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Agritum
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Postby Agritum » Sat Apr 26, 2014 11:37 am

Nightkill the Emperor wrote:
Agritum wrote:Rucka Rucka Ali didn't do that India song yet.

I fear he was trolling us just like he trolls Youtube.

I don't actually care too much - I just would have been amused if he did it.

His latest song is about gingers, if you are interested.
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Zarkenis Ultima
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Postby Zarkenis Ultima » Sat Apr 26, 2014 11:39 am

Astrolinium wrote:
Nightkill the Emperor wrote:Both terms work.


No, they're two different concepts.

A cognate has to come from the same etymological root -- false cognates are two words that look the same and may share a meaning, but do not share a root, such as day and día -- they look similar, but they are etymologically unrelated, as day is Germanic in origin (ultimately from PIE *dʰegʷʰ-: to burn) and día is Latin in origin (ultimately from PIE *dyew-: sky). False friends look the same and share a root, but have acquired different meanings over time, such as molest and molestar (and possibly embarrass and embarazada, though their etymologies are uncertain).


Eh, alrighty then. I was taught bullshit again. What's new?
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Astrolinium
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Scandinavian Liberal Paradise

Postby Astrolinium » Sat Apr 26, 2014 11:40 am

Nightkill the Emperor wrote:
Astrolinium wrote:
No, they're two different concepts.

A cognate has to come from the same etymological root -- false cognates are two words that look the same and may share a meaning, but do not share a root, such as day and día -- they look similar, but they are etymologically unrelated, as day is Germanic in origin (ultimately from PIE *dʰegʷʰ-: to burn) and día is Latin in origin (ultimately from PIE *dyew-: sky). False friends look the same and share a root, but have acquired different meanings over time, such as molest and molestar (and possibly embarrass and embarazada, though their etymologies are uncertain).

I stand corrected.
Zarkenis Ultima wrote:
Astrolinium wrote:
No, they're two different concepts.

A cognate has to come from the same etymological root -- false cognates are two words that look the same and may share a meaning, but do not share a root, such as day and día -- they look similar, but they are etymologically unrelated, as day is Germanic in origin (ultimately from PIE *dʰegʷʰ-: to burn) and día is Latin in origin (ultimately from PIE *dyew-: sky). False friends look the same and share a root, but have acquired different meanings over time, such as molest and molestar (and possibly embarrass and embarazada, though their etymologies are uncertain).


Eh, alrighty then. I was taught bullshit again. What's new?

It's a fine distinction that a lot of people miss or are ignorant of because they don't have a passionate interest in linguistics and etymology the way I do.
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Nationstatelandsville
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Postby Nationstatelandsville » Sat Apr 26, 2014 11:41 am

Astrolinium wrote:
Nightkill the Emperor wrote:I stand corrected.
Zarkenis Ultima wrote:
Eh, alrighty then. I was taught bullshit again. What's new?

It's a fine distinction that a lot of people miss or are ignorant of because they don't have a passionate interest in linguistics and etymology the way I do.

This is because you're a crazy person, but you knew that.
"Then I was fertilized and grew wise;
From a word to a word I was led to a word,
From a work to a work I was led to a work."
- Odin, Hávamál 138-141, the Poetic Edda, as translated by Dan McCoy.

I enjoy meta-humor and self-deprecation. Annoying, right?

Goodbye.

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Astrolinium
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Postby Astrolinium » Sat Apr 26, 2014 11:42 am

Nationstatelandsville wrote:
Astrolinium wrote:It's a fine distinction that a lot of people miss or are ignorant of because they don't have a passionate interest in linguistics and etymology the way I do.

This is because you're a crazy person, but you knew that.

To paraphrase Alice, the best people usually are.
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Nude East Ireland
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Postby Nude East Ireland » Sat Apr 26, 2014 11:42 am

Astrolinium wrote:
Nightkill the Emperor wrote:I stand corrected.
Zarkenis Ultima wrote:
Eh, alrighty then. I was taught bullshit again. What's new?

It's a fine distinction that a lot of people miss or are ignorant of because they don't have a passionate interest in linguistics and etymology the way I do.

Astro has made love while listening to Rosetta Stone's Latin tape.
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Zarkenis Ultima
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Postby Zarkenis Ultima » Sat Apr 26, 2014 11:44 am

Astrolinium wrote:
Nightkill the Emperor wrote:I stand corrected.
Zarkenis Ultima wrote:
Eh, alrighty then. I was taught bullshit again. What's new?

It's a fine distinction that a lot of people miss or are ignorant of because they don't have a passionate interest in linguistics and etymology the way I do.


I was simply taught that a cognate is a word that's similar in Spanish and English and means the same thing.

In school.

But hey, I'm not surprised they're wrong. :P
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Agritum
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Postby Agritum » Sat Apr 26, 2014 11:46 am

Astro, did you ever try Duolingo?
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Astrolinium
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Postby Astrolinium » Sat Apr 26, 2014 11:49 am

Nude East Ireland wrote:
Astrolinium wrote:It's a fine distinction that a lot of people miss or are ignorant of because they don't have a passionate interest in linguistics and etymology the way I do.

