"What do you mean that the shuttle's canceled! I need to get to Mars now!" Kari thumps the counter in front of her with her right fist.
"I am sorry, Miss Karask, but the Mars shuttle has been canceled due to mechanical failure. Another shuttle will leave for Mars in 3 days, but it will not arrive before then so there is nothing else we can do." A short mounty clerk cowers behind a small desk, hanging onto his terminal's keyboard as if it was a lifeline.
Kari huffs in outrage and turns curtly away and stalks off through the busy terminal.
Lousy good for nothing mounty... And just what did he mean by that thought about siracs being nothing but trouble for him? I should teach him a leason about that... Ugh! Stupid mechanics, can't they keep a simple shuttle in order? I can't wait 3 days! Not in this stinkin port. Centralis proper, ok. That at least doesn't have the pilots of ever other shuttle and frieghter stinking up every bar. Not even Stave smelt as bad as some of these space rats...
She walks past a large bar and restaurant, large neon green sign designating it the 'Lonely Astriod', containing multitudes of different species, each drinking different beverages and all enjoying the variety of the company.What the hey? My day's already going bad, might as well have a drink. Kari walks up to the bar, takes one look at the emptey section of the bar near the front and sits down, hands stretching forward as she signals the bartender. "What's the strongest thing you've got?"
The panther bartender looks at her doubtfully for a second. "Well, there's the Red Scythetail... But that is not suitible for ladies-"
Kari looks at the panther very seriously. "I have just been told that my flight has been canceled, and the next one is not for three days. Give me a Red Scythetail."
The panther looks at Kari, then shakes his head as he turns around. "Alright, your choice..." A few minutes latter, he hands Kari a glass filled with a red liquid. She takes a gulp and then winces, shakes her head and then sticks out her tongue. The bartender chuckles a bit. "Told ya it wasn't for ladies."
Kari shakes her head. "Not a problem with it, I just don't drink very often." Eugh, ethanol...
The bartender looks at her for a few seconds, then moves down the bar to serve a dark, six-limbed being further down the bar.
A blue fox in a vibrant red flight suit walks down the coridors of Centralis Spaceport, then walks past the Lonely Astriod to look at a screen displaying departure times. Whistling to himself as he sees the Mars shuttle canceled, he smiles and walks into the bar, looking for an emptey space on the main bar. A small communication device slips out of a pocket in his suit, and he holds it up to his mouth. "Yo, Tarn. How about a simple passenger run? Just saw that the shuttle to Mars has been canceled and the next is in three days."
The comm hisses for a second, then a younger voice issues forth. "Yeah, whatever Tarnik. Just make sure you keep the passengers down to those that won't try anything stupid. I'm getting tired of knocking our employeers unconscious."
"Aw, comon Tarn! It ony happened the once. And we still got payed."
"Only cause I threatened to wipe the gold's mind clean if he didn't. Not that I can, but he sure didn't know that."
"I'll take that to mean yes, then. Don't worry, I'll try to keep the pasengers as mounties or wolves... Probably wolves, since they run Mars."
"Oh, and remember we only have four berths free, in two cabins."
Tarnik raises an eyebrow and smiles. "Oh, finaly trusting me not to sabotage your bunk? Gee, only took you six weeks to forgive me of that prank."
"Has more to do with the fact that if you do it again, you can cook your own meals again."
"I knew I shouldn't have agreed to be pilot, you've got the real power, master chef."
"Hah, and you remember it. Tarn out"
Tarnik slips the comm back in his pocket and notices the stool free next to a lovely looking striped tail. As he walks up to the striped tail, he smiles more broadly at seeing it belongs to a tall femail Sirac. Stoping a moment to compose his mind, he then sits down and signals the panther for a small ale.
Kari turns to look at the blue sitting next to her, only having imbeded half her drink so far, and looks at him. Seeming not to find him a threat, she takes another swig of her drink and looks forward, seeming to study the bottles behind the bar.
After recieving his drink, Tarnik turns and smiles at the sirac. "'Lo, don't see many of you about."
