Benny's Battleborn Tales


(Gone off comms, will update this when i feel like) #102

Not a problem, just keep doing what you do with the community


(Gt: YaCantDutchThis) #103

This. @Benedict_87 has written so many amazing stories about the characters of this game. He learns about them. Their personalities, things they’d do. Things they won’t do and he writes stories that actually feel really good to read. They are ridiculously funny, but I have to admit that things like this:

gets me emotional.

This guy is a freaking genius, and since the start of this forum I have read so many of the things he posted. (Heck, I liked his posts 352 times. XD)


(Super Badass Constructor ) #104

I have much reading to do to the looks of things lmao. I may not know much about the game, but Benny is DAMN good writer from what I have read in that RP thread!


(Penguin connoisseur.) #105

You really don’t NEED to know any backstory to enjoy that story, which is another sign of a great writer. It is immersive and makes you feel like you’ve known the characters the whole time.


(Benedict's Glorious Wingspan) #106

Ooohhhh… SALACIOUS… I ain’t heard that word in like… ever… BUT I BOUGHT A THESAURUS TODAY!!! ON SALE FOR LIKE A HALF A SHARD…

So… uh… uh… lemme look up a synonym so I can respond to this comment in a tasteful, and classy…



I can’t read this… what the hell does this…



It’s printed in Jennerit webdings. I’m real pissed now.


(Penguin connoisseur.) #107

“Salacious” is an insult. TAUNT HIM!!


(Benedict's Glorious Wingspan) #108

HELL NO!!! I AIN’T GONNA TAUNT ONE OF THE DEVELOPERS!!! ARE YA CRAZY???

Gets a suspicious look in his eyes.

Or are ya just tryin’ to get me kicked off the forum first?


(Penguin connoisseur.) #109

I’ve gotten into a gif war with him, lost, and i’ll still standing, you cowardly gull…

HEY, @dante_d_silva!

Eat ISIC’s sick dance moves! HAHAHAHA!!


(Benedict's Glorious Wingspan) #110

DON’T YOU CALL ME A GULL DAMMIT!!!
I AIN’T A DAMN GULL!!!

And there’s a big difference between a gif war, and maximum douche, man.

Cuz… cuz ya know I don’t know when to stop…


(Penguin connoisseur.) #111

…At maximum?


(Benedict's Glorious Wingspan) #112


(Gone off comms, will update this when i feel like) #113

@Benedict_87 are you trying to dictate the terms or are you making excuses to avoid exchanging words? Because it sounds like the second one…


(Benedict's Glorious Wingspan) #114

HEY!!! I AIN’T NO COWARD!!! I’M JUST TIRED OF GETTIN’ KICKED OFF EVERY FRIGGIN’ FORUM I TRY TO JOIN CUZ OF MY MOUTH!!!

NOVA:
Oh, c’mon. You know you want to.

BENEDICT:
No, Nova, I ain’t doin’ it.

Nova begins making chicken noises at Benedict.

BENEDICT:
That ain’t gonna work, Nova.

The chicken noises get louder. Benedict falls deep into an internal conflict. On the one hand, people are calling him a chicken. On the other hand, he knows this won’t end well…



…but… but… people are callin’ him a chicken…


#115

(Benedict's Glorious Wingspan) #116

KID ULTRA COUNSELING SESSION


Hi. Nova here. Benedict’s been real quiet lately. Too quiet. Fortunately, his friends are here to cheer him right up! Or rather, Kid Ultra. I’m just sharing this because I’m bored. He’s not talking to me or anyone else. On the plus side, my corridors have been at least 76% quieter since he shut his beak and he’s not giving Ernest a hard time. On the minus side, my corridors have been at least 76% quieter since he shut his beak and he’s not giving Ernest a hard time. I’M SO… BORED!!!


Benedict sits alone in the mess hall with his head resting against his talon. He takes his ladle and dumps another spoonful of… well assuming this is what you call this UPR ration… “stew” into his beak. Alani walks up to him.

ALANI:
Uh… uh… uh… uh…

Benedict stares at her.

ALANI:
Hi?

BENEDICT:
Hi.

ALANI:
Uh… uh… uh… uh… nice chatting with you!

Alani rushes out of the room in the direction of the isolation tank. Benedict rolls his eyes and goes back to his “stew.” He’s interrupted by the sound of the chair next to him screeching against the deck plates. He slowly turns, and is greeted by the obnoxious grinning face of Kid Ultra. He stands with one foot on the ground and one foot on the chair, his arms folded against his chest. This continues for almost a full minute until Benedict breaks the silence.

