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Cold by Sessakag

Chapter One

Chapter One

 

March 2, 4035

 

The distant rumble of a brewing storm echoed above the city. Looming gray clouds drifted across the darkening sky, slowly eclipsing the shimmering rays of the afternoon sun within its billowing mass. Vivid blue veins of light flashed, the charged streaks illuminating the murky heavens moments before a roaring boom of thunder shook the building. Hard droplets of water pelted the roof and great gusts of wind hammered virtual windows. Inside a crowded restaurant, the turbulent howl of mother nature was a mere hum below the companionable chatter and clink of silverware. It was day dreary enough to send most people scurrying back to the warm comfort of home, a trend that the patrons of Rizek were disinclined to follow.

The popular watering hole was packed.

Harsh rain and angry winds unable to stem the flow of soaked customers determined to spend the evening in their favorite establishment.

Built on one of the most coveted locations in the city, Rizek was the nearest watering hole to the interplanetary check-in station, its close proximity netting a majority of the hungry, space weary travelers willing to brave the downpour for a hot meal after a long journey. Despite the large crush of customers, the jam packed rooms of well behaved diners was a welcomed sight for the busy waiters and waitresses. Springtime on Rektan 7 saw hundreds of thousands of its low skilled civilians flocking from the planet in search of lucrative work opportunities inside off world mines. The rowdy crowd that typically frequented Rizek were made up of tough talking miners, unrepentant bootleggers and less than wholesome mercenaries that were more than willing to toss each other around after downing a few drinks.

With the roughhousing regulars otherwise occupied, Rizek was quieter, the demands and behavior of the customers pleasant and reasonable.

Absolute paradise to one particular waitress.

Kagome smiled at the table of diners, chatting idly and cheerfully while setting their drinks on the table. The party of six had given her little trouble. Patient, polite and respectful, the diners had been a joy to serve, much like the group before them. While her feet were aching and her back was starting to stiffen, she’d rather deal with this calm throng of people than the rude, often times smelly pugnacious ruffians that were due back in a matter of months. She’d take this small break and enjoy it lasted.

Come September, she’d be begging to serve these people again.

After ensuring her table had all that it needed, Kagome retreated.

Rizek was a modest, genial establishment made up of sectioned dining areas and a long translucent bar. Equipped with environmental projection floor, walls, furniture and ceilings, today’s decor had been set to a tasteful, bordering upscale, eatery boasting hardwood floors, sky blue plush dining chairs, silvery sophisticated tables and matching wallpaper. It was a design they didn’t use often, but with a restaurant full of patrons that would appreciate the polished flare, the manager had jumped at the opportunity to use the setting.

Striding behind the bar and down the hall, Kagome sent a inquiry to her internal computer system.  

It is 4:23 pm,’ announced a cold, female, robotic voice.

Azure digital numbers appeared in her mind's eye, confirming the computer’s broadcast.

“Two more hours and I am out of here.” she sighed beneath her breath.

In the kitchen, Kagome found the cooks hard at work on the next round of meals. Having already made her rounds of her assigned tables; refilling cups, bringing extra napkins and condiments, the raven haired server had a moment to relax. Leaving the steamy room, Kagome wandered through another door and took a seat in the employee lounge. The room was empty of furniture and completely white. She trekked over to one of the bare walls and made the motion to sit. A translucent square formed beneath her bottom, expanding to cradle her back. The room exploded with color, and the outside world bled into the wall in front of her.

Kagome mentally adjusted the height of her chair before increasing its levitation until her sore feet left the floor. Releasing a small breath of relief, she leaned back into the comfortable chair, bright blue eyes gazing out at the hustle and bustle of the city beyond the wall.

The terrible whether had let up a bit, morphing from stabbing rains into a gentle shower.

Despite the whistling wind and cascading water, the view was spectacular. Rainbow colored droplets streamed from above, their luminous hues reflecting against the surrounding, metallic buildings that stretched high into the normally bright purple sky. A kaleidoscope of colors bathed the city in a multihued mist. Busy people scuttled along the sidewalks, splashing through deep puddles while clutching umbrellas in tight fists. The people were just as interesting to watch as the multicolored rain drops. Tall and short, tentacles and crustacean claws, bipedal and quadruped, some looked unnaturally beautiful, others so grotesque it was hard to believe they were real.