Astro has made love while listening to Rosetta Stone's Latin tape.


No, but I have made love to Bob's Burgers.

Agritum wrote:Astro, did you ever try Duolingo?


Yes. I eventually abandoned it because it doesn't give me enough structure as an environment and so I don't have the proper amount of motivation. It's good, though, for those who can get by without a classroom-like structure.
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Agritum
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Postby Agritum » Sat Apr 26, 2014 11:55 am

Astrolinium wrote:
Nude East Ireland wrote:Astro has made love while listening to Rosetta Stone's Latin tape.


No, but I have made love to Bob's Burgers.

Agritum wrote:Astro, did you ever try Duolingo?


Yes. I eventually abandoned it because it doesn't give me enough structure as an environment and so I don't have the proper amount of motivation. It's good, though, for those who can get by without a classroom-like structure.

I guess it's perfect for me, then. I learned English through games and the internet, with school only supplying me with basic grammar (yes, Italian schools are in a truly sad state when it comes to teaching foreign languages).

Given that I'm a Grade A Cambridge FCE, I guess I turned out quite well.
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Zarkenis Ultima
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Postby Zarkenis Ultima » Sat Apr 26, 2014 11:56 am

Agritum wrote: I learned English through games


*High-five*
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Nude East Ireland
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Postby Nude East Ireland » Sat Apr 26, 2014 11:57 am

Astrolinium wrote:
Nude East Ireland wrote:Astro has made love while listening to Rosetta Stone's Latin tape.


No, but I have made love to Bob's Burgers.

That's... well, that sounds shitty.
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Norvenia
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Postby Norvenia » Sat Apr 26, 2014 12:03 pm

Night: very solid work. Now I know a bit more about where the last Sabbatanos is at, I suspect. Jose as comic relief was a good idea, but I'd advise you to use him sparingly; he vents the tension out of the story a little too well. I very much appreciate the "ordinary folks" quality of the protagonist - though I suspect that he may prove not to be quite as ordinary as he appears. The long backstory at the beginning does mess with the pacing a bit, though not seriously. Were it to do again, I might advise you to parcel the backstory out over the course of the story rather than concentrating it at the start, but it's not worth the effort of rewriting just for that. So on the whole: I like it a lot, and I look forward to seeing what happens next.

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Astrolinium
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Postby Astrolinium » Sat Apr 26, 2014 12:09 pm

Nude East Ireland wrote:
Astrolinium wrote:
No, but I have made love to Bob's Burgers.

That's... well, that sounds shitty.

It wasn't the best time I've had, but it wasn't bad, either.
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Nightkill the Emperor
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Postby Nightkill the Emperor » Sat Apr 26, 2014 12:16 pm

Norvenia wrote:Night: very solid work. Now I know a bit more about where the last Sabbatanos is at, I suspect. Jose as comic relief was a good idea, but I'd advise you to use him sparingly; he vents the tension out of the story a little too well. I very much appreciate the "ordinary folks" quality of the protagonist - though I suspect that he may prove not to be quite as ordinary as he appears. The long backstory at the beginning does mess with the pacing a bit, though not seriously. Were it to do again, I might advise you to parcel the backstory out over the course of the story rather than concentrating it at the start, but it's not worth the effort of rewriting just for that. So on the whole: I like it a lot, and I look forward to seeing what happens next.

Alright mate, thanks for the feedback.

And yes indeed, you'll get some information about the last Sabbatanos.

I also figured Minh was more of the comic relief than Jose was, but Minh can indeed get quite serious. He was a major character back in arcs one and two, and generally worked as Crowley's moral conscience at the time.
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Nat: Night's always in some bizarre state somewhere between "intoxicated enough to kill a hair metal lead singer" and "annoying Mormon missionary sober".

Swith: It's because you're so awesome. God himself refreshes the screen before he types just to see if Nightkill has written anything while he was off somewhere else.

Monfrox wrote:
The balkens wrote:
# went there....

It's Nightkill. He's been there so long he rents out rooms to other people at a flat rate, but demands cash up front.

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Nightkill the Emperor
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Postby Nightkill the Emperor » Sat Apr 26, 2014 12:38 pm

http://www.ibtimes.com/life-wildlife-nu ... er-1576660

"Three hundred firemen stationed in the Exclusion Zone would be the first line of defense should any problem arise. They would follow in the tradition of the first six firemen who died in the immediate aftermath of the explosion and who prevented, unbeknownst to them, a larger disaster. According to physicist Vassili Nesterenko, had the atomic core ignited, Minsk, the capital of Belarus with two million inhabitants, would have been obliterated and much of Europe would have been rendered unlivable."

I never knew it was that close.
Last edited by Nightkill the Emperor on Sat Apr 26, 2014 12:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Nat: Night's always in some bizarre state somewhere between "intoxicated enough to kill a hair metal lead singer" and "annoying Mormon missionary sober".

Swith: It's because you're so awesome. God himself refreshes the screen before he types just to see if Nightkill has written anything while he was off somewhere else.

Monfrox wrote:
The balkens wrote:
# went there....

It's Nightkill. He's been there so long he rents out rooms to other people at a flat rate, but demands cash up front.

