alliance independence


Moonlight (2016)

Directed by Barry Jenkins

Cinematography by James Laxton

Is the New Republic surrounded?

Weeeell. That’s a line of thought i’ve been entertaining. Like a lot. I’ve been meaning to do a post on that, so that’s the occasion. Let’s talk facts and possibilities. It’s gonna be a wild ride.

Maps. Maps are good. We can’t talk about the NR being surrounded without a map. But first let’s get an idea of the Empire’s reach before it got wrecked - it’s very incomplete, but gives an idea.

Also i did say it’d be a wild ride. Bear with me.

The red points are locations (really) easy to find, where Imperial presence most definitely was a thing. All the exploration and mapping going on shows they’re going everywhere.

Fast forward. The Empire’s been defeated at Endor, and Imperials are fleeing towards the Unknown Regions (where the Starkiller will be built), the Outer Rim and Wild Space, as seen in [Aftermath]. Let’s note an important map-related point from the VD:

One of those travelers is Lor San Tekka. It’s highly likely some of these records touched on Imperial exploration endeavors. 

- THE MAPS. And we know, through TFA, the FO has maps inherited from the Empire. Which already gives them an advantage. Since to surround the NR, you’d need to start your pincer move from the edges of the galaxy - Wild Space and the Unknown Reaches.

Anyway. The [preview to the history of propaganda book] says:

The thousand-year regime did not outlive its founder. The death of Palpatine at the Battle of Endor threw the Galactic Empire into tumult, as the autocracy did not have ironclad instruction of succession in the event of such a disaster. Ambitious members of the Imperial Council attempted to grab into their fiefdoms of power, while distant governors and Imperial military leaders seized what territories they could. Other loyalists tried to uphold Palpatine’s vision and considered such power grabs traitorous. Still more Imperials were relieved to be free of their sovereign and sued for peace with the victorious Alliance at their earliest opportunity.

This was a time of chess. The Empire’s expansion stalled, and its aggression turned inwards. Governors used their propaganda apparatus to spread tailored messages, which in aggregate were a contradictory and bewildering mess. Some, like Governor Abelhard of the Anoat sector, insisted that the Emperor lived on and that the Rebellion was spreading lies. Others downplayed the threat of the newly emergent New Republic, or refused to name it as such to avoid giving the victors any kind of legitimacy. Some ramped up fear by describing the New Republic as monstrous terrorists, swallowing former Imperial worlds whole with their anarchy.

The Akiva summit in Aftermath has also shown the Imperials are, at this point, splintered. Most important, the end reveals there’s a fleet in hiding somewhere in the Vulpinus Nebula (location unknown), led by a Grand Admiral. It’s also where Admiral Rae Sloane and the Super Star Destroyer Ravager are.

But we know at some point, the Ravager will leave its hiding place, and participate in the Battle of Jakku, where it’ll meet its end. Lost Stars told us the Battle of Jakku was followed by some Imperials retreating in the Core, and of a fleet hidden in the Queluhan Nebula (location unknown). The battle was also followed by the signing of the Galactic Concordance treaty (a mutual treaty, though the exact terms are hard to work out), but let’s emphasize an important point from the propaganda book:

The Galactic Concordance, the peace treaty that brought an end to hostility, was at last signed after the last remnants of the Imperial fleet vanished following the Battle of Jakku. Former Imperial governors were invited to the New Republic, though many of them bore the weight of crushing reparations.

So those didn’t sign no treaty. The VD confirms that:

We also know, from the propaganda book preview, that post Battle of Jakku, some other Imperials will join the NR, and later secede to form the FO:

Over time, the former Imperials reunited as the First Order and coolly inhabited a wing of Republic politics until tension reached a breaking point. The First Order seceded from the New Republic, a move that was welcomed by many in the galactic capital. But others realized that without Republic oversight, the First Order would return to the Empire’s draconian ways and ambitious expansion. To counter this specific concern, Leia Organa of Alderaan founded the Resistance, a paramilitary group that probed the neutral space separating the First Order and the Republic for signs of treaty violation.

Okay so timeline-wise, we now get to [Bloodline]. Methinks the Centrists, not all probably, but the most extreme, are likely to be the seceding party. The threat at the edges of the galaxy teased in released materials for the book would be another imperial splinter, and my working hypothesis is the FO as such is born from a meeting of the Senate-splinter extremists and the Hidden-splinter (or, alternatively, one of an unknown number of Hidden-splinters. You know, for another trilogy. Or spin-offs.)

Okay, so overall, we have timeline issues, and it’s hard to see yet how all those different remnants relate to each other exactly. Bloodline will probably give us more on the FO’s birth, and that’ll clarify a few things. In any case, we know the book should at least end with the creation of the Resistance, and the NR aware of the FO’s existence. 

And so we get to the situation before TFA. We know the NR isn’t taking the FO seriously at this point, and i could mount up evidence but let’s just quote a bit from [Poe’s Before the Awakening chapter]. It comes from a Major Deso, of the NR’s Navy, so we can say it’s the official line:

“The Senate Intelligence Committee has reviewed the reports and has found them inconclusive, at best grossly overstated, Poe. This is a non-issue. It’s a big galaxy. The First Order is a remnant born of a war thirty years gone. Yes, they persist, yes, they continue, but by all accounts they do so barely. They are, at best, an ill-organized, poorly equipped, and badly funded group of loyalists who use propaganda and fear to inflate their strength and their importance.”

Yeah. Moving on, much has been said of the NR’s head-in-the-sand policy. Let’s ask instead, what’s exactly the influence zone of the New Republic?

The propaganda book preview tells us, emphasis mine,

Once the dust of the Galactic Civil War settled, the New Republic was a fraction of the size of the Empire and the Republic that preceded it. Its size was dictated by the egalitarian process that created it. Many systems opted out of galactic representation, but remained on friendly terms with the galactic government. A Galactic Senate would convene on the capital - a capital that would have no fixed location and would travel to different worlds determined by election.

Those are some very important points. 

The Poe chapter in Before the Awakening has three helpful bits; the first one is about an official NR map:

“[Poe] clenched his fists, unclenched them, then looked past Deso at the wall of the briefing room behind him. A display showed the galaxy, color overlays marking realms of political influence. Their position at the Republic base in Mirrin Prime was marked by a gently pulsing gold dot at sea in the royal blue that represented the New Republic’s sphere of influence. It stretched far and wide, from the Inner Core to great swaths of the Outer Rim. A gray band designated the neutral region of the Borderland, and beyond that was a pocket of crimson, First Order territory.

