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I thought you might.  Fa'Rua encouraged as she labored to keep the young terran engaged and focused on less unpleasant matters than the ongoing interrogation or the events of the night leading to it.  I didn't have a grasp beyond the basics until I began flight training, The Lor admitted warmly, But there is a surprising amount one can learn from examining the EM spectrum given off and absorbed by a body in space, A surprising portion of my work of late is in such areas in our search for colony worlds after the incursion.  Before the great war in space the scout corps had been more like frontier law enforcement and border interdiction.  Now, now they sought out new homes for hte displaced, a return to their founding.  I'm happy to let you pick my mind on such matters Ju'Deth,  Though I feel you may have an inherent understanding that does not need such explanation.  If the readings she'd gotten were correct at least.

 

In the room with the prisoner Jolan remained impassive and still watching the interplay between agent and detainee with a flat affect.  "The Lor Republic has a decades old relationship with several governing bodes of Terra."  he pointed out squarely, "At least those who do not attempt to bypass technology interdictions."  He'd done his homework on the Terran governments before arriving, and while the exact political schism behind the New Freedom bloc was not in his reports there were references to their relation with several prominent smugglers and arms networks in the republics fringes.  He turned to Ashley, "I believe he remains confident that your civil protections will prevent harm to him."  He looked Ashley over gauging her biomarkers and the way she carried herself and spoke with care before focusing on the man once more.  "That would be in error sir, this agent is exhibiting several signs of stress that her interest is far from merely professional."  he glanced to the other agents then leaned in to whisper carefully, "You attacked an individual that is not only her charge but also friend, she is quite personally invested and unlikely to hold to strict legalism in her pursuit of information."  he nodded once more satisfied with his advice, "I recommend you answer her questions."

 

 

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I can feel the difference when I'm making them, like different sounds nobody else can hear. I can't tell the difference if I'm just listening out in the wild. I feel like a deaf singer sometimes; like I can feel the vibrations but not actually hear the song. 

 

 

"Maybe it's just that time of the month," sneered Knight, looking a little flustered by Jolan's proximity. "You know how women are." 

 

Ashley looked him in the eye and - suddenly burst out laughing. "Oh! I get it! What a dumbass!" she slapped the side of her head, then said, "You know that I could shoot you in the head and get away with it, and that's what you want me to do. Because you know what'll happen after you go home empty-handed after you dropped the game ball! Genetic re-sequencing? Neuter your ass? Maybe both?" She slapped the table suddenly, then said, "If you tell me who the leak was, maybe you'll just go to Blackstone instead." 

 

 

Am-am I a Stellarian? Judy asked Fa'Rua. I can feel myself - changing, she admitted. There are already things I can't do anymore, and I think more is coming. 

 

-

 

"You think they can't find me in there?" said Knight. "If New Freedom wants you dead, you're dead!" 

 

"There are things even you don't know about the US government, pal. I can put you somewhere they won't find you, if you give me _something._" 

 

 

I'm afraid, admitted Judy. Ashley's the only  person I can tell. Really tell, because nobody else knows our secret. 

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Jolan sat back after his sage advice and met Knight's sneer with a blank unamused stare but did not respond only silently observing for the time being.  Terran humor it seemed was very, glandular, in content.

 

It is a matter of practice.  Fa'Rua assured Judy.  Radio communications are based on variations of frequency and amplitude of the wave, like sound, with practice you may come to understand how to interpret a range of waveforms as you do language.

 

Fa'Rua paused thoughtfully at the girls question and slowly shook her head, Not exactly.  She reassured her.  Stellarians are beings of pure energy, we do not know their method of reproduction if there in fact is one, but there are no records available to me of them expanding from a corporeal body.  She was trying to be reassuring though was unsure how to explain how little even the Lor knew of the strange stellar beings.  You are to my knowledge unique, possessed of the same energies as the Stellarians but enmeshed in a Terran matrix of flesh and blood.  Body and spirit as one might be an explanation a remnant of a Stellarian left within your family and manifest within you, not DNA as they have none but some of that energy tied somehow to you.

 

The Lor scout looked sadly down at the young woman and shook her head, Do not fear Ju'Deth, you have already mastered much just from what I have seen, you control the energies inside you they do not control you.  She paused and decided on a new tact, When we were young my Brother knew things he could not have known, things yet to happen or those that he'd never been told of, He is a Mentat, Gifted with a sight into time itself.  She pause to ensure that the young woman followed, He had to leave us to train, it was difficult and he missed our family, yet his training has allowed him to control what once came unbidden and to safely hone his skills.  She smiled warmly, It is the same I think with your school and you have your sister right there with you looking out for you, You too can master what is inside you, you do not need fear.

