Status: Discontinued [2018]

Dust of a Star

Chapter Thirteen: Love

Kalbah brought me my food every meal time. I was feeling very lonely three and a half days later. I wanted to see someone other than my instructors, Ga'li, and Kalbah. Ga'li was away most of the time as was Kalbah, but he came back to bring me food on time, every day. My instructors would come in and teach me things about the Eltherâk and Eltherôn. I had learned many things and had gone over some of the things I already knew. They were impressed with what I knew from such a short time.

But that didn't impress them long.

My schedule was grueling. I was up early and to bed late. Slowly, but surely, I was getting use to being here and being locked in a room with barely any freedom. And today, I wanted to request I get to go out. I needed to get out. I was getting restless. I needed to see someone and something other than the inside of this place.

I barely talked with Hol'ræ during that time. I was all but cut off here.

I picked at my food, thinking what I had to do, to say to get permission to go out. She did say I would have time to myself. I could go out then. But mostly, that time has been taken up by some extra lesson. Now, I was going to take it and use it for my own selfish requests and needs.

Pushing my plate away, having only half of it gone, I quickly contacted Ga'li. I figured it would be rude if I didn't tell her my plans. Sending a quick message, I moved on to sending one to Hol'ræ. I wasn't counting on her to meet me, but I was hoping to see her at least for a bit of time.

The desk blinked as a message was sent back to me. It was Ga'li. I hesitantly opened it. {If you feel the need to go out and do something as reckless as that, by all means, go ahead. I will have Kalbah escort you.} I was fuming. She had no right to say it was reckless. I had been on this space station for, at least, three weeks and a few days now. I could get to places that I needed to and not get lost. And it wasn't like anyone wanted to do anything to me. I was below everyone's notice really. In their eyes, I was nothing.

My grimace tightened. I didn't like that thought. “I should just stop thinking,” I mumbled, annoyed more at myself than Ga'li for bring the subject up.

Then there was another bing and soft change of color. Hol'ræ had messaged me. I quickly swiped away Ga'li's message and opened Hol'ræ's, smiling the whole time. {I would love to. I may be a bit late though. I have a meeting to go to before then.} Even though it wasn't a sure thing, I was happy that she was promising me that she would try. That was all I could really expect from her.

“I wish Leatho...” my voice evanesced, leaving my sentence unfinished. I wasn't expecting that to come out of my mouth. I hadn't really thought of him much since coming here. Mostly because it has been drilled in my head that I was not to even think about a male. At least that was what it felt like.

The door swooshed open, allowing Kalbah in. I must have missed the-

“Ye be all right?” he asked. I stared into his aphotic eyes. The iris took up most of his eye, making him that much more alien to me. “K'affer?” I shook my head, ridding myself of my thoughts for a moment.

“I'm fine. Just distracted.” He looked at me blankly. It was as if he could not express his emotions on his face. The muscles there didn't seem to do much more than move his mouth and blink. I sighed. I just didn't know really how to react to him. It was like talking to a statue. Well one that could move and had a flicker of life. “I'm going out for a while.”

“Œn'affer contacted me.” I nodded and stood, tapping my toes. Kalbah shifted to the side, allowing me the room to moved past. I went out of the room, feeling only a bit of relief. It wasn't just the room that caged me in now. It was the whole place.

Marching out, I glanced over my shoulder once I was outside Ga'li's quarters. I breathed in deeply, feeling relief start to flow through me. The freshness of the air wasn't crisp, tasting a bit stale. But it was better than the air inside the quarters. Ga'li had taken a liking to burn some candles that just permeated the whole place. It felt heavy in there. Out here wasn't as heavy.

I glanced at Kalbah before walking on. My feet—covered with a thick, harden fabric that made up the boots—thumped against the floor. Kalbah's steps were lighter than I thought. I had expected loud thumps or thuds, but his were soft. I could barely hear them.

Instead of focusing on that, I gazed around the hallway. It was wide and had lights at the bottom, reflecting up to the ceiling. The colors changed every few minutes. It was nice. To the right side, I could stare out into space. The railing that kept everyone from the glass or what appeared to be glass had a panel for every section of glass. I assumed it was to control something with the glass. I really didn't think about it much as I walked on, entering a large open area. People milled around, chatting with each other or just enjoying the view. It was like a lounge, a place to hang out. I glanced at the people before moving on. I wanted to get to the pavilion soon.

I slowed, hearing something or rather a familiar voice. Looking over my shoulder, I saw Kalbah looking at me curiously. I simply shrugged. I didn't know what it was. So, I just listened. This voice was feminine, but I didn't know why it was familiar. I glanced over at the group of people in front of me. No one looked familiar. I continued on forward, hugging the right side.

That was when I saw her. She was chatting contently with several people. Then I felt a hand on my shoulder. Before a sound could be uttered, I was pulled away. “K'affer,” was whispered into my ear. I knew it was Kalbah. He pulled me along, stopping once in a deserted hallway.

