Sky in the Stars, Part 21

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Skylar and Calamity run into some trouble on Terra III.

16 March 2934

Amari Metropolitan District

Terra III

 

It had been over a month since the incident at the Biggs Casino. Calamity and Skylar had kept a low profile, remaining on Terra III despite the Chairman’s suggestion. Instead the two took their time being ‘dead’ and did whatever they so pleased. Calamity brightened Skylar’s life, opening her up to society by taking her shopping, clubbing, and just having fun. They had even visited Bigg’s casino again now that it was cleaned up and under new management as Biggs’ company was investigated for numerous crimes. Gray Hunter was no doubt responsible for the company’s closure. They were the only ones with the files extracted from his servers. Sure enough, Gray Hunter put someone else in charge, an oblivious but prospecting entrepreneur who had no idea his casino was being run by such a shady organization. So long as Gray Hunter received their revenue, there was no cause for alarm. With the proper disguises, Calamity and Skylar were undetectable, and Gray Hunter would never know they were still alive.

But all of that didn’t matter now. For once Skylar felt alive and less like a drone mindlessly working. After an exciting night she could hardly remember, she woke up on Calamity’s leather couch, the daylight piercing through the windows. The television was left on, playing some celebrity reality show that neither of them cared for. She had been wearing an oversized t-shirt and panties while resting her head on the arm of the couch, staring at the ceiling. The coffee table in front of them was covered in a pizza box, a few cans of alcohol, a tipped over ash tray, and Calamity’s dog who was sleeping deeply on its back. Calamity had been resting comfortably on Skylar’s chest, while wearing nothing but panties while her limp arm hung to the floor, still grasping a near empty bottle of booze.

Skylar had no recollection of the previous night, but at this point didn’t care. Whatever happened, happened. What she was more concerned about was the sudden hangover driving a spike through her skull. She didn’t want to wake Calamity but tried to push her off so she could find something to drown out her migraine.  Calamity was still deeply sleeping and limply rested on her back as Skylar stumbled around the house, her vision dizzy before she came to the bathroom medicine cabinet. She looked to the right toward the hot tub. There was empty beer cans, chip bags, and poker chips and cards everywhere on the floor.After swallowing two fast-acting pain killers she moved back to the living room, the blinding light from the windows still agitating her eyes. She stared at Calamity who still hadn’t let go of her booze and sat down at the otherside of the couch. Skylar stared for moments more before she hesitantly crawled over and laid down on Calamity’s bare chest. For that moment, she was able to relax again. Something about her warmth comforted her… or just having someone there. Even if their time together was mostly fueled by alcohol and adrenaline, Skylar was glad to have met Calamity, as unusual as their meeting was.

But then, Skylar heard something unusual. She pressed her ear closer to Calamity’s chest and listened. She quietly gasped as she didn’t hear a heartbeat. At first she thought she was dead, but she was clearly breathing. Instead what she heard was almost like a purr, a mechanical whirring that never stopped.

“It’s bionic.” Calamity suddenly said.

Skylar sat up looking at Calamity whose eyes were half open. “I’m sorry, I didn’t---“

Calamity weakly smiled and pulled Skylar back onto her body. “It’s okay. When I was born, my heart was doomed to fail in little under a month. So the doctors thought it would be a good idea to try and make a bionic heart for an infant. Sure they had them for adults but an infant, it was almost unheard of. Birth defects like that were almost non-existant in this day and age. So they managed to make me a new one. Problem is, my lungs started to fail too.”

“Your lungs are—”

“Yep… bionic.” Calamity sighed.

“But if that happened so long ago, then that means you…” Skylar trailed off.

“Had to get upgrades. Yeah.” Calamity said. “Every few years… or depending on my growth progression, they’d have to cut me open and implant a new bigger one.

“But your scars.”

“Oh I know.” Calamity sat up, pushing Skylar up as well. “They did a pretty good job on that. But if you look really closely.” Calamity began tracing her finger along her chest. Skylar looked closely to see that instead of scars there were almost like seams in her skin, paper thin and practically invisible.

