Family Traits

Jimbo Sipes caught his reflection in the Bakery window and realized he needed an attitude adjustment as quickly as possible. He set his winning grin on his face and entered the bakery determined to find something new and exotic, preferably the kind that didn't land him in the infirmary or regretting his first Shore leave in over eight months.

Eight months! and Ah the smells this Alien Bakery had were close to intoxicating.

His translator buzzed but kept up with the owner's jolly greeting. "Ah welcome young explorer. You are the second Human I have ever met and I hope my humble shop can nourish your spirit as well as your stomach."

Jimbo's smile got bigger and he grabbed his elbows and bowed to the cheerful baker. "My spirit is already full from the delightful aroma your fine baked goods have given me. The sweet memories they draw forth put me in your debt, Sir."

The Neshan Baker was not indigenous to this planet but his people had a happy relationship with the Marsep People. So when a young member of an unfamiliar race greets you in the old ways and with respect that a Master Baker is due, you find the world is a better place.

Jimbo had pulled out his silver Erte and placed it on the glass counter. Underneath he could see what looked like Apple Fritters and Meat filled Turnovers. His tongue slipped out to wet his upper lip as he imagined what spices could be hiding in the pastries.

Before he could take his fingers off the Erte, the Master Baker trapped his fingers over it. "My late Master would whip me if I accepted such a rich offering of respect and praise from a true student of the world. I am Master Baker Glesh Tarn, currently walking on my third path with a very young Apprentice."

The Baker patted the top of Jimbo's hand, releasing it and smiled as the Erte was back in Jimbo's hand but not yet in his pocket.

"My Master, May he guide my brothers for years to come, Smiled on my Engineering Masterpiece, a short five years ago. Yet he would tell me, Master Engineer Jimbo Sipes, as I am telling you, Sir; that I am still in your debt."

And once again the traditions set each person in a place of giving and receiving the respect that was their due while feeling honored in the exchange. Jimbo's stomach was not with the program and its gurgling groans got them both laughing at the volume.

Glesh's three fingered hand wavered between the Apple Fritter Impostor and the Turnover that spoke to the Carnivore in Jimbo. A smile and a nod had Glesh smiling as he wrapped up the AFI and set the Turnover on a little rack just above brightly glowing coals. As the aroma from the heated meat pastry mingled with the others in the bakery, Jimbo pulled out the actual form of legal tender for the planet and paid his new friend an acceptable amount for a simple brunch.

Glesh removed the turnover from the grill and set it on a medium sized plate. But before he handed it to Jimbo he pulled out two Hockey puck sized pastries that looked like Corn cakes. Then he strolled over to doorway leading to the ovens at the back of the shop, and pulled a carafe from it's warmer. Glesh then poured a large cup of the best Coffee you could ever buy outside the Solar System.

Jimbo knew he was in the presence of a true master for that simple act of pouring the coffee sent the smell to Jimbo's nose and straight to his stomach. The truly loud grumble from the humans body, set them both to laughing again, for a full minute. Only the periodic repeat grumble finally caused Glesh to pass the Turnover, cakes and fine Coffee over to Jimbo's eager hands.

Jimbo's complete appreciation of his excellent breakfast was easy to see by anyone schooled in the art of reading Body Language. Glesh was reminded of Jimbo's facial expression before entering his shop.

Jimbo took a breath and saw a question on the Bluish Otter-like face that all Nesha had. A passing thought reminded Jimbo that Glesh was a very Muscular and Thick Neshan. Jimbo's own thickness grew a bit more apparent just before he asked
"You think I have an answer for that question that's been floating around your heart for the past three minutes"

Glesh smiled as he would over a wise move one of his Apprentices would perform. "Friends for not even a full hour and we are already able to tell when the other has a lot on their minds. I speak as a friend now and I recall the series of expressions that passed across your face a few moments before you chose the path you would walk today and put a smile on your face for all to see. As a friend, I commend your will to embrace the world with joy while moments before you looked like the universe had fallen far short of your expectations."

Jimbo ducked his head for a second and then looked up at Glesh. "My fellow engineer and I had been planning to take shore leave together and get better acquainted. I found out this morning that Master Engineer Dan Stanton had requested a change of Shore Leave schedule, placing his own starting tomorrow night, an hour before the Fountain Festival. He was too busy to answer a simple Ships Intercom call and tell me what's going on. The expression you saw was the realization that my heart had pinned a lot more hope for our relationship than my head was ready to admit."

Glesh whole posture relaxed a bit and he had a gentle smile on his very Otter like face. "For all that you're a fine Master Engineer, you are still young in the ways of the world. This one in particular. Do you have any idea what the Fountain Festival represents? Or the two lovers it celebrates?"

