comm. "Dr. Patel, would you please come to room 1117. I have a patient who would like to see a more familiar face."

"Oh boy," Mazun thinks. "I really pissed her off."

While waiting, Mazun asks her, "I am sorry to bombard you with questions this way, I am sure you have plenty to do, but please just a last one. You said that others were recovered at the same facility. Any other Imperial citizens? Do you think I can meet them? You said my roommate was only"—he smiles at that—"76 years under, so he was frozen in 1126. He must have some first-hand information on the war after my time. Is he... or she... around?"

"I don't know the nationality of the other cryoberth people. The military picked those it wanted revived," she says curtly. "You can ask them when their representative meets with you.

Mazun says, "Thanks" and makes a mental note of that. Military. Some guys were not revived. Does not really fit with the "free to go" story. Not that he believed it in the first place, but it's not as if he could just start running.

"Your roommate is currently in physical therapy. He'll be back soon. He was revived yesterday and..."

A human woman of dark hair and complexion with south Asian features enters the room. She too wears a white lab coat with a photo ID badge attached to her lapel. She appears to be in her 50's and is about 1.6 meters in height with an average build.

"Ahhh Dr. Patel. Please meet Mazun Contreras."

"How do you do, Mr. Contreras?" Dr. Patel says with a smile.

Mazun smiles back. "Surprisingly well for such an old man, thank you, thanks to Dr. Aegzorr's skills and care. She has been filling me about what I've missed while napping."

Dr. Patel's eyebrows go up as she sighs. "Yes, well, there's certainly been a lot of that."

After an awkward pause, Dr. Aegzgorr says, "If you'll excuse me, I have to prepare another patient for revival." She wags her tail as she says to Dr. Patel, "Thank you, doctor. I'll have my comm on if you need me."

While she doesn't storm out the door, Mazun imagines her growling all the way down the hall. He smiles to Dr. Patel and comments, "I think I really made her angry."

Dr. Patel smiles knowingly. "Yes, you did. You were saying that she was filling you in on the last," she glances at her datapad, "eighty years. My that is quite a long time. A pre-Collapse sleeper. Yes, I'd imagine that it was difficult for you to swallow. If you pushed too hard on that, I believe that's what made her angry.

"But you should understand her position. She spent several years working on worlds that had been devastated by the Virus and saw the pain it caused to both human and vargr alike. It affected her deeply. We have a handful of people who deny either that the Collapse happened or that it was caused by an A.I. virus. These people are like yourself in that they haven't seen anything besides beautiful, peaceful Tagan." She gestures toward the window. "They're conspiracy theorists who prefer to wallow in their own ignorance. When Dr. Aegzgorr hears any of them talk, her teeth come out. You have an excuse for not believing her, they, however, do not."

Mazun nods. "I see. I guess I don't quite know what to believe yet. I was just trying to tell her why I found it difficult to believe." He sighs. "Oh, dear. I'll have to apologize to her when I get the chance."

"Give her some time. She'll settle down. But enough of that. What's your story?"

Mazun briefly considers whether this is just a trick to get information out of him. A virtual reality setting in Dulinor's camp? But no, he knows for sure he was captured by Vargr pirates. Still, he decides to be cautious and skip over any details.

"Well, I would not know where to start. I am an engineer from the central areas of the Imperium, Massilia-born, Technical School graduate, familiar with as high a tech as it goes... or it went..., chief engineer qualifications, all that. Good with machines, sometimes not so bad with people—obviously not my day in that department, though." He smiles weakly and looks at the human doctor, gauging her reaction at his self-description.

She smiles along with him.

"I joined the Scouts... the Imperial Scout Service to see the universe, but I was always fascinated by technology, so most of the time I was either in scout bases or in large ships. Then the war came, and the military started having the say and bossing us all around, and most of us scouts were more or less clearly drafted and sucked into the war effort. The Vargr overran Lishun sector when I was there, I saw a lot of action after that, and six years into the war my patchwork unit lost a battle against Vargr pirates. They were the slaver kind, and put some of us in cryosleep to ship us to some auction world into the extents...and I woke up here." In his mind, he adds, "and I woke up here to hear a horror story which makes me wish I was back in the middle of the war."

"What about you, doc? What is a Galanglic-speaking human, probably many I guess, doing in a mainly Vargr world this far away from human space? I am sure there must be quite a story behind that."