For the first time, Poe saw the map and thought it was lying”.

The second one is on the Resistance’s maps:

A holoprojector, used for analysis and planning, glowed in an opposite corner, projecting one of the Republic news feeds, but it had been muted, making it seem as if the reporter were speaking in pantomime. On the far wall, opposite where he’d entered, were two displays showing the galaxy, similar to the overlay map in Deso’s office. It took Poe another second to realize the difference, that these weren’t political maps but rather operational ones, showing troop and fleet movements”.

I keep thinking it’s weird the Navy uses what amounts to political maps, and it makes me wonder if the NR didn’t recognize the sovereignty of the FO, or the seceding Senate-splinter, on some areas of space.

The uncivilized ones, mostly. Far from the Core. 

Which, of course, would have been a really bad move, since that’s not NR territory. 

Anyway, last bit:

Republic space and First Order space were separated by a buffer zone of neutral systems, and the peace that had been negotiated—a peace that many, including Poe, believed existed in name only—meant that military action taken by one side upon the other was considered an overt act of war. It didn’t seem to matter that evidence of First Order incursions into Republic space continued to mount; the Republic refused to take any action outside of the most formal diplomatic protest. Striking directly at the First Order was out of the question. As Leia explained it to Poe, Resistance action had to remain covert, at least until irrefutable evidence of the First Order’s violation of the peace could be presented to Republic Command

Hey. Mutual treaty! Breaking of terms on both sides!

More importantly for today’s question, buffer zones.

Let’s work magic now (i wish)

  • in dark blue, 
    • Kashyyyk, whom we can suppose has been liberated during Aftermath: Life Debt
    • Chandrila, first seat of the NR’s Senate
    • D’Qar gets some blue too, since it’s a Resistance base of operation.
  •  in dark blue + less dark blue, 
    • Bespin, freed in the comics post RotJ 
    • Endor
  • in green
    • Ryloth, who likely stayed an independent player since Bloodline. 
    • The deformed green potato is Hutt Space (EU limits since official map’s so sadly lacking, but Bloodline confirms it exists and is disintegrating, so for now that’ll do to get an idea), where it’s very probable that, disintegration of Hutt power or not, the NR has little influence. Bloodline will probably tell us more. 
    • Takodana gets some green too, because it’s a neutral system 
  • the red dots are
    • Jakku, in the Inner Rim, and that should be NR territory – but it’s also pretty far from the main routes and near the Unknown Reaches.
    • Takodana, Mid Rim, neutral system.
    • D’Qar, Outer Rim, where the Resistance has a base.

That gives us an idea of how deep into the galaxy the FO ventured from the edges where it’s been relegated. Interesting to see how much terrain the FO/imperial remnants gained back, what with those red dots’ locations compared to the Endor and Bespin ones. From that’s here’s another speculative map, on possible influence zones. It’s of course wildly speculative.

In green possible FO reach; in green possible independent and/or buffer zones ; in blue possible extension of the NR and Resistance holdouts. The big red line is an approximation of the frontline as seen in TFA. Zones without colors i need more data for. No idea what could have been going in the Core with that Imperial fleet, for one. But that looks like a pincer move. Moar data will maybe make the NR look even more surrounded.

Also i really should start trying for decent maps instead of crappy paint edits.

Now a few last detail - we also know Mon Mothma’s argument for demilitarization in Aftermath was followed on by the NR; among other sources on that, the VD says

So from the start, the NR was, military-wise, in a bad place.

And even better, or worse depending on one’s point of view, we know the destruction of Hosnian Prime was the occasion to destroy part of the NR’s fleet. Hux’s speech:

Today is the end of the Republic. The end of a regime that acquiesces to disorder. At this very moment in a system far from here, the New Republic lies to the galaxy while secretly supporting the treachery of the loathsome Resistance. This fierce machine which you have built, upon which we stand will bring an end to the Senate, to their cherished fleet. All remaining systems will bow to the First Order and will remember this as the last day of the Republic! FIRE!

Some estimations by @seankayos on the destruction, from [here]:

If I had to guess, I’d assume the entirety of the New Republics civilian and military leadership is dead or missing in action in Hosnia, with 80 to 85% of the entire New Republic fleet burning from stem to stern alongside, including pretty much all of their heavy assets (battleships, Star Destroyers equivalents, carriers etc). What’s left is most likely the smattering of patrol bases that Poe refers to in his chapter of Before The Awakening, maybe some light escorts, cruisers and carriers on patrol/pirate hunting duty, as well as the various local defense forces. Either way, the situation is basically even worse than it was for the Rebels back in the day, in this new war the local defense forces will in all likelihood abandon other systems to defend their homes, and the NR has been at peace for 30 years

Now, we still have the Resistance - they’re a private paramilitary organisation, and have been fighting (well sort of) the FO already, so at least they’re ready. Aren’t they?

When the First Order’s true agenda was exposed in the most spectacular and horrific display of war technology known to history, the arguments evaporated as quickly as the Hosnian system. The Republic was burned away in minutes, the result of long-term plotting on the part of the First Order. The minuscule Resistance instantly became the galaxy’s only hope. And emerging from the depth of hidden space, the First Order appeared as a fully mechanized military threat.

Once again, war engulfed the galaxy. Once again, the candle of hope guttered in the winds of troop movements.

Yeah, no.

- Back to the question (was it a question? i’m not that sure). It’s quite possible.


#6 Regaining Independence: The Second Polish Republic
Photo: Marshal Joseph Piłsudski on Horseback by Wojciech Kossak (1928)

■ The outbreak of World War I and the major subsequent changes to Europe’s political map was the moment that Polish activists had long been waiting for. Throughout the war around 2 million Polish soldiers fought on the fronts of WWI, supporting the armies of the Triple Entente, whilst the Polish political elite sought the endorsement of the French-Russian-British alliance for Poland’s independence. Thanks to these efforts as well as thanks to many favourable events (such as revolutions in Russia and Germany) Poland regained independence on 11th November 1918.

■ The interwar period (1918-1939) was entirely devoted to the painstaking and tormented process of rebuilding and reuniting the devastated and terribly divided country (which had been 3 different countries for the previous 123 years). It was marked with vehement political mayhem, including the assassination of the first president and a coup d’etat as well as huge unrest on the eastern borders of Poland.