Jimbo frowned and just shook his head.

Glesh waved Jimbo around the display cases and over to a little table with two chairs. "Prite!! you are needed at the front, worthy Apprentice."

A truly massive form lumbered towards the front from the bowels of the bakery. Jimbo was looking at the biggest Nesha he'd ever seen. Most were under five foot six and a bit slim like the animal they resemble. But Prite, Glesh's Apprentice, was close to seven feet tall and built like a Bull , not an Otter. Jimbo was unaware he actually said "Big everywhere."

Prite ducked his head and grabbed his elbows as he bowed to the two masters. "Master Glesh feeds me very well."

Jimbo turned to Glesh for comment or confirmation. "My youngest Brother's Son. and a fine worker."

A group of five customers came in and occupied Prite's attention. Glesh returned to his friends misunderstanding.

"My dear young friend. The Fountain Festival is the culmination in a month long observance of the story of the two lovers, Saraband and Coreel. Before Saraband and Coreel, this planet was xenophobic. Any Off-worlder was expected to conduct business in the Market Zone and then return to Alien Enclave. They certainly were not allowed to meet, let alone fall in love with the daughter of the Ambassador to the Alien Delegation. And the very idea that one of our most tender and loving young ladies could even think of any relationship at all with a Nesha, would have started half the city rioting. But the dictates of the elders had the Ambassador meeting at the Alien Delegation Meeting Hall with a young daughter just recently having dealt with her Mother Dying. So she followed him when ever he was called to the negotiating table. She was redirected to the Ornamental Gardens that the Elders had grudgingly allowed a young Neshan to create and tend to as an offering from the Neshan People. The guards left Saraband in what appeared to be an empty garden. But she soon found out that Coreel had been at the bottom of one of the lilly ponds replacing a broken aerator. He swam to the surface at the very moment she sat by the lilly pond he was in. He broke the surface to find a goddess in his garden. She was presented with a water god breaking the surface of a pool in a garden of beautiful alien design. Their hearts were lost to each other the moment they looked into each others eyes. They would move heaven and earth to be together. Across the world, there are different stories for each village of how the lovers were assisted by the common simple people to escape the clutches of the Misguided Elders and Her Ambassador Father. But finally the path of the lovers stopped in our charming little town; in the middle of a severe drought, that didn't have an end in sight. By this time, the majority of all Marsep people had a change of heart and believed what the two lovers were doing represented the best of both races. The elders had cut back the amount of people searching and any reward was rescinded by edict. The only two people still trying to find the lovers were her father and the Young Marsep who had been promised her hand in marriage. Her fathers hunt had caused the Neshan Delegation to grind to a standstill. They reasoned that the population needed proof of their good intentions. Before negotiations had broken off, The Neshan were readying a series of weather satellites to assist in ending the drought. They were operational weeks ago, but they decided that the Lovers arrival in the very center of the drought was an excellent time to show how the Neshan could end it.
The Tale of Love was such that when her Father and suitor appeared in the courtyard, the Lovers were at the edge of the Dry Fountain. Saraband deliberately placed her hand in Coreel's. A hope that her father would finally understand. But instead it was her suitor who saw the truth. In his anger, her father looked to the suitor for support and only saw acceptance. Then for the first time Saraband's father pulled a hand pistol from his jacket and aimed it at Coreel. Coreel's first reaction was to protect Saraband. Stepping in front of her just as the gun goes off leaves her shocked by her father's violence. But at the last second the suitor deflects the pistol and wrenches it from Saraband's Father's grasp. He tossed it into the second bowl from the top on the Fountain, and kept walking to the Lovers. He lifted Saraband and Coreel's hands as he looked into both sets of eyes. "We never stood a chance. We thought we were up against two young people." He brought their hands together.

"But we were really fighting the Goddess of Love Herself." For the past half hour, the village could hear far off thunder and see dark clouds gather in the near by mountains. Those same mountains responsible for the villages municipal and fountain water. As the Suitors word rang in the market place, the Fountain came to life, like an ocean wave crashing on the shore.
It obscured the three young people from the Ambassador and by the time he walked around to where they had been standing, only the suitor remained. He fell to his knees and cried out "Forgive me, Love. Forgive me. I understand now. Don't take my little girl from me. I understand. I swear I will cherish their love and honor their marriage. Don't take my little girl from me."

