I walked over to the right counter with him and got the same thing he did even though I still wasn’t hungry at all. We sat down at one of the tables and he seemed delighted with what he’d got while I just picked at mine.
“I spent some time in the south of this country, became quite fond of it.”
“Where else have you been? I mean, like, other than space. Which I also want to hear about sometime.” I replied, kind of falling over my words in an embarrassing manner.
“A good deal of Europe, I’ve spent the past two of your years travelling; Spain, France, the United Kingdom, the Netherland, Germany. I came to America a few months ago, then I was thinking I might visit Africa. You may find it funny, but I have seen more of your world than I have of Resh.”
“What’s it like? I mean, compared to here?”
“Hot and dry. Our oceans are smaller. Our cities are much more impressive and developed, however.”
“You mean like…floating cars and stuff?” I asked, instantly feeling stupid.
Nalar laughed at my question, “Well they do exist, although by and large most Tzari do not own vehicles. On the other hand, our public transport infrastructure actually works.”
“Umh…yeah. Okay.” I still felt embarrassed over how lame I’d sounded just now.
“But the best place I have ever been is without a doubt space. There is nothing quite like experiencing microgravity.”
“I hear it messes up your bones and stuff. Or are they just saying that because it’s truly so awesome?”
“It does, but we have an array of biological augmentation process that protects against bone density loss, increase the brain’s ability to maneuver in three dimensional space, and make many biological process more efficient.”
“Of course. What’s it like travelling through space? Is it sorta like the movies?”
“Slower, I spent most of the voyage in stasis, I was woken a few months before arrival to help with the preparations.”
“Must’ve been unreal.” I replied, trying to imagine it for a second.
“Quite so. Atmospheric entry is another experience, quite intimidating.”
“Plummeting to earth in a ball of fire would freak anyone out, I guess.”
“The ship I was assigned to is still in the English Channel, good place to get components if you can sneak past security and can dive.”
“Me, break the law? As if I’ll do that again.” I shrugged with a smile on my face even though deep down I didn’t like the thought of diving at all.
“Of course, but it’s not stealing if it was mine to begin with, was it?”
“I’m sure they’ll consider that before shooting…” I said with a hint of sarcasm in my voice.
“The trick is just to approach underwater.”
Yeah. Not happening.
“Why haven’t you done that? Like, if it’s just sitting there?”
“I have, but there’s a bit more than I could carry with me. Bardiche’s core once computer jump trajectories for that armoury frigate.”
I blinked, not quite understanding. “Um sure. Of course.”
“I went diving off the coast of Spain too, found some old Aldaar wreckage where I got power cells for Bardiche, it’s how he can do so much while being portable. And some useful composite materials for the shaft.”
“It sounds like you’ve been everywhere…” I felt a little bitter after realizing how long I’d been locked away and how much of my life had been practically taken from me.
“I was lucky. Have you been anywhere?”
“Nowhere too exciting, that’s for sure. And if I have, I don’t remember.”
“A shame, but I’m sure you’ll get the chance soon.”
I shrugged again, not really believing him.
“Maybe I should try my and at making a spacecraft, that would be entertaining.” Nalar said in a lighthearted tone, as if he weren’t really serious.
“That would be awesome!” I said, already liking that idea.
“Could show you space.”
“I’d love that for sure.” I gave him a genuine smile.
“I guess I will have to try now.” He grins, taking the last bite out of his food before setting it down. “Umm, there’s still time before our last class of the day.”
“Oh, yeah I guess there is. Do you have any plans?”
“That depends, I guess…” He pauses. “I know your species can be quite…prudish and I don’t want to seem too forward…”
“Too forward with what?”
He took another pause before answering me. “I’m asking if you’d like to mate.”
I wasn’t really sure how to take that. He probably just had no shame when it came to that sort of thing, I assumed. His bold proposition was flattering at most, but I wasn’t sure what to think about it beyond that.
“You’re joking. Again, I mean.” I gave him a blank, unamused stare.
“I am not. But if you’d rather not, then I understand.”
“I just…don’t see why. I’m hardly worth anyone’s time.”
“I think I’ve just been bothering you since we’ve met and you’ve only been nice just to be polite…”
“Need I remind you that I approached you first? Also, I shamelessly admit, the horns are quite attractive…” He said with a grin after glancing at them.