Anonymous submitted:

Do you consider Sansa to be a Lannister (because of her marriage)? Do you think that she’ll end up marrying someone else by series’ end and trying to divorce/break off her wedding with Tyrion? 

Hi! No, I don’t consider Sansa to be a Lannister. Sansa’s a Stark :)  @nobodysuspectsthebutterfly‘s tag for #maiden names in Westeros might be useful if you want to read more about Sansa’s situation and how the marriage Tywin orchestrated between Sansa and Tyrion was barely legal. 

Stannis is the only person who refers to Sansa as a Lannister, and he’s doing it because 1) he’s a pedant and 2) he wants to further his own claim to the Iron Throne. Yes, yes, he’s trying to protect his people and you need someone who isn’t a Bolton controlling Winterfell (your most powerful defense against the apocalypse after the Wall falls). But it’s also a political ploy. 

Stannis is using the idea that “If I act as king, then I am king, regardless of who’s sitting in which chair.” But there’s an intermediate step there: “If I act as king, and the people accept my actions as king, then I am king.” Only the king has the power to legitimize a bastard. If Stannis legitimizes Jon, and the North recognizes Jon as Lord Stark, then the North effectively recognizes Stannis as king. It’s a clever political move: “You could bring the North to me.” So of course Stannis is emphasizing Sansa’s marriage to Tyrion, even though everyone knows damn well (because of Westerosi customs) that Sansa wouldn’t call herself a Lannister any more than Cersei would call herself a Baratheon. Stannis is playing the game, and I think he’s trying to emotionally manipulate Jon when he calls Sansa a Lannister.

But if you’ll let me get philosophical for a minute … Sansa ain’t a Lannister. Being a Lannister comes from within; you have to want it. The sense of Northern community that evolved from the harsh Northern climate, a sense of community which Ned taught all his children, is completely at odds with the centuries-old culture of systemic dehumanization associated with House Lannister and the Westerlands. Sansa’s value system doesn’t mesh well with House Lannister’s, imo. 

I know many people are really into the idea of an annulment for Sansa, but I think that issue will take care of itself, without any formal action by either Sansa or Tyrion, because I think Tyrion will die while saving the world from ice zombies, something I discuss further in my #endgame tag. (I think any marriage to Harry the Heir is going to be interrupted before Littlefinger’s plans can be carried out. I mean, let’s hope so, because I could definitely go my whole life without any sort of ~Stark girl loses her virginity~ scene written by GRRM. GRRM writing 13 year old Dany was one of the things that made me stop reading ASOIAF after AGOT when I was a child.)

I think Sansa will marry someone else later in life. Some people think it will be a politically advantageous marriage arranged by the new ruler of the independent Kingdom of the North in order to form an alliance with another independent kingdom after the Realm breaks apart following the War for the Dawn, but I don’t really subscribe to that theory. 

I believe Sansa will marry a husband who loves her for herself (and not for political reasons) and I believe she will have a large family with many children. The way I imagine endgame is that Sansa’s family, as it grows larger, will eventually be granted one of the castles in the Gift. However, I don’t think that any of this will happen by series’ end, because I think GRRM will close shortly after the war is won. I think there will be a Bran flashforward epilogue, though, and I think we will see glimpses of future events that readers will have to puzzle over and debate the meanings of, and I think a greying woman with stubborn traces of auburn in her hair, smiling, surrounded by her grandchildren, will be one of those flashforwards. 

beatrice-otter  asked:

I'm pretty sure not all of these ficlets and snippets are on AO3, sigh, which is why I don't think I've seen all of them before. But! Prompts! How about another acafic talking about was Vader really Anakin, or whatnot, in the style of "Jedi Knight (anonymous review)"

Ooooh, I really like this one, thanks! This is a sort of sequel to Jedi Knight (anonymous review), by someone who accepts Vader = Anakin, but has plenty of reservations about the scholarship around it.

Reflections on the Vader Question

Anyaval Lilles, Professor of Early Modern History at the University of Xôir, Corellia, formerly fellow at Twin University, Tatooine.

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Sinbad no Bouken 109 RAW + a Summary!

Here are the raws for Sinbad no Bouken 109! Finally, we are out of that tomb! But I really hope we stay in Heliohapt for a little longer… ;__; 

Just a reminder, to anyone who follows me and enjoys these raws/summaries, parts of or even all of these summaries could be completely wrong, so be advised as you read them as I am by no means a professional translator!

*** Disclaimer : Sinbad no Bouken is not my work. Please be sure to vote for Sinbad no Bouken everyday on the MangaOne app if you have it!

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Washington Post gives Obama 4 Pinocchios for his Keystone Pipeline lies

You know it’s bad when the Washington Post stops pulling their punches on Obama.

from WaPo:

“I’ve already said I’m happy to look at how we can increase pipeline production for U.S. oil, but Keystone is for Canadian oil to send that down to the Gulf. It bypasses the United States and is estimated to create a little over 250, maybe 300 permanent jobs. We should be focusing more broadly on American infrastructure for American jobs and American producers, and that’s something that we very much support.”

– President Obama, interview with WDAY of Fargo, N.D., Feb. 26, 2015
President Obama, seeking to explain his veto of a bill that would have leapfrogged the approval process for the Keystone XL pipeline, in an interview with a North Dakota station repeated some false claims that had previously earned him Pinocchios. Yet he managed to make his statement even more misleading than before, suggesting the pipeline would have no benefit for American producers at all.


As we have noted before, when the president says “it bypasses the United States,” he leaves out a very important step. The crude oil would travel to the Gulf Coast, where it would be refined into products such as motor gasoline and diesel fuel (known as a distillate fuel in the trade). Current trends suggest that only about half of that refined product would be exported, and it could easily be lower.

A report released in February by IHS Energy, which consults for energy companies, concluded that “Canadian crude making its way to the USGC [Gulf Coast] will likely be refined there, and most of the refined products are likely to be consumed in the United States.” It added that “for Gulf refineries, heavy bitumen blends from the oil sands are an attractive substitute for declining offshore heavy crude supply from Latin America.” It concluded that 70 percent of the refined product would be consumed in the United States.


