Thursday, October 15, 2015

Chapter 5 : Gay Sex




Lightship Chronicles
Book 1 : Sacred Warriors
copyright©2015 Florin Nicoara

The interior of Andee's home is simple. To the right of the entrance is the kitchen. The stove is an electric black top built into an adobe counter, up against the front wall. It sits under a window and not far from the door. There is a faucet and sink across the way in the back stone wall. The west wall is recessed, with an adobe counter, topped with a smooth plastic work space. All the cabinets are made from adobe, but their doors, cupboards, and shelves are either plastic, wood, and some even metal. A bit of a hodgepodge built from whatever materials were available. Between the sink and west wall counter, there is a tall but slim wooden door.
To the right of the entrance is the living room slash dining room area. Starting about a meter from the entrance, and protruding out of the front wall, all the way round to the east wall, extends a bench built from adobe. The seat cushions and backrest are made of wood covered in furry and beautiful alcama leather cushions. The bench runs in an L-shape on both walls. There is a wooden table in front of the bench by the front wall, with three chairs on the open sides of the table. Separating the two halves of the room are two columns supporting the ceiling. All the ceilings are vaulted, including the tops of the doors. There is a second window above the bench, like the one over the stove, both facing out over the great northern expanse of the Flatlands and mountains in the distance. The back wall is exposed stone and in it there are two carved arched entrances with wooden doors. They are on either side of the two column row, and are the home's two bedrooms. 
In the kitchen, working on the plastic counter, Adinaa Star is removing pieces of cloth from the tops of jars filled with some kind of pickled vegetables. She is replacing the cloth with metal lids, than handing them to Nayaa who is sealing the lids with wax from a lit candle. Nayaa is wearing her short top that looks more like a sports bra. It is made from inch thick beige linen ribbons cross-weaved together diagonally. Her top is small and tight leaving her neck, muscular shoulders, and six-pack stomach exposed.
Adinaa is wearing a light colored linen tunic, decorated with embroidered patterns.  It is made from a single piece, like a poncho, with an opening for the neck, than hanging off her shoulders like two aprons, one in front and one in back. The front wraps over the back forming a V shape under her arms, while loose cloth hangs elegantly over her shoulders. There are two built in straps, one running directly under her ample breasts, and the other lower around her belt line, both tied in the back, making her tunic look like a summer dress that is at its thinnest around the waist. The front half of the tunic reaches to her knees, but with a diagonal cut from right to left, so that her right knee is exposed and left one covered. The diagonal is opposite in the back, so that the back for her right knee is now covered while the back of the left is exposed.
Adinaa's light brown hair is pulled into a single braid in the back. Her eyes are light brown almost golden in color. She is tall and thin at the waist with a strong broad face and beautiful features. She looks in her late thirties, or maybe forty, and her skin is well tanned, but smooth and still beautiful. She is a little bit taller than Nayaa, and taller than the average Carpati.
"Why is he avoiding me?" Nayaa snarls.
"I don't think he is..."
"Is he here? Is he ever around?"
"He's been doing extra work at the yard. So has Mykee now that he's only going to school part time."
"Can't he just stop by and say hi to me anymore? It's been three weeks. We haven't practiced once. OK? Not once in three weeks. Look at me. I'm getting fat." Nayaa emphasizes the fact by grabbing the sides of her perfectly flat muscular stomach. Adinaa smiles. "And when I ask him he always pretends to be busy, always got something else to do. How much is there to do in a damned junk yard?"
"Hey, language."
"Sorry." Leaning in. "Hey Ms. Star, between us women, have you noticed Andee being different lately?"
"He has been exhausted since..."
"No-no, I mean like, different... like if he was hanging out with some blond, older, Bitani looking chick?"
"I have no idea what that would look like."
"I think that's what he's doing. He's not working. He's with that girl."
"Andee has a new girlfriend?"
"I don't want to talk about it." She responds with a giant annoyed pout. Ms. Star smiles shakes her head. Nayaa is making a mess with the melting candle wax. She looks frustrated and is not focusing on her task.
"Hey! Be careful there. What are you doing?"
"Sorry."
"You OK?"
Looking up at Ms. Star with a sad mug. "No."
"What is it?"
"Well, actually, we really need to talk."
"We're talking."
"No, I mean really talk." Leaning closer to Adinaa.
"OK, lets really talk." Adinaa leans in closer slightly mocking Nayaa. "What about?"
Nayaa puts the jar and candle down, and turns to fully face Adinaa.
"Ms Star... we need to talk... about sex."
A bit startled. "We do?"
"Yes."
"Wait?" Adinaa's face lights up like a bulb with surprise. "Are you and Andee having sex?"
"Ahh..." Nayaa's eyes blow up big and horrified, bulging out of her head snapping her backwards away in shock. "Hell NO! In the negative... NOT!" She yells at Andee's mom. "What's wrong with you lady?"
"OK-OK, I just thought..." Calming her own shocked face.
"Oh my god like seriously, ewww! You're son is gross, and ugly, and annoying, and..."
"OK-OK, you made your point. I thought you had a question."
"Yeah, that. So-ah, what I want to know is... well... why did you teach your son not to want to have sex with girls?"
"What?" Ms. Star drops her arms and turns to Nayaa in disbelief.
"Why?" She lifts her brows emphasizing her point.
"What are you saying Nayaa?"
"He doesn't. And I want to know why?"
"I don't understand."
"He does not want to have sex with girls. He never tries."
"Are you saying he wants to have sex with boys?"
"No-no-no-no, well... well, actually, hmm, I don't know." She rubs her chin as she looks up to one side. "I didn't think of that, but now that you bring it up..."
"I'm pretty sure Andee is not gay. I'm his mom. I would know. Look Nayaa, I know you like him, and maybe you want to be with him, but you're confused..."
"Wait-wait-wait, no-no-no, I told you lady! No! Not! It the negative-not! That's a hell no! You hear me Ms. Star? Hell, and hell no!" Aggressively wagging her finger at Adinaa.
"Than why are you asking me such a ridiculous question?"
"It's not ridiculous. And I don't want to have sex with him--ewwughgllgrhrr..." And she starts making a gross gargling sound contorting her face and undulating her whole body in disgust at the thought.
