Vida returned to her suite feeling contented that her day had gone so well. Seth had been a gracious host and a splendid tour guide. He showed her every inch of the spaceport, even places that were off limits to the regular public. They had met many interesting people on Seth's shift. Seth threw a man in the brig for walking nude through the hallways. He claimed he had been playing a friendly game of strip poker and lost. After his shift, they had a wonderful dinner with a couple of Elysians who were friends of Seth.
Elysians were incredible beings. They communicated mostly by telepathy. Humans had learnt many things from such an enlightened society. Their world was the utopia that Humans had strived for throughout their existence. There was no war on their planet; war was thought to be primitive and uncivilized and was therefore beneath them. This is why most of them stayed far away from the ignorant disputes of the Humans and the Andromedans. Vida had visited Elysium more than once, but found their telepathy a bit unnerving. She didn't like having her mind probed of the most private of thoughts, though she could not argue the fact that telepathy did have its advantages. Instead of having her words stumble from her lips, they flowed from her mind with ease and beauty.
Vida slumped down onto the couch and sighed with weariness. She ran her hand along the fabric, letting her delicate fingers slide gracefully to a control panel on the arm of the couch. When she pressed a button out of curiosity, the wall opened up to reveal a large screen.
"An entertainment set," she said to herself.
She nonchalantly tinkered with the buttons, exploring their functions. It was a very impressive set, one of the latest makes. There were interactive games, music, it even had an extensive selection of movies, a lot of them dating back to the twentieth century when movies were especially popular. Vida picked an old romance and slipped on her cozy pair of pajamas and made a big bowl of popcorn. Then she cuddled up on the couch to watch her movie. She smiled and closed her eyes for a moment, relishing the wonderful day and hoping that it would never end. She knew that tonight she would finally sleep.
Vida awoke feeling incredibly well rested and happy that she had slept undisturbed throught the whole night. None of the horrible nightmares visited her during her slumber and for this she was glad. One thing that did trouble her was that she didn't dream of anything at all. Then she decided not to think if it anymore. She didn't want to worry about anything anymore. She spent far too much time worrying and not enough time having fun. She probably did dream, she just couldn't remember it.
With a moan, she slowly got up of her warm bed, a little reluctant to leave its comfort, but she knew she had been in bed far too long. She didn't want to waste her day sleeping. Vida glanced over at the clock on her night table. It was past noon! She had never slept so long. Always, for as long as she could remember, she had been an early riser. A thought ran through her head. There was something she was supposed to do today, but what was it? Jade. She had forgotten to meet Jade at the gym. She had to go find her and apologize.
She quickly rushed to her bag and dumped its contents onto the bed. She picked through her clothes, trying to find something to wear, but everything looked so old and shabby. She let out a scream of exasperation and violently threw a piece of clothing onto the ground. Then she stopped and sat on the bed, taking deep breaths. She was upset that she had lost her temper. It was such an effort trying to control it that sometimes she just had to let it all out. Like she had on the punching bag. She chuckled recalling it. It was too bad that she had missed boxing with Jade.
She looked down at the clothing scattered on the bed. There was an object that caught her eye. It was a small pouch made of tanned hide with a leather strap attatched to it. Vida recognized it right away. It was her amulet. She thought she had forgotten about it but was relieved to have it in her hands once more. Her fingers played with the soft leather and felt the smoothness of the round object that was encradled in it. She loosened the draw string and dumped the thing into her palm. When it touched the warm skin, it began to glow softly. She could hear it humming and feel the gently vibration in her hands. It brought back memories to the time she had been given the mystical object...
The beeping of the doorbell interrupted her nostalgic thoughts. She quickly placed the round, glowing thing back in her pouch and put the amulet around her neck. She hastily went to answer the door.
"Hey Vida!" Jade said when the door slid open.
"Jade, I'm so sorry about this morning. I slept in and-"
"Oh, don't worry about it," Jade interrupted, waving a hand to sweep away Vida's explanations.
"I figured that's what it was, but I just wanted to make sure everything was okay."
Vida was surprised at her concern. "That was thoughful of you," she said. "Thank you."
