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July 21, 2016 by Lyn

This story takes place in 1864, in the midst of the American Civil War

“War again?” The boots dangling in Luca’s face were made of fine-grain, expensive leather and were in perfect condition – not a nick, scratch, or speck of dust on them; the pants overhanging them were similarly pristine. He didn’t bother to look up any further; he had a road to watch, after all.

“There’s always a war, Tree.”

“Yes, of course. Mankind is conflict and all that. But why are you always in the wars, Bird?”

“Why are you always in someone’s bed, Basswood? Or jumping out their windows? Because it’s what I do.”

“Yes, yes. Mara protect. But tell me, Mousebreath, why this war? Who are you protecting, and what from?”

He sighed. He wasn’t going to get rid of him quickly today. He hunkered down into a more comfortable position, where he could look both at Mike, sitting in the branches of a black oak like a kid, and the road where the enemy was expected. “I’m protecting the soldiers, Leafchewer. And the civilians who will get plowed up, the longer this mess goes on.”

“How do you know which side is right, though? I mean, I’ve been down in Mississippi, and they’ve got some good points.”

He shrugged uncomfortably, wishing Mike would get to the point. “Don’t. I mean, you know how I feel about slavery. Ownership. But that’s not the point, Stick-boy. The point is, they’re here. They can’t be protected from their own stupidity.” And he’d tried, even gotten in a few politician’s faces down south, but his viewpoint was not always welcomed, and he didn’t have the way of talking that Daeva like Mike did. “But when a kid sticks his hand in the fire, you still try to make sure they don’t burn their hand off. That’s what I’m doing.”

“Minimizing damage? By shooting people? Your logic escapes me yet again, Featherface.”

Luca was suddenly done with this discussion. “What are you here for, Bark-skin?”

“Thought you’d never ask. I want you to meet someone.”

That never ended well. “What business is he in?”

Mike smirked widely. “She’s a widow, Bug-eater.”

“Come on, Moss-skirt. I don’t have time for your games.” He frowned down the road, wondering if the information he’d gotten had somehow been wrong, ready to take to the air to check it out himself.

“Luca.” Mike was suddenly serious, and Luca’s wings folded back against him. “She’s a Grigori.”

He turned to study the Daeva’s face. “And? There are other Ellehemaei, sapling. America is lousy with them.”

“Yeah… but how many of them are like us?”

“No-one is like you, Greenteeth.”

“Her son was born human, too, Luca.”

“…” He leaned back on his heels, staring off at the horizon, where a thin line of smoke curled ominously. “We’re all born human, Mike.”

“Half-breed, Luca. Her kid didn’t Become correctly. Any more than my Mina did. Any more than-”

“That’s enough, Linden-blossom.” He frowned warningly at him and, for once, it was enough; Mike shut up. “A Grigori. Do you think she might…”

“She thinks she might,” he confirmed. “She’s a little strange, Luca, but she’s immensely clever. I mean, even for a Grigori. Come meet her?”

The plume of smoke in the distance was growing darker. The enemy were on their way. “I’ll meet her.” He spread his wings, feeling a twinge in the muscles that hadn’t been there during the Mexican War. “Tomorrow.”

The avalanche has already started. It is too late for the pebbles to vote.
-Kosh, Babylon 5


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