In this new interweb driven world we live in it's very easy to cause offence. Isn't that great? No longer do we have to search for the right words to offend someone. That quest for the perfect insult has become unnecessary. All you need to do is tell a joke or write a fact about something and thousands of people are offended. Before the interweb you couldn't even dream of offending that many people. You pretty much had to insult them all individually. That took a lot of work, let me tell you. Targeting your offensive words was hit and miss to. What would be offensive to one person might not cause offence to someone else. So a lot of those insults were wasted. Now obviously the targeting system for interweb insults is hardly any better. It's a numbers game though. Getting those potentially offensive facts out there to the widest audience possible with the least amount of effort. Now I find I can insult people I never really intended to insult. Which is fucking brilliant if you ask me. I've unintentionally insulted groups I never even knew existed. But thanks to their feedback, outrage and offensive comments I now have thousands of new whiny fuckers I can aim at. Plus they've done me the favor of letting me know what offends them. Meaning I can be even more offensive intentionally and far more often. - - !(https://cdn.steemitimages.com/DQmUy2GyGkrAeXA4mLiH8wjmoznbRsfpqJwsLpdNfo8brsT/image.png) (The copyright to this image is the property of AZ Quotes.) - - Herman was standing there. On a hillside. Looking at Pip with surprise. He couldn't be any more surprised than she was. Having stepped from the edge of that settlement to a peninsula a kilometer away. Jake was only a short distance further along. Meaning it was entirely plausible she had seen him. Meaning Pip had passed through one of the portals she'd been warned about repeatedly. If she stepped back through it it would take her to the empty buildings across the bay. Only a quick search showed her it was no longer there. The captain came up behind her as she stood looking. "I think the more important question would be can you get back." He stated. "I don't think so." She admitted. "I saw you so I ran over." "Get a signal off will you Herman. Let Sade's party know she's here and safe." He stroked his chin thoughtfully. "It's one hell of a coincidence though isn't it. A portal that brings you to us. I suppose there could be short ranged ones we haven't detected. Anyway, puzzling that out can wait." He put his hands on his hips. "What the fuck were you playing at? For shit sake. You could have ended up anywhere." Jake admonished her sternly. His face softening after delivering the rebuke. "You're okay, that's what matters most. Be more careful in future please. I really don't want to lose anyone right now. Not ever, if I can help it." He strode off heading over to where Fetu and Ursella were. She was as mystified as anyone here. Which explained the delay in remembering why she'd set off after him in the first place. For a quiet word. While Herman dealt with contacting the others, she trotted up behind Jake. Sensing her presence he twisted round. "Why didn't you automatically pick Scarlet for one of the landing parties?" She demanded, checking to see if the others could overhear. They were preoccupied and out of range. "Because I thought she'd be pretty fragile, after spending so much time in the memory palace. Tired out after being up all night with Ydrie. I can't tell you how much I appreciate you questioning my every decision though." He concluded sarcastically. That was a transparent attempt to divert the conversation. Entirely justified, given her actions, but not a road she was going down right now. Besides which that up all night with Ydrie was judgmental. "She could have merely been talking for hours you know." His face crumpled into puzzlement. "As opposed to what?" "You know very well." Came the retort. "Do I? For the purposes of this, imagine I don't." She should have expected him to be as obdurate as this. "Alright. If you insist." He shrugged. "I'm not insisting. If you don't want to explain we can move on. Forget it." With which he spun away. Pip grabbed him forcefully dragging Jake back. "She might not have been fucking him all night. You know what I meant..." His expression stopped Pip in her tracks. "Oh. you weren't thinking that at all." Jumping to a conclusion was dangerous. "Everybody else was." The youngster offered in mitigation. "Including you it seems. What would that have to do with me anyway? It's none of my business what she gets up to. As long as it doesn't harm anyone else. You seem to forget I saw and heard several days of them banging each other." "No.. I... Okay I thought they were screwing as well. Something about him must have attracted her in the first place. She was with him a long time. You really don't mind?" Jake shook his head. "I didn't then and I don't now. I don't know where you got the idea from that I did. It's none of my business." "I thought you might have been hiding the pain or something selfless. I don't know. Then I saw you flirting with Tamsin and thought you wanted to... you know, get revenge." "Strictly speak Tamsin was flirting with me. Though more accurately she was making an indecent proposal to me." Pip had been so intent on not going down a perceived dead end she'd hurtled down another of her own making. "So... Are you going to... Uh... Take up the offer?" He gave her an old fashioned look. "What