Space 2315… Peace, Chapter 12

Sofie Taske was sitting in the university’s main library while wearing a pair of wireless headphones and listening to a German rock band while she was doing her research. Before her was a series of datapads full of research notes for a midterm paper for one of her classes along with the datapad that she was typing her paper on. She knew that she should’ve started the research paper a week ago, but between her other classes, club activities and her work with the university’s student newspaper website she’d allowed it to fall behind. It wasn’t like she slacked off; it was just her extracurricular activities that got in the way.

And because of all of those extracurricular activities, she was paying for it. She had been spending long hours up at night and drinking coffee to make up for the sleep that she wasn’t getting. It was so bad that by the time the weekend came along she often crashed, falling asleep so hard that she could barely be woken. Her friend Layla often joked that they could march the school’s marching band into her bedroom on the weekends and she still wouldn’t wake up.

She still had no idea how her roommate Layla managed to find the time to have a social life, have a relationship, and manage to maintain her grades the way that she did. Maybe she had found a better work/life balance than she did, but whatever it was, she was a senior about to graduate and that meant she had to put a lot more work in than her friend who was only in her third year of her four-year degree.

She glanced at the status bar at the top of the datapad that she was typing her paper on and looked at the clock. It was already 2030 hours1 and the library would soon be closing while the café attached to it would stay open for another few hours to serve those who had already arrived. She gathered her things in her backpack, stood up while yawning, and made her way to the café. Miraculously she found a seat on one of the couches in there, a rare thing at that late an hour in the café and planted her backpack there as a way of staking her claim to the seat. After all, the house rules were that if someone’s things were in a seat, nobody would take the seat. It was more or less a code of honor kind of thing really for some people chose to take people’s things off of staked seats but, of course, that brought down shame upon anyone who did so by those already in the café.

As she came up to the counter, she was the third in line and as she stood in line, she began to impatiently tap her foot and because of the high-heeled boots that she was wearing, her tapping made for a rather loud and annoying sound against the ceramic tile that the floor was made of in front of the counter. She didn’t even know that she was doing that, it was completely subconscious of her. She only stopped when someone in back of her made a ‘shush’ sound. “Would you please stop tapping your foot like that?”

“Oh,” she turned around to face the person who had ‘shushed’ her and her cheeks turned red in embarrassment, she didn’t mean to bother the person or anyone else in the café; it just sort of happened out of boredom and impatience. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to bother you like that.”

“That’s alright,” the younger girl who had to be about two years younger raised her hand and waved it telling her that it was alright. “Just please don’t do that, I’m trying to write my paper here.”

“Me too,” Sofie smiled in understanding, she knew all about the predicament that the younger girl was in, “I was in the library researching and writing my paper too. I’m just here,” she looked to the line again and it had moved forward, “to get some coffee so I can stay up writing it.”

“Me too,” the younger girl said as she raised her coffee cup in the air. “But I have to get back to writing my paper.”

Sofie was about to say something else when the person behind the counter yelled ‘next’. “Crap,” she whispered to herself as she hurried her way to the counter. “I’ll take a red eye please,” she was about to hand her credit chip when she remembered something, “oh and make it four shots please. I need the caffeine.” She yawned at which the person behind the counter nodded in understanding, he too had been where Sofie was. “I have a paper to write and I need the caffeine if I’m going to get it done.” A red eye was a cup of brewed coffee mixed with an espresso base.

“Been there, done that,” the person punched a few buttons on his screen. “That’ll be four credits please.” Sofie waved her chronometer which also served as her CAC and credit chip in front of the chip reader which then beeped to indicate that it had read her credit chip successfully. “Alright,” he person behind the counter nodded, “you can step down now.” He then turned to the next person in line. “Next!”

Sofie walked down to the other end of the counter and waited for her coffee to be made. She was about to start tapping her foot again when she remembered how she had been ‘shushed’ before and didn’t want to go through the embarrassment of being told to not do that again. Instead, she just silently stood and waited until a cup was placed on the waiting stand where drinks were placed after they were made.

She took hold of the cup and took a small sip of the coffee and reveled in how nicely hot it was but not so hot as to make it undrinkable. She then walked back over to the couch where her things were waiting for her and sat down, sat back, closed her eyes, and sipped at her coffee while letting out a content sigh for she could already feel the caffeine going to work on her tired mind.