"Then I don't understand this conversation. What are you getting at?"
"OK, look at me. I'm kind of hot, no?"
"Yes, you are a very beautiful girl."
"Excuse me Ms. Star, ah.... young woman, I did turn sixteen last week." Wagging her finger at Adinaa again.
"Yes, of course you are a beautiful young woman, but I still don't understand what the hell we're talking about."
"Simple. I don't want to have sex with him, but I want him to want to have sex with me."
"Why?" Frowning, shaking her head in disbelief.
"Because... that's what I want. It's how it's supposed to be."
"That's very selfish."
"How is that selfish?"
"You want him to chase after you, but you would deny him every time."
"Maybe."
"So not every time?"
"Aghhh... OK, every time! But... why doesn't he try? All the gross old men keep trying. He never does. Not with any girl."
"He was in a relationship for a year. I'm pretty sure he... tried."
"That doesn't count. It was his girlfriend. Why doesn't he try, you know, for fun, like other guys."
"You mean flirt?"
"I guess." She shrugs her shoulders.
"Oh my god Nayaa, you're talking about flirting not sex. So you're upset he doesn't flirt with you?"
"No, It's just..." But loses steam, scrunching her lips not knowing what else to say.
"Nayaa, I think you're confusing some things here."
"Like what?"
"You're friends. Friends don't flirt. You have to respect the friendship, and you can't cross those boundaries."
"Why?"
"Because it doesn't work. Flirting is sexual. Flirting is a friendly way of letting someone know that you are sexually attracted to them. If you're not, don't flirt with them. It's inappropriate."
"You sure?"
"Of course. Look. Either you're friends, or you're a couple, you can't have it both ways."
"I don't want to be a couple. I just want..." But again she can't finish her sentence.
"What you want doesn't exist."
"What do I want?" Nayaa asks looking at Adinaa suspicious.
"You want to be the center of attention. You want all the guys to flirt with you, even Andee, while at the same time you just want him as your friend."
"What's wrong with that?"
"It doesn't work like that. Either you're friends or you're a couple. Plus, this blond girl you mentioned. You looked very annoyed when you said it. Like you were mad because Andee flirted with another girl. Is that the real issue?"
"What's your point Ms. Star?" She asks with a big frown and almost angry tone.
"Ah, so that's the problem."
"No, it's not. It's what I said." Adinaa shakes her head but with a smile at Nayaa's naiveté and stubbornness.
"Listen, if you and Andee were a couple than you would have to be exclusive to one another, and I'm sure he would not flirt with other girls, but since you're friends, than both of you can flirt with whomever you want, just not each other."
"Why can't we be... 'a couple of friends'?" Nayaa asks emphasizing her last words with finger quotes. Adinaa gives her a long disapproving glare. "What? Why you looking at me like that?"
"Because that's not how it works."
"And, why not?"
"If it did, that would be the norm, but it isn't. Couples are normal because that's when things usually work out. It's not some kind of rule. It's just how things fall into place naturally."
"I see." Nayaa responds a bit deflated.
"You need to find a boyfriend and things will make more sense."
"I want a boyfriend, but... I haven't found one yet. How do I find one?"
"Easy, seat back and let them come to you."
"I don't think that's how it works Ms. Star."
"I'm pretty sure it is. You're beautiful and funny. You just have to let it happen."
"How come it hasn't happened yet?"
"Because you're not letting it happen."
"OK, that doesn't make any sense at all. Why wouldn't I?"
"You're so focused on Andee."
"What does Andee have to do with it?"
"Isn't he why this whole conversation started?" Nayaa pouts exaggeratedly again. "Look, you're so focused on Andee you don't notice anyone else. He's your friend, almost a brother, he'll always be there for you. Accept that, and then open up, notice other guys. I'm sure many flirt with you all the time. You're just not seeing it."
"Nope, none." Swinging her head and hair, side to side, to emphasize her point.
"Yes they do. You just don't know what flirting is. Older men trying to have sex with you is not flirting."
"Are you sure?"
"I've been around a bit longer than you. And-I-was your age once."
"Guys used to flirt with you?"
Adinaa looks up at her through her brows. "Believe it or not, it actually happened." She delivers her words laden with sarcasm.
"Sorry, I guess, maybe I don't understand."
"Trust me, when you'll have a boyfriend you'll understand. Andee's already had a girlfriend. So he's gone through that experience."
"Yeah, old lady love. I guess he learned it all from her."
"Old lady love?"
"That's what Andee calls her."
"Really?"
"Nah, not really. Whatever." Nayaa snaps dismissively. Adinaa shakes her head with a smirk.
"Don't worry, it will all work out."
"I guess. But he's probably gay anyway."
"Oh Nayaa." And then grabs her in a hug. "I almost feel sorry for your first boyfriend, who ever he'll be." Nayaa pulls away staring at her with an exaggerated pout. Adinaa laughs. "You're a handful, but you have a good heart. The guy that sticks with you through all your craziness, is the guy for you." Nayaa turns her pout into a smile and hugs Adinaa back.
At that same moment Andee and Mykee walk into the house. Mykee is fiddling with his white display. Andee goes into left bedroom. Nayaa walks up to Mykee.
"What's that?"
"My vidrom."
"That's not a vidrom."
"Sure it is, look." And turns it on.
"Whoa, cool. Where did you get it?"
"I made it."
"You didn't make crap."
"Nayaa! Language." Adinaa snaps at her from the counter.
"Sorry. Pardon me young man. But you did not make this machine." She restates making big goofy yes at Mykee. He seems impervious to her style of humor.
"Well, no, but I did fix it. And I figured out how it works. Look, see here. When I open this window, I get all the images that appear on the giant videodrome in West Market, right now just old races."
"So?"
"It means that the video signal sent to the videodrome is also sent here, so tomorrow's lightship races, we can watch from right here, in our house."
"That's lame. It's more fun to climb up to the outcrop."
"Whatever. You and Andee." Mykee shakes his head and walks away. Nayaa turns to Adinaa and shrugs her shoulders. Andee walks out of the left bedroom while Mykee walks in.
"Are you ready to go?" Andee addresses Nayaa.
