This was not how she expected to wake in the morning. Perhaps an awkward moment or two before dressing, but not Mah'sic hovering over her with a sensor stuck to her arm and palm console in her face. She didn't know whether to be angry or mortified.
Amelia flushed, covering herself with the bed fur. "You told him? Raz'ha that was private."
Raz'ha's shoulders hunched and Mah'sic had to translate his explanation. "You did not ask me to withhold the information. I thought you were ill."
His answer sucked all the steam from her anger, but left her cheeks burning and body restless. Her meltdown must have seemed major to the warrior. She wouldn't say it out loud, but it had felt catastrophic to her at the time.
Mah'sic tapped buttons on his palm scanner. "I could deduce the event from the swelling."
She touched her puffy eyes. "It was nothing, just a few jitters."
"Your vital signs are elevated, but you are healthy." The unblood took his sensor and moved to Hult'ah's cage. He adjusted the scanner for the hound's vitals.
Now that her eyes had adjusted to the low light Amelia could see better, but not well. She squinted, surveying Mah'sic.
He hadn't pestered her with questions or long explanations about her current health status. Tension held his shoulders bunched and the usual excited chirps were silent. She wanted to talk with him about the revelations of his birth. He must be upset or confused. But she couldn't have that discussion in front of Raz'ha, and absolutely not while she was naked.
Raz'ha pat her arm, drawing her eyes from Mah'sic. The warrior watched her, tilting his head. "You will accompany me to my duties."
"That's okay, I'd rather stay here." She fiddled with the fur. "Just, maybe you could come back for a bathroom break? Or a jar. I could use a jar. Then you won't have to worry at all."
The warrior huffed and rumbled in his throat. The sound was answer enough. "I will keep you close in case you experience more jitters."
She didn't grasp all his words, but she pieced the meaning together on her own. "I won't."
"I will be certain. We leave soon. Dress." Though his grammar sounded short, he held his hands up in a placating gesture and continued in his own language. "Please."
"Hult'ah should remain in his cage for another cycle, but handle him for a time today." The unblood pet Hult'ah's head through the bars. "I have given him a pain suppressant."
The hound whined and his eyelids drooped.
"Shouldn't I stay here to watch him?"
"Bring him." Raz'ha pulled on his body netting.
She turned away from his unabashed nudity. "I'm supposed to send Val'jek a message today."
"I train near the communication room."
There was no deterring the warrior. She had to go with him. "I'm sorry he made you get up early for nothing, Mah'sic."
The unblood stood, dressed in full armor, though he carried only a combistick for a weapon. "Unbloods train before blooded warriors rise. I was awake, but I must return to my duties now." He bowed.
"Wait, when I send a message to Val'jek, would you like me to tell him anything for you?"
The unblood paused, then rumbled. "I have nothing to say."
"I'm going to tell him that I hope his trip is going well. I'll tell him the same from you. Is that okay?"
Mah'sic nodded and hurried from the room.
Amelia slipped on her mask since their translator had left.
Raz'ha latched his chest plate on his shoulder. "Bring a fur. You may sleep during my duties."
Amelia dressed and combed her hair, her nerves returned and made the simple tasks take longer. The ship lived in darkness and the locals were hostile. She had to put on a brave face, even if no one could see her expression through the mask. They'd smell her scent.
The trip to the bathroom was more embarrassing with her mask. The room had zero privacy with half a dozen occupants, and Yautja didn't believe in toilet paper.
Raz'ha produced a cloth scrap and soaked the material in one of the tubs, then handed it to her for toilet paper. She was grateful he turned his back without being asked and blocked her view of half the room. The other half clicked and chirped at her strange custom.
When she finished, Raz'ha took the scrap back to wash again.
Life could not be more awkward.
Walking through the halls was chaotic. Yautja bumped each other, fought, and argued all around her. Raz'ha had chirped for her to hurry twice and cleared the path.
Amelia jogged to keep up with him and hooked her fingers in his belt so he knew she followed. She shamelessly hid behind his broad, heavily muscled back that narrowed to a defined waist and a toned buttocks. Why did he have to look like some sort of Greek statue? Val'jek had put a piece of chocolate in front of her and said, "Have a bite."
She ran into him, smashing her mask into the rock hard flesh she had been admiring. Touching him must have turned her mind to mush.
He chuffed as a door slid open.
