Shifting Ice Chapter 20: Sweet Home Brakksys

By Jared Vaillancourt

“Well, here we are, love,” Klezyp whispered on the gangway. Vintis nodded and squeezed its hand. It took a nervous breath.

“I know,” Vintis hesitated. “Just give me a moment.” Klezyp smiled and patted their joined hands with its free one as the Pyryx woman behind them sighed and shifted her luggage from one had to the other. Through the window ahead, Vintis could clearly see the dark, starry skies of the land-based starport, the lonely sun glowing dimly above the horizon. Little wisps of ice crystals danced between the low-slung buildings as work crews attended to the massive fuelling lines attached to the cruiser.

“Great stars, it hasn’t changed at all,” Vintis whispered anxiously. Klezyp nodded.

“That’s the stereotype I was trying to explain,” Klezyp giggled. “We Zwitii are proud of our heritage and maybe a little set in our ways.”

“Like you’re set on the damn gangway?” the Pyryx whispered. Vintis decided to ignore her.

“It’s just…” Vintis started. “My parents fell to old age on Kapilo. I was told I have a birth-kin, but I’ve never met it,” Vintis whispered. It pointed out the window. “Look at that, Klezyp. This is really Brakksys!

This is really home, and I have no one here to share it with.” Klezyp chuckled and gave Vintis a quick peck on the cheek. Vintis turned and looked it in the eye.

“That’s not true,” Klezyp said softly. “You have me.” Vintis smiled as the Pyryx behind them sighed.

Vintis caught her shaking her head out of the corner of its eye.

“Sometime this century, please?” The Pyryx whispered. Vintis looked back up at her.

“You know I can hear you, right?” it asked. The Pyryx froze, her eyes widening as Klezyp giggled and covered its mandibles with its free hand. Vintis looked straight ahead and took in a deep breath. “Okay. I’m ready to do this.” With that, it slowly started to walk towards the gate, Klezyp close to its side. Once through the gate, Vintis was stunned and relieved to see an open-air greeting hall crowded with lively, chatting Zwitii. A smile broke across its mandibles as the two of them made their way towards the check-in desk. The young Zwitii behind it smiled widely.

“Welcome back!” it greeted them merrily. Vintis touched the reader as it gave the young Zwitii a curious look.

“Do you know me?” Vintis asked. The attendant read its screen.

“Vintis, age fifty-three – not much older than me – born in the city of Ygryr before moving to Kapilo.” It looked up and smiled at Vintis. “But no, I’ve never met you before.”

“They greet all Zwitii arriving here like this,” Klezyp explained. “We’re all children of Brakksys, after all.”

The attendant smiled as Vintis chuckled and smiled back.

“Well, thank you,” Vintis replied merrily. “It’s nice to see another friendly face.”

“Now, just as a formality,” the attendant continued as it squinted at its screen, which flickered as a wisp of ice breezed gently through it, “I am required to ask… are you staying or visiting?” It looked back up at them and smiled politely. Vintis looked at Klezyp and clicked its mandibles. Klezyp hesitated, but smiled widely up at the attendant as it brought their joined hands up for it to see.

“We’ll be staying,” Klezyp said as it looked lovingly at Vintis, “my ke’kuul and I.”

Ke’kuul?” the attendant said as it slowly stood up. Vintis blushed as the nearby Zwitii stopped dead in their tracks and turned to look at them, many with looks of wonder on their faces. Suddenly, the attendant threw its arms up. “Ke’kiila!” it proclaimed. Both Vintis and Klezyp lifted their joined hands up in the air triumphantly as the greeting hall was suddenly overpowered by a chorus of cheering Zwitii, many of which rushed over to shake their hands and congratulate them. A trolley hovered in front of them, and both Vintis and Klezyp sat down as it ferried them through the crowd. Vintis caught sight of the gigantic Pyryx looking frantically around, her bone plates retracted fearfully.

“What the fuck is going on?” her distant voice demanded over the roar of joyous Zwitii. Vintis laughed aloud as the trolley brought them to the transit terminal.

“Oh, that poor Pyryx,” Klezyp sighed. Vintis let out one last laugh, spitting a tear as it did so.

“It’s like she’s never seen an engagement announced before,” Vintis chuckled. “You’d think, traveling alone to Brakksys, she’d know a thing or two about our culture.”

“Aliens assume we don’t have any,” Klezyp sighed. Vintis clicked its mandibles.

“Another stereotype?” it demanded. Klezyp blinked, but nodded. “Okay, that one I don’t like.”

“Don’t worry about it, dear,” Klezyp said reassuringly. “For now, know this; you’re home!”

As they waited for the transport to arrive, Vintis took in a deep breath of refreshingly cold air and was more than content to relish that very fact. Finally, the sky had the right number of suns, the ice and snow flowed everywhere and the stars of the galaxies that made up this universe were visible even during the day. It had Klezyp holding one hand and the other clenched tightly around a sense of pride.

All was right in the universe; Vintis was home.


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