Finally, note that Obama said Keystone was just for Canadian oil, and “we should be focusing on American infrastructure for American jobs and American producers.” But actually, Keystone would help U.S. oil producers in North Dakota and Montana. TransCanada, the builder of the pipeline, has signed contracts to move 65,000 barrels a day from the Bakken area –and hopes to build that to 100,000. That’s nearly 10 percent of the region’s production.

read the rest

The truth is, of course, that Obama rejected the Keystone Pipeline because he is ideologically opposed to America having energy independence.  His alliances with environmental groups are only half of the equation. The other half is the crucial part of Obama’s ideology that influences virtually all of his policy making: that the United States has led the world for too long and that our influence and successes should be redistributed to other countries around the world. 

Lost Together

This was supposed to have been for han-leia-solo’s Han & Leia appreciation week, but I went away for the weekend and didn’t get the chance to post this :( Oh well, better late than never. 

“I hope you realize that this is entirely your fault.”

“My fault!”


My fault!”


Han threw his hands up in frustration. They’d been trekking through the jungle for hours, and their speeder was nowhere in sight. The terrain where they’d needed to set up the atmospheric sensors had required them to leave the speeder behind and travel a few miles on foot, and they were supposed to have headed straight back to base afterwards.

“You’re the one who suggested we veer south, Your Holiness,” he snapped, swiping at a bead of sweat running down his temple and swatting a large, leafy branch out of their path. The air was so heavy and humid that he couldn’t even tell whether or not the moisture he felt all over his body was a result of the mist or of perspiration.

“I only said that because you lost the navicalculator,” Leia said from behind him. She was panting; he figured her significantly shorter legs were having more trouble with the terrain than his were.

“I didn’t lose it,” Han huffed. “I just forgot to bring it.”

It was a damn shame that he had to walk in front and clear a path, he lamented, because about an hour ago the princess had been so hot and sweaty in the stifling jungle air that she’d stripped off her shirt and was traipsing behind him in her form-fitting, sleeveless undershirt, her coiled braids damp and disheveled.

“Why am I not surprised?”

Han scowled and continued barreling through the foliage. They’d tried to comm for help numerous times, but there seemed to be some kind of atmospheric interference with the signal; they couldn’t get anything other than static, and without the navigational positioning calculator, they were completely and utterly lost. Under ordinary circumstances he might’ve been a little more optimistic at the prospect of so much time alone with the princess, but she’d not taken well to his attempts to small talk her, and he was getting nervous as dusk approached. The jungle planet was crawling with large predators, and he didn’t like the idea of blundering around at night with some carnivorous beast on the loose. He was beginning to think they’d be better off finding cover until morning; making it back to base before nightfall was looking increasingly less likely.

“I say we give it another hour and then we stop,” he said, using his vibroblade to slash through a particularly dense wall of vines. “Unless you wanna wander around and wait for a modrol to find us. It’d go for you first, y’know—easier target, and all.”

Han smirked to himself, waiting for her cry of indignation behind him, but was perturbed when it never came.


Concerned, he wheeled around, one hand dropping to the blaster holstered at his side, half-expecting to find her in the hands of some monstrous alien creature. What he found, though, was nothing of that nature. Leia stood as still as a statue a few yards behind him, staring unmoving into the jungle. He could see her face only in profile, but it was enough for him to catch that her eyes were wide and that her expression was grim. Frowning—and slightly irritated that she’d stopped without telling him and that she hadn’t even been paying attention to his teasing—he backtracked and moved to stand at her side.

It was immediately clear what had drawn her attention. Lying in a lifeless heap against the mossy floor was a dead animal. Its mottled black fur—clearly meant to camouflage it against the black tree trunks of its habitat—shone scarlet with spilt blood. A massive piece of flesh was taken out of its left flank, leaving a gruesome wound that had clearly ended the animal’s life. Judging by the bloodstains all over the surrounding foliage, the poor creature had staggered and suffered for a while before collapsing.

Han winced and looked down at Leia, who seemed to be transfixed by the tragic sight.

“It’s a rixx cat,” he grunted, unsure what else to say. The feline’s large paws, stubby tail, and white-streaked belly were unmistakable. “There’s a lotta big animals in this jungle. Must’ve crossed paths with something.”

Leia nodded, still looking profoundly sad. Han realized that he’d never seen Leia interact with an animal before. Did she have a thing for big cats or something? He found the idea strange, but twilight was beginning to cast long shadows in the trees, and he didn’t want to linger around while it got dark. He cleared his throat.

“C’mon. We should find a place to make camp.”

Leia nodded and turned, seeming to have finally snapped out of her trance, but just as Han thought they would be on their way again, she abruptly spun back around and took a few sharp steps towards the dead rixx.

Bewildered, Han watched her keen gaze focus on the animal, and she crouched down on her haunches in front of it.

“Leia,” he huffed—exasperated, concerned, and wary. “Don’t go near it—”

Just as quickly as she crouched, however, Leia was upright and walking towards him once more, and in her arms, cradled against her chest, was a fuzzy, grey thing with large pointed ears.

Han gaped at her. It was clearly a rixx cub, only a few weeks old, by the looks of it. The thing squirmed, yowled plaintively, kicked out a paw that seemed way too big for its tiny little body, and then settled against Leia’s breast in resignation.

“It’s a baby,” Leia blinked, staring down at the rixx cub like she wasn’t quite sure what she was seeing.

Han shifted his weight from one foot to the other.

“Uh, yeah, that’s—that’s too bad,” he said gruffly. He really wasn’t sure what to make of whatever was happening. The rixx mewled in distress, and, to his consternation, Leia began to gently rock it in her arms. This was too much for him.

“Listen—c’mon, Leia, put that thing down. We gotta keep moving—”

“What, just leave it here?” she demanded, head snapping up to glare at him in disbelief. Her eyes flashed, and he noticed that she angled the animal away from him.

Bewildered, Han stared.

“Well, we can’t take it with us,” he pointed out, eyeing both Leia and the rixx warily. He wasn’t sure what the hell had gotten into the princess, but his priority was to get her somewhere safe before sunset.

Leia retreated a step.

“This rixx cat,” she said icily, “is an orphan.”

Ah, hell. Han winced and rubbed at the back of his neck. So that’s what this was about.

“Princess,” he said carefully. He knew the situation called for more tact than he could manage. “Look, this stuff happens in the jungle. Nature’s not pretty, but it’s getting dark—”

“If we leave her, she’ll die.”

She? Now it’s a she?

“I’m taking her with me.”

