Six months. Six months had passed since that day. Since that new beginning. Since that life altering decision made in the wake of a life altering nightmare. Today was the day. Lucia was ready. She’d worked several minimum wage jobs since then, and lost them all within a week or so. She found that her previous job as an assassin did not prepare her for the rigors of customer service. Today the cycle would be broken. Today she took to the stars with the love of her life, and that damned witch inside her, and made a new life.
She thought all this as she walked home from her final minimum wage job. Which she’d just been fired from for saying to a customer “If you don’t get that finger out of my face, I’m going to show you what the inside of it looks like” she sighed, looking up from the mossy brick walkway at the planet-spanning city around her. It was as it always was, drab grey skyscrapers that were so tall their tops couldn’t be seen. The buildings had overhangs every so often, combined with pedestrian walkways between the buildings every ten floors or so. It resulted in a sort of canopy that let little light through to the level Lucia lived and worked in. Most light came from the advertising that was ubiquitous throughout the planet. It resulted in a cacophony of light in varying garish colors, all not quite bright enough to fully light the environment, bathing everything in a dim neon glow. The lower district was a cramped, dark, and generally unpleasant place to live, but many people did. Most people on the planet, even.
Lucia had long since come to understand why Niarith had said this planet was an awful place to live. It was a capitalist hellscape. A majority, impoverished lower class, a slightly better off ‘middle class’, and a powerful few manipulating the lower classes to their own benefit and profit. As Niarith had said, it was much the same throughout the Federal Interstellar Commission. That meant the rich people they’d be potentially stealing from would be morally in the wrong. That made what was beginning today much more palatable to Lucia.
She made it back to her and Niarith’s small basement apartment, a tiny, grungy place made of concrete and filth. They hadn’t made many changes in the six months since Lucia had arrived. Aside from the removal of all personal belongings. Niarith was sitting on the couch, bent down toward a glass and synth-poly coffee table in front of it. Niarith’s face was set in intense concentration, she was filling out some kind of forms, made of actual paper.
“Hey Nia, I’m home.” Lucia said as she walked in the door. Niarith started, a small startled screech escaping her lips. She looked over at the door with a shocked, fearful expression that quickly changed to a smile as she stood up.
“Luci!” She quickly crossed the room and pulled Lucia into a tight hug, leaning back to kiss her on the cheek before continuing the embrace, Lucia returned the hug vigorously.
The embrace ended, sooner than Lucia would have liked, as Niarith made her way back to the papers and the couch. “I’m just signing a few things, finalizing what needs finalized, y’know. I’m gonna be glad to leave this place behind me.” Lucia wasn’t sure how to respond, this had been her home for six months, it had been the first place she’d lived with Niarith. It had sentimental importance to her that it didn’t for Niarith. She chose not to say anything.
An hour later they were on their way, as the door to their former apartment slid closed, Lucia, almost by reflex, reached out and stopped it. “Wait! I… I’m not ready yet..” Niarith looked concerned
“What’s wrong hon?” Lucia opened the door and stood staring back into the dimly lit concrete box she had called her home for six long months. She felt tears in her eyes, and blinked as they slid down her cheek.
“I just.. I wasn’t ready to leave it behind yet. It’s stupid, crying over a concrete box like this..”
Niarith placed a gentle hand on Lucia’s shoulder “Oh Luci… I’m sorry, I didn’t even think about how you’d feel about leaving. Of course it would mean more to you.. I’m so sorry honey.” Lucia said nothing, tears streaming down her face. Niarith walked up next to her and leaned on her shoulder. They stood there silently for a while.
Lucia simply stood there, processing her emotions, letting the tears fall. That had been something she’d worked on, with Niarith’s help. Her emotions didn’t come easy to her, and when she revealed she had learned to force herself to never cry, Niarith had insisted she stop, and that being vulnerable sometimes was okay. It was still hard for Lucia, but she was doing her best, and her best was better with Niarith. “I love you, Luci.” Niarith said after a while.
Lucia looked at her beautiful lover, and replied “I love you too, Nia. I… I think I’m ready.” With that, the pair let the sliding metal door close, and turned to walk to the spaceport.
After walking in silence for a minute or so, Niarith broke it. “So, V&C Inquiries, Inc, huh? We’re really doing it.”
Lucia grasped Niarith’s a bit tighter “We’re doing it. Today, our lives change forever. Again.” She said the last words with a small laugh, Niarith responded in kind.
“Just remember, we’re not leaving the planet just yet, we’re just moving into the ship. We need LightDrive fuel if we wanna leave.”
Lucia nodded “Yep, I got it, Nia. Still don’t get how this LightDrive thing works, though”
Niarith took a small moment to think before saying “As far as I know, it uses a mineral called Ghostitite, that produces a massive amount of energy when exposed to several wavelengths of light in the right order in quick succession. The LightDrive uses the power generated to locally warp spacetime, letting the ship continually ‘fall’ into this bubble of warped space, which allows the ship to seem to move faster than light, though technically it’s not, it’s just making the space in front of it smaller.”
