Sorry for the long delay; I just hadn't gotten around to typing this! It's a very long chapter, so I hope you enjoy. I have a sequel started already, so give me lots of reviews if you want it posted fast. Enjoy!

Awu'asa- Full suit of armor.

Guan-Thwei-Night blood.

Setg'in-kwei-Tricky and quick.

Ki'its-pa-Retractable spear.

Lou-dte kalei-Child bearer, derogatory slang term for females.

S'yuit-de- Shit, derogatory term.

Chapter 18

Matt sat up with a groan. Every muscle protested his movement. The newly stitched wounds and burns felt tight and hot. His head pounded from the c'ntlip he had last night and he was horribly thirsty. Matt stood slowly and began to stretch and perform his morning exercises.

Later he walked into the armory to find Guan-Thwei in it, finishing putting on his own awu'asa.

"Hurry, M'aat-hew. We are here and need to start watching the house." Matt adjusted his ragged but still perfectly functional netting.

"How do you know where she is? I only have a vague idea myself." He smirked and waved a small device.

"I put a tracking device under her bed. I can get up to only a few noks from it."

"I never would have thought of that." murmured Matt.

"I know." replied Guan-Thwei with a touch of arrogance. "That is why I am the experienced warrior and you are not." he said smoothly. Matt growled to himself as he finished putting on his pitted armor.

"Hey, can I get M'yin-de to repair this when I get back?"

"Yes. But because you are a warrior now, she will expect you to repay her somehow."

"With what? I don't have anything!" The older Yautja sighed and rubbed his face.

"With things she needs, skulls, other interesting foreign things, work or credit. Knowing her, she will charge interest and it is difficult to find things that she does not already have." Guan-Thwei removed a ki'its-pa and a Smart Disc from his weapons rack and tossed them to Matt.

"What's this for?" asked Matt as he scrambled to catch them.

"You lost yours didn't you? Take these. I have extra."

"Uh, thanks!" Just then, Setg'in-kwei walked into the room, looking cranky. He clicked and growled, then began putting on his own armor. Once they finished, the three warriors turned on their cloaking devices and headed out into the sunlight.


The first thing Matt noticed once he was out of the ship was that it seemed very cold. The Yautja shivered a little as well. They were not used to low temperatures and rarely had to endure them, Matt had at least been born and grown up here. The trees were turning color, so that meant it was only fall! Matt usually wouldn't even have been wearing a sweater by then! Nevertheless, he was glad for his new dark grey cloak. Guan-Thwei and Setg'in-kwei had donned theirs as well; Guan-Thwei in a black cloak and Setg'in-kwei in an identical grey one. They muttered and turned on the thermal regulators. Matt decided to tough it out. The warriors followed Guan-Thwei and his tracking device to a large two-story house. It was old and surrounded by a huge yard, rare for the city and immaculately tended. Matt had never been to this particular friend's house and had only a sketchy idea of where it was. No one was home, so the climbed into one of the massive oak trees in the back. Matt watched with envy as the Yautja jumped easily into the branches and swung themselves up. He shimmied up awkwardly, wishing for claws and a natural ease in the trees like theirs. Once they were arranged in the broad branches, Matt pulled out the deck of cards he had made so many months age as an eta and began teaching Setg'in-kwei how to play War.

Hours later, voices reached Matt's ears. Celia and Jessica, the friend she lived with had now arrived home. His heart ached to go see her; he had not missed her or felt this much homesickness since he was an eta. He felt bad that his sister had not been in his mind lately.

Guan-Thwei dropped silently down beside Matt and hissed, "She has changed a lot." Lee had indeed. She wasn't dressed as a tomboy anymore and now wore what she had previously described as 'slut wear'. She and her friend were talking about inane, shallow things; the latest fashions, what the girls at school had done with their boyfriends, who was the hottest. Matt lowered himself down onto a new branch as Lee and Jessica fumbled with the gate.

"PSST!" he hissed as they passed under the under the tree, "LEE!" He gave the branch a little shake, then froze. She looked directly at his warped form among the gold leaves and paled.

"What's the matter?" asked her friend.

"N-nothing. Just go in. I'll be their in a sec." Her friend peered at the tree, shrugged and walked up the path. The door banged open and shut. Matt jumped out of the tree and ran behind the garden shed. Lee followed.

"OMIGOD! Matt, is that you!" she squealed. Matt turned off his cloaking device. "Oh!" Celia said, looking at his awu'asa. He reached up and unfastened the mask.

"It's me." Brother and sister hugged each other happily. Lee reached up and gently brushed the brand on his brow, then the raised scar on his cheek. "I did it! I'm a warrior now! I just came from by Kainde Amedha Chiva!" At her blank look, he explained. "The Hard Meat Trial. My blooding hunt. The scar on my forehead shows that I am a warrior now."

"Look at you!" Celia exclaimed. "You look great! Every girl would want you now. You gotta come to my party tomorrow night. You'll make people jealous." Guan-Thwei and Setg'in-kwei uncloaked.

Celia gave a little jump, then smiled and said. "Hey Guan-Thwei. Didn't see you there. How are you? Who's the other guy?"

"I am good. That is Setg'in-kwei." Matt made the introductions, translating them into Yautian for Setg'in-kwei.

