Shifting Ice: Secret Tensions

The sixth installment of Jared Vaillencourt’s ‘Shifting Ice’ series.

By Jared Vaillancourt [Creative Writing Bureau Chief]

Chapter Six

“So then I told them, ‘that’s not a bone plate – it’s how I eat’!” Klezyp recalled for Vintis’ benefit. Vintis almost choked on its drink, catching the glass in its mandibles as both Zwitii laughed. Vintis reached up and grabbed the glass gently, pulling it out of its mandibles as Klezyp took another sip of its amber mist.

“It’s incredible how little the Pyryx know about Zwitii anatomy,” Vintis chuckled. Klezyp raised its glass in toast.

“It’s incredible how little they all know about our anatomy,” Klezyp chuckled as it touched its glass to Vintis’. “I find one game they play to be of particular amusement.” Klezyp commented before it took another sip. “Do you know the one?” it asked. Vintis smiled and downed the last of its liquor.

“All too well,” it replied. “Excuse me, Vintis, are you a man or a woman?” it asked ironically. Both Zwitii slammed their glasses back down onto the table and laughed whole-heartedly as the other patrons in the bar gave them disgruntled looks and muttered about their use of the Brakksys tongue instead of Common. By this time Vintis was a touch too inebriated to care.

“I love that game,” Klezyp chuckled as it signaled the Jukkopo waiter for another round. “Sometimes I pretend to be a man. On other worlds, I let them think I’m a woman!” Klezyp stammered as both of them tried to suppress another hearty laugh. Vintis took in a deep breath and sighed as it leaned back on its chair.
“So, what were you in the northern city?” Vintis asked. Klezyp winked.

“They all thought I was female,” Klezyp chuckled as their drinks arrived. “So I played it up – asked all the female Pyryx where they got their bones shined, complemented them on their pheromone perfumes…” Klezyp leaned back and sighed wistfully. Vintis chuckled and sipped its fresh amber mist.

“It can be fun sometimes,” Vintis admitted, “but I find it more annoying than playful. You’ve obviously not settled into a stable home, Klezyp – aliens truly believe in the genders they assign us.”

“Oh, harmless fun,” Klezyp dismissed. “Give them long enough and they’ll figure it out.”

“Ha – I’ve lived here fifty years,” Vintis chuckled. “My closest friend hasn’t figured it out!”

“Is that the Izraal you’ve been telling me about?” Klezyp asked. “Kyraa?”

“That’s the one.”

“Hmm,” Klezyp muttered as it took another sip. “I wouldn’t pay too much attention to it, Vintis. After all, she’s probably got a lot more to ponder, what with that war and all.” Vintis sighed and leaned its elbows on the table, gazing down into its drink somberly. “What is it?” Klezyp asked. Vintis sighed.

“Well, it’s just…” Vintis started. It hesitated and took a sip. “I’m having a great time,” Vintis reassured Klezyp as that worthy held its glass with both hands nervously. “I was just excited to, well… talk to someone who wasn’t obsessed with the war,” it admitted. Klezyp blinked, but then smiled.

“I’ve been told it doesn’t concern us Zwitii,” Klezyp said slowly. “But all opinion aside, I feel the same way, Vintis.” Vintis looked up to see a serious yet compassionate look on Klezyp’s face. It reached across the table and patted Vintis’ hand. “We don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to.” Vintis smiled and raised its glass.
“To a lovely evening,” Vintis said with a smile. Klezyp touched their glasses together.

“I’ll drink to that,” Klezyp giggled. They both downed their mists. “Now, then, where were we…”

“Vintis!” a familiar voice shouted. Both Zwitii turned as Vintis recognized the tall Izraal standing at the bar’s entrance. It grumbled and looked back at Klezyp.
“Klezyp, meet Kyraa,” Vintis muttered. Klezyp went quiet as Kyraa moved gracefully yet angrily over to their table.

“Vintis, how could you…” she started. Vintis cleared it’s throat.

“Kyraa, I’m over here,” Vintis muttered. Kyraa looked from Klezyp to Vintis with surprise.

“Oh,” she remarked. “Sorry, you all look the same to me – but how could you?” she demanded again. Klezyp coughed and gave the tall Izraal a sharp look. Vintis sighed.

“I told you,” Vintis said steadily, “he started the fight. All I told the Jukkopo was the truth.”

“Your testimony put Jaxal away!” Kyraa hissed. “He’s dead because of you!”

“I think,” Klezyp said loudly as both Zwitii stood up, “that we should leave.” Vintis nodded and grabbed its coat as it passed its credit coin over the table’s reader. It nodded at Kyraa.

“If you’ll excuse me,” Vintis muttered, “I have to escort my friend home.”

The two left, leaving Kyraa standing quiet at the bar, her tendrils flexing as she fumed.

To be continued…