Jade smiled modestly and Vida thought she saw her cheeks flush under the freckles.
"Well, it was nothing. So," she changed the subject abruptly, "Did you want to do something now that you're up?"
"Whatever you want," Jade laughed. "As long as we're done whatever it is by five. I have to work."
She grimaced with dislike at the last sentence. The idea serving people in a crowded and sweaty bar wasn't something she looked forward to, but it was necessary. Jobs were few and far between nowadays.
Vida bit her lip. "Well, there is one thing that I would like to do."
"Do you know of anywhere to buy clothes?" she asked shyly.
Jade's face lit up. "Clothes? Are you kidding? Of course I know where to buy clothes!"
"Oh good," Vida looked relieved.
"I need some new clothes."
"You know, I was thinking the same thing," Jade said, putting her finger to her mouth and appraising Vida's attire.
"Great," she said, ignoring Jade's comment about her clothing. "I just have to get out of my pajamas. I'll be right back."
Vida went to her bedroom and saw her garments still strewn about. She picked up her favorite brown leather jacket and an old pair of pants. She fumbled through the disarray of clothes until she found a black shirt that was fairly clean. After quickly putting them on, she walked out to meet Jade.
"Come on," she said, grabbing Vida by the arm enthusiastically and dragging her out the door. "This is going to be so much fun. You're going to look good when I'm done with you.
"Good," Vida thought to herself rather dubiously. "If I'm going to look good, I wonder what Jade thinks I look like now."
"Vida, come look at this."
Jade held up a silver dress with tiny sequins around the edges that sparkled dramatically when they hit the light. Vida peeked out from behind a rack of clothes to see the gaudy dress. She shook her head fiercly, holding her in her laughter unsuccessfully.
"What?" Jade asked when she noticed her amusement at her selection of clothing. "What's wrong with it? It's the style now, Vida.
"I don't care what the style is, I am not wearing that," Vida giggled.
"Okay, okay," she picked through the rack of garment and held up another outfit. This one was much more plain, but still striking. "What about this one?"
"Yeah, I'll go try it on.
Jade handed it to her and she went into a change room. When she came out again, she was wearing a simple yet stunning black dress. It was sleevless and it only came down to her mid-thighs to reveal her well-formed legs and arms. The black material hung gracefully, exentuating her shapely figure. Jade stared enviously at her new friend.
"Definately," she nodded in approval. "Black is definately your colour. There's just one thing missing."
Jade draped a black chiffon scarf around her neck to complete the effect.
"There," she said, pleased with her work, "now it's perfect."
During the hours that followed, the two women shopped until their feet ached with exhaustion and overuse. As they walked through the spaceport corridors, Vida nearly fell over from the strain of her many bags and packages. Jade sure knew how to shop. She would never be short of clothing again, or anything else for that matter. On top of the numerous outfits, they had also purchased shoes, makeup, even some sexy lingerie.
They finally reached Vida's room where Vida tossed her burdensome load onto the couch which creaked in protest.
"Ohh," Vida moaned, slumping into a chair, "my feet are killing me."
"Well don\'t sit there too long," Jade told her. "You and I are going to have a drink at the bar before my shift. Seth's probably waiting for us there by now."
Vida pulled herself out of her comfortable seat reluctantly.
"Right, we should get going."
"I just have to quickly stop off at my place and put on my work clothes. Come with me."
Vida nodded and they headed out the door. They walked down the hallway and took the shuttlelift three floors up. When they stepped off, Jade led her around the corner and clumsily searched for her room pass which was somewhere in the cluttered contents of her purse.
"Ah, here it is," she muttered, holding up the room pass.
She slipped the card into her door slot and the door hummed open. Jade hastily walked inside and Vida followed quickly behind.
"I'll just be a minute," she informed her.
While Jade changed, Vida casually studied her surroundings. Jade was right about one thing, all the rooms pretty much looked the same except for objects and decor that gave each apartment a unique, personal touch that reflected the tastes of its occupant. Jade's place was full of little trinkets. Several handcrafted works of pottery sat on the coffee table. The walls were garnished with paintings. They were all incredible and must have been done by a very talented artist, but one in particular caught Vida's eye. Stars swirled and danced across the canvas. Vivid hues of red and purple splashed upon the dark background.