"Yeah lets go, finally."
"Finally what?"
"You've been ignoring me."
"No I haven't."
"Yes you have. When was the last time we even talked?"
"Earlier today."
"Dork, you know what I mean. You still haven't told me what happened at the Bitani Friendship Center."
"Nothing happened."
"What do you mean nothing?"
"When did you go to the Friendship Center?" Adinaa cuts in turning away from her jars. Andee gives Nayaa an annoyed look. Nayaa shrugs her shoulders meekly; 'Oops'.
"After the last race."
"Three weeks ago? And when were you going to tell me?"
"It's not important." Andee responds to his mom dismissively and quickly turns to Nayaa. "We got to go."
"Hold on. Of course it's important. They won't let you in without an appointment. So what point would you have to go there?"
"He's famous up in the city." Nayaa cuts in squinting hard at Andee.
"Nayaa, what the hell?" Andee snaps at her infuriated.
"What? What's she talking about?" Adinaa asks surprised but both look away. "You two better tell me everything now, or else I'll lock you both in that bedroom until you're ready to talk."
"Thanks a lot." Andee snaps at Nayaa.
"What? She's your mom. You need to tell her things like this."
"For once she's right." Adinaa responds still focused on Andee.
"For once?" Nayaa jerks her head back offended.
"Andee, I'm serious. You're not leaving this house until you tell me."
"Fine. It's no big deal. Gono got a job interview."
"17 year old Gono?"
"Yes."
"They don't hire anyone under 40."
"Well, he had an interview."
"Did they hire him?"
"Not yet."
"And why did you go?"
"They asked him to bring me?"
"Excuse me?" Adinaa is stunned. "What do you mean they asked him to bring you?"
"Like Nayaa said. I'm famous up there because I rescued that Bitani pilot."
"What? What Bitani pilot?" Adinaa is more dumbfounded than ever.
"You didn't tell her?" Nayaa intercedes shocked. "Dude, how can you not tell your mom that?"
"OK, both of you, sit, now. And you better tell me everything. All of it." 
"There's not much to say." Andee starts out but eventually describes everything. Adinaa listens patiently to the whole rescue story, the invitation to the job interview, and their adventure at the prave. Towards the end, she looks calmer. More accepting of Andee and Nayaa's story.  
"So why didn't you tell me this before?"
"Honestly, you worry too much. I was afraid you'd be worried."
"I worry when I don't know what's going on. If you tell me what's going on than I have nothing to worry about." Adinaa snaps at Andee with a hard glare. "But I am concerned that they know you in the city. Is that really true?"
"I don't know. But that Bitani girl knew me, and so did the screeners that gave Gono his interview. But then the lady at the entrance didn't know me, so she wouldn't let me in."
"I thought you said they gave you an invitation when Gono got his."
"Yeah, but it was in the wrong name."
"I don't understand."
"The invitation was for Andee Starfighter, not Andee..."
"What did you say?" Adinaa cuts him off, suddenly becoming extremely agitated. Her face turns rock solid, staring through Andee.
"Ok, what the hell is going on?" Andee snaps at his mom jumping out of the chair from the table. "Old Tom gave the same punking look! What's going on? What's with that name?" But instead of answering, or scolding Andee for bad language, Adinaa simply gets up from the bench and walks away from the table lost in thought.
"Mom! What's wrong? Why are you acting like this?"
"Andee, you and Nayaa were going to go practice, go. Please. Go. We'll talk about this later." And she steps into the right bedroom shutting the wooden door behind her.
"Wow, dude. I'm sorry. I didn't know this was going to happen."
"Shut up. Lets go." He snaps. Nayaa doesn't say a word. They walk out the door.
Andee closes the metal gate in the east side stone wall of their upper terrace behind him. They head up the last few steps of the stone stairpath, up to the road that runs over the roof of their homes, and head west.
They've been walking without a word for quite a while. Nayaa is on Andee's left, but keeps looking right, studying Andee. He is either ignoring her or so lost in thought he is not even noticing her. His eyes are locked ahead. Nayaa keeps staring at Andee, but no reaction. Her view moves past him, over the great flatland expanse, to the mountainous northern horizon where Carpatia's moon is half peeking out, even though it is still day. From her perspective it is the size of a house. The moon's white whirling clouds, and its blue and green regions underneath, are clearly visible on the sun facing half. The dark side is not dark at all, but a hazy grey due to all the daylight diffraction, and none of the moon-fairy strings of lights are visible. Nayaa glimpses the moon for a moment but ignores the beautiful view. She studies Andee again who looks lost in a trance, his eyes locked straight ahead.
"I'm sorry." Nayaa breaks the silence.
"Whatever. She was going to find out anyway." He responds sternly without looking at her.
"Not that. Well, kind'a that. Sorry for always taking things too far." She continues clearly remorseful.
"Huh?" Andee finally turns to her.
"You're mad at me. Been avoiding me, because I keep going too far. And I did it again, no?"
Andee's hard glare finally breaks as he smirks. He throws his left arm around Nayaa's shoulders and pulls her in closer, like a good friend. He gently head butts the side of her head with his own, in a friendly way. They both smile.
"I'm not mad at you. It's Old Tom... and now mom. I don't understand what the hell is going on. Old Tom hasn't talked to me in weeks."
"Really! Then why do you keep going back there?"
"Because... I need to figure out what's going on."
"Is that why we're going up to the crash site?"
"Yes."
"Cool. I'm going to solve your mystery for you." Nayaa's energy returns making Andee smile. "See you need me. I make you smile, and now I'm going to solve your mysteries." Andee lifts up his left hand from her shoulder and ruffles up her hair like he used to do when they were kids. Nayaa forcefully pushes him away.
"Hey! My hair!" Lifting up her finger to Andee. "I'm not twelve any more. This..." ...pointing to her wavy black locks. "This is valuable. You think it looks this good all by itself. Those berryfruit credits... are in my hair. I spent a fortune on berryflower soap. It took me over an hour this morning to make it look this good. I don't care what mood you're in, don't screw around with my hair. Got it buddy?" Shaking her finger at him with a coy smirk.
"Yesss... buddy. And you're right. You do make me laugh. I guess, I have been cold to you, more than you deserve, but Old Tom's really got me twisted. Ok, you really want to help me figure out what's going on?"
