Space 2315… Peace, Chapter 13

The next day’s afternoon Layla woke up as she looked the clock, it read 1200 hours1. She groaned as she pushed back her covers and felt the relatively cold air of the room hit her naked body. It wasn’t like anyone cared that she slept without any clothing on for it was, after all, her private bedroom and she locked her bedroom door at night.

After she finished getting dressed in what was a rather simple outfit of nothing more than a rather nice-looking sweater, black leggings, and black boots for it was raining outside, she stepped out of her bedroom and found that Sofie’s door was still closed. She figured that since she was still sleeping, she’d keep quiet to not wake her. After all, Sofie had been up rather late; later than even she had been for she, herself, had gone to bed at around 0200 hours2 after she finished a raid in an online role-playing game with some other students from another dorm on a private server. How the private server had managed to escape the watchful eye of those in the campus network management team, she didn’t know; all she knew was that the private server had become a sort of digital hangout for those in the geekier community on campus much like she and Sofie were a part of.

Sofie stayed up until around 0400 hours3 writing her paper and only went to bed because her writing quality took a turn for the worse as time approached 0330 hours4. Thankfully, despite Sofie being still awake, she was respectful of her friend and kept quiet thus allowing Layla to get some sleep.

Layla was about to sit down on the couch and catch up on some social media and the day’s news on her datapad when she heard a knock at the door. “Oh, who the hell could that be?” she asked herself as she walked over to the door and opened it only to find a female Zaltaen standing on the other side of the door. Like Sofie had said the night before, she was dressed very much like a young human woman typically would be and she had to admit that even though she was an actual extraterrestrial alien, she found her to be quite attractive.

After a few seconds Layla managed to stop drinking the female Zaltaen’s very attractive appearance in and managed to compose herself. “Who are you?” she asked as she rubbed her hair and yawned, after all, she hadn’t had her morning coffee yet. “Wait,” she put her finger up in the air she remembered what Sofie had told her the night before, “you must be one of those Zaltaens that Sofie was telling me about last night.”

“Yes, I am,” the female Zaltaen spoke. “My name is Acina Stormfeather and you must be Sofie’s friend and dormmate, Layla. Sofie told me a little about you.”

“Yeah, I’m alright Layla. Please,” she motioned for Acina to come in from the hallway, “please come in. Sofie was telling me a little about you last night.”

As Acina walked into the room she looked about and found it to be quite similar to how their dorm was like except they had it arranged differently and they had different décor around the room including some posters of what had to be of various music groups. They had two couches instead of two, why they had two she didn’t know. After all, they only had one and they barely used it for nobody ever came over to visit them. She supposed that all the dorms looked the same and it was up to the particular students living in them to turn it into whatever they wanted it to look like to suit their tastes.

“Please,” Layla extended a hand in the air as she sat down on one of the two couches in the room, “please take a seat. Welcome. Sofie’s still sleeping, she was up rather late writing her paper.” Acina was about to sit when she heard her say that. “Do you want me to come back at another time?” She thought that maybe coming back when Sofie was awake was a good idea and that she shouldn’t bother Layla since she didn’t know her yet. The truth was that she wanted Sofie around in case something went wrong between Layla and her, she figured that perhaps if Sofie was there and something went wrong, she could play the referee between them.

“Oh no,” Layla again motioned for her to sit down on the couch across from her, “please sit down. Stay awhile. Sofie told me a little bit about you but because it was rather late at night and because she had her paper to write, she didn’t get to tell me much about you other than how you have a brother.”

“Well as you can see,” Acina sat down on the couch, “I’m obviously a Zaltaen.”

“That much is true,” Layla looked her over and once again couldn’t help but to find her quite attractive, “it’s kind of obvious with your purple skin and eyes, blue hair, and of course,” she reached up and touched her ears, “your pointed elf-like ears. However, Sofie never mentioned that the two of you dressed like humans.”

