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Twelve

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Ryder dropped the damaged ammeter on the table with a clack. “So, I’ve seen you fight for months now, and I don’t think you have any new scars. This one--” they tapped the deep, jagged scar splitting the purple skin near Jaal’s face, “--must have quite a tale to go with it.”

Jaal chuckled and turned back to the workbench with an embarrassed smile. “It should have a better story than it does, I assure you.”

Ryder bumped their hip into Jaal’s, teasing the big angaran. “Come on, you can tell me. Battle or crazy antics, which was it?”

“Mmmm… You remember I told you that I was a terrible student? Part of the problem is that I always wanted to be out doing things. Taking things apart… figuring out how they work.” Jaal sighed. “It should not surprise you that I tried to take apart one of the remnant chests that we find buried everywhere.”

“Oh boy… I can see how that would end badly.” Ryder replied, wincing in empathy.

“Yes, well. As impressive as the outside of Remnant technology is, the interior is a masterpiece.” Jaal’s tone was both reverent and thrilled at the memory. “I had dismantled one side of the container, and must have overloaded or activated one of the circuits with my bioelectrics… It exploded.”

“Damn.”

“The electrical shock itself was severe, but angara can take a lot more than many animals.” Jaal waved a hand absently at the puckered old wound arcing through the curve of their jinesh. “This was from the worst of the shrapnel, and I stayed in the cavern for most of the day, hiding from the consequences. The Moshae was very angry. I remember being even more afraid of them than of my mothers!”

“Did you ever open another one, or did the trouble chase you away from studying Remnant?” Ryder asked.

“Yes, and… no.” Jaal smiled fondly at the memory, answering both questions at once. “You do stupid things when you are only twelve. I learned a lot, even if I was not the best student. We have methods of temporarily shutting down the power source for small Remnant objects, but they are still dangerous, and the Moshae did not appreciate the risk to either the technology or the students.” They shrugged. “I found other things to take apart.”