"Of course I do. If there's something going on, I want my nose in it."
"How about your hair?"
She tweaks her head to the side and gives him a disapproving look. "I definitely have to help you with the jokes."

Adinaa, wearing a jacket similar to Nayaa's, but light in color, knocks twice on Old Tom's door before she lets herself in.
"Hey there, Andee's mom." Mirceu greets her joyfully.
"Hey Mirceu, is Tom... ah there you are." Turning to Old Tom coming out of the dark recesses of his shed.
"What brings you by?" Old Tom asks.
"Can I get you a water? I've got some berry-fizz if you'd like?" Mirceu eagerly offers her.
"No thank you, but I do have something important to discuss with Tom here, if you don't mind." She responds to Mirceu.
"Sure, sure, I got lots to do out in the yard. But if you want that berry-fizz it's right there in that electric cooler." She nods as Mirceu leaves.
"Andee." Is all Old Tom says with cold eyes.
"Do you know what's going on? I just found out today what he's been up to, with the rescue, the friendship center, and then of course the name." She leans in close to Old Tom and whispers. "Is it safe to talk here?"
"Yeah, I've got a few working sensors, we're good here."
"He said you've been avoiding him? What's going on? Do they know?" Adinaa looks at him with eyes that seem to hide a deep secret that both she and Old Tom know.
"Come, have a seat. We've got a lot of talking to do, and some hard decisions to make."

Andee and Nayaa are walking up the steep jagged path to the outcrop. Quite a ways before reaching it Andee stops.
"All right, you ready?"
"I can't wait."
"The ship crashed up there." Pointing to the outcrop. "But all the parts rained down here so there's no point in going all the way up. And the bubble was stuck in a deep crevice behind those giant boulders."
"Cool, lets go."
The two human Leaping Ghimurs get to work. They are pretty much at the line where the sloping rubble ends and the sheer cliffs begin. They are moving along that line, neither climbing or descending, but their path is no walk in the park. It is full of large boulders, crevices and cracks, all at steep angles. It would probably take the average man hours to transverse, even with the necessary gear, but Andee and Nayaa make a game of it. They are in fact racing. Running, leaping, flipping, and making astounding progress. Within minutes they reach the boulders above the tiny ledge and crevice where the bubble crashed.
"I win." Nayaa shouts with a smile as she lands on the large domed stone Andee pointed to. He lands next to her. "Ok, so what are we looking for?"
Andee looks down. "To be honest. I really expected the bubble to still be here." Pointing to the shallow ledge by the deep crevice where the bubble stuck. "I guess they must have used one of those black hoppers like we saw that night at the warehouse to remove it."
"You know I had nightmares about that. That thing really creeped me out."
"Yeah me too. But since the bubble is not here, just look for anything that isn't natural. That doesn't belong here."
"OK." Both start searching, looking in every crack and crevice. They quickly find broken pieces of plastic, even a shard of the transparent bubble material. Andee fiddles with it.
"This is a piece of the bubble." Showing it to Nayaa and bending it with force. "I can't break it. It's so strong but light and soft. It looks like glass but it doesn't cut, look." He draws the knife sized shard over a finger but his skin is unharmed.
"Why do they call it a bubble? It sounds stupid." Nayaa blurbs.
"Because it's a bubble."
"Yeah, but they should call it something else."
"Like what?"
"I don't know, like the pilot pit, or something."
"That's even more dumb."
"Bubbles are for kids. It should be something more manly, something hard and strong."
"Fine, call it whatever you want. You can call the pilot's bone hard pit, I don't care. Listen, there's nothing here. Just shards. What I want to find are the electronics that were inside the bubble."
"What are those?"
"You saw Mykee's vidrom, right?"
"Yes."
"It came from right here. It was inside that bubble, and look." Andee points down in the large crevice where the bubble was stuck. "Look how deep that goes, and then it turns out and goes that way. You see the end of the township there? Those sheds there?" Nayaa nods. "That's the back of Old Tom's Junkyard. And that shed is where he keeps his two alcama. That's only a kilometer from where the debris fell, and if you look down this crevice, it curves out and exits in the same place. I bet that vidrom fell when I was helping Ricio out, when I cracked the bubble open. If that fell, other things could have fallen. There's got to be more stuff down in that sand down there.
"Ok, then we're going down."

Brandberd Bret is walking quickly down an oval walled white hallway lined with curved-in square panels. Each panel is ornamented with deep purple lines, about a foot in from the edge. The purple lines are tastefully embossed forming a large frame with gently curving twirls and curls. In the center of each square there is a bust of former Bitani leaders, floating inside a soft glow of purplish light with filaments and soft purple electric arcs that seem to the be the energy holding the busts in place. Brandberd reaches a panel missing the light and bust, and when he steps in front of it, it opens, splitting apart. The Governor steps through the sliding doors into his ornate office, and rushes to his desk. The instant he takes his seat the desk lights up. All around his oval glass top, 3D holographic images of other politician looking types, appear already in deep discussion. They stop talking to each other and welcome Brandberd for joining them as if they are all sitting around the same round desk.
"My apologies for being late. Issues and issues, you know how it goes." At that moment the center 3D display lights up with the Commander interrupting them.
"I'm sorry to interrupt the board meeting but we have an emergency."
"Well, there we go. Sorry Governors, looks like this is a bust for me. I'm going to have to pick this up later."
The 3D holographic governors agree with nods and they vanish one by one.
"What is it Commander?" Brandberd turns to the only remaining image.
"We have action."
"Where?"
"At the crash site." Next to the commander the 3D image expands showing Andee and Nayaa searching on the rocks.
"They've been at it for half an hour. Here's earlier footage of them scampering down the mountain."  Brandberd watched the footage.
"Amazing! Absolutely amazing. I almost admire these kids."
"Sir?"
"Look at them. Have you ever seen humans move like that? No wonder our Sentinels got their buts handed to them. These kids are impressive."
"And dangerous sir."
"Yes of course. No doubt. But they're still kids. We'll get far more information from watching them, then we ever will from interrogating them." Brandberd watched Nayaa and Andee as they search. "Did they find anything. I thought all the parts were recovered."