Sharp white light blinded Amelia stabbing pain through her eyeballs. She yanked off her mask, but the light and pain remained. She squinted and shielded her eyes until it dulled to an ache.
Eight Yautja milled about on mats, facing a mirrored wall. It was a training room and well lit. Relief flooded her and she adjusted her mask settings so she wouldn't be blinded when she put it back on.
"Kehrite," she said, hoping the pronunciation was correct.
"Yes." Raz'ha guided her by the shoulder to a corner.
The Yautja were small, at least a head shorter than Raz'ha. The young unbloods weren't close to her size though. Even the juveniles had more than a hundred pounds of muscle over her hundred and fifteen.
They surveyed her as she surveyed them. Heads tilted, mandibles clicked, and bird calls passed through the group.
He set her blanket on the floor in the corner and Hult'ah's cage beside it. "Remain here. No one will bother you."
"Sure." She seated herself on the fur.
Raz'ha clicked his mandibles, staring down at her.
"Have fun training," she said awkwardly to fill the silence between them.
Boredom plagued Amelia. The young Yautja repeated the same kick for the last hour and there was nothing else for her to do but watch. Even Hult'ah abandoned her in his sedated glassy eyed look. She held him in her lap and pet down his back. She had checked twice for any build up, hoping for an activity to occupy her time.
Raz'ha growled something she thought may have been insulting at a training unblood. The warrior corrected the youngster's stance and demonstrated. It was the high point of her afternoon. He barked a command and the unblood performed a proper kick.
Raz'ha stepped back to watch his class.
She waved him over and put on her mask for the translator.
He nodded and kept his eyes on the students as he approached.
She shrank down at his imposing figure. Raz'ha stood stiff and tall, the instructor not the Yautja of leisure pursuing her. He clicked and looked down at her, waiting.
"Is it all right if I move around and stretch back here? I don't want to distract your class." She bit her lip behind her mask.
He looked to his class, then back at her. After a moment he nodded. "Give the mats and door wide berth." His tone and mandibles clicks were gruff.
She would move no where near his class. "I understand." She bowed her head. "Thank you."
His nod was a jerk, jingling his dreads. He whirled around and barked an order at his class. Several unbloods jumped to attention.
As she settled Hult'ah in his cage she wondered if military school had been similar for her brother. The old ache settled in her chest. She hadn't thought of her brother much in months and now he crossed her mind several times in the last few days.
She removed her shoes and shivered from the cold floor beneath her feet. Amelia performed thorough stretching routines, and then repeated them. She hoped using a simple routine would prove inconsequential to the class, but she was wrong.
Raz'ha cuffed more than one student over the distraction.
Amelia woke from her midday nap by slow increments. She threw an arm over her face and muttered about the light. She heard a trill and bird calls and then felt a poke followed by another.
"I'm awake," she said.
Another trill sounded and she sensed a flutter of movement above her.
"What are you doing, Raz'ha?" She opened her eyes and squinted.
The tan and brown face staring down at her was not Raz'ha. Orange eyes, wide as saucers, blinked and stumpy mandibles fluttered. Another face edged closer. The new comer, green with a tan face, peered down with the same orange eyes. They stood three feet tall. Children. Pups, Yautja called them.
"Hi," she said. She had seen Yautja children from a distance, but never interacted with any.
They chirped to each other and the brown one reached for her face. His black claws loomed large and poked her nose.
She jerked upright, finding her feet.
Both of the children stumbled back. They stared up at her, mandibles sagging and mouths open. She didn't let the height difference go to her head. Even small Yautja could inflict damage.
The green one shuffled to her, chirping and fluttering his mandibles. He pointed at her and then stood on his toes. His index claw, black and stubby, poked her chin and reached higher still.
She jerked away.
The green Yautja jumped back and both children trilled. The green child pushed the the brown one toward her.
"Are you playing a game?"
The nervous brown child looked over his shoulder to the other, then grabbed her bracelet, yanking.
She didn't know whether to be amused or nervous. "Please don't do that."
Trilling at her, he pulled the cuff harder and her arm with it.
"H'ko," she said firmly, using their form of no. Tugging back, she was surprised when she jerked the Yautja forward and onto her poor toes. "Ouch."
The brown Yautja latched onto her thigh and made a whining sound that bloomed into a wail. The other mimicked the noise, stomping his feet and bringing his fist to his mouth.
