Chapter Sixteen

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“No.” Lianna turned from the hoonii and stormed away, shaking her head at the mere audacity of what he just proposed while heading towards his chambers. Though she failed to understand all the words he spoke, she comprehended enough to d...

“No.”

Lianna turned from the hoonii and stormed away, shaking her head at the mere audacity of what he just proposed while heading towards his chambers. Though she failed to understand all the words he spoke, she comprehended enough to decline.

When she complied with his request to correspond with the tribe called F.I.T.E., she was assuming that the human was reaching out to them to gather information needed in order to aid them in their search for her family. However, Lianna did not expect him to return with the proposition requiring members of this strange tribe to meet her personally. That was neither what she agreed to nor was such a possibility discussed when they initially spoke about F.I.T.E. a few suns prior. For the hoonii to even ask to reveal herself to the one called Rumi without considering other alternatives to aid her was, in her mind, an indication of the human’s true intentions.

As she walked on, Lianna resented not being able to secure an evacuation route in case she was forced to retreat from her potential enemies. In the Kaddani Jungle, she and her tribesmen had access to an array of evacuation trees circling the Shuluan Village. It was in fact mandatory for both the Orlotae and common Shuluans to become familiar with these hiding places so they knew where to flee to avoid endangerment. Yet she had yet to locate any suitable means of escape within the hoonii’s quarters—regardless of how thoroughly she searched these unfamiliar surroundings.

This meant that the only alternative was to possibly defend herself against a legion of humans—including the crimson haired spiritii dwelling in the hoonii’s quarters.

I was wise to find the swords in his absence, Lianna mused, silently grateful for the one concealed inside her boot. I predict it will be used much sooner than I realized.

“Lianna, we don’t have much of a choice here,” she heard him argue, the hint of desperation in his tone. She soon felt the hoonii’s energy brush against her skin, his invisible shield harboring a mixture of fatigue, anxiety and exasperation. His emotions seemed to mirror her sense of annoyance and apprehension as thoughts of unidentified humans eying her menacingly streamed through her mind.

“There are many choices,” Lianna disputed in her native language while her steps led her closer to his chambers, “but what you have proposed will not be one of them.”

“I don’t know what you just said to me…Look, I can see why you don’t want to and I wish there was another way. But right now, I’m drawing a blank.”

Lianna stopped at the door and spun around, her eyes locking on the hoonii who was now sitting on the floor. His legs were crisscrossed and his elbows rested on his knees, forcing him to slouch forward as if their altercation weighed on his shoulders. From where she stood, the human resembled a pitiful animated statue that almost towered over her, spewing what he considered wisdom.

Lianna approached the human without breaking eye contact. “You asked other hooniis to see me,” she said heatedly in the Common tongue.

“Lianna, she can’t help us if she thinks I’m lying. And, based on my research and her expertise, she’s the only possibility we have.”

She strained her mind to translate what the hoonii said to her, but managed to string together enough words to understand his explanation. “That means nothing. Your faith—it is misplaced.”

She noticed the hoonii straighten his back slightly as his eyebrows furrowed. “What’s that supposed to mean?” he asked somewhat defensively.

“I do not trust this tribe,” Lianna explained bitingly, “They will be the end of us.”

“But that may not be true,” the human defended, shaking his head. “F.I.T.E. has shut down many of these exotic shops over the years in order to liberate…or free others like you.”

“Liberate us how? What will happen when my people are found?”

“Well…the website says that rescued E.T.s are released to something called conservation facilities, where they are cared for, some are adopted out to families around the world—“

“So the tribe can’t return us to our rightful homes.”

“…Unfortunately not.

Lianna paused to decipher what she had heard. So the rescued are marooned here on Earth, where they have nothing—not even their sense of dignity—simply because F.I.T.E. lacked the resources necessary to return them to their land? No…no I will not even entertain such a risk, she thought. My people and I will not lose our lives on this planet. We must find another solution without involving F.I.T.E.

The hoonii’s expression soon softened. “Lianna—“

“Your tablet,” Lianna interrupted somewhat imperiously.

“What about it?”

“You stated once that your machine can perform many tasks, correct?”

“I remember mentioning that.”

“So we will use it to locate my tribe.”

“Wait a minute,” the hoonii said abruptly. “I understand what you’re implying, but it won’t be as simple as that, Lianna. Stewart’s shop isn’t the only one. I mean, they’re popping up everywhere—not only here in London, but around the world.”

“Meaning?”