"Unfortunately not all the parts. Scavengers got to them before us."
"And no footage?"
"After the crash we had to move those recorders elsewhere. Sir, we need more recorders. Half the ones we have don't work... To be perfectly blunt sir, I don't understand. These things are cheap mass produced devices. Why is it so hard to get resupplied?"
"We're low priority according to the Board. Other worlds are facing much bigger problems."
"But recorders sir?"
"I know, it's ridiculous, but we're off the radar. My board meetings are a complete waste of time. They nod, agree with me, and ignore every request I make. We're having all kinds of supply issues. This is why I'm thinking of re-initializing the old factories. We might have to start building our own supplies."
"Are you sure you want to open that can of worms again? You remember how it ended last time?"
"It was poorly managed. Too much corruption. Not enough division of labor. We can do better."
"And the Board is willing to allow this?"
"Of course not. But what the board doesn't know won't hurt them." Brandberd then moves his eyes to watch Andee and Nayaa, live. It looks like Nayaa found something down at the bottom of the crevice.
"What's that in her hand?"
"I can't tell. I'll move in closer."

"What you got there?" Andee asks leaping from a large boulder down next to Nayaa.
"I don't know. But look how nice and smooth it is. And it's almost transparent." She hands it to Andee. He lifts it up to the sun. He brings it back down and rubs it between his palms. It's smooth, hard and sturdy, but flexible. It is a rectangular white plastic card. He looks at it back and forth and then hands it back to Nayaa.
"Hold on to it. Maybe Mykee can figure out what it is...." But Andee's words fade as he quickly looks up. He starts squinting his eyes staring at the sky.
"What are you...."
"Shhh-shhh-shhh, listen." Andee snaps silencing her.
"For?"
"A buzz, like a flying insect. Look. Right where I'm looking." Nayaa tries to follow his eye line. She squints, looks at Andee again, than back following his eye line.
"OK, I think I hear something, but I don't see it." Nayaa responds still squinting at the sky. "Why are we looking for a stupid flying bug?"
But instead of answering Andee suddenly lunges like a sprinter, jumping up from one boulder to the next, than leaps off the last boulder up into the air catching a spot that was buzzing about three to four meters away from them.
"Are you serious? Did you just catch a bug?  I though you got over than when you were twelve. And I'm the crazy one." Nayaa scoffs at him disgusted.

Brandberd jumps back in his seat. "Did he just?"
"It looks like he did sir. He captured our micro-recorder."
"So he knows about them too? Well that proves it. He's being trained. And we can both guess by who."
"I'm not ready to throw the gavel down yet sir. I need more evidence."
"Who catches a recorder like that, out of the air? Why is he searching the wreckage? Too many things... add up."
"There is the issue of his name. His citizen card is issued as Andee Star. And of course the DNA, it's not a match. It could all be just a coincidence."
"No, I don't think so. How come we don't have new DNA tests done yet? It's been three weeks."
"Our operative encountered some difficulties, but it will be done."
"Under normal circumstances I would say your operative isn't living up to the hype, but with these two..." But Brandberd seems to lose himself in deep thought watching Andee and Nayaa searching the stones.
"He'll get it. We'll have our samples." The Commander responds.
"We've waited for this moment so long, it better be sooner than later. And from now on keep those dammed recorders at a distance."
"Yes Governor."

"Look!" Andee rushes to Nayaa excited.
"I don't want to see your disgusting bug. Those things are gross. You used to shove them down my blouse you dork. You think I'm torturing you now? Try being me when you were twelve." Nayaa is backing away disgusted and a bit saddened by her memory.
"Ok, point taken. I was pretty mean to you, but this is not a bug."
"Then what is it?"
"Look at it."
"If this is a trick and that's some nasty bug, I'll kick you in the bells so hard they'll be ringing your ears deaf into tomorrow."
"I'm serious, look." Nayaa cautiously leans forward, big terrified eyes, and takes a quick glance at Andee's palm. It's a little sky-blue sphere, the size of a finger tip, with two sets of transparent little propellers around its diameter. They look like tiny counter rotating bee wings.
"That's the strangest looking insect I've ever seen."
"That's because it is not an insect."
Nayaa gets closer. She picks it up and inspects it.
"You're right. It's a little machine. And it was just flying?"
"Let me see it." She hands it back to Andee. He places it on a boulder, then with another, he smashes it.
"Why did you do that?"
"To see what's inside. I have a suspicion." He looks at the cracked and bent ball. It has one eye below the counter rotating little propellers, that's busted now.
"So, what do you think?" Nayaa asks awaiting Andee's decision.
"I'm not sure, exactly, but I think this is a recorder. It would explain how they recorded me during the rescue. It's so small, and the blue color makes it vanish against sky."
"If that's a recorder, do you think someone was watching us."
"Probably."
"Why?"
"Dun'no. But, lets go."
Nayaa starts to head up.
"Wrong way. We're going to Old Tom's." Pointing to the sheds he showed her earlier at the edge of the township.
"Cool, we'll be there in no time. So you happy now?"
"Happy why?"
"Did you find what you were looking for?"
"I don't know."
"I helped. I found this card. Maybe it's important." Nayaa holds it up with a proud smirk.
"I doubt it. It's jut a piece of plastic."
Nayaa pouts, folding her arms, turning her happy smile into a glare at Andee. He takes off. She follows a few steps behind.
They walk quietly for a while. She is inspecting the rectangular card. It's smooth but has some horizontal groves on the left side. On the right, near the edge, it has a four pointed diamond-shaped notch. She runs her thumb round the edges of the notch, than places the flat part of the thumb it in it. It feels comfortable, like the notch is a little grip handle. Satisfied, she places the card in her satchel and once again starts staring at Andee from behind, but this time she looks angry. She skips ahead a few steps till she's next to him.
"What's your problem?" She snaps at him out of the blue.
"Great." Andee's face drops. "I'm really not interested in another one of you moody-moods."
"It not me. It's you." She snaps at him with an accusatory tone.
"OK, so what did I do now?"
"It's not what you did, it's... there's something wrong with you."
"Whatever is going on in your head, I'm not interested." Andee counters dismissively without looking at her.