"Thewi! Guan!" Raz'ha jerked the child away from her by the back of his neck. Barking a reprimand, he grabbed the green child by his arm.
The children quieted to whimpers and bowed their heads.
"Apologies, Amelia." Raz'ha dragged them to the mats where almost a dozen other children milled about.
Raz'ha shouted an order and the children formed two lines facing each other, except most watched her instead of Raz'ha. Giving rapid instructions, the warrior cuffed several on their large foreheads.
"Begin!" he shouted.
The young children roared and wrestled.
Noisy and chaotic, the class was unlike the other training lessons Raz'ha taught. The children fidgeted, socialized, and waved at her in greeting. Amelia waved back.
When they were dismissed, two females entered and escorted them single file from the room. Amelia caught their attention for a moment. She felt the look, and the shock, from across the room. A tall brown female exchanged hushed words with Raz'ha then stormed from the room.
Raz'ha turned to Amelia as more warriors entered. His claws clenched into fists and his stride was predatory.
She slipped her mask on more to hide her face than for the translator. Her presence had caused him trouble. Yautja females were particular about raising children. If males weren't even allowed custody, they would have a complaint or two about Amelia lingering in the vicinity.
"Apologies, Amelia." There was no anger in his voice and he bowed his head. "The pups have not started discipline training yet and they are more curious than intelligent."
"That's okay. They were cute." The topic was safe and she clung to it. "Is this their first year of training?"
He chuffed and shook his head. "They are from the nursery. They have many cycles before they learn discipline, but once they master basic self control, formal training begins."
Tension between her shoulders eased. "You're like the gym teacher then."
"Physical education so they don't grow lazy." Amelia never had a gym teacher that muscular or attractive. She may have tried harder if that had been the case.
"Yes." He looked her over and his mandibles fluttered. "Are you experiencing jitters?"
She flushed. "I'm okay."
"Good." He placed his claw on her shoulder, his thumb caressing her neck. "I have time, if you wish to use the facilities and then the communication room."
Her pulse kicked up a notch and her stomach tightened. "Yes, please."
Using the com was as awkward as urinating in front of Raz'ha. Communication to outside clan ships was monitored and subject to approval of two females.
Forbidden from touching the communication station, Amelia hovered to the side. The females hissed if she moved too close to the bulky device that looked ancient even to her human eyes. The females didn't understand English either. She had to dictate the message to Raz'ha, who typed it, and then stepped aside for the females to review it.
They clicked and growled.
"You cannot reveal our screening procedures or our environmental status," the first said.
The second added her own clicks. "You must address the communication properly."
"I don't understand," Amelia said.
"I do not understand as well," Raz'ha said in English, then switched to his language to address the female Yautja. "Address the communication properly?"
"The missive is from you, Raz'ha of Saracen Clan, is it not? It must be addressed accordingly."
Raz'ha chirped. "The missive is from Amelia. I am merely translating so you may inspect the message."
"Slaves cannot use the communication system."
Raz'ha grunted and tapped rapid changes on the console touch screen, making the green glyphs dance and shift. "What would you like me to tell him about your stay here?"
She frowned at the clicking females. "Tell him there are a few awkward hiccups, but I'm all right."
"They will not understand hiccups." Raz'ha gestured to the females. "We do not suffer this Ooman affliction."
"A few awkward moments then," Amelia said.
"It sounds strange and it's head is small. Do you think it is a juvenile?" The first asked.
"No," the other trilled. "Human females are inferior to males."
Raz'ha cupped the back of Amelia's head, his claws tunneling into her hair and stroking her scalp. He addressed the Yautja, "Does this meet your approval?"
The females reviewed the message, clicked and glared at Raz'ha, but nodded. "We will send the communication before the sleep cycle."
Her heart sank. "Not now, what about his reply?"
"We will see his reply tomorrow and send another." His hand dropped to her shoulder and gave a gentle squeeze.
Com time was reduced to sending letters that everyone else read and edited. Disappointment hunched her shoulders as she was escorted from the room. She had wanted to see and hear Val'jek.
Amelia walked beside him since the halls were empty at this hour, but her arm brushed his on occasion. She had not done that on the Tauren's clan ship, but the victory was muted by his turmoil.
Raz'ha felt suspicion take root and he could not dislodge it now that he had the thought.