Kari turns to look at him. "If you think I find you even remotely threating, blue, then you are saddly mistaken. I ain't even half drunk yet." And taking another swig of the drink, she then continues. "And if you're thinking that you can hide your immoral thoughts, think again."
Tarnik smiles and leans towards her. "Well, what an interesting bluff, cause I have not a single amourus thought towards you. Wrong species. Besides, " he returns to looking forwards as he takes his own swig of his ale, "I have better things to do than piss off a sirac. Can do that in my own time."
Kari smiles, and takes another swig. "Well, guess you're right there. And I am one sirac that pissing off would not be a good idea. Last fox to do that got shaved and dyed. Pretentious golden..."
Tarnik smiles, "I share that sentiment. I take it you meant skin dyed. I personaly prefer the fur dye method, especialy using perminant dyes."
Oh, not as drunk as I thought, he must just be good at shielding himself...
Kari turns to look at Tarnik. "Ooh, slight peek at that thought! You snuck into a militia base and died a squad of golds blue? Wish I had been there."
Tarnik starts to blush slightly and takes a swig of his ale. "Yes, but I'm sure it was way before you were created. I should have got some pictures, I know of at least 15 people that would have paid great sums for them. And that's not including the negatives, could have gotten a small fortune just blackmailing the commanding officers with those."
Kari nods her head a few times. "True... You said that you weren't on your own time, though, so talk. What's your trade?"
"Did I say that?"
"Not in those many words, but I can still add two and two and get forty-two."
Tarnik laughs and drains his ale to half full. "Ah, the infamus sirac wit. Well, I am co-captian of a small ship, and just got in yesterday from a currier run. My associate and I have decided to do a passenger run, this time, since we're getting a bit lonely and out of touch."
Kari sits up straight, looking the fox in the eye. "Where ya heading?" If Mars, definatly. I don't think this blue is trouble... But his partner, I'll have to check him out in person.
"Mars, since that shuttle got canceled. There's probably lots of rich wolves wanting to go there, and this bar happens to be the closest to that flight's desk."
Slapping her arm on Tarnik's back, and delighting in the fact it startles him, she wispears into the fox's ear very softly. "Well, if you wouldn't mind having my company for the trip, I happen to be in need of transport to that planet. Same fair as the shuttle, though if I get there quickly, I could throw in an extra 15%..."
"30." Tarnik drains the rest of his drink.
"20, I'm not a student there, and will need some money to get back."
"25, and I'll charge same fair to get back."
Kari looks at the fox in puzzlement. "I could be there for a while, though."
"No problem, since I want to take a little shore leave there, after the run. 5 days long enought for you? I could go longer..."
"5 is more than enough. Ok, 25%." The sirac and fox turn towards each other, and shake hands. Then both turn back to the bar.
"So, what's you're name, captain?"
"Call me Tarnik. Ship's in bay 19, and it's already to go once I get the passengers. See you there in an hour?"
"Yep, just gotta go get me stuff for the trip." Kari stands up, her drink about three quarters drank. She runs a hand through her shoulder length head fur and smiles. She then walks out of the bar, not triping or wobbling once.
Tarnik takes a sniff of the remaining red liquor, then looks at the retreating form. "That woman certainly knows how to hold her drink."
Good thing I grabed some de-tox from the clinic before taking this trip, sure saved me time. I'm late enough as it is..
Kari walks swiftly down a metal coridor holding a 2kg duffel bag, passing signs indicating which bay numbers are where. Kari stops in front of a door with the sign 'Bay 19' above it. Hesistating a bit, Kari opens the sliding door and steps into the large ship's bay with a small-looking frieghter inside. As she appoaches, the ship's haphazard hull platting, pipes running along it's outsides, and several recessed dips start to be noticed, and seeing a small scorch mark next to one of the landing struts has her stop.
This ship can't be spaceworthy... It's gotta be older than sin! Older than that which created sin! Kari's jaw starts to hang out.