“I know her,” I muttered. I looked towards the far end of the hallway. The red hair and blue eyes. I knew her. She was on Era just weeks. “Tara,” I tried to wrap my head around this. She shouldn't be here. She should be on Era. Unless... My thoughts drifted off. It was a disconcerting thought that popped into my head. Tara was here on business.

“K'affer?” I turned my attention back to Kalbah. He searched my eyes for something. And he seemed to have found it. “How?” It took a moment to click what he was asking.

“She lived where I did. We were friends at one point.” I hadn't seen her in years. She had disappeared a year after I met her. I saw her again a few months after that, but Tara didn't see me. She did what she went to do, and I saw. Then I met and actually talked to her a year later. She told me she was working and was loving it. But I had thought that she didn't really love it. She was loving the money.

I was wondering after a while, “Why?” I stared at Kalbah, waiting for him to answer. I wanted to know. Why did he care about Tara? What did it matter if she was here? At least to him or Ga'li. My curiosity was slowly eating away at me. Clasping my hands behind my back, I waited. I was getting impatient, but I didn't want to show it. Kalbah just stared. He didn't move nor answer. Starting to wonder, I rocked on my feet. It was more of a childish move, but it calmed me when my curiosity got out of hand.

Both of us stood there, not saying a word. After a bit, I began wishing that I was with Leatho and Hol'ræ. I didn't know if I wanted either over the other. Leatho would straighten out my thoughts, and Hol'ræ would settle my emotions. But either would be preferable to Kalbah now. He wasn't going to answer me. But I figured Tara was important. I just didn't know how much or why.

“Fine. Let's go.” I started walking, trying to figure out where we were. Kalbah was following me, but he never said anything as I worked my way back towards the pavilion. When we arrived, I didn't see Hol'ræ. But she didn't say she would be there. She only said she would try to be there. I was hoping she would be here already though.

Instead of being down about it, I went to one of the cafes. Something to drink was sounding very good at the moment. I just wanted to sit and enjoy the people for a bit.

Walking into the small place, painted soft yellow with a few pictures actually hanging on the walls, I walked to the counter, glancing at the menu projected up on the back. “Can I just get some green tea?” The male behind the counter stared at me as if I was speaking another language. Maybe I was. He was Eltherak, that much I knew, but I didn't know if he had a translator or not. I thought about my Eltherôn lessons. I could translate things easily enough, but actually say it was a different story. “Ervun jahal delpes yor dohon?” The male took a moment, probably because of my horrible pronunciation. He nodded and smiled. I held out my wrist and he scanned the device before allowing me to bring it back.

Quickly, I stepped aside. It didn't take long before a steaming cup was in my hands. It felt nice. I just wanted something simple and not coffee or anything that I didn't know. So that left few options. Water, juice, or tea.

Walking over to a free table, I sat down, glanced at Kalbah. He stood, waiting. I took a gentle, hesitant sip of my tea, looking over the rim of the clear cup towards the large male. Setting it down, I sighed. “Would you like to sit?” Kalbah gaped—well it wasn't a gape I had seen before. His eyes widened slightly as he hands dangled at his sides as his mouth opened slightly at the side. The other side of his mouth was closed. His nostrils flared as he exhaled. The look disappeared after that. “I don't mind if you do want to sit.” I gestured to the blue chair. It looked hard, but it was one of the most comfortable I have sat in. Kalbah took a moment before hesitantly sitting down. He looked uncomfortable, but not from the seat. It looked more like he didn't know what to do. I figured this was something new to him.

He shifted and looked away. I continued to sip my tea, turning my gaze away from Kalbah. Instead, I watched the people around us. No one seemed to look at us weirdly. No one even really noticed us. My gaze danced from one person to the next. I spotted a few Mutu'a and Inkrals. Among some others. It didn't really bother me, but they stood out amongst all the Eltherâk.

Then I spotted Tara. She was entering the far side of the pavilion. Her long red hair was braiding down her back. It was clean and brushed. Her clothes were tight, like a second skin on her, but looked expensive. More than any person from the slums could afford.

But she wasn't part of the slums any more.

Downing my warm tea, I turned to Kalbah. He seemed agitated. Restless. The male kept shifting in his seat, turning his gaze left and right. “Are you all right?” His dark eyes turned to me, searching for something. I tilted my head, concerned. He pushed himself up to his feet, calming down almost instantly. “Do you not like sitting?” I asked, now curious.

“I get restless unless standing.” I nodded. I now knew I shouldn't ask him to sit often.

“Okay.” I smiled at him. He stared. It was like before, but he seemed surprised by my acceptance. “I'll remember that.” Kalbah grunted. “You know,” I started, just wanting to talk. “I use to get restless after sitting forever,” I reminisced. A sheepish smile grew on my lips. “I couldn't sit still for more than a few minutes.” A chuckle left my mouth as I remembered those times. My parents were nearly at wits end when I couldn't stay still. “Then I calmed down. I started to enjoy not moving. Not seeing the scenery as a blur.” My tone dropped down low. As did my gaze. “Sorry,” was all I said as I got up, putting my cup where it belonged.