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Nude East Ireland
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Postby Nude East Ireland » Sat Apr 26, 2014 12:42 pm

Nightkill the Emperor wrote:http://www.ibtimes.com/life-wildlife-nuclear-wasteland-28-years-after-chernobyl-disaster-1576660

"Three hundred firemen stationed in the Exclusion Zone would be the first line of defense should any problem arise. They would follow in the tradition of the first six firemen who died in the immediate aftermath of the explosion and who prevented, unbeknownst to them, a larger disaster. According to physicist Vassili Nesterenko, had the atomic core ignited, Minsk, the capital of Belarus with two million inhabitants, would have been obliterated and much of Europe would have been rendered unlivable."

I never knew it was that close.

In other words, we lucked out.

Well, I say "we", but none of us were in Eastern Europe at the time of Chernobyl.
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Nightkill the Emperor
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Postby Nightkill the Emperor » Sat Apr 26, 2014 12:42 pm

Nude East Ireland wrote:
Nightkill the Emperor wrote:http://www.ibtimes.com/life-wildlife-nuclear-wasteland-28-years-after-chernobyl-disaster-1576660

"Three hundred firemen stationed in the Exclusion Zone would be the first line of defense should any problem arise. They would follow in the tradition of the first six firemen who died in the immediate aftermath of the explosion and who prevented, unbeknownst to them, a larger disaster. According to physicist Vassili Nesterenko, had the atomic core ignited, Minsk, the capital of Belarus with two million inhabitants, would have been obliterated and much of Europe would have been rendered unlivable."

I never knew it was that close.

In other words, we lucked out.

Well, I say "we", but none of us were in Eastern Europe at the time of Chernobyl.

Yes.

None of us.

Of course.

I was certainly not involved.
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Nat: Night's always in some bizarre state somewhere between "intoxicated enough to kill a hair metal lead singer" and "annoying Mormon missionary sober".

Swith: It's because you're so awesome. God himself refreshes the screen before he types just to see if Nightkill has written anything while he was off somewhere else.

Monfrox wrote:
The balkens wrote:
# went there....

It's Nightkill. He's been there so long he rents out rooms to other people at a flat rate, but demands cash up front.

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Zarkenis Ultima
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Postby Zarkenis Ultima » Sat Apr 26, 2014 12:44 pm

Nightkill the Emperor wrote:
Nude East Ireland wrote:In other words, we lucked out.

Well, I say "we", but none of us were in Eastern Europe at the time of Chernobyl.

Yes.

None of us.

Of course.

I was certainly not involved.


:lol:

Seriously speaking though, I didn't know it was that close to shitting on a whole continent, either. Damn.
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Nude East Ireland
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Postby Nude East Ireland » Sat Apr 26, 2014 12:45 pm

Nightkill the Emperor wrote:
Nude East Ireland wrote:In other words, we lucked out.

Well, I say "we", but none of us were in Eastern Europe at the time of Chernobyl.

Yes.

None of us.

Of course.

I was certainly not involved.

Wait. You're saying that Norv was in Chernobyl, and prevented Lucifer from entering Earth by lessening the disaster?
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Nightkill the Emperor
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Postby Nightkill the Emperor » Sat Apr 26, 2014 12:45 pm

Nude East Ireland wrote:
Nightkill the Emperor wrote:Yes.

None of us.

Of course.

I was certainly not involved.

Wait. You're saying that Norv was in Chernobyl, and prevented Lucifer from entering Earth by lessening the disaster?

You may very well think that, I couldn't possibly comment.
Hi! I'm Khan, your local misanthropic Indian.
I wear teal, blue & pink for Swith.
P2TM RP Discussion Thread
If you want a good rp, read this shit.
Tiami is cool.
Nat: Night's always in some bizarre state somewhere between "intoxicated enough to kill a hair metal lead singer" and "annoying Mormon missionary sober".

Swith: It's because you're so awesome. God himself refreshes the screen before he types just to see if Nightkill has written anything while he was off somewhere else.

Monfrox wrote:
The balkens wrote:
# went there....

It's Nightkill. He's been there so long he rents out rooms to other people at a flat rate, but demands cash up front.

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Nightkill the Emperor
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Postby Nightkill the Emperor » Sat Apr 26, 2014 1:13 pm

As heads up, Nat and I will be taking us out of the camps and the library with our next posts (him handling the camps and myself the Library). We'll be transitioning back into the school itself, before going to the next phase of the plan.
Hi! I'm Khan, your local misanthropic Indian.
I wear teal, blue & pink for Swith.
P2TM RP Discussion Thread
If you want a good rp, read this shit.
Tiami is cool.
Nat: Night's always in some bizarre state somewhere between "intoxicated enough to kill a hair metal lead singer" and "annoying Mormon missionary sober".

Swith: It's because you're so awesome. God himself refreshes the screen before he types just to see if Nightkill has written anything while he was off somewhere else.

Monfrox wrote:
The balkens wrote:
# went there....

It's Nightkill. He's been there so long he rents out rooms to other people at a flat rate, but demands cash up front.