Tarnik drops down from one of the recessed dips under the ship and walks up to her. "Bet you're wondering if it's space worthy. Don't worry, it is. Not only that, but well equiped too. The latest in fox military and covert ops equipment as of 8 year ago, or at least that which the wolves let us keep. She's still got three gattling laser and two EMP turrets, so we aren't easy prey for pirates, though I miss having the missile system. Had lots of fun getting targeting solutions on freigters that cut us up on the star gate queues before they made us dissarm it."
Kari walks under the ship, dropping her duffel bag next to the damaged strut. "And this?" She raises an eyebrow and lashes her tail from side to side.
"A going away present from a group of mounties that I made the error of offending in a port bar last trip. Don't worry about that, either. That's the false hull, and actualy helps in the camoflogue."
"Yeah, greatest idea the designers had with this ship, besides the AI. They made it look like a complete wreck, but it's only 8 years old, and can outmanouver most military ships or her size." Tranik pats the side of the strut, then walks up to a descendig cargo ramp. "Yo, what was the hold up!?"
A clear male voice sounds out from the hold. "You try wiring up a new control panel without the right size of screwdriver!" A small puch is thrown down the ramp to Tarnik, and then a short male sirac walks down the ramp.
The male studies the edge of the hull near the front of the opening for a few seconds, then notices Kari. He blinks, blinks again, then says nuetraly "Hello... Tarnik, we need some decent foodstuffs. Not that stuff that you bought last time."
"Tarn, I can't read minds, so how do you expect me to know what you want? You go get it, and stop hiding on the ship. Maybe go show off that fluffy butt of yours at one of the bars."
Tarn? Tarn?! TARN!
Tarn looks straight at Kari in confusion, then both his ears drop. "Kari..."
Tarnik looks at the two, then realisation dawns on his face. "Oh squid..."
He's alive, and free... I can't believe he's here, and with this blue. I.. I.. I just-
Tarn gulps, then turns back to the ship, tail flat against his legs. "I'm sorry, Kari..." He walks inside, leaving the door open.
Walking up to the ramp, Tarnik looks inside then at Kari. "Well, that went well. I take it you are his sister Kari then?" He walks up to Kari, stoping a few feet in front of her, and swinging slightly on his feet.
Sorry? Sorry?! You aren't sorry enough! Not yet! Arragant lil.. Huh? Kari blinks at Tarnik
"Yes..." Tarnik nods his head, then ask "By any chance, did you escape with a tall blue fox, about this tall," Tarnik holds one hand up to about the same hieght as Kari, "and named Larena?"
Kari looks at Tarnik for a few seconds in puzzlement, her anger towards Tarn nearly forgotten. "Yes, how did you know that?"
Tarnik nods once, then smiles. "Very simple. Larena is my sister, and I've been looking around for her for a while now. Haven't managed to find her, but had a few clues. First one being that she was in charge of Tarn's and your's class. Then there was a little thing about her being declared a traitor to the fox empire, and your 'abduction' was included in the list of charges. Though, they only listed your number, not your name so we weren't sure who was with Larena."
Kari looks at Tarnik for a few seconds, then smiles weakly. "Yes... There is a family resemblence." He looks almost like the picture she has... But so much older.
Tarnik grins. "I bet you didn't recognise me from whatever pictures Larena has. I don't blame you. Do you know where she is?" Tarnik looks at Kari seriously, ears completely giving her his attention.
Kari sighs lightly and then pulls out her own comm, pressing a small button on it before putting it to her ear.
"Yes, Larena? Yeah, it's Kari. Yeah, shuttle got canceled, no I am not coming home. I've found a ship. Yes, it is a bit more, but- Please, Larena, let me finish. I think you need to speak to the captian. ... Yes I do, he's - No I am not trying to hook you up with another male, though he is a fox, a blue even. ... Larena! Stop yapping already! Alright, you wanna know who it is? Tarnik. ... Yes, Tarnik. T-A-R-N-I-K. ... Larena? You there? Larena?" Kari looks back at Tarnik and hands her the comm. "She want's to talk."