"I know what's wrong with you." But Andee ignores her. "I know the truth."
"Good for you."
"I'm serious."
"It was so much better when you were quiet. I don't want to hear it." Andee speeds up and leaves her behind. They walk this way for a minute or so, but then Nayaa leaps forward and rejoins Andee. She looks at him casually and...
"Are you gay?"
Confused, Andee looks around for a moment, then at Nayaa. "Are you talking to me?"
"No, I was asking than boulder right here, of course I'm talking to you. Are you gay?"
Andee scrunches his face and shakes his head in disbelief but does not respond.
"Hello, gay? Are you gay?"
"Got it. I heard you the first three times."
"Well?"
"Well?" Andee repeats with a mocking intonation.
"I'm serious."
"No you're not."
"You don't like girls. You only hang out with older ones because they remind you of your mom."
"Wha... what is wrong with you?"
"It's a simple question, yes or no. Or-or... are you confused? Not really sure.... hummm.... maybe, you want to..."
"No! Hell no! I'm not gay, damned it!" He finally yells infuriated.
"Hey relax, it doesn't matter to me. But, most gay guys have a girl best friend, and we're besties. So I was hopping you'd come shopping with me. I still have some credits left, and I need to make a new jacket, and you could help me find good leather and accessories..."
"Shut up! I don't give a punk about your god damned jacket. I am not gay. What the hell? Where's this coming from now?"
"Oh, well, I really thought you were. It would explain a few things tho."
"Explain what?"
"Never mind. You're fragile right now. Coming out is always difficult."
Andee shakes her off, looks away towards the far away Crags, distancing himself from her as much as he can.
"OK, I guess I'll tell you if you really want to know." Nayaa tries to coax him back into conversation after a moment of silence.
"I don't."
"Maybe you're not that gay. Just a little gay."
"Fine. What about me is... a little gay?"
"Well, first of all your mom said you were gay."
"Wha-wut-wah... ah-shut the punk up. You're stupid. My mom would never say that."
"OK then, it's other things."
"Like what?"
"Lots of things."
"Lots of things? Name one."
"Well for starters, you like older women. Gay men love to hang out with old women."
"Wha... where do you come up with this stuff? What is happening in that brain of yours?"
"It's true."
"No it's not true. Where have you seen that?"
"Dandee is gay, and he's always hanging out at his grandma's house? And..."
"He lives there! It's closer to school! His parents live in the East End. You're demented. I mean, how... how could you possibly even conceive of such a thing?"
"I notice things. "
"You notice things?"
"Sure."
"Things that no one else sees."
"Sometimes."
"So you see things that aren't there?"
"Yeah OK, I see where you're going. Nope, that would be you. You're the one seeing an imaginary, I might add, handsome man in blue."
"Oh my god-I never said he was handsome."
"I bet he is, and wearing blue, in fact a blue robe!" Emphasizing her words with big eyes. "That is so gay."
"I don't... I don't even know what to say. You're insane." Andee throws his arms up discombobulated.
"He's clearly the man of your dreams, since you keep dreaming about him." Emphasizing her words with giant eyes and a triple lift of her brows. "But you can't admit you're true desire."
"Go away! Seriously. Go!"
"It's OK, just remember, there's nothing wrong with being gay. You're my buddy, we'll always be buds." Putting her left arm in a friendly hug around his shoulders. Andee shoves her away.
"Don't touch me, you're being crazy again."
"OK, I understand. You don't want to be touched by a woman."
"Ahhhhrrrr." Andee groans in frustration. "Go away!'
Nayaa starts busting out laughing. "You're soooo... way-too uptight. You need to relax. I'm just messing with you."
"Great. That's wonderful. Keep messing with me. That's what I need right now."
"Yeah you do. You need to chill. You gay dork."
"No! You need to know when to stop. Didn't you just apologize for that earlier?"
"Yeah, but you're the problem."
"Oh really, me?"
"You need to relax. We're just talking. They're just words. I don't understand why you get so wound up." She takes a introspective moment. "To think of it, you're the most tightly wound gay man I know."
Andee's face and eyes cringe as he stares her down with venom. "It's because of you. If I messed with you like this you'd be just as mad as I am."
"You can't get to me." With a lisp; "I'm not as sensitive as you."
"Really? Oh, I'm not a little girl, stop calling me a little girl."
"I'm sixteen dude. Call me a little girl all you want, I'm a woman."
"My hair, don't touch my hair." Andee mocks her fiddling with her hair.
"I don't care. It's just hair." She swings her head flaunting her hair unconcerned. Andee leaps reaching for it, but she swiftly bounds out of the way and takes off like a bandit. Andee takes chase after her. She's fast but Andee is faster and is on her heels. He reaches out and grabs her flowing cape. She slides out of her jacket and leaps up off a boulder, but Andee dives off the next one catching her in mid air, from behind, in a bear hug. They land locked together and stumble forward. Andee twists so that he falls in the sandy dirt on his back, with Nayaa on her back on top of him. She struggles to escape but he tosses her to the side on her back in the sand, and then straddles her, pinning her arms back. He's got her immobile under him.
"I got you! You think you can mess with me?"
"You got me? What are you gon'a to do?" She smiles. "Hmm? What? You gon'a kiss me?" She challenges him with a big grin, then closes her eyes and puckers her lips awaiting the kiss.
Andee grits his teeth. "You're impossible." Then lets her go and gets up. Nayaa laughs out loud, casually rises, and walks back to her jacket while cleaning the sand off her clothes.
Andee looks at her shaking his head in frustration. Nayaa similes and winks at him as she puts on her jacket.
"I can't win with you." Andee mumbles staring right through her.
"No you can't." She responds with a big smile approaching him. "Might as well just play along."
"You know what, fine."
"You admit you're gay?"
Andee stares at her with a big smile, than starts to laugh.
"You know, I never really realized this."
"That you're gay?"
Laughing. "It's not working any more. You're actually funny. You make me laugh. From now on, when you come up with these stupid jokes of yours, I'll laugh. I'll have a good time."
"A gay time?"
"Yes a gay time. Nayaa you make me gay. Yes you. Every time I look at you, I feel so gay." Nayaa frowns.