“No, you’re not! C’mon, put it back. I’m sure it’ll be fine—”

“This rixx cat is coming with us, and that’s final,” she snapped, pushing past him and striding off into the jungle. She disappeared through a screen of white and purple leaves, and, incredulous, Han hurried after her.

“No, it sure as hell is not final. We’re gonna have a hard enough time looking after ourselves tonight without worrying about a helpless baby animal!”

“Oh, so you’d rather leave her—a helpless baby—to starve all alone? You want to abandon her to a gruesome death at the mercy of some vicious predator? I knew you were selfish and arrogant, but I never thought you were heartless, Han Solo.”

Han grit his teeth.

“That’s not what I said,” he growled.

Leia stopped and regarded him with a heated, haughty expression on her face.

“Fortunately, it really doesn’t matter what you said, because I’m in charge and I say that she’s coming with us.”

She started walking again, still holding the rixx cub close to her heart. Han blinked after her for a second before he stormed in her wake, getting hit in the face by a low-hanging branch that Leia had been able to pass under without a problem but which was at his eye level and which he hadn’t noticed because he was too busy glaring at the back of her head. Swearing, he batted the thing away, spitting leaves from his mouth and cursing every rixx cat and every princess in existence.

“Let me get this straight,” he griped. “You’re gonna keep that thing?”

“Isn’t that what I just said?”

“For how long?” he asked. He knew that Leia was so passionate about the rebellion because she couldn’t bear injustice and suffering where it was avoidable, but he felt that it was completely irrational of her to run around adopting rixx cats when she had so many responsibilities as it was.


“Well in case you forgot, Your Highness, that’s a wild animal. It belongs in the wild. You can’t just keep it. It’ll bite your arm off.”

“You know perfectly well that rescued rixx cats are an easily domesticated animal. And they’re an endangered species; this must be one of the last planets to have a rixx population at all. I couldn’t possibly leave her to die.”

The two of them stepped over a large log, slippery with a thick layer of moss. It bugged the hell out of him that she was able to gracefully manage it with her miniscule little legs and her arms full of baby rixx.

“Oh, so you’re just planning on strolling into base with a rixx cub? Isn’t there some kinda rule that says you rebels can’t have any pets on base?” he pressed. “Huh? How about that?”

This, finally, gave the princess pause. Han wanted to feel smug about it, knowing that he was right, but instead all he could come up with was an unpleasant twinge in his chest as he caught sight of the princess’s stricken expression. She bit her lip, gazing down at the grey ball of fur in her arms.

“Well,” she said slowly. She picked up her pace and stared straight ahead. “I suppose I couldn’t keep her with me… But the Alliance can’t prevent an independent, free-lance pilot from keeping an animal on his own ship…”

It took him a few moments to determine that she had indeed suggested what he thought she had. Han felt his entire face turn red.

“Now, wait a minute!” he yelled, balling his hands into fists. “I didn’t even wanna take it with us for the night! Now you want me to keep it on my ship?!”

“I’ll take care of her. She’ll just sleep onboard.”

She spoke so calmly and with such finality that Han saw red. It was like the matter was already decided, like she was so sure that the thing was going to be his newest, permanent passenger.

“No way, Princess! You think I want that thing scratching all my stuff and chewing on power cords and shedding everywhere?”

“Oh, please! As if you’d even notice a few extra scratched panels or frayed wires on that hunk of junk! Besides, she couldn’t possibly shed worse than Chewie!”

“Hey!” he snapped. “Watch it, sweetheart!” He wasn’t even sure what he was reacting to, but insulting his ship and his best friend weren’t helping her case. He scowled down at her. Typical princess, he grumbled to himself.

“I’ll feed her and brush her and clean up after her. You won’t have to do anything.”

“Yeah, except live with it! Answer’s no, Princess! I mean it! You might think you can pull rank on me and order me around out here, but not on my damn ship!”

Leia stopped walking again and stepped into his path. The ground they stood on was momentarily level, so the top of her head was about even with his shoulders, and she craned her head back to look up at him. He was expecting a tart response—some type of sarcastic, bossy remark—but what he got instead was a display of such softness that he was taken aback.

“Han, please,” she said softly. She held out the rixx cub towards him. “Look at her. She’s all alone. I can’t leave her. I can’t.”

As she spoke, the rixx shifted and opened its eyes. They were yellow and huge, and the thing seemed to understand completely what was going on, judging by the way it was desperately staring up at him, all small and pitiful and fluffy. Han grimaced. It was kind of cute, he admitted grudgingly to himself. Fuzzy and frazzled, but cute.

With a sigh, he looked back up at Leia. Her eyes, if it were possible, seemed even bigger and more vulnerable than the rixx cat’s. His stomach twisted, and with a growing sense of dread, he knew that he no longer stood a chance. Maybe if she’d been glaring at him, giving him that enraging look of superiority, he could’ve resisted. But not like this. He knew deep down that he could never have refused her when she was looking at him the way she was.

“It’ll only be for a little while,” she was saying. “We’ll figure something out. I’ll look into finding a wildlife reserve for her—I think there might be a rixx cat sanctuary on—”

“Yeah, yeah,” he grumbled, waving his hand dismissively. “Quit talking before I change my mind.”

Leia blinked at him, and then, as she realized what he’d said, her lovely face broke into a beautiful smile that he was irritated and resigned to note warmed his entire body.

“Thank you, Han,” she murmured. “I promise she won’t be any trouble.” She ran a hand gently over the rixx cub’s little head and looked down at the tiny animal. “Will you, Roxi?”

“Roxi?” Han snorted, shaking his head. “Roxi the rixx cat?”

Her answering glare made him grin.

“I suppose you have a better idea?” she asked with a quirk of her eyebrows.

He smirked and shook his head. “How do you even know it’s a girl? Could be a Rokko the rixx cat.”

The two of them together made their way through the jungle.

To his surprise, Leia simply shook her head and gazed affectionately down at the rixx.

“She’s a girl,” she told him firmly. “I can tell.”

His skeptical expression was lost on her, however, when a sudden sound blared from both their comms.

“Han? Leia? Do you copy?”

The words were muffled and interspersed with heavy static, but clear enough that they could both distinguish the speaker with ease. Shooting a grin at the princess, whose hands were still full, Han reached for his comm.

“Yeah, kid, where are you? We could use a lift.”

Luke’s voice was immensely relieved.

“Send up a flare. I can’t pick up a homing signal. Did you two turn off the satellite transmission on your navicalculator?”

Leia rolled her eyes while Han glared at his comm.

