Shifting Ice Chapter 16: Spheres Of Conflict

By Jared Vaillancourt [creative writing bureau chief]

Vintis sighed as the shuttle ascended, whisking it and thirty other passengers away from the picturesque world of Uixynki. Klezyp smiled warmly at it, an expression that Vintis returned as it stared at the beautiful moon through the view port.

“You know, Klezyp?” Vintis whispered, “I think I’ll miss this world.”

“We were only here for three months,” Klezyp chuckled. Vintis nodded.

“I know,” it replied softly, blinking as the sun shone past the edge of Uixynki’s gas giant, “but I’ll miss it. As planets go, it was better than Kapilo.” Vintis looked at Klezyp and smiled.

“How many planets have you been to?” Klezyp asked. Vintis shook its head.

“Born on Brakksys, raised on Kapilo,” Vintis replied. “Uixynki’s my third.” Klezyp smirked and looked out of the view port as the shuttle approached the orbital starport.

“I’ve lost count of how many planets I’ve been to,” Klezyp whispered. “Auolpha, Cordiina… and others that don’t have verbal names,” it chuckled as it looked back at Vintis lovingly. “Have you ever heard of a world described as a sampling of the electromagnetic spectrum?” it asked. Vintis clicked its mandibles.

“You’ve lost me,” it replied. Klezyp smiled and looked back out the view port.

“Attention passengers,” a soothing male Jukkopo voice cooed over the intercom, “We are preparing to dock at Uixynki Station One. All passengers with ticket codes for

Kir, please exit first. We would like to ask all remaining passengers to remain in their harnesses until you are called for.” Vintis frowned up at the ceiling as the shuttle shuddered slightly, its nose lodged firmly in the station’s dock.

“I think he means us,” Vintis whispered to Klezyp as the other passengers – all of them Pyryx – unbuckled and stood up. “I don’t know the Jukkopo that well. Are they always so polite?” it asked. Klezyp giggled and shook its head.

“They try to be,” Klezyp giggled. “But don’t generalize. You are, after all, the first Zwitii I’ve met in over a century that hasn’t fit our unique stereotype.” Vintis looked over at Klezyp and clicked its mandibles. Klezyp smiled innocently.

“Stereotype?” Vintis asked. It leaned over to Klezyp and lowered its voice. “Century?”

“It’s hard to explain,” Klezyp began as the last Pyryx lumbered out of the hatch and both Zwitii unbuckled. “You see, most species see us Zwitii as…”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” Vintis interrupted. “Klezyp… century?” Klezyp blinked.

“So I’m a little older than I look,” it replied nonchalantly. Vintis stopped dead on the gangway.

“A little?” it asked. “Klezyp, you’re twice my age!” Klezyp stopped dead as well.

“Really?” it asked as it turned to face Vintis. For a moment, neither Zwitii moved. Suddenly, they both broke into laughter. Vintis put its arm around Klezyp’s shoulder as they walked into the waiting area.

“Here, let me help you sit down,” Vintis snickered as it led Klezyp over to a bench near the gate where the starship bound for Brakksys was docked. Klezyp waived it off.

“Oh, knock it off, you darn kid!” Klezyp grunted playfully. Both of them laughed as Vintis sat next to Klezyp and they waited for the Jukkopo flight attendant to call for boarding. After a moment, Vintis turned to Klezyp and was about to say something when a sound very similar to leaves being rustled by a strong wind caused every head to turn. The noise was coming from an exasperated and, to Vintis’ dismay, familiar Jukkopo.

“Stand aside!” Ltezi shouted again as she pushed against a pair of Pyryx soldiers, “You don’t understand! I am a Commander in the Enclave United Navy! Let me through!”

“Ltezi?” Klezyp shouted as both Zwitii stood up, “What through all the great stars are you doing here?” it asked. Ltezi’s eyestalks darted around the left soldier as the one on the right looked back at them with confusion working across his bone plates.

“Vintis!” Ltezi shouted. The Pyryx soldiers looked back at them and gasped, immediately standing aside to allow her through. “Vintis, great stars – I hear you were leaving Uixynki!” Klezyp sighed and motioned back to Vintis with a hand. Vintis waived at Ltezi as her eyestalks turned to it.

“You really can’t tell us apart, can you?” Vintis asked as Ltezi shoved past Klezyp.

“That’s not important now,” Ltezi panted. “Vintis, I must urge you to stay!” Vintis crossed its arms. It stared at Ltezi’s two closest eyestalks.

“Stay?” it asked. “Here? On Uixynki? With a population that’s currently at war?” it demanded.

“We’d rather get away from that,” Klezyp interjected. Ltezi spared it two eyestalks.

“It’s not that simple!” Ltezi protested, her tentacle coming to Vintis’ shoulder. “Vintis, please listen; you are safe on Uixynki! Kyraa cannot reach you here!” Vintis shoved her off.

“She can’t reach me on Brakksys either!” it protested. “Leave me alone, Ltezi. For as long as I’ve known you, you’ve brought me nothing but horrifying and terrible news!”

Vintis turned as the flight attendant activated the boarding holograms. “Now, if you’ll excuse me,” Vintis growled as it turned, Klezyp coming to its side and holding its hand protectively, “I have a ship to catch.” Ltezi stood there, totally immobile as the Zwitii boarded their ship. The two Pyryx came to her side.

“Truly the great Vintis is brave,” one commented. Ltezi sighed.

“Not brave, naïve,” Ltezi corrected him. “She has no idea what lengths Kyraa has gone through.”

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