“How does it feel?” Skylar asked.

“Meh, I wouldn’t be able to tell you. I’ve had them all my life. I don’t know what having natural organs feels like.” Calamity smirked.

“Right… sorry.”

“Don’t worry about it. Besides, I’m done with implants. I stopped growing, and these bionics will probably outlast me.” Calamity stretched her arms up and yawned. “Anyway… sorry about last night.”

“To be honest, I don’t remember anything. What happened?” Skylar raised a brow.

“Oh you don’t remember?” Calamity smirked and stood up to go to the kitchen.

“No I don’t.”

“You don’t remember the strippers?” Calamity said from the kitchen.

“The what?!”

“Or the poker game? Movie marathon?” Calamity continued.

“You’re just fucking with me now.” Skylar crossed her arms.

“No, that was after everyone left.” Calamity said, followed by the sound of a coffee grinder.

“Excuse me?!” Skylar stood up and marched to the kitchen. Calamity burst into laughter after seeing Skylar’s dismayed expression. “You’re lying.”

“I could be. You’ll never know.” Calamity said as she began brewing her coffee. “Why don’t you look around and tell me.”

“Wait…” Skylar looked back. “The bathroom. The cards.”

“Mhm…” Calamity nodded, resting an arm on the kitchen island. Skylar walked back to the living room and looked around. It was an utter mess with pillows, trash, blankets, and other things strewn about. She saw a red thong amidst the chaos.

“How do I not remember any of this?” Skylar pressed her hands on the sides of her head. Her eyes widened as she walked back to the kitchen. Calamity was pouring two cups of coffee. “Wait… does that mean… you and I…”

“Why are you freaking out about this? It’s not a big deal.” Calamity smiled, mixing in sugars and cream.  “You seemed to enjoy yourself. Don’t be so old fashioned. There’s a first time for everything.”

“But I thought… you know…”

“What? Your first time might be with that special someone? Oh please. That’s some holovid shit. Only in the old romance novels no sensible person reads anymore.”

“But—“

Calamity put the mug of coffee in Skylar’s hands. “Don’t worry about it, Skylar. I had fun. You had fun… and weren’t so bad for a drunken med student.” Calamity took a good sip of her coffee. “Besides, if you don’t remember much, it doesn’t count right? Does that make you feel better?”

“I didn’t mean it like that.” Skylar looked down into her mug.

“I’ve had plenty of one-nighter’s. You aren’t going to hurt my feelings.” Calamity smirked.

“Sorry.” Skylar said meekly. “It’s not you it’s just---“

“Not what you expected, I know.” Calamity took another sip. “If you want, maybe we can give it another go, so you remember it this time.” Skylar immediately blushed red. Calamity walked out of the kitchen laughing. “You’re cute, Skylar. Really. Oh man, we really trashed this place! Shit! Fuck that, I’m calling a maid service. Come on Skylar, we’re gonna go out for a bit.”

“What? Where?” Skylar asked.

“Coffee shop. This instant stuff isn’t gonna stop this hangover.”

Calamity and Skylar both got dressed in their casualwear and headed outside a few blocks down to get a decent cup of coffee. The shop was old-fashioned with the interior mostly made of polished dark wood. Even the booths were wooden, with old-fashioned lightbulbs over each table. The place was at least charming and homely. After ordering from the robotic barista, they both went to sit down in the hardwood booths. They remained silent for some time, taking in the delicious drinks and pastries they had before Calamity broke the silence.

“You look extra pensive, Skylar.” Calamity said to the downcast Skylar.

Skylar hadn’t bothered to make eye-contact. “I’m just… thinking.”

Calamity rolled her eyes. “Obviously. About what?”

“Home.” Skylar said, looking at her empty cup. “Every day since I joined Gray Hunter, I was always trying to find some way to make it back home. But I needed money, and I needed a ship. Then I got mixed up in things. Gray Hunter was watching me everywhere I went. There was no escaping it.”