Elder Val'jek had negotiated a number of provisions for Amelia's care. Raz'ha knew because the Priestesses and Elders had fumed at him over a number of terms the cycle before. He suspected that Elder Val'jek expected more communication from his mate than a few vague sentences.
Raz'ha saw Amelia's disappointment in her every sluggish step and acrid anxiety tainted her pleasant scent. She did not complain and Raz'ha felt acute embarrassment over the incident.
It was possible the Elder was ignorant of his clan's tight control over communications, but Raz'ha doubted it. The Elder must have known when demanding com time each cycle. Were audio, visual, and other provisions forgotten in the agreement? Raz'ha wanted to see the contract, but his request was being taken into consideration and likely to be left in limbo forever.
Excuses and platitudes about the procedures ensuring clan survival came to mind. Still Raz'ha doubted.
He understood the safety of his clan. If the Hish, sworn enemy of all Yautja, discovered they struggled, they would pursue an easy kill. Raz'ha doubted the Hish would decipher the coded message and then plan an attack based on Amelia's inability to see in their lighting.
The Priestesses grew more paranoid by the cycle, and they considered Amelia a potential threat. An Ooman. A pet. She hailed from a clan who extended an opportunity for aid. Trade agreements alone would ensure his clan thrived, and rumors circulated that the Tauren's offered more than that.
"What now?" she asked.
"I must train." He could return her to his quarters since she did not suffer jitters, but he wanted her close.
She nodded and let the conversation die and his mind returned to his suspicions.
Raz'ha could only assume the Priestesses did not realize Amelia was sentient and emotive, or they misunderstood her importance to Elder Val'jek. Either was possible since female Yautja had little contact with Oomans and it was difficult to fathom anyone treating a pet as an equal.
Elder Val'jek championed their treaty with the Taurens and to offend the Elder in any way was beyond insult. He would not be pleased to hear the terms of his contract were violated, or that Amelia's stay was miserable. The former was unproven, and the latter could still be changed.
He rested his hand on the small of her back, brushing her spine with his thumb.
He wondered if the Elder had already known about the lighting issue. The mask had been crucial for Amelia and it was a well-timed gift. And too expensive for Raz'ha to acquire on his own. He huffed and shook off his thoughts.
"After I train, I will escort you to our quarters and retrieve our meals." He intended to keep her well away from the meal hall, where combat was as common as it was in a kehrite. She would cause quite a stir in the all male gathering.
Another nod from her, but no words.
"My hunt brothers are coarse and full of jests, but they hold their honor above all else." He intended to peak her interest.
She said nothing, but leaned into him.
Raz'ha led her to a separate kehrite reserved for honored warriors to train after daily duties. It was one of the few perks for his rank. Four other warriors occupied the room. All eyes and mandibles turned their way upon entering. The honored warriors sniffed, some more discreet than others.
Raz'ha chirped a greeting and received several back. He pointed to each honored warrior and said his name for Amelia. They nodded with respect, but exchanged chirps and trills of amusement. Amelia bowed her head when he finished.
"Is this your new sparring partner?" Yeyinde asked, his mandibles tipping up.
"This is Amelia, Elder Val'jek's mate." He led Amelia to another corner. "And you would not find it amusing if you tried Ooman sparring."
Yeyinde trilled. "Are you offering to share, brother?"
Amelia tensed. Her mask translated everything.
Raz'ha flared his mandibles. "No."
"Then why is it here?" Yeyinde approached them.
"Because he plays nursemaid to the pet for an Elder. Forget the Ooman, let's train before I am fat and old." Guan-Thewi extended his combistick.
"We are a man short still. I will sit out this round." Yeyinde kneeled beside Amelia.
"Shouldn't you be hunting?" Raz'ha snapped as he laid out Amelia's fur. It was Yeyinde's turn to lead a small group of warriors on a hunt and he should be collecting trophies, not harassing Raz'ha.
Trills and laughter followed behind him.
"The ship is being repaired," Sain'ja said.
Mar'cte extended his combistick. "It is always being repaired because the piece of shit is always broken."
"I would not miss the Ooman musk I hear so much about either." Yeyinde chirped. "Do not worry, Raz'ha, I will watch your pet."
Raz'ha growled, towering over the honored warrior. He knew they were jesting, but his blood ran hot at the mere thought of Yeyinde mating Amelia. "You do not have my permission to touch her."