BENEDICT:
Ya gonna just stand there or what?

KID ULTRA:
Great job there buddy! You just passed the environmental awareness test! I was worried you completely disconnected from reality and got lost in the evil PSYCHIC WEBMASTER’S DREAMTRAP!!!

His voice becomes slightly deeper as he says the name of his fictional nemesis. Benedict turns back to his “stew.”

BENEDICT:
Wow. Yaay. I’m so glad I haven’t been captured by an evil cartoon villain. Woo me.

KID ULTRA:
Woo you indeed, wing-ed sidekick!

Kid Ultra turbo boosts himself onto the table and stands with his hands on his hips right in front of Benedict’s “stew.” He stares down at him, still smiling. Benedict sighs, drops his ladle back in the bowl and glares up at Kid Ultra.

BENEDICT:
Do ya want somethin’ from me?

KID ULTRA:
I want you to turn that frown upside down friend!

BENEDICT:
We ain’t friends. I can barely stand yer ass…

KID ULTRA:
Awesome! We’re frienemies!!!

BENEDICT:
We’re… nothin’. Ya annoy the ever livin’ piss outta me. I can’t stand bein’ in the same room as ya. Speakin’ of which, get outta my face, I’m eatin’.

Benedict grabs his ladle, but Kid Ultra leans down and grins right in his face. Benedict throws the ladle on the table.

BENEDICT:
I swear by the Great Eagle, if ya don’t stop it, I’m gonna jam a rocket up yer ass!

KID ULTRA:
I already have a rocket up my posterior wing-ed frienemy sidekick!

Kid Ultra enters “To The Rescue” mode and flies around Benedict’s head. Benedict starts trembling with rage as Kid Ultra sings the theme song from some childish cartoon show.

BENEDICT:
STOP BUZZIN’ AROUND MY DAMN HEAD ALREADY!!!

Kid Ultra exits “To The Rescue” mode and stares right up at Benedict.

KID ULTRA:
Congratulations, champ! You just passed the emotional involvement test! That means you’re fully capable of experiencing emotions other than morose self pity!

BENEDICT: (Snapping at him)
I ain’t wallowin’ in self pity!

KID ULTRA:
Not anymore! Thanks to KIIIIIIIIIDDDDDD ULLLTTTRRRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!

Kid Ultra enters “To The Rescue” mode again and flies out of the mess hall. Benedict stands, trembling and enraged for the next couple minutes. When his rage finally subsides enough to speak, he talks to Nova directly.

BENEDICT:
Nova. That’s not helpin’. Ya want me to get better? Let me work through this on my own. I’ll be alright. Just… stop pushin’ an’ give me some time… ok?

Benedict walks out of the room, ignoring all the other Battleborn staring at him.

NOVA:
Like hell. I am not sitting here for the next few weeks watching him mope. Hey… does anyone know where ISIC is? How about Orendi? Pendles? Ooooh! OOOHHHHH!!! MELLKA!!! That sounds like fun…

I giggle maniacally when faced with all the possibilities for drama. The other battleborn stare at my holographic form with worry, but I don’t care. There are just so many tension filled interpersonal outcomes! AND I’M SOOOOOOOO BORED!!!


(Benedict's Glorious Wingspan) #117

The Gossip Game - Prelude


Ghalt is meeting with Ernest, Alani, and Beatrix in the medical bay to discuss Benedict’s latest problem. We join this conversation already in progress. Because reasons.

ERNEST:
Yes, he’s stopped givin’ me a hard time, he’s shown up for every trainin’ session on time, but his PERFORMANCE has been steadily declinin’ since he lost his citizenship! Weapon accuracy is down 35%. Reload time is up by 3-4 seconds. Hell, even his glide time is declining! It’s like he’s just going through the motions! Like he doesn’t even care!

NOVA:
That is why I tried my solution…

GHALT: (Annoyed)
Nova, sicking ISIC on him wasn’t a solution.

He throws a children’s pop up book on the table with the title, “So You’ve Finally Decided to Give Up and Embrace the Cold, Meaningless Joke of Your Existence.” A sad faced toddler can be seen on the cover wrapping a noose around his neck. In the background, a treasured teddy bear hangs from a similar noose with a suicide note written in crayon.

