Discussion of everything bicycle related. bikeit! bike bikes bicycle bicycles bicycling cycling
A special thanks to u/SpacePaladin15
for the fantastical universe.
Have a really long chapter!
Forgot to say it has been a while. Hope you're all doing well!
+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+ Memory transcription subject: Jaxton, son of a humble sheep farmer Date [standardized human time]: October 11th, 2136
If someone asked me years ago how many people would travel the globe just to see me. My answer would have been three; my father, my mother, and Dex Mason. My mother and father would have been simply obligated to do so, as I was their son, and I would have done the same thing. Dex was my best friend when I went to middle school in America, and he stayed my best friend when I went back to Wales, going back to Atlanta for many vacations.
What can I say? He had a nice collection of guns, and his general cheerful attitude made many people optimistic, so a day on the range with him led to the both of us being happier.
Then you add in Dex’s older and younger brothers, our mutual friend John Dillinger, and then you have a recipe for a fun time; guns, video games, hiking, and the occasional sheep herding if they ever come to my home: It’s a blast!
An alien porcupine though… I honestly never expected that I would ever in my honest-to-God lifetime, have such an impact on someone before. We barely knew each other for even a few minutes, yet she to my knowledge was merely some sad Gojid that was struggling with depression and loss. All I did was walk in and comfort her, or well, that’s how I saw it.
I still feel like an absolute idiot for forgetting about what I told her. It wasn’t a promise, but based on the implication of how I said it. It may as well have been a declaration to see the girl a few hours later, or however long it took her to get ready.
Now, speaking of Barlim, it’s been a few minutes since she arrived at my doorway at the most unexpected of times. I had her sitting in our living room on our couch. The Gojid, or Gojya
, that I had to have explained to me, had her arms wrapped around one of our decorative pillows. She was giving squeezes every few seconds depending on how she felt, and if she was really giving it a firm squeeze, I’d reach over and stroke the top of her head. Barlim seemed to relax every time I did this.
“You holding up better?” Barlim appeared to be holding up better: No longer sobbing out tears from her eyes, or having mucus running from her nostrils.
She merely sniffed weakly for a second, nuzzling into my hand. If I had to admit, I had no idea if I was performing some massive social taboo by patting her like an animal, but if she wasn’t going to complain, neither was I. I mean, I already poked myself twice more! “I’m feeling much better. Sorry for intruding…”
“Don’t be,” I said while holding back a small laugh. “Are you feeling better enough to talk now?” Barlim’s ears flicked in response, and then she nodded in response upon realizing I didn’t know what those ear flicks meant. “Good.”
“Hey, I would just like to apologize for how I acted,” my mother started before I had the chance to speak. “It’s just that I’ve seen on the news and read of murderous xenophobic aliens…-”
“It’s fine,” Barlim let out the most adorable-sounding chittering noise I have ever heard. It sounded as if a porcupine was, well, laughing! “I would not have reacted much differently… Three days ago?” At least she could make fun of herself for how she acted. Her ears gave a few flicks, gesturing towards amusement or self-depreciation if I had to guess. They burned bright blue.
My father took a minute to stand up and walk over to Barlim. She only fidgeted a little bit, but not much when he reached out to her with one hand. “Jameson, again, it’s been pleasant to meet you so far.” The man’s hand hung in the air for several seconds. Barlim eyeing it up with what had to be a quizzical expression. “You’re supposed to grab it and firmly shake it,” my father eventually grunted.
“Oh!” That seemed to snap Barlim out of her stupor. She reached forward in kind with one paw, clasping her surprisingly big paw around my father’s hand, which he shook. The Gojid seemed to have a fair understanding of the action after a few seconds, at which point the handshake ended and my father returned to his seat.
A brief, quiet pause occupied the four of us before there was more knocking at the front door. “Oh, uh, that may be the rest of my friends. I sort of forgot about them when I realized we were so close.” The tips of Barlim’s ears turned a delicate shade of blue. She started to get up, but with a firm palm on the top of her head, I held her down, gently.
“You traveled a long way. Let me get the door,” I state and get up from the couch. My knees and back stretch, giving a satisfactory series of pops before I work my way to the front door. I decide against grabbing the mask, assuming that Barlim’s friends have gotten quite used to the infamous human binocular stare. When I open it, I see a rather eclectic group of individuals, some familiar and some not.
“Arwen, Trivi, Tova, and I take it Barlim’s friends.” Arwen and Trivi issue some friendly waves. Tova has her forearms clasped around Arwen’s neck from behind, jaw resting on the redhead’s shoulders. Her eyes are puffy and orange. It was pretty easy to assume what she had been going through. Meanwhile, the other three flick their ears and tails in a way that was most likely a greeting, but that was just me making an inference based on this being our first interaction, and them not giving waves in greeting. I really need to learn Gojid and Venlil body language.
“Just delivering the rest of that one Gojid’s friends.” Arwen’s tone was the general cheerful tone it always was. She briefly stepped back from the door and swung an arm to the side, pointing to the three aliens behind her, doing so while under the weight of Tova.
“Barlim,” one of the Gojid said to Arwen. “My name is Pragh,” she then pointed over to another Gojid, “That’s Tack, and,” she indicated to the final Gojid, “That is Telg.” Again, the other two Gojid gave very similar flicks of the ears when they glanced at me with one of their eyes. “I take it you’re Jaxton?”
I couldn’t resist the urge to curl my lips upwards in a smile. The three Gojid didn’t flinch when I exposed my teeth, for which I was grateful. I really didn’t feel like bowing to more people than I needed to at the moment, having not gotten a particularly great amount of sleep last night was not a wise idea. “You’d be correct. It seems I’m the popular man of the hour. What can I do for you all?”