Lucia just stopped and stared at Niarith, her facial expression making it obvious she had no understanding of what Niarith just said. After a few seconds she simply said “You’re hot when you talk nerdy, babe.”
Niarith raised an eyebrow before turning around to continue walking whilst she said “Why do you think I said it?” with a small giggle. Lucia hurried to catch up, giggling herself.
After a few more minutes, they arrived at the hangar where the Epsilon VI waited. The pair walked through the entryway, and were presented with the large, boxy, beige hulk that was the Epsilon VI. “Home sweet home” Niarith said, a cheerful tone to her voice. Lucia followed her up the ramp and into the ship. It had been remodeled inside, to make things ‘homier’. The walls had been covered with the same faux-wood paneling that had decorated the bedroom on the ship. The strange blue-purple foam pads were still set into the upper and lower edges of the walls. The floors of several rooms had been covered with the same soft, thick carpeting that the bedroom had had.
Lucia leaned over and kissed Niarith on the cheek. “We’re home.”
“That we are, Luci!” Niarith replied, walking through the airlock door and into the hallway. Lucia followed her down the hall and into the living quarters that had once been a drab metal box with a cold metal table in it. It had been the first place Lucia had ever seen space from, the place she’d tried to fight Niarith, the place she was told she could never go home. Now, it was home, and Lucia couldn’t be happier. The room had been converted from a cold grey box, to a warmly lit, carpeted space, with wood paneling on the middle section of the walls, a comfortable couch, and the television from the apartment.
The pair of them sat down on the couch, and Niarith took out a tablet, placing it on the small glass table in front of the couch. She prodded one section of the dark screen and the device sprang to life. Bright light began to emit from its screen, projecting a holographic image into the air above it. The image was a short list of names. “So, this is what we’ve got to work with. It’s not much right now, but if we can get a reputation going, we can find more clients, get more money, and get off this rock!” Niarith reached out and touched the first name on the list. “Yildebrund Brocktazrolo… my old landlord. He told me he’d be interested in hiring us to acquire a pendant that was his wife’s. Apparently it was stolen a few weeks ago and the police don’t care. Like I said, Luci, theft is not considered worthwhile to investigate.”
“Do we have any idea where this pendant might be? I mean, we have a whole planet here, we can’t exactly go check everywhere.”
“Yep! He says it was taken by someone working for a guy by the name of Loriol Ninia, some kind of leader of an organized crime syndicate.”
Lucia thought for a few moments, then said “Why is an organized crime syndicate interested in a pendant? Don’t they have bigger things to worry about?”
Niarith shook her head “This isn’t just some random bit of jewelry, Luci. This pendant has Ghostitite set into it. It’s worth a fortune.” She swiped across Yildebrund Brocktazrolo’s name, and the image changed to that of a pendant attached to a thin chain. The pendant was teardrop shaped, made of what looked like gold, with a bright white stone set into it of the same shape. The stone seemed to almost glow, it’s brightness seeming almost impossible. The image began to rotate, as it moved, the stone sparkled with darker specks of reflective material.
“That’s… beautiful.” Lucia said, astonishment in her voice. Niarith giggled as Lucia stared.
Suddenly the mechanical voice of Mirideth joined with Niarith’s as she said “That’s right, stare, stare deeply as it spins, as it sparkles, let your mind grow qui-” Niarith smacked herself in the side of the head, cutting off Mirideth’s attempt at hypnosis.
“Not. Cool. Asazlaiyn. What were you even gonna do? Nevermind, I don’t want to know. Just.. shut up. You okay Luci?”
Lucia tore her gaze from the holographic image. “I’m fine. I’m unfortunately getting used to her interruptions. I don’t know what her game is with it, but I’m used to it.” She sat back on the couch, relaxing “So do we know where this trinket is?
Niarith made a concerned sound “Not exactly. We know where Ninia is based, and I can only assume it’s there somewhere, but…” She trailed off, uncertain. She stood and opened the window panel, though all that was visible through it was the hangar bay. “We’ll figure it out. Ninia is based in Zeta Sector, Mid District. We’re gonna have to fly there, so settle in.” She started to make her way out of the room, but Lucia stood and stopped her.
“Nia, honey, what’s wrong? Don’t think I can’t tell when you’re nervous. It’s… really obvious.” She placed a gentle hand on Niarith’s shoulder.
Niarith sighed “I-it’s nothing. I’m just… we’re really doing this, huh? We’re actually doing it. I guess it hadn’t sunk in. I’ll be okay by the time we get there.” Lucia pulled her into a tight hug, leaning back to kiss her.
“I was the best assassin the Forsyth Rebellion had ever seen, Nia. You’re safe with me.”
“I know, Luci. I love you.” Another kiss, and she left. Leaving Lucia alone in the living area with her thoughts. She made her way back to the couch, lying down and relaxing. The ship shuddered as Niarith powered up the engines. Lucia watched through the window from her vantage point on the couch as the hangar bay gave way to the extensive planet-wide cityscape.