NOVA:
Ok… to be fair… I was flying a bit close to Solus. You know how I get when I’m flying through solar flares.

Ghalt rolls his eyes. Beatrix brings up a medical diagnostic scan.

BEATRIX:
Well, I’ve reached the limits of what I can do for him medically. There’s not enough candy in the Solus system to turn that frown upside down. He needs therapy.

GHALT:
He won’t GO to therapy.

BEATRIX:
Well, you’re the Captain, right? ORDER HIM to therapy. And order me some Hreffa spice while you’re at it. I wanna bake medical cookies!

She giggles in her creepy, half robotic tone.

GHALT:
Clearly you haven’t heard what happened the last time I tried that.


Benedict bursts from Dr. Roger Sequoia’s office laughing uncontrollably. The roar of a chainsaw can be heard. A large, Alpian doctor emerges from the office, ripping the door from it’s hinges and brandishing a gigantic TREE DEMOLATOR 5000 (All caps because of it’s EXTREME demolating power). He runs after Benedict.

DR. SEQUOIA:
I’M GONNA KILL YOU YOU MOTHERF**KER!!!


GHALT:
And of course… the Aviant psychoanalysts won’t even give me the time of day. The problem is, in spite of how dumb he acts, Benedict is too smart for his own damn good. Somehow he’s got it in his head that asking for help is a weakness, probably not helped by his culture of a**holes who ACTUALLY TEACH that asking for help is a weakness. So he views each psychology session as a new challenge to be conquered instead of a legitimate medical problem.

ERNEST:
And in spite of how LOUD and OBNOXIOUS he can be, he almost never says anything of substance. He keeps all his real feelings deep down inside, and as a result of him internalizing everything IMPORTANT, he’s actually making himself sick.

GHALT:
It’s only a matter of time before he turns back to the bottle, drives himself insane, or pulls a “Little Timothy.”

He gestures toward’s ISIC’s (thankfully unpublished) children’s book.

ALANI:
Well… uh… maybe… uh… maybe we can trick him into therapy!

Ghalt snorts.

GHALT:
Yeah. Good luck. Like I said, he’s too smart for his own damn good. I’ve tried sneaking him into therapy before. It always ends the same.


Benedict ducks. A series of throwing knives fly into the wall behind him. An almost inhuman female voice can be heard shrieking. Benedict pops back up with a big grin on his beak.

BENEDICT:
MISSED ME!!! AHAHAHAHA!!!


GHALT:
The second he figures out he’s being psychoanalyzed he takes it as a matter of personal pride to be as uncooperative as possible and find a way to break the tester. It’s like he’s competing with the test, trying to find a way to beat it. Benedict has educated himself on every… single… conventional psychological technique. He knows all the tricks. He knows all the signs of an analysis. He has never failed to tell when someone’s trying to diagnose him, and as a result of knowing all the tricks, he knows how to beat the tests.

ERNEST:
It’s amazing he was able to pass UPR psych evaluations all those years.

GHALT:
Not when he’s studied for it and knows all the answers the computers are expecting. Yes. He STUDIED. For a PSYCH EVALUATION.

BEATRIX:
Well, it looks like we have to get creative and try an UNCONVENTIONAL TECHNIQUE.

Alani gasps like she just thought of something. They all stare at her.

ALANI:
Uh… nothing. Nothing. Sorry.

ERNEST:
Didn’t sound like nothing.

NOVA:
No. It sounded like you had an idea.

ALANI:
No… no… it’s nothing. Really.

BEATRIX:
I get the distinct impression you’re lying.

GHALT:
What’s your idea, Alani?

ALANI:
Forget it. It’s… it’s dumb. I’m gonna go…

Alani walks for the door. Ernest blocks her path.

ERNEST:
Spill it, girl!

Alani snorts at the pun, momentarily caught off guard. Then turns back to Ghalt and Beatrix.

ALANI:
Well… you could always try… the gossip game…


Benedict sits in the mess hall, alone again, with another bowl of UPR “stew.” Miko, Beatrix, and Phoebe enter and sit at a table close to him, all wearing identical white, metallic bracelets, talking excitedly.

MIKO:
Did she tell you who he had a crush on?

BEATRIX:
Oh yes. Of course! He had a crush on…

She leans into the others’ ears and they all laugh excitedly.

PHOEBE: (Still giggling)
Ewwwwww… not HER!!!