“Well, Tack and I were simply following Barlim, so we were going to stay with her until the UN or whoever really controls the whole Gojid refugee camp situation comes looking for us-”
I cut off Pragh with an amused tone. “So let me get this straight. You wanna come and mooch off my family for a bit because you have nowhere to stay at the moment?” I hold my tongue for just the slightest second, letting Gojid raise up her paws defensively. Even Arwen’s eyes widen briefly at what I just said.
“That’s not-” Pragh doesn’t speak for long before I dismissively wave my hand.
“I’m joking, yes, I’m sure my parents will allow you to stay for a bit, but you’ll have to clean up after yourselves, and all that stuff.” I lean up against the doorframe. “Ok though, jokes aside, what do you all want?”
Pragh rubbed her paws over her blue ears. “Yes, well, you did sort of hit one of them. I will admit, there was very little planning other than we’re going to Wales
on our part. You don’t have to worry about Telg though.”
“I scored myself a date! Hah!~ So, I will be going back to Georgia in about an hour or two.” The Gojid paused, popped open one of the pockets on his hoodie, and took a peek inside at a slip of paper he pulled out. “Two hours, yeah, I have about an hour to spend here. So you and Tack are going to stay here?”
Pragh nodded to Telg’s words. “Yep, someone has to make sure Barlim continues to be a responsible Gojid. Also, I still have more research to do over the internet-”
“Ah yes, research,
Pragh, research, am I right?~
“No! Not that! I’m not going to be looking up that!
The two male Gojid couldn’t help but hold back giggles and chitters, making me feel as if I was missing some sort of- Oh.
The second it clicked for me, I just let out a long, slow sigh. “Please, let me just say that humanity is probably not whatever you found. Factory farms are a thing of the past.” Apparently, I was wrong, for the other two Gojid started laughing more uproariously, “Ok, I’m wrong it seems…” The gears proceeds to click a second time after realizing it was something a lot more bawdy
than damning. I opened my mouth to say something but quickly realized that I wouldn’t have anything to follow up on if one of them decided to make any sort of accusation, so I quickly shut my plan to speak about that down. “How about you all just come inside now? Your friend Barlim already came by, and I’m pretty sure you all would like a break from your adventure.”
“Actually, Trvi and I were going to take Tova to my home. Might take her to the hospital if Quilix has calmed down. God, I wished they transported him to Ysbyty Gwynedd, but no. He had a freakout and had to be moved to London.”
“It’s all my fault…” The dark venlil whined.
Arwen’s hand managed to work its way between Tova’s ears, giving a few scritches. Scritches that Tova nuzzled into. “Come on you big, big
venlil. I know you’re upset. Just, hang in there for a little while longer. I’m sure Quilix will come around. Let’s take you home, see ya Jaxton!” Arwen waved and carried the venlil toward the parked taxi in front of my house. Well, carried was a generous term for half-carry/half-assisted in guiding toward the car.
Trivi followed seconds later, giving his own bye and wave. “Tell your mother and father I said hi, see you tomorrow!” And with that, the blonde venlil scampered off, following after his human lover.
This left me with the three other hedgehog-looking aliens standing awkwardly in front of my door. They looked amongst themselves, thinking about saying something. Wait, someone’s missing…
The three Gojid who looked like they were about to say something all jumped about a foot in the air when Lacey came bounding through them, running straight past me into my home. “Oh, Lacey! Welcome ho- Oh, and ignored.” I shake my head upon hearing the following oof
that comes from my father. Lacey must’ve claimed my father’s lap as her seat. “Well, if you want to come inside and meet the rest of my family. Come right on in.”
The next few minutes are filled with more pleasantries being exchanged. The Gojid all take their place on the couch, somehow managing to fit four of them on a couch meant for three. I end up choosing to stand by my father, who gently strokes Lacey across her back. The border collie panting jovially, looking back and forth between us and our alien guest, giving the occasional bark to beg for more attention.
The Gojid guests seem calm for the most part, sitting on that couch, but it is quite clear that the dog makes them uncomfortable since they flinch every time Lacey either makes a noise or stares at them with those heterochromatic eyes. “Not a fan of dogs, are you?” My father breaks the silence once it starts up again.
“I didn’t like…” Pragh started but stopped seconds later. “Listen, I believe you know why most Federation species don’t like humans, right?” Pragh’s words earned an affirmative grunt from my father. My mother and I nodded too. “Well, you’re all sapient and in control of your hunting instincts…” I raised my eyebrow at that but chose to say nothing. “That dog though-”
My father raised a hand, telling Praph to stop speaking for a moment. “I am going to have to stop you right there. Firstly, humans don’t, or we believe don’t have hunting instincts, and secondly, Lacey is a good girl that has harmed no person before, human or alien. I can assure you, as well as Quilix, Trivi, and Tova, that Lacey wouldn’t harm any of you, your pups, or anything else you will be worried about.”
Those few calmly spoken, but sternly voiced words are enough to calm the four Gojid down a fair amount. While I can’t see their muscles under their fur all that well, I can safely assume that their muscles grew lax at such information. Maybe we can do more to ease them around the dog while they’re here?
With an idea springing to mind, I take a few steps over to our old wooden hall tree. It is adorned with a few coats and hats, but what I am interested in is blue colored, six feet long rope of dog leash. The second it makes the lightest noise, Lacey is bolting toward me. “Eistedd!” The dog swiftly responds to the command: Hind quarters hitting the ground the second the word leaves my lips. I reach down and stroke the top of the dog’s head with one hand, getting a jovial arf out of her. “Merch dda, merch dda.~” I give the dog’s head a little bit more tender love with my palm and fingers before attaching the leash.