I sighed. “Most find me repulsive. I wasn’t even told that the black blood would result in this sort of thing happening.”
“Yeah, it’s umm…altered matter from space, or that what they told me. Said ‘nothing would go wrong’ and that I’d ‘be better’ for going along with it.”
“That sounds quite irresponsible of them.”
“They just wanted to use it was a weapon like they always do…”
“And you in the process?” Nalar snarled, clearly upset.
“It…was what I was hinting at, earlier. I was a villain and I came here on parole. My only other option was to rot in that cell forever. I had to do whatever they asked of me. Even if it meant erasing whoever I’d been in the past.” I really couldn’t believe I was telling him all of this.
He nodded slowly. “You’ll find no judgement from me, I did come as a part of an invasion force intent of subjugating your species.”
“I still think some of us deserve to be invaded and wiped out…”
“Wiping out was never our intention, although having seen your world, the bad and the good it offers, I do say a lot would have been lost.”
“Yeah, I guess. I do have doubt over if it’s worth saving at this point…”
“Understandably so, I can tell that you have seen much of the worst but little of the good.”
“It could also be my fault for not seeing the good, either.”
“Seeing the light is very hard when one is at the bottom of a deep hole.”
“I guess I have to change that, right?”
“Hopefully this place will help, perhaps friends could help, too.”
“Do you think they could get over how I am…? I mean, I know I’m not the easiest person to be around.”
“I have met much harder people to be around. Got arrested for fighting some of those even.”
“Oh, what happened?”
“They were improper to some human ladies, their advances were unwelcome and so I stepped in.”
“Heh, like a true gentleman.”
“This kind of behaviour is not tolerated on Resh. Although, if your females had claws, surely they would not be subjected to such improper behaviour.”
“Well, I don’t know about them, but I’m not going to get mine dirty by clawing some guy’s eye out. I’ve got other ways to deal with them.”
“I admit, these claws can be quite a bother to wash, they stain so easily.”
“Mine just make it easier to use my abilities, so I’ve gotta keep them intact.”
“I see.” He was about to say something else until the bell rang, ending our break. “We better get to class. And I guess the question of mating will have to be answered another time. Such a shame.” Nalar said, once again in a lighthearted tone.
“Uh…Um, yeah…” I looked away, not really sure what to say.
While in class, I found it even harder to focus. My hands and arms continued to feel tingly and restless.
I did realize that I’d stopped noticing it after I’d got talking with Nalar, so I guess that counted for something. Right now, I couldn’t get the sensation out of my head and tried to dig my nails into my skin in an attempt to have some relief.
We were supposed to be reading over some English and math work which I did to the best of my ability. I was still incredibly rusty with both seeing I had almost no prior experience with it that I could recall. I didn’t want to bother the instructor as I was confident that I could figure this out, myself. In the end, I really had little to show for my efforts.
After that, we were supposed to get our ID’s done that the admin building so I had to wait in line with a bunch of other people around me while my freaking limiters didn’t work. Needless to say, it wasn’t a pleasant experience. My photo had me looking tense and uptight as I was too distracted to notice that they’d asked me to smile.
Later, I separated from the others and took out my phone. Looking it over, it took me a good minute or two to figure out how to use it to call someone. The interface was clunky and lazily done. I came across Turner’s number and tried to call him. It was hard enough going throughout the day without the limiters on. I felt as if I had no control of my abilities and that I could hurt someone.
To my disappointment, Turner wouldn’t pick and and I was much too self-conscious to leave a message. I paced around for while and was about to head back before I saw his familiar car pull up in a nearby parking space. He came out and walked up to me, he seemed to be talking on his phone with someone, but ended the call just as he got to me.
“You called earlier, right?”
I nodded and gestured towards where the limiters were. “They, uh, broke.”
“Tried to be rebellious?” He suggested, raising an eyebrow.
“No, I grew upset and tore them off when I fought that hero who teaches the class.”
“Oh. It’s the Rook, then?”
“Yeah, it was him. Anyway, they’re busted and I don’t know what to do about it.”
“So, you went throughout the whole day without harming anyone after they broke?”
“I…I guess.” I looked away.
“Hm.” He said, pondering for a moment.
“Right, there are replacements back at headquarters. Come on.” He gestured me to follow him and I reluctantly did so.