Benedict pretends not to be interested, but keeps glancing over as they continue their conversation. Ghalt sits in the medical bay with Ernest and Alani.

GHALT:
C’mon, c’mon. Take the bait…

The trio continues gossiping, then dying down to a whisper as they reveal the really big secrets. Finally Benedict stares at them, too intrigued to pretend he doesn’t care.

BENEDICT:
Ok. What the hell are y’all talkin’ about?

The three suddenly straighten up and stop talking.

MIKO:
Nothing, we were not talking about anything, bird.

BENEDICT:
Oh, c’mon. Y’all can tell me. It’s just a little gossip, right? Look. I’ve been dealin’ with some stuff lately. I could use somethin’ to take my mind off it. So c’mon. Tell me.

They look at each other, then back to Benedict.

PHOEBE:
Sorry, August. But we earned our gossip. If you want some of your own, you’ll have to earn it.

BEATRIX:
Talk to Galilea. Ask her about the game.

BENEDICT:
What game?

Beatrix giggles. The three of them stand and walk out. Benedict sits in the silence for a few minutes, then tries to go back to his stew.

GHALT: (Staring at Benedict on the monitor)
G****mmit, you stubborn son of a…

BENEDICT:
Nova, ya got any idea what this game is?

NOVA:
Unfortunately no. Galilea’s found some way to shield her quarters from my sensors. But the three of them have been visiting her quarters and emerging with juicy secrets every night for the last week or so. It’s driving me nuts!

BENEDICT:
Huh.

Benedict tries to go back to his stew again.

NOVA:
You know Benny, you haven’t posted anything substantial in your gossip blog since you lost your citizenship.

BENEDICT:
No… but YOU’VE certainly been busy sickin’ Kid Ultra and ISIC on me…

NOVA:
Oh, whatever. I was bored. You’re a badass. You can handle it. And I’m sick of watching you mope. Tell you what… if you can find out what their little game is and get me some juicy details… I might just have some shiny new ops points for you…

BENEDICT:
Thanks but no thanks. I don’t think I’m in the mood…

NOVA:
Mood, shmood. Get your ass in there and get me some juicy details and I’ll give you some shiny new ops points.

Benedict once again tries to go back to his “stew.”

NOVA:
Or don’t and be a coward. It’s all up to you. Chicken. Bawk bawk bawk, bawk bawk bawk.

Benedict drops the ladel in his stew as Nova’s hologram snaps off. Benedict rests his hand against his head for a few moments. Then stands and walks towards the door.

BENEDICT:
G****mmit. Where’s Galilea?

Ghalt and Ernest lean back from the monitor.

GHALT:
He took the bait.

He activates the comms.

GHALT:
Galilea, you ready?

GALILEA:
I am still not comfortable with all of this… but… I will try.

GHALT:
Good. Arrange an appointment with him tomorrow night. Give the intrigue some time to build in his head.

Ghalt leans back and folds his arms across his chest.

ERNEST:
I’m not so sure I like this plan. You know how I feel about lying to my troops…

GHALT:
You got a better plan?

Ernest sighs, shaking his head, and walks out. Ghalt stares at Benedict walking down the corridor on the monitor.

GHALT:
You’re gonna deal with your issues whether you like it or not, Benny.


(Natsume Ryu) #118

INTRIGUE HAS BEEN BUILT. EAGERLY AWAITS NEXT SECTION OF STORY.

shakes fists in anticipation


(PSN: Hellyeah935 ) #119

I wanna read ISIC’s book…


(Benedict's Glorious Wingspan) #120

The Gossip Game - Day 0


(Excerpt from text, “27th Hne Of Emula, The Sixth Poison”, recovered from a Codex seedpod regrown in the new archive on Ekkunar.)

…and the Bluemother saw her children, tearing themselves apart. Their laughter filled the oceans like the venom of an eel. She wept bitterly in response to the unthinking malice, the cruel half truths told only to increase prestige at the expense of another, and she knew something had to [translation error — best match: “change”].


Benedict feels real, real dumb as he knocks on the door to Galilea’s quarters. There is no response. Benedict speaks up.

BENEDICT:
Hey, Gal? Ya in there?

GALILEA:
I am busy, bird! Believe it or not, the rest of Nova does not revolve around YOUR EGO!

Ghalt watches from the control room with a cup of coffee.

GHALT: (Over the comm)
Gal… don’t shut him out completely.