“Well, you’re dead to Gray Hunter now. So why don’t you just go? Just buy passage off world, and you’re all set.”

“I… I can’t. I don’t know how to go back. After everything I’ve seen… done. Especially the way I left home. It’s been four years. Things won’t be the same.” Skylar snorted a laugh. “I’ve had so many made-up conversations in my head about seeing my parents again that I just don’t know to approach it.”

“You don’t have to go back, you know.” Calamity said causing Skylar to look at her. “Your parents could assume you’re dead. Or they could be dead for all you know. I don’t mean to sound pessimistic but it’s true. The better question you should ask yourself is… what’s the worst that can happen if you continue this life. And more importantly, can you live with that choice. I mean look at yourself. You’re a fit, beautiful young woman with skills in multiple categories. You could go into literally any profession, or continue living as a mercenary, making way more money than you would have as a doctor or nurse or whatever you were pursuing back home. Plus, you’re free to do what you want. No parents looking over you… telling you what to do. Shit, Skylar, you’re a grown-ass woman. You can do what you want. Besides, what you told me of your parents, they didn’t seem all that there for you to begin with.”

“Yeah… I guess.” Skylar looked down.

“You just feel guilty.” Calamity added. “Truth is, they were probably worried sick after you left. The police have probably stopped looking for you. But your parents won’t. They’ll still hope. So whether or not you decide to go back is your choice. They’ll take you in. That doesn’t mean things will change for the better. Hell, they might even be more watchful of you.” Calamity sighed. “If it really will bug you… I think the best thing you can do is at least send them a message, letting them know you’re okay. You’ve got a job, living on your own making good money. You know what, we can even send them a picture of us together looking happy so you can say you found a special someone. That way they don’t think you’re totally alone.”

“You’d do that?” Skylar looked up to Calamity.

“Do it? We did. Look.” Calamity did a few subtle hand gestures as she messed around with her Mobiglas. Skylar soon received a message on hers, and opened up an attachment. On it was a picture of Skylar and Calamity. It was during a day at the casino. The two of them did look happy and enjoying themselves. It was a convincing photo for sure. Now that she thought about it, she had never been happier until now. Even when she was young her parents had left her with a nanny who could entertain a child certainly, but as she grew older her parents were never there for family events or trips. School was just a perpetual motion of work, and the university was so stressful that it was one of the catalysts for running away to begin with. Even coming to space, as much an experience as it was, was also grueling and hard work, filled with intense, exciting, but not joyous moments. Skylar never saw Calamity as a potential lover, but she was thankful for meeting her, and for all she had done in the short span she had known her.

“All right…” Skylar said.

“All right, what?” Calamity countered.

“I’ll send them a message.” Skylar said, closing her MobiGlas.

“Right now.”

“Wait… now?”

“Yes now!” Calamity encouraged, gesturing to Skylar’s wrist. “Wait.” Calamity brought up her MobiGlas. “Scratch that. Suite is done being cleaned. Let’s head back and freshen up. Maybe we can take a new picture for your family after we’ve prettied up.” Skylar nodded and followed Calamity back to the car, and from there the apartment. The two took their time, showering and relaxing in the hot tub for a bit. They did their nails, brows, hair, and make-up until they were corporate ready. Another few minutes were spent picking outfits and then debating on how the picture should be taken. They stood in front of the wall-mounted camera over Calamity’s television. Skylar and Calamity hugged each other, pressing their faces together with big smiles while Calamity put up a peace sign with her fingers.

“You had to be a stereotype.” Skylar said, looking at the picture on the television.

“Oh come on, we look cute together. Here I’ll send it to your inbox.” Calamity smiled. “Hey, you wanna go out, now that we’re all dolled up?”

“To where?”

There was a knock at the door. The two of them hushed before looking at each other. Skylar had reached for a pistol under the sofa, and Calamity took hers from the garter holster she normally wore. Calamity approached the door slowly as Skylar kept careful aim at the opening. With one swift motion, Calamity swung open the door and aimed at the man who stood in front of it. There stood the Chairman, clearly unamused.