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Nightkill the Emperor
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Postby Nightkill the Emperor » Sat Apr 26, 2014 1:20 pm

viewtopic.php?p=19797835#p19797835

NEI, Damien can post here.
Hi! I'm Khan, your local misanthropic Indian.
I wear teal, blue & pink for Swith.
P2TM RP Discussion Thread
If you want a good rp, read this shit.
Tiami is cool.
Nat: Night's always in some bizarre state somewhere between "intoxicated enough to kill a hair metal lead singer" and "annoying Mormon missionary sober".

Swith: It's because you're so awesome. God himself refreshes the screen before he types just to see if Nightkill has written anything while he was off somewhere else.

Monfrox wrote:
The balkens wrote:
# went there....

It's Nightkill. He's been there so long he rents out rooms to other people at a flat rate, but demands cash up front.

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Nude East Ireland
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Postby Nude East Ireland » Sat Apr 26, 2014 1:42 pm

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/S ... alHospital

"The early 1980s were a heyday for GH. Storylines delved into international intrigue, involving Soviet spies, Aztec treasure, and megalomaniac Mikkos Cassadine (played by John Colicos,) who attempted to freeze Port Charles and take over the world."
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Norvenia
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Postby Norvenia » Sat Apr 26, 2014 1:50 pm

So this is the first of nineteen planned chapters of Daniel's Pondicherry story. The finished work will tell two stories in parallel, intertwining in complicated ways - one in 2030, and one in 1760, alternating back and forth between the two time periods. If I actually finish it, it will end up being the length of a short novel. That is far from guaranteed. I might die of old age halfway through my outline, like Spenser with the Faerie Queen. But for now, I'm going to publish it here in installments, Dickens-style.

CHAPTER ONE

In Which Daniel Arrives in Pondicherry, Pursued by Violence


2030

Some things never change.

The first time that Daniel Andreas came to Pondicherry, it had been in a ship on the verge of sinking through poor maintenance. When Daniel had asked the Indian crew why they didn’t recaulk the hull, they replied that there was no point; death would come when it would come, and there was no dodging it. Why labor for hours when it wouldn’t delay death by one minute?

As the Spicejet 737 – which had to be closing on three-quarters of a century old – descended toward Pondicherry airport through the dark clouds of the monsoon season, rattling and jumping and shaking side to side for no apparent reason, Daniel couldn’t escape the certainty that if he asked the pilot why he didn’t tighten the rivets, replace his gyrocompass, or even just apply a new coat of paint, the response would be precisely the same as in 1760. Death would come when it would come. A day would surely arrive when the plane would, inevitably, fall out of the sky. If that was certain, why worry about a few loose rivets?

Crammed into the economy section of an overcrowded flight from Bangalore, his knees almost touching his chest and with an overweight Canadian aid worker praying to survive in the next seat over, gritting his teeth as the plane shrieked and groaned its way down to the runway, Daniel found that hypothesized response exactly as uncomforting now as it had been two hundred and seventy years ago.

In a final rattling blast of turbulence, the 737 hurtled down out of the clouds above the sprawling megalopolis of Pondicherry. Below, surrounded by apartment buildings and barbed wire, lay the airport. The few Westerners with window seats stifled screams as the nose of the plane inched upward from its initial trajectory, which aimed it directly at the pavement of the runway. The Indians looked bored. In a squeal of rubber and badly rusted brakes, the airliner slammed to earth, shrieked its way along the runway, and finally came to a stop.

Daniel let out a breath. He had been flying for more than a century, but he’d never quite gotten used to it. As soon as the wheels left the ground, the Sabattanos felt instinctively that he had begun living on borrowed time. All the resourcefulness and fighting skills in the world couldn’t save you from being strapped in your seat as seventy-five tons of hardened steel and screaming humanity fell to Earth from fifty thousand feet. But when the wheels touched the ground again, Daniel was back in his element. On the ground, he had beaten the odds for half a millennium. He could keep on beating them for a few more days.

The crush of foreigners and locals wound its way slowly and mulishly off the plane and down the staircase that had been rolled up to the 737’s side. Most of the travellers packed into a bus, which was ready to take them to the terminal. More than a few others simply wandered off. For his own part, Daniel stopped once he had elbowed his way out of the crowd. He felt the sun beating mercilessly down on his head, indirect light filtered through the clouds and reflected off the tarmac all around. The air smelled of jet fuel, and burned rubber, and spoiled food somewhere nearby. But there were other scents beneath those: the clean smell of heavy rain, and the fragrance of new-bloomed jasmine borne on the hot, damp breeze. Daniel inhaled that perfume, and he felt his heart clench within his chest. Another year gone by. It’s been so long, so very long.

The priest walked over to where a couple of sweating, wiry men were unloading the baggage, picked up a large black duffel bag from the trolley, and quietly handed each of the men a few hundred-rupee notes. Without looking up, one of the men nodded to a side gate in the barbed-wire fence that surrounded the airport, and he muttered a string of numbers in Tamil. Daniel nodded, tucked his duffel bag under his arm, and walked quickly to the gate. There, he tapped the code that the man had given him into a keypad, creaked the door open, and stepped through – exiting the airport and entering the alleyways beyond.

