lostgirl.jpgOne of Cragasaki’s orphans was missing, and this meant trouble. Cragasaki took the care of hen orphans very seriously. They were hen children. The child in question was human, sixteen years old, and a girl. Her name was Sonya, and she was the daughter of a UNSF desertee who had died precisely because she was a UNSF desertee. Her father was unknown and had never come forward.

All this Cragasaki told anyone who would listen (and even those who didn’t want to listen), along with Sonya’s physical description. This yielded no results within Primarch Eternal, hen home, so hen turned to the Arorem, messengers between the home Baleshi. Hen asked them to keep an eye out for Sonya, and an ear out for any information that might lead to her. The Arorem hastened to obey, even forsaking normal duties in their rush to impress Cragasaki, one of the Elders of the Baleshi.

One of these Arorem, Toroami, found the answer on his daily trip to seek enlightenment within Numinum Pillion. At the center of Numinum, Numi, was a beautiful light, the Inner Sanctum. He could feel the light brushing against his skin as he passed through it, feel the testing, wandering fingers of Numi’s own mind as Numi accepted him into the fold. Within, he found people bustling about as though busy, some actually choosing to leave the Sanctum, though now that he was finally here, he didn’t know why he’d ever want to leave.

A human turned from speaking to someone near the center of the Sanctum and rushed over to him, almost knocking others over. She wore a plain monk’s robe woven tightly from barleen grass. She stopped before him and nodded to him in greeting. “We know of the task the Elder Craga has set upon you,” she said. “We have the information you seek. Cragasaki’s Sonya is no longer to be found upon the Baleshi. She has left us for the outside world. Seek her upon the asteroid, within that unpure place known as the Garago.”

Toroami hesitated. “Must I leave?” he asked plaintively. “I only just got here. I’ve never been accepted within the Sanctum before.”
The monk scowled at him. “Yes, you must leave, or you will never be allowed back again. Craga’s orphan’s life is far more important than your enlightenment. This is your first task as a member of the Sanctum. Do not disappoint Numi.”

He nodded his long head, feeling an urgency he hadn’t felt before. He rushed back through the light, sensing approval within it before he burst out the other side. Once he had left the Sanctum, he exited Numi through the tail, bursting out into utter blackness broken by starlight. His journey between Numi and Primarch Eternal was long, but he did his best to move quickly. He dove into Primarch Eternal and continued at a break-neck speed up to the Olfactory Axis, where Cragasaki’s home was. Without knocking, he burst into Craga’s enormous manor and smacked directly into Craga’s vast hide, falling stunned to the ground before hen.

“Well, have you news?” Cragasaki asked, his many-eyed head inches from Toroami's.

“She-she is with-in-in Garago,” the Arorem gasped, winded from his long flight.

Without another word, Cragasaki stepped over him with his many legs and departed the manor, heading for the Tether to the asteroid.

---

The bordello was packed tonight. Sonya swayed through the room, her filmy red barleen shawl fluttering against her tan skin. She wore her short hair in bouncy ringlets that framed her face, and she even wore red lip color that she’d traded for from a lady soldier. The looks she was attracting from the human males more than made up for the look of anger and disappointment Cragasaki had bestowed on her during the fight they’d had before she left.

A man was lounging at a nearby table, eyeing the many options for a bedfellow before him. He hadn’t settled on anyone yet, so she approached, adding a bit of extra bounce in her step to attract his attention. She smiled at him as she leaned over his shoulder. “Would you like something to drink?” she asked.

“I could do with a cup of coffee, though it won’t be as hot as you,” he responded with an easy smile. At her surprised glance, he laughed. “Guess you didn’t expect me to ask for coffee over beer, did you?”

“No,” she admitted. “One cup of coffee, coming right up.”

When she returned, she had two cups of coffee, one for herself and one for him. She settled in the seat next to him, pulling her chair close to his.

“You certainly have the goods,” he noted, giving her a once-over as he sipped his drink. She blushed and smiled at him, feeling pride for being exactly what he was looking for. She had never felt pride back home. Every time she tried to be like the others at home, she found herself lacking. She wasn’t artistic, she didn’t care about the Baleshi, and she didn’t care about enlightenment. All she’d ever wanted to do was fit in, but she’d never been able to. Here, though, surrounded by newness and excitement, she found someplace she felt she belonged.

“So I was just minding my own business, yeah, and this Machento comes up to me, right? So I try to get around him, but you know how they are. He was this big brute, and he wanted to pound me for some reason. So I got out my gun, right, and shot him. Didn’t kill him, mind, just scared him a bit, like that!” The man, Gerard, slapped his hand down on the table and laughed. Sonya smiled with him, though it was forced. She knew for a fact most Machento weren’t violent in the way Gerard was describing them. She wondered how badly the Machento had been hurt.

Sonya saw her boss, the Madam Ti’aletta, bustle past in a sudden flurry, her skin a bright happy yellow as she curtseyed to someone at the door. Sonya turned to see who it was, and froze as she saw Cragasaki, her caretaker, hen bulking mass blocking the door as hen crawled through into the room. His many eyes searched the place even as he spoke to the madam, and he found her, pinning her with his gaze. Sonya suddenly felt ashamed, and covered her face with her hands.