“Yeah.” Acina picked at her purple sweatshirt that had the phrase ‘Property of the Free University of Berlin’ on the front of it much like so many of her sweatshirts had. “When we came here to this university, we knew that we had to dress more like humans do or we would, as Sofie said last night, stick out like a sore thumb.”

It was true, Layla couldn’t help but to notice how the young Zaltaen woman was dressed, after all, it was the first thing that Layla noticed about her. She had seen many images of Zaltaens on the Galactic Internet and Acina didn’t at all look like any of them that she had seen. She knew that Zaltaens tended to be rather conservative in appearance and dress but here Acina was sitting in front of her and she looked anything but conservative. In fact, she was about as far away from being conservatively dressed as one could be.

As Layla looked Acina over she noticed that she was wearing a purple sweatshirt along with black leggings that hugged her feminine figure and a pair of athletic shoes much like she, herself, was wearing along with her hair done up at the back of her head in a ponytail.

Meanwhile, Acina sensed what Layla thought about her and if she was being honest with herself, she too thought that Layla was rather attractive as well. It was then that she began to question her thoughts about her. Was she really attracted to Layla like some of her people often were to other females because of their general lack of males on their world? Or did she simply like that another human besides Sofie was able to look past the fact that she was an alien from another world? In truth, she didn’t know. Either way, she tried to stop blushing while sitting in front of Layla but it didn’t work, she liked Layla’s attention.

“By the way,” Layla blushed again as she found herself once again looking the female Zaltaen over. “I like your outfit. It’s very,” she tried to think of a way that wouldn’t scare the young Zaltaen woman away, “human in appearance. As you can see,” she looked down at herself, “it’s quite similar to what I’m wearing now except I’m wearing a nicer looking turtleneck sweater.” She slid her hand down the front of her shin. “Sofie and I plan on going out this afternoon, that’s why I’m kind of dressed up right now. Otherwise, I’d probably just be wearing a pair of sweatpants to lounge about in.”

“Thank you,” Acina couldn’t help but to smile at the young human woman’s approval of her outfit. “My brother and I have tried our best to try and fit in with humans but as I told Sofie last night, it’s not always been successful. We’re still seen by many of your kind as outsiders and we’re very much treated that way.”

“And I’m sure that Sofie has said that she too is often seen as an outsider.”

Acina nodded her head. “Yeah,” Acina shook her head as she once again found it quite strange that humans would be bigoted against their own kind. “Sofie told me about how she’s often still seen as a Colonial even after being here on Terra for a little over two years.”

“I can relate in your kind of thinking.” Layla tore her eyes away from her appearance. “If you ask me, it’s rather stupid. I don’t see Sofie as any less of a human than I am despite the fact that she grew up somewhere else. As for you and your people,” she pointed at her, “that’s another thing I find to be rather stupid.”

“How so?” Acina asked as she clasped her hands around her knee as she crossed her legs at the knee in a very human like fashion.

“Well,” Layla sat forward on the couch and like Acina, she too clasped her hands around her knee as she crossed the legs in front of her. “For the longest time in our history we looked up to the stars,” she raised her hands up in the air and looked up at the ceiling, “wondering if we were truly the only intelligent and sentient species in all the galaxy.” She brought her gaze back down. “We went out to the stars to find aliens like you because we couldn’t fathom the idea that we were alone in the big empty unknown.” Acina nodded in understanding. “But then when we finally found aliens in the galaxy, what the hell do we do? How did we treat you? We treated you with suspicion, hatred, and otherwise like shit. It really doesn’t make much sense to me.”

“Well, we did hide among your people for nearly four hundred of your years; that tends to make people dislike or even distrust you when you’ve been lying to their face for so long.”

“That may be true, however, it’s not like hiding among us was something that you, personally, wanted to do, right?”

“No,” Acina shook her head, “in fact, when we discovered your people a lot of my ancestors disagreed with our leaders but they didn’t care. Now that we look back on that decision, many of us see it for what it was, a mistake of galactic proportions. I can’t help but to think that maybe if we showed ourselves to your people during the 2000s maybe your people wouldn’t have nearly destroyed yourselves with World War Three.”