GALILEA: (Whispering)
Do NOT tell me how to do my job. I know how to be covert…

BENEDICT:
Ok… look. I know we ain’t besties, but…

She makes a very loud, very annoyed groan that Benedict can hear through the door as he continues speaking.

BENEDICT:
Look, I heard from some of the others somethin’ about a game? And I was curious…

The door opens. Galilea looks right in his eyes, bemused. The sound of metal grinding can be heard from somewhere within her quarters.

GALILEA:
So, you are interested in learning some gossip about your fellow crewmates? About me perhaps?

BENEDICT:
Well, uh…


(Excerpt from text, “27th Hne Of Emula, The Sixth Poison”, recovered from a Codex seedpod regrown in the new archive on Ekkunar.)

The Bluemother gathered the monks who were closest upon herself and taught to them “The Guide.”

The rules were to be explained, the rings to be distributed, and the spread of the poison contained through ritual and enlightenment.


GALILEA:
As I said… I’m busy.

The metal grinding suddenly becomes louder. A screech is heard. Galilea grins mysteriously.

GALILEA:
Come back tomorrow. Tempus 345—sorry what is it in your time? Ah yes… 2100 hours. We shall see if you are capable of EARNING your answers.

And with that, Galilea closes the door, and the grinding intensifies. Benedict walks away.

BENEDICT:
Nova, what the hell? Why all the mystery? It’s just f**kin’ GOSSIP!!!

NOVA:
If I knew, I wouldn’t be giving you ops points to find out, now would I? Moron.

Galilea opens the door again and calls down the hall.

GALILEA:
Oh… bird! Bring this.

She tosses him a metallic white bracelet.

BENEDICT:
The hell is this?

GALILEA:
It is the sacred ring of the Bluemother.

Benedict glares at Galilea.

BENEDICT:
I thought the Bluemother was an Alani thing?

GALILEA:
It is also a Galilea thing. Do not presume to know me, bird.

She holds up her wrist revealing a dark blue, almost black metallic bracelet.

GALILEA:
And be sure you’re ready to learn my secrets. For knowledge is power, and all power exacts a price.

She closes the door again. Benedict immediately walks off and begins researching the Bluemother on his phone.

BENEDICT:
Let’s see if I can figure out what I’m gettin’ into here.


Ghalt leans back in his chair, nodding with satisfaction.

GHALT:
Good job. I especially like the “knowledge is power” bit.

GALILEA:
It is from the Song of the Emula. It is one of the few passages I actually remember. The cult of the Bluemother was strong when I was a child, although I was never a member personally. I will require Alani’s assistance during the actual ritual.

GHALT:
So this is an actual spiritual thing huh? Alani wasn’t just making it up?

GALILEA:
She was not.

The metallic grinding intensifies in Galilea’s quarters.

GHALT:
What the hell ARE you doing in there?

GALILEA: (Mysteriously)
You think you are ready to learn my secrets, Captain? Perhaps you should join us…

Her audio feed cuts out. Ghalt stares at the outside of her quarters on the monitor.

GHALT:
Dammit. I really wish she wasn’t able to use her corruption to block our sensors.

NOVA:
It’s a rock tumbler. She’s used it without activating her corruption before. She’s smoothing out some gemstones she collected as souvenirs on our little excursion through Fort Ocoban.

GHALT:
Oh.

NOVA:
You’re disappointed.

GHALT:
Yeah, actually.

NOVA:
Well, in my experience, most secrets aren’t worth learning. You guys are really boring when you’re not fighting. Speaking of which, your load of whites is finished.

She gasps.

NOVA:
Oh my! Did you hear the news? Captain Trevor Ghalt prefers briefs to boxers! It’s a ground quaking revelation!

Ghalt rolls his eyes.

NOVA:
I’m just waiting for the part of the story where Galilea rips his feathered ass from limb to limb. THAT will be the juicy stuff. Literally.

GHALT:
Nova, you and ISIC are the two most f**ked up AIs I’ve ever used.

Nova giggles.