“Cefn.” I keep my voice low, coaxing Lacey into walking toward the couch.
The four Gojid, three of which have probably spent some time outside with the dog, all had a similar reaction when the dog came over: Paws came up off the ground, retracting safely onto the cushions above. It wasn’t really out of the border collie’s reach, but it was clearly instinctual-driven or propaganda-driven fear. “No need to be afraid, she won’t bite you - eistedd.” True to my words, Lacey gets close, sniffing along the edge of the sofa, but not jumping up onto the furniture.
“I see you’ve been practicing, Jaxton. You showing off for the guest?” My dad jokes.
“Hey, I don’t really get a good chance to speak Welsh. Dam- Darn it, really should’ve paid more attention in school. Might go get some lessons so I’m not part of the ten percent that can’t speak it. All I can do is shepherd a dog around, ask for the bathroom, a beer, where am I, and a few other things.” It’s hard not to let out a disappointed sigh. “I need to get off my backside and stop being so lazy.” I pause for one small moment. “And that probably translated for all of them to their native tongue. Doesn’t matter if I say it in English, Welsh, or honestly, Mandarin.”
My old man grins and laughs, leaning his back into the old rocking chair he claimed. My attention returns back to the dog, the fearful porcupine, and three scared hedgehogs.
The first one to reach out if I recall his name is Tack. The Gojid’s claws lightly brush the top of Lacey’s head in a tepid fashion. The dog stares back up at the curious paw; not growling, barking, yipping, biting, or making any sort of fuss that could freak out the apprehensive Gojid. Slowly, Lacey’s tail beings to wag as the curious touching continues for a few seconds. “Is that normal?”
“Mhm… Yes, dogs’ tails wag when they are happy. If she was really happy, she’d jump on you and start licking your face.”
The four Gojid recoiled with what looked like disgust: The thought of a predator’s
maw all over their face, tasting
them as if they were her next meal was probably what was coursing through their minds. “I think… That’s something I wouldn’t like from a non-sapient creature.” Telg adds in. He says he doesn’t want it from a non-sapient, but what about a sapient? Oh, what wonderful thoughts this one has.
I internally joked.
Both my father and mother let out an audible cough at Telg’s… Well, it could’ve been an indecent statement, or maybe licking was a sign of greeting? There was no way for me to know with my lack of knowledge of Gojid customs. God damn; Gojid customs, language, body language, and Welsh! That was leaving out Venlil ear and tail signals as well! Too much to learn.
With a gentle nudge, I guide Lacey down the bottom of the couch, letting each Gojid get about a minute or two of bonding
time with the goodest of girls. It’s only been a few minutes, but the four could be easily seen relaxing: Tack and Telg are both confident enough to let their paws touch the floor again. From fearful of anything that ate meat their entire life to sort of fearfully allowing a dog to sniff them, or them to touch a dog, must be leaps and bounds beyond possibility months ago.
“So, you all more comfortable around dogs?”
I get a non-varied amount of reactions: All of them positive to a minor degree, but none are negative or super positive. “Good.”
With such a positive, or well, lacking in a negative reaction from our alien guests. I reach down and unhook the canine’s restraint. No one flinches and Lacey continues to sit for about another few seconds before lazily pacing around the front of the couch, sniffing at paws for some more time before retreating back beside my father’s feet.
“So… What’s the history between humans and dogs?” Pragh was the one that shot this question. One is no doubt born from the fact that we probably allowed a non-sapient predator into our home. Well, if I was using their logic, of course: I wouldn’t be surprised if it came from ‘Wouldn’t predators eliminate the competition?’ if I had to guess.
“The history involving our canine companions is long and complex.” I reach behind my head to adust my blonde ponytail, tightening up the black band to keep my hair from falling in front of my face. “Most domesticated dogs you’ll see; German shepherds, border collies, Australian shepherds, golden retrievers, and on and on the list goes. I believe there are hundreds of breeds, but that is another tangent we can go on another date. What you’re more interested in is the history, as you have asked.”
I took a few steps around toward the front of the couch, using this new position to project my voice onto my alien audience. My parents had already heard this story a few times when they spoke with one of our dog breeders.
“It all started roughly
speaking, thirty-thousand years ago.” I paused, totally for dramatic effect, but to also allow the Gojid to digest this fair-sized crumb of information. “Our competitor, an antagonizing species of persistent pack predators with a strong social bond, the wolf, would often invade human territories, and vice versa. You see, humans and wolves aren’t too dissimilar. We’re both highly social species, pursuit pack predators
as I have heard, emotionally intelligent, highly adaptive, strong parental connections, and good communication skills. I can go into specific details another time, but those are some of the big traits we share. I’d say that the large preference for having a social structure coupled with good communication skills on both sides were the two assets that helped the most. Emotional intelligence and actual intelligence would probably be third and fourth. Dogs and wolves can be pretty smart.”
I take a moment again, allowing my audience to follow along with what I am saying, waiting to see if any of them have a question. “So due to these similarities, humans and these wolves
cross species’ barriers?” The bipedal porcupine opined.
I nod to Barlim’s question. “Very close, but not quite.” I take a moment to swing a pointing finger down to Lacey. “I mean, as much as I love Lacey. I don’t see a dog diplomat coming through any time soon to argue for their sapience let alone an alliance.” I then straighten my posture back up, holding back a small laugh by letting a grin stretch across my lips. “It was more along the lines of wolves were desperate for food, and they’d feed off the scraps we humans left behind. This would go on for some time with the braver or more docile canines being allowed to slowly integrate with human society.”
