Status: Discontinued [2018]

Dust of a Star

Chapter Nine: Findings

I sat with Hol'ræ, watching the two councilors go at it. It was...intriguing. They didn't shout or yell at each other, but both had to have the last word and had to be correct. They argued and they did it so long that I had forgotten what started the arguing. Was it something about Leatho's housing unit? Or was it about the choice of drink? I really didn't know.

Hol'ræ was sighing every so often. Then she would take a long drink of her steaming beverage. I wondered what she was having. It smelled good. Very good.

A headache started to form behind my eyes, pounding. I closed my eyes and leaned back against the soft, very comfortable couch back. The pounding ebbed, but it was not gone.

“And you had the gall to ask that of the Hunsal?” That got my attention. “You know the rules. The Law. No female unmated will be allowed to stay in a male's quarters.” What? Unmated? Did that mean what I think it means? I turned to Hol'ræ for an explanation. She shook her head, not wanting to draw their attention to us. And I completely understood. Who would want to be yelled at by to high ranking officials?

I didn't. Nope. Not me.

“Yes. But she isn't staying in my quarters. She is living in the guest room on the other side of my housing unit.” Technicalities? They are arguing about technicalities now? Oh boy.

“And that makes a difference? She is living with you, under your roof, eating your food, and both of you are unmated. You don't have a Sal'am and she does not have a Sal'amü. Do you expect to have the laws bent just for your sick fascination with humans?” Sick? Did she just call me sick?

“Hey!” I couldn't stay out now. Hol'ræ grabbed my arm, trying to keep me down and telling me to stay quiet. “I am not 'sick' in any way!” The two turned to me. One looked surprised and the other was exasperated. “What right do you have to call me and my race anything?” Tüvo Ga'li stared, surprised. Leatho was a bit surprised only because I hadn't yelled that much before. “Racism. I didn't want to believe it still existed, but apparently it does! Let me remind you, this is our world. Your race was given charge over it. It does not mean it is your planet!” I stormed off, not waiting for her to answer. I was saying some nasty curses under my breath as I walked into my room, locking the door behind me.

Slipping down the door, I let a choked sob out. I was tired. So tired of behind looked down upon. Like I was an insect they either decided to squish or help. I didn't need help. I had survived much worse. The human race survived much worse.

I could still hear them outside, arguing, but I couldn't hear what about this time. Not that I wanted to. I just wanted to go home. I wanted my small shed like home that I built for me and my father. Others usually stayed with us because it was warmer and we had a roof over our heads. I wanted to see those familiar faces again.

Leatho was going to be so angry with me. Maybe that will make him send me back home.

He didn't want me to be loud and argumentative, and most times I wasn't, but... This has been building for a while. And I had noticed not racism per se, but segregation against the people that lived in the slums of any town or city. It didn't matter about what race, if you lived in the slums, everyone else shunned you.

A bong sounded at the door. Startled, I stood up, wiping my tears away. I didn't want anyone to know that I was crying. “Ol'am?” Why couldn't any of them say my name? I was tired of the title. I was tired of pretending to be something I wasn't. I wasn't meant to be here, up here in this high society. I was scum. Slum scum. SS as most people referred to us or Double S. I knew that role. I knew my place and it wasn't here.

“Please open the door.” I didn't want to. Not now.

But I did. I allowed them in with a few presses of the buttons.

The door unlocked and opened. Behind me stood Hol'ræ. “Please face me.” I shook my head, I did not want to show her I was crying. I felt weak. I didn't want her to know how weak I was. Hol'ræ moved in front of me, holding me by the shoulders. Her eyes scanned my face as I looked down, embarrassed. She took my cheeks in her hands and placed her thumbs beneath my cheekbones. Closing her eyes, Hol'ræ leaned forward and placed her forehead against mine. A calmness came over me. My tears slowed and then stopped. She stayed like that a moment longer before moving back. Her fingers ghosted over my skin as she stepped back.

What just happened?

Hol'ræ smiled. She ducked her head, blushing. Blushing? Hol'ræ was blushing? “I apologize. I over stepped my boundaries. I should not have done that.”

