23. A New Life

Chapter 23

A New Life

            The first thing Nel realized was that she felt really cold. What came after that was a lingering pain in her side, signifying that she wasn’t dead. Feeling very groggy, the spy tried to get her bearings and came to the conclusion that she was lying in a bed somewhere. She decided that she must’ve survived the Vendeeni attack and that someone had carried her to a place where she could get medical help.

She tried to open her eyes- only to find that it was too bright to do so. As more of her awareness returned to her, she soon sensed that there were other people in the room. She was stunned to discover that one of the voices belonged to Maria. The other one she didn’t recognize at all.

“How are they?” the blue haired girl wondered, sounding rather close to the spy.

“They have both stabilized and are expected to make a full recovery,” a female voice (perhaps the doctor) said before she gave a full report. “The girl suffered worse injuries, but I was able to repair her damaged organs and synthesize new skin to cover her side- she shouldn’t notice anything amiss.”

“And Albel?” Maria queried, reminding Nel that he had been shot too.

“Nothing major was hit. He just lost a good amount of flesh and a quite a bit of blood- that much was easy to replace. But…” The woman trailed off, sounding unsure about something. “I noticed something …strange when I removed his gauntlet. His arm was covered in blood stained bandages.”

“Did he sustain other injuries?” the girl inquired as she seemed to puzzle over the sudden mystery.

“No. He has a prosthetic arm- there’s nothing there that should be bleeding. And the stains seem rather old.”

It took Nel a moment to figure out what the lady was describing. Albel was wearing the stained bandages she used when she was on her last monthly cycle. She was stunned to find that the Wicked One had been serious about wanting to ‘wear the blood of his lady’ and actually wrapped it around his new arm. She could feel her cheeks getting warm and hoped that the others present in the room didn’t notice.

“Hmm… I didn’t know he had a prosthetic arm. I suppose that explains why he never takes off his claw. I suppose it’s better to leave them on- he’ll be upset enough to find that we’ve disarmed him,” Maria suggested.

“Yes, Captain.”

Nel idly listened as the girl thanked the doctor and told her that she could go rest. This gave the spy the impression that a lot of time had passed and that it was possibly late. Or perhaps it was morning…

It wasn’t long before both had left the room, leaving her to finally open her eyes and observe her surroundings. It hurt at first to let the light in her pupils, but the pain gradually faded and she adjusted. Though it didn’t help that everything in the room was pristine white. With a light grunt, she willed her body to move and sit up on the bed she was resting on.

All it took was one glance to realize that she was obviously not on her planet anymore. She was surrounded by strange machines and advanced versions of common objects like beds and chairs. Had she been taken to their ship? Funny… she hadn’t pictured a room like this one when imagining the inside of an alien vessel. She thought everything would look more like the research lab in Aquios, but then she figured that she was probably in a medical lab. The room did give off the cold and sanitary feeling of one.

She glanced down at herself and found that her armor was gone- as well as most of her clothing. She was dressed in a strange white cloth that only covered her front half. Underneath it she still had her underwear and stockings on. She also had bandages wrapped around her torso to protect the new wound she had.

“Are you disappointed, death seeker? You’re still alive,” a deep voice commented beside her. Her head whipped over to the source and found that Albel was lying down on a bed next to hers. Sure enough, she was able to see the blood stained wrappings around his prosthetic arm and the new bandages that bound his right shoulder and went across the neck to cover some of his chest. It seemed the blast missed his armor and hit close to the upper part of his pectoral. She noticed that whomever undressed him made sure that almost everything that was considered a weapon was taken off. All he had left on was his sarong and leggings.

Nel seriously thought about his question. Just hours (maybe even days?) ago she was prepared to accept her fate and waited to die. But as she said her prayers to Apris and thought about her father, something welled up inside her and she felt like she just couldn’t let go of herself. It was like something deep inside told her that it wasn’t her time yet, and that she still had things to do. Did she have too many regrets that forced her to cling to life?

“I…” she started to mutter, unsure of what to say, “I don’t know why, but… I’m glad to be alive. I thought I was prepared for it, but I guess I wasn’t ready to die yet.”

