"...Then Quinn took me to the lunar colony where his sister, Ada, lived with her husband and three children. They looked after me until I was fourteen. That's when I stowed away on Quinn's ship and became a wanderer. He always knew that's what I loved, so he didn't send me back. I was just a hassle to his sister anyway."
Then she looked up at Jade and Seth, who were still too entranced by her story to speak.
"I learned all this from my mother's journal. It's all I have left of her," she said, her smile fading, "besides this amulet."
She reached for the cord around her neck and clutched the pouch at the end.
"Well? What are you two thinking? You're both so quiet."
Seth took the icepack of his face and glared at her curiously.
"Wow, Vida, I don't know what to think."
"You're saying you're a hybrid," Jade replied. "That's just not possible. We learned that when we tried to crossbreed with the Elysians. It doesn't work. And even if it was possible, don't you think there would be other hybrids besides you?"
"I don't know." Vida shook her head stubbornly. "Maybe crossbreeding doesn't work with Elysians and Humans, but it works with Andromedans and Humans. I'm living proof of that. Maybe there's a closer link between them."
"Between Humans and Andromedans? There is no way there could possibly be a link between us. We're nothing like the Andromedans,"Jade rebuked.
"Then how do you explain me?" she replied angrily. "Seth, you believe me don't you?"
He hesitated and looked at her with his gentle eyes but she could see they were full of doubt.
"Vida, I'd like to believe you, you know I would, but..."
"But you don't."
"It's just a little hard to swallow. I mean, to suggest that we have anything in common with Andromedans, well, frankly, Vida, it's crazy."
"I know how much you hate the Andromedans, and believe me, I know how you feel. But your hatred is blinding you, Jade. It's blinding both of you to the truth even though it's right in front of you as plain as day. This isn't something I tell to people, and I only tell it to you now because I thought you deserved to know who I was. For some reason I thought you might accept or at least consider the possibility that what I'm saying is true. I guess I was wrong."
Vida's golden eyes were now aflame with fury. Then she looked over at Seth's battered face and an idea came to her.
"Give me a knife and a cloth."
"Just do it, Jade," she snapped.
"Okay, I'm going," Jade said and trudged over to the kitchen to find a knife. She returned with a cloth and a small steak knife which Vida examined with scrutiny. She touched the blade to ensure its sharpness. With a steady hand, she slit her wrist.
"Vida, stop!" Seth shouted. "What are you doing?"
"Shh," she hushed him and moved towards him, her other hand cupped over her wrist to catch the blood. Seth stayed perfectly still, but his expression was one of fear and disbelief as Vida poured her blood onto his swollen face. Almost immediately, the swelling went down and the fresh bruises vanished. Vida took the cloth and wiped the remaining blood from his now perfectly healed skin. Jade touched his face in amazement. Her blood had healed him. Vida cleaned the blood off her wrist and they gasped when they saw no wound, not even a scar to mark the place where the blade had cut. Neither one of them spoke and they were both too stunned to move.
"Now do you believe me?"
Jade and Seth simply stared, their eyes wide with wonder. Then Jade walked over to Seth and touched his face, examining the smooth, healed skin that had been swollen just moments ago.
"I believe you," Jade said at last.
"Good. I'm sorry I made such a mess trying to prove it to you," she said eyeing the blood stains on the light carpet."I just wanted--no, I needed you to know what I really am. I've kept it inside for too long."
"I'm glad you told us," Jade said, giving Vida a hug.
Seth touched his face, astounded that he felt no pain where Dermott had pounded his fist into him. "It's incredible. I didn't know Andromedans could use their healing powers on other people. Thank you, Vida, really, thank you. I don't know what else to say except that I'm sorry."
Vida nodded silently, finding she had nothing more to say to them. Suddenly, a loud beep startled everyone and Seth quickly looked at the communicator on his wrist.
"Will you excuse me; I have to take this call," he said and proceeded into the other room.
The two women waited awkwardly, looking at everything but each other. Vida feared that she had damaged their friendship by telling them. She was beginning to regret ever mentioning it.
"I have a great idea," Jade said, her expression instantly lit up as if she had completely forgotten what had taken place only moments ago.
Vida looked relieved. "Really?"
"Let's have a sleep-over! We can give each other makeovers and watch movies and stay up all night. It'll be so much fun. We'll pretend like we're little girls again."
Vida decided not to mention that she had never had a sleep-over when she was a little girl. She just smiled and nodded her head, happy to think that nothing had changed between them.
"We can stop by your apartment and get your things and then come back here," Jade said, her eyes lighting up with anticipation.