“But they’re eating your scraps and food, but what do they do for you? Other than herd sheep? It just seems like your competition is swooping your food from under your nose, but… You’re not complaining at all.” Pragh was the one to ask that question. Called it!
“These proto-dogs had many purposes! Just look at Lacey and you can probably see what she has that is superior to a human. Tell me what traits you can see.”
I give the four Gojid some time to look over the dog. They eventually look like they all have something to say, so I slide down the line of them; Pragh, Telg, Tack, and then finally Barlim.
“A better sense of smell to hunt for prey you can’t see?” Pragh opined.“Better hearing for locating threats?” Telg questioned.
“Sharp teeth and claws for fighting off other humans.” Tack would state rather confidently.
“To form an emotional connection with and to not feel lonely?” Barlim tilted her head to the side, giving the dog another look.
I let them stew over their answers for about thirty seconds to discuss amongst themselves. Needless to say, I was kind of shocked, but also not by Barlim’s answer. Maybe my time spent with her gave me some subconscious understanding of her mentality? The other Gojid all looked at her, so I assume her different answer probably made something click amongst all of them.
“Well, to answer your questions; yes, yes, yes, and yes. You’re all correct. Some may say that the first three are probably the priority.” This statement earns a chitter from the four Gojid occupying the couch. “But I like to have hope for that last one: When you’re by yourself. The world is a scary place after all. It’s best not to be alone. I believe you all have herds?
Well, we humans have families, tribes, or nations, depending on how deep you wish to look into it, and yes
, dogs can be a part of a human family. Family cares not from where the blood comes.”
“Quick question and not to side-track the conversation too far, but I was told by my date that humans dislike being called predators. Is that true here too, or was that a dialect or cultural thing?” Telg was the one throwing this question.
“It is that way here too. When humans refer to other humans as predators, it is because that other human is a gross pervert that does horrific, deviant, and sexual things toward other people, animals, or in this case now that aliens exist, aliens, so I would refrain from calling humans predators unless you personally know the individual and they are ok with it. That being said, humans define predator as more of a relationship adjective when between animals. A deer is a predator to plants as a wolf is a predator to a deer. It is the relationship of consumption rather than dietary traits.” I finish off my statement with a nod.
“Well… If you don’t mind me referring you to as a predator for one statement…” Telg droned on.
I take a brief glance over toward my parents. My dad gives me a nonchalant shrug. My gaze returns back to Telg. “Go ahead and shoot your question or statement at me.”
The four Gojid look stunned for a moment, off-put by something I said- Oh, don’t tell me ‘shoot’ was predatory… Probably was.
“Just… throw out your question.”
“It was more of a statement, actually, but anyways. Family cares not from where the blood comes
, has to be one of the most herd-like statement I have heard from a predator.” Did he really just say that? He really did, but I can’t fault him. From his point of view, he’s been spun so many times that up is down, and left is right.
I shake my head, lowering it. A small chuckle slipping from between my lips. I could even hear my mother and father laughing behind me a few seconds later.
“Was what I said really that funny?”
“No, just the logic behind it is kinda funny. Like I said, humans don’t normally refer to ourselves as predators, and this whole alien
thing is kind of new to me.” My words carried upon by a light tone earns some laughs as well from our Gojid guests.
I clap my hands together, signaling the end of our little tangent. “Now, if I may resume my, if I do say so myself, informative
explanation… The proto-dogs seamlessly integrated into our small tribes at the time; they could track threats and prey miles before we were even aware of them, they could hear the smallest sounds and alert us of their dangers. Moreover, their sharp teeth and claws served as deterrents against other threats such as large carnivores, food-stealing rodents, or hostile human forces. Additionally, their companionship provided solace to lonely humans. As you can see,” I pointed back to Lacey, who was having her back rubbed by my father’s sock-covered foot, “Lacey seems to be enjoying herself quite nicely, but so is my father. In short, interacting with dogs triggers the release of feel-good chemicals in both human and canine brains. Activities such as petting, snuggling, and playing contribute to this positive bond."
Again, I pause, giving everyone some time to follow along. “Thus, they’d impact our evolution and vice versa: Humans that had dogs in their tribes were more successful than tribes without dogs. Humans that bonded more effectively with their canine companions would get even farther. As millennia went by, humans would get better at reading dog expressions, and dogs would get better at reading human expressions.”
I reached into my pocket and pulled out my phone. I typed into it for a bit until an old photo of a wolf showed up. I turned my phone’s screen toward the four Gojid. “Here you can see a wolf. They aren’t extinct due to some wildlife restoration efforts, but we had a few close calls. Wolves are extinct in the UK and Ireland as of now, but not in North America, Europe, or Asia. What you see before you are what thirty-thousand years of evolution has done to us.”
Based on the look that the Gojid were giving me. I would guess it was along the lines of wow
“Now, before you start asking more questions. I should let you know that humanity has not only domesticated one carnivorous species, but a few others as well; some birds of prey like falcons, felines, and mustelidae such as ferrets. Meanwhile, on the herbivorous side, we have horses, elephants, rabbits, and so on. Yeah, it’s quite a long list. Means more animals for us to pet and touch. Humans can bond with just about anything, even non-living things, but that’s a story for another time.”.
I perform a small stretch, feeling my back pop. A small break in the monotony of speaking for so long.
“Now, to go back to the human-dog bond. I should remind myself to tell you the story of Gelert. It’s quite a sad story, but bear with me for just a moment.”
I clear my throat, getting ready to speak out an old Welsh folklore myth.