“I can see how you may think that but if you ask me,” Layla put a finger up in the air, “don’t underestimate the stupidity of humans.” Layla shook her head. “After all, we treat your people like shit even though we should be welcoming you and your people. I mean come on!” She exclaimed. “You’ve been figuratively holding our hand and giving us all this technology and stuff but instead of saying thank you, we figuratively bite the hand that’s feeding us.”

“True,” Acina nodded. “Humans can be rather stupid but then again, we were stupid too.”

“I guess that the phrase talking about how the two most common commodities in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity is very much true. No matter where you go in the universe, you can find both in large quantities.” As Layla said that Acina began to laugh. She had almost forgotten how it felt to laugh and how it brought a sense of happiness to her the likes of which she hadn’t felt in a long time. “Thank you, Layla, thank you for making me laugh. It’s been so long since I’ve laughed. I thought I forgot how to laugh.”

“Why?” Layla asked. “I couldn’t imagine forgetting how to laugh.”

Acina frowned to which Layla couldn’t help but to want to reach out and hug her but she knew that it wasn’t her place to do so, at least not yet. “Layla,” she looked down at her lap, “I’ve not laughed since the moment I came to Terra nearly a year ago. This world has left me quite cynical.”

“And that’s sad,” Layla was disappointed that Acina had felt the way she did and that she felt sorry for her. “I’m glad to have been the one to bring some laughter to your life in quite some time. However,” she tried to put a smile on her face to try and reassure her, “why did you come to this world? Why did you come to Terra knowing that humans may not accept you?”

“Why does anyone go anywhere?” Acina asked. “To see and experience new things but mostly because my brother and I wanted to come here to escape our world and its many issues but lately we’ve been having second thoughts about that. We’ve lately been thinking about going back home.”

“I get it,” she nodded and as she thought back to what Sofie said two years ago, “even Sofie thought the same thing you are now but she stuck it out largely due to having me,” she pointed at herself, “in her life. I hope that perhaps having Sofie and me in your life will change things much like things changed with Sofie.”

“It already has,” she looked down at her lap, “having you welcome me without even knowing me has changed my mind already. My brother and I’ll be staying here.”

“Well then, great!” Layla exclaimed which startled Acina. “I’m happy to hear that, I really am.”

“I know,” Acina began to worry about how Layla would react to what she was about to say next. “Before we go any further, I,” she bit her lower lip, “I need to tell you something and I believe that both you and Sofie deserve to know.”

“OK,” Layla said slowly, “sure.” She shook her head. “Go ahead, tell me.” Just then, Sofie’s bedroom door opened and outstepped Sofie. “Oh good,” Acina looked to her as she watched Sofie yawn, “you’re here so this makes it easier on me, I won’t have to explain myself twice. Please,” Acina motioned for her to sit down, “both of you should hear this about me.”

“Alright,” Sofie took a seat next to Layla across from Acina, “what’s this about?” she asked as she yawned. “Sorry, I just got up and I’ve not had my coffee yet.”

“Firstly,” Acina bit her lip, “how much do the two of you know about my people, Zaltaens?”

“Um,” Layla hummed, “not much really.” She looked to Sofie who nodded in agreement with her. “There’s a lot of info about your people floating around the Galactic Internet; so much so that it’s rather hard to separate fact from fiction these days. You have no idea what’s real and what’s not and if you ask me, it’s rather annoying for those of us who want to learn about your people and your culture.”

“I would agree,” Acina nodded. “With that being said.” She bit her lip once again hoping to the Great Maker that they wouldn’t react like so many others did when learning of what she was. “How much do you two know about how some Zaltaens have special mental abilities? Extrasensory abilities to be exact.” As she said that, both Sofie and Layla’s eyes went wide, it dawned on Sofie what she was. “You’re a telepath!” Sofie exclaimed.

