Vacation. The word sounded so foreign to her. It wasn’t something she had even thought about since she first got her job with Rider. Once she made up her mind she was going to get it done without pause and that had been the idea for the last few years.
She walked the streets of Illium, feeling a strange calm that only the colony could give. She decided to grab some food and think about what she would do next. She found a small little restuarant. A real hole in the wall kind of place, but it was updated and nice. Everything was digital from the menu to the check out and a holographic display appeared as she slid into a booth near the back of the small restaurant. She scrolled through the menu, the sound of water trickling from a display echoed behind her. It felt old as if she had fallen back in time despite the technology that surrounded her. She paused at a menu for sushi and smiled, picking a few of her favorite before exiting off the screen.
She was now free to browse the Internet for whatever she needed. First things first she had to find a place to stay. And it needed to be cheap she wasn’t into spending all her credits for a swanky place. A place with a bed and a shower would do. Well as long as it wasn’t in a seedy part of Illium. But really she doubted that even existed. After scrolling through a number of hotels and motels she settled on one and booked a room for a few days, transferring the credits out right. Satisfied with what she chose she spent the rest of her time looking at ships.
And not just any ships, but real A-grade ships. Boosters, and galactic jump included. She scrolled through them all drooling at the chrome finishes and specs on all of them. And then she stopped on one that really caught her eye. The Valhalla X-9000. It was behemoth of a ship, reminding her of a war ship that was used by the Intergalactic Military or the Guardians. She whistled at it, trailing her fingers down the holographic display.
“See this is the type of baby I want,” she said as she leaned back into her booth.
The price tag was a little much, but she was about half way there. Another few years of working and she’d be able to afford one. And she was going to get her hands on it, it was just as simple as that. As she stared at her future ship her sushi arrived and she smiled at the young woman who was her waitress. She was a pretty thing, with a cute bob and a round face.
“Are you a pilot?” she asked.
Iona blinked, pausing as she pulled her chopsticks apart. She looked from the Valhalla to the girl who was leaning in to get a closer look.
“Not quite. I…I still have to take some lessons. But once I do, this is gonna be my ship.”
“I see. Well you go ahead and rocket through those stars girl,” she said winking at Iona.
Iona couldn’t help but smile before popping a shrimp tempura into her mouth and watching as the girl walked away. She’d be getting a nice little tip once Iona was finished.
Iona stayed at the restaurant long after she was done eating, from a mixture of being lazy and suddenly feeling very tired. She transferred a few credits to the waitress who had served her and left the little restaurant catching a taxi that took her directly to her the Hotel Royale. It was on the same street as the Intergalactic Union Embassy which even at this time was teaming with life and activity. She paid the taxi driver and moved towards the towering white building. The inside was nicer than she expected and she was now reassured in her choice of hotels.
After checking in at the lobby, she rode the elevator up to her room. The elevator opened up to a large hallway and Iona floated down the hall way, her head hanging as she let out a long yawn. As she entered the room she collapsed onto the round bed filled to the brim with pillows not even bothering to strip away any of the clothing that she had been wearing that day. She closed her eyes and she was asleep before she even knew it.
Meanwhile, a young man worked well into the wee hours of the night on a small piece of tech. Cylindrical in shape, he tapped rapidly on his computer to reach his goal. And then at last there was a satisfying and terrifying beep that made him push away from the device all together for a few moments. But as the holohgraphic display appeared and a time appeared, he couldn’t help but grin. Cracking his knuckles he leaned back in his seat and hummed to himself. His job was done and they were one step closer to there goal.
The next morning, Iona was awakened by her holophone announcing the date and time. She groaned and roll over, a few rays of sunlight streaming through the curtains of her hotel room. She hadn’t had a chance to look at it last night. It was a circular room, with windows along the curved walls. A small wet bar was installed under a curved desk and a dresser was placed a little ways from that. Taking up the rest of the space was a small set up of lounge chairs and a comfy looking couch. Groaning, Iona sat up slowly, stretching her fingers towards the sky. She tugged on her jacket and looked herself over, feeling a little grimy dressed in her clothes from the night before.
