Part 6: Subliminal Stone
"That's what Cashel wanted us to do," said Rei as she walked in to join us.
We listened to the Jago hum slightly as we thought to ourselves.
"Right, let's finish it." I agreed.
We all looked to Tammy who was still facing the dark sun-shield in her chair for any acknowledgement. She could tell we were waiting for her.
She swerved around and declared our next destination, "I have the planet locations of the next two stones. First we'll be heading to the planet called Glutvagant."
Rei looked surprised, "Glutvagant?!"
"So you have heard of it?" Tammy asked her.
"Yeah," Kiko answered. "It's a common place for those who flee Drogonaaz to head."
"I figured. The entire planet is quite vulgar."
I didn't know what they were talking about so I asked, "What kind of planet is it?"
Tammy answered, "It's an over-populated, metropolitan planet and it's known to house the galaxy's biggest black-market for anything illegal."
That reminded me of some parts that can be found in the city of Sola. I thought about the large city and its hopefully now-collapsed slave trade, but it was entirely possible that someone else had now taken up the job.
Kiko asked another question, "The third stone is there?"
"Yes," Tammy brought up a map of the section of the galaxy we were at. "I've been scanning for the two remaining stones while we were on Tizarr." The section panned out to show a blinking planet and zoomed in to enlarge it. It was a rather dark planet. "The closest one is on Glutvagant."
"Do you know where the last one is at?" Rei asked. Tammy paused and then zoomed to a distant planet on the edge of the galaxy, a lot further than the distance from where we were at to Glutvagant. It was two planets next to each other flashing this time. "There's two? What planets are those?"
"It's…" she sounded bleak, "Thereon."
Thereon? The name sounded familiar… wait… could it be…
"Your home planet?" I remembered.
Everyone except Tammy looked surprised.
"Wasn't there a reason you left?"
"Yes. I have my reasons."
"Are you okay with going back? Maybe we should go there without you."
"I'll be fine. You'll need my help getting there anyway." We gave her a worried look. "It's unfortunate the stone landed there, but it needs to be retrieved. We should concentrate on the third stone first anyway."
The three of us nodded at her.
"How long will it take to get there?"
Only three days this time? It didn't seem like enough time to prepare but then I realized there wasn't really anything to prepare for.
It was a lot harder to concentrate on our goal with Cashel's belongings randomly arising throughout the ship. Kiko spent all her time in the training room and Rei spent hers in the sky deck, leaving Tammy to find most of his belongings since she knew which were his.
I found her standing outside of Cashel's room, staring at his door a few days before we were going to land. I knew it pained her to have to find and collect his items scattered about.
"You've known him the longest didn't you?" I asked her while she was in front of his door, her arms full of his tools and small gadgets.
She sighed and looked down at the stuff she was carrying. "Yes, we've been traveling for years together. I've known him longer than I haven't known him."
She opened the door and walked inside. I've only been inside Cashel's room a few times but every time I have been inside, he was sitting there at his desk fiddling with something. Now it was strange not seeing him sitting there in the empty chair. It made me feel how hollow the ship really was now. Tammy must feel this void the most.
She set the items in a bin and turned to leave.
"Are you… alright?" I asked making sure she was okay.
"I'm fine," she said simply.
I didn't believe her. I followed her back to her room where she continued to work at her desk.
I sat there, at the side of her bed and ended up falling asleep. I was awoken later by the flickering lights throughout the ship. I saw Tammy at her desk, asleep as well. Her hair flickered irregularly along with the lights. I quietly got up from the floor and went to move her to her bed. There was an image from a memory flasher of all of us, including Cashel, projected on her desk.
I could tell she hadn't slept in a while because she still in a deep sleep as I pulled the covers over her. The flickering stopped and her hair started glowing peacefully again. It was down from her usual braids and resting on her chest.
I did something I've always wanted to do since I've met her and I thought asking her would be awkward, but I was like a moth to a flame and before I knew it I was running my fingers through her glowing hair. It was incredibly soft and silky smooth. The glowing intensified in the areas I just touched, and I could feel a low electric current run through my fingers. It tickled.
I stopped playing with her hair when I realized how weird I probably looked and sat back down at the side of her bed only to fall back to sleep.
I woke up a few hours later, trying to remember where I was. I recognized that I was in Tammy's room but then I felt something leaning on me. I glanced over and saw Kiko asleep on my shoulder along with Rei on hers. We were all together, trying to fill the hole left by Cashel's death in our hearts. We slept like that the rest of the nights on the ship. I would fall asleep at the side of Tammy's bed and I would wake up to find Kiko and Rei with us.
Landing day arrived quickly. Tammy was busy on the flight deck trying to keep our ship hidden from any onlookers since it was probably now broadcasted throughout the galaxy that we already had two of the four stones.
She landed the ship in a more desolate area of the city.
"You think the ship will be okay here?" Kiko asked her.
She answered as she opened the cargo doors, "I've managed to conceal our entrance with a counterfeit identification, but we shouldn't stay too long."
"How long is too long?" I asked.
"A month at the most."
"Oh that's not too bad!" said Rei, "I was thinking like two days or somethin' like that."
Kiko spoke again, "You think we can find the stone within a month?"
"If we don't digress from our destination, yes, I think we can find the stone within a month."
We walked out of the ship and I got my first view of the planet. It was dark, and apparently it was always dark. The planet didn't have a sun; instead, the planet's core was the sun. The further you went down in the ground, the hotter it became. Because of this, everyone lived as high as they could. There were skyscrapers everywhere. There wasn't a piece of land that didn't have some sort of building on it; even where we landed was inside of a building far from the baking ground.
Kiko stopped us and told us the plan, "We're gonna stick together, get the stone, and get off."
We all agreed. Tammy was holding the elemental stone and I was holding the newly named morph stone since they both resonated pretty low with us. She said it took the stones off the radar almost completely so it was best if we held them. No one argued.
The first thing on our agenda was to buy a cheap shuttle ship since there was no way of walking to the stone.
We let Tammy choose the ship. She wore a cape with a hood that hid her glowing hair and the rest of us wore a type of hoodie that hid most of our faces. We seemed to blend in with most of the population on the planet, which consisted of shady looking travelers.
Tammy bought a ship and we piled in. I wasn't too sure if it would last very long, it didn't even have a roof, but Tammy chose it so I knew it had to be what we needed.
We drove with traffic between skyscrapers for hours. Tammy couldn't land the Jago too close to the stone without bringing too much attention to ourselves so we were left having to drive for hours to get there. It wasn't too bad of a drive because I got to see many strange things as we were going through the city.
There were different cities that had different class. We drove through one part of the city that was well lit and had many nice shuttles driving everywhere and everyone was orderly. I'd say we stood out as one of the only run-down shuttles there but little attention was given to us.
Where we fit in really well were the shabby areas. I could almost swear I saw our shuttle with similar looking, hooded figures inside. These areas were the most prominent and the most dangerous. A few times Kiko had to stop some muggers from trying to take our ship by force. It was ruthless in these parts. I certainly didn't want to be left alone here.
We took shifts driving so we could drive through the night. I had just ended my driving shift and was sitting in the back when I saw something that made me sit upright.
Lone was walking casually into the building next to us.
I knew it was her. I could just tell it was. Something inside me made want to follow her and without thinking, I jumped off the ship, which was sitting in traffic, and onto the building's platform to run after her, leaving the others behind.