Before I start, I just have to share these pictures of my adorable cat. Sometimes I have to stop and ask myself how it is possible for a cat to be so cute all the time.
Now to the business of this post.
While I liked posting Perspective on a structured basis of new chapters every Wednesday, I just don’t think that this will work for Black Ice. I’ve just been so excited editing Black Ice, that when I’m done with a chapter I just need to post it right away. So you can expect from me random chapters of Black Ice posted whenever I feel like, probably twice a week or so. Not that this will be life changing for you anything, I just thought it would be nice to give an update. That’s just the kind of guy I am.
Well, here goes nothing!
A Novel By William Louison
“What the hell were you thinking?” Brill snapped crossly when the red-skinned Tavian had awakened and asked where she was.
The woman jumped up from the chair she had been passed out in, but sank back down when she saw Sin holding up a laser pistol. “What do you mean?” the Tavian asked, fear in her voice. She reached down to slip a hand in her secret pocket, but realized she was no longer wearing her robe. A long, loose coat hung over her body, all the buttons done up in the front. Her clothes had most likely been stolen in the attack.
“You were robbed,” Sin explained, still holding the pistol so that she could see it.
“And I don’t blame ‘em,” Brill said coldly. “I don’t even know why I stick my neck out for people like you.”
The red-skinned woman closed her eyes and shook her head, as if she was trying to awake from a bad dream. “Lady,” Sin said unsympathetically. “We’re still here, and not going anywhere.” She opened up her eyelids and dark eyes stared up at him. He felt a slight chill shiver through his body, but he wasn’t quite sure why.
The woman sighed and looked at the ground. “I was lost,” she said in the standard language, but with a really heavy accent. “I do not know where this place is.”
Brill rolled her eyes, not having the patience for this today. She had woken up late this afternoon – obviously had too good of a trip this morning – and had to rush back to work, eating only a burnt gordota she bought from a street vendor on the way to work. And, to top off her already bad day, right outside Black Ice she watched a crowd of men attack, knock out and rob this red-skinned Tavian woman. “I could have left you on the street,” Brill reminded her. “Just because I brought you in doesn’t mean I won’t kick you out.”
“I do not know what you want of me,” the Tavian protested, staying surprisingly calm, especially now that she was fully awake. Dark red paint from her lips had smeared at the corners of her mouth and her long, black hair was now thick with dirt and grime from the street. The small, jeweled headdress she had worn had been stripped from her scalp and stolen, like most everything else she wore.
Sin lowered his gun a little, hoping to get her to talk. “Obviously you’re a Tavian,” he said. “Beyond that, though, we know nothing about you.” His eyes met Brill’s for a moment, and he gave her look that meant she could relax. There was something odd about the Tavian, but he wasn’t convinced she would cause them any trouble…yet. “Let’s start off with simplicities, shall we?” Sin commanded. “What’s your name?”
The woman nodded quickly, letting him know she understood everything that he had just said. She ran a hand through her long hair, brushing her bangs out of her eyes. “I am called Jan’Kora,” she slowly told them. “But, I am called Kora for a short name.”
Brill sighed in relief. It wasn’t much, but a name was always progress. She had always believed that a person’s name is the key to understanding that person. “You have a warrior’s name,” she noted, clasping long-fingered hands together. “A proud name, most likely from a very important family.”
Kora nodded, her eyes revealing her surprise at Brill’s observation. “You are correct,” she said, but Brill was not able to figure out if she sounded unsure because of shock or if it was just her accent. “Am I able to ask to you how you were able to know?”
“I’m good with names,” Brill told her quickly. “Now let’s not make this about me when it’s all about you.”
Sin was nodding his agreement. “So, Kora, where do you come from?” He leaned back and sat on the edge of his desk. They were in his office right now, and had just grabbed one of the chairs from the restaurant section of the bar for Kora to sit in.
“I come from planet Tavia, in the Dressel system,” Kora told them, barely finding the words she needed. “You know it also as Dressel Six.”
Sin shook his head. “Nope,” he assured her, “we both know Tavia.”
“I am impressed that you know.” Kora dropped her head for a second or two, almost like a bow. “You even know I am Tavian. And I am – and I –” Kora lost whatever word she was trying to find, a look of annoyance flashing across her face, but only for a fraction of a second. “I do not know what planets you are from or what race you are from.”
“Yeah, well, we’ll talk about that later,” Brill cut in. “Why did you come here?”