Yeyinde chirped. "I will take in her scent then." The honored warrior leaned into Amelia, dangerously close to touching.
Amelia inched away, her mask hiding her expression but her stiff body language clear enough to display her discomfort.
Issuing a challenge, Raz'ha shoved the honored warrior's shoulder.
More trills and laughter sounded behind him, but he ignored it. He didn't want them harassing, or worse, courting Amelia.
She stared at him, her expression hidden by the mask, but remained silent.
Yeyinde's mandibles closed and twitched. "It appears I am not sitting out this round. Who else would like to sniff the female, perhaps you, Mar'cte?"
Mar'cte trilled and took a step in her direction.
"You will leave the Ooman be, all of you. She is in my keeping." Posturing, Raz'ha flared his mandibles and growled at the group. "Your foolishness is not welcomed and will be met with a challenge."
More trills and laughter.
"We only jest, Raz'ha. You can keep your precious Ooman to yourself." Yeyinde fluttered his mandibles at Amelia. "Unless she would like a new protector, one with more trophies?"
Raz'ha growled and shoved the warrior's shoulder once more.
Amelia jerked and shook her head, declining the invitation.
Yeyinde shrugged and returned to the training mats. He stood at the ready to spar, the challenge left unanswered.
Raz'ha would have named a lesser warrior a coward, but not Yeyinde. He was an equal match to Raz'ha's skill and sacrificed much for his honor.
He counted the warriors in the room as his hunt brothers, and all had proven honorable, but they knew little of Ooman females. Their jests to rile him could cause her strife. She could break if their teasing turned physical. Raz'ha wanted her happy and healthy.
"Do not forget the Tauren Elder listens to her words as his equal. When he returns for her, she must speak of pleasant experiences," Raz'ha warned. Where they would prod him for a challenge, they would not risk dishonoring their clan.
"I will give her a pleasant experience." Mar'cte made a lewd gesture at Amelia with his groin guard.
Amelia made an Ooman gesture with her middle finger in response.
"What was that?" Mar'cte chirped, head cocking to the side. "Does the Ooman accept?"
"No," Raz'ha barked. Though he wasn't certain of the specific meaning himself, he was sure it was offensive. "It means no."
Yeyinde trilled. "I believe that is Ooman for, 'Your cock is too small.' Even little creatures have standards, Mar'cte."
"Pauk-de, Yeyinde." Mar'cte made another rude gesture, but at the warriors this time.
"Enough, let us begin," Guan-Thewi said, tapping Mar'cte with his combistick.
They paired up and Sain'ja was the odd man out. He sat beside Amelia, but at a respectful distance.
As Raz'ha sparred with his hunt brothers, he was aware of Amelia's presence. He hoped she rooted for him. It was rare for a Saracen female to back a warrior. They wanted the winner, not the particular male.
Raz'ha had retrieved food from the meal hall and washed himself before returning. He didn't mention the challenger he defeated over her ration. They ate together on the bed because there was only one chair in the main room.
"You fought well earlier," she said. Her cheeks turned pink.
His chest puffed. "Thank you."
"You must be sore after all the training." Her cheeks turned a darker shade and the color crept over the rest of her features. Her scent held more than a hint of interest.
This was an opportunity, perhaps a test, but Raz'ha didn't know the correct answer. Would she want him to be proud and invincible, or honest and admit his muscles burned?
"Yes," he said because a Yautja would wish him to deny it. He watched her for a reaction.
She tilted her chin down and ate more kali.
He had failed her test. Even Oomans wanted a strong warrior. He clicked his mandibles, contemplating how best to rectify his slip.
"I will give you a massage," she said.
"Now?" He set his bowl aside. He had passed, not failed.
"No." A smile split her features. "After dinner, and we've played with the puppies. They're lonely from being abandoned all day."
Raz'ha hurried to finish and socialized her pets while he waited for her. He suspected she slowed her pace on purpose, but couldn't fathom why.
Her puppies were always eager for attention, and he doubted one day would make a difference. Amelia appeared to enjoy doting on the small creatures. Larger ones too if her interactions with Elder Val'jek and Mah'sic were taken into consideration. Now he would join that exclusive rank.