Rektan 7 was home to thousands of species, and was an attractive planet for those seeking to start a new life. The economy was stable, the road to citizenship obtainable in less than two years, and though Rektan 7 boasted a sizable military force, its government had long tired of the disruption of war, preferring instead to pursue diplomatic solutions.

It also made an amazing vacation site.

Blue and pink jungles housed many exotic animals and insects, drawing the interest of adventurers and hunters looking for something new to catch. And the sunny beaches boasted soft cyan sand and cool lavender oceans. The cities were a hotspot for night life entertainment, attracting young vacationers and college students on seasonal and holiday breaks. Pulsating clubs and boisterous taverns were popular after dark, while fashionable boutiques and guided tours drew family vacationers in droves. Underneath the glam and sparkle, however, the self proclaimed “black market” cast a long shadow over the picturesque cities, its willingness to deal in illicit exchanges enticing a magnitude of people that were disinclined to follow the law.

Anything you wanted, legal or otherwise, could be found in the city.

A low buzz drew her attention.

You have one new message from Lyra Setsun’ the computer informed her.

She smiled.

Lyra was her best friend, and one of the few people she trusted wholeheartedly. The spunky female was a godsend, often volunteering to picked Sota up from school on the days Kagome found herself trapped at the restaurant. Her little brother Sota was the ripe old age of thirteen and while both siblings agreed he was too old for a babysitter, the rundown neighborhood they lived in didn’t allow for the independence he craved. She just wasn’t comfortable letting him wander home alone, much to his annoyance. He was growing up and wanted to stretch his wings, she knew that, understood it but she also recognized the unique danger her brother would be exposed to should she favor freedom over safety. This planet was a hotbed for kidnapping, and child slavery a common practice. The cruel abductors made a living stealing young boys and whisking them off planet, forcing the captured youth to mine valuable resources on underdeveloped planets in the far recesses of space.

Only three weeks had passed since several children Sota’s age were snatched from the streets of various towns and carted off planet by heartless outlaws. She’d be damned if they got their grubby hands on her little brother. 

Kagome didn’t have much in this world but was determined to hang to what little she had.

Along side the planet’s kidnapping epidemic was the constant threat of their own demons.

She and Sota were on the run.

Ducking and dodging the clutches of an organization they knew very little about.

Aside from the things her mother had told her, Kagome could only speculate on a puzzle that was missing some very important pieces. Her own memories were fuzzy, and the early years of her life lay buried beneath a thick haze of obscurity. Bits and piece manifested at times in the form of terrifying nightmares that woke her in the dead of night and left her lying awake long hours after. Very few things were clear in regards to the shadowy group, but there was one aspect that was unmistakable. The unmitigated gut wrenching fear that crashed through her each time she stood face to face with an agent of the organization. The instinctual knowledge that their capture would lead to horrors she could only imagine.

It was nerve wracking, an undercurrent of tension looming over their daily life.

An added burden that had the power to bring the over worked twenty-two year old to tears of stress. Kagome had enough on her hands trying to keep them afloat with a paycheck that barely covered their monthly expenses. Running, hiding, living was an grueling, seemingly unending struggle, day in and day out. And She was self-aware enough to realize that she was beginning to buckle beneath the pressure, that the woes of life were slowly wearing her down. She didn’t think she could take anything more, that if the scales tipped any further, it’d break her…

But within the abyss of a world determined to shatter the young woman were glimmering beams of hope just as adamant to keep her together.

Lyra, was one of those shinning beacons.  

They’d met several years ago, not long after Kagome’s mother died. Lyra had found the two siblings living in a makeshift shelter hidden between two run down buildings, hollow eyed and soul weary after a particularity vicious encounter with the organization. An attack that resulted in the murder of their mother at the hands of conscienceless android deployed by the group. Introducing himself as 5, the disturbing AI had informed the family of three that he was here for Kagome and her brother. The siblings had barely gotten them away from the rabid droid that horrendous day. Terrified by their near capture, heartbroken over the loss of their mother, they’d taken to the streets; blending into the vast sea of the homeless and downtrodden. Years later, the wound of that time pained her still. The trauma easily relived. She need only close her eyes to remember the frigid nights, the gnawing hunger, the desperation and despair threatening to take her under.