“A long time ago, a prince of North Wales by the name of Llywelyn went out hunting without his trusty dog, Gelert. He’d return home later that day to see Gelert, covered in blood, jovially returning to him. This freaked out the prince, who rushed to his son’s crib, finding it knocked over and messy with blood. He feared that the dog had killed his son and immediately plunged his sword into the dog’s side.” The four Gojid wince at the description, having just been told of the forged bond I have described moments ago. “The dog’s pained cry heralds the cry of the prince’s infant son, who lay on the other side, protected from a slain wolf. Gelert had valiant fought to protect Llywelyn’s son from the wolf, and in so was rewarded with a blade through its heart! A tragic tale to discourage impulsive thoughts and rash rushes to judgment. It was said that the prince buried Gelert and never smiled again.”
I never considered myself a great storyteller, but somehow I managed to get the four Gojid all teary-eyed. Barlim was rubbing at her eyes once again, and so was Tack too.
“H-how could he have done that to the dog..?” Barlim’s meek voice trailed off.
“Well, as said, Llywelyn thought Gelert killed his son. It was a rash decision. This moral folklore is supposed to warn against such tragedies, speaking of which, isn’t there an extermination fleet heading this way?”
While I may have been speaking for so long, having taken all our attention away from the potential destruction of Earth, or the general mopey attitude that came from meeting Tova. It probably was wise to bring up the fact that armageddon was on its way to Earth.
The four Gojid just sort of looked down sheepishly at the ground or flicked their ears in a way that probably meant the same thing. I didn’t really mean to put them on the spot like that, considering it was some of their former allies
committing this attack, but I guess that’s just how the cookie crumbles sometimes.
“I think I can speak for all of us here that we don’t-” Telg was interrupted by my father.
“We don’t blame you, or at least I can attest to myself, my son, and my wife over here. One day, assuming we survive this looming catastrophe. There will be regret, followed by hope, and then love and compassion once again. Though, I don’t think that’s what my son was hinting toward, more over the fact that your allies are about to make a rash decision they don’t understand. Probably one you would have made years ago, but that doesn’t really matter here, or there. We live in the now, and I think it’s time we started stocking up on some goods for our cellar. Well, we got goods actually, and a couple of guns too, but nothing fancy like the Americans and all their machine guns. A .30-30 lever action, an old .44 revolver, a twelve gauge shotgun, and a .22 hunting rifle. Nothing fancy,” he shrugs and grunts. “I’m more worried about my sheep. The best we can do is pray they don’t shoot the barn.”
There’s a brief silence as the seven of us come down from the long monologue that was dispersed between moments of questionnaires. I rub one of my eyes, stretching my jaw open wide in a hand-covered yawn. How long have by been talking?
“Sprak! I gotta go or I am going to miss my flight!” Telg clamors, quickly hopping off the couch. He quickly taps at his phone with his claws, making his way toward the front door. “See you guys later, and thanks for letting us stay! Yes, I know how to call a taxi!” He opens the door and bolts outside. At least had the manners to close it back without slamming it.
This left us with three Gojid!
“Well,” my mother stood up from her chair. “I’m certain you’re all hungry after such a long adventure, and Telg is probably too, but he’s gone already. Let me see if I can make you all something to eat…” She hesitates for a second before continuing. “Nothing with meat or animal products in it. Just vegetables and fruit,” she iterates before walking off to the kitchen, leaving my father and I with the three Gojid.
You know, that leaves one important question that’s been on my mind. One that I had asked Barlim, but have been quickly distracted by her onslaught of sudden tears due to my forgetful nature. “A quick question if I may have your attention.”
The three Gojid turned their attention toward me, looking at me as they awaited my question
“How the hell did you all get here?”
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BPAL samples, $2 each:
- Danse Macabre (slink): Black cypress with oakmoss, frankincense, oude, and a sliver of toasted hazelnut.
- Tavern of Hell (slink): White gardenia, ambergris bouquet, lavender fougere, orange blossom, melissa, tobacco flower, coriander, ebony wood, ylang ylang, absinthe and aged whiskey.
- Wicked (slink): rich myrrh and jasmine draped in the subtlest rose.
BunnyNoseScents samples, $2 each:
- Obliquity: Spanish moss, Himalayan cedar, black pepper, oakmoss, juniper, bamboo, and cardamom.
Deconstructing Eden 2.5mL samples, $2 each:
- Prince of Travels: Musk and leather, Tsingani spices, dusty tobacco and exotic woods.
Luvmilk 2mL Samples, $2 each:
- Kneady Kitten (at shoulder): Warm sweet bread, melting butter, a base of rich vanilla.
Nui Cobalt Samples, $2 each:
- Skeleton Key (Slink): spiced pipe tobacco, Haitian vetiver, tangerine, honeyed almond, liatrix, and High John the Conqueror root.
Possets Samples, $2 each:
- Zombie (Rev 1) (Slink): A big dose of toasted marshmallow and oude, a bit of burnt stick, and the unmistakable fragrance of the crisp autumn air.
1mL Decants available, $3 each:
- Alkemia, 2022 Arcanum Experiments 1: Marzipan frosted sugar cookies, Crème Brûlée pipe tobacco, Bourbon vanilla
- Alkemia, 2022 Rose Musk Alchemy: A sensual alchemy of pangender musks and fresh hothouse roses.
- Alkemia, Arcanum: Eastern Spices, Aged Patchouli, Sandalwood, Frankincense, Nag Champa, and Dragonsblood
- Alkemia, Book of Shadows: A biblichor of eldritch books - heavy parchment paper, ancient iron oak gall ink, crumbling leather bindings, and wafts of rare incenses.
- Alkemia, The Highwayman: An irresistible mix of gentleman and bad-boy. Riding leathers, dark night air, forest oakmoss scattered across an old dirt road, fine linen lace, a trace of campfire smoke, and a pinch of gunpowder.