And only a few seconds later, Daniel Andreas had vanished into the urban maze of Pondicherry as though he had never been real at all.

* * *


“Sahib! Hey, sahib! Spare a little change? My mother is sick, sahib, she needs the money.”

Daniel chuckled, and shook his head. He glanced over at the boy – a scrappy street kid of about nine or ten, dirty as a crow, but looking better-fed than most of the emaciated child beggars whom one saw in many major Indian cities. The priest raised his eyebrows. “Does anybody still actually say that?”

The kid seemed taken aback. “What?”

“Sahib. I thought that died with the Raj.”

The kid shrugged. “Sometimes white guys will give you money if you act like they’re – you know – sahibs. See?”

Daniel snorted despite himself. “Do I look like one of those white guys to you?”

“You never know,” the boy replied with stubborn optimism.

Daniel laughed again. Man and boy walked in silence for a few moments, with Daniel scanning rooftops, balconies, alleyways. The priest had been walking for five hours, since leaving the airport undetected – and he walked fast, long legs swinging easily along, his duffel bag slung over one shoulder. Every now and again, on the way, Daniel had thought that he had seen a shadow at his back, something that wasn’t quite right – but always, when he had turned to look, it was gone. So the priest kept his eyes open, and stayed alert and attentive; but he also reminded himself that it had been years since the last time that Uriel had tried to have him killed. Maybe the “archangel” had decided to bury the hatchet.

Yeah, right.

Five hours and twenty miles from the airport had brought Daniel to the edge of the old city, with its broad boulevards and stately French buildings and mobs of tourists and opportunistic beggars. Which, in turn, brought Daniel’s attention back to the boy walking beside him, who was studying the Sabbattanos with what Daniel now realized were remarkably large and liquid deep brown eyes.

Daniel felt the need to say something, and after a moment he remarked: “You know, your English is very good. Where did you learn it?”

The boy shrugged. “Around.”

Daniel frowned, puzzled. “In school?”

An aloof grin. “No…sahib.”

Daniel sighed good-naturedly, and glanced around at the city. It was all different. Every year, Pondicherry looked much the same as it had the last year, and yet the picture of the city in Daniel’s mind had been fixed in a long-lost time and place, which modern Pondicherry – for all its antique charm – no longer resembled at all. The tourists milled about, oohing and aahing at the wide avenues, the neatly trimmed plain trees, the stately French colonial mansions. They were impressed by the age of the place, by the pseudo-European elegance of it all. Daniel smiled unhappily. The so-called “old city” really dated from the early nineteenth century, when the French had knocked down the idiosyncratic hodge-podge of Indian and colonial mansions that had once loomed over a warren of winding streets, and covered over the ruins with their boulevards and town houses.

But Daniel still remembered the old Pondicherry, the place that he couldn’t help but think of as the real Pondicherry: a city of meandering pedestrian side streets, crammed with refuse and sweet with spices, where mules and rickshaws struggled past each other, and vendors hawked mutton charcoal-grilled in a banana leaf – a place where the roads were lined by the smooth plaster walls of traditional Tamil houses, sheltering secluded interior courtyards, and by the colonnaded facades of gleaming new French mansions – a place where the high-caste and European women glided by in silk-curtained sedan chairs, and the men all seemed strong and smiling.

Daniel stared out over the crowds of gawking men and women in shorts and sun hats, and remembered. And it was at that moment that he saw the man staring back.

It was a heartbeat, nothing more. The man looked Central Asian, or Mongolian; he was tall, though, and well-built, wearing a linen overshirt and dark sunglasses. Daniel saw him from across a crowd of tourists, and for a moment – though the other man’s eyes were hidden behind his glasses – the priest somehow knew that the tall Asian was staring back.

The moment seemed to stretch out, though Daniel knew in the back of his mind that less than a second had passed. And then the other man looked away, smoothly, as if he had never been watching Daniel at all, and walked quickly into the crowd.

Under such circumstances, most men would shrug, chalk it up to coincidence and mild paranoia, and continue on their way. But Daniel had absorbed one key lesson that had kept him alive for centuries: in the particular case of Daniel Andreas, paranoia was always justified, because they always actually were out to get him. And so Daniel did not shrug: instead, he turned, and walked quickly down a side street, legs swinging rapidly, head swiveling smoothly from side to side. Cover the angles: doorways, windows, balconies, manholes. Points of attack, positions of advantage. The priest turned again, at random. Break lines of sight. Get out of scope of any sniper they might have with them. Another turn, and Daniel was working his way out of the old city and back into the urban maze of modern, Indian Pondicherry. But he could feel a shadow at his heels, the silhouettes of men moving swiftly through the side streets parallel to him.

“Sahib?” The boy was still at Daniel’s side, panting a little as he tried to keep up. “Sahib? Where are you going?”

Daniel glanced down at him, and felt a sudden spike of alarm. This kid – they’ll kill him just for having seen me. Whoever “they” are, anyway. It doesn’t really matter. None of the people who are after me like loose ends. But Daniel knew that protecting the boy would be one more disadvantage – and Daniel was already outnumbered and on the run.