“Do you mind?” the Chairman said, lowering the gun with a single finger.

“For fuck’s sake, man.” Calamity holstered her gun. “Call next time.”

“Looks like I’m early. Good.” The Chairman said flatly.

“Early for what?” Calamity asked, opening the door for him to enter.

The Chairman shook his head and gestured for the girls to follow him. “I’ll explain later.  Come with me.”

“Where to?” Skylar asked.

“Answers later. We don’t have a lot of time.” The Chairman said. The two girls and Calamity’s dog followed them outside where they took an elevator to the parking garage. The Chairman’s sleek and black sedan pulled up in front of them, it’s doors opening up. Everyone hopped in, the Chairman taking the wheel. Much to Skylar’s surprise he drove surprisingly fast. “I thought I told you both to leave Terra III.”

Calamity gently pet her dog. “I mean we were going to but…”

“Never got around to it?” the Chairman finished. “You both are in danger.”

“Danger from what?” Skylar asked.

“Gray Hunter. They know you’re alive. I found out shortly after a clean-up crew raided your dormitory on the space station over Rushars Prime. I’m surprised it’s taken them this long to find you. Although with Calamity’s expertise I shouldn’t be.”

“Where are we going?” Skylar asked.

“Special space port. We’re getting you two out of here.”  The Chairman said, focusing on the road.

“Won’t you get in trouble for helping us?” Skylar questioned.

“A bit…” The Chairman answered.  Suddenly there was gunfire toward the back window. Thankfully none of it shattered. “Worry not, it’s bullet proof.”

“Fuck this, old man. Let me drive.” Calamity tried climbing into the front seat.

“I’m 51. Fif-ty-one.” The Chairman accentuated, pushing Calamity back.

“Old-per-son.” Calamity retorted. There was more gunfire toward the back.

“Trust me, Miss Tsukino. I’ve been doing this far longer than you have. Besides, I’d rather die than let an asian woman drive my car.” With the Chairman’s words he floored the pedal sending the car flying down the road.

“Wow. Wow! Okay, Chairman, I’ll let you have that one.” Calamity crossed her arms.

It wasn’t long before the pursuers came trailing after with more gunfire.  The chase moved onto the highway where they were met with two more black SUV vehicles that had also opened fire and then proceeded to ram into the Chairman’s car. He wouldn’t waiver though. He kept the car straight and weaved through traffic skillfully.

“Hey, you got any---“ Before Calamity could finish, the Chairman pressed a button on his steering wheel. The rear-seat armrest folded down and from the trunk of the car came a small arsenal of weapons. “You just keep this shit on hand?”

“Can never be too safe working with Gray Hunter.  Someone, somewhere is trying to kill you. Now, if you please, do… whatever it is you do.” The Chairman said.

Calamity and Skylar armed themselves with rifles and nodded. Skylar opened the side door and leaned outwards, keeping a shield to herself from the side as she fired on the rear vehicle. The energy based rifle did little against the car's  exterior, so she took her pistol and leaned further out and took shots at the front wheels. The chasing car suddenly lost control and flipped over.

“Skylar!” Calamity called out, pulling her back into the car before the SUV from the side had slammed into the car. “All right. They wanna play dirty. Chairman, get in front of them.” He did so, pushing the car faster as they had a clearer road. She removed her heels, took a grenade from the arsenal, and crawled to the sun roof.  The assailants fired on her but Skylar fired back and kept them suppressed. Calamity took the opportunity to pull out of the car and run along its top before jumping back toward the rear SUV. She fired at the man peeking out of its sunroof, and then fired at the other SUV, killing its top gunner. She landed on the roof of the SUV ran along its top before dropping a grenade inside of the open sunroof before leaping off the back and onto the Chairman’s car. The SUV in front of them exploded, leaving the Chairman to weave out of the way. Calamity held on tight before she crawled along the car roof and back inside. “You read my mind.” Calamity said, out of breath.

The Chairman smirked. “Your recklessness got you fired, remember?”