As she opened her eyes, she saw something that at first, she couldn’t believe. She saw two Zaltaens which wasn’t completely out of the ordinary for she had seen many Zaltaens on campus attending classes, even more after her article was published. However, what made this encounter with Zaltaens so different from her other encounters with them was that she saw a male Zaltaen.

She blinked her eyes a few times just to make sure that her tired mind wasn’t playing tricks on her but sure enough, there was a female and a male Zaltaen waiting in line for coffee in the same line she had left not even a few minutes ago.

Everyone knew that there had to be male Zaltaens since there were female Zaltaens but males were so rarely seen that many people, including her, often thought that male Zaltaens were nothing more than a myth. But here she was looking at a male Zaltaen with her own two eyes. Wow, she thought to herself, a male Zaltaen. I wouldn’t believe it if I didn’t see him with my own two eyes. And damn, she thought as she looked him over from afar, he’s awfully cute too. She chuckled as she thought about him that way, he may’ve been an alien but that didn’t change anything about what she thought of him. I wonder if he has anyone in his life.

Meanwhile the female Zaltaen grinned as she was waiting in line with the male Zaltaen for she sensed Sofie’s thoughts about her brother. “Hey,” she said in her native language as she nudged her brother in his side, “look at that human woman back there on the couch.” The male Zaltaen quickly looked over his shoulder at Sofie all while trying not to make it obvious that he looked at her. “What of her?” He asked his sister in Zaltaen. “She’s a human woman.”

“She thinks you’re cute and she’s wondering if you have anyone in your life.” She couldn’t help but to chuckle as her brother’s cheeks flushed. “Oh, come now brother,” she put her arm around him, “don’t be like that.” Just then two coffee cups were placed in the waiting stand. “Thank you,” the female said in English as they both took hold of their cups and walked away.

Sofie then looked at the female that he was with and could’ve sworn that they looked alike. Brother and sister?! She asked herself as she looked them over again. They have to be! They look too much alike to not be! She closed her eyes and took another sip of her coffee and reveled in the taste of the strong coffee when she heard some rustling near her. That’s when she opened her eyes to see that the two Zaltaens she had been looking at a few seconds ago sat down on a couch in front of her.

“Hello,” Sofie smiled while trying her best to make them feel comfortable in an otherwise crowded setting. “I don’t believe I’ve ever seen you two here before. Are you two new here on campus?”

“Oh no,” the female Zaltaen said as she shook her head. “We’ve been on-campus since the fall semester began but we’ve lately been keeping to ourselves.” Meanwhile the male Zaltaen tried his best to not stare at Sofie for he didn’t want to creep her out even though he found her to be stunningly beautiful.

“Why is that?” Sofie had to wonder. “There’s a lot your people on campus. Why hide away?”

“Well for one,” the female Zaltaen pointed at a flyer that was taped to the wall behind the human woman, “there’s that.” Sofie turned her head and looked at that she was pointing at and noticed there was a flyer with some rather hate-filled rhetoric on it along with details about an on-campus demonstration to protest letting Zaltaens attend the university.

Sofie stood up and while doing so, she mumbled something about how the people behind said protest were nothing but a bunch of stupid racist assholes but with their enhanced hearing, the two Zaltaens heard every word she mumbled. They then watched in disbelief as the human woman tore the flyer down, crumpled it up, and threw it in a nearby trash can. “There!” she exclaimed. “That’s where that stupid shit belongs. The whole lot of them are xenophobic assholes. I have no damn use for assholes like that.”

Sofie knew all too well about more than a few anti-alien groups that still existed on Terra and how they were gaining strength and popularity among some segments of the population that felt that they were being marginalized. She recalled that she had heard more than a few people in town making hushed statements about ‘the xenos’ walking about on Terra like it was their world and that Terra should only be for Terrans and only native Terrans to boot, which, of course, she wasn’t a native Terran.

Sofie did her best to avoid said people, seeing as how her German accented English would give her away as not being from Terra. Even though she was born on Terra, years of living off world had changed her speech patterns enough that she didn’t sound like a native Terran anymore.

It was either avoid them or find herself in a spot of trouble that she didn’t want to be in. Even though she was genetically enhanced and had far superior strength and endurance than that of a normal human, she still didn’t want to get into that kind of trouble. The last thing she wanted to do was spend a night in jail over something as silly as a scuffle between her and some stupid bigots.