In the end, though, it wasn’t like he had a choice. I have too much blood on my hands already; I won’t let any more stain them through inaction. The priest grabbed the boy’s shoulder with one hand, and with the other he reached into his duffel bag and came out with a Micro Tavor assault rifle – a little under two feet long, but with a thirty-round magazine of plastic-tip 5.56 NATO ammunition and a multi-spectrum holosight. The rifle gleamed in the priest’s hand, black and deadly.

The boy looked at the gun, and then up at Daniel’s face, and he sighed. “You’re going to kill them,” he said quietly. It was not a question.

That response was strange enough for Daniel to take his eyes off a suspicious-looking window and glance at the boy in surprise. “What?”

“Do what you must,” the child said sadly. And with that, he stepped back into the shadow of a dumpster, eyes wide and knowing.

A heartbeat later, a bullet cracked through the space where the boy had just been standing, and everything was happening at once.

Daniel’s rifle swept smoothly up to his shoulder, the holographic reticule blinking into place over the chest of a man who had appeared at the end of the narrow street, holding a rifle in his own hands. The priest fired, the little black weapon roaring in his hands – and the man was moving, hit but not down, with impossible speed: he ran straight at the nearest wall, raced a dozen feet up it, and flung himself through a second-story window. Normal people can’t do that, some distant part of Daniel’s mind recognized, in a detached way. That’s supernatural power at work, on loan from some greater force. And I just bet I know who.

Even as he analyzed, though, the priest was moving. Daniel jinked to his left, away from the building into which the first attacker had leaped, and put his back against a wall. The combat-trance was coming over him now, strong and numbing, slowing the world to treacle. Daniel heard his heart beat once, and saw a man appear at the window across the street, his head somehow fitting exactly into the Micro-Tavor’s reticule. Squeeze. A plume of blood erupts from the back of the man’s skull. His body folds bonelessly. A faint “thump-thump” – Daniel’s heart beats a second time. Movement nine-o’clock; Daniel pivots smoothly; he feels the hot breeze of bullet passing inches from Daniel’s head; he squeezes three times in a second; the target jinks somehow, twisting, unnatural-fast-boneless. One bullet hits, blows a chunk out of the man’s shoulder. Thump-thump. Suddenly impact, low on Daniel’s thigh; ground rushes up; he is rolling on one shoulder, rifle clutched close to his chest; comes up kneeling, finger on trigger, squeeeeze – a long burst of auto-fire to the other end of the road, behind where Daniel had been standing. Man there too – target number three – flings himself low an instant too late, and a bullet rips off the top of his head. Thump-thump. Target two is still standing, Daniel twists, too-slow-too-slow, a hammer hits him in the upper chest and he falls back, rifle still in his hands, shoulders striking the pavement with a distant ache, target in the reticule, frozen, perfect, already bleeding from the wound in his own shoulder. Squeeze. Blood sprays from the man’s throat. He falls.

Thump-thump says Daniel’s heart, for the fourth time.

For a moment, there was nothing – and then Daniel felt himself come rushing back into his body like the tide into shore, and there was a burning spike of pain through the muscles of his thigh, and he could feel blood pumping steadily from a hollow space in his shoulder where there should be flesh. The priest braced one arm on the ground, and pushed himself up to his knees; something shifted inside his shoulder, bone fragments of the clavicle or scapula drifting liquidly within the wound. The priest bit back a snarl - I’ve been through worse – and then he remembered the boy. Daniel lurched unsteadily to his feet, ignoring the steadily increasing fire in his thigh, and opened his mouth to shout.

“Here,” came a soft voice. The child stepped out of the shadow of the dumpster. His face was utterly devoid of fear, and yet somehow still terribly sad. “Here, sahib.”

Daniel managed a sigh of relief, and as his chest expanded with breath, his shoulder burned with a wet pain. The priest grimaced, glancing around at the bodies of his assailants. I don’t see the Mongolian in the sunglasses, he realized. The guy from the tourist plaza. But there was no time to ponder the man’s absence; the sirens were already howling close at hand. Daniel turned, and found the boy studying him, those wide brown eyes quietly measuring. The child said nothing.

“We have to go,” Daniel finally managed. “Now. You have to come with me. It’s not safe for you otherwise. You understand.”

The boy nodded. “Yes, sahib,” he said quietly. No questions, no demands for reassurance or explanation – just assent. Daniel felt a sudden chill. Who is this boy?

But there was no time, no time. Daniel nodded once. “All right,” he murmured. And with that, he laid one hand on the boy’s shoulder, and began hobbling off, with grim determination, deep into the shadow of Pondicherry’s millions of inhabitants - there to lose himself in their incalculable immensity.

* * *


It was all over the news. If he was honest, Daniel hadn’t been so naïve as to expect otherwise: shootouts might not be uncommon in some areas of Pondicherry’s endless slums, but they were unheard-of in a relatively upscale area within easy walking distance of the old city. Besides, only an absolute incompetent would interpret the scene of the gunfight as evidence of just another gang brawl; the dead assassins were obviously just that, assassins. Corrupt the Pondicherry police might be; idiots they were not.