- Alkemia, The De Ceylon (Tea) Layering Note
- BPAL, Artificer: Gleaming metal, gear oil, sparking wires, shattered glass, and a blue flicker of arcane power.
- BPAL, Shortbread Diamonds: Ruthlessly minimalist but dense with pleasure: a crumbly dough made with brown sugar and butter, rolled out and slashed into simple “diamond” shapes before baking.
- Death and Floral, Half-hoping to be eaten by a bear: Woody, sweet bare skin; the lingering scent of dry leaves on a cold morning
- Stereoplasm, La Mia Magia!: Velvet carpet, melting beeswax candles, dusty vials of dragon’s blood, gilded rosewood wooden mask, labdanum, crackling electricity, well-worn playing cards.
- Stereoplasm, Mourning Glory: Thick black velvet curtains, bruised Palmarosa leaves, Shanghai spice, wilted white carnations and bible leather
- Stereoplasm The Thirteenth Hour: Powdered henna, black chai tea, saffron, cauldron iron, bleached bone, a broken wax seal, a trapdoor hidden under dry hay
Alrighty, I'll describe my first time travel in japan, what went well, what didn't go well, my overall impression of Japan. We travelled trough quite a few cities, but I'll try to keep it as short as possible as I'm not much of writer. And we've visited quite a few places, so if you'd like more details, comment and I'll go more in-depth :).
A bit about the travelling party. Me(25M) and a work colleague(26M), Lithuanians(Europe) software engineers, reasonably fit and somewhat fluent in english, Omnivores(my colleague is allergic to cheese), our height is around ±185cm.
Tokyo(Shinjuku) -> Osaka -> Nara -> Kyoto -> Onomichi Islands -> Matsuyama -> Hiroshima -> Miyajima -> Kumamoto -> Aso(region) -> Fukuoka -> Nagasaki -> Nagoya -> Takayama -> Magome -> Matsumoto - > Tokyo(Chuo) -> Tokyo(Shibuya) -> Tokyo(Teito) -> Hakone.
I was slightly more conservative with my spending so my expenses are on the cheaper side, my colleague spent quite a bit more, especially on food and booze.
Total amount spent: slightly more than 3k euros in japan + 1.1k euros flights back and forth.
Daily food expenses: 30-40 eur or 5k-7k yen.
Daily food expenses: 3k-4k Daily travel fares(bus, metro), museums and other activities: 1k-3k
Average hotel stay: ~60euro
Food: - Breakfast - usually something from a convenience store. Chicken, power gels, chocolate, melon bread(my favourite), - Lunch - something from a convenience store or a restaurant - Dinner - restaurant usually a ramen place
Museums, castles, shrines, forests, mountains, walks around the city. We did a lot of walking, total around 400km of walking(at leasts that's what google fit shows)
Alright that's a brief summary, now for the more in-depth write up.
My key takeaways
- Japan is a very safe country, I felt safe everywhere, even in the shady parts of Tokyo.
- People are very polite, they'll go out of their way to help you, even if they don't speak english.
- People are very quiet, you won't hear people talking on the phone, or talking loudly in public transport.
- Be polite, if you don't understand or thing that this is not how it should be, don't be rude, just accept it and move on. You are an alien in their country, not the other way around. So please don't ever raise your voice, japanese people are not malicious, they'll try to help you, but they might not understand you.
- If you want to feel appreciated, learn at least the basics on japanese, it's not that hard, and it'll make your life easier. I did it through doulingo, reached unit 14 in a month and that was sufficient to have very simple conversation.
This is it for the TL;DR part. I'll go more in-depth for the rest of the post.
Planning for the trip
We started planning the trip, where we'll go, where we'll stay, what we'll do, expenses, trains, all that you can plan was started to be planned around a month prior to the trip. We created a word doc as our itinerary, that was around 60 pages long. From what I've read on this page about you can't plan everything. Well I believe we did, we might've even over planned :D.
So we booked the following hotels: - Tokyo - Apa Hotel Higashi Shinjuku Kabukicho Tower(04.25-04.26) - Osaka - APA Hotel Namba Kita Shinsaibashi Ekimae(04.26-04.30) - Onomichi island - TOMARIGI Hostel(04.30-05.01) - Matsuyama - Hotel Patio Dogo(05.01-05.02) - Hiroshima - Wholeearth Ryokan Hiroshima(05.02-05.04) - Kumamoto - Hotel Wing International Select Kumamoto(05.04-05.08) - Nagoya - Sotetsu Fresa Inn Nagoya Shinkansenguchi(05.08-05.10) - Magoame - Magomechaya(05.10-05.11) - Matsumoto - Hotel M Matsumoto(05.11-05.12) - Tokyo - APA Hotel Ginza Kyobashi Tokyo Station Yaesu South Gate(05.14-05.17)
Extra things we bought in advance: - Water proof bags - Hiking boots and socks - Bigger backpacks - JP Rail pass, we booked the trains in advance, but honestly that wasn't necessary even during golden week - Bandages for foot blisters, medicine(for headaches, motion sickness, diarrhoea). - Ubigi eSim internet(10GB was plenty for me throughout the trip) - Sun screen(did not use and got sunburned to a point where I was shinning red) - Portable battery
We arrived at the Haneda aiport, exchanged some cash to yen(was at a better course than locally), printed out our JR passes(IMPORTANT TO DO SO HERE, only major stations let you print it out
) and went to the metro. We took the train to Shinjuku, and walked to our hotel to check-in. We were quite tired, bought some chicken from lawson and went to explore a few places, a few drinks in golden gai district and ramen in a nearby place. Eventually we ended up at rock bar mother. Really cool place, for each drink you can request 2 songs to be played. After that back to hotel, visit the top floor onsen and sleep
Got up early, travelled to osaka. Left our luggage in the hotel, we were too early for a check in. We went to see Osaka castle(quite beautiful), tried takoyaki there. More city exploring, then we went check-in. After that we went to see the Umeda Sky Building in the evening(we bought the ticket in advance) very beautiful, it was very clear and beautiful. Got back to the city, got some ramen, went to the hotel and sleep.