“I mean I know that we have the right to free speech and peaceful assembly,” she sighed as she sat back down on the couch in front of them, “but honestly I really would’ve thought that we as a species would’ve gotten over such obvious stupidity.” She looked down at her lap in overall disappointment at how little humanity had grown since going to the stars. That’s when she realized that the young Zaltaen man was once again looking at her and he couldn’t take his eyes off of her so she gave him a quick smile. “I guess it’s going to take more than two hundred standard years or so to evolve a better human. And besides,” she looked back up, “I’ve been a target of some of these pro-Terra loonies too you know.”

“How so?” the male Zaltaen asked, finally finding his voice in the conversation. “You’re a human, I didn’t think you would be a target of that kind of abuse too.”

“Yes,” Sofie put her finger up, “I may be a human but first and foremost, I’m a Colonial to those xenophobic assholes.” Others in the café looked in Sofie’s direction as she mentioned that she was a Colonial and that’s when Acina picked up on how others in the café thought about Sofie, those thoughts were similar in nature to how others thought about them.

“What does that mean?” the male Zaltaen asked. They knew what the word ‘colonial’ meant but they figured that perhaps there was an unspoken meaning behind the word.

“Colonial.” Sofie didn’t so much as say it but spit it out. She hated the word and all of the negative connotations behind it. “The word ‘Colonial’,” she made an air quotes gesture with her fingers, “is a derogatory word used to describe those humans who lived and grew up somewhere other than Terra. I personally hate the word really.” She shook her closed fist in anger. “I’ve been on Terra for a little over two standard Terran years and I still get more than a few people rudely telling me to go back to where I came from. The dumb thing is,” she had to laugh at the stupidity of it all, “I was born here on Terra, right here in Germany,” she pointed down at the floor, “in fact. But I grew up on New Germany in the Issus Star System. I came back to Terra to go to the local university here in Germany.”

“Oh,” the female Zaltaen frowned. She found it hard to believe that humans would be bigoted against their own kind yet as she continued to sense the thoughts of others around her, she began to understand the human woman’s predicment. “I see,” she rubbed her chin, “so you have an idea of what we Zaltaens go through when among humans on this campus.”

Sofie shook her head. “I’m not going to say that I fully understand what you and your people go through but I, being a Colonial,” she put her hand to her chest, “have at least an inkling of an understanding. Say,” she paused, “where do you two live since you attend this university?”

The female Zaltaen looked to her brother with a questioning look on her face. She wondered if perhaps telling the young human woman that they barely even knew where they lived was a good idea. The male Zaltaen shrugged his shoulders in a very human-like manner to which she simply nodded her head and then looked back at the young human woman and passively read her mind and in doing so, she sensed no immediate hateful thoughts from her towards them or their people in general. All she could sense from her was a want to get to know them which was different than most humans she had encountered. She, however, didn’t go too deep into her thoughts, after all, she didn’t want to offend the human girl and give her any reason to hate their kind.

“We obviously live on here on campus since it’s easier for us to get to class than if we were to live in the Zaltaen Consulate or one of many Zaltaen-only housing facilities.”

Sofie nodded in understanding. “The Zaltaen Consulate is across town and during the height of rush hour it can be a bitch to get here from there. As for where that gated community where your people normally live, I have no idea where it is.”

The male Zaltaen chuckled, he knew all too well the traffic jams that occurred during what humans euphemistically referred to as rush hour even though he didn’t understand why it was called ‘rush hour’ for during it, it seemed like nobody was going anywhere fast.

“Yeah,” he looked to his sister, “we know all about rush hour, that’s why we both opted to get a place on campus. My sister,” he glanced to her and then back at Sofie, “and I live in room 204B.”

“Your sister?!” Sofie exclaimed. “Are you telling me that,” she pointed to the female that was sitting next to him, “she’s your sister?” They both nodded in a very human-like fashion. “Oh wow,” Sofie clasped her hands around her mouth in shock. “Then again,” she spoke through her hands which muffled her voice, “I can see the family resemblance. You two really do look alike!”