Glumly, Daniel flipped through the channels on the little television mounted in the upper corner of the hotel room, next to the window. Immediately after the gunfight in the side street had ended, he’d slapped a rudimentary field dressing on his wounds, just enough to stop the bleeding. That was important to avoid dying of blood loss, of course, but it was relevant for other reasons: countless supernatural creatures, not to mention a good forensics specialist, could track even the faintest blood trail. Someone was obviously trying to kill Daniel; the Sabbatanos didn’t intend to make it too easy for them.

Next, Daniel had taken the kid by the hand and marched him at random through the back streets of Pondicherry, putting as much distance as possible between himself and the site of the shootout, in as unpredictable a way as possible. That process had eventually landed Daniel in a run-down area on the boundary between the city proper and a vast swathe of slums that lay to its west. There, the priest found a little guest house in a crumbling five-story building, advertised by a sign written in Tamil and Hindi, but not English. The proprietor was shocked to see a white man with his shoulder and thigh wrapped in bloodstained bandages, but was perfectly happy to rent a room, and happier still for the extra thousand rupees which Daniel jammed into his hand. “You never saw me,” the priest had said quietly. He hadn’t said what would happen if the guest house owner betrayed him; he didn’t have to. The man quailed a little before Daniel’s soft voice, and nodded rapidly.

And so now Daniel was sitting in a disheveled little room, flipping through south Indian television news channels, and seeing over and over again the same footage: three dead bodies with automatic weapons laying in pools of blood behind cordons of police tape; bullet holes gouged into the walls of an alley; a few Pondicherry detectives moving about on inscrutable business. But there was some good news, the priest supposed. For one thing, there just weren’t that many news channels, and few of them reported on the shootout for more than a few minutes. The weight of attention given to the gunfight was vastly outweighed by the quantity of programming focused on cricket. And even that paled by comparison to the number of Bollywood television movies, soap operas, and American TV shows dubbed into Tamil which crowded the airwaves. I’d best not go anywhere near the old city for a few days, Daniel decided, but otherwise I’ll probably be all right.

As he browsed the news stations on the tiny, ancient television, Daniel unwrapped the field dressings around his thigh and shoulder. Both wounds were from 5.56 NATO bullets – military ball, non-frangible. In layman’s terms, that meant fairly clean, in-and-out bullet channels. As Daniel had expected from the hollow feeling, the bullet to his shoulder had torn clean out the priest's back; there was an entrance wound, and an exit wound. Daniel cleaned both with alcohol – wheezing his pain into a belt which he held clenched between his teeth – then packed the wound with gauze, applied a clotting agent to the torn flesh, and wrapped the whole shoulder more carefully in bandages. There wasn’t much point in trying to stitch it up himself, not yet. Better to let it heal a bit first on its own.

The thigh wound was another matter; the bullet was still in there, and it had to come out. Daniel turned to the boy. “Stay here,” the priest said firmly, as he began to limp toward the bathroom door.

“I’ve seen worse,” the boy replied quietly, his vast brown eyes staring into Daniel’s face.

A faint shiver ran down the priest’s spine, a sense that something was wrong here. I believe him. But how can that be true? He doesn’t seem like he’s been a child soldier, or anything like that. He just seems – old, somehow.

“I believe you,” Daniel said after a moment. “But still. Stay here.” The boy nodded, and Daniel hobbled into the bathroom and sat down on the toilet, wincing as he extended his leg in front of him. The priest reached into his first-aid kit, and pulled out a pair of tweezers and a scalpel. He dipped both in a small vial of raw alcohol, and then put his belt between his teeth again. A surge of nausea rose in Daniel’s gut as he prepared himself for the pain to come; the priest ignored it, and set to work.

Tweezers in first. A red-hot stab of pain; Daniel’s hand trembled slightly, shaking with the effort of resisting the instinctive urge to pull away from the bullet hole, vibrating the tweezers in the wound. The tweezers skittered across something hard – femur? No, the wound was in the meat of the outside of Daniel’s thigh. Had to be the bullet. Eyes closed, teeth sinking into his belt, Daniel tried to work the tweezers in around the bullet. He felt bile surge up in his throat, fought it down; red shapes drifted across the inside of his eyelids. His other hand brought the scalpel up, lowered it into the wound, cut twice. Agony, agony; Daniel’s throat seized up, and his clenched teeth muffled a low howl. His head twisted back, slamming against the grimy tile of the bathroom wall. But he could feel the tweezers close around the bullet, and he pulled once, hard. A rush of blood, warm and wet on the skin of Daniel’s leg, and a small hard object fell to the floor with a clunk. Mechanically, his breath coming in raw gasps, Daniel packed the wound with gauze, smeared it with clotting solution, and tightly bound it with a fresh roll of bandages. Then, finally, he let his mouth open, and the belt dropped from between his teeth into his lap.

“You are strong.” Daniel glanced up, and saw the child in the doorway, small arms folded across his chest. The boy's huge eyes studied Daniel impassively. “Strong, sahib. Few men could have done that on their own.”

“I thought I told you,” Daniel panted, “to stay put. Didn’t we talk about this?”

“Yes,” the boy replied easily, and shrugged unapologetically. “So what now?”