She rolled over until she reached the edge of the bed and pulled out her second set of clothes and her tooth brush. She stumbled towards the door beside the entrance and stepped into the bathroom, turning on the shower as she ran a few fingers through her hair and took care of her business. After a quick shower she dressed herself in her jumpsuit with shorts and a black shirt, and knee high tights. She slid into her boots and left the bathroom, making her way towards the wet bar. Of course there was alcohol, but she wasn’t too much of a drinker even once she was the legal age to drink.
She eventually settled on a fruit smoothie, popping the cap and chugging down the thick liquid with ease. Smiling she took a seat on the windowsill, leaning her her head against the window. It wasn’t even half past 10 and the streets were filled with people and families. Illium never seemed to rest, it was always moving always thriving for the most part. It was interesting to watch. Her place she could make out the embassy building and the shops and restaurants that surrounded either side of them. There were a few tables scattered about where people were sitting and chatting. Her eyes landed on a young man, typing away at his holographic keyboard a intense look on his face.
He shook his head and threw his hands into the air, screaming causing the people around him to look at him and move away with a quickness. Iona laughed out loud and moved away from the windowsill and grabbed her bag from it’s place on the floor. She needed to find something to do, staying cooped up in here wasn’t her type of thing. Seeing the shops she decided to grab some souvenirs and maybe some clothes while she was at it, considering that she only had two outfits for her impromptu vacation.
A group of beings made quick work as they entered the elevator and rode it to the top floor. They were well dressed and looked as if they belonged there. In a passing glance it looked as if they were about to head to a meeting. The elevator arrived at it’s destination and the group of men stepped out, each of them going there separate ways. Though one lingered in the lobby of the highest floor, a wide smile on his face. His tendrils were pulled up into an extravagant up do as he made his way towards a young florian female that was seated behind the desk. He leaned on it and messed with the large pink petals that made up her hair.
“Can I help you sir?” she asked.
“Oh no, I am just admiring the place. I heard the embassy was a beautiful building and that is the truth.”
“Yes it is. Are you an ambassador for the Orissian?”
“Yes, yes I am. Can you direct me to the bathrooms on this floor?” he asked.
The Florian Female complied and pointed him in the direction of the restroom, a strange unease bubbling in her stomach.
As much as she didn’t want to be here, it felt good to stretch her long legs. That’s all she really was. Though she wasn’t really stretching them. She simply floated along, weaving in and out of the crowds of people who went along with their business. Every once in a while she would catch the lingering gazes of humans and aliens as they looked at her. Neb weren’t seen often and for her to be a hybrid of both a Neb and human she was certainly an oddity. She ignored them and even scoffed at there stares. Though she couldn’t bring herself to do that to the children who looked at her in awe, not caring who or what she was.
They simply pointed and there parents apologized for it. And all Iona could was wave them off and continue on with her business. Though the small toddler who screamed stars at the top of his lungs had made her day a little bit better and she just couldn’t understand why.
Main Street on Illium had more stores and booths than she ever expected. You wanted fabric? You could get it from there. Clothes, food, even games were all sold on this street. Every once in a while she could see a few stair ways leading upwards to the stores that were propped upon the roofs off other stores. It was like a bazaar almost, whimsical and large, climbing up into the sky. She stuck to the main floor for her first day of shopping, focusing on getting clothes and souvenirs.
She stumbled upon a book seller, and grabbed a book talking about space ships, including the Valhalla X-9000. She also bought a small pocket sketchbook from the same old man. She wasn’t sure what she would use it for. But the smooth leather and white pages called to her. You didn’t see books like this all the time. Everything was digital now, even notebooks. But Iona had a penchant for writing things down, and she often doodled on the sides of any paper that was handed to her, like a child trying to preoccupy herself. And of course she had to buy pens so she could do whatever it was she was going to do in that journal of hers. By the time she finished up, it was late into the afternoon and that same feeling of tiredness wafted over her.
So she floated herself and her numerous amount of bags back to the hotel. The young man behind the desk greeted her and told her, her room had been cleaned. She gave a nod of her head in recognition and slid into the elevator. She couldn’t understand why she was so tired, but curling into a ball on the large comfortable circular bed sounded so good.