“Meaning it could take months, if not years, before we find all the members of your tribe.”

Lianna paused, glaring at the hoonii as the heat began to creep into her green-shaded face. “I do not have the patience for this,” she argued, unwilling to conceal the rising frustration that replaced her hope. “We must act…unless you have deceived me.”

“Oh bloody hell,” Martin mumbled before taking a deep breath. Lianna watched the human suspiciously as he leaned forward towards her. “First of all, you need to calm down,” he stated to her, annoyance tainting his voice. “And second, I’ve nothing to gain by lying to you.”

“Then honor your words with actions!”

“I will and I am. But we have to be smart about this, which is why we need F.I.T.E. And in case you’ve forgotten, you’re stolen property. I’m sure that Wayland had you, me and my mate Chess on surveillance. So the authorities could come any moment and drag me out of here for all I know.”

“I will say this once: I am not property,” Lianna countered insolently. “And I belong with my family—not on this Hoonii planet concealed in your chambers.”

“Alright,” Martin said, throwing his hands out towards Lianna before folding his forearms on either thigh. “Say, for instance, the Yard does kick down the door. They’ll arrest me and give you back to Stewart or worse. What would you do then, hm?”

“I will hide.”

“Hide where? In someone else’s bag? In case you haven’t noticed, people like you aren’t common and neither are nice people like me. You risk getting captured and sold off.”

Lianna scoffed bitterly. “You are a risk too. If not you, then the woman would do it.”

Confusion suddenly colored Martin’s face. “What woman?”

“The one trapped behind the clear shield on your night stand. You stand beside her. Who is she? Is she aware of my presence?”

She noticed the hoonii’s facial expression suddenly darken as he leaned forward slightly, his nose nearly touching her entire face. Lianna steadily moved backwards, her attention focused the human’s glare. “The woman in the photograph was someone dear to me,” he spoke, his tone even. “And no, she knows nothing about you. In fact, she’s far from being a threat to you because she doesn’t even live here anymore.”

“You speak to her every night.”

“Stop!” the hoonii protested loudly, making Lianna back away again. “I don’t appreciate where this is going, considering that it makes absolutely no sense. She isn’t here, Lianna, so she’ll never be a danger to you. Furthermore, if I wanted to turn you in or kill you, I could’ve done it soon after you’d fallen asleep in my desk. But that would’ve been a shit thing to do and I’m not that way anyhow. So I can do without the interrogation. Alright? It’s been a long fucking day.”

While the hoonii was speaking, Lianna curled her right hand into a fist, feeling her nails bite into her sweaty palm to prevent trembling. She did not fear him, but her reaction to his temper; in her mind, she envisioned herself quickly drawing her sword and piercing his blue iris with its sharp tip. He was close enough, so the attack would be swift and effortless, possibly giving her some time to conceal herself somehow until she managed to escape from his chambers.

Yet the strategy would be a foolish one to act upon. To inflict violence upon him at this moment out of self-defense would only be detrimental to her as she would have placed herself in imminent peril, which she could not afford. And despite how much she despised him, she was forced to recognize that this human was vital. He was more knowledgeable about this world than she would ever be and he possessed access to the devices needed to locate her people. For that reason, this Fuchtoc’ei was of more use to her alive than how she preferred him.

Lianna took a deep breath once again as she relaxed her hand. “You have my apologies,” she managed with as much sincerity as she could manage. “I have spoken… inappropriately.”

The hoonii’s gaze softened as he too sighed. “No need to apologize,” he said, smiling weakly. “You have every right to be scared. You’re in some giant man’s flat, for fuck’s sake. Look, I will do everything I can to help you, but we can’t do this on our own.”

“But we must.”

“Fine. We’ll figure something out—starting tomorrow. But do me a favor.”

“’Favor’?”

“If anything goes wrong, and I mean anything…I want you to hide in my closet.”

“Your closet? With your garments?”

“Yes,” the hoonii nodded seriously. “There’s an old vent that’s built into the wall. I’ll show you.” The human reached into the pocket of his ‘jacket’ and pulled out his talking devise. After a moment, he faced the phone towards Lianna and showed her a picture of a darkened space in the wall near his footwear.

“I think it’ll be useful one day,” he said. “So when that day comes, use it.”

Lianna nodded once before turning to walk into the hoonii’s chambers. She needed distance from his words, his voice, the human’s very appearance. Her only refuge was her tree house to meditate and ask the Gooktai for guidance.

 

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