“We wait.” Daniel stood, almost fell, gulped down a couple of painkillers with a swallow of bottled water. He staggered into the bedroom and dropped onto the bed, where he sat with his injured leg extended awkwardly and throbbing in front of him. “Tomorrow, maybe, we’ll head out, and I’ll try to get you back to your family. Someplace where you’ll be safe.”

The boy stood in the bathroom doorway, arms still folded. His face gave nothing away. “And your family, sahib? Where are they?”

Daniel glanced up, surprised at the question. “They’re – “ Where? I never knew my grandparents. My father killed my mother, and I killed him. No brothers or sisters. Even all of the other Sabbatanoi are dead. I am the last, the last out of all of them.

The boy’s dark brown eyes rested on Daniel’s face, and the child nodded with understanding. “I see,” he said quietly. “Mine too.” A pause. “My name is Durai.”

The priest stared back, considering. If he knows my name, it could make him a target. Daniel glanced at his leg. But just now, I’m in no position to protect him from anything anyway. The Sabbatanos thrust out a hand. “Daniel,” he said. “Daniel Andreas.”

Durai took Daniel’s hand very seriously and shook it. “I am very pleased to meet you, Daniel Andreas,” he replied solemnly.

Daniel snorted quietly at that. “Likewise, monsieur,” he said with a smile.

Durai laughed for the first time; the boy’s reaction was so unexpected that for a moment, Daniel had no idea how to respond. The laugh was light, ringing like a bell, and Durai’s shoulders shook with its strength. The boy’s teeth flashed white in his open mouth for a moment, and then he fell silent, still smiling. “Monsieur,” he repeated. “I like that.” Durai cocked his head. “Will you tell me something, Daniel Andreas?”

The priest nodded. “Sure.” Almost immediately, Daniel wondered why he had said that. Can I really trust this boy? He seemed to know how to find me. But whether it was the painkillers, or Durai’s laugh, or just human loneliness, Daniel still felt that his response had been the right one. I need to be able to tell this boy the truth. I’m not sure just why, but I do.

“Why are you in Pondicherry, Daniel?” Durai waved vaguely at the priest, including in the gesture Daniel’s whole appearance. “I think you are not from here. Why do you come?”

For a moment, Daniel just studied Durai, his pale blue eyes far away; then the priest shook his head, and gave a quiet laugh. “You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”

“I would.” Durai’s own eyes rested, unblinking, on Daniel’s face, and the priest felt that same tremor of strangeness, like a cold wind blowing on the nape of his neck amidst the sweltering breezes of South India.

“Maybe you would, at that,” Daniel finally admitted quietly.

“So.” Durai’s teeth flashed in a swift, impish grin. “Tell me. Why do you come here?”

Daniel shifted on the bed, straightening his wounded leg. The priest closed his eyes briefly against a sudden, intense throb of pain. “There’s a flask in my jacket pocket,” Daniel told Durai. “Get it for me, and I’ll tell you why I’m in Pondicherry.”

“You already said you would tell me,” Durai said. “Why do I need to get the flask?”

“Then do it as a favor.”

Durai shrugged, and fished about in Daniel’s khaki travel jacket for a few moments. He came out with a small steel flask, and brought it back to the priest. Daniel took a long pull, and felt the sun-warmed țuică course down his throat, burning the priest’s throat and warming his stomach. At least this way the pain won’t keep me awake, Daniel reflected. I won’t get better unless I’m able to sleep.

“So,” Durai repeated. “You said that you would tell me why you come to Pondicherry.”

Daniel sighed. “I come to Pondicherry,” he replied slowly, “because I once came here a very long time ago, and at that time this became an important place for me. So now I come back and visit it every year.”

Durai nodded. “What happened to make this place so important?”

Daniel’s throat abruptly clenched, and he felt tears in his eyes. The priest shook his head a little, shocked. This shouldn’t have such an effect on me, not after all this time. Daniel took another swallow of țuică. But then again – have I ever told this story? To anyone? In almost three hundred years, have I ever spoken of her?

“What happened?” Durai repeated softly.

“You won’t believe me.” Durai shook his head, as if disappointed, and Daniel waved a hand. “Yes, yes, I know. You will. For some reason.” The priest’s leg throbbed again, and he leaned his head back against the wall. “It’s a long story, Durai.”

The boy sat down cross-legged at the foot of the bed, and rested his chin on his hand. “Are you planning on going anywhere?”

Daniel shook his head wearily. “Fine.” The priest took a deep breath, and finally spoke, the words spilling out. “I first came to Pondicherry in the year 1760.” Daniel expected Durai to laugh at that, but the boy just nodded, dark eyes unwavering – and somehow Daniel was not surprised. Now that the priest had begun to speak, he found that he didn’t want to stop; the words poured forth from his tongue, and Daniel discovered that he never had to search for the right phrasing, or struggle to set events in their proper order. I have been waiting to tell this story for two hundred and seventy years, the Sabbatanos realized. And now it’s finally time.

“I first came to Pondicherry in the year 1760,” explained Daniel Andreas, “at the end of the rainy season. I came by ship, and there was a storm – a storm so terrible that the ship almost sank.” Daniel laughed softly and shook his head. “You see, Durai, some things never change.”

To Be Continued.

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