(Benedict's Glorious Wingspan) #121

The Gossip Game - Day 1

(Excerpt from Claudia Ambralia Divia’s foreword to “Secrets of the Silent Sisters”)

It is said that The Great Empress Lenore in the second year of her reign inscribed a number of scrolls with scurrilous rumors, all of them in relation to herself, all of them lies. She spread those lies in silence among the sleeping masses of Tempest, then entered a silent meditation in the Gardens of Mirre. Within a day, the winds were a buzz with scandals, conjecture, and controversy. Her advisers thought her mad. No leader had ever intentionally placed one’s personal reputation in such serious jeopardy before. She emerged from the garden three weeks later. She called a meeting of her advisers and asked them, “What do the people say of me?” They worried. Finally one stepped forth and said, “Empress, we have tried as best we could to salvage your reputation… but there are some rumors which the public has actually latched on to as truth.” The Empress smiled and responded. “Good. I want to know which rumors they believe and I want to know which groups are pushing them hardest. We have work to do.”

She and her advisers conducted secret research for the next few weeks. She held masquerades and carefully watched her guests. She examined all media and allowed a free flow of information with no restrictions. She studied the rumors her enemies used and the people who kept the lies burning, and in such studies learned her enemies, their tools, their drives, and the political weapons they would use against her. She set to reinforce her public persona against such attacks. She separated the desperate and fearful from the malicious and aggressive and quickly took steps to turn them into allies. She had the rest executed.

Lenore was a truly wise Empress.


Alani squeals with delight as she squeezes another glowworm until it’s natural defense kicks in with the chemical reaction needed to produce light. Galilea sits, impatiently reviewing her colleague’s long, extraordinarily detailed notes on “The Ritual of the Sixth Poison.” She sighs.

GALILEA:
This is ridiculous.

ALANI: (Bubbly)
It’s not ridiculous! It’s part of the Bluemother’s sacred teachings!

GALILEA:
Controlling… gossip… through ritual…

ALANI:
Well, at least it’s giving us a chance to talk! We NEVER talk! Hey, are you allergic to vekka spice incense?

Galilea glares at Alani.

ALANI:
Is that a “yes” glare, or a “no” glare?

Galilea taps her subcutaneous transmitter on.

GALILEA:
Captain Ghalt.

Ghalt sits in his quarters with a large cup of iced coffee and takes a sip. He closes his eyes and enjoys the sweet flavor of mocha with frost berries before answering.

GHALT
Yep, Gal. I’m here.

Galilea slips on her sacred ring of the Bluemother.

GALILEA:
You DID make the modifications I asked for to this thing?

Ghalt smiles.

GHALT:
Don’t worry. You’ll be able to say anything you want in response to Benedict. Just make sure it’s convincing. Try it out on Alani if you’re nervous.

GALILEA:
Alani…

She squeals in response. Galilea sighs. She holds out her wrist. Alani reaches out her arm, practically bouncing with excitement and puts her bracelet next to Galilea’s.

ALANI:
I invoke the sacred right of the Bluemother. By these rings may we be bound by secrets. By poisons shared, may we overcome and become stronger ouselves.

GALILEA:
Ditto.

The rings seal against each other with a stong magnetic field.

ALANI:
You are going to do the actual invocation with Benedict, right?

GALILEA:
Tell me something true.

ALANI:
I LOVE kelp cookies. You wanna bake some when we’re done here?

GALILEA:
I also love kelp cookies.

The bracelets unlock.

GALILEA:
Thank you Alani. That was all I needed to know.

Alani grins, then her grin fades slightly with realization.

ALANI:
Hey, wait… does that mean… when you tried my kelp cookies last week for dessert… and said they were delicious… you were just…

A knock comes on the door. Alani and Galilea scramble to their positions. Alani puts on a robe of the most solemn shade of blue. Definitely not baby blue. That’s not even a remotely sincere blue.

BENEDICT:
Alright. I’m here. And I’ve got the stupid bracelet.

GALILEA:
Nova. Decrease illumination.

Nova lowers the artificial lighting. The only illumination now comes from a large blue glowworm on a table in front of Galilea, and a shelf full of glowworms behind Alani.

GALILEA:
If you are truly ready to experience the sacred ritual of the Bluemother. Then enter, child.

The door opens, revealing Benedict. He’s wearing his bracelet and glancing around the room with a perplexed expression. He casts an incredulous glance at Galilea.

BENEDICT:
Really?

GALILEA:
If you are too coward to perform the sacred ritual, then leave. I do this for your benefit. Not my own.

BENEDICT:
Naw, naw… I just… I just ain’t used to talk bein’ a sacred ritual is all.

He enters. The door shuts behind him. Benedict jumps as Alani bangs a gong and begins singing what sounds like a whale song. He continues looking around the room uncomfortably.