“I don’t understand,” Kora replied, her eyes hiding well the panic she must be feeling at not knowing the language very well.
“Do you even know where you are?” Sin asked her, setting his pistol down on his desk. “You’re on the planet Warden, in the city of Jallin.”
Kora shook her head. At least there was a universal gesture for ‘no’. “I have not heard of this place. Am I there now? This is Jallin?”
Sin nodded, sighing as he did so. He was a little frustrated and just wished that this woman could speak standard better. “Yes,” he impatiently said. “You are in the city of Jallin, on the planet Warden.”
Brill didn’t seem to believe their ‘guest’, however, and the tone in her voice was still accusing. “Since you apparently don’t know where you are, maybe you know where you were going?”
Kora shrugged her shoulders, her eyes falling in shame. “I go nowhere. I go wherever life leads me.”
“Drifter,” Sin said, as if the word could give him a disease. “Here’s a question for you then, maybe one you can give a definite answer to. Why did you leave Tavia?”
“I had to leave,” she said as best as she could. “I was told to leave. My father insulted Nar Gral’Kan and was killed. They kill my mother, too, but not me. They did not kill me, just told me to leave.”
“So you were exiled?” Brill asked.
Kora shook her head in confirmation. “I have nowhere to go,” she said. “I lose everything when I leave Tavia. Outside, those men attack me and they have taken the last of my things.” Kora touched a hand to her neck. “My necklace of champions, I think you call it. I have teeth from ten draliks. No more.”
Brill pursed her lips and met Sin’s eyes. He could tell that Brill was unsure of what to think of this woman, or even believe her. Sin acknowledged her opinion, and looked back at the Tavian. His yellow eyes looked down at her small, dark eye sockets and Sin felt a chill once again. There was something ominous about this Tavian. From her proud shoulders to her sunken eyes, her face was like a long forgotten treasure, once beautiful but now soiled with travel and dirt. Even her lips were alien to him for, when she was not speaking, they never moved at all – not even a twitch. Behind her stern face, Sin could almost feel a raging power and anger trying to claw its way beyond her cool, collected exterior. Despite all of this, Sin’s gut feeling was to trust her. He could easily send her away, back to the streets. She might not survive, but he has his own problems to worry about. It would not be his fault if she died out there, so then why did he feel like he needed to help this woman. Right now, her life was in his hands.
He took a long, deep breath, giving himself a few moments until he made up his mind. “Can you work?” His voice was unsympathetic as he switched into ‘business mode’.
“What work?” Kora asked him as Brill rolled her eyes yet again.
“I own this bar,” he told Kora. “I could use another server, anyway. I’ll let you stay here, meals included, if you work for me.”
“Do you mean food?” she asked curiously.
Sin nodded quickly. “But you have to pull your weight like the rest of us. This is not a charity, so if you don’t do your job well, I won’t hesitate to kick you out.” He was not sure if the Tavian comprehended every word, but she seemed to understand the gist of what he was saying. “Good,” Sin replied to Kora’s nod, and that was that.
A few hours later, when Black Ice actually opened just before evening, Kora was serving drinks and a few food dishes to customers. She had been told that she didn’t have to know what the people were ordering, she just had to remember the names of the things they ordered. After a few orders, Kora found that it was quite easy. She didn’t have to talk; the people just called her over and said what they wanted. It only took a few hours for her to catch on and to start speeding up. She was, of course, nothing like Brill, but for a first day, she was performing more than adequately.
Sin was quite impressed, watching her from a stool by the bar. She was wearing a black dress, borrowed from one of the other servers. He had to smile because he didn’t think she said a single word to the customers, but most of the time they preferred it that way. His customers just wanted to order, mostly drinks, and then go back to their socializing. Sin’s bar was never very ‘busy’, but he only employed half the staff he would need if the bar was full. That way, it kept the staff busy, even on a typically slow night.
Sin knew that his little bar was just an average bar – it was cleaner than some, had average pricing and no flashy attractions. He couldn’t afford any entertainment aspect like the larger bars in this district, yet he was still amazed that Black Ice got any business at all. He was happier with his customers, too, because most were not gambling addicts – those went to the casinos – and the majority of the people that came to his place were not going to starve tomorrow because they spent too much on drinks tonight. That also made him feel good, because he didn’t want to be the catalyst for people to drink away all of their money.
“I think she likes it here,” Brill commented to Sin as she passed by with a tray of drinks. “She’s not terrible, either.”