“Yes,” she sighed, “yes I am. I am indeed a telepath.” She watched their expressions carefully. “Before you ask, I have to assure you that I will never invade the privacy of your innermost thoughts. Telepaths like me on my world all take an oath of sorts to never read another person’s thoughts without their permission. However,” she hung her head low, “I would understand if you don’t want me to hang out with the two of you on account of my… abilities, just please don’t punish my brother; he doesn’t deserve it.”

There was several moments of silence between the three of them, an eerie and awkward silence except for the sound of some rather loud music from an adjacent dorm. Acina began to stand up and head for the door when Sofie spoke up. “Where are you going?”

“I,” she sighed audibly, “I was,” she looked at the floor, “I was going to leave. It’s obvious that you don’t want me to…” Layla interrupted her. “Acina?” She looked back at Layla. “Don’t leave.” Sofie spoke up. “We would never ask you to leave like that.” Acina nervously sat back down on the couch in front of them. “What made you think that we’d want you to leave like that?” Sofie asked.

“Well,” Acina looked to the two of them as she sat back down on the couch across from her, “I thought that perhaps that silence was…,” she sighed and as she closed her eyes. “It wouldn’t be the first time that someone didn’t want me around because of my abilities. A lot of people tend to shy away from me because of what I can do and what secrets I may uncover about them.”

“Oh no,” Sofie stood up from the couch and came over to sit next to her, “that’s quite alright Acina. I’m glad you decided to come forth and be truthful to us. Now had we found out later,” Sofie shrugged, “it’d probably be a different story. However, the fact that you’re being truthful about all of this goes a long way in giving us a reason to trust you.”

“You… you trust me?” Acina asked.

“Why wouldn’t we?” Layla shrugged. “Like Sofie already said, you’re voluntarily telling us what you are and what you’re capable of doing. That goes a long way in giving us a reason to trust you. Like Sofie already said, had we found out the hard way, then yes… we’d probably be pissed at you for not telling us and we’d really have a reason to not trust you. In this case, honesty is why you’re still sitting here with us.”

“Ok,” Acina nodded slowly, “I get it. That much I understand.” She looked up. “I just want you both to know that I’d never invade the privacy of your innermost thoughts. In fact, people like me on my world are required to take an oath of sorts to never do such a thing.”

“I see,” Sofie nodded, “sounds good to me. What do you think Layla?”

“Sounds good to be too Sofie.”

Acina wrapped her arms around Sofie and gently hugged her. “Thank you Sofie,” she glanced at Layla out of the corner of her eye, “and that goes for you too, Layla.” She closed her eyes. “Thank you so very much. I don’t know what I’d have done if you told me you didn’t want to be friends with me or my brother on account of my abilities.”

“Thankfully Acina,” Sofie rubbed her back, “you never have to find out.” Just then there was a knock at the door. “Who could that be?” Acina looked to the door and smiled. “That would be my brother, Lydris.”

“Oh really!” Layla jumped up and ran for the door and opened to find Lydris standing behind it. “Wow Sofie,” she stood back and looked him up and down, “you weren’t kidding Sofie! He sure is cute!” Lydris’ eyes went wide and his jaw dropped. “What’s his problem?” she asked as she thumbed in his direction.

“He,” Acina looked to her brother, “he thinks that since the two of you are Humans, there’s no way that you’d find him, a Zaltaen, cute.”

“Oh, but he is!” Layla put her arm behind him and gently nudged him in the room and closed the door behind him. “Stop being like that you,” she continued to gently nudge him into the room where the three of them were sitting. “Come sit down next to me,” she sat down on the couch across from Sofie and Acina, “come.” She patted the cushion next to her. “Come, don’t be shy like that.” She once again patted the cushion next to her. Lydris sat down next to Layla on the couch and while doing so he gave what he figured was an appropriate amount of space between the two of them. “There you go,” she reached over to him and patted him on his knee, “that wasn’t so hard. Was it?” he shook his head. “Then again,” she looked at the distance that he had put between them, “you didn’t exactly have to sit a galactic parsec away from me.” He looked to her wondering what she meant by that as he looked down at the distance between them. “I meant that as a joke.”