Albel made a ‘hn’ sound as he sat up and rolled his bandaged shoulder. He then examined his surroundings before he stared back at the spy and replied, “You did say that you couldn’t leave your maggot-infested country at its darkest hour.”

“I didn’t say it like that,” she retorted as she narrowed her eyes at him. But he did have a point.

Perhaps the reason she couldn’t move on was because she felt that she still had to protect Aquaria. …But the war was over- what use was she now? Who needed to be saved? Sure- she had made a few plans to entertain herself for the time being, but she was trained to work on the battlefield and to gather intelligence for her queen. She couldn’t easily adapt to the life of a soldier at peace.

“I suppose Apris still has a purpose for me somewhere,” she muttered, deciding to rely on that logic.

“Bah, what would some sun god care if you live or die?” Albel scoffed at her as he shook his head. Nel closed her eyes and chose to ignore him.

She was well aware that he questioned her faith and sneered down at those who prayed, but she didn’t see any point in trying to educate him. Anything she could use to argue Apris’ existence and power would just go in one ear and out the other. Nel wasn’t as religious as some of her other comrades, but she still believed and prayed like any good Aquarian citizen should. However she was also open-minded enough to accept people like Albel and simply tolerate their opinions. At least the Wicked One wasn’t forcing anyone to see his views.

Nel was jolted out of her reverie at the sound of a crash and she turned to glare at Albel. He had been toying with some small object on a small table near his bed and let it fall over and shatter. The spy quickly glanced over to what seemed to be the doorway and was stunned to discover that no one was investigating the noise. Perhaps the walls were thick enough to where no one could hear it…

“What are you doing?” she asked in a hiss as she turned her attention back to the dark warrior.

“Hmph. I was just examining it- I would’ve thought their race would be advanced enough to create objects more durable than that.”

“You shouldn’t deliberately break things- you might make the others angry,” Nel warned when he reached out to touch yet another foreign object. He scoffed at her again.

“They’re probably expecting it. We are primitive beings compared to them,” he said dismissively before he decided to leave the device alone and get out of bed. The spy shook her head at his logic. Fayt and the others never treated them as if they were primitive- he just wanted an excuse to poke around. Come to think of it- he had to explore her room, too. …Hopefully he didn’t break anything of hers.

It wasn’t long before he found his shirt and leggings along with her clothes. But it seemed their weapons and armor weren’t in the same room with them- probably for a good reason. Everyone must’ve been worried that Albel would get upset upon waking up and sought to make sure he didn’t have access to anything that could harm others.

He tossed her clothes over to her before he began dressing himself. Nel decided to pull the white material off her and follow suit. She didn’t care if Albel saw her topless, though she did worry that someone could come through the doors at any moment.

Before she could get her tunic on, Albel stopped her and lifted her halter shirt up some so he could see her wrapped torso. “Does it hurt?”

“A little, but I can ignore it,” she replied as she watched him gently run his human hand along her side. She caught the look of guilt in his eyes and then remembered the words they’d shared before they passed out. She wasn’t sure if he had heard her or really acknowledged them. “It’s not your fault. If you recall, I was the one who suggested that we help them. The fact that I got injured only meant that I was careless.”

“Even so, I don’t want to see you in that near death state again- not unless I’m the one who caused it.”

She grimly smiled at his declaration. He liked being morbid, but his proclamation of wanting to destroy his friends and loved ones was his way of saying he didn’t want anyone to die.

“I wasn’t the only one who was injured,” she reminded him with a wry grin. “Make sure you take care of yourself, too.”

“Hmph. I don’t get into as much trouble as you do.” He smirked back at her as he pulled away and let her finish getting dressed. When she was done, he gestured to the door with a nod and said, “Let’s go.”

“Go? Go where?” the spy wondered as she slowly got out of bed.

“To find the fools. I’d like to know where they’re planning to go,” he replied as he glanced back at her. She paused when she recognized that glint in his eyes. Was he really insinuating that he wanted to go with Fayt and the others?

“Why?” she inquired before she clarified, “Why do you want to go with them?”

