The next day Rei took me shopping.
“What are we looking for?” I asked. We were inside a travel ship heading toward the city this time.
“Tammy asked if we could get her some items for the projects she’s working on.”
We traveled almost to the center of the city before getting out in front of a bunch of small shops. Rei glanced at the map from the hologram bracelet Tammy gave her earlier.
“It should be close by from here” she said. “There it is.”
It was a small store filled almost to the brim with electronics and trinkets. Rei was gathering all the items we needed as I surveyed the items for sale. Every item was different. I scrounged around a bit until something glowing caught my attention. I picked it up and examined it.
Is this what I think it is? It looked like a little star in a tiny black vial.
“Ah, I see you activated the firestar.” An alien woman said to me. Her skin was jet black and scaly but she had soft, green, human eyes. “Those are rare. It’s one of the galaxy’s tiniest stars. It is said that if it resonates well with you, then when you die it will also burn out and be reborn anew for someone else to carry.” I held the firestar vial in my hand. It flickered for a moment and then it died out. “It seems you know someone who would resonate well with it.”
I knew Kiko was the one who activated it. “How much?”
“Since you were able to activate it, I will sell it to you for 6,000 yomen.”
I wasn’t sure if that was a bargain or not but I wanted to get it for Kiko.
“I’ll take it.” I said holding my hand up to pay.
After I paid for it I put it safely in my pocket, then I felt bad only getting something for Kiko so I continued to browse around for gifts for the others.
I looked in a pile of scrap that I thought Tammy would find interesting and I found something else that caught my eye.
It was small and rectangular and I could easily squeeze it in my fist, but what I liked about it the most was its color. It was mainly silver but also glowed like Tammy’s hair. I didn’t know what it was but it was pretty, so I decided to buy it for her since it reminded me of her.
It was harder to find stuff for Rei and Cashel so I ended up getting them memory flashers. They were rings that were able to capture an image and display it as a hologram or you could send it to another programmed ring, which is what I figured Rei and Cashel would do the most.
Altogether I spent almost my entire allowance on gifts. I didn’t feel bad though, it’s not like I had anything to spend it on anyway.
I helped Rei find the rest of the items to buy and we headed out to flag a ship to take us back. I was about to call one passing by but she suddenly gasped and grabbed my arm pulling me aside.
“There’s one more place I want to go before we go back.” She said shoving the bags into my arms. “You know how to get back right?”
It was hard to hold all of the bags by myself.
“Where are you going?” I asked still struggling.
“Just to this place right here, I won’t be long.”
She shoved her way into a building with the big words “Gambling Hall” at the top.
Seriously? I never knew she liked to gamble. I thought about our card games and it finally clicked. This wasn’t a gamble for someone like her, she was in here to make money for certain.
I didn’t like the look of the place, we were already in a shady area and she just walked into the scavy den. I knew Kiko would kill me if she found out I left her in a place like this, so I followed her.
The air was thick with rancid smoke. There were groups of people sitting at tables making bets and playing games. I saw Rei was already at a table playing cards with a small group. I moved over to the food lounge and sat in a place where I could still see her.
I had a meal and waited for her there until she was finished. She would occasionally cheer very loudly and a few minutes later I saw a group of men, of a variety of species, eye and point at her. They gradually went up to her and one of them spoke in a booming voice.
“Hey you’ve made a lot of money there, you wanna share some of that with me and my buddies here?”
She casually blew them off, “Yeah right, get your own winning streak.”
I knew this wasn’t going to end well. As I made my way to her the man grabbed her arm.
“Let her go!” I demanded.
The guy looked at me. He had completely black eyes and no hair but spikes coming out of his skull.
“Pathetic human. Who do you think you are, ordering us around?”
No one seemed to care that we were being harassed. In fact I think the noise bothered them so a few patrons casually moved seats.
Their leader spoke again but this time to his friends, “We’ll take’em with us and teach’em how to act toward a superior species.”
The other guys grabbed us by the arms and started dragging us out the back door but Rei instantly started fighting back. She got away and headed towards me but more guys blocked her path and started shooting at her, forcing her to kick over a table and jump behind it.
Of all days, she had left her pistol blaster with Kiko for maintenance. I was able to get a glimpse of her behind the table before I was over powered and subdued with a punch in the ribs. It felt like I was sledged with a hammer. My concerns were with Rei though and I straggled back toward the door.
Their leader came back and faced me, “You humans never learn.”