She chuckles. "People are forgetting their history. The First Imperium had worlds all the way up here, in Sunggoe, which is the next subsector rimward of here. Over half of Meshan, three quarters of Mendan, and half of Amdukan were under Imperial rule at one time. The wicked Empire of Gashikan was coreward of them and that was run by humans. Even after the first two Imperiums folded, many humans stayed behind. Some humans actually get along with the vargr." She smiles teasingly.

Mazun smiles back and says, "Ouch. Yes, you are right, I remember reading about Gashikan."

"But you're looking for my story so I'll tell it to you." She claps her hands together. "Born and raised here on Tagan." Noticing Mazun's surprise she says, "It's true. My father's parents settled here in 1132, before they shut the door. But they were Imperial born, as was my father and his sister. They were born on Kaiid in Lishun sector. My grandparents said that it was a wonderful world before the War.

Mazun says, "Kaliid... that was a strategic A starport-shipyard, wasn't it? Low population, high tech. I was based in Larkarda in Lishun for years, a subsector coreward. But I don't think I was ever on Kaliid." Mazun almost adds because that world went over to the Vilani pretty quick, but shuts his mouth. "Weren't there a couple of skirmishes over the shipyards? He tries to see whether the mention of Larkarda sparks any reaction in the doctor.

"I guess it was strategic. 'A' class starports are important; those are the ones with shipyards. That has to be strategic to any space-faring nation. We're trying to get to that point too.

My grandparents said that the Vilani and Lucan's forces fought several battles in the subsector and many refugees came to their world seeking safe haven. Neither side seemed to gain ground, but more worlds were falling into ruin. With the vargr corsairs plunging ever deeper into the sector, my grandparents decided to flee.

"Their initial plan was to get to the Domain of Deneb but they only got as far as Vland because Corridor was occupied by invading vargr states and they weren't letting anyone through. Grandfather was growing increasingly frustrated with all the warfare going on and he was desperate to find a place where none of the invading armies would go. Grandma said, 'Wouldn't it be nice if we could just go away to some deserted island in the middle of some ocean and wait this out.' That gave my grandfather the idea to come here. He figured an isolated world four parsecs out into a rift would be the last place the war would come to.

"But it wasn't easy for them to get here. The safe areas for each faction had shrunk to about a subsector or two in size by the time Virus was released. They made their way to the edge of Vilani territory, sometimes taking odd jobs along the way. While the Ngath Confederation had no problems with humans, especially ones that were willing to pay or work for their passage, they had to be smuggled past the worst of those psychotic 17th Disjuncture worlds. They were rejoicing in the destruction of the Imperium; their new golden age was at hand." She shakes her head and chuckles dismissively. "The coreward worlds of the Disjuncture had a bit more sense to them and took the warnings seriously. It didn't help much, but Tagan survived.

"Anyway, when my father's parents arrived they found a human enclave already here. As it took every last credit and possession, besides the clothing on their backs, to get here, they relied on my mother's parents until my grandparents found jobs. Being that both sets of my grandparents were friends, it was inevitable that my father and mother would connect." She smiles. "And the rest is history."

Mazun nods. If Larkarda meant anything to the doctor, she kept her reaction hidden. "Wow. Indeed quite a story, thanks for telling me. When I was frozen the war was already bad, but it sounds as if it turned even worse. Your grandparents sound like real pioneers."

"I don't know about pioneers. There were humans already living on Tagan. But yes, the war got worse. They talked about a period called 'the Black War'. That's when factions began to deliberately target civilian populations. Nuclear strikes, chemical and biological warfare." She shudders. "Truly horrible."

After a pause, he adds, "So I guess you speak Galanglic because of your family origins, but humans here speak something else, right?"

"Well, we're bilingual. We learn Galanglic and speak it as a way of preserving the better parts of our culture. But we speak Gvegh as well as that's the language of the Pack."

"Are there many other Imperial refugee families in Tagan?"

"I don't know the exact count but the human population is around 500,000. I'd say that about half of them are refugees or their descendants."

Mazun nods.

"Well, I'll let you rest." She checks her wristcomm. "I see that your physical therapy starts this afternoon."

Working With Fae

Character: Mazun Contreras
Location: A hospital in a city
System: Tagan
Date: 1202.12.5

As soon as Dr. Patel leaves the room, Mazun accesses the computer network referred to as Fae.

OOC-Carlos: Mazun is interested in locating and reading the following:

This is all he has time to look up before his next visitor.

Next: Roommates