I didn’t want to go back there. I hated that they were going to limit me again. Even though I’d chosen to tell him about it, I couldn’t help but be annoyed with his lack of confidence when it came to me.
It was a quiet ride over. I didn’t really want to talk about how my day was and neither did he. For the most part, I was fine with that, yet that stupid needy part of me wasn’t. I followed him quietly and kept my guard up as we walked through the facility. Turner nodded at the few people he saw before going up to a secured room. He entered a code which I didn’t bother to remember and went through and had me follow him.
Inside, there were a number of crates and labelled boxes everywhere. Everything was so tightly locked up I had no idea what anything was. Looking over at Turner, I saw him stand in front of one of the larger cases with a sorrowful look in his eyes. He then blinked and went over to a different case to unlock it and search for what we’d come here for.
I went up to what he’d been looking at before. The label had simply said it was some type of experimental weapon, but upon closer look it read a string of numbers/letters, some jargon and at the end said “gunblade”. I wondered what it looked like. Reaching out towards it, I was caught off guard when the collar shocked me seemingly from nowhere.
“Don’t touch that.” His voice was tense and angry.
“Ugh, fine.” I took a few steps away and chose to refrain from looking around the room any further.
I waited for a while longer before he came over to me with seemingly identical limiters.
“Hold out your hands.” He asked even though this clearly wasn’t a question.
“I, uh, changed my mind.” I backed away.
“And what gave you the idea that this is voluntary?”
“I just don’t want them on again, okay?”
“You told me you were afraid of harming others and you won’t with these on, or at least it’ll be difficult.” He shrugged and held them out to me.
I continued to be hesitant and heard him sigh out of frustration.
“If I do it, you have to tell me why you snapped at me just now.” I said, hoping I could get some damn reason why he’d done that.
“No.” He glared at me. “Like I said, this is not a choice.”
“Oh, isn’t it?” I walked over to where that case was and ran my fingertips over it, marking it for explosion-fodder.
“You wouldn’t dare.”
“Then you better start talking. And don’t bother with the collar. The second it stings will be the same one you lose whatever is in here.” I poked it some more and saw him get uncomfortable and agitated.
He just stood there, pondering on what to do.
“Well? Anything? Or, I guess you don’t care that much about it, then?”
“Fine. Just…take your hands off of it.” He tried, approaching me.
“Uh, no, old man. That’s not how this works. Once I’ve touched it, it’s pretty much being ‘held’ until I let go, yeah? Just tell me why it means so much to you.” I backed away a little more, but still stayed near the case.
“It belonged to someone I knew.” He quickly said.
He looked away, his hands had become fists and his side. I crossed my arms and kept staring at him, waiting for an answer.
“One of those I helped a while ago, it belonged to him.” Turner mumbled quietly.
The surprise was enough to get me to release the mark I had on the target. Damn. I wondered which one he was talking about. Something felt a deep sorrow deep down. With that came a strange pain in my chest which I don’t recall feeling before. Yet, it was familiar.
“Is that good enough?” He asked.
“Y-Yeah, sure. Let’s just get this over this.” I held my hands out towards him.
He hesitated before coming up to me and had the look of uncertainty in his eyes. I sighed and went over to him before taking the stupid things into my hands and doing them up myself. I’d seen him do it before, so it hadn’t been too difficult. When I looked back at him, he was over at the case I’d almost destroyed.
“What happened to the scary, stoic old man from before? Come on, let’s get out of here, already.” I said as I went over to the entrance.
He didn’t budge and just stood there while staring down.
“Ugh, the fuck’s the matter with you? It’s just a stupid case.” I shrugged.
“To you, maybe.” He said before going up to the door and went through without another word.
The air was really freaking thick on the drive back to the dorms. Before, it had been stagnant and boring, but I could feel it to a point that it bothered me. I’d overdone it back there. That’s why he was upset. It had to be. I did want to make it right, but then again, I couldn’t find it within myself to care too much about it right now.
Once we arrived, I turned and got out and heard him speak behind me.
“Try something like that again, and you won’t live to regret it.” His words were bitter and filled with hate.
Turner looked down at something on his phone, said something I could hear and drove off. What a freaking drama queen. I headed back inside, wanting only to get some sleep now.