I held my ribs and glared at him. “It’s sad you need your friends to take down two lowly humans.” I said angrily.
Wrong answer. If he was mad before, he wanted to kill me now. He slugged me hard on my cheek and I fell to the ground. I don’t know how, but I was still conscious and in a lot of pain. The leader held up his fist revealing steel plated knuckles that were embedded in his green-tinted skin.
“Hold him down” he said.
They pinned me to the ground and the leader walked right on top of me ready to pound my face into the ground when someone appeared from the far corner. It looked like a girl...I couldn’t tell who it was from the ground but when the guys saw her they began to panic.
“Oh shit it’s her! Let’s get outta here, get him in the ship quick!”
They threw me in the ship before I could see this mysterious person, but I had a feeling of who it was. I only knew one person who could induce this fear.
We sped down the alley, turning corners and looking for an area to flee into the sky but it was too late. I heard a thud on the roof and it started to disintegrate into a fine powder and blow away. It didn’t take long for a young woman to slip inside and knock them all unconscious before they could even pull out their blasters. What I wasn’t prepared for was the fact that it wasn’t Kiko.
The ship came to a stop when she took out the driver. Then the young woman turned to focus on me. At first glance she was very pretty and had long golden hair tied up in a ponytail like Kiko’s.
“You alright?” she asked me. She had a strange accent but she sounded sincere.
“Yeah I’m fine” I lied. Breathing hurt and half my face was throbbing and swelling with pain.
She chuckled, catching my obvious lie. “I saw what you did in the Gambling Hall” she said.
Was she referring to the fact that I couldn’t do anything to help Rei?
“Rei!” I said suddenly. I had to see if she was alright. I tried to get up but a sharp pain from my ribs stopped me.
“She’s fine” the young woman said quickly, stopping me from moving rashly. “She was contacting someone when I last saw her. I promise she’s fine.”
The sound of sirens approaching caught both our attentions. “We should get out of here, it’d be a big mess if we were caught.” I didn’t know what to do or how to get back to Rei.
She helped me out of the ship and said, “I have a place not too far from here. You can stay there for now.”
I didn’t have much of a choice since she was half steering half carrying me, so I let her lead the way to her personal ship. We flew a little further toward the middle of the city than I hoped, but eventually we made it to her place just as the sun set and the lights in every building simultaneously turned on. It was everything the Jago apartment wasn’t. It was very sleek, stylish and very clean.
She helped me inside again and set me on one of the many couches.
“Sorry my room is messy” she apologized.
I looked around and there was a stack of papers spread all over a large table. She considered that a mess? I didn’t want her to see our apartment.
“This is your room?” I asked looking at all the couches.
“Well, this level is…yes.”
“This entire level?” I asked surprised. The level was easily twice as big as our entire apartment.
“Yes, why?” she asked curiously.
“Uh, I was just wondering.”
I winced at the pain in my ribs.
“Let me help you with that” she said, noticing my pain. “Take off your shirt.”
My head cocked with hesitation, “Uhh...”
She seemed trusting enough. “Alright…” I felt awkward undressing in front of her, plus she did most of the work but I did comply with her demand. If she could help me somehow then I couldn’t complain because my ribs and face were already swelling up pretty bad.
She rubbed her hands together and her palms started emitting a yellowish light, then she placed one hand on my cheek and the other on my ribs.
“What are you doing?” I asked nervously.
“It’s alright,” she smiled softly. “I’m able to break down or repair any molecules that I touch. All I’m doing is repairing your damaged tissues.”
She had a caring smile. I could tell this was someone who really cared about people and would always do the right thing when needed.
She came closer to my face and gazed into my eyes. “You have very pretty eyes” she said taking an interest in them.
I gazed into her green eyes as well, getting lost in them, “Thanks…” I smiled anxiously.
CRASH! Someone barged through the wall from the entrance patio and was searching around frantically. It was Kiko.
“Sar-!” she started to yell until she found the young woman and me sitting on the couch. She was still right in front of my face, her hands on my bare ribs and cheek.
My mouth dropped when I realized the position we were in, and I was half naked.
“Kiko!” I exclaimed.
I’ve never seen her so flustered, “I’ll give you two a moment” she said quickly leaving the room.
“No wait! It’s not- nothing happened- hold up!” I pleaded standing up to chase after her.
The young woman let go of me and stood up. “You’re pretty much done anyway.”