“I’d like to see these other worlds the fools came from. It’s not like I have anything better to do back home- and I could come to an understanding of what dangers these advanced worms might bring should they ever come to our planet,” he explained, proving that his sudden decision wasn’t made on a whim. Some part of her wasn’t surprised that he would view it as a chance to scope out any potential enemies.

“But what about Elicoor? Don’t you think your king might need you?” she inquired as she tried to recall any urgent tasks that needed to be tended to, but her mind drew a blank. There was nothing to do back home- nothing for both of them.

“I’m not needed there- and the tasks we’ve come up with at the facility are only minor ones that don’t need our immediate attention,” he told her as he shook his head. He then gazed at her with half-lidded eyes and added in a mocking tone, “but if you want to stay, then I suppose that’s fine. I’m sure you’ll enjoy the long peace talks with Woltar.”

Nel glared at him before she reflected on the fact that he wanted her to come along with him. She had thought that he was volunteering himself, but now it was a different story if he believed they should both go. The spy would only be lying to herself if she insisted that she wasn’t the slightest bit curious about what was out there beyond the stars.

But… what would the others do without them? Maybe they weren’t needed right then, but what if something came up while they were away? It wasn’t as if Nel was important- Clair could easily take care of things while she was away. But Albel was actually rather essential to Airyglyph- if not as the next in line for the throne, then as someone who would take on rebels to the treaty.

“It’s not that I don’t want to go- I’m just concerned about leaving all of a sudden. Anything could happen,” Nel defended as she shook her head.

“Now here’s a first- you’re actually thinking ahead. What’s the matter death seeker? Did your near death experience change you for the better? It’s not like you to hesitate on something you know that needs to be done,” he taunted, making her eyes widen at his words.

He was right- this wasn’t like her. But she didn’t think it had anything to do with the fact that she survived the wound the Vendeeni inflicted upon her. It was more like the final thoughts she had about her father reminded her that her priorities had always been for the prosperity of Aquaria. Just thinking about leaving her country made her think that she was breaking the vow she made to her father.

But- in a way, she wouldn’t be breaking that promise if she were going just to see what the other worlds were like. There was no guarantee that another race like the Vendeeni wouldn’t come to their planet and desire the Sacred Orb. This was a good time to go out there and see for herself what capabilities other creatures had so that her planet could better defend against them.

Furthermore, wherever Fayt and the others were going could most likely be dangerous. That alone was enough to make Nel want to volunteer her services and help her friends. And- as much as she didn’t want to admit it, she didn’t want to be left behind and end up missing Albel all over again. She knew she would be bored without him.

In the end, everything was just an excuse- she wanted to go and some part of her knew she would regret it if she let her doubts stop her. She then smiled some as she nodded once to herself.

“You have a point. I suppose I cannot let you go alone and bring back some advantage for your kingdom to have over mine. Let’s go find them and see if they’ll let us stay,” she suggested before she and Albel headed towards the door to find the others.

***************************************

Their technological advances were amazing. Nel was astounded as she traveled through the ship with Albel on her search for Fayt- or anyone she knew. The doors slid open, objects seemed to float in midair- it was all mind blowing to the Elicoorian. Albel seemed much less impressed and stayed focused on trying to figure out which room the others were in.

It wasn’t long before they began to come across crewmembers that instantly knew they were the ‘guests’ their captain allowed to come on the ship. One of them was kind enough to show the way to where Maria was last seen going. They ended up going down some stairs to a floor below where there was another set of doors lining the center.

Nel initially thought that the doors and walls were soundproof, but she was able to hear voices in the room that the crewmember pointed out. The spy thanked the helpful person and gestured Albel to wait a bit so she could listen in on the conversation and make sure they weren’t intruding on something important.

“…His father just died, you know! How about a little more sympathy?”

There was a familiar voice again, but Nel didn’t have time to reflect on it as the information hit her. It didn’t take much for her to figure out that Fayt’s father was dead, poor boy…

“Fayt, your father left something to the two of us! What are you going to do about it?” Maria demanded, her tone sounding both frustrated and pained. It was clear that she was also distraught over Dr. Leingod’s passing despite the fact that she didn’t really know him that closely.

