Two

Cold rushing water splashed against the back of the three infants as they rushed from their hiding place beneath the waterfall and enjoyed the refreshing and cleansing feeling that it gave to them. In the surrounding area, several older adolescents were using the long thick net that ran parallel to the rocky balcony as a way to engage in sport, a simple game of air volley becoming louder as others chose to spread their wings and fly to the net and enjoy the fun.

Beyond that, a small clear screen built to prevent interruption fazed in and out as the leader of the maintenance crew came out of the inner pool and shook off his mandibles before using his four spindly legs to carry him to where the Liason was waiting for him.

"Does this soothing pool satisfy your request fully for this colony of Barthol, with respect Liason?" the crab like Eaidroz asked opening its two mouths wide to speak in low cluttering sounds. Instantly the visor the Liason wore allowed him to interpret what they said in his own language and he nodded, clacking his beak before stating, "I am satisfied with this work, you and your kind may seek shelter at the Vei'ja Towers as a gift for your hard labor."

The other workers all seemed amicable to this idea and scuttled off out of the entertainment plaza without another word save for the cluttering noise of gossip that he didn't bother translating. Raising his finger to the right side of his temple, the Liason deactivated his visor and then looked down at the display of the bill which he would need to present in the morning.

Great Zaris, give me patience, he thought with a sigh as he considered how they had gone over budget several times due to unexpected errors in the planning stages. He was never too great at handling these expense reports, and other stressful matters like the arrival of his third hatchling and the new assignment to Selurii also were keeping him from having a clear mind.

Still, the Liason never knew the meaning of the word quit, so he closed the report and instead allowed himself to watch the fruits of his labor. For those who always considered their race a strict and dominant species, a haven such as this would be ample proof that the Legh'rul were continuing to honor the Caltiet Treaty, he thought. Still, he knew that in the grand scheme this was a simple victory and there would be many who would speak ill of his race for generations to come.

In his hearts he knew he could not condone the actions of the High Regents over the last ten years and there was little reason the species they had warred with or enslaved would feel that the recent Reform would annul the years of suffering they had endured. To the Enlightened Legh'rul, this recent shift of view from the High Regents was thanks to the words they received from their h'ku, a recent resurgence in the tradition of housing memories of their ancestries within the secondary cerebral cortex.

e did not attempt to understand how the process worked as the amount of coel involved to have the process was more than he made in a year's time, but he knew it was a step in the right direction. Now perhaps we are one step closer to the peace we all dream of, he thought.

As he continued to mull over these thoughts a news headline appeared above his line of view, another report from the Outreach. One of those basking in the calming tank requested the AI operating the bar to turn up the volume and he inclined his head to see what the update was about this time.

"...nothing further from the truth, Vice Admiral Dominic Marche says; but already action is being taken by the Primacy. Earlier today Gran Kurtal Ima-Hrue announced the intention of a new diplomat for the orbital station of Selurii V, this decision sparking waves of coel prices to drop at the Balance and confusion amongst civilians as the events unfold..."

As the news report continued he felt his holographic display chirp softly next to his left rear antennae and immediately he switched it one focused on the image that appeared before his eyes. "Liason Mothras are you watching the bulletins?" his superior inquired as he stood up and walked to a more private portion of the center.

"As it so happens, yes I was just looking at them. What does this mean?" he asked clacking his beak in low tones so as not to disturb any of the other patrons nearby. "Many apologies, but it ultimately effects the timing of your departure for the station. We are making arrangements for you to board a passenger carrier tonight to arrive at the way station by three days time," the other replied, his plumage brightly reflecting how sad he was to share this news.

"What is the Primacy thinking about making such a bold move?" he asked trying to ignore the other statement his colleague had made. It caused the feathers beneath his uniform to bristle and sweat as he considered even mentioning the change of plans to Santell.

"Our intel suggests there is a rogue group of the Hume that stole energy cells from their Dharai outpost not long ago, the recent settlement of Oma'Karth might be connected to this incursion," the reply came. "So they wish to cause intergalactic problems simply because they were slighted?" Mothras asked clacking his beak several times.

"The N'vejj are a prideful race, and we must remember that ultimately under the guidelines of the treaty that sector is theirs. The Liason has acted as provisional government for more years than intended, so perhaps this was a move that we should have seen coming," his superior admitted.

