Chapter 3

Reesori hit the ground with a thud, this time however he managed to avoid getting kicked by the vingart’s strong heavy foot. He rolled and came up with his weapon drawn, but the beast was moving swiftly out of range. Perhaps it remembered Reesori’s threat to shoot it the next time it threw him. More than likely it was just glad to be rid of its rider. It was just as well, considering the weapon was illegal, Reesori had no idea how he would get more ammunition should he run out.

“Karu, this has been the worst month of my life,” he muttered. “First I receive an urgent message to come home, back to Mulderon, a place I swore I would never set foot on again, I’m needed. Then I had to travel on civilian transport, including riding an animal across Përmtur and a boat across the sea. I arrive on Përkorë just in time to hear that my brother has been convicted of multiple criminal offenses due to his wife lying through her teeth so she won’t go to jail, and then she kicks me in the nads! I have to ride these nuken birds that I can’t stay on. Could it get any worse? Oh yes, now I am talking to myself.” Reesori looked around to see if anyone was watching him, he couldn’t see anyone. He trudged on toward his house. He didn’t say the worst thing, having met some of Vendall’s associates, he was beginning to think that maybe, his brother was a criminal. That the lying girl, had indeed been telling the truth. He already found out that she was indeed only 16, making the marriage illegal.

Since he was in a foul mood, with no idea how far he had to walk, he started to think about his last week on board his ship. His ship, with all the modern conveniences a man could want, heated bunks, food ready at the push of a button and the women. The alien women, beautiful and exotic looking. He had finally worked up the nerve to ask one of them on a date, one he had been watching for a long time, and she had said yes. Then he had to leave. He wondered if she would remember him, Karu, she might not even be there! A whooshing sound near him brought him out of his thoughts and he turned to see, of all things, a young girl on a skim craft. She smiled at him.

He looked longingly at the vehicle, it could easily accommodate him and the girl. He wondered what he would have to do to get a ride when she opened her mouth, “Would you like a ride?” Reesori grinned and climbed on behind her, without another word she took off toward his house.

“How do you know where I live?”

“You’re Vendall’s brother, everyone on Përkorë knows where he lives. Are you going to bust him out of prison? If you are, I’ll help, I could distract the jailor.” Reesori looked at the girl, he had noticed the short skirt and tight top, at first he thought it was for ease of movement while riding, now he noticed she had a worldliness far beyond her years.

“Well, right now I’m looking for his wife, seeing if she’ll retract her statement so we can get him out legally.” They had reached his house and he started to get off the skim craft. Her shrill burst of laughter stopped him.

“She wasn’t his wife! She was one of his workers, had mighty slick fingers, if you know what I mean. I doubt if they ever had sex even.” She gave Reesori a look that made him weak in the knees and at the same time sick to his stomach, she couldn’t have been older than 14. “I could tell you more if you want.”

“No, no that’s all right, thanks for the ride.” Reesori stumbled in the house, he had heard more than enough and things had definitely gotten worse.

His mother was cooking food the old fashioned way. He had gotten used to pushing a button for his meals, the smell reminded him of his childhood. A favorite dish, Masi was trying hard to please him, to avoid the awkward questions he had, such as: why had they given half of their house to Vendall? He had paid for this house, for them to live in, not his brother, it was time for some answers.

“Masi.” He approached his mother, she looked up startled, but instead of starting up a stream of chatter she pointed to the communication screen.

“Some messages came in for you today. I didn’t read them, just left them there for you. Don’t worry about dinner, it’s soup, it’ll stay hot ’till you’re ready to eat.” Yes Masi I know it’s soup, I can smell it, and then an afterthought, it’s like she’s afraid of me, strange. Reesori headed toward the only modern appliance in the house, a message screen, and even that was out of date, only able to transmit written messages, no images or voice. The first one was from his commanding officer wanting to know when he was returning. He responded that he would need at least another month. He also asked if he could have an advance on his salary. There were some from friends in the Eskardian and to his surprise one from Soarite, the beautiful alien woman he had asked out. It was just a short message, but ended with a promise to make up for the missed date. The last message was from a man named Jok Sint, an associate of Vendall. Reesori didn’t like the man, but Vendall trusted him. The message was an urgent request to meet with Reesori, Jok Sint has some vital information that must be communicated in person. Reesori sent a message back saying he couldn’t meet this evening he had no transportation, almost immediately the screen pinged, “NOW TONIGHT” with a location and time. “The girl you met this afternoon will be there to get you.”

He had just enough time to eat, he had no idea what to say to his parents anyway. Vendall was the baby, he could do no wrong and Reesori was the big brother who abandoned him to seek riches and explore the universe. Of course Vendall fell into a life of crime, Reesori wasn’t there to keep an eye on him, obviously Reesori was to blame. He shoveled down the soup, as he ate it he realized it tasted different than he remembered, it had no meat in it, just broth and greens. I’m a trapron in the King’s Eskardian, my brother is a rich criminal and my parents eat like peasants, he thought ruefully. The door chime sounded and his mother went to open the door.

“Prat•ka! How good to see you, its seems like ages. Look at your darling hair, I do so wish you’d let it get grow. You would look stunning with long brown curls. Isn’t that outfit a little thin for the night air? Aren’t you afraid you’ll catch cold?” All that and she didn’t even pause to take a breath, Reesori thought, then mentally chided himself. He kissed his mother on the way out.

“Don’t stay up, I don’t know how long I’ll be, but we must talk tomorrow.” His mother avoided his eyes. She seemed more concerned with what Prat•ka was wearing. “My dear, let me get you a cape, its cold tonight!”

“Oh no, I’ll be alright.” She purred, adding with a sly wink toward Reesori, “I have a big strong man to keep me warm!” Reesori climbed on the skim craft behind her, in a few minutes they were at the dive where Jok Sint waited. Reesori pulled his cloak tightly around him and made his way past the drunks, sleeping where they had fallen, and the women offering to do anything, and they did mean anything, for a price to get to Jok Sint’s table.

“What was so urgent you had to see me tonight?”

Jok Sint grinned at him, the smell of his breath almost knocked Reesori over, he turned away and missed what Jok was so excited about. “What did you say?”

Jok Sint’s words caught his full attention. “I found the girl. I found Keer•la.”

Chapter 4

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