Nel didn’t hear any response from the blue haired boy and wondered if he was okay. She then mentally chided herself- of course he wouldn’t be okay. She spent at least three days privately mourning her own father before she decided to take on his work. Fayt should be no different even though he had seen his fair share of death since coming to Elicoor.

“I don’t care what you do. I’m going to Moonbase. …Even if I have to go alone!” Maria declared after she grew tired with waiting for the boy to make a decision.

“Sorry.” Fayt’s voice was very withdrawn, betraying his inner grief over the situation. “I’ll go, too…to Moonbase. We’ll go get whatever my father left behind.”

Nel could only silently admire his strength. The boy had had little time to grieve, and still so much he has to accomplish. It was going to be hard for him, but she was sure he would be fine in no time. But until he was able to really come to terms with his father’s death, he was going to need all the support he could get.

She leaned against the doorframe, being careful not to activate the door, as Maria muttered out a grateful, but saddened, “Good.”

“Fayt… Maria has a point. It’s not like you to be so depressed. But…don’t be too hard on yourself.”

The spy had to shake her head as she heard that. Whoever that girl was, she obviously hadn’t lost someone important to her. How else should one act shortly after a death? But then she figured that the girl was merely trying to cheer Fayt up. She probably meant to say that it wasn’t in his nature to stay depressed for long, but didn’t know how to properly get the words out. She did sound rather young so she might’ve been clumsy with speech.

“All right,” Cliff suddenly said, revealing his presence within the room. “So it’s off to Moonbase, then?”

Albel moved to rest his arm on the other side of the doorframe as Maria gave her reply. He accidentally got close enough to open the door, but it was about time for them to reveal themselves. Everyone in the room turned to look at them as Albel commented with a grin, “Moonbase, hmm? Sounds interesting. I think I’m ready for a new world.”

“Huh, what did you just say?” Fayt queried, both surprised at his words and his presence.

“Do you know what you’re saying? You might never make it back home again!” Maria warned them as they walked inside. The room was a little tight closer to the exit, so Nel was almost stuck behind the Wicked One.

But she was able to see the blue haired girl from where she was standing as she replied, “We realize that.”

While Albel didn’t reveal much of his thoughts, the spy knew he was just as fully aware as she was that there were dangers out there that could get them killed. The injuries they’ve sustained from the Vendeeni were proof of that. But Nel wasn’t going to let that stop her- danger never deterred her before from missions and she was resolved to go.

“I don’t think you understand what you’re getting into,” Cliff replied as he shook his head. She wasn’t shocked to hear him feel that way- what they were asking for did seem rather sudden.

“Thanks to all of you, we were able to end the war, but now there is no longer a need for us. I want to pay you back for your help by coming with you. As for Albel…” She trailed off as he decided to take over.

“There’s no excitement left in Airyglyph, so I gotta find it elsewhere. You got that, worms?”

“Yeah, but…” Fayt paused to think it over.

“But it’s a different matter if you think we’ll weigh you down,” the dark warrior added, willing to accept that if it was the reason they shouldn’t go. Even though they wanted to see other worlds, neither one wanted to be a burden.

“You won’t be in the way, but still…” the Klausian muttered, seeming to be against their coming along. Nel had to wonder why. If he didn’t think they would hold them back, then what was the problem? Maybe he was worried that they wouldn’t adapt or get seriously hurt like before…

“I think…it’s a good idea,” Fayt responded, sounding a little happier.

“Huh?”

“You sure?” the girl beside him inquired with curiosity. From where Nel was standing, she couldn’t see what she looked like.

“Yeah. I think so.” The spy wished he could act more certain about his decision, but forgave him since he was still distraught. At least their appearance distracted him some in a positive way.

“Fine. If that’s how you feel, I’ve no objections,” Maria replied with a smile to the Elicoorians. She tried to seem like she didn’t particularly care, but her appearance said otherwise- she was glad to have them join as well.

“Ok, what can you do?” Cliff muttered in a defeated tone as he shrugged. He knew the two warriors could handle themselves and decided not to worry about it anymore.