“Oh,” he looked down at himself, “my sister and I are still trying to get a handle on what humans call sarcasm. As you can probably imagine, not understanding when someone is being sarcastic has been a major source of issue for my sister and I when trying to fit in with humans.”

“I get it,” Layla moved over closer to him much to his surprise.

“Anyways.” He looked down at the amount of distance between him and Layla, there had to be less than a quarter of a meter5 between them whereas before there was little over half a meter of distance. “Based upon how things are going here, I take it that the conversation between my sister and the two of you over her special abilities went well.”

Sofie looked up at Lydris after patting Acina on her knee. “Yes, it did.” She turned back to Acina and rubbed her shoulder to which Acina reached up and touched Sofie’s hand. “Layla and I told your sister that it was good that she had come forth and voluntarily told us about what she could do as versus us finding out later. Honesty goes a long way.” She turned to Acina and once again rubbed her back. “Didn’t we.”

“Yeah,” Acina nodded.

“I’m happy to hear that,” he looked to his sister, “for the both of us.”

“Anyways,” Layla spoke patted Lydris’ once again, “what do you two have planned today? Are you two planning on going anywhere?”

Acina shook her head. “Not really anything in particular.” Acina frowned for it was then that she realized just how much their lives were rather boring and uneventful. “We kind of sort of planned to go to the café, get something to eat and generally watch humans interact with each other to learn more about how to interact with humans. That’s about it really.” Yep, she thought, boring. “Not very interesting at all, boring perhaps.”

“Perfect!” Sofie jumped out of her chair in excitement which startled the hell out of Acina. “Then you two can come with us to Hofbräuhaus!” The two Zaltaens looked to Sofie questioningly. “Honestly, Layla and I were planning on going there for Sunday brunch. You two can come along with us and we can make a day of it. We’ll take the two of you so you can get even more experience interacting with humans.”

“Brunch?” Acina wondered what that meant. “What’s that?”

Layla was thoroughly amazed at just how many gaps that they had in their vocabulary but she chose to keep it to herself so as to not insult them or anything. “It’s a combination of breakfast and lunch.”

“I see,” Acina thought, “what’s this place like? What kind of food does it serve?”

“Well for one, they serve a lot of human food including ethnically German food and they have a bar there too that both Sofie and I partake of.” Upon mentioning the word ‘bar’ the two Zaltaens tensed up. “What?” she asked. “What’s wrong?”

“You mentioned the word… bar.”

“What of it?” Layla asked but then she remembered that most Zaltaens didn’t drink. “Oh yeah, I forgot.” She smacked her forehead. “Zaltaens don’t drink alcohol.”

“It’s not that we don’t drink alcohol,” Acina spoke up but then Lydris continued. “It’s just that Zaltaens usually only drink alcohol during special occasions like parties, special events, and other such special kinds of things. We generally don’t drink like humans do, that is, sociably drink.” Acina spoke up. “And we certainly don’t drink to get drunk.”

“Well,” Layla rubbed her chin, “if you two are going to want to fit in more with humans, that kind of attitude about drinking is going to have to change a little bit.” The two Zaltaens worriedly looked to each other and wondered what they had gotten themselves into. “We don’t mean that you two should get drunk, oh no,” Sofie laughed, “we rarely get drunk ourselves.” She looked to Layla and she nodded. “We both have reputations to uphold and getting drunk would threaten those reputations and the reputations of our respective families as well. Anyways,” Sofie thought of a way to change the subject, “what about human food? Have you two had any yet?”

“Yeah,” Acina hesitantly said, almost as if she weren’t sure if what they had in the past could really be called ‘food’. “We’ve had things like pizza, pasta, and other such things because it’s served here on campus but you probably don’t think of that as real food.”

“Oh no,” Sofie had to laugh but then she wondered if she had insulted the two Zaltaens but as she noticed that they didn’t seem insulted, she sighed. “That’s rather pedestrian or dull if you ask me. No,” she again shook her head, “Layla and I’ll be taking the two of you somewhere nice and it’s a good thing that you two are a bit dressed up like Layla and I are for where we’re going has a sort of unofficial dress code.”