“What...exactly happened?” I asked. I couldn't even begin to describe what had happened. It was amazing and frightening. How? How could she do that? What exactly did she do?

The fiery colored Eltherâk female ducked her head. “I apologize once again.” She clasped her hands in front of her. “Some Eltherâk are slightly empathetic.” Empathetic? Was this how they could read me so well? “Only in highly emotional times. We can not sense or feel every emotion someone has.” It appeared she read me well once again. “We sense every emotion someone has when in a highly emotional state, not just the one shown.”


“You just a moment ago. You were homesick. You feared the future and the unknown. All of that was starting to make you panic and frightened of everything.” I was so surprised, I nearly fell down, but I caught myself on the bookshelf. It had barely anything on it, but it held my weight as I stared at her. “We can also calm people down by Revanult—a connection of sorts.” Connection? Oh...

“I think I need to lie down.” Hol'ræ nodded, grasping my arm as I staggered to the bed. Numb. I didn't know how to react to something like this. It was something that changed my view of Eltherâks and of Hol'ræ. “Can...” The very considerate female leaned into my line of sight. “Can I have a moment? Please.” Her smile dropped and she granted my wish. She left. It didn't take an empath to know she was disappoint. But what did she expect? Not everyone could just accept things as easily as that. I may accept easily enough, but that was only because I had to. This was different. I had to get over the fact, I now felt violated. Like my emotions were now a picture for her to admire or cringe at.

But she said she couldn't always sense my emotions. Ugh! My life just got more complicated.

“Ol'am.” I was getting tired of that title. I was basically—no. No, I was not. I chose this life. Especially after the labor camp in Avinka. The desert that spanned most of the lower continent of Kaltuhül. Many ruins of cities long since past were buried under the sand, along with precious gems and energy sources. The Eltherâks said they needed it to fuel their ships and technology. I didn't really believe that.

“Ëaro?” A knock. Several knocks. That told me they really wanted to talk. Knocks were only used when I didn't answer the jingle.

I knew I needed to answer. I had been in my own thoughts for too long. Rolling onto my side, I got up and opened the door. Not like it was lock or anything. Standing on the other side was Leatho. He looked, calm. Stoic once again. “Was I...interrupting something?” I looked at him confused. I shook my head, not really understanding why he was asking that.

“No. Just lost in my thoughts.”

“Hol'ræ left as well as Tüvo Ga'li.” I sighed. I knew something I didn't like would be coming next. It always did. “Hol'ræ seemed distraught when she left.” He was fishing. He wanted to know what happened and why she was that way. I didn't know if I could tell him without bursting out. But he deserved to know that I was a heartless ice woman and should be left to drift out in space for how badly I had treated Hol'ræ. But I was...I am still confused how to react to her empathic abilities. Another voice popped up. But I was all right when she could just read my body language so well. Was this really that different?

“I know,” I finally managed to get out. I was staring at the floor; carpet, plush and heavenly against my bare feet. “I rejected her.”

“Why?” I looked up at him. He stared, not giving anything away. “Did she tell you? About the empathy?” I nodded, ducking my head in shame. “And why did you reject her on that? It isn't mind reading nor control. It is just a way to read emotions more accurately. Does not technology do this?”

I glanced up at his feet, realizing what he was getting at. “Yeah.”

“And you rejected Hol'ræ because she was like this? That she had this ability since her birth?” Did he have to rub that fact in? “If this is about her keeping something from you, remember it has only been two weeks and a few days since you met her. Would you reveal your secrets to her when you first met?” I shook my head, once again ashamed. Guilty. “You would wait until you were at least sure they wouldn't reject you. But you did. You harmed Hol'ræ in a way only a friend could.” I was starting to wonder how much Hol'ræ meant to him. The way he was talking about her was as if she was a daughter or someone related to him. Or maybe even a lover. Was she?

“I know.”

“Saying 'you know' will not help.”

“I...” I sighed, knowing he didn't want me to say it again. Instead, I turned away to the right. “I understand.”

