Carpathia III: Episode 2 - Phone Call

Rune Lake, New Berengaria, Jaze's House

Elektra: Jaze! Telephone!

Jaze awoke suddenly at the sound of his mother's shrill voice echoing down the hallway. He liked his mother as well as an average teenage boy would, if not moreso, but the sound of her voice when she yelled, angry or not, was like being attacked by an angry cat made out of cheese graters. He lazily rolled over in his bed to check the time. 8:00. The one time he had a chance to sleep in a bit on a school day and he was awoken by a telephone call. Today was the day he and his friends were going to visit their prospective university, a two-hour drive to the next city of Nephele. He'd already visited once with his parents and this time, he was going again to see it without them.

Jaze: I'm coming!

Jaze, in his sleepiness, shouted as loud as he could, but he had no idea if his mother could hear him. He lazily rolled out of bed and grabbed a pair of shorts to put on, all the while wondering two things. Who would be calling him at this hour? Why did they call his home phone and not his galaphone? As far as he knew, he never gave out his family's home phone number to anyone.

As he reached the end of the hall after pulling on his shorts, he descended the staircase and found his mother standing in the living room holding the telephone receiver. Here, once again, his mother's fascination with old-fashioned technology was evident, as the phone had no video, nor was it even cordless. It also allowed the secondary purpose of giving his mother the opportunity to eavesdrop, as she was frequently wont to do.

Jaze's mother held out the telephone receiver. Her lips smirked in crooked befuddlement.

Elektra: I wasn't sure if this was a prank call or what. It's a woman and she claims to be Queen Maoh II of Tokkastria.

Jaze did his best to hide his shock. He knew immediately it was indeed not a prank call. Right away, his mind flashed back to his recent trip to Tokkastria with Toma. He had been the first neko, half or full, to visit the planet and spent much of his time dealing with his instant celebrity status. What was worse, the Queen herself took an interest in him and invited both he and Toma for an audience. They were warned beforehand by Carpathian Ambassador Veritas that she was "a bit unhinged," in his words, and he wasn't kidding.

The first thing she did when she saw him was fling herself on top of him like he was the last male in the universe. Jaze allowed himself to be swept up into everything and now he was getting the phone call he'd been dreading since he returned home two weeks ago; was he going to be a father? On the one hand, it's standard in Tokkastria for the community to raise children rather than just parents, but on the other hand, it was also typical for a Tokkastrian woman to have eight to twelve babies at a time. Jaze was terrified.

He took the phone from his mother's hand and made absolutely sure he spoke in ambiguous sentences. He knew his mother was probably listening and he hadn't told her yet that she might soon be a grandmother to an entire baseball team.

Jaze: This is Jaze Bond... Yes... Yes, it's good to hear from you too... Yeah... Uh huh... I understand... You'll keep me updated, right? Yeah... Okay, thanks... No, I didn't take your crayons... No, really. I didn't even know you had any crayons... Okay, I'll keep an eye out for them... Yes... Thanks for calling... Bye bye.

Jaze hung up the phone and, as expected, his mother emerged from wherever she'd been hiding.

Elektra: She sounds... unusual.

Jaze turned and sighed heavily.

Jaze: You have no idea.

The situation with his mother was rapidly becoming uncomfortable. Now he knew and he was going to have to tell her eventually and the way this conversation was going, it was difficult to see how he could wriggle out of it.

The doorbell provided just the wriggle he needed. Jaze bolted towards the door immediately and answered it. To his delight, it was Toma.

Toma: Yo.

Jaze: You're early.

Toma: I got a phone call.

Jaze quickly glanced over his shoulder looking for his mother. She wasn't anywhere to be seen. Either she was hiding and listening or she had gone elsewhere in the house.

Jaze: So did I. Let's go to my room.

Jaze stood aside and let Toma in before closing the door and right after, strode briskly up the stairs to his bedroom. Again he looked around, making sure his mother wasn't in sight and ducked inside, closing the door quickly behind him. They both sat on Jaze's bed and he began speaking to Toma in hushed tones.

Jaze: I got a call from the Queen herself. How did she get my home number anyway?

Toma: She's the Queen.

Jaze: Right, stupid question. Anyway, that doesn't matter. She's pregnant. Only one of the embryos has survived and genetic scans confirm that it's a tokki-neko-human hybrid.

Toma: Congratulations!

Jaze immediately held up his hands in a panic, trying to get Toma to quiet down.

Jaze: Not so loud!

Toma: You haven't told your parents yet, have you?

If Jaze didn't have enough to feel guilty about, Toma just reminded him of another reason.

Jaze: Well, I didn't want to say anything until I knew. Now, I don't see how I can avoid it. Maybe I can tell them after we get back from the university visit today. I want you to be there. There's going to have to be a lot of explaining about how tokki culture works and I'm not the best person to describe it.

Toma: No problem. And try not to worry. Yes, the Queen is very odd, but besides that, what happened that day isn't that unusual.

Jaze: You said you got a phone call too?

Toma: From both Minji and Aecha, the Queen's guards.

Jaze: Wait... Are you saying... While I was with the Queen, you were...

Toma: I tried to tell you several times, but you were too freaked out about having given in to the Queen to notice. I wasn't just sitting on my thumbs while you were with the Queen, you know.

Jaze thought for a moment and yes, given the hyper-sexualized culture of Tokkastria, it made sense. Jaze had his own problems, but he was starting to feel bad about having ignored Toma for so long. Now that he thought about it, after their encounter with the queen, Toma did his best to keep Jaze from thinking about it too much. It was only at those times when he started to enjoy himself again.

Jaze: I'm sorry. You were keeping me distracted from all this until the trip was over, weren't you?

Toma: Yeah, I was. I hope that was okay. I'm still trying to understand your feelings about sex, marriage, and children. I think those are the biggest differences between Tokkastria and Carpathia.

Jaze scooted closer to Toma on the bed and put his hand on Toma's leg.

Jaze: Not the end of the world, I guess. We'll figure this out together. Once we explain tokki culture and they get over the shock, Mom and Dad will probably be fine with everything. Anyway, what's your total then?

Toma: Aecha is going to have nine. Minji is going to have eleven.

Jaze started counting in his head. Though he'd always been able to do math well enough, he was always the last to finish his tests in school.

Jaze: And with my one that makes...

Toma: Twenty one. Did the Queen tell you the gender?

Jaze: Boy.

Toma: Then he won't have to live in the Tower. Only female offspring of the Queen remain there. Try not to worry. You can visit your son anytime you like and the community will raise him. Dad and the Queen will make sure he's well-taken care of.

Jaze thought for a moment with two competing interests tearing at him. On the one hand, he liked the idea of being able to go to university and finish without the added difficulty of raising a child at the same time, but the other side of him just didn't feel right about that. His mind rationalized and unrationalized the situation as rapidly as a computer calculating basic algebra. Maybe it was better this way after all. His son would be half tokki after all, so perhaps this would be his time to be immersed in that side of his culture.

Jaze: I can't think about this right now. Adell and the others will be here in a couple of hours. We can go get a drink or something while we wait.

To be continued...

Commissioned art in this episode from:

All city pictures from SimCity 4

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