Seth came back into the room. "That was my boss. I have to work early tomorrow morning, so I'd better go home and get some sleep. Do you want me to walk you to your place, Vida?"
"No, Seth. She's staying here with me. We're having a slumber party."
He looked at her as if she was crazy, but simply said, "alright, I guess I'll be going, then."
After he left, Jade turned to Vida and said, "did you see that look he gave me? I hate when he does that. He just thinks I'm immature. I think he doesn't know how to have fun. Anyway, enough about him. The two of us are going to have a lot of fun without him.
Jade brushed Vida's hair enviously. The glossy tendrils felt like silk in her hands. Gentle curls sprung back as she brushed them. Highlights of gold were woven through the soft brown colour, just as if the sun was shining down on it.
After she finished fussing with her hair, she brought out her makeup. She couldn't wait to work with Vida's face. She had noticed that Vida wore little if no makeup and still looked incredibly beautiful. Jade knew that if she put some makeup on her, she would look even more stunning than she already was.
"The thing you have to remember about makeup is that it should enhance your beauty, not mask it," she advised her. "You'd be surprised how many people don't know that, so they put gobs and gobs of makeup on and it looks so gawdy. Like this one girl I work with, Sonya. She looks like she should be working in the ghetto corridors with the prostitutes or something, but then again, I know prositutes with better taste than her."
Vida laughed at Jade's remark.
"I like it when you laugh. You should do it more often, it suits you."
She smiled timidly, looking down at her silk pajamas. She was finding it easier to laugh these days.
"Close you eyes," Jade ordered as she took one of her makeup brushes and covered it with eyeshadow.
Jade brushed shimmery colours across the hollow space at the top of Vida's eyelid and then upwards at the end to eccentuate their feline shape.
"Now, open your eyes."
The lids opened and beautiful cat eyes stared back at her. She touched up her eyelashes with mascara, making them twice as long and full as usual. Her eyes now stood out dramatically. She covered a brush with a soft rose blush and ran it up the length of the cheekbone, admiring the delicate bone structure and ivory skin. She had needed no foundation since her skin was already flawless and too pale for any foundation she had. Though, she noticed, her skin was not quite as pale as the skin of an Andromedan. It had a certain glow about it. Next, she coloured the pouting lips with a dark and luscious lipstick.
She stood back to appraise her work and smiled proudly, quickly grabbing a mirror for Vida.
"What do you think?"
Vida glared into the looking-glass and a stranger looked back at her. She rarely looked in mirrors. She found that if she stared too long, she would just see shapes melting into each other. A face was nothing but shapes. As she looked at her painted face, she smiled. She looked like a woman, someone she never thought she would ever be.
"You look gorgeous," Jade said, pleased with herself.
"Thank you," she said, putting down the mirror. "Now it's my turn to do your face."
"Okay, but you better not make me look like Sonya."
Vida laughed again. "Don't worry, I won't."
She wiped off the makeup that Jade already had on, so that she could start anew. She wasn't sure what to do. She could barely put makeup on her own face, let alone someone else's. Vida decided to stick with something simple. Mascara was tricky to apply without getting it on everything else, but she was surprised at how long Jade's eyelashes really were. It was hard to tell since they were so light. She picked a mauvy eyeshadow, mauve always looked good on red-heads and it seemed to bring out the cool green of her eyes. Then, she put a lip-gloss on her smiling lips. Jade had a lovely smile and teeth that gleamed like pearls.
"Not bad," she concluded as she looked in the mirror, "not bad at all. The natural look is always best."
"That's what I think too. Oh, wait. I still have to do your hair."
Vida pulled out a hairbrush and combed through the thick, brilliant, red tresses. The wild locks danced playfully with the brush. She restrained them into an elegant french braid. Whispy tendrils that escaped the braid caressed her neck and cheeks.
"There," she said with a smile when she finished, "you look lovely, Jade, just like an angel."
"Me? An angel? That's a good one," she exclaimed with a snicker. She peered into the mirror again, examining her face at every angle. "You know what? I do look pretty cute. How did you do that braid? It's beautiful."
"Ada taught me when I was younger. It's really not that hard."
"Could you teach me?"
"Yes, if you want."
Jade practiced on Vida's hair, with Vida guiding her along as she went. It turned out a little lopsided in the end, but all in all it was fairly good for her first attempt. Jade, of course, was pleased with herself.
"You were right," she said, "That wasn't hard at all. I think I have a real knack for braiding, don't you?"