Amelia wanted to take back the offer and deny knowing why she made it in the first place. She lied to herself, insisting he was sore after the rough fighting with the other warriors. Her reasons were much more selfish.
There was no other excuse, outside of a mating invitation, to touch him. This way she could satisfy her craving and deny giving into the urge.
She made her meal last after his eager reaction. The warrior was ready to throw the food aside and mount her, and the image appealed to her on a base level. Her cheeks warmed and her stomach fluttered. That reaction made her nervous.
Being with him twice was a fling, an extension of her monogamous relationship with Val'jek. A third time, alone with the warrior, would be more.
An affair wasn't possible for her. She grew attached to everything and forming an intimate bond with the warrior was a terrible idea. She was loyal to Val'jek, and Raz'ha was from a different clan. Who knew how often their paths would cross? She'd have to let him go, and she was tired of letting things she loved go. The only option was to avoid growing attached.
She shouldn't have offered a massage, but watching his masculine displays all day made her fingers antsy to touch. Once she worked the urge out of her system, he would sleep and she could snuggle close without him knowing, or reading into the action.
By the time she finished, her pets were socialized and settled in their own makeshift bed for the night. Raz'ha undressed and sprawled out beside her on the mattress.
Careful to tuck her dress between them, she straddled the warrior.
"This is different."
"It makes it easier, so I can," she fumbled for an explanation, "use my weight to massage harder."
"I understand." He ended with a purr.
"I hope not," she said under her breath.
She kneaded along his spine, following the length down to the small of his back. His thick skin wasn't human by any means, but neither was it scaled or cold as would be expected from his lizard-like appearance. He radiated heat and it seeped through her dress.
She admired the spotted patterns, designed to blend into the jungles and attract a mate out of them. She brushed his dreads aside and massaged his upper back.
He groaned and his back vibrated with a thrumming purr. "Paya, you are magnificent."
Smiling, she held her tongue. No need to encourage the compliments, but it warmed her none the less. Pulling more groans and arousing purrs from the warrior, she worked the muscles until tension seeped out of his body.
She moved up, settling higher on his back, and continued her ministrations on his shoulders.
His breathing evened and his purrs turned into a quiet hum she struggled to hear. The sound hypnotized her, drawing her closer to listen. She pressed her ear to his back.
He continued the hum, the sound reverberating in his chest. It was a purr, but more than that, a vocal sound, almost lyrical, came from him.
Amelia laid flat to better listen. His weight shifted and she splayed her hand on his arm to stop him. The sound cut off.
"Amelia?" he said, his voice rasping.
"Make that sound again," she whispered.
She felt tension beneath her, then his muscles relaxed and a purr started. Like a large cat hidden in his chest the rumbling carried on for a few moments. It lowered and quieted until the soft hum took its place.
Sighing, she rubbed his side in silent thanks.
Raz'ha laid her sleeping form beside him and draped the furs over their bodies. He wrapped his arms around her when she burrowed closer and mumbled nonsense.
Elation and relief hummed through Raz'ha's body. He had been embarrassed to realize he had made the strange sound, but she had listened and requested he continue. She had enjoyed it enough to fall asleep on his back.
The strange hum presented itself when his muscles relaxed enough to lay his vocal chords against rigid scar tissue. He had suffered a neck wound during his Chiva. The injury had healed well on the outside, but beneath the skin the scar tissue was thick.
Keeping his chin up and avoiding too quiet purrs had kept his secret. He was ever vigilant because no one wanted to breed a Yautja who suffered from a defective purr. The sound was necessary for communication and mating. He wasn't born with the defect, but a female would not risk the possibility when other males vied for the right to mate.
Amelia was an Ooman and ignorant to the issue. Her ears struggled to differentiate Yautja clicks and purr types already. She had noticed though, and laid her ear to his back to listen. She had not done that for his normal purrs.
He stroked her silken hair and watched her sleep. He made steady progress. His body came to life, responding to her new scent. She was aroused in her sleep, a phenomena that always amused him.
Raz'ha wanted to wake her for mating, but laid still, enjoying her musk. He understood her pacing better, if not her reasoning. Soon she would mate him, but not yet.
Been a while, and I'm in a rush. Thank you to everyone who has reviewed. The comments are much loved and appreciated, and I promise this story has not been abandoned.
Hope you enjoyed the update. Let me know if anything came out awkward or out of character, plot holes, etc, please. :)