Went to USJ, bought tickets(basic, no express stuff) in advance. We went there 30minutes before opening, and there was already a huge line. We went to Nintendo first, the zone looked very nice, but ride it'd say was okay'ish for me. After that the dinosaur rides, minion land, grabbed chinese food for lunch, went to the harry potter zone, at this point the lines got quite long around 1h to 1h 30min of wait time. After that we went to see Water world where they were doing a play, was really awesome, I'd say a must see even if you don't understand Japanese, the acting is very good. After that we went to Osaka aquarium(no lines, thank god), it was beautiful, cute chonks and other sea creatures.
Trip to Kyoto from Osaka. We went early by metro, to see the bamboo forest(7:40'ish), beautiful, few people. Walked around the park then climbed the mount a fed the monkeys(50 yen for a bag of fruits or nuts), very cute, tried petting the hand of one, didn't go well got an aggressive show of teeth. After that we visited Ryoanji temple, went to nishi market, we we're running a bit late so we took a taxi to Kiyomizudera, we saw the geish district on our way to there, looked interesting. After the temple we went to a bar and got back to Osaka and then after a bowl of ramen to our hotel.
We went to Nara, took this hiking track
saw the deer, bought some food, did the whole bow thing then fed them. One thing to keep in mind is to crumble the cookie and give it in small pieces, otherwise you'll run out of food to give quickly. They might be very "assertive" and try to take it from you, don't be afraid, just stick your empty arm out to get some distance and that's it . They're not gonna bite you. After that we went to see the Todaiji temple, it was beautiful, the buddha statue was huge. Got back to Osaka, got some ramen, went to the hotel, scheduled to send our luggage to our next hotel and went to sleep.
Got up early, went to Onomichi, rented some bikes and began our cycling journey through the islands. A lot of cool bridges, very beautiful nature. We cycled to north Omishima port, where we transfered to rabbit island pet and fed the rabbits, got back and cycled to our ryokan and straight to sleeping.
More cycling, more cool bridges, more beautiful nature. We arrived at Imabari, returned our bikes and took the train to Matsuyama. We ate some stree food, relaxed in the open hot springs for feet. Walked around and went to sleep. To be honest I'd say this was the favorite city of the whole trip for me. I liked the vibe, the people, the food, the nature, the onsen, the layout, the architecture. In general, beautiful city.
Early in the morning visited a public onsen nearby, then went to see the Matsuyama castle, it was beautiful, tried the orange juice there, it was really good, got back to our hotels, got some dango. Packed our stuff, got a taxi and went to the port and took the ferry to Hiroshima. Checked in the ryokan. Took a train to Hiroshima city center, visited the castle and then the nuclear museum. Get the english audio for best experience. It took me around 2hours to walk through everything, read it and take it in. It was very nerve racking, but I'd say a must see. After that we went out to eat some Okonomiyaki, it was delicious, then back to the ryokan and sleep.
Went to Miyajima island first by train then transfer by ferry. It was very beautiful, the mountain hike was also fun, the view on top was amazing. When we came down from the mountain there was a low tide, so we could go near the Itsukushima shrine. Got back to Hiroshima, went to the city center for a couple of beers, got back to Ryokan and went to sleep.
First day of the Golden week, wouldn't say that I've noticed anything different, maybe because we were travelling to the far south of Japan - Kumamoto. This is one of those cities that I also enjoyed more than the big common ones, it looked very nice, had a beautiful castle, was not crowded as Hiroshima, Osaka or Tokyo. We rented out bikes, cycled to Honmoji park(the place near Honmoji park is god damn maze, keep you google maps always open or you will get lost) found a place to eat, visited Lafcadio Hearn House and went to our hotel and then to sleep.
We rentend a car and went to Aso, highly recommend renting a car here, since the public transport is not that good. The drive was very nice, we went to see active volcano crater, luckily it was not erupting, so we were allowed to get close. Then we went around and climbed the other inactive mountain caps. Climbing that was one of the most fun hikes I've had. It was very windy, you could barely see past 5 meters anywhere, because of the fog. There was no smell of sulfur, so it was safe. We visited Mt. Nakadake, Mt. Takadake, overall the place looked like Mordor, the vibes, the weather everything. After that we visited Ayugaeno Falls, the ravines and everything was just majectic. After that we got back to Kumamoto, gave back the car and went somewhere to eat. Car rental cost around ~7k yen in total. So I'd say a good price. After eating, we went to our hotel and then to sleep.
We went to Fukuoka, by train, walked around the city, visited Tochoji temple, Fukuoka castle ruins, Ohori park and explored the huge ravine type shopping mall. Went to the science museum(big mistake, it's for kids...). After that we tried Ichiran ramen(originated in Fukuoka so we thought it be better). Was the same as everywhere else. It was rainy so we got back pretty early to our hotel and went to sleep.
We went to Nagasaki, by train, visited the atomic bomb museum, it was very interesting, just as good as the one in Hiroshima. We took a boat ride to see Gunkanjima, though we couldn't get on the island, because of the weather, it was still very interesting to see and hear the history of the island. Explored the Dutch district, walked around the shops, tried some whale meat. It was raining the whole day, so we also got back quite early and went to sleep.