"Very impressive," Vida replied politely. "So, now what should we do?"
"How about we watch some old movies? I'd suggest holo-movies, but the holotheatres aren't open this late."
"Old movies are just as fun," she said, reaching for the control panel on the couch. "What kind of movies do you like to watch?"
"It doesn't matter to me. You pick something out and I'll go make us some popcorn. We can't watch a movie without popcorn."
Vida lazily flicked through the lists of movies on the computer databases in search of something interesting.
"What about Casablanca?"
"Yuck!" Jade twisted her face in disgust."Anything but an old, sappy love story, please."
"It's a classic," she retorted.
"Ha! That's just what people call movies that are really old and sappy."
"Fine," Vida yeilded. "What would you like to watch?"
"I told you, it doesn't matter."
Vida rolled her eyes and continued through the list. After several minutes, they finally settled on a romantic comedy, which made them both happy. Vida liked tragic love stories and dramatic tearjerkers while Jade preferred the lighthearted view of life. Vida pondered with amazement at how she and Jade, two people who seemed to be opposite in every way, could have ever become friends. Yet she felt priviledged to have Jade's friendship. She was certainly unlike anyone Vida have ever met before, and Jade felt the same way towards her.
"Vida," she said, "I'm really sorry for the way I acted today, and I know Seth is too. It was wrong-"
"Jade, it's forgiven."
"No, I have to explain. You might have noticed that I'm a little hostile towards the Andromedans."
Vida smirked at that comment. "Okay, so I hate their guts, but the reason I hate them so much is because they killed both my parents right in front of me. Seth was still too young to remember, but I do. That's why now whenever I see or even think about an Andromedan, it reminds me. You remind me."
Laying a comforting hand over hers, Vida said, "I know how you feel. Every time I look in the mirror, it reminds me of my mother and what she went through to give me life. The Andromedans killed her, too. For a long time, I hated them and I hated myself. I realized I had to let go of my hatred, because it was eating me up inside and like it or not, they're a part of me and there's nothing I can do about it. There's nothing you can do to bring your parents back, Jade. You have to let it go."
"You make it sound so easy. Sometimes if I close my eyes, I can see their faces, but sometimes I can't and it scares me. I don't want to forget them and I don't want to forget who was responsible for taking them from me."
"Don't forget, just think of the happy times. I know it's hard, but trust me, you can do it. You're a strong person."
"I hope so." Then, in a happier tone, she said, "Now let's watch some movies, okay?"
They managed to make it through three movies before falling asleep with the dim light of the screen flashing on their slumbering faces.
Vida jolted upright in the dead of night, her mind racing with images of another nightmare. Her eyes incoherently studied their surroundings, trying to figure out where she was. The sound of Jade's gentle snoring jarred her memory and she relaxed. She gulped down a glass of water and hydrated a bland biscuit which she swallowed with distaste. She searched the suite for some blankets and found them in the closet of Jade's room. As she covered Jade with one, the snoring abruptly stopped and the blanket shifted. Vida held her breath, afraid she had woken her up and then exhaled with relief as Jade began to snore once more. She wrapped herself up in a cosy blanket and tried to fall asleep, praying that the nightmare would not haunt her again.
Vida opened one eye sleepily and scanned the room for Jade. When Jade was nowhere in her sight, she opened both eyes and hesitantly got off the couch. She stomped ungracefully to the kitchen alcove with the blanket still around her shoulders.
"Good morning, sleepy-head," Jade said with a sickeningly sweet and chipper ring to her voice.
Vida let out a unenthusiastic groan in return.
"Just making myself some coffee," she explained. "It's putrid." Her face wrinkled in repugnance as she took another sip. "Would you like some?"
"Boy, you sure aren't a morning person," she teased. "I don't blame you, mornings are a pain. That's why I go boxing. You're coming with me, right?"
Boxing seemed very unappealing to her at this point, but Jade's eager face convinced her to go. She nodded her head wearily.
"That's the spirit. You'll feel much better once you get moving." She poured another mug of black coffee. "Here, have some. I insist. It'll wake you up."
Vida took the cup from her without argument and bravely took a sip. Her taste buds spasmed with the shock of bitterness but quickly adapted after a few more gulps.
Vida looked up from her coffee. "You have no idea."
"Were you up during the night?"
She nodded. "For a little while."
"Why? I thought you'd be exhausted after watching those movies."
Hesitant to offer anymore information, Vida just shrugged and sipped some more of her incredibly strong coffee.
"Come on, you can tell me," Jade urged. She knew that Vida wasn't telling her something.