“Why would a restaurant have a dress code?” Lydris asked confused as to how that would make any sense in a capitalist environment like that of the Human Federation. “Wouldn’t that restrict the kinds of people that would go to the place of business? Most business want to make money, right?”

“Well yes,” Sofie tried to think of a reason why they would have such a dress code. “Fancier restaurants tend to have a dress code so as to maintain a certain kind of atmosphere if you know what I mean.”

“But how are we going to get there?” Acina asked.

“By using this,” Sofie pulled out her mini datapad that was sized much like that of twentieth century smartphones and opened the ride-share app and then showed them the app, “it’s called a ride-share. I tell them that I need a ride for four people, preferably something a little upscale for where we’re going, and they show up on-campus to pick us up. Though I am a bit surprised though.”

“Why is that?” Lydris asked. “Yeah,” Acina continued, “why are you surprised?”

“I’m surprised that you two haven’t used a ride-share before.”

“Like I said before,” Lydris looked to his sister and she nodded, “not a lot of humans have been accepting of us here in the city.” Sofie once again felt bad for their Zaltaen friends. “Maybe while with the two of us, things will go better for the two of you. Where we’re going, they know Layla and I; we’re good customers. Layla and I go there so often that they know us by name.”

“Is it expensive?” Acina asked, hoping that the answer was no.

“Well,” Sofie cocked her head, “like I said before, it’s a bit upscale so it’s not exactly cheap,” Acina worriedly looked to her brother. “It’s upscale but not snooty. Like I said, Layla and I go there a lot. Layla likes the place because they know how to make a lot of food from her home state of Spain and I like the place because they know how to do Sauerbraten right which is surprising as all hell to me because Sauerbraten is a German dish but damn if any restaurant knows how to do it right around here.”

“Why is that?” Acina asked. “You’d think that if that if it’s a German dish, they’d know how to make it here in Germany.”

“You’d,” she pointed at her, “think that but sadly you’d be wrong. I really blame the blending of all of the nationalities in the Human Federation in which the cultural differences have become almost nonexistent. Not that I think that’s bad,” she shook her head, “nothing could be further from the truth. All of this cultural blending has largely been a good thing since it brought peace to all of Terra but it’s also wiped out a lot of ethnic foods that I so often enjoyed back in New Germany. I’ve complemented the chef on a number of occasions and told her that I felt like I was back in my home colony, she was quite pleased to hear that.”

“Come on you two!” Sofie exclaimed as she took hold of Lydris’ hand and upon doing so he nearly yelped for he was surprised at how much of a strong grip that she had on his hand. “We need to get going already if we’re going to get there in time for brunch.”

Later that evening as the four of them were coming back onto campus from what the two Zaltaens had to describe as one of their most fun-filled and interesting evenings ever since they had come to Terra. Unfortunately, as they came onto the campus grounds, they began to hear a lot of commotion and otherwise a whole lot of noise and screaming. “Oh, damn it,” Sofie stopped in her tracks and smacked her forehead, “tonight is when that damn stupid protest was scheduled. We ought to go this way,” she pointed in a different direction down a different path, “it would be best to avoid those idiots.”

Layla shook her head as she too remembered that the protest on campus was taking place that night. “Yeah,” Layla began to follow her down a path that she knew was going to double, if not triple, the amount of time it would take to get back to their dorm since it would require them to nearly walk around the whole parameter of the university grounds. “I forgot that they were going to have that damn protest in the community courtyard.”

“Exactly,” Sofie glanced over her shoulder and continued walking down the path which took them further out of their way but at least they could avoid the bulk of the protest. “I have absolutely no want to deal with those bigots considering how well our evening has been going. And besides,” she turned around and began to walk backwards, “I’m sure that they’d bring something up about how Terra was meant for Terrans or some other such stupid shit that’d be aimed at me.”

“Yeah,” Layla scoffed as she too remembered how that group hated Colonials like her dormmate. She, like Layla, couldn’t understand why they hated Colonials for they were just as human as they were. She certainly didn’t look at her dormmate any differently because she had come from a colony. That is, except for those few times that she had said something only a Colonial would say to which Layla told her to knock it off.