Tarnik mouths thankyou and heads towards a quite corner of the bay. Kari sighs and walks up to the ramp, peering inside. Not seeing anything, she grabs her duffel bag and walks up into the cargo bay. Behind her, a set of doors slide open, revealing a coridor with hatches leading up and down through the ship right outside the doors. Kari spins around, ears fully alert, but sees and hears no one.
"Hello." A panel next to the open doors blinks.
Kari sighs and visibly relaxes. "You must be that AI then."
"Yes, call me Kas. You must be Kari, from what I heard of the conversation outside, and from what muffeld noises I can understand from Tarn." Kari frowns at her brother's mention. "According to what little info I managed to squeez out of Tarnik, there is only one other passenger, a wolf named Minsc. Guess nobody trusts a blue fox anymore..."
That's the most complex AI I've ever met.. Ok, so I haven't met too many.. Kari walks forward into the coridor and looks around. "Which..."
"Cabin's yours? First on the left. Or if you were wondering about your brother, the second on the left."
Kari frowns again. "I would prefer to-"
"Hang on a sec... Ah, nice system they've got at that academy. So you're a counsler. Good. I've been worried about Tarn's mental state for years now, and you're just what I need."
Kari crosses her arms and drops the duffel bag. "I am not counseling him. I don't care what his mental state is, I want nothing to do with him. He's made his bed, let him keep it to himself."
"Fine, but I'm not letting you into any other cabins but his and yours. You're choice, but remember this. My internal mics are very sensitive."
Kari scowls at a visible internal sensor and walks up to her cabin's door, opens it and flings the bag inside. She then shuts it and turns around. "I don't want anyone in there but me, then. Nobody, not even Tarnik."
High and mighty AI... I'll do what I want, not what you're subroutines say I should do...
She storms down the coridor back into the cargo hold and walks down the ramp.
Kari lays in her cabin on a bunk, reading a datapad silently. Looking out of the window of her cabin, the star patterns look similar to those found on Earth, but not the quite same.
Kas blinks the comm panel's lights once, then starts speaking. "Interesting, you read a article on the affects of long-term seperation of siblings, but are completely ignoring Tarn."
Kari raises her right hand in a rude gesture.
Kas blinks the lights again, then gives out an electric laugh. "Questioning my calling will get you nowhere."
"I happen to have other reasons to read this. I have someone to meet on Mars, and this aplies to him."
"Really? Well, how about testing your technique on Tarn first?"
"I'd sooner re-program you, and I have no knowledge of computer programming. And I like doing things properly, so would start that by learning to program. Don't you have better things to do? Like maybe analysing the local stars, or maybe talking to other ships? You sure didn't have a problem talking to my academy's computers."
Kas blinks the lights yet again. "I'll ignore the threat that that comment contains, and until we are in orbit, I have nothing 'better to do'. I think you should hear this, I recorded it several years ago."
Kari looks at the comm panel, letting her datapad fall forward on her chest. "I don't want to hear anything."
As the recording ends, Kari looks close to tears as she looks over at the comm panel. "Alright, I'll talk to him. Nothing more."
"That is all I asked for. You to let him talk."
Kari walks into a small lounge with a holograpic projection on a table and Tarn sitting behind it. Looking at the projection shows a slowly spinning section of stars and nebulae, and Tarn seems to be studying them. Kari walks up to it and sits in the chair oposite Tarn. "Self hypnosis rarely works, so stop trying."
Tarn looks at Kari, sorrow filling his face. "Wouldn't do any good, anyways. Can't forget the past, no matter how rotten or vile it is. Why?" He sits back, studying Kari visualy.
Not trying any mental contact? My, you have changed... "Why what?"
"Why the sudden change of heart? You wouldn't even stay in the same room as me after boarding, and now you're sitting right across from me. Why?"
"Why not? Do I need a reason to change my mind?"
"Kari, you were the closest to Ryalto. You obviously know what happened to him, since you were so angry. What has made you change your mind?" Tarn continues watching Kari.
Kari attempts a weak smile, then sighs and looks at the nearest comm panel, which is on the wall to the left of Tarn's head. "Kas played a recording of something you said years ago. I got me thinking that you must have changed at least a little. I've changed."