"I understand," he said with a sigh realizing that time was short if he wished to comply. "My aide Loutys will guide you to the proper aerospace from your apartment tonight, please have all the necessary belongings packed before she arrives; time is of the essence Liason," his contact said even as he stood and left the plaza to make his way to one of the mag-walks that would lead him to the upper level of this massive underground city.

The holographic display disappeared as he followed the crowd toward the open market which surrounded the central Vei'ja Towers, lowering his wings and wishing again he had not taken the vow of contriteness. In a time such as this I would be with my beloved within minutes if I spread my wings to fly, he considered, showing one of the AIs that operated a floating platform his credentials and then stepping onto it alongside two Hume and a Yalerian.

But during his last assignment before being appointed as Liason for the Balance he had missed the birth of his son, Hath; a shameful memory that any self respecting Legh'rul would feel sorry for. As a sign of love for Santell he promised during their stay here on Barthol that he would spend each day on land, and until now that had seemed an easy task.

Finally arriving at the proper level, he rushed toward the wide mouthed vestibule of the tower that he currently resided in and activated his comm to let her know he was almost home. Santell answered with haste, her long red antennae looking frayed and tired as she appeared on his visor and she explained how Hath's older sibling had been trying to bother the hatchery all day and with a leak in the reservoir outside their apartment it had been impossible to get any work done all day.

He wasn't certain how she would handle the news he was about to give as she met him at the door, her three long beautiful wings fluttering as she embraced him. "I'm so glad you made it home early," she declared. He glanced behind her where Hath and Jada were engaged in a pretend game and easily distracted so without saying a word he guided her to the west balcony which peered out to the open aerospace platforms in the upper rookery, the soothing noise of the ships calming his nerves as he squeezed her hand.

"Tell me, Mothras, your plumage always sweats more when you have bad news," she said preparing herself. "I have to leave tonight," he answered seeing her grey eyes shed tears as she fell into his arms, not sure how to react.

"How can this happen?" she muttered in between her sobs. "If you wish to place blame, it rests with the Primacy. Their new diplomat is coming to investigate the settlement on Oma'Karth," he explained his hand gently nestling her left upper wing. "But the hatching! You can not miss that! Not again!" Santell said in both fear and anger.

"I take all my vows seriously. Including the one toward you as highest, so listen to my words when I say that I will return before that day. No matter what," he answered firmly. "Mothras," she said trailing off even as the children arrived and noticed their parents emotions on display.

"What's going on?" Jada asked, her newly developing first wing starting to shiver in concern. "Come here, let me hold you," Mothras responded, but quickly his daughter grew defensive as she saw her mother and snapped, "You are leaving again aren't you?"

"The High Regents have asked me..." he began, but Jada did not want to hear any of it, instead her upper neck feathers frilling as she yelled, "I don't care! You are leaving! I hate you!" She stormed away to her portion of the dwelling as Santell cried softly and then muttered, "Let me go talk to her..."

Mothras nodded looking at his young son who was mostly confused, but waiting to hear what his father had to say. "You are going somewhere ilcua?" Hath asked using the affectionate nickname he had always called him as a child. He took his smaller offspring into his right wing and lifted him to his chest explaining, "I have important work to take care of, it is so important that it will affect all our kind across this system." "When will you be back?" Hath asked.

"Soon, I swear it," he responded even as the doorbell went off and he knew his guide was here. Already? He rose and allowed the younger Legh'rul in without a word before finally saying, "Sorry I just have a few things. His daughter stormed out trying to toss a piece of art from the wall at the newcomer and she jumped in surprise before Mothras grabbed his daughter and kept her from causing any more harm.

"Listen to me, listen!" he said squeezing her arm and gesturing towards the bands they both wore. "You know that as long as you and I wear these, where I go you also are with me," he said touching her weeping cheek tenderly. "Please... Stay," she begged. It took all his strength to deny her as Santell finished packing his things and he muttered, "I will return faster than the Yalerians can spin a new moisture suit."

The family embraced for a moment and he took his bag, gesturing for the guide to show the way. Once beyond his home, he allowed the facade to break and Mothras shed a few tears. The journey ahead would perhaps be the hardest he had ever faced, he thought.