“So yeah,” Sofie turned about, “we’re going to go this way.” She pointed down the path. “It may take us a longer to get back to our dorm building but at least we’ll avoid those,” she thumbed in the general direction of the protest, “those damn idiots.”

Meanwhile, both Lydris and Acina heard everything that the group was yelling because of their superior hearing. They heard ever single hateful word and with each word that they heard, it stung even more than the last. They heard everything from “Fuck those aliens!”, “Fuck those xenos!”, and more directly, “Fuck those Zaltaens! They have no right to be here! This is our world! They’re taking our jobs!” Then they heard what Sofie had worried about. “Terra for Terrans! Fuck the Colonials! Send them back to where they belong!”

“Sofie?” Lydris caught up with her and touched her on her shoulder. “I heard them say something about Colonials.”

“Yeah, I’m sure they did,” Sofie frowned. She tried to tell herself that they were just words but actually hearing them felt like a knife to her chest. She had to wonder why they were so hateful of her and others like her. She was, after all, just as human as any of them. Acina sensed what she was thinking and came up to the side of her and put an arm around her as they continued walking along the path. “I know what you’re thinking.”

“How so?” Sofie asked as she looked to her. “I thought you told me that you were going to stay out of my mind and not pick up on my thoughts.”

“I don’t need my extrasensory abilities to sense what you’re thinking,” Sofie glanced at her over your shoulder, “you’ve got it written all over your face.”

“That’s true,” Sofie shook her head, “I hate how Terrans humans look at me, I’m just as human as they are; just with a few genetic tweaks.”

As they continued to walk down the path a person came up to them. “You!” The person yelled. “Stop hanging out with these damn filthy aliens!” That last one really hurt them and Acina was about to say something like Sofie told her the day before but Sofie spoke up first. “What the hell is it to you that I hang out with aliens? Go fuck yourself!”

“Why I ought to…” the person raised his fist in the air and was about to hit Sofie when Lydris stepped in front of Sofie at the very last second and took the hit for her. He screamed “Ah!” as the man’s fist connected with his lip and nose sending him back into Sofie’s arms. “Lydris!” They all screamed. “Oh my God Lydris! You’re hurt!” Sofie exclaimed as she noticed how his nose and lips were bleeding red blood and it was dripping down his face. “Layla!” she shouted. “Get help!” She once again looked at Lydris’ face and how much blood was dripping from his nose and getting all over the front of her sweater. “Get campus security!” She shouted once again. “Now!” she screamed even louder.

Layla began to fumble in her purse trying to find her commlink in the heat of panic. Acina couldn’t help but to stare at her brother in horror and how he was bleeding all over himself. A few seconds later Layla finally had found her commlink in a fit of panic and pressed the button and screamed into it. “Security!” she shouted into it. “We have a situation! We need help now! My friend has been assaulted! We need help! Now!!!”

Lydris, however, didn’t seem to mind that blood was dripping down his face. He got off the ground and ran after the guy who had attacked him, faster than any human ever could for he sprinted on after the person like he was a gazelle. Within seconds, Lydris had caught up to him and tackled him to the ground. He was about to take a swing at him when he felt Sofie’s hand on his arm. “Don’t!” she screamed. “Don’t stoop to his level!”

“I just wanted to…” he didn’t even get the sentence out when it seemed like out of nowhere, several campus security guards rushed over to him. “We’ll take it from here.” With that Lydris got off of the man who had attacked him and pointed at him. “I want to press charges, he assaulted us!”

“And he assaulted me!” the man shouted. “What about my rights?”

“Yeah, yeah,” the guard shoved the man against a wall and cuffed him, “save it for the magistrate. We have the whole thing on video, you don’t have a prayer in court.”

Lydris turned around still with blood running down his face as Sofie tried to stop the bleeding but was rather unhelpful in that regard. “Sofie,” he pinched his nose closed, “it’ll stop soon.” He then licked his lip and tasted his own blood.