"The Fountain's force eased up a bit and from the streams of water pouring over the edge of the bowls, two figures stepped forth from the falling water. Saraband held Coreel's hand and led him to where her father was still kneeling in the water.
Her other hand gently touched her father's head. He looked up and in his joy he embraced his daughter while still on his knees. His eyes glanced across Coreel's hand in Saraband's and the same expression of being saved/redeemed/forgiven that flashed across his face upon seeing Saraband, honored Coreel as he also was pulled into the Ambassador's embrace. Coreel slowly brought his free hand over to the top of his Father-in-Laws head and gently ran his fingers through his hair."

Glesh stood up and put a hand on the very thick shoulder of his Apprentice. "I'll take over the front. I smell the Fountain cakes and they are close to ready."

Prite briefly touched his uncle's hand. "I'll see to those first, Master." His smile lingered after him.

"Jimbo, my young friend, that is the official end of the story. But at weddings, a truly happy Father finds a quiet place at the wedding reception and kneels before the newlyweds while embracing them and the truly happy Groom combs his fingers through the father's hair."

Jimbo was still a bit confused on how this story relates to his situation. "It sounds like a wonderful affirmation of love."

"So where does that story fit with a changed Shore leave schedule?"

"Yes, Glesh, my friend. I'm a bit slow today and may even need a few visual aids to helpÊmy comprehension."

"Jimbo, another one of the Lover's Fountain traditions or superstitions if you will; is that when one member of the couple wants to show the depth of his love for his partner, they will meet at the Fountain's edge. The one being invited there arrives early. The story tellers advise that the couple should remain apart from each other for at least twenty-four hours, before the Fountain ceremony. And the moment that the invitee sees their partner, they walk into the Fountain and wait for them to join them. The superstition is that within the year, a couple that meets in the waters of the Fountain will join their lives in a more traditional ceremony."

Jimbo had a world of thoughts whirling in his head and Glesh was able to see a man in love regain his hope. "Dan and I had planned on visiting your village called Lover's Fountain, for three months, now. I never bothered to look up anything else about it. Dan and I didn't talk about this town except wanting to pay a visit on our shore leave."

"And now you're thinking your lover decided to look up all the information he could on our little village?"

Jimbo nodded. "Glesh, my friend, does that superstition part about remaining apart have any more parts?"

"Yes. There should be no communication between the couple while they are separated. None at all."

Jimbo pulled Glesh into a bear hug. He tried to find the words but couldn't get them out.

Glesh hugged him back. "I understand. Too much to feel, too much to say. My wife often has me that way, bless her heart."

Jimbo collects himself and steps back with a smile. "How long have you been married?"

Glesh's expression softens as he recalls the years. "It will be seven years, day after tomorrow. We were two of the close to one hundred lovers that wet their feet, seven years ago, on the morrow. We had a small Garden wedding the day after the Fountain Festival, but my wife still cried as her father kneeled both days and I combed my fingers through his hair. Ya see he didn't approve of me at first. He saw how happy I was all the time and thought I was without an Apprenticeship or any other care in the world. He worried for his daughters future. But when my Master invited him to my Masterpiece Feast, he changed his mind about me completely. He told me of his previous fears and I told him that no sorrow could ever reach me when I was near his daughter; she had that power over my heart. Sometimes I don't play fair. As I told him that I flicked a stray hair back in place on his head. Never marry a girl with a bald father." They both erupted in laughter.

From the back of the bakery a wondrous aroma preceded Prite's words. "Trudy's father keeps his head hair clipped short. Tell me that isn't a mixed message if ever there was one." Glesh had a mischievous grin on at the end.

"Apprentice Prite, I have something for you if all the Fountain cakes are out of the oven to cool."

A massive figure appeared at Glesh side in a flash. "All are golden brown and cooling on the racks Master Glesh."
The young Neshan practically vibrated with anticipation as he waited on his Master's next words.

Glesh smiled up at his large Apprentice. He stepped over to a small flour dusted desk and pulled open a small drawer. He pulled out a very large envelope with a gold seal stamp keeping it closed. Glesh walked back to his Apprentice and held the envelope at chest level.

"With your Masterpiece Feast planned for this evening, perhaps you could go to Master Carpenter Maresh and give him my invitation to that joyous event. It specifically mentions including his sweet wife, Sarabell and equally sweet daughter, Trudy."

Glesh handed the Invitation to his apprentice, who was still in a state. Glesh was suddenly engulfed in a mountain of muscular Neshan. "Thank you Master," could be heard repeated over and over.

Glesh broke the embrace and told him "You will be required to faithfully recall all that occurs as you deliver this Invitation. Now go."

Prite pulled himself up straight, stuck his chest out and nodded at his Master with a small smile on his face. Then he practically disappeared as he left the bakery.

Glesh sat back down as he shook his head. "How that much bulk can move through tight spaces without tearing things apart is still a mystery to me."

