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Jinto wonder if it is the Lander in him that cries for a man he has only known through chains and imprisonment. Death comes easily even in his home world, spun on rebellion and a lingering, undying hatred that is bred amongst their people towards his father’s politics. It is different somehow here in space, where people die not on the personal edge of someone’s hate-lined sword, but through impartial, cold battles where you never see your opponent’s face. It is almost as though death is some passive, inarguable thing that happens to people, normalised to the point where it is mistaken as acceptable.

The Lander in him cries, because life has so much more meaning than life and death. There has to be something more, because otherwise what is there but the coldness of the stars?

And Jinto wonders if it is the Ahb in him who actually owns those tears, using his Lander body as a vessel through which to expel them. It is surely the Ahb in him – that he has become – that keeps those tears hidden, internal. Ahb’s do not cry, especially not here in their natural domain. And they certainly do not cry for an enemy who would have killed them so easily in return. No. If they are the tears of an Ahb, then Jinto thinks that he’s mourning for something far more selfish that another being. He’s mourning for the way Lafiel’s words make so much sense, how it’s so easy to shift from horror and disbelief and this-is-not-how-the-world-should-be, to –

Rationality. Clinical thought. Deduction.


He weighs his tears in one part emotion, and one part intent, and he finds himself wanting. The grief is too fleeting, too spiced through with a heart clenching relief that catches his breath in his throat and wakes him at night. The Intent is factual and true, but it leaves a hole in a space where once he thought was his heart.

He weighs his tears, and finds that the total is somehow less than the sum of its parts. Instead of the different elements of him – the strengths each of his Lander blood and his Ahb title – adding together, they leave him in deficit.

“We made the right decision,” Lafiel says, and she is right. But Jinto wonders if Dorin would disagree with her if he was here, and whether Dorin would be right, as well. The firmness across Lafiel’s brow relaxes just a touch, her eyes softening into something that is not quite as rigid as life and death. She finds this part of him confusing, Jinto knows, because she has lost people she loves in the same way as this violent, cruel man has died. She didn’t cry then, and Jinto thinks she must think him a fool. It doesn’t matter that the tears come inside of him rather than trailing in some physical form down his face. She knows that they are there, exposing a weakness that is difficult for an Ahb to allow.

And yet, it isn’t reproach she offers him now, but rationality. Clinical thought. Deduction.

The faintest touch of warmth. Time. Reason. He confuses her, complicating life in a way that Ahbs reserve for trivialities instead of the things that truly matter. And she confuses him, because despite all of that, she offers him support, gives balance to his tears.

Jinto wonders if it is the Lander or Ahb side of him that is starting to gravitate to her more and more.