“Good.” Good? “Now go fix it.” He wanted me to fix it? Really? Right now? How? I'm sure she did not want to see me right now. Probably never. “I'll send you her housing unit's location.” He really did mean right now. “She is very understanding; if you talk to her.” My Multi-tool beeped as his message was received. “Go.” He gave me a look that said he wouldn't let me back in until I did this. Why? Why did I have to be so stupid? Why did he have to resort to slightly extreme measures?

I didn't even get a chance to change, not that I was wearing anything like shorts and a tank top, but it wasn't proper clothes. I knew everyone would be looking at me. I just didn't know if it would be disgust or curiosity.

I turned back to the door, to ask if I could change, but the door was shut and locked with his codes. I couldn't get in. Banging my head against the door, I was seriously thinking of claiming I was insane and needed to be locked up. Maybe I should just go see Hol'ræ.

Sighing heavily, I walked. Looking at the multi-tool on my wrist, I followed the directions it gave me. Turn right. In seven meters turn right. Then turn left. I wanted to throw the stupid thing away. The voice was so annoying. I could see the map as I found a way to project it up in a hologram. I could see where I was going and where I needed to turn from it. I did not need an annoying, obnoxious voice telling me what to do!

After nearly throwing and yelling at my multi-tool, I arrived at Hol'ræ's housing unit. It was a plain door; gray with a hologram of a keyboard to the side. Her name was scrolling above the keyboard. My palms were sweating. I just wanted to run away and hide. But I couldn't. Leatho would hunt me down and make sure I did talk to Hol'ræ.

Taking a deep breath, I held it as I pressed the “doorbell” button. It sent a ding throughout the unit, but also sent a message to their multi-tool. I had only to wait a few moments before the door opened. There stood Hol'ræ. She looked at me, surprised. And I bet she would be after what I did. How should I start this? Should I just launch into my explanation? Or should I start small talk? I don't know. I never really had to deal with this sort of thing. I never really had friends before. Was that what she was? A friend?

“Ol'am?” I cringed. I was really starting to hate that word. “Would you like to come in?” I started tearing up as I nodded. She stepped to the side and allowed me to walk inside. It was so different than Leatho's unit. There was actual personality in the unit. Pictures hung on the walls. Actual pictures and not holographic ones. She had statues and sculptures littered around the rooms. I stared, wide eyed and surprised before turning to her. The door was shut and her gaze was to the far wall.

“I'm sorry.” She turned her gaze to me, searching for something as I looked down. I couldn't look her in the eyes. I never been able to for long. Not anyone.

She didn't say anything. “I am so sorry for what I did. For acting the way I did.” I could feel and see the tears now. They fell slowly down my cheeks. But I knew I had no right to cry. Not in this situation.

“Ol'am.” I shook my head. I wanted to get everything out before she said anything.

“I just...” I sniffed, wiping away my tears. “I'm not use to this. Friends. I never had any before, so I don't know what to say. I didn't like that you were keeping this from me. I didn't know how to react when you said you could sense my emotions. I felt violated. I felt like my secrets would be so easy for you to read.” Tears poured down my cheeks, dropping onto the floor. She gently pushed me down into a comfortable chair. “I was also wrong to be that way with you. You said yourself that you can't sense—feel every emotion. I just...” I paused, wiping my tears again, trying to come up with some way to say what I wanted to. “I've never had a friend before. I was only thinking of myself. Protecting myself. I didn't know how to react to you having empathic abilities.”

“Ëaro,” I looked at her. “I know. I understand. Once I got back to my quarters I thought about it. I was expecting too much from you too soon. I knew you were dealing with many things, but I laid another on you, expecting you to just accept it so easily. And for that I apologize. It was not my intention to do that to you.” I had to bite my lip to keep myself from sobbing. Was this what friendship was? An ever growing and changing relationship?

I smiled softly. A rare thing for me. But it seemed she treasured that. “I am sorry for everything and for things in the future that I know I will do.” She smiled and wrapped me in a hug. A very human gesture. And I treasured that. I knew it was out of her comfort to hug me, but I was thankful that she did.
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