The terror that she wouldn’t keep her promise to mother.

That she wouldn’t be able to take care of her kid brother.

It was at her lowest point that Lyra happened upon them. The concerned woman had been met with immediate distrust. A paranoid Kagome had turned her away initially, too afraid to trust those kind eyes, to believe the woman meant them any good. Little by little, day by day, Lyra whittled away at that wall she’d built around herself and Sota. Bringing life saving gifts like clothes, food, water and medicine, taking care to leave her peace offerings a safe distance away and retreating without a word.

The kindness had broken Kagome’s heart, and she’d cried each time something they desperately needed was provided.

A month before winter, Lyra had come bearing more than survival gear, she’d brought hope in the form of a job opening for a waitress, no questions asked, no paperwork necessary.

Blinking to bring up the new message and clear her mind of the bittersweet memories, she read the contents of the message.

Sota wanted to know if he could spend the weekend at my house. That okay?’

Kagome formed her reply.

That’s fine with me. Make sure he gets his homework done.’

Her words disappeared, and a picture of an envelope appeared in its place a brief second before vanishing. Confirmation her response had been sent.

That was a load off her mind.

At least she knew Sota was safe and in great hands. Lyra would never let anything bad happen to him. She was as close to Sota as Kagome was herself.

Another chime rang, this one informing her that work was far from over. Kagome stood. The chair dissolved and color leeched from the walls as she shuffled back to the kitchen.

“Order up, Higurashi.” the cook called out.

Kagome moved over to the serving counter. A light flashed and three covered dishes materialized. Holding her hand out, she brought forth the hover tray with a thought. A large translucent disk formed, levitating above her hand. The plates rose, floating up and over the holographic serving tray.

Dishes balanced, she headed back to the fray.

xxxxxx

Kagome sighed.

The restaurant was finally empty. Seated in a bar stool, her back against the bar, the exhausted waitress took a moment to bask in the glow of another hard day of work coming to an end.

“What a day.” she mumbled, leaning her head back and closing her eyes.

“Hey Higurashi,” called Plynus, “need a lift?”

Kagome straightened, blue gaze travelling to her approaching coworker. Plynus trekked across the room, his tall, spindly body quickly closing the distance between them. The bright orange alien had terrified her years ago, but now when she looked at his elongated head, six dark eyes, and thin mouth lined with round teeth she wondered how she had ever been afraid of so kind an individual.

His long hairy antennas twitched as he spoke.

“Sota’s at Lyra’s today, right?”

“No, that’s okay,” she answered, “Sota is staying with Lyra this weekend.”

Plynus often gave her a ride when she needed to pick Sota up after work. Kagome felt bad because he lived in the opposite direction and yet he never expressed a single word of discontent to help out a friend.

“You sure?” he questioned, voice switching pitches,”It’s really coming down out there.”

Kagome nodded, sliding from her seat.

“It’s fine, I have my umbrella with me,” she assured him, “and rain never hurt anybody.”

Plynus clicked his teeth in understanding.

After saying goodbye to her coworkers, Kagome headed for the door.

Umbrella in hand, she stepped through the open portal and out into the downpour. Wind and rain whipped around her dark ponytail. She opened the umbrella, triggering its water repellent force field. Protected from the onslaught, Kagome trekked in the direction of home. As she walked, her nano created clothing changed. The dark blue short sleeve work shirt morphed into a vivid yellow, long sleeve blouse that hung just below her slim shoulders, it short hem fluttering just above her navel. Her short skirt fluffed around her thighs before brightening from charcoal black to shimmering emerald.

Her soft soled shoes reshaped themselves into tan sandals that gradually extended their heels, ensuring her easy stride continued uninterrupted.

