MurphyElliott-ME0070C-650.jpgKat’s contacts had told her this was worth her time. Apparently an Arorem wanted to buy something big, but Kat couldn’t figure out how one of the Baleshi inhabitants had gotten ahold of any material worth her time. Kat only dealt in bones--physical cred-sticks—any account transfers could be noticed by the UNSF and technically she was supposed to be paying taxes for Garago. Unfortunately for them she ran Garago and much of the asteroid. Even if she was on their military personnel list she freed herself from them long ago.

Kat noticed her knee was bouncing. She crossed her legs to keep them locked down. If this Arorem could get ahold of bones, maybe they also knew human body language. My mind has to be on point. I don’t know enough about this Arorem. Kat pushed her pint across the sheet metal table and pulled the dewy water closer. She scanned the room to see if she could see any Arorem. Kat always thought they looked like a seahorse with an octopus glued to their head. Was that racist? Kat didn’t think any of the other species were attractive, even the high class Domoring who ruled the Baleshi.

On the other side of the room Kat saw through the wisps of purple psychoactive gases and the hum of banter that a seafoam blue Arorem slid in. The tentacles around her face curled like a disturbed snail then flickered outward as she pivoted her head looking for her. Kat recognized this as a nervous twitch, akin to the biting of nails in human culture. Kat waited for her to come over and took a sip of the calm water.

The Arorem glided between the people, bumping into a few and getting her tail stepped on twice. Kat hid a smile, she had arranged for this to happen. Controlling the atmosphere and creating discomfort always ensured that a deal went in her favor. Kat could see the tentacles straighten with a slight quiver as the Arorem apologized. The Arorem sat down and coiled her tail beneath her and placed her small mitten-hands on the table for much needed balance. Kat had made sure that the chair opposite her was fit for a human, not an Arorem. It was time for her first planned act of kindness.

“Sorry, I didn’t think to get you a chair. Bring the lady a chair!” Kat yelled to one of her workers. They brought over the chair in a flash and exchanged it. The Arorem was grateful. “So I assume you know me, and I assume you know that I don’t need any more barleen, I only want bones.”

“Yes ma’am I have heard much of you, and I know of your usual guidelines for the exchange of goods, but I was assured by one of your subordinates that you would adjust your guidelines for this particular case.” The Arorem spoke through their language modulator. Kat could tell by the formality of the speech, and the slight buzz of the modulator, that it was working overtime to translate those words. The Arorem pulled out a large pouch of powdered blue lichen, worth at least 2,000,000 credits, and Kat was more than willing to adjust her guidelines for that. Kat snatched the sack and slid it into her pocket. Time for her second planned act of kindness.

“Oh I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your name.” she phrased as a statement rather than a question.

“That is not of importance.” The Arorem said moving her flat hands one on top the other.

“Okay, so what do you want?”

“I desire the shipments of tan civilian garments you have come across.” The Arorem said seemingly more comfortable with the situation.
“For a pouch like that I’ll give you two crates.” Kat threw out as a probe, there had to be more to it.

“Just one crate is perfectly adequate, because we would also like you to fill in the specifics of this blueprint of the Flagship Jotunheim of the UNSF fleet.” The Arorem said blind that the request was treason.

“The hell I will!” Kat spewed, then deleted the ping on her interface, then wiped her pings, then ran software to wipe the record that she wiped her pings.

“I understand your alarm ma’am, we have no thoughts but those that benefit us both. We know the Baleshi brought us here for a purpose, and that purpose is to live here in a paradise floating through the cosmos in a city grown from the sacrifice of the Baleshi. Our priests tell us that the Baleshi have told them this. The Domoring priests cannot be trusted, and so we will lead them through their own Final Abbatoirand my people will be the lowly butchers as they have always been. Our faith is strong and we know that by activating the railgun on the Jotunheim we can heed the message of the Baleshi.”

Kat was hit with the strange thought that this Arorem wasn’t like the rest. This Arorem wasn’t willing to work for no purpose but to hold up the Domoring. Kat could understand that humanlike ambition, but it was still insane and felt very unfamiliar.

“You are our prophet Kat Norbiq. The Baleshi have told us that you have seen the visions as well, and that you have built Garago based on those visions.” The Arorem said putting her hand carefully onto Kats.

Kat remembered when she stumbled upon the inspiration for starting Garago. She was investigating the Lumen as she did as a child, crawling through ducks and grates unaware that a storm of heat could have blown through at any moment and boiled her alive. She found a secret room with “The Market” etched along a wall. The rest of the walls were painted and carved with the most beautiful cities imaginable, cities that she later found out were from the old days. But there was one that she never learned what it was, and it was the most extraordinary of all of them. It was a magnificent city of blue pastures and silver buildings protruding from an asteroid that shone brighter than all the stars in the background. She started Garago based on that one. “So what is it you plan to do?”

“Blow up the Baleshi and then remove the coolant from the railgun. We have your kind in our faith that can sneak onboard and do so. They have seen the visions of the future, even though your kind swears no confidence to god. They have seen the city amidst the stars and have felt the inner light warm their souls. Lead us Kat Norbiq! Lead us!” The Arorem droned blissfully as she wrapped both her hands around Kats forming a triangle shape. People were starting to give strange glances.

“I umm, don’t think I can do that.” Kat said without withdrawing her hands. A surge of joy swelled from her stomach into her brain along all the nerves that had evolved from nucleotides. All that tingling joy met at the corners of her mouth, with a smile.

She had felt this feeling when she saw Garago, it was so powerful that it had made her, even as a young girl, ask her parents why she felt that way. Her parents had gone on a spiel about serotonin, and dopamine, and synapses—but it wasn’t a good answer. It hadn’t fulfilled her, and it had only quelled the feeling from ever happening again until now. Maybe now she had an answer and it only took half her life to find it.

“What’s your name?” Kat asked the Arorem out of curiosity, watching the lavender gases coalesce and hover against the ceiling caked with a thin layer of rancid gunk.

“I am Iessma Resst. I am glad to finally meet the true Kat Norbiq: Prophet of the city in the stars.”