“Yep,” she put her left arm around her brother’s shoulder and Sofie could sense that she was very protective of him which seemed a bit unusual but then she remembered that Zaltaen society was a matriarchal society in which the women of their people ruled their world. She surmised that perhaps because of that, their women would be the protectors whereas in human societies men were generally seen as the protectors. “We’re brother and sister alright. We both came to Terra about a few months before fall semester began to get acclimated to being on Terra. We wanted to get used to being around humans before we came to a university where there would be a lot more humans to contend with.”

“And how have you two been doing on Terra?” Sofie asked as she noticed what the two of them were dressed like. Right away she noticed that the male Zaltaen was wearing a pair of khakis slacks along with a simple blue button-down dress shirt along with a pair of black dress shoes. She then turned to the Zaltaen female and noticed that she was wearing a sweater of sorts along with black leggings a pair of black high-heeled boots much like she, herself, was wearing. To top her whole outfit off, she had her blue colored hair done up in a ponytail at the back of her head. She had to admit that if it wasn’t for the obvious things like the color of their skin or their hair, she would’ve thought they were humans.”

“I see that the two of you have become used to human clothing.” Sofie leaned forward to extend her hand to which they both shook her hand. “By the way, I’m Sofie. Sofie Taske. I’m pleased to meet the two of you.”

“Pleased to meet you as well,” the Zaltaen female sat back on the couch and clasped her hands around her knee much like Sofie did after she sat back in her seat. “Likewise,” the male Zaltaen said as well, “I’m pleased to meet you as well.”

“As for how we’re dressed,” the female Zaltaen glanced at her brother out of the corner of her eye, “my brother and I have tried our best to look as much like a human as we could to fit in and not stick out like…” Sofie spoke up. “A sore thumb?” The female Zaltaen raised her hand from her knee and pointed at her with one finger out. “Yeah, a sore thumb. But sadly,” she frowned at which her brother put his arm around her and brought her closer, “it’s not always worked. We’re still seen as outsiders.”

Sofie couldn’t help but to feel bad for the two of them. Here they were trying their best to fit in and yet everything that they did, didn’t work. “You don’t have to worry about that from me,” Sofie she sat back in her seat, “I won’t treat you any differently.” She nervously paused. “If I’m not overstepping my bounds here, I’d really like to be your friend.”

The two Zaltaens looked at each other and when they did so, Sofie felt that maybe she had been wrong in her thinking and that she had indeed overstepped her bounds. She could’ve smacked herself for saying what she said when the female Zaltaen spoke up.

“My brother and I would like that; we’d like that very much.” Her brother spoke up. “Sadly, we don’t have any friends here on campus,” they both frowned. “You’d be our first human friend; nobody’s been willing to open up to us and befriend the two of us like you have.”

Sofie felt genuinely sorry for them and how nobody was willing to get to know them let alone try and befriend them. “Well, that’s a shame,” Sofie took a sip of coffee from her coffee cup, “because if you ask me, it’s their loss. I’d be more than happy to be your friend; I want to get to know the two of you.”

“Thank you!” the female Zaltaen exclaimed. She almost yelled but at the last second, she remembered where she was. “You have no idea how much these last couple of months here have made us regret coming here to Terra.” Sofie opened her mouth as she heard those words, she once again felt genuinely sorry that they regretted coming to Terra. Truth be told, for her, coming to Terra was the best decision she had ever made and that was despite the issues that she had with the pro-Terra loonies. “Perhaps now that we’ll have a friend here on campus, things won’t be so bad for the two of us.”

“Well then, I’m glad to know that I’ve made your experience here on Terra a little brighter and hopeful.”

“Likewise. I’m glad you chose to be so friendly to us. You have no idea how much it makes the both of us feel, it’s gone a long way in making us feel more welcome here.” The female put her hands to her chest. “I’m Acina Stormfeather,” the female put her hand to her chest. “And I’m Lydris Stormfeather,” the male spoke up.

“And as I said before, I’m Sofie Taske,” she put her coffee cup down on a table near her and stood up from her seat at which they too, stood up. “As for the two of you,” Sofie opened her arms and approached Acina and hugged her to which she hesitated in returning her hug but when she felt no sense of malice from Sofie, she returned her hug. “I’m happy to have gotten to know the two of you.” She then turned to embrace Lydris. “We really should hang out together; I’ll even introduce you two to my good friend and dormmate, Layla.”