Her scalp tingled and midnight blue tresses unraveled from their up-swept confinement, tumbling about her shoulders in thick loose curls. Satisfied with her transformation, Kagome turned her attention to navigating the throng of people walking with and against her. She nodded to those that acknowledged her, and held her breath as she passed others. By the time she reached her run-down neighborhood, the rain had slowed to a light drizzle, and a soft, shimmering, salmon mist whirled beneath the steady glow of the moon. 

Glinting metallic domes peaked beneath the haze. Arranged in neat, stringent rows that left little room between neighbors, the rusted, oblong structures offered surprisingly decent living conditions to low income individuals and families. While the residents enjoyed a deeply discounted rental price, the sliding scale calculations ensured the receiver barely had credits left once rent was paid. Saving was a painful nightmare, but if she ever wanted to move her brother out of their haggard neighborhood, holding on to every last piece of currency she had was the only way to do it.

A rustling bush brought her gaze whipping to her immediate left.

Pepper spray materialized in her hand, and her extensive self defense training rushed to the forefront. She tensed, the delicate muscle lining her body tightening in anticipation.

The bush trembled again.

Heart pounding, nerves steeling, Kagome tightened her grip on the container. Lyra had been right to sign them both up for the classes following a burglary of the home next to Kagome’s. As beautiful as this planet was, living in a neighborhood where the drudges of society were dumped presented daily and nightly dangers she would never get used to. Consistent vigilance wasn’t a choice. She couldn’t afford to be taken unaware, not by that android and certainly not by some small time criminal looking for an easy mark.

Mother was gone.

The only one that could protect her and Sota was her.

Something small and hairless scuttled from the underbrush and into the safety of another. Relieved but far lackadaisical, she swung her shrewd gaze back to the sidewalk, cerulean orbs sweeping the many shadows lining her path to home. Nothing bigger than a rodent moved. It was quiet, deserted, the majority of inhabitants already fast asleep. She didn’t like the silence. Griping her spray and umbrella handle, the wary waitress continued down the beaten street at a clipped pace.  

Minutes later, the row that contained her apartment dome emerged from the mist and a measure of calm unfurled.

The rapid thudding in her chest slowed, the knot her tummy loosened and the burning desire of reaching home without incident began to feel more like an eventuality than a silent hope. She’d almost breathed a sigh of relief after passing the unoccupied unit directly in front of hers, when something bulky and partially obscured in darkness caught her attention.

Her brows lowered, while tension surged back into her slender form.

There was something lying at her front door.

Something big and humanoid.

It was certainly a person, and by the careless way it was slumped over, she didn’t think they were conscious. Concerned that someone might be hurt, or even dying on her porch, she moved her finger to the trigger of her mace and reached for the courage to take a step forward. She gulped, sucked in a breath, then crept towards the crumpled individual. Heart pounding, baby blues trained on the meaty form, she watch for the slightest sign of life as she placed one foot in front of the other.

It didn’t move.

Not a single twitch.

She halted a few feet from it. Her eyes narrowed as she peered through droplets of rain and darkness in an effort to discern important details.

From what she could make out, it looked like a male.

A big male.

Of what species, she wasn’t sure.

He was slouched against her door, his face covered in a curtain of silky silver hair. His dark clothes were torn and charred in several places. The glint of a puddle drew her attention. Her eyes widened and she took a step closer. Dark liquid had pooled beneath him.

The consistency was thick, much like blood.

It was too dark to be sure.

She dared a few more steps, glanced around and behind then took a couple more. Who or whatever it was, it was definitely hurt. The scent of copper was strong and heavy. Dismissing her pepper spray, Kagome closed the distance between her and the downed male. Sidestepping the crimson puddle, she moved to his side. With a tight grip on her umbrella, she squatted next to his bulky body then reached out and placed a tentative hand on his shoulder.

He didn’t move.

Didn’t stir.

“Hey, are you okay?” she asked.

Silence.

Kagome looked around, nervous. Nothing looked out of place or disturbed, certainly nothing to give her a hint as to what had happened here, or if whatever or whoever had done this was still in the immediate area. The surrounding area was quiet and dark. Seeing no one, she turned back to the motionless male. Biting her lip, she reached out and pressed two fingers against the smooth flesh just below his strong jaw. She held her breath, hoping that she’d get a pulse. If he was deceased, it wouldn’t be the first time she’d seen a dead body…..but…..it never got any easier.