Scarlet does? Not my business. What I do? Not yours." A dark shadow of emotion crossed his face. "Honestly? I've been too busy with other stuff." He shook himself out of the depression. "It's been... an experience, chatting with you. Let's agree to go out of our way not to repeat it." Going in hard hadn't worked. Time to alter the strategy. No major switch required. Pip had seen the emotional pain very clearly. "This other stuff, is that why you rushed off when you got back from the memory palace? Is it why you ignored me when I spoke to you? I was already angry at you ghosting Scarlet. The silent treatment made me angrier." She could tell he didn't want to talk about this. Her sorrowful expression and puppy dog eyes would help here. Jake shuffled his feet uncomfortably. "Sorry. I didn't hear you. I was meditating. When I do it properly, I block out everything around me." Pip knew Jake wasn't lying. He wasn't telling the whole truth either. Evading the main thrust of her question. "What's this other stuff? And I don't mean the pressures of command. I mean what you were trying to process when you came back." When he spoke every word was forced out of him. Jake couldn't even look at her. His eyes unfocused stared out at the scenery. "I held her in my arms while she died. Watched as the life drained from Scarlet and she faded into nothing. I thought for a moment that was the worst thing that ever happened to me. Then I thought... I thought... This can't be the first time this has happened. All the lives we've led together? There had to be many more times I'd gone through this. All of them so heart breakingly awful I'd purposely forgotten them. I understood that was a betrayal of her in a way. You only find out how much something is really worth to you when you lose it. Finding out it's irreplaceable makes it ten times worse." Jake gave an impatient sigh. "Enough of the self pity. It's not going to get me anywhere." He rattled this off with fake good humor. Without another word he walked off. Hailing Ursella and Fetu letting them know about the addition to their party. Leaving Pip to unravel a whole host of feelings. Once he'd opened up she'd felt unable to press him. He'd spent far longer in the palace than his explanation accounted for. There was more he wasn't prepared to reveal. Pip had been lucky to get out as much as she had. All of her presumptions had been wrong about Jake. Leading to the hope those she'd made concerning Scarlet, after her return, were also not true. It was hard to believe she hadn't been with Ydrie all night. Everyone, including her, had come to the same conclusion. Excepting Jake of course. Why else would she have spent so long with a man she didn't really know. They'd had to tell Scarlet his name. You didn't spend that long with a stranger explaining that though they were in love with you, you had no feelings for them. Even allowing for extreme tact and careful diplomacy the task wouldn't take hours and hours. Pip had quite an in depth knowledge of Ydrie after the adventure in Fafindi. He could have told his life story in 30 minutes. The guy was an artist and a poet. Someone who'd observed life instead of experiencing it. The last person you'd expect Scarlet to find fascinating. All that time on her own. Ydrie would have been a fellow spirit. Both in need of comfort and companionship. Love to, in whatever form it took. You couldn't judge either of them for that. Lost souls finding solace. "Sade's not too pleased with you for scaring the shit out of everyone." Herman commented with a broad grin. "I'm kidding. She's glad you're okay. That's all that matters. She said that should be a lesson for you though. They're trying to work out where the portal came from now. Poppy swears it wasn't there when she and Scarlet walked past. Pure good fortune you ended up here. That's the kind of luck you don't want to push. While it might lead to my promotion I prefer to remain boatswains mate for now." He chuckled patting her on the back. She fell into step with him. Forcing her mind from its current trail. Still convinced Jake loved Scarlet, while Scarlet was afraid to love him. Afraid wasn't the right word. It would do for now. They seemed to have moved on. Why couldn't she? All Pip could do was take comfort from the knowledge her own actions hadn't been as damaging as she'd thought. Jake smiled at her. It made her feel more emotional than before. "We'll pack up and head back to the ship. Your arrival is good news for us you know." "Why's that?" "Well we've got more people to spread the load. The others haven't." "Now I have to feel bad about that as well." Pip groaned. "Don't." He insisted. "They are a hundred meters or so from their boat. We're at least half a kilometer from ours. Sade said they'll take a full tour of that mansion you found, then they'll head back themselves. If you hadn't done your teleportation bit this would have been even less eventful than it is. It's the only bit of excitement we've had today." Herman drew his attention. "I didn't get a response from the ship when I signaled Sade." He informed the captain. "Thought I should mention the lapse." "We'd only contacted them half an hour prior to that. Must have caught them napping." Jake surmised. "When we get back you can bust some chops about that if you like. Someone else other than Pip will learn a valuable lesson. You can signal them again when we get back to the boat. Let them feel your displeasure. That'll wake them up."