"Like it?" A voice from behind her asked.\
Vida jumped, startled by the voice. She turned to see Jade standing behind her. She was clad in a shiny blue outfit that showed off more than enough skin and cleavage.
"I didn't see you there," she explained. "Did you paint this?"
"Me?" Jade looked amused by the idea. "No, that's Seth's work."
"Seth did this?"
"That's right. He didn't tell you that he painted? I guess he doesn't tell very many people about it, I don't know why. He's really quite good, don't you think?"
"He's excellent. Does he sell his work?\"
"No, he gives them away as gifts."
"He should think about it. People would buy them."
Jade chuckled dryly. "Try telling him that. He doesn't want to make his paintings a public matter. Painting is a private hobbie of his and that's all he wants it to be.
"That's a shame."
Vida stood still for a moment, entranced by the work of art. She felt Jade's stare and directed her gaze away from the painting and to the woman who was watching her intensely.
"Sorry," Jade said when she realized she had been staring at Vida, "I didn't mean to stare. It's only your eyes--"
"You don't need to explain," she interrupted. She already knew what Jade was gawking at. Her golden eyes had always attracted a lot of attention. She knew it must be unsettling for Jade to be around someone that so much resembled the ones who invaded her home planet and killed her friends and family. No, she didn't blame Jade for staring. It was a miracle that Jade would even want to be around her at all.
"Well, we'd better go now," Jade said.
"Yes, let's go."
Once again they stepped into the shuttlelift and went to the main floor. It was crowded as usual and the two women had to push their way through the mob. The excess of people was tiring, but a fact of life on the spaceports. Since the Andromedan envasion nearly twenty years ago Earth was transformed into a deserted wasteland. The Andromedans had sucked its resources dry leaving only the ghostly remains of a once prosperous planet. Now the only place left for the tenants of Earth to go was the spaceports.
Jade and Vida entered the bar and scanned the room for Seth. The bar was hot and muggy and the smell of beer and sweat hung heavily in the air.
"Do you see him?" Vida asked as she stood on the tips of her toes to see past the heads of people blocking her view.\par \tab "No, its too packed in here. Let's just sit down and have a drink and hope he finds us."
"Jade, there you are," came a booming voice that Vida recognized right away.
"Hey Gandalf, sorry I'm late. Vida and I went shopping," she told him.
"That explains it," he said with a blissful laugh and turned to Vida, "she's a shopaholic. You'd better watch out or she'll get you hooked."
Jade laughed in return."I know it. I'm addicted to shopping, especially when it's not my money I'm spending," she looked at Vida.
"I really wish you would have let me pay for some of that stuff, though, Vida."
"No, no," she waved her hand nonchalantly, "I have plenty of money, you don't have to worry about that."
Jade looked at the mysterious woman curiously. Where could she possibly have gotten all of that money? Seth had mentioned something about her being a wanderer. Could she have stolen it? Wanderers were known for being thieves, but Vida didn't seem the type.
"Well Jade, I hate to say it, but you'd better get to work," Gandalf said. "There's a lot of people waiting to be served and I can\'92t keep up with them."
"Right, I know. Well Vida, I hate to leave you, but I've got to pay the bills, you know. Feel free to stay and grab something to eat. Oh, and keep an eye out for Seth, would you? He's gotta be around here somewhere.
After waiting patiently, Vida found a spot at a small table nearby. She sat quietly sipping her drink and looking around the bar at the people going by. She liked people-watching. The way they looked, walked, talked and dressed was fascinating, even funny at times. While she watched, she noticed a commotion on the other side of the bar. A crowd had formed around two men who appeared to be in a heated argument. Then, a fight broke out as one of the men hit the other with an explosive blow to the face. People began to holler and cheer. Vida rose from her table and gasped as she caught a glimpse of the man\'92s face.
"Seth!" she called out, but the clamor of the crowd overcame her small voice.