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That sounds...niceJudy considered asking about how "And your family loved him anyway?" - but she knew she didn't need to ask. Normal families didn't send their children away because they were special, did they? They celebrated them for what they were, even if they were different. She knew that; and really she'd known it for a long time. I always wanted to be normal, but I guess lots of people want things they can't really have. I think space sounds beautiful - and I'm glad there are beautiful people up there. She smiled at Fa'Rua, then offered, You're real nice - just like Ashley said. 

 

 

Eventually, after Jolan learned quite a few new words for Terran glands (and for that matter feces and orifices), Ashley got what she wanted - and their prisoner was led away in handcuffs to a newly-arrived government groundcar. "We got the transmission codes for who told them where to hit, and how. Didn't say if the New Freedom government knows - but I guess they will soon enough. Judy, honey, you need to go back to school," she added, bending down in front of her sister and giving her a rather unprofessional hug. "I'll take care of things here, but we need to get you somewhere safe." 

 

"Okay," said Judy, hugging her back and giving her a serious look. "We'll talk tomorrow morning." It wasn't a question. 

 

"I promise. And if you see that guy again, you have my permission to blow his goddamn head off." Ashley considered for a moment, then turned to Infinity. "Infinity, if I give you coordinates, can you drop us there? Rather take a teleport than go back with unknown hostiles out there," she told the other agents. 

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It was difficult, but it was what he needed to find balance and control.  The Lor explained and grinned slightly, Now he has perhaps too much balance and control.  She teased lightly as she was much less balanced in her approach.  Fa'Rua blushed slightly when Judy mentioned Ashley had spoken of her, even if only in passing it was more than she had expected in many ways.  The Terran struck her as very compartmentalized, it felt significant she'd shared even that much with her ward.

 

On Ashley's return she hopped to her feet and watched the perp being led away with open distaste.  Jolan followed and stood to the side quietly contemplative, he'd relayed the important information to Fa'Rua as it had been revealed but had little more to add aside from a supportive nod at his twins uncertainty when her powers were called upon.  She nodded and offered a cocky smirk, "No promises of a smooth ride I usually don't take passengers."  she replied but seemed confident she'd manage.  Once given the coordinates she took a steadying breath and closed her eyes to focus extending her hands as she reached for the place Ashley indicated.

 

When Ashley and Judy took her hands there was an immediate wrenching sensation of sudden intense vertigo as space itself bent and twisted at the Lors command.  There was no real feeling of motion they simply were no longer where they had stood and instead were in the central quad of Claremont Academy.  Fa'Rua took a staggering step as she released Ashley and Judys hands as she tried to orient herself after overextending her abilities.  She tried to use the stagger to cover wiping a bit of blood from her nose where the strain had broken a blood vessel.  "Any landing you can walk away from right?"  she played off the rough trip with a shrug as doubtless alarms ans sensitive students around the school were alerted to the spatial manipulations that had brought them there.

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Ashley's first thought was to check on Judy - who seemed to have come through the ride none the worse for wear. In fact, she was...smiling? Well hell, she'd take that over anything. She gave Judy a confident smile in return, then turned to Fa'Rua, who looked like she'd taken the worst of the trip. "Best ride I've had all night," she told the Lor with some truth. What a woman! She handed her a handkerchief; a clean one, since she'd used her own earlier that evening to wipe down the blood from inside her helmet. What the hell, you had to be practical about this stuff. 

 

The next little while was a little hard for Fa'Rua to follow - she'd picked up enough English to understand the conversations, but a lot of technical terms were being used out of context by the several adults and young people who came out to have words with Ashley. But Judy was heading back to the dorm in the company of a "resident adviser", while the "headmistress" came out in the cold to have a quick conversation with Ashley. When the latter promised the former a full report, Watchdog and Infinity were given their walking papers. 

 

The Claremont campus was dark this late, with just the security lights to keep students safe, and mostly quiet between the return of trick-or-treaters and the actual staying-out-laters. The walk to the gate gave Ashley time to consider giving up, to screw up her courage, and to finally say, "Hey, this was...this was not how I wanted tonight to go. I'd like to say Freedom's not usually like this, but believe me, it is." When they were standing together under the security lights at the front gate, she smiled and said, "Thanks for saving our ass. Do you--do you want to get a drink?" 