"It's nothing, really."
"It's got to be something if it's keeping you up at night."
Vida sighed. Jade had a way of getting to the root of things. She would make a good reporter. "Nightmares."
"Nightmares? Is that all? Just have a glass of warm milk, that's what my mother used to tell me when I had-"
"No, you don't understand. There not normal nightmares."
"Well, what are they?" Jade pried with puzzlement.
"They're worse, almost real," she explained, her face full of fear as she recalled them.
"Have you gone to see anyone about them?"
"No, of course not," Vida got up from the table. "Besides, I don't have them that often since I came here. Look...forget I even mentioned it. It's nothing that you should be concerned about. I can handle it, I've been handling it all my life."
"All right," Jade replied, backing off. This was obviously a sensitive issue.
"Let's get going before the gym gets too crowded."
Jade had been right about boxing. She felt energized and ready for anything life had to throw at her. She enjoyed using boxing as a method of channelling her aggression, and she had a lot of it. Keeping it inside all this time had taken its toll on her. The release made her feel incredible and in a state of euphoria for the remains of the day. The weeks passed and she was almost able to call the spaceport her home...almost. At least it was as close to a home as she had ever known. There was always the lingering sense of hostility towards her by many people in the spaceport. This could not be avoided. Wherever she went there would be those who feared the unknown.
"Oh no, look at the time," Jade complained as they walked past the giant clock in the foyer of the spaceport. "I have to go to work."
"Already?" Vida said disappointedly."Yep, but thank you so much for lunch, it was great. I'll see you tomorrow, bright and early for boxing."
"Okay," she agreed as Jade left in a hurry.
"Oh," she spun around and shouted across the foyer, "don't forget shopping tomorrow with Nova and me. I found this great little dress that'll look fantastic on you."
Jade huslted around the corner and down one of the corridors.
Vida turned around to start walking back to her room when she was knocked down to the ground. Before she had time to figure out what had happened, a man began yelling at her.
"Hey, watch where you're going."
"What? You bumped into me," she responded angrily, still daze by the blow.
As she dusted herself off and went to get up, she noticed a bag at her feet. Gems were scattered on the floor around it and the man was trying desperately to pick them up.
"Let me help you with that," she offered and tried to pick up one of the gems.
He shoved her away and she tumbled onto the ground again. "Leave me alone, you've done enough damage already."
Vida's patience was running out. She got up once more and was ready to walk away when she heard the voices of men behind them. One of the men grabbed her and the other man took hold of the rude stranger who had bumped into her.
"What are you doing?" Vida bellowed with confusion. "Let go of me!"
"Sorry, Miss," the man restraining her said, "but you're going to have to come with us"
"Under what grounds?"
"Possession of stolen property," the man said in a mechanical, unfeeling voice.
They escorted her and the stranger out of the foyer.
"I didn't steal anything," she realized they were referring to the contents of the bag that the man had been carrying. "It was him," she accused, nodding towards the real criminal.
"That's why we're taking him to the brig, too."
"The brig? I'm not a thief! Do you hear me?"
"I hear you, but I don't care. You can tell it to the council"
The council was a small group of Andromedans who decided the fate of accused criminals of the spaceports. They were almost always sentenced to death. If the council was in a particularily good mood, then they would only be sentenced to slavery.
The men threw Vida and the thief in a holding cell, with Vida protesting all the way. The thief, strangely enough to Vida, remained calm and quiet the entire time.
"Let me out of here!" she shouted through the forcefield to the deaf ears of the guards. "I'm innocent!" She turned to the man in the cell with her. "Why didn't you tell them that I'm innocent?"
"How should I know?"
"Don't be such a smartass. You know that I didn't steal those gems. They were from your bag."
"I don't know anything," he replied, eyeing the surveillance camera in the corner of the tiny cell.
"Yeah, that's for sure," she jeered him.
"Could we not talk about this? Better yet, let's not talk at all."
Vida rolled her eyes and sat down on the opposite side of the cell, as far away from him as possible.
It was silent for awhile until the man began to laugh quietly.
"What's so funny?"
"You," he said between chuckles, "getting yourself all worked up over nothing. Just relax, babe. I've been through this a million times. They'll hold us here for a few hours, overnight at the most, and then the gems will be returned to the rightful owner and the charges will be dropped. It's as simple as that. They don't want to go through the trouble of sending us to council over some rocks."
"What did you call me?"
"Did you just call me 'babe'?"
"Maybe. I don't remember," he said, unperturbed. "So what if I did?"
"Don't call me that again."
