“There’s no way you can show your face, Sam.” Vortran blocked the hallway, keeping Sam cornered away from the door.

“This is my kid we’re talking about!”

“And you show your face and nobody is gonna talk to us. You’re too well known and everyone knows how you feel about the fights!”

“Vortran’s right, that’s why I can’t go either. Law enforcement isn’t exactly welcome.” Mark said, watching with some amusement from the hallway. Sam probably could’ve walked over Vortran if he wasn’t still exhausted.

“ We will get you information, but you must stay on the ship.” Yik added in, eliciting a venomous scowl from Sam. He looked ready to fight Vortran for a moment, and the Pascal braced against a potential assault. Instead he turned around without another word and stalked off to his room.

“Please don’t let him off the ship, I’m pretty sure he’d just go on a rampage and muck this all up.” Vortran looked up at Mark.

“Well I don’t have a weapon or anything, but I’ll do what I can. Try and get this over quick though.”

“You don’t have to tell me twice, I hate these things.”

“They are not so bad, a lot of energy and excitement.” Yik piped in, getting disapproving looks from the others. He shrugged and followed Vortran out into the harsh, dusty lot.

Just outside the landing area small vendors were set up at booths. If she didn’t know better Vortran would have sworn it was some quaint little festival. Most of the vendors had food or trinkets at first, but as they progressed further the environment changed a little. One vendor was selling a variety of different sized crates and carriers for shifters, including several dismal and unpleasant looking human-sized ones. A few booths down Yik was distracted by a Pascal selling a set of tiny shifting critters. Vortran had seen these before, they were native to her homeworld. They were stupid little things, who survived by mimicking the environment, but could easily be tricked into mimicking pictures. Vortran yanked Yik away by his tail when he started digging in his pockets for money.

“We aren’t here to buy things, we’re here to find information.”

“I am sorry, being here makes me very… nostalgic.” He sniffed at the air as they passed a food booth wedged between two booths selling shackles, “My sister used to take me here when we were young. That is how we found the loudmouth. Saha thought he was…” Yik froze in the middle of the path, causing a large blue stork-like creature to squawk at him harshly and walk around.

“Yik? Hello, Yik?” Vortran tugged on his arm and yelped in surprise as Yik suddenly picked her up by the collar and started sprinting down the crowded aisle. Vortran managed to spot a vendor showing off some creature sealed in a large glass case filled with gas as they flew past, but everything else was a blur. They turned a corner just as Vortran was certain she was going to fall out of her jacket, and Yik stopped suddenly, placing her neatly on the ground facing forward.

“Saha!” He pounced on a Mr’kana woman facing the other way, and she let out a surprised laugh.

“Yikikik? By the Gods how did you end up all the way out here? I thought you were still making baskets for that one human lady.” She pushed him off and stood up, dusting herself off and straightening his fur.

“Her former husband did not like what she put in the baskets. He chased me and I had to put him in more baskets.”

“He attacked you first, right?”

“Of course, Saha, I am no fool. It was honorable.”

“Um, excuse me?” Vortran nudged Yik a little roughly and Saha seemed to finally notice her.

“Ah, you’ve made a friend? Hello Miss…”

“Vortran… Gods can everyone but Sam tell?” Vortran pinched between her eyes and sighed.

“He is a thoughtless man. You should not associate with him.”

“Sam? Oh no, she doesn’t mean that Sam, does she?”

“I found him and almost had him, but then there was a little girl and she was taken now by a computer man and I have to help find her and then revenge will be-” The last part of Yik’s rant was cut of as Saha squeezed his muzzle shut and he growled a little at her.

“Sorry, dear brother, but you are terrible at communicating. How about I treat you both to lunch in a more quiet area and you can explain a little slower why you ended up so far from home. If that isn’t objectionable, Miss Vortran?”

“We’re…” Vortran’s stomach grumbled harshly and she sighed, “I would love to but we’re gathering information right now and time is of the essence.”

“Saha can help! She will know everyone. She knows the loudmouth.” Yik stepped back a foot before she could squeeze his muzzle again and made a face at her.

“He is right, I come here to make connections with the wealthy and less scrupulous and deal in investments. Not the fights in particular, they’re a bit horrid.” She added quickly, seeing Vortran’s expression stiffen, “But please, let me treat you and maybe I can help.”


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