She desperately faught her way through the tumult. By the time she reached the two men, they were both wrestling on the ground. She recognized the other man as Dermott, the one she had seen with Jade and Seth the first time they'd met just days before. She yelled for them to stop, but both were oblivious to her screams. Dermott threw Seth against a table, causing glasses to fall and shatter. The people shouted enthusiasticly. Vida had enough. She stormed over to the two men, her fiery eyes gleaming with fury. She grabbed Dermott's fist just as he was about to pummel Seth with more blows. As she did so, she noticed Jade had also taken action by restraining her brother with a death grip on his ear. Vida twisted Dermott's arm until he writhed in pain.
"Aaah," Dermott screamed, "let go! Get your filthy Andromedan hands off me."
Instead of doing what he demanded, she tightened her grip and kneed him sharply in the groin. He fell to the ground with an agonizing yelp.
"Get up," Vida told him. "Get up!" she said again, this time her voice filled with rage.
He struggled to pull himself off the ground. Vida brutally lifted him up the rest of the way. As he met her eye to eye, he began to quiver with fear at the sight of her golden eyes.
"You bastard," she whispered harshly. "Get out of here before I really hurt you."
She released him from her grasp and he left, broken and defeated. She noticed the once rowdy crowd was now silently murmuring. Jade had let go of Seth's ear and was now supporting his battered body.
"Come on, Vida. Let's get Seth out of here," said Jade.
Vida walked over to them and helped Jade carry Seth out of the bar. As they left, the crowd dispersed and the bar gradually returned to its normal unbearable volume.
"Stay there, Seth. I'll get you some ice," Jade firmly told her brother who was laying dazed on the couch.
"Don't worry, I wasn't planning on going anywhere," he replied groggily.
Vida sat at the edge of the sofa with her head cradled in her hands, looking down at her feet. With some effort, Seth managed to pull himself up and sit beside her. He put a comforting hand on her back.
"What's the matter?" He asked with concern.
She turned her head to look at him. "Nothing, don't worry about me," she assured him, lifting her head up and staring blankly at the wall.
"What happened in there, Seth? I thought you and Dermott were friends."
Just then, Jade returned with a bag of ice."Here," she said, placing the bag on his eye which was already beginning to swell, "that'll help."
"Don't you have to be at work?" he asked her, rather annoyed at her constant fussing.
"It's all right. Gandalf told me I could make up the work tomorrow. I think he just wanted me to get you out of the bar. The customers were paying more attention to you and Dermott than to buying drinks.
Jade took a seat on the chair opposite to them and continued, "what were you thinking in there?"
"That's what I'd like to know," Vida joined in.
"I just got angry, okay?" He explained. "I mean, you know how Dermott can be, Jade."
"I know, but that's no reason to punch his lights out. God, Seth, I've never seen you so angry at anyone. It's not like you. It's not like you at all."
"Look, you didn't hear the things he was saying. You didn't hear the lies that were coming from his mouth. If you had been there, you would know."
"It was about me, wasn't it?" Vida's voice came out of nowhere.
The fight. It was about your friendship with me.
There was a tense silence. Seth placed a pensive hand on his brow, trying to decide how to respond to Vida's observant accusation.
Jade became impatient. "Well, is it true? Was this whole thing about Vida? Answer her, Seth. Was it?"
"Yes," he finally replied, "are you happy? Yes, it was about Vida."
"knew it. This is my fault."
Seth went over to Vida and took hold of her arms, staring her in the eyes. "Don't say that, you hear me? It's not true. This was between Dermott and me. He had no right to say those things about you.
"How can you be so sure? You hardly know me. For all you know, whatever Dermott said about me could be true. How can you be so trusting?"
"We know more about you than Dermott does," Jade piped in. "So what if we don't know much about you? We know enough to know that you're a good person and Dermott shouldn't judge you just because of...the way you look."
"But you do wonder," she said, "about my eyes. Everyone does and everyone makes their own assumptions. Thank you for not pushing me to tell you."
"It's none of our business," Seth explained.
"Yes, it is your business. It's not fair for me to keep everything from you. I'm sorry I haven't told you much about myself. It's not something I share, but it's time I shared it with both of you. It's the least I can do to repay you for your kindness. I'd like to tell you about my mother..."
End of Ch. 4. For chapter 5, click here!