“Do you think this… Layla would accept us?” Acina worriedly asked. “Not many humans have been open to getting to know you. Present company excluded, of course.”

“Of course, she would!” Sofie exclaimed which caused some people in the room to once again ‘shush’ her so she brought her volume down. “Layla would love to meet the two of you. But anyways,” she turned to her cup of coffee and picked it up from the table, “I’ve got to get back to my room. That paper I have to write isn’t going to write itself.” She then turned to pick her backpack up and slung it across her back.

“We have papers to write as well,” the two of them looked down at the couch and picked their things up and like Sofie, they too slung their backpacks across their backs. “Maybe we’ll run into each other on campus.”

“About that,” Sofie began, “where did you say you two live?”

“Room 204B.”

“Then you live right down the hall from me,” Sofie said softly so as to not disturb anyone else in the café. “Come on you two,” she gently put her hand on Acina’s shoulder and caressed it which she found to be most comforting, “I’ll walk you two back to your room.”

“Are you sure?” Acina asked as she began to walk with Sofie’s hand on her shoulder. She had to admit that it put a lot of her anxiety at ease while walking across campus at such a late hour but at the same time she worried about how other humans would think of her. “I hope that we’re not imposing on you. Are we? I wouldn’t want to impose on you or take you out of your way.”

“Of course not!” Sofie exclaimed as the door to the café closed behind her. “Like I said, I live down the hall from you two, my place is along the way. Now come on you two,” she put her hand on Lydris’ shoulder much like she had her hand on Acina’s which made him nearly gasp, “we can talk some more along the way.”

While the three were walking across the campus, Acina couldn’t help but to notice the kinds of looks they were receiving from other humans and they weren’t all directed at them; some of them were directed towards Sofie and she began to wonder if walking along with Sofie was a good idea. She couldn’t help but to think about her reputation and how merely being with her could ruin it for her. She could’ve told Sofie to go away when she had introduced herself to them, but she knew that she’d feel so badly about doing that to her. She then looked to Sofie and that’s when she sensed that Sofie knew about how people were looking at them.

“Sofie?” she asked which made her look to her, “you do know that people are looking at you with the two of us, right?” She was about to say that some of the looks weren’t good, but Sofie spoke up first. “See if I care?” Sofie asked. “They can look at me with the two of you all they want; I really couldn’t give a damn.” Both of the Zaltaens looked at each other as they continued to walk beside Sofie through the main courtyard of the university campus. “I really couldn’t give a damn about what people think of me and why I’m associating with the two of you. They can think all they want, like I said,” she shrugged, “I don’t give a damn.”

“But aren’t you part of the school newspaper?” Acina worriedly asked. “Aren’t you worried about how the newspaper will be received when people find out that you’re associating with us Zaltaens?”

“What’s that got to do with anything?” Sofie asked as she continued to walk alongside them. “And before you say that they’ll call for my removal from the school newspaper, it’d be their loss if they got rid of me.” She had to laugh at how much they’d be shooting themselves in the foot if they did. “I’ve been writing some really hard-hitting articles lately and because of that, the paper has seen the most amount of readership it’s seen in years.” She laughed haughtily which made Acina think that Sofie had a bit of an ego. “There’s no way they’d remove me from the paper, they know if that if they lost me, they’d be shooting themselves in the foot.

“Besides,” she said as she continued walking with them, “like I said, I’m seen as a Colonial. Things can’t get any worse than that for me.” That’s when someone shouted telling get to go back to where she came from along with some swear words. Sofie turned in the general direction of the person who shouted it. “Go to hell, asshole!” She turned to the two of them. “See what I mean?” The two Zaltaens again looked at each other and marveled at how Sofie seemed to not give a care in the world what other people thought of her and how she was so willing to tell the person off like she did. “I get that kind of treatment all the time on campus. It used to bother me back when I first came here but lately,” she waved her chronometer in front of the reader which opened the door to the dorm building her dorm was in, “I’ve grown a thick skin and the insults don’t bother me anymore.”

Sofie again waved her CAC in front of the reader next to the elevator which opened it and allowed the two Zaltaens to walk in before she did.