“We still have one more to deal with.” Skylar noted, pointing to their left.

“Quite.” The Chairman said. “Miss Connor. The wheel if you please.” Skylar took hold of the wheel as the Chairman reached to the passenger seat floor and pulled out another short-rifle. “I was hoping I’d get to use this someday.” He proceeded slowly roll down his window and rested the gun outwardly before taking aim at the SUV. Men continued to open fire before they noticed the Chairman’s weapon. “Looks familiar, does it?” He fired the short-rifle, discharging a great amount of force,  which collided with the SUV like a wrecking ball and caused to not only flip upside down but also collide with the freeway wall.

“Whoa…. Cool! Can I have one of those?” Calamity asked.

The Chairman shook his head. “You’re the last person that should have one.”

“You’re no fun at all! At all!” Calamity pouted and put her heels back on as Skylar kept the dog in her lap.

From then on, it seemed clear. The police shortly arrived on the accident scenes, but the Chairman’s car was long gone. It was at least two hours longer before they would reach their destination. During that time Skylar and Calamity spent the ride annoying the Chairman with their idle banter and occasional radio sing-a-longs. The two girls fell asleep for half of the ride, waking up when night had already fallen. The Chairman pulled into the space port and exited the vehicle, straightening out his suit and tie before opening the passenger door and stared at the two women who were fast asleep.  

The Chairman cleared his throat and called out to the women. “Miss Connor, Miss Tsukino.”  The two women shot up in surprise and looked around frantically. They saw the Chairman staring at them, and a spaceship behind him. “We’ve arrived.” He extended a hand, helping each woman out of his car and escorting them to the cargo hold of the space ship. “The pilot will get you off planet. Keep an eye out on your inbox, I’ll message you anonymously about the bad-ice.” The Chairman said before turning to leave.

“Bad-ice?” Skylar questioned, tilting her head.

The Chairman looked at Calamity. “You didn’t tell her?”

“Oh… oops.” Calamity smiled innocently.

“What is it?” Skylar asked.

“The reason why Gray Hunter tried to kill you. It’s a highly illegal substance used for poison. Nearly undetectable. Bad stuff.” The Chairman summarized. “Now, I’ve done some questionable work for Gray Hunter, but the only use for bad-ice I can see is for biological terrorism, which I do not condone. My goal is to obtain this mysterious shipment of bad-ice before Gray Hunter does. And then find out who in the Council has been orchestrated these orders. This couldn’t have been voted on by the entire council. Gray Hunter is shady, at best, but we have standards. It is a business after all.”

“Look at you Mr. Pro-active.”  Calamity mocked. “You were always Mr. Chair-man.”

“I do more than sit at a desk, Miss Tsukino.” The Chairman walked away and out of the ship. “Do try to stay out of trouble.” Calamity’s dog whimpered from the tarmac. “I’ll keep watch over your dog.” Calamity nodded in gratitude.

The bay door closed and soon the ship was away off into space. The pilot confirmed with them that it would take some time before they reached their destination. Calamity took that time to sleep while Skylar idled on her MobiGlas. It was hours as she dawdled. She had been  typing a message.

 

Hi Mom and Dad

I really don’t know where to begin. I know this must be a surprise. It’s been four years. It’s just as big of a surprise to me. Time flies I guess. I bet you’re wondering where I am. How I’m doing. I’m fine… right now I’m on a transport to my next job. I was just on Terra III. I’ve been doing well for myself. I’ve gotten extensive training in a lot of fields of work and have been busy ever since. I might even be making as much as you guys. So don’t worry. I even found a lovely person… she’s great really. She makes me happy. She’s a little eccentric but fun. I’ve put a picture on the message of us both. I just wanted to say I’m sorry for what happened. Looking back on it, I know you guys just wanted the best for me... anyway. Don’t bother replying to this message, it’s being sent from a temporary source. I just wanted to let you guys know, I’m very much alive and doing just fine. Maybe one day if I find the courage, I’ll come back to you.

Love,

Skylar

Skylar hovered her finger over the send button and sighed.

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