"Now, I don't like it."
"I do."
Nayaa gets quiet and walks past Andee. He follows still laughing. After a few minutes of walking in silence, he runs up next to her.
"Wow you haven't said a thing for like five minutes. Must be a record."
Nayaa twists her lips to the side with an 'I'm not impressed' look on her face.
"I won, for good this time." Andee delivers his words with a smirk.
Nayaa cracks a smile. "We'll see."

Mykee and Mirceu are sitting in the shade of the cliff towards the end of Old Tom's yard just before the alcama barn. The natural stone wall is only half as tall here, about 5 meters. Andee and Nayaa approach from beyond the barn.
Mirceu looks up and skips the greets excitedly. "This thing is amazing!" He yells at the two pointing at Mykee's white panel. "We're watching the old race. When he touches these little windows it shows the race from different angles. It's amazing." He continues excited pointing at the lit up screen as Andee and Nayaa stop above them looking down at the screen in Mykee's lap.
"I know, we've been watching all the races over the last few weeks. It is amazing."
"I want to see." Nayaa interjects and seats next to Mykee, but Mykee pulls just slightly away from her. Unfazed she leans closer. Andee squats in front of Mykee and opens his palm showing him the little flying robot ball.
"Ever seen something like this?" Andee asks while Mykee leans forward covering the screen in his lap. His eyes turn round.
"Wow, what's that?" Mykee's eyes open wide with wonder. Nayaa gently pulls the vidrom out of his lap and into her own. He is too focused on Andee's palm to notice or care in the moment.
"I think I know, but what do you think?"
"Is it from the ship?"
"No, it was flying over, watching us."
"Really? Is it a recorder?"
"That's what I think. I want to show it to Old Tom."
Nayaa is messing around with the vidrom, opening and closing windows.
"Hey, that's mine." Mykee snatches it away from her with force. "Go away. You'll just break it." Nayaa jumps to her feet.
"You're a snotty little guy. Here. I got this for you. Thanks for your crap attitude." And she offers him the card. He looks at it for a second, unsure, frowns, but than grabs it. She steps back annoyed.
"She found that at the crash site, in the crevice where the bubble crashed. It doesn't look like a broken part. It looks like its own thing." Andee interjects.
"I know what it is."
"You do?" Andee responds surprised.
"I found the instructions of how this vidrom works in one of the windows. This is called a memory card. It goes in here." Mykee slides it into a slot on the right side. It slides 80% of the way in with a gentle click. The exposed 20% is the section with the diamond bevel. A grey window appears on screen with a word flowed by a rectangular box.
"Keyword? What's that?" Andee asks.
"I don't know." Mykee shakes his head. He pulls the card out and the window disappears. He puts the card back in and the window reappears.
"Key... word, huh?" Nayaa muses as she returns and leans over looking down at the screen. "Maybe it's like a key, and that's a door."
"What do you mean?" Andee asks.
"Whatever. That makes no sense." Mykee dismisses her. Ignoring Mykee she continues.
"Like a door. Doors have keys, no? Mykee said those were windows, well what if that's a door." Pointing to the grey digital square onscreen. "It says right there, key... word. Maybe you need a word, like a key, to unlock that grey door."
"That's dumb. Go away. You're stupid. Go tumble or something." Mykee snaps at Nayaa.
"Dude!" Andee gently whacks Mykee on the side of his head. "What's your problem? You snapped at her this morning, and now... what's your deal?"
"Nothing!" Mykee mumbles locking his face and eyes on the screen in his lap.
"No, you're being a punk. What's your problem?"
"You two are jerks, especially her." He snaps at Andee.
Nayaa looks around as if her eyes are following a mosquito, with a mockingly incredulous expression. She ends her movement by staring at Mirceu, one eyebrow raised in a question mark. Mirceu shrugs his shoulders with a grin.
Andee seats next to Mykee pointing to the makeshift vidrom in his hand. "Have I ever put you down for liking tech and being good at it? Have I?"
"No."
"Of course not. That's your talent, and I'm proud of you. And I have my talent, and Nayaa has hers. Why are you knocking it? Is it not because of us that you have this piece, and Mirceu?"
"I guess."
"So don't be a little arrogant bastard cuz you're smarter than us when it comes to tech. We all have our own talents, and we all have to work together. And Nayaa is just joking around. Lighten up little man. Life's hard enough as it is. With that attitude you're only making it harder for yourself." Nayaa standing in front of them nods her head up and down in exaggerated agreement.
"Now if only there was someone to give Andee the same brilliant advice." She adds then looks up to the cliffs. "Oh wait, someone did, just that a wile ago, right up..." ... but her words are cut short as Andee sweeps both her feet forward and up from behind her heels, with a leg sweep from his sitting position. Nayaa falls flat on her bum buttressed by her hands. She turns to Andee with a hard glare, but she seems more angry at herself for being caught off guard..
"I win, again." Andee smirks at her while Mirceu howls with laughter.
"See there little brother. She messes with us, but we can mess right back with her."
Nayaa jumps to her feet and wipes the dust off her butt.
"I guess. But you guys are really distracting. I really want to figure this out, but with you two clowning it's impossible."
"Ok, I get that." Then looking up to Nayaa. "You promise not to clown around when he's trying to figure things out."
"Dude! I wasn't clowning about what I said. Tell him to put the card back in. You'll see. That grey door says, key... word. So there's got to be a word that is the key that opens that up."
"I'm right here you can talk to me directly." Mykee snarls at Nayaa from under his breath.
With a childish mocking tone. "I thought you didn't want me talking to you because I'm stupid, and I'll break your brain. And if I touch your toy I'll break it with my finger. And if I seat next to you, I'll break your butt." Andee gives her a disapproving look, but with a grin. Mirceu is howling with laughter. And Mykee, his eyes are locked on his display. He puts the card back in. He studies the grey window for a while.
"Ok, sorry. Maybe you're right." Mykee speaks after a moment of silence from everyone.
"Wait. Are you apologizing to me?" Nayaa asks surprised.
"Don't push it." Andee snaps at her. She rolls her eyes.
"Actually, it does make sense." Mykee starts speaking without looking up. "If you want to hide information there is no way to lock it with an actual key, but a word... you know there's so many words. It could be any one."