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Fa'Rua took the handkerchief gratefully and turned to clean up slightly as well as to steady her breathing and finish recovering from the rather more significant jump than she'd tried without augmentation before.  Her english had improved much in her time since she'd first reached out to the pretty terran but between the recent exertions and the seemingly highly technical nature of discussions she was comfortable leaving Ashley to it.  She sunk to sprawl with her back against a handy signpost and rest up while they carried on and only stood when Judy began to take her leave under the watchful eye of an older student.  She jogged a few steps and took Judy's hand, "Ju'Deth you did a good job back there."  she offered while she sent a pulsed burst transmission to the part Stellarian, This frequency connects to the local FTL transponder, if either of you need backup again.  It wasn't that she didn't trust Ashley with the code, but of the two Judy was the more likely to make the call rather than try to do it all on her own.

 

She turned from Judy and made her way back to Ashley to enjoy a quiet walk across campus to the gate, She smiled and shook her head, "I told you before no one comes to Terra looking for a quiet night."  she offered with a wink and glanced back at the school and raised a brow, "She did the heavy lifting."  the Lor pointed out with a small shrug, "If she needs you I get it."  she hushed uncertainty, somehow sure she'd manage to come in second but trying to put on a brave face.  "But Yes yes I do."  she grinned and looked down at her armored form and laughed slightly, "Even if I'm a bit overdressed."  She decisively took Ashleys hand, "So where to beautiful?"

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"I don't exactly have all night to play," admitted Ashley, "but she'll text me if she needs me, and she's in good hands right now." Callie Summers herself was keeping an eye on Judy, something that would surely lead to another discussion among the two of them the next morning. "I'm glad the two of you got along. I told her I had a friend from space coming, but I didn't..." She hesitated a moment, holding onto Fa'Rua's hand, and made a confession. "I've never been on a date with a woman before. I never...that wasn't something I did." She looked up at Fa'Rua and said, "I was going to give you a speech about going slow, and exploring boundaries, but right now I just want to go somewhere with you and...and, uh, see what happens." Feeling a flush in her cheeks, she looked up at Fa'Rua and added, "and by the way, you are cute as _hell_. Especially those ears. As for your outfit, don't worry. It's Halloween, baby." 

 

Opsec would have suggested the two of them go far away from Bayview, but Ashley was tired and needed to stay close for Judy's sake, so they wound up taking a cab to a tavern inside a hotel, a themed sports bar at an airport hotel, where two women together wouldn't attract much attention, and where a soccer match across the world was the only thing on television this late. Several of the Terrans were dressed in outfits that didn't quite match what Fa'Rua had heard about local fashion, and her "space marine" costume got a compliment as Ashley ordered them both a Guinness. What the hell, if she was gonna introduce her to Terran beer, it might as well be good. They sat together at one of the tables, close enough that they were touching, where they could see the screens but without paying too much attention to them. This close to someone she was this close to, Ashley felt like she was seventeen all over again - and for once, she liked it. 

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The Lor scout offered a surprisingly uncertain smile, "Well I've never been on a date with a Terran so we all have things to get used to."  she answered pleased with Ashleys admission of interest in more of whatever this was developing into.  The complement earned a slight blush and she tucked one violet lock behind an pointed ear.  "Halloween?"  she asked briefly confused then nodded as it came to her, "Ah a holiday of costumes and confections, I see."  she laughed lightly at their luck.  "Well I'm happy to see where this goes too."  she admitted as Ashley hailed the cab.

 

Seated she looked confused at the Space Marine designation but drew short of correcting the designation as she realized it was interpreted as costume not uniform.  She set her helmet aside as they sat choosing to sit next to Ashley rather than across the table and looked at the offerings with some concern glad when Ashley ordered for her.  She took a long sip of the dark brew and nodded satisfied, "It's like a sweet bread you can drink."  she was enamoured instantly.  She watched the screen but briefly and considered asking after the sport but really had minimal interest in making pointless small talk she realized.  She tilted her head as she watched Ashley for a long moment and ran a finger along one stray lock of pink highlight.  "This is a good color on you."  she praised letting the finger brush the pretty terrans cheek lightly.  "I know it is not as you planned, but I'm glad we got to meet face to face."  she suggested and smiled slightly, "And that I got to see you in action."

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Ashley blushed, again, feeling a warmth that seemed to suffuse her whole body from Fa'Rua's touch. "Ah...thanks. I've been thinking about dying the whole thing." She reached up and took Fa'Rua's hand. "You were pretty badass yourself. That amazing shooting, and that landing, I..." She took a breath, thought about hesitation, and a lifetime of dishonesty, then admitted nervously, "I, uh, I wanted to kiss you when I saw you take your helmet off, but everybody was watching..." Nobody was watching them now, and Ashley gave into temptation - leaning over to kiss Fa'Rua on the lips, hand in her hair. Her heart was pounding in her chest every second of it, but she wouldn't have had it any other way. When she was done, she whispered, "And whatever you've heard about dating Terrans - it's all true." 

