Born Zero

Winter: 16 years at the Monastery, five months after first flight; on patrol awaiting the coronation of a new Emperor.

Ice crunched underfoot as Sunar and his three friends made their way through the crowded streets. Vehicles had been banned from the town for the duration of the festivities, and revelers seemed to be everywhere and constantly on the move. Many had begun to drink, some already more than they should. He saw one young man, an elf by the ears, stagger out of a doorway, fall face down into the snow, and lie still. His friends, none of them displaying any hint of sobriety, rolled him over, prodded him a bit, then left him there to go find better sport.

He signaled the other Titans, and Seben motioned that he’d call it in, his hand going to the communicator hidden under his beard. Sunar positioned himself at the elf’s head, planted his staff in the snow, and set himself to wait. He could hear Gorshun checking the elf’s breathing while Lenar took up position to help keep the crowds away.

It didn’t take long to check the elf’s condition. He then heard Gorshun step over to speak in his ear, “Do you want to carry this one in, or wait for medics to come pick him up? He looks easy enough for us to carry, and it would at least keep us moving.”

He kept his eyes on the crowd, and the holo-projection which blocked the ski slopes at the edge of the town, “Lets allow the town medics come get him. We are supposed to be seen now, right? Which looks better to these types of people, plain-clad monks carrying one of them over the shoulder, or standing ready to defend one who has fallen?”

Gorshun snorted slightly, “Defend him from what, being puked on?” They both allowed themselves a small laugh, “Still, you make a point. Probably won’t hurt to give the town’s medics something to do. I heard one of them complaining about being cooped up inside.”

He glanced back at Gorshun and nodded. His friend took his place and they waited. Crowds streamed past in both directions, but the pace and volume of the activity had slowed. He allowed himself to concentrate on the holo-projection of the Imperial throne room, so many light years away, yet streaming live to the side of their mountain.

The Golden Dragon Throne sat on top of the Royal dais. The arm rests the wings of a dragon, the throne’s back its body, its head coming forth from the back of the chair to rest on the emperor’s gold-encased head. I wonder what he looks like under the gold casing? He is obviously too tall for a dwarf or a gnome. Maybe a human? Elf? Who knows. I’m sure he will be glad to be off that throne after a hundred years, though, and to have his family back out of stasis.

The medics arrived and pulled him out of his reverie. He turned his attention back to the crowd while Gorshun traded a few polite words with the medics. They loaded the youth up and headed off. He traded smiles and nods with his friends, and they moved away together.

A short time later the soft splat of a hand impacting clothed flesh caught his attention. He turned and saw a male dark elf pulling his hand back from slapping a human female’s behind. The dark elf made some sort of demand at the woman, but she ignored him and stepped up her pace. The male responded by grabbing her behind hard enough that he forced her to stop, and made another demand.

Sunar increased his own pace and made his way toward them.

The woman turned to face the guy and slapped his hand away in a single motion. She glared at him, and tried to turn to continue on her way, but the guy grabbed her roughly by the shoulder, spun her around, and spoke in a loud, angry voice, “Just who do you think you are, little mi’lady, to spurn my attentions like that? I will have you know I am a Lord of this Duchy’s court, meaning I out-rank you. So, you can just hold yourself still and… talk with me a little.”

Sunar was coming up more-or less behind the male. She could see him, but the dark elf could not. The guy had a couple friends who chuckled at the remark. Sunar did not like the tone of their laughter.

The woman pulled herself up to her full height before she answered, “I am not mi’lady, you ruffian, I am a Lady of the court of this nation, which means I have earned rank, mi’lord, unlike you and your born-zero friends, and it means I out-rank you for all practical purposes. Now, stand aside, boy!”

The dark elves’ stances changed at the insult. Sunar moved himself more to the side of them, hoping to get at the instigator before things got too far.

The mi’lord who had been insulted grinned an ugly grin, and reached out to grab the woman’s breast, “Born-zero, is it? You planetary nobles, so provincial, so full of yourselves. I’ll have you know my fa…”

A sharp slap, hard enough to rock the male’s head, interrupted him. His head came back around with violence in his eyes, “You little trollop! How dare you! I.. I will, AAHHHH”

The dark elf had drawn back a fist to hit the woman, then screamed when he found his fist’s forward motion stopped by Sunar’s staff in the crook of his elbow. Sunar stayed in motion, and soon had one hand holding both the dark elf’s shoulder and his staff -still lodged in the bend of the male’s elbow- while his other hand pulled the fist belonging to that elbow down. This very effectively trapped the guy in a rather ridiculous looking position with his arm ready to throw a punch, but blocked by a staff in the elbow.

The dark elf struggled and began to yell, “Let me go you stupid peasant! You have no right to so much as touch me, you worthless little monk! Oh, yes, I know. We heard all about you bunch of… AAARG!”

Sunar decided he’d had enough, and squeezed on the man’s shoulder. He could hear his opponent’s friends move, and his own friends move in response. The shuffle behind him stopped, and his opponent stopped yelling, but continued to struggle.

“My Lady, are you harmed, and do you wish to make a complaint?”

“No, mi’Lord, I am none the worse for wear, this little boy doesn’t have the strength to cause me any noticeable harm. I have taken note of his house, and will handle my affairs with him and his family another day. Thank you for your help, you may have saved this man-child’s life.”

With that she turned to go. Sunar watched her for a few steps, and realized she’d made no idle boast. I bet she earned that title through combat… she would have torn this guy apart. Not an auspicious thing to happen on coronation day.

The dark elf’s struggles increased with the Lady’s words, and he took in a breath to scream at her again. Sunar rolled his eyes, then pivoted on his heal and tossed him to the ground at his friend’s feet. The young man hit the ground on all fours, and didn’t even look up before he started to rant, “I’ll have you in irons for that peasant! You know the penalty for assaulting above your station, or if you don’t, you will learn! I am Vorgar Ratharin of the house of Elal. Learn that name and learn it well, fool, for it will be your doom!”

Sunar rolled his eyes again, and made sure the idiot’s friends could see it this time. “Get up mi’lord, and be about your way, or I will arrest you and you will spend the rest of the coronation in the stockade.”

Ratharin laughed loudly at this, a cruel laugh full of spite. He didn’t notice his friend’s shuffling feet. “Arrest me, peasant? That is rich. I have a better idea.” Ratharin sprang to his feet and turned, his hand moving to a weapon, “I am going to arrest…”

Sunar simply stood, staff at the ready, as the dark elf realized he faced a half-dragon. He watched with some amusement as his opponent remembered that all half-dragons carried noble title by right of their dragon parentage, and that meant that Sunar could, in fact, arrest him.

Ratharin stood very still for some moments, and looked like he might try to carry out his threat. He then seemed to count the odds, sniffed derisively, and turned to go, “C’mon gents. These planetary-level nobles. Barely more than peasants themselves. Hardly worth our time. Let’s go find a drink!”

Sunar watched as they wandered into the crowd. Gorshun stepped up next to him and muttered, “Too bad that Zero learned to count. I was looking forward to seeing you take him down a peg or two. Think the situation is over, then?”

He allowed himself a moment of hope as the young dark elves walked away. But when the small group turned a corner Ratharin shot a look of pure hate over his shoulder just before they disappeared. “No, my friend, I don’t. But, it is for now.”

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