We got up early and went got straight to the train station, and caught the train to Nagoya. The longest train ride by far. We arrived at Nagoya, checked in our hotel, went to the city center, visited the castle, it was very beautiful, then we wanted to explore the abandoned tunnel near Aichi. Apparently it was closed, we decided we're going to enter through the exit, like rascals, but apparently after we circled around there was a police officer that was guarding traffic through the bridge and wouldn't let us through. So our trip ended there. After comming back to Nagoya we visited the sky scrapper, it had interesting installations on the windows. We had our stay got back to hotel and went to sleep.
We went to Takayama, by train, one of the most scenic train rides so far. We strolled around the city center, visited the early morning market, bought some souvenirs, tried some white strawberries, mushroom tee and other local cuisine. Visited Takayama Showa Museum, which was 10/10. You could touch almost everything, the museum gave a great vibe, it was like you were in a house of a family that lived there. There was also an old nintendo with mario kart that you could play, put on a old yukata and take photos. Play pachinko(no money needed), watch an old-school movie. We visited a few sake tasting places, I've found a few flavours that I liked. After that back to Nagoya, eat ramen and sleep.
We sent out our luggage to Matsumoto, caught a train to Nagiso and then hiked the Nakasendo trail to Tsumago and then Magome where we checked in and stayed at the local ryokan. The hike was very nice and relaxing one of the easier hikes I've had, the places we saw we're quite old and beautiful. At ryokan we met people one American and one from Germany, they had a guitar so we chatted a bit, played the guitar and had a few beers. The dinner at ryokan was amazing, looked very traditional Japanese dinner. Was also very tasty, would definitely recommend this place. After that we went to sleep.
Got up early and took a bus to Nakatsugawa Eki-mae station where we travelled to Matsumoto. We left our bags and went to the RubyKaigi conference. Overall good conference, I've learned somethings, but most importantly I've had bit of time to rest and catch up on some sleep, since we weren't exploring new cities. So overall the following 3 days were wake up -> breakfast -> conference -> lunch -> conference -> drinks -> dinner -> sleep.
Slept in, had breakfast and travelled to Tokyo by train. Left our luggage at the hotel and moved on to explore the Chou region. Walked around the Ginza, Imperial palace, Yasukuni shrine and went to check in. After that it was getting dark, so travelled to Akihabara to experience the anime night life, was quite bright and interesting. Though the amount of requests to visit a maid cafe was too damn high. If your planning to buy a PS5, a new GPU or Nintendo switch, this could be the place, I saw PS5 with two controllers for 60k yen, with a 10% tax refund that is around 370 euros. After some exploration, got back to our hotel and went to sleep.
This was our Hakone day trip, we bought the 3 day pass for it, so we could use the train, bus, ropeway and boat. Was worth it, even for one day. We climbed Mt. Kintoki, thankfully the weather was great and we could see Fuji. The climb was very nice, the view was amazing, the weather was great, no bears to be seen. After climbing down, we played some golf that was near there. Travelled back to the station were we used the rope-way to get around the mountains, the view was just majestic, we saw the sulfur pits, the stench was, well strong to say the least, but overall enjoyed the experience. We didn't make it time to the boat, so we had to travel back by bus, which wasn't so bad, since the scenery was amazing.
Explored more Tokyo, so we went to Teito district, went to the Ueno zoo, National science museum. After that we went to Kaminarimon gate, Asakusa shrine and moved to Shibuya next. There we went to the Yoyogi park, Meiji Jingu shrine, paid our respects to Hachiko statue. The last activity was to visit TeamLabs Planets, which were amazing, one most interesting experiences, not gonna spoil any details, overall great experience, would do it again. As it was getting late we got back to Shibuya, walked around more, had a drink and went back to our hotel.
Last day in Japan was spent buying souvenirs, snacks and other stuff to bring back home. Packing our luggage, to accommodate for the extras, getting to Haneda airport and back to Lithuania.
I'm very happy I had the opportunity to go on such a trip, I enjoyed it a lot even though, I'm quite the couch potato so 3 weeks is a bit much for me, but nonetheless, wouldn't change a thing.
This is more of a hypothetical than anything. I don't need a recipe for this, but it would be interesting to know if one exists.
Because I'm a space nerd, i was thinking about how food is handled on the ISS. One thing I know about space food is that crumbs are a big no-no - they can get into equipment and cause unpredictable behavior, which is the last thing you want when that equipment is keeping you alive.
I was also thinking about cookies, because I'm hungry. I know they use tortillas instead of bread on the space station, but I'm curious what it would take to create a space-safe, crumb-free cookie. Is it even possible to keep a cookie from crumbling?
So I went to Crumbl Cookies this evening because the new cookie flavors for the week come out on Mondays AND there was a mystery cookie this week - Cookies n Cream. 🍪I know I probably shouldn’t grub out on cookies, but… warm fresh cookies!! 🍪Duh!! So I get home, take one bite, and I don’t want it anymore. It finally happened!!! I finally don’t want to eat the sweets! 🥳 Now I want my $14.00 back. 🙁
So I went to Crumbl Cookies this evening because the new cookie flavors for the week come out on Mondays AND there was a mystery cookie this week - Cookies n Cream. 🍪I know I probably shouldn’t grub out on cookies, but… warm fresh cookies!! 🍪Duh!! So I get home, take one bite, and I don’t want it anymore. It finally happened!!! I finally don’t want to eat the sweets! 🥳 Now I want my $14.00 back. 🙁
Posting in Wegovy sub, just in case you see it there😉