BENEDICT:
Uh… is that the seventh song of “The Mouth of Eras” or the eighth?

Galilea raises her eyebrows and stares at Benedict, surprised. Nova said he was researching it, but she didn’t expect him to go that deep. She had only just skimmed the notes on the sacred songs. She allows her face to betray nothing and mentally scolds herself, knowing she will have to research it more for tomorrow’s session. She looks to Alani, who, with hands behind her back outside of Benedict’s view, signals her, “8.” She then gazes back to Benedict.

GALILEA:
The eighth. I am surprised. You have researched our holy rituals.

BENEDICT:
Yeah, well. I just wanted to make sure what I was gettin’ into. It wouldn’t be the first time someone’s tried to trick me into somethin’. Last time it was Oscar Mike with his “Bro Bondin’ Day.”

Ghalt shudders at the memory and knows he will never ever be able to eat cottage cheese again. He shakes it off, and the nagging voice in the back of his head wonders why he’s even bothering to help this bird again. He glances down at his coffee and takes another sip.

GHALT: (Mumbling)
Benny, I swear to God, if you ever ruin coffee for me…

Galilea sits up in her chair with purpose.

GALILEA:
Then you know the sacred invocation and the rules.

BENEDICT:
Yeah, yeah. The bracelets stay locked until the other party tells a secret of equal emotional value. Got it. They got nanotech in 'em…

ALANI:
It is NOT NANOTECH!! It is a profound spiritual…

BENEDICT:
It’s nanotech. Don’t bulsh*t me, Alani. They measure yer vitals and determine yer emotional state. The other person has to share a secret of equal emotional value to unlock the bracelets.

GALILEA:
Very good. Alani, begin the Hum of Truth.

Alani begins humming in long, ritualistic notes. Benedict looks playfully at Galilea. Galilea stares back at him like an ice storm. Benedict holds out his arm. Galilea continues glaring. This continues until it gets awkward. Then…

BENEDICT:
Uh, we doin’ this or not?

Benedict continues holding out his arm.

GALILEA: (Annoyed)
You are supposed to meditate silently during the hum, bird. Perhaps your research was not as thorough as it seemed.

BENEDICT:
Oh c’mon! That’s an old rule! It ain’t been practiced in, like, six hundred…

He realizes how stupid that sounded.

BENEDICT:
Right… right… sorry… I forgot. Ya don’t look…

GALILEA:
Alani, begin again.

Alani restarts the hum. Benedict and Galilea close their eyes and sit in silence for several minutes. Alani brings a bag full of incense around and begins waving it around their heads. Benedict snorts.

GALILEA: (Aggravated)
BIRD!!! ARE YOU TAKING THIS SERIOUSLY OR NOT!!!???

BENEDICT:
Oh, c’mon! She’s hummin’ right next to my ear an’ dancin’ around with that friggin’…

GALILEA:
Forget it. If you will not take this seriously, you will not learn ANY secrets today. Get out of my quarters.

Benedict stares at her.

BENEDICT:
Oh, c’mon, Gal… I…

GALILEA:
Get out!

BENEDICT:
But I…

She begins to turn purple.

GALILEA:
LEAVE!

BENEDICT:
Ok, ok! I’m goin’!

He starts for the door.

GALILEA:
Come back when you are ready to take this seriously.

Benedict shakes his head as he walks out the door. Ghalt watches the monitor.

NOVA:
Well. Congratulations moron. You just got kicked out of the ceremony. No ops points awarded.

BENEDICT:
I had to be sure it was for real. I’ll be more serious tomorrow, Nova.

NOVA:
You do realize you’re going to have to share some embarrassing secret about yourself to get something in return, right Benny?

BENEDICT:
Don’t worry. I got this handled.

A worried expression crosses Ghalt’s face.

GHALT:
Nova, I want you to monitor him extra close. If he’s got a trick, I wanna know about it.

NOVA:
Absolutely sir!

GHALT:
BEFORE he goes in to talk to Galilea.

NOVA:
Awwww… you just have to rip the fun out of everything, don’t you?

Ghalt leans back and sips his coffee.

GHALT:
Not this time, Benny. You’re not getting out of it this time.

He chokes a little on his coffee as some of it goes down his wind pipe.

GHALT: (Between coughs)
Dammit!

NOVA:
YOU were thinking of the cottage cheese again weren’t you?

GHALT: (Mumbling)
F**king bird. Ruined for life…