“Right, you’ve never seen a forest.”

Friends at Colossus Massive

As its name implied, the Central Forum was in the exact center of The Colossus station. From the outside, it looked like an orb suspended in midair, and pieced together with triangular shards of murky glass. The orb was the size of a small moon and suspended away from walls by powerful magnets. Paths and bridges of glass and metal connected the Central Forum to the rest of The Colossus.

              Castra and Lorrik entered through one of the lower bridges.

              Once inside the orb, they split up. Paths crisscrossed through the interior of the Central Forum like an unspooled ribbon. Platforms were layered throughout the Forum, boasting shops, news stations, and anything else one could expect to find in a free market.

              The purpose of the Central Forum was to allow the many residents of The Colossus a way to keep in touch with their homeworlds. Much of the Central Forum was dedicated to comm stations, capable of reaching the farthest galaxies.

              Many of the booths carried goods specific to certain homeworlds. Of course, every organic product had to be put through quarantine before being allowed to enter the Central Forum, but other than that, just about everything could be found in the market.

              Castra approached a booth tended to by one of her own, an Ondyn. The booth-tender was a female as well. Only female Ondyns possessed white markings on their arms and cheekbones, giving the impression that their deep blue-green skin was covered in pearls.

              “Greetings,” the Ondyn murmured in their native tongue.

              Castra dipped her head. The Ondyn before her must’ve recently arrived. Her hair still floated on its own, like she was submerged in the waters of their home planet.

It took Castra’s hair months to settle down. When she was angry, it rose up around her like a cloak.

“I’m looking for a friend,” Castra replied. “He’s an Elndrix.”

The Ondyn woman blinked her wide-set eyes, confused.

“Um,” Castra wracked her brain for a better way to explain. “He’s big, bigger than one of our males. He looks as if he’s part of a living forest.”

“Forest?” The Ondyn blinked again.

“Right, you’ve never seen a forest. You’ve probably never even seen a tree.” She looked around for anything that resembled a planet. Her gaze settled on a leafy vine growing from a hanging pot at another booth.

“He looks like that!”  Castra pointed, “only with arms, legs, a head, eyes, and all the regular bits.”

“I have not seen such a person,” the Ondyn replied.

Castra let out a long sigh. That was a lot of effort for nothing.

“Thanks anyway,” she waved, preparing to walk away. Then, something at the booth caught her eye. “Are those Remiddik shells?”

She moved her hand over the smooth, round shell that shimmered exactly the way moonlight shining on the ocean.

“I brought them over myself,” the Ondyn said.

“And you’re selling them?” Castra’s eyes went wide. “These are rare on our homeworld. You’ll likely never find them again on The Colossus.”

“I know,” she nodded. “But I have no choice. The places to live here are expensive. I cannot stay in the New Residents bay any longer. I have already been there for two moon cycles. They will kick me out at week’s end.”

“Kick you out?” Castra furrowed her brow.

When she first arrived, she only had to live in the New Arrivals bay until she was confirmed free of diseases or any other harmful contaminant. She was given a home immediately. She paid a monthly fee now only because she could afford to.

When had that changed?

“I’ll buy a shell,” she said. “I only have enough for one, but if you don’t sell any of them, I’ll come back and buy the rest.” 

“You would do that?”

“If it helps you buy a home, yes.” Castra nodded. “And I’d feel better knowing the shells were purchased by an Ondyn who will care for them correctly.”

The Ondyn’s eyes filled with tears.

“Thank you.”

Produced by: Eugenio Zorrilla

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