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Returning the kiss tenderly Fa'Rua cupped Ashleys cheek and lightly nipped her lower lip as it broke.  "I might have been trying to show off a bit,"  she admitted breathily, "I'm glad it worked."  The Lor leaned in to kiss Ashley once more before pulling back reluctantly as before long they would have an audience again.  "I think it would look really good."  she encouraged, "And you can say it's for your cover."  she teased lightly and let a hand rest on the pretty Terrans leg companionably as she took another long drink of her beer.  She slung an arm over Ashleys shoulder pulling her close and leaning her head lightly against Ashleys own.  "Thank's for this, all of it."  she was quick to add.  "I don't think I realized how alone I was feeling before we started talking."  Fa'Rua let out a small contented sigh and lightly nuzzled Ashleys cheek.  "And clearly there is never a dull moment dating a hot Terran hero."

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"I never realized a lot of things," Ashley admitted softly, her breath warm on Fa'Rua's cheek. Ashley almost told Fa'Rua that her underage cover identity should probably _not_ be out after hours kissing a space traveler who was all woman - but she pecked her on the tip of an ear instead, and made a vow she wasn't going to think about Claremont, or her ward, or anything else until her alarm went off. "About me, and about what I wanted..." She laughed breathily. "And about how good you look." There were still parts of even a liberal bastion like Freedom City where a cop like Ashley knew better than to be romantic with another woman in public, but for once luck was with them and none of the drunks hanging around the bar this late made a pass at them. Thinking about the tactical situation was another way to stop thinking about the way the hand on her thigh was sending shockwaves through her body, or how warm the arm around her was making her feel. She put her hand on Fa'Rua's leg under the table too, resting her head on her shoulder. 

 

"Fa'Rua," she whispered, "I'm going to say something that I've never said to a first date before. In a couple of hours, my phone's going to ring, and I'm going to have to make a report to my boss, and his boss's boss, and then I'm going to have to go back to my job." She turned her head and looked deep into Fa'Rua's eyes. "Let's go upstairs." 

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Fa'Rua was content, she gave Ashleys thigh a supportive squeeze at the admission of her late realizations holding her close and enjoying the moment.  The words about her duty and reports worried her, it sounded so close to an 'I have too much happening right now' brush off, for comfort.  When Ashley suggested something more her heart thudded in her chest as she met the Terrans eyes searching for doubt, or too much drink perhaps and finding none took ashleys hand with a bright smile, "I'd like that."  She replied and pulled her to her feet and led the way a hand resting comfortably on the curve of her girlfriends hip.

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Ashley was 100% sure that the hotel clerk knew why they were renting a room and 110% sure that she was being judged - but inside the elevator, when they were alone and the doors closed, she kissed Fa'Rua again and she didn't have to worry about what anyone else thought of that. For the first time in a long time, there was only one person she needed to impress tonight. 

 

-

 

Between one thing and another, it was a long evening - and the next time her phone chimed, Ashley was asleep in a very compromising but extremely pleasant position in bed with a gorgeous amazon from the depths of space. It was enormously tempting to just let her phone go on chiming; but her eyes were open and the phone was in her hand before the third ding, because that was what duty was. 

 

"Okay...okay." She sat up, pushing the hair out of her face. "Full report in...half an hour. If I call it in, I can take a shower first." She scrubbed her eyes with her fingers, and added, "And then it's back to big sister duty. Dammit." 

 

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Fa'Rua sleepily ran a hand along Ashleys back when she sat up, perhaps trying to tempt her back into a warm embrace.  She stirred and draped arms over her shoulders to press a kiss against Ashleys cheek.  "You do big sister duty well though."  she praised happily, "She needs you, as much as I wish it wasn't so they all do."  she admitted, "Just make sure they give you your back vacation when the missions over and I promise to make it worth your while Agent."  she teased lightly as she withdrew.  She'd have reports of her own soon.  Her side trip to aid Ashley hadn't been exactly sanctioned after all, and now a Lor Scout was involved with a Terran internal conflict.  She glanced back to Ashleys back with a  fond smile and murmured to her self, 'Worth it.'

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Ashley scrubbed her hand over her eyes again, lost in thought. What could she say here, after everything else that had happened that night? Are we a couple now? Am I...gay? Or bisexual? She was pretty sure of the latter, even though it was like a hammerblow to her self-perception anyway. Well that was the consequence of pushing past your limits, wasn't it? Finding out new things about yourself? Then there were the other questions. Am I ever going to see you again once you're back in space? 

 

Well she already knew this was no time for an existential crisis. She turned and blew a kiss to Fa'Rua on her way into the hotel bathroom. Whatever else was going to happen - it was worth it. 

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