Kalbah was beside me rather than behind me, which was different. He stayed there. I simply accepted it as I started to walk on. I had lingered long enough. Hol'ræ wasn't coming.

“Ol'am!” I slowly lifted my gaze, looking towards the person calling. Hol'ræ. She was walking towards us with a bright smile that she tried to hold back. Eltherâk didn't really show their emotions very much besides in private. I didn't know why. I just thought it was part of their culture. Show what only needs to be shown. But then I didn't know their culture that well. I was still learning. And I probably would never know everything. That was the funny thing about culture. It was in a constant flux. Things were added and subtracted or changed.

“I didn't think you were going to make it,” I mumbled, turning away. I could feel my cheeks started to burn. I knew I was embarrassed. So embarrassed about not believing in her. But Hol'ræ just laughed. It was a beautiful sight. Her fiery lips pulled back into a wide grin. “Sorry.”

“There is nothing to forgive. I said I might not be able to come. I am here now.” She gently reached out grasping my shoulder. “It is good to see you.” I nodded. Her gaze flickered to Kalbah. I could see the question floating in her gaze, but I didn't want to answer it. I didn't want to admit I was nothing more than a glorified pet. “Well, shall we?” she gestured to a free table. I smiled and sat down. She did the same.

“I missed you.” I felt my heart stutter as she looked at me with such a loving expression. “How are you?” My arms crossed over each other, resting against the table as I leaned forward. She cocked her head to the side. It was one of those looks that worked well with her personality.

“I am well. A bit busy as you can tell. It is hard when I have to come of age. My parents expect so much from me.” A forlorn expression pulled at her features. I looked at her surprised. I realized how little I actually knew about her. Besides her empathic ability and that she was a ward of Leatho. Well, ward might not be the best word, but it was the closest to what she was.

“Coming of age?” I didn't really want to get into asking about her parents just in case it was a lengthy, personal tale.

“Ah, right. You do not have that.” She hummed, thinking. I waited, slightly impatient. “On our 18th year day, we are given our Sacred Name. Very few know the name. Once we get our Sacred Name, we are considered an adult—not that is what we are. It's hard to explain. We actually become an adult years before, but are not allowed many freedoms until we have our Sacred Name.” I looked at her confused, trying to understand what she was getting at. I guess it was sort of like humans. We weren't considered an adult until at least 18 if not twenty. But before we reach eighteen, most of us had already grown into our adult bodies. “But we have to prepare for the ceremony. Learn nearly everything we can about the adult world. Try to find what we want to do with our lives.”

I hummed. “What do you want to do?” I figured I was older than her. If she was preparing for her coming of age ceremony.

“I want to be part of the council. Not the High Council. Just a local one back on Rulvo.” She smiled letting her gaze fall to the table. Her fingers danced on the surface. “That's why I am under Tüvo Huvól's care.” I made an 'o' with my lips, accepting her words. She nodded as if I asked something. “Actually, my parents talked with Tüvo Huvól and got me where I am now.” I was surprised. It seemed she had a good relationship with them.

“Really?” I didn't know if this was the same in Era culture. I couldn't attest to the higher class, and how they functioned. I could only attest to the people in the slums. The slums were familiar to me. I knew how it was there; you protect your own.

She nodded. “Of course. Did you...” she stopped herself, realizing what her question was and how it might have been rude. Especially to me. But I didn't mind. I knew she wasn't trying to be rude. She was just curious.

“I can't say for the higher classes, but where I am from, everything you get, you do yourself.” Hol'ræ nodded, smiling gently. She seemed thankful that I didn't take offense to her blunder. I grinned, silently telling her that was nothing. Especially when I had worst things said to me. Or even asked. But I didn't think that was a good thing to say.

“I suppose everyone has their differences,” she said pragmatically. Her voice was soft, a whisper almost. I was starting to realize that she did that when she was thinking of something else and didn't really know if she wanted to say that. But that was something I wasn't going to point out. It could make her more self-conscious or she would change it. And then I would have to learn to read her all over again.

Tara's figure appeared over Hol'ræ's shoulder. I had forgotten about her. “Do you know her?” I glanced at Hol'ræ. Her gaze was on Tara before turning back to me.

“Yes,” I mumbled. I was uncomfortable. I didn't want to go into details about how I knew her. And then have her ask questions about Tara I did not want to answer.

“Is she a friend?” Hol'ræ's eyes locked with my own, holding them there.

“She was.”

“And her name?”

“Tara. Tara Kolf.”
♠ ♠ ♠
Eltherôn - the language of the Eltherak race
K'affer - a female of slight superior standing than the speaker
Œn'affer - a female of superior standing than the speaker
Ervun jahal delpes yor dohon? - "May I have green tea?"
Tüvo Huvól - a member of the High Council [Surname]
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