Sin nodded as Brill kept on walking towards a table at the back. He watched Kora and noticed that she looked around in fascination at his bar. Black Ice was by no means an ‘upper class’ bar. Even in such a poor district, it was still only average. Yet, Kora seemed enthralled by the neon lights around the bar and the two screens that played news – his patrons’ only link to the rest of Jallin and what was going on in the world around them. She was also cautiously and obscurely observing every single person that came into the place. There were dozens of different races present, originating from dozens of different planets from systems all over the galaxy. He knew that she was not even aware of how big the galaxy actually was because Tavia had been, and most likely still is, a very secluded world that has a tradition of keeping its distance from the rest of the galaxy. Seeing a Tavian off of their home world is extremely rare, but everyone, everywhere seemed to know the features of the Tavian people, just in case they ever chanced a meeting with such an exotic person as Kora.
Sin came to the conclusion that she had never been in a place like this before, probably never even any sort of bar. Whether or not she had actually been exiled, it was fairly obvious that Kora was experiencing urban life for the first time, and he couldn’t help but notice that she stuck out like fresh meat in a sea of carnivores. He told himself that he would have to keep a closer eye on some of his patrons in case they decided it would be a good idea to try to take advantage of his new worker, but as he watched her deliver a tray of drinks, there was a confidence in the way she moved her entire body that suggested she was fully capable of taking care of herself. He sat there all evening, objectively evaluating her effort and work ethic, but he was also fascinated with her as much as she was fascinated by Black Ice. He was amazed that she had never seen a place like this before, but he knew that there were all kinds of people in the galaxy and it would be quite boring if everyone was the same. Regardless of her previous experience, he had a good feeling about his new worker – a feeling that told him she could be just as good a server as Brill.
The rest of the night went quite well, Kora learning quite quickly about everything on the menu. Sin assumed because she’d never been in a bar, she didn’t know much about drinks either, but by the end of her first day of work, Sin was certain she could have described each drink in detail – even if she didn’t quite know what she was saying.By the end of the shift, he decided he liked her very much.
Brill and his other two servers agreed that she was an apt learner, but also liked working with her because they didn’t have to follow her around and worry about Kora making any mistakes. “She’s organized, clean and didn’t forget anything,” Brill analyzed, almost a little too systematically for Sin’s liking. “Also, she fits in much better now than she did yesterday,” she said coldly.
Kora finished wiping the table and noticed that both Brill and Sin were staring at her. “Did I do something wrong?” she asked, quickly but carefully glancing around the bar.
Sin shook his head. “No, nothing,” he said with a short laugh. “That’s the weird part. You were spot on.”
Kora smiled, the first time either had ever seen her do so. “Thank you. I was hoping you would be impressed.”
“You really are a good observer, aren’t you?” Brill cut in, half smiling. Her frail, white teeth blended in her skin.
“What do you mean?” Kora asked, noticing that Sin’s smile grew bigger. He knew what Brill meant – he heard it.
“You picked up on the language very well,” Brill told her. “And quick.”
“Thank you,” Kora said again, truly pleased that she had performed well on her first day. “I’m a quick learner and I was listening to the language all night.” She still had a heavy accent, but her speed and vocabulary had definitely improved. “I just tried to listen to as much as I could. Listening to the way people say words helps to reveal their meanings. I also watch body language. It is helpful, too.” She smiled again, almost childishly.
“Well, whatever you’re doing really works.” Sin meant every word he said, but Brill did not look like she was ready to praise Kora just yet. Brill had told him many times that he was too quick to trust others, especially strangers. ‘In the time we live in, you have to expect everyone is going to betray you in order to survive’ was something Brill had said to him so many times. Sin remembered the chill he got from Kora when he had first met her, and hoped that Brill would not prove him right, like she so often did.
Kora was given a little room under the bar, which was originally designed for the owner. Long before Sin had bought the then named Club Luna and renamed it Black Ice, though, previous owners had renovated the bar and added a living area on top – obviously in a time when there was better business and economics. The Tavian was content with the living space, thanking Sin again for his hospitality.
Not The End
As always, I invite you to share any thoughts you may have on this particular chapter.
Thanks for reading!
- Black Ice – Chapter 1 (allmeanssomething.wordpress.com)
- The Poet and The Tease (allmeanssomething.wordpress.com)
- Haiku Heights – Storm (hibernationnow.wordpress.com)