“Good to have you with us,” Fayt declared as he walked closer to them.

“Good to be here,” Nel replied gratefully as Albel ‘hmph’ed at him.

The spy almost jumped when a strange beeping noise resounded from the side. Maria and the others glanced over to some green panel and she followed suit.

“Yes?” the girl called out, giving Nel the impression that the sound was some kind of messaging device.

Mirage’s voice was soon heard, seeming to come from thin air like that disembodied voice Maria often talked to before she left Elicoor the first time.

Incoming communication from the Aquaelie… What do you want to do?

“I’ll be right there,” she replied.

Nel and Albel had to leave first so that the others could get out. One by one, everyone filed out and headed for the stairs, but Nel had to double take when she noticed the last person out.

“Ameena?” she shouted in surprise as her eyes widened and her heart stopped for a moment. How could this be possible? Ameena was dead!

The young brunette jumped at the tone of her voice before she appeared confused. “Uhh…I think you have the wrong person.”

Fayt quickly came to the girl’s side and explained the situation. “Sorry, you guys haven’t been introduced yet- this is my long time friend, Sophia. Sophia, this is Nel and Albel. They’re both warriors from neighboring kingdoms on Elicoor II.”

“Pleased to meet you,” the girl said in a polite tone before she bowed to them.

“Likewise,” Nel responded as she returned the bow. Albel just grunted in acknowledgement and remained silent behind the spy. She recalled Fayt mentioning before how his friend looked a lot like Ameena, but she didn’t think the likeness would’ve been that identical. Sophia was practically a doppelganger of the sickly girl, but she appeared to be in much better health. Even her voice and mannerisms were similar.

“No wonder why you reacted the way you did- she really does look like her,” the spy declared as she crossed her arms. She could only imagine how the blue haired boy felt when he had seen Ameena pass away- it must’ve really felt like he had lost his childhood friend at the time.

“Yeah…” Fayt muttered, his eyes darkening some as he remembered the frail flower girl. Nel suddenly wished she had kept her mouth shut- she didn’t need to remind the boy of his losses.

“Um… Who are you talking about? Is there someone out there that looks like me?” Sophia inquired as she glanced from Fayt to Nel. She didn’t catch the depressed look on the boy’s face- or rather she wasn’t sure if his tone was related to the conversation since he was just grieving moments ago over his father.

Fayt nodded and quickly tried to feign a cheerful tone. “Yeah. There was a girl in Nel’s country that looked and sounded just like you. I was really surprised when I had met her.”

“Oh, I see.” Sophia smiled some as she clasped her hands behind her. She seemed glad to see even a small grin on the boy’s face and mistakenly thought that the memories of her copy were happier ones. She also didn’t seem to notice that he referred to Ameena in past tense. “So I have an identical twin somewhere, huh? I’d like to meet her someday.”

An awkward silence befell them. Nel couldn’t really feel angry over Sophia’s careless words since she honestly didn’t know what happened to the other girl. But neither one could tell her the truth- how could one tell someone that a clone of them was dead? It was already unusual that there was even a case of two people with the exact same face- even twins didn’t naturally come across such a phenomenon.

“Hey!” Cliff called from the stairway, unintentionally saving them from having to explain. “You comin’ or what?”

“We’re coming!” Fayt announced a little too quickly before he turned on his heel and walked over to the Klausian. The others followed shortly after.

**********************

When they arrived in what Maria referred to as ‘the bridge’, Nel wasn’t sure where she was supposed to go. She ended up standing next to the girl as she sat in her captain’s chair while Albel maintained his usual post in the back of the group. The spy watched as the girl gave various commands to Mirage and another blonde woman (whose voice resembled that of the disembodied one) before she pressed a few buttons. Suddenly a glowing panel appeared in the air before a moving image began to manifest within it.

Once again, Nel was amazed at their technology, though she didn’t let it show on her face or in her body language. This was almost a similar situation to when the off-worlders first met the Marquis. Maria and the person in the ‘screen’ exchanged pleasantries and commented how they were glad the other was still alive after the fight they had with the Vendeeni. The spy soon learned that the man was known as Commodore Wittcomb and that he was in charge of another ship that was approaching the Diplo.