Dealing with death.

She just hoped that’s where his pulse was.

Not every creature had a carotid pulse. A great number of species housed their vital organs in different location, leaving their pulse to thrum in places other than the carotid and some didn’t have them at all. But if she was to go by his bipedal structure, she’d have to guess he probably had his organs in places similar to her own. Taking a breath, she put pressure against his flesh.

She breathed a sigh of relief when she felt the soft, steady beats of life against her finger tips. The last thing she needed was a dead body at her door.

He was alive, but barely.  

“Hang on, okay? I’ll call for help,” she told the silent male.

She wasn’t a fan of the authorities but what choice did she have? She was no doctor, and even if she were, there was no telling what kind of care he’d require. There were millions of species across the universe, many of which were still unknown. He could very well be one of those unstudied creatures and she could end up doing more harm than good. She’d just have to keep it brief, let them take him and hope they wouldn’t ask her too many questions, or probe to deep into her own affairs.

A strong hand gripped her wrist.

Kagome barely contained a scream as her instincts took over. Mace returned to her hand and a tense finger squeezed the trigger half way. Her silvery umbrella went tumbling to the ground and chilly rain pelted her crouched form. Cold droplets quickly dampened her hair and clothes as their eyes met. Gleaming, deep blue orbs surrounded in bright red sclera peered back at her.

The fiery depths left her paralyzed for several moments.

It was feral, that stare.

The piercing regard of an animal.

A chill, separate of the rain, slithered up her spine.

“Don’t…call…” he commanded in a roughed voice, “leave…me…”

The grated response snapped her back to the here and now. .

“What do you mean don’t call, you’re hurt.”

Instead of answering, he pulled away and pushed himself up on shaky legs. She rose too, watching as he struggled to put his battered body into motion. His tall figure staggered from one side to another before righting. Sucking in several harsh breaths, he gripped his ribs and began to move, brushing past her on unsteady legs. He was tall, towering over her petite form as he stumbled from her apartment door. He made it only a few short steps away before collapsing in a heap, and landing hard on the unforgiving pavement. Fresh streams of blood mixed into the drenched ground below his body.

“Stop it, you aren’t going anywhere in that condition.” she admonished, moving swift to the downed male.

Ignoring her, the bleeding alien shifted. Pressing clawed hands to the wet ground, he strained, his chest heaving to draw in breath as he struggled to lift the heavy weight of his body. Reaching beneath him, she helped him into a sitting position. His muscles trembled with exertion beneath her palms.

“Look, come inside, I won’t call anyone, but we need to get you patched up or you’re not going to make it.”

Taking his silence as acquiesce, Kagome crouched and brought his arm over her shoulder.

“I’ll help as much as I can but you’re going to have to do most of the work,” she told him, “You’re a lot bigger than me.”

Even with his cooperation, in his weakened state, it took a significant amount of time and effort to lift his brawny form from the ground. Once on his feet, he leaned into her, the simple task of standing upright taxing his rapidly declining strength. She grunted, struggling to take the brunt of his weight. Her muscles strained to support his battered form. It was a losing battle. In a bid to get him closer to her apartment, she pushed him towards the door, forcing his body and hers to move. The process was excruciatingly slow and onerous and by the time they reached her door, she was trembling with exhaustion.

She leaned him against the wall of her porch and looked up at the gray camera for the retinal scan.

A low click sounded as the door unlocked. The portal slid open and Kagome slipped beneath his arm again. They made it over the threshold before collapsing onto the soft plush carpet.

Kagome squeaked as his hard body forced the air from her lungs.

xxxxxx

Soooo, what do you think so far? Interested? Let me know. This is the new fanfic I’ve been plotting and hope it will be better than my other two. Please be sure to review and let me know what you think of the first chapter!

Laters

~Sessakag

 

 

INUYASHA © Rumiko Takahashi/Shogakukan • Yomiuri TV • Sunrise 2000
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