"Try, 'Andee's gay'." Nayaa suggests with a straight face. Andee facepalms his forehead.
"You promised you wouldn't clown when he's trying to figure stuff out."
"Oh yeah, I did. I forgot. Sorry Mykee. I'll walk over there. I'll just stand over there. I'll count the junk." Nayaa apologetically shuffles back and away.
"Alright little brother. I'll let you work on this. I know you'll figure it out." Mykee nods his head without taking his face off the screen. Andee stands up but turns back to Mykee. "You coming to the outcrop with us tomorrow, or you gon'a watch the races from home, alone, on your new toy?"
"Maybe I'll come."
"Good. It'll be fun. Maybe there will be another crash. You can't experience that at home, or in the West Market stands. How about you Mirceu, you coming?"
"I can't. I'll be in the Crags, waiting for another ship to crash. Mykee here needs more parts. He's building a ship."
"I know. One day. He'll get it." Andee pats him on the back and steps away.

Adinaa is sitting on a stool next to Tom's work table facing him. Tom is sitting in his chair and they both look troubled.
"Tom I was really hoping you would dispel my worry, but now... I feel worse."
"I wish I could say, everything will be fine, but I can't."
"What if it is just a coincidence?"
"I don't see how. I mean... how?"
"I don't know. Maybe the name was already in the database. Someone before our time. And..." But Adinaa is unable to finish her sentence seemingly overwhelmed by concern.
"At this point, I think we have to assume the worst. And we have to take every precaution we can." Old Tom responds resigned.
"What? What precaution? This was our precaution." Adinaa counters agitated, and then continues despondent. "But it was all a waste of time."
"If they know."
"Unless it's a coincidence, but like you said, it's hard to imagine. They know." Adinaa speaks her words with the weight of the world on her shoulders.
"What do they know?" Andee's voice cuts the tension between Adinaa and Tom. Both jump back out of their seats, even Old Tom, as if a bungee cord was just severed between them. At the same time a beep goes off. Andee stares at them shaking his head in disbelief,  still standing in the open doorway. He than casually walks to them with Nayaa following. He starts looking around.
"What's that sound?"
"Nothing, I think one of the devices..." Old Tom responds but goes silent when Andee stops between them and opens his palm without a word. Old Tom leans forward looking at the little object. He quickly snatches it out of Andee's hand, places it on his desk, and smashes it with a hammer. The beeping alarm goes off. Andee looks at Old Tom, than at his mom, completely dumbfounded.
"What the hell is going on around here?" Andee snaps at the two. Old Tom picks up the smashed ball and lifts it up at eye level, between himself and Andee.
"Where did you get this?"
"Was this at the door?" Adinaa asks pointing at the device, her face horrified.
Andee studies her expression for a moment. "No. It was following us, at the crash site."
"You went back out there?" Old Tom looks down at the object in his palm. Reading Tom's reaction Andee confirms.
"So it is a recorder. Ok, no more secrets. These recorders are following us around. Maybe they're even in here. We're going to look for these things, and after we find them all, you're going to tell us the truth. All of it." Andee nudges to Nayaa to get ready to search.
"That won't be necessary." Tom interjects.
"Oh?" Andee frowns.
"I have sensors that can detect these things. That's why the alarm went off when you walked in."
"So it was still recording? I smashed it with a rock."
"It had a signal, but it was damaged, so I doubt it was recording."
"OK, now you really have to tell me everything."
"No." Adinaa immediately responds.
"NO! Are you kidding me! NO? Are you crazy? You could have told me these things existed. Then I would have known to hide from them, or catch them before they recorded me. Don't you get it? Keeping me in the dark puts me in more danger. You're not saving me. You're making things worse for me!" Andee is nearly shouting at his mom he is so agitated.
"Yeah this is real weird. Why are you guys keeping secrets?" Nayaa interjects.
Adinaa turns to Old Tom looking for some kind of resolution. Old Tom simply nods his head up and down. Adinaa releases a deep breath.
"Have a seat Andee. I'll tell you what I can." She offers.
"Ok finally!" And he takes a seat.
"There used to be a troublemaker, back in the day, when I was young, that was really hated by the Bitani, and his name was Starfighter. The Bitani banished everyone with that name, even if they weren't related to him, because they didn't want to take a chance. If their records are screwed up somehow, then maybe they think you are part of that group. If you keep visiting the crash sites, and sneak into their warehouses, they'll think you're one of them, and one day they'll banish you." Adinaa finishes her words staring hard at Andee, while his eyes are directed down, looking at the floor.
"Son, banishment is no joke." Old Tom continues. "The truth is, it's a death sentence. You've seen those deserts out there. There's nothing. No way to survive. And the few people that do, go mad, live in caves, some even become cannibals. It's horrible out there."
"Is that why the Flatlands become that Badlands once past the lower city perimeter?" Andee asks finally lifting his glare from the ground for a moment.
"Yes." Adinaa answers.
"Absolutely." Tom confirms. "I've been out there. Long ago. The only people that survive in the Badlands are pirates and troublemakers. There's many clans of them. They fight among each other, and sometimes they raid the farms in the East End. Sometimes the warehouses in the West End. They survive any way they can. They'll eat alcamas, ghimurs, and anything else they can get."
"Were you serious about cannibals?" Nayaa asks with big round eyes.
"Absolutely. Imagine living in a cave for months, alone, with nothing to eat. You're not going to care if it's an alcama or a person, you'll kill it and eat it, or die."
"Wow, that sounds terrible." Nayaa nods her head gently.
"That's what banishment means."
"In some ways it's worse than death." Adinaa ads.
Andee has been listening quietly with is face hanging low, eyes down. "What if dad's out there?" He muses quietly. Adinaa and Tom look at each other, but only for a moment.
"Why would you say that?" Adinaa asks her son.
"I guess that's what I always kind'a thought. People don't just vanish. I thought maybe he was lost in the Badlands, and one day, he might find his way back." Adinaa leans in and grabs him in a hug. Nayaa joins them. Old Tom just pats him on the back.


End of Chapter 5                    next              Chapter 6: The Junker

No comments:

Post a Comment