As Maria gave her report of what happened to the commodore, Nel found out why they appeared on Elicoor and what happened shortly after she and Albel passed out. At first she didn’t quite grasp what was going on, but later on she figured most of it out after Sophia and Maria explained the different factions out in space.

After it was announced that Dr. Leingod was killed in the skirmish, there was a long pause before Wittcomb glanced at Fayt, “I’m sorry about your father.

“Thank you…” he uttered back in that quiet tone.

It suddenly became obvious that there was some kind of friction between Maria and the commodore when the subject of Fayt came up. It seemed both he and his father were viewed as being some kind of hope for the Federation. There was something going on that the Quark leader wasn’t aware of and it couldn’t be discussed out in the open. All of this led to an invitation to his ship, the Aquaelie.

“If that’s okay with you?” the blue haired girl inquired tersely. “Quark and the Federation aren’t exactly friends.”

Nel recalled the conversation she had with Cliff long ago about how there was a war going on with this ‘Federation’ and some other race unrelated to the Vendeeni. From the way the Klausian acted, it seemed as if the Federation couldn’t be trusted. She wondered why Maria decided to trust this commodore- or perhaps this was a case of ‘they didn’t have any choice’. As far as the spy knew, Maria’s organization wasn’t at war with anyone- they just simply didn’t like certain other groups.

But there seemed to be more to it than that- Fayt was apparently a civilian under Federation rule and yet he was currently in Maria’s custody. If the boy was that important, Maria probably couldn’t ignore the Federation easily without causing a fight. There was still much Nel didn’t know about and she hoped that someone would fill her in soon. She was already getting a headache trying to keep up with their terminology…

Her initial thoughts that the man on the display couldn’t be trusted were put on hold when Fayt requested for the commodore to take them to their next destination. Both he and Maria seemed to trust him enough to reveal their intentions and why they had to go. The spy decided to stop trying to think too much and wait until she had an opportunity to ask for a better explanation later. She knew she could make sense of this eventually.

“Thank you, Commodore,” Fayt replied in a grateful tone as he bowed to the screen.

Wittcomb nodded before his eyes wandered to Maria, “Then we have a deal?

“Yes.”

Oh, and about Earth… You had better brace yourselves,” he warned, earning looks of confusion from everyone. Earth… wasn’t that the name of Fayt’s home world?

“Huh?” Fayt’s little inquiry went unanswered as Wittcomb appeared grim. The display soon went blank as he ended the transmission. That wasn’t a good sign. If he couldn’t explain himself, then it meant the news was serious.

“‘Brace yourselves?’” Sophia echoed as the Earthlings pondered over the cryptic words. They didn’t seem too worried over the thought that something could be wrong, but they did take some caution.

Maria soon stood from her seat and gave out orders on who would be going with her and who had control of her ship while she was gone. When she was done, she gazed at Nel, then Albel. “Albel, Nel, come with me for a moment. Everyone else- gather anything you might need and meet me at the transporter room in fifteen minutes.”

Everyone nodded in confirmation to her order and then left the bridge to do whatever was needed as the blue haired girl faced the Elicoorians again. “I’ll take you to the equipment room- that’s where your weapons are being kept.”

“Will we need them?” Nel asked before she started to follow the girl out.

Maria paused for a moment as she thought over her response. “…Hopefully not. I trust the commodore, but there’s no guarantee that his men is of the same opinion as he. And… his last warning bothered me. I want to go in prepared- even if nothing happens.”

The spy nodded in agreement- she approved of that plan. Albel was silent as he brought up the rear and didn’t offer any commentaries as the blue haired girl explained what little she could on the way to the equipment room. Nel had to ponder if he was even listening.

When they reached their destination, the Elicoorians immediately found their things placed securely in their own little holders by the ship’s other weapons. Maria watched them as they put their armor back on and reattached the sheaths to their weapons on their person. By the time they were done, the blue haired girl walked over to the other side of the room and picked up a metal case.