“Why the hell would we do that? And hurry up, it’s getting dark out here and the bugs are eating me alive.”

Luke laughed while Han rummaged through his pack for the flare and Leia stood holding Roxi. His hands faltered as he looked up at her, her big brown eyes fixed on the rixx’s face with a look of such tender affection that his chest hurt. She ran one finger carefully over the rixx’s snout and smiled a little when Roxi made a little noise that sounded alarmingly close to a purr. This rixx cat is an orphan, Leia had snarled at him, and although she never spoke to him about her parents, he knew that she was thinking of her own devastation in losing her family when she had reacted so strongly regarding the rixx. As Luke’s voice once again sounded on the comm, Han resumed his search for the flare. They were all orphans—all three of them. Maybe it was right for them to take the damn rixx cub, after all. She’d fit right in.


Author’s Note: I appreciate the responses to the most recent chapter! I’m glad my intention of the intensity of the situation is coming across. Prepare yourself! We are just getting into the thick of things.

Seas of Change

Chapter 10: White Devil


               “How does the ledger look?” Gray leaned against the dock, handing the book of estimated repairs and the payment made by Natsu to Levy.

               The man across him kept a smug appearance on his face, hand wringing together. Gray wasn’t sure if it was because he had handed the charges to someone everyone in Torenju knew could sniff out their bullshit, or because of the way Gajeel snarled anytime the man so much as looked at Levy.  He stood behind her like a steel sentinel, ready to pounce. Levy adjusted the hyper-reading glasses she wore, skimming the information in a short amount of time before she closed the book.

               She handed the record back to Gray. “Looks to be in order, if they had actually done any work up until this point.”

               “Why you–” the man sputtered and moved to swipe the document from her; Gajeel’s hand about his wrist stopped him instantly. “Of all the—“

               Gray took the book, flipped through the charges, then glanced toward his ship. “I would appear the Frozen Banshee is entitled to some weaponry upgrades for charges like these.”

               “I don’t see a Master Gunner here to work on the selections.” The contractor stated, feeling smug.

               “That’s me.” Gajeel answered with a smirk, twisting the man’s wrist by way of threat. “And I know exactly what we want.”

               “Gajeel…” Levy warned under her breath, crossing her own arms.

               He let the man go, and turned to Gray. “I think I’ll stick around with this lot for a while, make sure the ship is up to expectation without any more cost.”

               Gray’s lips upturned slightly as he bowed his head, pushing off the dock rail and turning away from the contractor with Levy beside him. He waved off to Gajeel. “It’s in your hands. Make it worth your time.”

               It was only a few moments later as they left the dock and turned onto the dingy harbor boardwalk that Levy caught up and began walking at his side. He could sense the disapproval in her actions as she placed her glasses away and gave once last look back to the brute of his crew. It had always been strange to Gray the connection the soft spoken, logical Levy had with a hard head like Gajeel.

               “He doesn’t always have to do everything with force…”

               “He enjoys it.”

               She huffed. “A perfect trait for a pirate.”

               “We only hang on in a world this rough by having something we are especially good at. What have you uncovered?”

               Levy slowed a bit, calculating the safety of the conversation and how cryptic she should be. They were out in the open with pirates of all sort tumbling their way back and forth form meeting shops, brothels, weaponsmiths and taverns. The sun had yet to hit its high point in the sky.

               “There have been a few men poking around our ship. They know where you are keeping her, but I don’t think anyone know what she looks like.” Levy answered finally, motioning with her hand for Gray to key his eyes on the east side of the pier.

               He directed them right, twisting through a familiar alleyway and off the main street.

               “Cobra spared no time sharing about her. Although Captain Gray… why exactly are they so concerned with her?” she mouthed Juvia’s name, but refused to speak it aloud. The look in her eye was calculating as she monitored his face.

               He chose not to respond. Levy nodded.

               “Lyon is in town, though I haven’t been able to pinpoint exactly where he is staying.” She continued, stepping over the legs of a man sticking out from trashed box as he snored his drunkenness away.

               Gray shook his head. “You don’t need to. We can use Ultear for that. I just need to reach out to her.”


               There was not a moment that someone did not sit guard outside her door. Juvia could hear them switch shifts, had calculated the timing and learned who was there for each. Lucy spent the morning hours with Juvia, entering the room to bring her a meal and offer company. The afternoon was spent with a visit from Erza or Levy, with a guard outside the door that preferred not to speak to her. At night was Cana, who spent most of her time outside the door drinking but would join Juvia for dinner and tell her all sorts of stories that Juvia was sure she didn’t need to hear. It had been this way for days, and Juvia had come to the conclusion that if she were to escape, there was only one way.


               The woman was friendly enough, with a no-nonsense type of attitude. She obviously allowed herself to enjoy all sorts of revelry, and was not ashamed of the fact her father Gildarts was one of the most notorious rakes this side of the Fiore Sea. He was a good man she said, just with a broken moral compass that kept him from committing to anything other than doting lavishly on his daughter to the point it sickened her. Cana knew a lot about everyone in Torenju and shared with Juvia the gossip she said she could not share with the other women of the ship.

               Juvia learned the names of the safest places in the city.

               She learned the names of the people who would supply her with weapons, fare, and could smuggle her out of Torenju and off to Crocus.

               She heard of the seemingly illict relationship between Erza and Jellal that both thought no one knew about but everybody knew about and laughed about behind their back.

               She learned of pirates who were independent of alliances, groups like the Raijinshuu who were more questionable than Gray with their motives and could fit into any mold they were placed in. She learned that Natsu and Lucy had been childhood friends and Cana was positive there was more there but Lucy denied it. Juvia heard the stories of Gajeel and Levy. She heard about Loke and how he once tried to hook Cana up with the Copper Barnacle’s bartender Bacchus.

               At this point, Juvia knew the bra sizes of every woman aboard the Titania, their preferred methods of attack and what frightened them most.

               There was a part of Juvia that wondered why Cana would bother to share so much with someone she barely knew. The amount Cana would drink had to be a part of it; it seemed to turn off any filter she would have had. However, what she had learned of Cana was how fiercely protective she was of the people she loved and how selfish she could be when it came to her own desires. She was a complicated woman, but just the type of person at the time of day that Juvia needed.

               “So tell me, Juvia-chan…” Cana poured herself another glass of wine, and dashed it with a shot of rum. “… what exactly is it that is going on between yourself and that infamous Captain Gray?”