Tarn continues watching Kari, completely passive as he speaks. "She shouldn't have interfered. But then she always does, so I'm not surprised. Kari, the only way I've changed is that I don't abuse this curse they gave us. I don't read everyone's mind the second they enter the room, and I don't really even pay that much attention to their moods anymore. I'm sick of it, all their worries, hopes, fears... I've got enough of those without hearing theirs. I killed Ryalto. I don't care what Tarnik thinks, I was responsible. I set him in motion, I helped the golds... Kari, I even helped them choose their equiment. If anyone is responsible, it's me."
Kari sits back and raises an eyebrow. "Yep. You are responsible. You pissed him off, fed his fears, tortured him for your amusement. Amusement that was to distract you from your own fears. Funny thing is, while he managed to escape his fears, you got traped in them. And you got burned in the process. You've changed more than you think, Tarn. You actually think about your actions, and you regret them. You didn't regret them before, when you asked me for help. Remember that?"
Tarn looks away, blushing slightly. "I remember. I remember being so scarred of that gold, and hating Ryalto for not being there, but it wasn't him I was hating. Not really, I was just blaming him."
Kari holds up her hand, attracting Tarn's attention back to her. "Stop that train of thought, or you'll start sounding bad. Self pity does not help."
Tarn smirks coldly at Kari. "What, are you a shrink or something?"
"We're called counslers, parnet egg brain. And you should be grateful, normaly I would charge for what you're getting now."
Tarn returns to looking at the swirling holo-stars. "Sorry to be wasting your time."
Scowling fiercely, Kari reaches over and whacks Tarn solidly on the top of his head.
"I have nothing better to do, and since you are the first one of our group that I've seen since 'escaping', you get a second chance. Now, keep talking or I'll hit you again."
Tarn rubs his head and raises an eyebrow at her. "You call this counseling? Eugh, I'd hate to be one of your patients. What else to talk about... Well, how about the fact that every time I think I find something good, something come around to ruin it?"
"Not posible, since you have this nice ship that you're co-captain of."
Tarn points to the comm panel to his left. "Say that again? Kas is more trouble than scavies in anything not related directly to ship functions. Why do you think Tarnik handels the in-person bits? ... I had this nice relationship with somebody, till the person was killed by a bounty hunter after me and Tarnik. And then there's you."
"Point on Kas, she is annoying. Sorry to hear about that. I trust that the bounty hunter has been suitable delt with?" If not, we are going on a little crusade, brother. I hate bounty hunters...
"Thanks for the offer, but the hunter's dead. He gave chase while we still had the missile tube. He now resides permanently in the astriod belt of the B'sol system."
Kari takes a small silver coin out of her pocket and starts fiddeling with it in her left hand. "So what have I ruined?"
Tarn's eyes seem to mist over, and a tear falls from one eye. "I had just gotten over that relationship. Only took me three years, but since I still grieve over my actions with Ryalto, I think that's an improvement. Then you show up, and remind me fully of what I did. Sorry if I seem to be blaming you, I don't. I just knew that someday I would run into one of the group, and I hoped it would be not you. Herto, I could have been alright. He didn't have as close a relationship as you two, but I still would have been hurting. Any of the others, I probably would have been at least a bit guilty around them, knowing that I killed him and knowing they may not know my role in it." Tarn looks at his hands resting on the table, completely silent.
Now I'm sorry. Sorry that I treated you so badly these last few days...
Kari pockets the coin and gets up, walking around the table and sitting back down in the chair right next to Tarn. "I have a certain piece of news that would really cheer you up. I really could have told you it earlier, but I was not sure if I should. But since I know that Kas won't keep her electronic fingers out of the Mars Academy databases for long, might as well tell you. I'm meeting one of the group there at Mars."
"Let me guess, Herto. Great, I can get my tail kicked by him, too. Penance via siblings." Tarn slides his hands into his flightsuit pockets then looks the opposite direction from Kari.