“For the most part, your weapons should be enough, but your armor is useless against most phase and laser type weapons out there,” the girl explained as she placed the case down on top of a weapon crate and opened it. Inside were neatly arranged rows of flat metal plates of various shapes. Most were no bigger than a Fol coin.

Nel walked over to the girl when she was gestured over and watched as she attached the plates inside of her leather armor.

“There. These will create a force field to help protect you from most advanced weapons. They’re not strong enough to block Vendeeni disruptor rifles or the like, but it’s better than nothing. Just keep these on your armor at all times and you should be able to handle any battles just fine,” Maria said as she moved on to Albel and placed his inside the crevices of his claw. Since they were so flat, they were able to fit in without hindering the movement of his weapon.

“Thank you,” Nel replied gratefully. Albel just grunted again, preferring to stay quiet.

The blue haired girl stepped back to look at them before she raised her hand in a salute, “It’s a little late, but I welcome you to my ship. As of today, you’re both officially members of Quark and under my protection-”

“Bah, I didn’t come here to become one of your lackeys,” Albel finally growled out as he upturned his nose at her.

“My ship, my rules,” Maria responded with a grin, “It’s not like I’ll be treating you any differently than before- I’m only offering political protection, should you offend some galactic party, and a place to stay. But- if you want to return home, we’re still orbiting your planet…”

Nel couldn’t resist adding a small quip as she inclined her head in his direction. “I’m sure you’ll have fun taking my place in the peace talks with Woltar.”

That earned her a scowl and she had to hide her grin from behind her scarf. There was no way he was going to return home- not after that remark anyway. The spy was challenging him and he wasn’t about to let her win.

“Whatever, worm. Don’t expect me to grovel at your feet,” he replied dismissively as he rested his claw on his scabbard. Both women smirked at that.

“Perish the thought- though I wouldn’t mind receiving a smidgeon of gratitude for all that I have done for you so far,” the young captain reminded him, with a hint of mocking in her tone.

A slow grin came to his face before he slowly bowed like a gentleman, thanking her in the traditional Glyphian style. “I suppose you deserve that much at least, worm.”

Maria’s façade became more serious as another thought came to her and she glanced at the spy once again. “I doubt this will be necessary, but as far as the Federation knows, Quark consists of Klausians. It would be to our advantage if they continue to think that so be sure to keep your necks covered when around Federation officers.”

Nel remembered that both Cliff and Mirage (as well as the other crewmembers) had green rings around their necks and figured that they must’ve been distinctive markings to their race. By keeping her neck covered, anyone else wouldn’t be able to tell outright if she was a Klausian or not. She had to wonder if that was the reason Maria often wore high collar shirts that covered her neck.

“That shouldn’t be a problem,” the spy reassured her before she made sure her scarf was secured and covering her. As for Albel, his metal collar would be enough to hide skin markings that aren’t there.

“Good. Now if you’re ready, we should be heading to the transport room.”

Both warriors nodded and then followed her out. Nel felt like she was on an undercover mission and couldn’t help but feel a little excited. It had been a while since she had last been on one and she was feeling grateful that she decided to come along. Maybe she wouldn’t be as useful as the others, but at least she had something to do now. …And she had a fellow Elicoorian by her side to experience the new worlds with her.

To the Twenty-Fourth Chapter (The Truth)

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2 thoughts on “23. A New Life

  1. cheshirewolf says:

    Dude, sorry for the silence–I’ve been busy with a lot of crazy emotional stuff. I’ve still been lurking around, though, so I know you have a gorgeous new AlNel piece on Deviantart as well. Anyway, I like how you added to Fayt’s reaction (as well as the other two “mutants,” as I affectionately call them in reference to X-Men) in order to balance out the slight lack of attention it’s given in the game. I also look forward to more of Nel’s interactions with and opinions about this new environment, since a whole lot of fun can come from her various “WTF?” reactions to it.

    • That’s okay, I’ve been going through a lot of emotional stuff, too. A friend is having issues and I find myself getting in the middle of it. I’m having a hard time getting some free time to write. I’m glad you liked the newest fanart. The fact that the moon turned red was a complete, but not unwelcome accident ^_^

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