"Yes, my love for cephalopods is well documented." —Pahanin Errata
My name is Pahanin, and there are three things every Guardian knows about me.
One: I don't like being alone.
Two: I am absolutely unbeatable at Go.
Three: I love cephalopods. Octopi, squids, cuttlefish, nautilus, I love all of them and their adorable, big-headed, tentacley bullshit.
Lesser known facts include that one book I wrote to piss off Warlocks, and my hatred of any hour that precedes the letters AM.
That is, I am not a morning person.
So you may be asking; "Pahanin, you devilishly handsome hunter you, if you hate mornings so much why are you awake at 8 AM? Moreso, why in the world are you not only outside the tower, but walking down the street sans any sort of armor or weapons?"
'Wei Ning' would be my answer to all of those questions. (And don't even get me started on the irony of her of all people making me leave my armor behind.) Exactly what happened to get me here is a little fuzzy. One moment I'm snoozing away in my nice warm bed, all cuddled up with my gun, and the next what has to be barely five feet of excited Titan is dragging me down a busy street in the middle of the City.
And now she's run off again, leaving me with a handful of civilian money in front of… An Aquarium…?
I realize I'm gawking. Luckily the only one to notice is a small child waiting in line at the counter, a child who gives me a bright, excited smile that's missing a few teeth when I shoot him a wink and prompt my ghost to appear and do a little twirl around my head.
I wonder if I was ever that innocent.
The sound of a scuffle draws the kid's attention away from me, and of course I turn to take a look as well, hand on one of the many knives still secreted on my person. Yes of course I still have knives in my civvies. You can take the Hunter out of the Cloak, but you can never take the Cloak... Out of the Hunter?
… Yeah, maybe I won't put that one in the book.
I'm pulled out of my attempt to be witty by what has to be the most wondrous scene I will ever lay eyes on. Never in my life did I ever think I'd be so blessed as to bear witness to Wei Ning striding gallantly down the street, the crowd parting around her like a sea and a clearly pouting Pujari tossed over her shoulder like a bag of dirty laundry. My only regret in this moment is that I don't have a camera to record it with.
I'll make do with my Ghost's recording instead.
Purchasing a ticket is… Interesting. The bored teen manning the counter seems torn between either telling Wei to put down her grumbling package, or laughing her ass off and playing along with the Titan's attempt at passing Pujari off as a 'carry-on'.
In the end we get away with buying him a 12-and-under, and I'm absolutely going to frame that ticket stub the instant I get the chance.
The inside of the building is a spiraling maze of enormous glass tanks with all manner of adorable aquatic wildlife. Huge glass cylinders with fake coral reefs, the colorful ocean fish swimming in never ending circles. Enclosures for otters and seals to frolic in. A petting station that Wei Ning took great pleasure in dragging us to, shoving both our hands into the cold water to pet a starfish with a laugh that had every child in the room clamoring to join in. Even an enormous, darkened walkway completely encircled by glass and filled with hundreds of glowing jellyfish drifting languidly around on an invisible current.
It boggles the mind to think that someone, some civilian, brought enough resources together to gather all of this. How long did it take, I wonder? How many thousands of hours does it take to build something like this?
I've never built a thing in my life. What does that-
"Thinkin' hard there?" I don't jump at her sudden appearance, in a million years Wei Ning could never, ever sneak up on anyone. But even so I'm a little startled to be dragged out of my thoughts and back into that dark little walkway. She's standing beside me, leaning over the railing and staring out at the dark water around us with a thousand tiny lights twinkling in her eyes. In the distance I can hear Pujari trying and failing to lecture a herd of children on a field trip.
"Oh you know me, always plotting something." It takes me a moment to respond, lost as we both are in the calming spectacle around us. I cast a sidelong glance at her, only to find her doing the exact same thing. She smirks as our eyes meet, and I can only roll my eyes in response. "You post Pujari out there to distract the civvies? If I didn't know any better I'd think you were trying to get me alone."
"Ohhh you think this'd be a good spot?" She waggles her eyebrows at me, turning around to hop up on the railing in direct defiance of the signs posted everywhere. "Been meaning to take Eri someplace nice. She's not much of a fish gal though."
I laugh, I can't help it. "No making out with robot girls in the aquarium, there's kids here Wei."
She gives me a mock pout, though an expression like that could never last long on a woman like her, before jumping down from her seat. At the same time I push away from the railing myself without thinking, falling into step beside her in perfect sync.
We don't speak much as we make our way towards the exit far in the distance, never have spoken all that much really. Contrary to popular belief a talent for witty one-liners doesn't give a guy much in the way of conversational skills. That's never bothered her much though, Wei Ning is surprisingly astute when it comes to other people's feelings.
So rather than trying to fill the silence with empty chatter she's just… There. And that...
Hah- That's all I really need isn't it. Someone there.
I wipe my eyes, and she doesn't comment on any wetness that may or may not be clinging to my sleeves. Far in the distance there's a shout, sounds like a Warlock's patience finally snapping to me. And I have an intimate knowledge of pissed off Warlocks.
Seems Pujari's distraction has run out, if the sound of stomping of little child feet sprinting down the metal walkway is any indication. But by the time they reach where we'd been we're already gone.
Seems she had a place in mind too, the way she was carving a path through the sparse morning crowd towards what looked like some kind of special exhibit. I'm pretty sure I saw her pick up a grown man in the way and set him off to the side. Just lifted him right up, guy had to be at least 250 pounds. I think he was just as stunned as I was since he didn't say a single word, just kind of stared as we walked right past.
She had to have planned this out, there's no way it can be coincidence that we showed up exactly as it was opening up. On reflection, that's probably why she dragged Pujari along in the first place. Wei Ning and schedules don't exactly mix.
Whatever it is though,it looks like I'm going in alone. Wei Ning gives me a little push and a jaunty wave, and then I'm surrounded by darkness. Whatever this exhibit is, it apparently requires an enormous semi-circular with floor to ceiling glass walls. The only light seems to be a few dim bulbs in the ceiling high above. But… There's something in there, of that much I can be sure. I can't help but wonder what kind of fish needs it to be this dark?
My question is answered in the next moment, when something massive moves behind the glass. I lean in to peer closer and I'm met with an eye the size of a dinner plate. An eye belonging to the biggest squid I have ever seen, probably the biggest squid I'll ever see.
So. A giant squid exhibit. No, a colossal squid exhibit.
I try to contain my squeal of excitement.
I fail utterly.
Hours later our little triumvirate finally exits the building, bearing at least two smiles, a newfound appreciation for aquatic life, and several hundred credits worth of commemorative gifts from the shop. The mass majority of it is mine of course, but Wei Ning is sporting a trendy new 'Got Tentacles?' hat, and even Pujari hasn't come out of today without a shnazzy light up pen.
And people say I can't be generous.
Because FUCK if anyone deserves a vacation to the aquarium its Pahanin
Someone please protect this stressed out Hunter
And by someone I mean Wei Ning. And a tentative Pujari.
Also thanks Ikedawg43 for letting me know his last name isn't actually Errata