               The way Cana watched her over her glass reminded Juvia of a cat stalking it’s prey. In this case, her prey was the knowledge of whatever she suspected was going on between Juvia and Gray.

               “We are enemies.” Juvia kept her response curt and short.


               “He attacked a ship Juvia was travelling on, and took her hostage. For whatever purpose Juvia does not know.”

               Cana’s index finger pressed along the rim of her glass as she watched Juvia intently. “Has he… defiled you in any way?”

               “Juvia would rather die!” she could feel the heat rising to her cheeks at the thought.

               The woman across the table laughed and tossed the rest of her drink down before reaching for another.  Cana offered the jug of wine to Juvia, who turned it down with a bristling shake of her head. She could feel her frustration rising as Cana seemed to have detected the confusing emotions inside her when it came to Gray.

               “Don’t kid yourself. He is a handsome man, and I’ve heard quite the lavish lover as well. Anyone who denied they would go for a tryst with him would be lying.” Cana took a deep sip of her drink.

               “What does that have to do with Juvia?”

               “Nothing I guess, but isn’t it interesting? A man as cold as him… making women feel like their bodies are on fire.”

               Juvia’s mood soured quickly, a mixture of anger and jealousy welling up within her. “It sounds as if you feel like you’re missing out.”

               “I’m not picky, but he isn’t one I would touch.” She finished the glass, and turned to drinking directly from the jug instead. “He’s dangerous.”

               “Can Juvia borrow one?”

               Cana stopped mid-drink, pulling the jug from her lips with a quizzical expression. “Borrow what?”

               “Your hair pins. Juvia has a stray strand…” she pulled on the strand in the center of her face.

               Juvia watched with some hesitance as Cana put the drink away and pulled a few pins from her hair to hand to her. She moved with slowed motions and deterred dexterity that showed the amount of drink she had consumed. Cana handed the pins to her, and Juvia quickly pinned back the hair she had mentioned while Cana adjusted her clothing and stood with the jug of wine.

               “Thank you.”

               “Don’t mention it.” Cana waved off the compliment and pulled a deck of cards from her back pocket. “Let me tell your fortune instead.”

               Juvia glanced over the deck of cards as Cana shuffled them in one hand, taking another swig of the wine that was slowly beginning to make her stumble a bit as she stood atop the table to sit with her legs crossed and spread the deck flat. The cards were face up, then face down, then face up once more before Cana drew them all together and split them into piles, flipping them over again.

               “Pick a card form each stack and hand them back to me.”

               Cana set her chin in her palm, elbow on her knee. Juvia could judge form her posture that the effects of the drink were beginning to work their way through her body. She reached forward delicately to pull the cards from each pile as Cana had dictated, handing them back to her in a straight line one by one until 6 were lain face down on the table. Cana took another drink of the jug before she reached for them and arranged them in a circle before her.

               “The card closest to you represents the past. The card closest to me represents the future. The four cards to either side are love, life, family and dreams.” She flipped the card closest to Juvia. “We’ll start in the past.”


               It was two hours before midnight, Juvia pulled the hair pins she had borrowed and began picking the lock. Gajeel had shown her a few tips on how to trick locking mechanism on the Frozen Banshee, for no real reason other than he had accidently locked them on the gunner deck once. Her hands were slowly and studious, feeling for the changes in the lock and adjusting the tilt to trip each safety net that kept the door sealed.

               She twisted the handle once, twice. The door stuck.

               Juvia turned the hair pin, and the telltale click of an unlocked door came in response.

               Adrenaline pumped as she waited for Cana’s response to the noise from the other side of the door. Juvia’s body shook as she eased the door open, waiting for it to be slammed shut or stopped by the woman who was meant to guard it. Instead Cana slept soundly, half a bottle of rum hanging in her grasp where she leaned on the wall. Exactly as Juvia had planned.

               Now the predictable parts of her escape were conquered, Juvia eased her way along the ships interior and toward the main deck with renewed caution. She could monitor and figure out who would be outside her door at what hour, but the rest of the ship was a guessing game she would have to make up as she went. Juvia knew better than to believe Erza would leave her ship guarded by one person who was dedicated to sitting outside her door.

               The main deck was nearly deserted when Juvia made it out of the cabins and strongholds. Two crew members lounged in the crow’s nest high above the blood red masts, another set finished scrubbing the furthest corner of the deck. None of them were people Juvia recognized, and in the darkness she had to wonder if they would have known her to be someone who should not be leaving the ship. All moonlight was sheltered by clouds and the city’s glow cast in the direction opposite of where she stood.  

               Blood pounded in Juvia’s ears as she edged her way along the edges of the ship, diving behind crates and piles of rope and supplies. Each motion brought her closer to the end of the deck, far from the ramp that led to the dock. That would put her in plain sight and she had decided earlier on that she would need to find another way down that kept her shrouded in the darkness provided by the cloud cover and out of sight of the Titanias crew.

               Gathering rope in her hands, Juvia took her last sprint to the railing and tossed it overboard.

               Her fingers stiffened as she moved to lift herself over and take first hold of the rope. She could easily be sending herself falling; she hadn’t the chance to see if the rope she chose was attached to the ship in any firm way that would support her weight. The crew would be turning soon and she needed to be below the rail and off the deck before they caught sight of her. Perhaps she would fall straight to her death—perhaps they would capture her again, her body broken from the fall.

               Juvia took a deep breath. Anything was better than doing nothing; if she didn’t work for her freedom now, she may never have it. She would have to spend more time with the insufferably handsome Captain Gray—the captain who had kissed her, and yet garnered the attention of Lucy, the affections of Erza—a man who had no use or want for her.

               Anger bubbling within her once more, Juvia took hold of the rope and allowed herself to scale the ship’s hull.  It took all of her concentration and effort not to lose her footing or grip; Juvia kept her eyes on where the rope rubbed against the ship, swinging along with her movements, until her feet hit the wooden planks of the deck.

               One foot, and then two. Juvia let go of the rope, and then ran into the city.


               “Quite the gentleman you are.” Erza smiled, arms crossed. “My crew doesn’t need an escort.”

               Gray huffed. “I have other reasons for bringing Levy back.”

               She waved of his strained attempt at bravado, circling her desk to meet him on the opposite side. “We’ve received word from the Christina, and Demon Soul has docked. Balam won’t try anything right now; we have too many allies in one place.”