"Then what should I call you?"
"Don't call me anything, don't even talk to me," she turned her head away from him in a huff, but then turned to him again when she heard him chortled at her. "And stop laughing at me. I don't see what's so funny about this."
"Loosen up, you're too uptight."
"I thought you didn't want to talk."
"I thought you didn't want to talk either, but strangely, your lips keep on moving. Besides, I changed my mind," he shrugged, "it's much more fun bugging you."
"That is so immature," Vida scolded, "but I suppose I should expect that from a petty thief"
"I'm a wanderer, okay?"
"That's no excuse. It's still wrong."
"I guess we just see things differently, now don't we?"
"Yeah, I guess."
It was quiet after that. Both of them were engulfed in their own angry thoughts. The stillness gradually subdued their frustration, but neither said another word.
The minutes dragged on into hours. The stranger was now asleep, which gave Vida a chance to study him. She watched with curiosity, no longer with the enmity she had felt towards him when he was awake. Maybe it was because he looked so innocent. Sleep had a strange way of making even the most amoral of people look as pure and sinless as a baby. His disheveled, dirty-blond hair fell onto his handsome face. Her eyes followed the perfectly molded brow that dipped gracefully at his strong nose and outlined his eyes which were closed in sleep. They suddenly opened and looked directly at her. They were a piercing pale blue. Her heart jumped and she pretended to be looking somewhere else. She wouldn't give him the satisfaction of knowing that she had been watching him. There was a hint of amusement in his eyes as he pushed his wavy hair out of his face and shimmied over to where she was sitting.
"I'm sorry for being so rude to you. I've just been having a bad day, that's all. Plus, I have one hell of a temper," he said with a laugh.
":I should apologize to you, too. I've been known to have a bit of a temper myself."
"Well, then. I'm glad that's settled."
"Yeah, now if we could only get out of this cell."
"We will soon," he assured her. "By the way, I'm Tristan."
She nodded her head in acknowledgement.
He waited for her to tell him her name, but she said nothing. "Are you going to tell me your name now or do I have to call you 'babe'?"
"No," she told him, her lips trying to suppress a smile, "you can call me Vida."
Tristan woke up to the sound of voices outside of the cell. He groggily opened his eyes and attempted to get up. As he did so, he noticed a weight pulling him down. He looked down to see the head of the young woman with the strange golden eyes resting on his lap. The jolt from his efforts to arise woke her from her slumber. She groaned and muttered something unintelligible. Tristan watched with amusement as she realized where she was and immediately sprung up from the warmth of his lap as though it might burn her.
"Vida," a man's voice called to her from the other side of the forcefield, "are you okay?"
"Seth!" she cried out. He disengaged the forcefield and she ran towards him, wrapping her arms around him. "I'm fine. I'm so glad you came."
Tristan watched the scene with a sudden feeling of disappointment. That man must be her boyfriend. He paused and almost laughed out loud at these thoughts. It was stupid of him to have thought that someone like her wouldn't already be taken. Besides, why should it matter to him? He enjoyed his life of freedom and carelessness. He didn't want any woman weighing him down, especially a woman like her. She was far too uptight and overbearing. But she did have a spectacular set of--
"Tristan," she said to him, "this is my good friend, Seth."
Yes, he was sure they were very good friends. "Nice to meet you," he said with a phony smile.
"It's good to meet you, too," Seth said, but it was clear he was not being completely truthful either.
Vida smiled, oblivious to the newborn animosity between the two men. She was just relieved to be out of that cell and away from the threat of facing the council.
"Don't worry about a thing," Seth comforted her, "it took a little convincing, but the charges have been dropped."
Just like Tristan had said, Vida thought. "That's great news."
"How did you get yourself into this mess?" he asked her.
"It's a long story. How about I tell you over dinner? I'm starving. I haven't had anything to eat since this morning. Would you care to come along, Tristan?"
"No thanks, I have some business to attend to right now. Thanks anyway."
He thanked Seth for his help in bailing him out and then he was on his way. He had no 'business to attend to,' but he had no intention of staying around on this godforsaken spaceport and have dinner with an attractive girl and her boyfriend while they talked of all the wonderful times they'd spent together. That was not his idea of a good time. He would ship out of here at the first chance he got. The problem was that he had no ship, which meant that he would have to either steal a ship, or hitchhike. He ruled out the idea of stealing. People were already becoming suspicious of him here and getting arrested didn't help matters.
"First thing tomorrow," he decided, "I'll hitchhike the hell out of here."
End of Ch. 6. Click here for the next chapter!