“Besides,” she pressed the button for the second floor, “most of the people who scream such insults are cowards. If you were to go after them, they’d cower away like the damn cowards that they are. Didn’t you note how the person who screamed it was nowhere to be seen afterwards?” They both nodded in agreement. “Exactly. They’re cowards.” The door to the elevator opened and three of them walked out and began walking down the hallway. “All you have to do is not let it bother you. It wouldn’t hurt that you hurl an insult back at them just for good measure like I did.”

“That’s the difference between Zaltaens and humans, most of us are just too nice to do such a thing.”

“And they’ll walk all over you for it,” Sofie said as she stopped at room 204B and turned to face them. “This is your place.” Acina waved her CAC over the reader and the door to their dorm opened. “Like I said, think about it. Most people who yell stupid stuff about how you’re an alien or in my case, a Colonial, are nothing but cowards and back down when you try and go after them.”

“But what about out on the normal streets?” Acina asked.

“That’s a different story,” Sofie stopped. “On campus it’s different. Most students know that if they’re reported in any way, they’d be facing expulsion so most don’t try stupid shit while on campus. Besides,” she pointed up at the camera in the ceiling, “there’s cameras all over the place on campus so really there’s nothing that isn’t caught on camera and the camera feeds are watched by monitoring systems and alert campus security if something were to happen.”

“Has anything happened on campus?” Acina asked, hoping that the campus was safe.

“Well,” Sofie looked up at the ceiling and thought for a moment, “there was that one incident outside the campus bar where someone had a little bit too much to drink that evening. Luckily, nothing happened to the poor bastard. He fell onto the pavement, tossed his cookies, and the next thing he knew was that security was picking him up off the pavement within seconds of him hitting it.”

“Tossed his cookies?” Lydris asked. “What’s that mean?” Even though they knew English, they lacked knowledge in some common idioms.

“It means to heave, throw up, and otherwise purge your stomach of what’s in it.”

“Oh,” the two Zaltaens hummed. “In other words,” Acina began, “he had too much to drink and his system couldn’t handle it.”

“Exactly!” Sofie exclaimed. “It was all caught on the campus security camera system and within minutes security was on the case to handle it. And off to the drunk tank he went.” When she once again saw their confusion, she instead said. “It means to otherwise be put somewhere to sleep off the effects of the alcohol, usually under police custody. Like I said before,” she once again pointed up at the camera in the ceiling, “there’s really nothing that’s not on camera while on campus except in the public bathrooms and inside dorms for obvious reasons. It’s one of the reasons why I chose this university, it was rated as one of the safest universities in all of modern Germany. I’ve been here on campus for two and a half years and I’ve yet to have anything happen to me other than someone yelling stupid shit at me and I’m sometimes out as late as 0230 hours2. This university campus takes the safety of its staff and students very seriously, they have a name and reputation to uphold so honestly, I think you two chose a good university to go to.”

As she was talking to them, a lot of their fears of going out into public was being put to rest. Perhaps it wasn’t as bad on campus as they thought it was and that what they heard was just meant to scare them.

“But anyways,” Sofie looked down the hallway to her own room, “I’m down the hall, I’m in room 212.” They too peered down the hallway and saw where she was pointing. “I bid the two of you good night, I have a paper to write and it isn’t going to write itself.” She smiled and began to walk down the hallway to her room but suddenly she turned around. “Come on over to my place at say, 1200 hours. Maybe Layla and I can do something with the two of you. Maybe we can take you two you out for a day out on the town.” Acina bit her lip and Sofie sensed her apprehension. “Oh, come now Acina, it won’t be that bad.” And with that she disappeared down the hallway.

“Well then,” Acina spoke in Zaltaen as she closed the door and locked it after her brother walked in, “I think that interaction with Sofie went rather well. Don’t you think?” Lydris, her brother sat down on the couch in the common room of their dorm. “Me too, it went a lot better than I expected. I’m happy to have met her. She’s definitely shown us a side of humanity that I didn’t expect to see.”

“Me too brother.”

“What do you think about meeting up with her tomorrow?”

“Maybe.” Acina began to take her boots off and sighed in contentment she put her feet on the floor. High-heeled shoes and boots were the one aspect of human clothing that she could never understand. Why the hell would women want to put themselves through so much agony while wearing them, she just couldn’t figure out. However, that was what was in fashion and she figured that if she didn’t emulate what human women wore, she wouldn’t fit in. “Perhaps it could be fun.” She turned to her brother. “What do you think of her? I saw you staring at her, I saw how you couldn’t tear your eyes away from her.”