"No, haven't found Herto yet, though he was in Vixinte for a short time after the plague. Ryalto."
Tarn turns back towards Kari, ears flat in disbelief. "Hah, very funny. Who?"
"Why does every one think I lie about finding people? First Larena thinks I'm hoaxing finding Tarnik and you, now you think I'm lieing about about going to see Ryalto on Mars."
"Kari, he's dead. His corpse is rotting at the botom of some lake in the mountains of Cyantia."
"No, he's studying computers and physics at Mars Academy, as a first year student. And he's younger than us, so one wrong move and I'll whack you in the most holy of places you have."
Tarn focuses on Kari for a second, then his eyes widen in shock. "He's alive? How?"
Finally decided to use that mind, eh?
"Don't know, didn't get that part of the story. Only know that he was living in a wolf city called Zantos till a few months ago when he went to Mars. I'm really kicking myself, cause I've been living in a mounty city not that far from him. Only a day's travel, in fact."
Flopping back in his chair, Tarn rubs his left elbow for a few seconds. "Zantos... Never heard of it. Must not have a spaceport... Wait a sec, BioHazard!" Tarn grins at Kari.
"BioHazard. A club that a passenger told me about six months ago. He said that the music there was fairly decent, like TGFU, and also said he'd seen a Sirac there. Must have been Ryalto he saw..." Tarn's eyes glaze over for a few seconds, then he shakes his head.
Meanwhile, Kari continues speaking, her head turned away from Tarn. "Probably, unless a lot of our brothers and sisters hang out there... More things to ask Ryalto when I see him."
Tarn looks at the floor for a few seconds, hesitating. "Kari, I don't know if I should. He must hate me, I would."
Kari puts an arm aroung Tarn, shaking him gently. "Tarn, Ryalto was the most forgiving of us in the group. If you would have stoped acting like a jerk back then, you and him could have been best friends. I don't know if he's still that way, but I doubt that he holds on to grudges that long. You can accompany me to see him, though I wouldn't stand too close to him. Larena and I think he might have a strength enhancement or something, and if he's still mad at you he might take a swing at you. I won't stop him."
Tarn smiles. "That would explain that wall... Thanks." He reaches around Kari and hugs her. "Thank you, I haven't felt this happy in a long time. Kari, this trip's free. And spend as long as you like on Mars, we'll take you back to Cyantia."
Kari smiles evily and squeezes back. "Well, since Tarnik already said it was free for reuniting him and Larena, that's a bit redundent, but I guess you're both in agreement about that."
Tarn pulls back a bit, looking Kari in the eyes. "He said what? That's it, he's gone too far. Come on, I've had one too many pranks pulled on by that fox, and this stunt is gonna cost him." Standing up, Tarn pulls Kari to her feet and walks over to a drawer, pulling out a small vial filled with powder.
"Firefruit rind, fully purified to maximuim safe dose for ingestion. I'd avoid the blue juice, as that's what Tarnik happens to like."
Kari grabs the vial out of Tarn's hand and reads the lable, then smiling. "I put this stuff on my eggs. Got another vial? I feel like an omeltte tonight."
Tarn stares at Kari, jaws slack. "You like firefruit?"
"Sure, but Larena doesn't, so don't worry, I don't use it heavily in my cooking. Not as heavily as I would like, anyways." Kari walks over to the counter, starting to pull out various ingrediants.
Tarn runs up between Kari and a cupboard, smiling sweetly. "How about I do the cooking. My treat, for being a rotten brother all those years? I've become a very good cook."
Heh, yeah right. You just don't want me spicing up the meal too much.
"Ok, but I like my omeltte hot." Kari turns and sits back at the table, smiling at Tarnik and the wolf who walk in seconds later.
Tarnik looks at the cooking sirac, then at the smiling sirac, and then turns to the wolf. "Looks like the siblings have made up. You owe me 10 credits." A glob of egg flies across the room and smacks Tarnik in the face.
"Oops, sorry." Tarn says without turning from the ceramic stove.
Nice aim, bro. Kari continues grinning.