Jimbo chuckled and said "Trudy must be a large girl."

"Very petite. But the way she has Prite wrapped around her finger you would say she's his height. Her brothers are all Prite's size along with her father. But smart men toe the line when it's a woman's heart ya wish to please. She was always playing the boys games and winning at them too. Her father was in a lather over a broken arm of hers after a very heated school game. Until he saw the opposing teams fielder being fitted for a cast on his leg. You can guess how he broke it. He's worried less about Trudy after that event. Still, she is his only daughter."

"Is Prite her first boyfriend?"

"No, the fourth, as a matter of fact. He's just the first to be able to get through her brothers without ending up in the Hospital."

The sound of the shop bell was finally heard by Jimbo and he wondered why he had been ignoring it all this time. Two very small yet beautiful Neshan ladies came into the Bakery and Glesh stood up. He waved for Jimbo to stand as well.
"Mistress Sarabell, and you've brought your equally beautiful daughter with you. How can I help you this fine day?"

Trudy chuckled "As if the fine smell of your Fountain cakes didn't pull us out of our own kitchen, Master Glesh."

"Trudy, that is no way to speak to an elder. Thank heavens your Prite doesn't pick up your manners, or he wouldn't be an apprentice for very long."

Trudy demurely lowered her eyes after sharing the humor with Glesh.

"No need to chastise your daughter Mistress. We have an understanding. She shows all bakers more respect when her family isn't around. As I recall, it took three months before she and Prite ever actually said the words hello."

"You promised you'd never repeat that to anyone."

"Trudy! I hope my sons show more restraint here."

Glesh laughed and Sarabell soon joined in. The idea of such large Neshan being restrained by anything other than chains can often cause anyone knowing them to laugh. But they were good young Neshan and never were the cause for any upsetting event.

'I apologize to Young Mistress Trudy for breaking a promise I made over a year and a half ago. But more to the point, those wonderful Fountain Cakes you are smelling, were all made by my Apprentice. I'd bring him out for the honest praise, but I sent him to deliver an Invitation to a certain Master Carpenter for his Masterpiece feast, planned for this evening."

Trudy started breathing quickly. "I have to leave. I'll explain later, Mother. Master Glesh. I wish I could go to such a wonderful feast such as your Apprentice's. But I have previous commitments, and would have to decline such an event."
She fled the bakery like she saw a ghost.

Sarabell and Glesh laughed and Jimbo was confused. Glesh recalled his own manners and said "Forgive me, my young friend. Master Engineer Jimbo Sipes, may I introduce you to Mistress Sarabell Pent."

Jimbo performed the same bow for Sarabell as he did for Glesh and she bowed lower that usual to one with a respect for his elders, "It's good to see the rumors about you humans is false. I always thought humans to be a respectful, if young race. You prove me right."

Jimbo blushed and Glesh asked "Are you still confused by Trudy's behavior?"

Jimbo nodded "Yes, just a little."

"And you were confused about your partners behavior this morning as you found him refuse to answer a call from you."

Sarabell raised her eyebrows then smiled at Jimbo. "Did your new friend not know of the traditions surrounding the Fountain Festival?"

"I just finished explaining them and his heart was a bit eased by them. It seems Trudy has had an equal surprise from her prite."

"I think you are correct. Prite apparently promised to wait by the Fountain for her the moment he was made a journeyman. But if he knew that his Masterpiece Feast was tonight, why didn't he tell Trudy?"

"Prite has the reason, or perhaps by now your husband now has it in his hands. I neglected to tell Prite of my intention to invite you three to his feast, until just a few minutes ago. I swear that boy can fly when he wants to. Seconds after thanking me he disappeared out the door."

"Maresh was like that. Always surprising me with his grace and finesse." She saw Jimbo's lost look and told him "She was afraid that Prite would return and ruin the traditions. For now until the moment of the Fountain Festival, they should not meet or talk to each other. And it sounds like you have a fine young human that feels the same way about you."

Jimbo looked hopefully at Glesh. "Really?"

"You have two people thinking the same thing. Why don't you let You be the third. You love him so much it hurts, don't you?"


"Then let your heart hear these words. Believe that he loves you so much it hurts. The only time when two things cancel out and take the pain away. It's true love, my friend."

Jimbo closed his eyes and tried to keep from crying. But these tears were of such a powerful happiness that he couldn't hold them back. Glesh helped by embracing the young engineer. "Ah such passion in a young race."

"And they knew nothing of the traditions until they got here? And days before the Festival? That is not coincidence. Oh this is going to be a memorable Fountain Festival."

Glesh nodded his agreement.

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