“Yeah,” he sheepishly looked down at himself. “She’s awfully beautiful, that’s for sure.” He blushed as he thought about her and what she looked like. “I really would like to get to know her, that is, if you would permit me to do so.”

“Lydris,” she smiled as thought about how happy she was for her brother, “are you saying you’ve developed a liking for her?” She once again watched her brother blush. “Oh, come now brother, don’t be like that; I’m happy for you. Ever since that Calyssa broke things off with you, you’ve been a wreck.”

He slowly nodded his head. “You don’t have a problem with me liking her like that?”

“Well,” she stood up from the couch, “we’ll see.” She sighed. “We just met these humans; we have no idea what’s going to happen between the four of us. Right?”

“I get it,” he watched his sister walk over to her bedroom, “that doesn’t stop me from thinking that she’s beautiful though, right?”

“No,” she shook her head as she walked into her bedroom and closed the door. Lydris sat back down on the couch in the common area of their dorm and couldn’t help but to smile as he recalled how Sofie looked and just how magnificent that she looked. He just hoped that he didn’t creep her out as much as he thought he had.

Meanwhile in Sofie’s room, Layla looked up from her datapad as she heard the door open. “And just where the hell have you been?” she asked. “I thought you said that you were going to go to the library, do some research, and get some coffee? You’ve been gone,” she looked at her datapad again, “for over,” she looked at her clock, “three hours. You know that paper ain’t going to write itself you know.”

“I know,” she rolled her eyes. Sometimes her friend annoyed her with rubbing the truth in her face. “I met some Zaltaens and I got to talking with them in the café.” Layla’s eyebrow raised. “And they’re really nice too, they’re brother and sister.”

“You mean you actually saw a male Zaltaen?!” Layla exclaimed. “And for the longest time we all thought that male Zaltaens didn’t exist and that they were a myth.”

“Oh no,” Sofie sat down on a chair at her desk to take her boots off and as she put her feet down on the floor she sighed in contentment, “he’s definitely a male Zaltaen alright and if you ask me, I think he’s rather cute but I don’t want to scare him off by telling him so. After all, I don’t know how their courting rituals work.”

Courting rituals?” Layla had to scoff at how she had used such an obscure word. Sofie had a way of using obscure words that most people didn’t use which only served to make her stand out more than she already did being that she was a Colonial. “Just say it how it is, you don’t know how they go about dating someone.”

“Exactly,” Sofie pointed at her with her index finger. “Hell, I don’t know if they even have a concept of dating like we humans have. Remember, they live in a matriarchal society, or at least,” she shrugged, “or so that’s what we’ve been told about their people.”

Layla rubbed her chin as she remembered back when humanity had learned that they weren’t alone among the stars and one of the things that was talked about was how they had a very different society than that of humans. “Yeah,” she snapped out of her thinking, “I did hear about that but who really knows, it’s hard to separate fact from fiction these days.”

“Yeah, for all we know they are matched up by their matriarch or something like that.”

“Matched up?” Layla couldn’t imagine being told who to see, who to date, or for that matter, who to love; the whole concept went against their entire concept of freedom to get to know whoever they wanted to get to know and/or date and ultimately enter into a relationship with. “Damn,” she thought, “I didn’t think about that. They probably don’t even know what it means to date someone. They probably even have arranged marriages.”

“Exactly!” Sofie put her feet on the floor and wriggled her toes.

For the first time in a long time, Layla noticed a spark of excitement in her friend that she hadn’t seen in a long time; at least not since she had ended the friendship with Matthew.

Layla tried to put a good face on. “Yeah, I’m happy for you. It’s been a while since I’ve seen you like this; that is, interested in someone. I think the last time I saw you like this was back when…” Sofie interrupted her. “Since I was with Matthew. Please,” she shook her head, “don’t remind me of him. It was a friendship at best and sometimes I don’t even think it was that.”

“I know,” she pulled her sweater off and threw it through the open door to her bedroom. “He was a nice enough guy but really he lacked big time in the self-confidence department. It was only a friendship at best and sometimes don’t even think it was that.” She yawned. “However, I have that paper to write so with that… have a good night, Layla.”

Continue to Chapter 13…

  1. 8:30 PM.[]
  2. 2:30 AM.[]