"So who is this guy?" asked Celia. "Setg'in-kwei is my friend. We helped each other and saved each other's lives more than once. Soon, we're going to be formally accepted as blooded warriors on the Homeworld."

"Cool. When are you going?" Matt nervously ran his hand through his hair and bit his lip.

"Actually, er, we have to leave really soon… I won't be able to go to your party." Matt had a nasty feeling what the party was for.

"W-what? But it's my birthday party."

"I know. I have to go to this though. There's no way to get out of this without serious dishonor." Celia stared dumbstruck at her brother. Her rejection swiftly turned to rage. Matt steeled himself at the outburst he knew was to come.

"You go off for more than two years and pop in for a short visit to tell me that you can't go to my birthday party? What the hell has happened to you? Why is your precious ceremony more important than me, your remaining family? You are being such an ASS!" The Yautja glanced at each other, Setg'in-kwei didn't know what was being said, but knew that they were arguing about Matt's absence.

"Lee… I can't miss this!"

"Shut UP! Before I was important to you! You haven't asked how I have dealt with you just disappearing off the face of the Earth! You haven't had to deal with our father coming by, drunk, in the middle of the night! Why are these aliens so much more important than me? Lemme guess, you've screwed one of their females and have a little mutant family now?" Guan-Thwei gasped and spluttered with indignation. Matt's jaw dropped. Guan-Thwei growled sharply, clenching his fists and trembling in rage.

"CELIA! Do you know how badly you just insulted them?"

"I don't care! You hurt me! Almost two years without one word and then you won't even stay over night! I've had to deal with people and the police asking where you've been…" Her eyes filled with tears and her voice cracked. Once before, Matt would have caved into her desires, but no more. He stood tall.

"Celia. I'm not the only one who changed. You've changed too. One time you wouldn't be caught dead in those clothes. You weren't shallow. You were more understanding. Do you have any idea what I've gone through to get here?" Lee shook her head and sniffed. "I was a slave in a completely foreign society. I didn't know the language, customs, anything! I was beaten because of that. Later, even when I started training, I still was regularly beaten by other training warriors. I could have died in my Chiva; one of my friends did. Guess who had to deal the death blow to put him out of his misery? I did. I killed a friend less than two days ago and held him as he died and you are worried about a piddling little birthday party? You should be happy I'm even alive!" Matt shifted his shoulder armor and twisted to show her gougings on his shoulder and a ragged wound on his side. "Those injuries, if they were deeper, could have killed me and I wouldn't be here. You think your life is hard? Try living up to the standards of a Yautja warriors." Matt shook his head in disgust and turned away. "Good bye, Celia. I'll see you again later, if I don't die on an upcoming hunt." Matt replaced his mask and turned on his cloaking device and stalked away. Setg'in-kwei followed immediately, but Guan-Thwei stayed, staring at her with his emotionless mask for an uncomfortable moment. He growled and shook his head.

"Lou-dte kalei." he snarled before vanishing. Celia stood dumbstruck before running into the house.


Back on the ship, as it ascended into space, Setg'in-kwei was trying to convince Matt to open the door to his chambers and explain exactly what had gone on. His only answer was a yelled curse and the sound of something, probably a piece of armor, hitting the door.

Matt pounded his fist into the wall, ignoring Setg'in-kwei's requests to unlock the door. A solitary tear escaped from his eye. How could Celia be that way? How could she not understand? He had chosen to do this and had to do some things. Matt angrily swiped at his eyes and stood up. He was not going to mope about this! She just wanted to hurt him enough to stay. Matt had once fallen for that. He opened the door; Setg'in-kwei stepped out of the way.

"Come on." he said as he brushed past.

Guan-Thwei was in a foul mood; Matt could smell his rage immediately. He sat down in one of the huge chairs beside the fuming Yautja. It didn't take long before he started venting.

"I thought that that ungrateful little s'yuit-de was good for an ooman! No, instead of being happy to see us, she insults all of us!" Guan-Thwei snarled. Setg'in-kwei looked confused. "I don't know how you put up with her for so long, M'aat-hew! If she wasn't your sister, if she wasn't female, I would have swatted her across the yard! Little lou-dte kalei…"

"Guan-Thwei!" exclaimed Setg'in-kwei upon hearing that vehement curse.

"Guan-Thwei, Lee didn't mean to do that. She had no idea how cruel it was. She wanted me to feel bad enough to stay. I am glad you didn't backhand her, even if she did deserve it." The older warrior snorted and started picking at his claws. "Celia will just have to learn that I will not always be there. Setg'in-kwei, I'll tell you everything in a minute." Matt got up again and walked into the kitchenette with Setg'in-kwei.

"So that's what she did? Glad I don't speak your ooman language or I would have lost it."

"Yeah. Lee can just get used to it. She has to know that I've chosen to do this and won't be able to concentrate on her." Setg'in-kwei smirked.

"Maybe you should give her the next trophy that you get."

Matt smiled despite himself, "I don't think she would like that much. When we get back from the Homeworld, we should pick the next hunt. There should be some good ones soon. Then, Setg'in-kwei, you can give her one of your trophies." Setg'in-kwei laughed and shook his head. Matt looked out the window at the slowly diminishing Earth, set into the blue-blackness of endless space.