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Cause [2.1.8]

Ephra was on her way out, but as she reached the door, Vasa looked up quizzically. “You’re out early.”

“Training.” she replied, shrugging.

With that, she exited, leaving Joseph and Vasa standing nonplussed in the hub room of their apartment. Joseph tilted his head, confused.

“Does she, uh, do that often?”

“Yeah.” Vasa replied, shrugging. “Ephra’s one of the best combatants this side of the universe; she trains nearly every morning for two hours. It’s only been recently that she’s been slacking.”

“I see.” Joseph replied. He turned to Vasa. “Coffee?”

“Whilst I’d kill for a coffee after staying up so late, I’m actually hungry too. Breakfast is in order.” Vasa replied, muttering to himself as he scanned the group chat that was discussing the morning’s dream.

“Well,” said Joseph, checking the same chat, “It looks like Mizar and co have decided to do the same. Tell me, what is this elfin jerky?”

“Some kind of meat.” Vasa said. “I’m not too familiar with it – vegetarian. Uh, hold on, I’m getting a message.”

Joseph took a seat, idly glancing around the room, whilst Vasa tapped his wrist phone, his face showing a range of different emotions as he read the latest messages.


De oh yeah dude

De i pulled some strings with Harrut and the other Officials, and whilst this Antumbra plan is going on, you guys aren’t on observation anymore. You’re free to leave the flat.

De go get breakfast somewhere nice. If our society had money, it’d be on me.

…Thank you, Denneb. I do appreciate that. Va


“Right.” Vasa said.

Joseph looked up and Vasa gave him a grin.

“We’re not being observed anymore. Which means we can leave the apartment without fear of being watched – let’s go get something nice for breakfast.”

“Indeed!” Joseph said. He stood up and followed Vasa to the front door as the Zionid waxed lyrical on some of the places they could visit.

“There’s a place nearby that does great coffee, but the food’s a little bit meh… of course, we can always get a coffee from there and then head to the dessert place a bit further away… although that’s quite a walk, they do really, really nice baked goods of various kinds… I should also probably introduce you to non-Earth cuisine, like baked veerbread crumble, I guess… what do you want to do?”

“Me?” Joseph said as they descended the stairs. “Well, I think you’re right, I ought to step outside of my comfort zone a bit. This veerbread stuff sounds interesting.”

“Then it’s settled. We’ll grab a coffee and head over to Paniel’s for crumble.” Vasa replied.

As they walked through the early morning streets of Zion, Joseph found himself unsure of what to say. Having discovered Vasa’s sexuality, as well as his fondness of Raziel, it felt like the Zionid walking beside him was an entirely different person than the one he had initially met. They were far more similar than Joseph had initially believed.

With all of that on his mind, it was difficult to make conversation.

“So… what’s your favourite food?” Joseph found himself awkwardly stammering.

Vasa seemed the consider the question quite genuinely.

“For breakfast, as much as I hate to admit I like something of Earth’s… probably fruit and yoghurt. A classic. I like bananas, too, I’ve been having banana bread for breakfast recently.”

“Cool.” Joseph replied.

They continued walking without speaking for another few minutes, with Vasa leading the way to the coffee shop.

“Here it is.”

Thank god, Joseph privately thought. Any longer in silence and I would’ve died.

The pair entered the coffee shop, and a few minutes later, they were sat nursing their drinks and observing the Zionids walking past the place’s tall windows. Vasa began to talk, and feeling quite at home now he had a warm drink, Joseph listened without feeling the need to interrupt.

“That over there, that’s one of the latest helmet designs. That Zionid’s obviously an up-and-coming kinda figure, probably works at a smithy by the looks of him. Raziel had the same helmet.”

“Mm.” Joseph replied. People-watching was something he and his uncle had often done, and for a moment, it was like a semblance of normalcy had taken over. I could get used to this, I think.

“Ah, that’s an alternative Zionid over there. Swords are usually Void’s thing, but that Zionid obviously wants to make a statement. That girl there is… really not wearing much at all. That’s a new range of light armour – not suitable for fighting, but certainly stylish. Oh, and that guy is a fellow researcher friend of mine. He hasn’t spotted us, unfortunately. I’ve not seen the book he’s looking at, I wonder what he’s studying?”

The coffees were soon depleted. Vasa sighed with satisfaction. “Right. Let’s get to Paniel’s and eat, shall we?”

“Yeah, sure.” Joseph replied. As they exited, Vasa turned to Joseph and fixed him with a bright, quietly intelligent gaze.

“So, I think I’ve waxed lyrical on enough of Zion’s culture and history. I’m not too fond of Earth, as you may have guessed; it’s a little mainstream for my tastes, and I don’t like the idea that it had such a strong effect on the ways our society developed. But I am interested in you – why not tell me more about your home?”

“Oh, um, sure.” Joseph said, taken aback. “Well… I lived with my uncle. He was a travel writer, so he was always going travelling. I pretty much raised myself; he was always home at weekends though. He made sure that Saturday and Sunday mornings were solely for me.”

“That’s nice.” Vasa murmured.

“I had fun, though. I liked cooking; obviously, I didn’t get much chance to do it once college got busier. History is a tough subject, we had lots of essays to do. But it was really nice to write them – I always thought I might be a historian when I grew up.”

“Ah, I see. Did you ever do trips? That’s a thing history subjects do, right?”

“Yeah, we did.” Joseph said. “They were the most fun – my psychometry allowed me to tell the fake things from the real… not that anyone ever believed me. Me and my uncle used to visit museums in our spare time, but I was rarely able to actually get close enough to touch any of the exhibits to see. Still, I think my power helped with my love of history.”

“I agree, that’d make sense. You can be so much closer to it than, for example, I could. Though, I don’t need psychometry to find the history of Zion and Void incredibly interesting. And the histories of the millions of worlds we can see, too. The libraries of Zion and Void are full to the brim of historical books on every race, world and galaxy you could possibly conceive.”

“Wow…” Joseph murmured. “I’d love to see it sometime. Perhaps when we don’t have as strict a deadline.”

“…I do wonder about that.” Vasa said. “What is going to happen to you once we save the universe?”

Joseph felt an icy chill run down his back. “You, uh… hadn’t accounted for that?”

“Well, we were so distracted with getting you here and dealing with the immediate threat… maybe Raziel had a plan, but he never told us. Probably didn’t consider it important until it was all over.”

“What are the possibilities?”

“Well,” Vasa replied, gesturing in the air as he explained. “Let’s say that everything goes perfectly – we kill Antumbra before they destroy the universe and it’s all sorted. We should theoretically be able to find spirit links on Zion and Void and send you home in much the same way as we brought you here.”

Joseph breathed a sigh of relief. “So that’s good.”

“Yeah.” Vasa replied. “But… the month or so that you’ve been gone will still have elapsed. It’s gonna be hard to explain where you vanished to for a month.”

“Oh, of course.” Joseph muttered. “My uncle must be worried sick. Everyone’s parents must be terrified…”

“I know. We knew that was going to happen when we summoned you – but you must understand, everything, and I mean everything, is at stake here.”

“I don’t regret my decision.” Joseph said. He stared ahead as they arrived at Paniel’s, and lowered his brows in a determined frown. “What do a few missing children matter when the universe itself is at stake?”

“Precisely.” Vasa said, smiling. “You understand; I thought you would.”

“Don’t worry, I’ve made tough decisions before. I know how to stick by them.”

“Excellent.” Vasa replied. “Now then, let’s forget these heavy topics and eat some breakfast, shall we?”

Cause [2.1.7]
Cause [2.1.9]

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