               “They’ll find a way to tip the scales.”

               “The only thing they are trying to do is place you in a position to leave our rank.” Erza answered coolly. “Otherwise they would not be using Lyon to play you.”

               “Lyon can take care of himself. He’s not the one who’s in danger.”

               Silence filtered between them, Gray’s eyes focused directly to the floor. He could feel Erza watching him with an expression that read everything he was trying to decipher for himself. She set a hand on his shoulder and squeezed lightly.

               “I won’t assume why she is so important. You can tell us all when you’re ready.” Her voice was soft, the teasing tone from earlier gone.

               What was there to tell? Gray wasn’t sure he knew what made her so important. Juvia was a unique handful that he had struggled to balance and realized he never could. She was powerful with her words and sensitive in a way he couldn’t quite grasp, enticing with her beauty. She was everything she didn’t appear to be, and somehow despite their different worlds there was an attachment he felt that he couldn’t describe. She should have been nothing more than a prisoner and yet he was taking every measure possible to keep her safe.

               Cobra seemed to think she meant something; the way the Balam were sniffing around to learn more about her told him that much.

               He just wasn’t willing to admit it to himself.

               “Come on.” Erza snapped the door to her office open with a loud crack; Gray felt as if he should have been standing at attention. “Let’s go check on her.”

               She left without giving him a chance to refuse, door remaining open as a way to beckon him to follow. Gray pressed his fingers against the bridge of his nose and followed as expected. He had been able to keep his cool the last few days and remain aloft because he had not seen her, but he couldn’t deny there was something in him that wanted to. It was a longing, much like his desire to go back to sea after spending an extending period of time on land, which he had tried to ignore.

               Sometimes it worried him how easily Erza could read him.

               They continued into the lower decks of the Titania, weaving through the halls that Erza had fashioned. Hers was the most cruise-like pirate ship Gray had ever seen; for as functional and practical as Erza could be, she did have a hand for the frivolous and it showed in the modifications she had made to her ship. They wound through the floors and levels until finally getting to the floor in which Juvia was being held.

               “Cana!” Erza’s voice held surprise and concern.

               Gray’s could see ahead of himself the door—the one that should have been shut—was wide open with Cana passed out drunk beside it. He did not wait for Erza to push forward and instead pushed past her himself to check the room. The same pounding in his chest that occurred only a few nights before during his standoff with Cobra echoed throughout his body. She wasn’t in the corners, she was not at the bed, she was not behind the door waiting to ambush them.

               Juvia was gone.

               There were no signs of a struggle; the door had not been blasted in, and Cana was not the worse for wear. Whatever solace he should have taken at knowing no one had come for Juvia was lost to the fact she was probably somewhere in the city surrounded by people who would do her any kind of harm to undermine him. She had led herself directly into their trap.

               “Dammit!” Gray’s fist landed on the door frame, a snarl about his lips.

               Damn her. Damn her and the fact that he cared, and that fact that it mattered. Dammit, dammit, dammit.


               Everyone was eyeing her. Juvia kept her eyes focused on the pathway in front of her and her search for the familiar names of pubs and taverns that Cana had listed off and Juvia had figured she could trust to get her out of Torenju. It was slowly beginning to dawn on her that those who would work with Cana and Erza or Gray may not be as welcoming to a stranger such as herself. What did she know about bargaining with pirates?

               Mud slopped on the pristine hem of Erza’s gown, and Juvia could feel the instinctive guilt of ruining something that did not belong to her. It took her a moment to remember that at this moment, that was the least of her concerns. Paranoia built up in the back of her mind as she wound through the streets, too cautious to ask for directions and too smart to stop.

               They knew she wasn’t from her. She didn’t have the air of a pirate or destitute appearance of the prostitutes she passed. She walked with the awkward gait of someone who was unaccustomed to sea-to-land transitions after months on the ocean, held her skirts high enough to be considered a lady but not a lady of this port.

               “Doll… not often we see someone like you ‘round here.”

               Juvia kept walking.

               “Hey! I’m talking to you.”

               Her hand swiped along her leg where she had stored her knife from dinner; it was the only weapon she had brought along with her.

               “That’s no way to treat someone who’s payin’ ya a compliment.” A hand took hold of her wrist, pulling her backward. Juvia lost her footing. “I just wanted to talk to a pretty lady and—“

               “That’s enough.”

               Juvia regained her footing, knife in hand, turned and poised to attack, when the hand holding her released. Another man with silver hair held tight to the arm of the person who had assaulted her, a calm yet demanding expression in his eyes. He said nothing but stared the man down until he backed away. The man let go of the other man’s arm, and Juvia could feel the chill that his expression gave off. It was a threat without need for explanation.

               Soon enough the other man understood the silver-haired man’s intent, spat on the ground and walked away.

               “Are you alright?” he asked, his voice softer and expression lightening as he turned toward her.

               He was handsome, in a way that reminded her of Gray but yet completely different. His movements held a ferocity and gentleness that contradicted one another and yet she found herself falling at ease. “Yes. Juvia thanks you.”

               “Juvia?” he asked. “You are definitely not from here, are you?”

               She shook her head. “I’m trying to get back to Crocus.”

               He offered her his hand. “That’s a long journey, but I couldn’t bear to let a lady walk around Torenju in search of something like that alone. I think I may be able to help you.”

               Juvia gaged his motions, watched for any sign of threat in his face; there was none. He seemed just as distant to her as she was being toward him. Yet, he had jumped in to assist her and the other pirate had left without so much as a scuffle. How many others would try a similar thing? How long could she fight them off on her own?

               “How can Juvia trust you?”

               He smiled and lowered his hand. “You are as wise as you are pretty. No one in Torenju is completely trustworthy, but I mean you no harm. We can speak more over a meal.”

               “Juvia doesn’t even know your name.”

               “Nor did I know yours when I came to your aid.” He countered. “At least do me the honor of dinner, and you can decide then if you still wish to know who I am and accept my assistance.”

               She hesitated, but this man was her best chance at the moment to get out of Torenju before a member of the Frozen Banshee or the Titania found her wandering the streets of their pirate city. It would be safer to travel with a companion. He had not yet done anything forceful.

               “It is a bit late for dinner, but Juvia will go with you.”

               He smiled and motioned behind her. “There is a nice tavern just around the corner called Calypso, we can eat there.”

               “And who is Juvia eating with?” she pressed the question once more.

               “My name is Lyon.”