All my swelling was gone and I grabbed my shirt and put it on. “Thanks for helping me” I said sincerely but quick and quietly. Then I ran out through the torn down wall where Kiko was furiously pacing on the ship platform.
“What were you doing!” she yelled at me. “Rei told me you were in trouble and I find you here with her!” She point to the young woman who was standing arms crossed now glowering at Kiko from inside the room.
“She saved me from those guys at the Gambling Hall and brought me here to help me!”
The young woman’s attitude changed. “As destructive as always I see,” she said in a displeased tone to Kiko. “Thank you for ruining my entry way, now you better run along before Breccan comes by.”
Kiko was too angry to reply so she turned around to flag a ship to keep from destroying the entire building. I’ve never seen her so mad, it was scary.
When the ship arrived she got in and I was about to enter but she slammed the door in my face and yelled at the driver to go.
I stood there and watched her ship take off, back toward our apartment.
Ughhhh! I didn’t understand why she was so mad. I turned around to see the young woman now smiling and shaking her head at me.
“You’d better go before Breccan comes.” She warned.
“You know Breccan?” I asked.
“Yeah, he owns the building,” she said back in her normal, kind tone. “And he won’t be pleased to see someone from the Jago did it.”
“Oh, good point.” I flagged a ship. “Thanks again for saving me. I’ll see if we can help with repairs.” I said getting in the ship.
“Don’t worry about it. It was nice to meet you Sarth.” She smiled and waved.
The ship took off before I could ask how she knew my name. I guess it’s because she knew Breccan.
I was dreading the return to the apartment. I’m sure Kiko was still furious about me and I hated the thought of her ignoring me again.
Everyone eyed me as I walked through the entrance. Kiko was in her room and I saw Rei standing by the table. She was the only one who looked happy to see me. Cashel chuckled and shook his head and Tammy simply stared at me.
“I’m glad you’re alright” she said genuinely.
“I’m glad you are too.” I said sincerely but with a weak smile.
Then everyone continued with what they were doing.
The next few days were hard. I didn’t see Kiko at all and I was getting frustrated not knowing why. I didn’t go out much after that. Then one day it was just Tammy and I. I always spilled my thoughts and feeling with her because she would always listen and give me advice.
“I don’t understand what I did wrong.” I said to her.
“You did nothing wrong.” She answered.
Today she was working on some sort of ship piece and I helped her clean the parts. We had to take on part time jobs to help pay for the damages to the Gambling Hall, because apparently Kiko destroyed the place even more when she arrived. I was surprised that the young woman who helped me that day really did cover for us because there was no word about getting Breccan’s building fixed.
“Then why is she angry with me?” I asked.
“She’s confused,” she stated. “According to Rei, she was very worried about you when she heard what happened, and she went off right away to find you. When she saw you safe with Lux she didn’t know what to think so her first emotion to arise was anger.”
Tammy had told me earlier when I explained to her what happened that the young woman’s name was Lux and that she was Breccan’s second-in-command of his crew.
“Lux was only trying to help me! I didn’t do or tell her anything.”
“Where Kiko’s from, touch is an intimate gesture, especially the hands and face. How you feel about your actions is felt very differently from her perspective, therefore it is difficult for both of you to comprehend each other’s emotions.”
I was starting to understand how Kiko felt. It was silly to think someone placing their hand on my face would make her flip out this much but I obviously wasn’t considering how that looked to her, plus I was half naked. I thought about if I saw a man kiss her… No. I didn’t even want to think about it… why? Was I jealous?
I changed the subject. “I bought something for you.”
Tammy looked up from her work as I took out the present I bought for her at the store and handed it to her.
If she ever showed emotion it was in the slightest so I was pleased when she reacted to what I gave her.
“It reminded me of you so I decided to get it for you.” I said happily.
She must’ve known what it was because she was able to open it, which I didn’t know it could do.
Curiosity got the best of me, “You know what it is?”
She examined it more before it started talking, “Catalogued entry number 56,378. No reaction. End entry.”
There was no hologram. It was just a voice coming from the small gadget.
“It’s a data preserver,” She said as she pulled out a glowing hair from inside the device. “It’s from my home planet. I thought these were all destroyed long ago. Thank you.”
She closed the glowing hair in her fist and closed her eyes. Then she opened both again. The hair stopped glowing and she tossed it aside.
“What was on it?” I asked.
She tucked the data preserver in her pocket, “Nothing important, a detailed description of our people torturing humans for enjoyment.”
I looked at her, appalled.