“Maybe we should get you checked out,” Sofie tried to insist but Lydris wouldn’t have anything of it. “I’m fine, I’ll probably have a swollen lip for a while but I’ll be fine.” That’s when he looked to Sofie’s sweater. The front of her white sweater had his blood on it. “Sofie… your sweater!”

“Shit!” Sofie yelled as she looked down at her sweater and noticed how much of his blood was on the front of it. “There’s no getting this out and to think that this was my favorite sweater.” Lydris was perturbed, he never intended for her favorite sweater to get ruined that night. “I’m sorry your favorite sweater is ruined, I never meant it to be ruined like that.”

“Oh no,” Sofie tried to smile as she watched the blood dripping down his face. That was when one of the guards came up to all of them and noticed how Lydris was hurt. “Are you alright? You’re bleeding.”

“Nah,” he waved his hand in the air, “I should be fine.”

After a few minutes Lydris was finished with the medics and came back over to where his sister, Sofie, and Layla were standing. “What did they say about your injuries?” Sofie asked as she looked him over.

“Just as I said, I’ll probably have swollen lip for a while but no harm done. They got the bleeding to stop, cleaned me up a bit, and I’m good now. Not great, but good.” He looked back at the man who had attacked him. “I am however, like I said before, going to press charges.”

“Me too,” Sofie nodded. “That fist was meant for me!”

“Why do you think I stepped in front of it?” Sofie was going to say something about her being able to take care of herself when his sister intervened. “Maybe we should get back to our respective rooms already,” Acina came up in back of Lydris, “we’ve had enough excitement for one night.”

As the two of them began to walk away, Sofie looked to the two of them and couldn’t help but to think that they had messed up and that they would never want to see them again. “Layla? What have I done? I was just trying to make them feel welcome here and I got them involved in this mess.”

“You didn’t do anything wrong. Just give them space, I’m sure that things will be fine in the morning. Acina is just worried about her brother, that’s all.”

“I hope so,” she walked alongside her friend and dormmate, “I’d hate to see everything torn down because some guy attacked us.”

Meanwhile Lydris turned to his sister as they were walking along. “Now why did you do that?” he asked in Zaltaen. “Now Sofie’s going to wonder if she did anything wrong and that’s the last thing that I want her to think.” He looked back at her. “See?” Acina looked back at Sofie. “She’s questioning everything that’s happened this evening and whether or not taking us out like she did was a good idea.”

“I suppose so,” Acina put an arm around her brother.

“So why did you do that? Sofie’s the first human that’s shown interest in getting to know us and you go and flip her off. What’s wrong with you?!” he exclaimed. “She’s been nothing but gracious to us and you go ahead and flip her off like that. I thought you were better than that!”

“Can’t you see?” she stopped walking. “You got hurt!” She gently touched his face. “You got hurt.”

“But the medic said that…” She cut him off. “I don’t care what the medic said, you got hurt because of them!” She thumbed back at them. “Why did you do that brother? Why did you put yourself in harm’s way like that for a human?”

“It was a matter of honor, you wouldn’t understand.”

“Honor!?” Acina put her hands on her hips. “What does honor have anything to do with this?”

“I couldn’t have just stood by and did nothing. When I saw that fist coming for her face, I did the first thing that came to my mind, take the blow for her. I’d do it for anyone.”

“And what about you?” She looked her brother over. “You’ve got blood all over yourself. Your clothing is ruined and you have a swollen lip.”

“Which will heal in time and as for my clothing,” he looked down at himself, “clothing can be replaced. Our friendship with them cannot and now there’s a chance that what you did ruined it all.” He walked away from his sister to which she called out after him. “Lydris!” she shouted. “Come back here right this moment!”

“Leave me alone Acina, just leave me alone.” With that he walked away from his sister.

Continue to Chapter 14…

  1. 12 PM.[]
  2. 2 AM.[]
  3. 4 AM.[]
  4. 3:30 AM.[]
  5. About eight inches.[]