And just like the night before, she collapsed onto her bed, pulling her legs into her chest and curling up like cat. She didn’t bother with the blanket, wrapping her arms around herself was enough to keep her warm for the moment. With a small smile she drifted back off to sleep, feeling strangely content.
The next day and the day that followed where the same. She awoke, showered, grabbed something from the wet bar and decided on what she was going to do that day on the windowsill of her hotel room. And each day that she sat there, she noticed a familiar face. The same young man that had been sitting there two days before. He was still typing away, and every now and again he would grow angry like he always did. She smiled, tilting her head against the glass.
What are you working on dude? She thought to herself before rising to her feet and going off to explore the Illuim again.
She spent most of the day simply walking around and seeing the sights, and the many restaurants that were scattered all about the space colony. She tried a few of them throughout the day, eventually returning to the little hole in the wall she visited on her first day there. The cute waitress from before was there and no sooner did she see Iona did she invite her to the bar where she was stationed at, offering her a few drinks.
She was a sweet thing, talkative and funny and Iona found herself just sitting at the bar chatting it up with the young woman, who introduced herself as Bev. She had all sorts of questions. Though Iona wished she could of gotten a picture of the girls face when Iona revealed her age. She couldn’t tell if that scared her off or just made her that much more interested. Before she left though, Bev offered that they should hangout sometime.
“You’re really cool!” she explained with a big stupid grin on her face.
Iona didn’t know what to say to that. She hadn’t really had anyone to talk to in a while. Especially not someone who thought she was cool. And she didn’t exactly want to go home to her quiet hotel room just to go back to sleep.
In the end, Iona just through up a hand in good bye and moved towards the door. It was a rude move considering how much they talked and got along with each other. But things like that…she wasn’t good at it. Talking yes, but when it could lead to more it terrified her. It made her want to run for the hills and that had always been the case. She floated along towards her hotel, her mind racing with ways on how she could of done something different. The sky was just beginning to change from it’s sky blue to the colors of a painted sunset, warm and light.
She stopped, running her fingers through her hair, her fingers passing through it easily. She was standing a little ways away from the Embassy building. It was towering structure, it’s walls black and gold. It stuck out like a sore thumb on the space station, but she supposed that made it easier to find. Letting out a long breath, she tilted her head back and closed her eyes. A cool wind blew against her face and she took in a deep breath, filling her lungs with the crisp , clean air of Illium.
Iona opened her eyes and the whole world shook something fierce. Her heart skipped a beat and for the first time since she arrived on Illium her feet touched the smooth concrete of the space station. Her eyes fell to the Embassy building now engulfed flames and smoke bursting from it’s top floor. Glass rained down on unknowing passerbys and as she stood there, the screams finally hit her, bringing her back to reality.
The confusion was evident and in the distance she could hear sirens echoing about. People pushed and shoved people around, when a second blast erupted from the building. Large pieces of concrete rained down upon everyone and everything. And in this confusion, she saw the boy who had been typing away at his computer, he was still standing at his computer, his mouth moving rapidly as he spoke to himself.
“Hey! Leave the damn thing behind!” Iona found herself screaming.
The boy looked up, before being shoved to the ground by a hulking beast of a man. Iona frowned and for the first time in the first few minutes began to float again. Everyone ran, pushing and shoving others to the ground. Iona pushed herself up from the ground and soared over to the boy, flaming debris raining down upon them. The boy was in a daze barely able to stand. Iona took hold of his hand and lifted him to his feet. He stared at her wide eyed, about to speak when another explosion went off, sending a shockwave through the ground.
“Shit! Move move!” she said as she pulled him along.
How many explosions where there? Though a better question was why was she still fucking there? She pulled the boy along for what felt like forever. She half expected another explosion to send the building crumbling down. But instead none came and eventually the boy pulled her to a stop. Iona was panting and sweating, and she felt a strange wetness on her back. But she ignored it for the most part. Turning the Embassy came into view. It was smoking from three different floors, black plumes of smoke rising into the once beautiful evening sky.
And it was there that a strange projection appeared with the smoke as a backdrop.
A rotating cog with an infinity symbol in the center.
Her blood ran cold, and she felt all the energy and adrenaline she had before drain away from her. The world began to spin, but her eyes never left the symbol. She watched as the cog rotated over and over again before the world went dark.