Hey everyone! I’m back with Part 27 of Because We Were Different! We’re coming close to the end here, so thank you to all my readers who have stuck with me over the (long) course of this story, and welcome to all you newbies! I hope you enjoy it! If you’re looking for the full story, please click on the “Short Stories” button on the sidebar or in the menu.
A Shiarizian. Raidon was a Shiarizian. Natalia was the Shiarizian princess. Maybe next I’d discover Remington was the Shiarizian king!
“Are… you angry at me?” Raidon’s raised brows reminded me of a shaggy puppy looking for his master’s approval.
I shook my head, still in a state of shock. Had everything I’d ever believed to be true about my companions and myself a lie? No, one thing wasn’t — Remington had my sister, and if I handed Natalia over to him, he’d free her. Then I’d figure out a way to join her and escape from Kachino.
“Good. I hoped you wouldn’t be! It wasn’t like I purposely lied, anyway! I snuck onto a Kachino merchant’s ship when I was eleven and got to Kachino, where I saw if you signed up to the Kachinoan Military Post, you’d get clothes and food and everything. So I did. They delivered, and I got a friend too!”
A small smile formed on my lips as I sighed. I guess I could call Raidon a friend…. I clapped him on the shoulder. “Let’s just get out of here, okay? We’ll have to find a ship somehow… maybe steal one if necessary…” I racked my brains for the quickest way to make our getaway without arousing too much attention. Stealing a ship would be nice, but we’d have to execute it flawlessly or the police would be onto us, and we didn’t need anyone else chasing us. We didn’t have money to rent one, and most likely, the Shiarizian Secret Service had alerted all transportation places to our presence, so they’d catch us if we tried to purchase one anyway.
“But what about the mission?” Raidon’s question interrupted my thoughts, and I waved him silent.
“I have that taken care of. Now, help me figure out how to get a ship without the police or Secret Service knowing.”
“Oh, that’s easy! There’s a perfectly good ship over here!” Raidon dashed away, flying over mounds of garbage, and if I’d doubted his story before, I wouldn’t now. He knew exactly where he was going.
I sighed, adjusting my bag on my shoulders as I glanced at Natalia sitting on an old barrel a few yards away. “Come on, little protector. We’re probably going to need you.”
“Yeah, knowing Raidon and his brilliant ideas, and your less-than-ideal social skills, you probably will.” She smirked, putting her hand on her pistol as she joined me in following Raidon.
After traversing over piles of trash, occasionally stopping to take a piece of particularly useful junk, I stopped in front of Raidon’s perfectly good ship… only to see a round piece of garbage which looked as if it’d been sitting in the junkyard for as many years as I was old. Rust covered the thing, and Natalia grimaced, mirroring my expression.
“See? It’s perfectly good! Just needs some TLC!”
“Tender loving care, Ainslyn,” Natalia said, rolling her eyes. “But I think this is beyond any sort of fixing.”
“Come on, don’t judge a book by its cover! Or a ship by its outside! Let’s look at the inside!” Raidon grabbed the door handle and yanked, straining to open the door which probably no one had touched in years. I sighed and kicked junk away from the bottom of the door, allowing for a smoother opening, before joining him in tugging.
The door gave way suddenly, and Raidon slammed into me, sending me sprawling onto a pile of junk, cutting my arm on some copper wires. I winced as blood dotted my sleeve bright red and glared at Raidon, but he just jumped into the ship.
“Whoa! This is neat! Check it out!”
Natalia peeked into it as I stood and dusted myself off. “It’s… claustrophobic. So tight. There’s no way we’re going in that.”
I joined her at the entrance and wrinkled my nose. The entire ship consisted of four seats, the driver’s dash and a tiny trunk behind the two back seats, which were already crammed against the back of the front two. Dust floated everywhere, choking me, and I turned, coughing.
“I found the key!” Raidon held up a dust-covered piece of metal and placed it in the keyhole. When he turned it, Natalia and I glanced at each other in surprise as the engine revved, but then died. “Maybe… it needs gas?”
Maybe it did. For the first time, a glimmer of hope rose in my chest. Maybe this was our key out of here. I glanced around, looking for something we could collect gas in, and finally settled on a rusty old can. “Here, Raid. Go down to the nearest gas station and… fill it up with as much as you can get with this.” I pulled what little money I retained from my backpack and handed it to him. “Natalia, you help me check out the ship’s internal works. I doubt the owner of this ship trashed it just for lack of gas.”
“How do I do that?” She asked as I shoved the old can and money into Raidon’s hands and watched him trot off.
“Just… do what I say.” I went to the front of the ship and lifted the flap where the engine, generator, and other such equipment rested. Though old, I noticed several of the pieces seemed to be in prime condition for their age. Even the engine seemed in good order.
“Look. It’s the generator.” Natalia pointed at the piece of equipment, a large hole on one side, and the wires cut on the other. “Of course it would be the generator. We don’t have enough money to replace an engine, much less a generator!”
“No…” I frowned, recalling some of my father’s old inventions. He’d created generators before — not for ships, I doubted, but they still were generators. I glanced around at the mass of junk before me. Maybe… just maybe, I could invent a generator which would last until we reached Kachino or another planet where we could get our hands on a different ship?
“Help me look for some wires.” I grabbed the copper wires I’d fallen on and smiled. “And any other junk that you think might prove useful.”
“What? Why?” Natalia stared at me as if I’d gone mad.
“I’m going to invent a generator, or fix this one. One of the two.” I pulled out the old generator, gazing at the materials it used.
“Isn’t inventing illegal in Kachino?”
I smirked at her. “We’re not on Kachino, now are we?”
She huffed before turning away to search for things I called out among the junk.
By the time Raidon returned, I stood beaming beside a makeshift generator, formed out of junk, while Natalia stared onward in disbelief. “It will not work,” she said as Raidon filled the tank with gas. “We’ll have wasted all this time and money for nothing.”
“Don’t give up hope, Nat!” Raidon set the empty can on the ground and dusted his hands. “Maybe it will work! I think it will!” He plucked the key from his pocket, his dimple showing as he hefted it high. “The time has come! Shall we get out of here or shall we die here—”
“Just start the dang ship already,” I said before he could launch into a depressing speech.
He vaulted himself into the ship and plunked the key into its hole. The engine started again… and the steady revving continued. I clapped my hands as Raidon yelled, “Yes!” from the cockpit.
“I did it! I invented something useful!” As Natalia stared at it, I brushed the tears from my eyes. “Come on, Miss Pessimist. Let’s go.”
I grinned as she passed me, giving me a blank look of wonder before she entered the ship and took one of the back seats. I jumped into the co-pilot’s seat, unable to stop grinning. “You drive first,” I told Raidon as I set my backpack in my lap and fumbled with a few other pieces of junk I’d grabbed from the landfill. “I’m going to work on another invention: a voice mimicker!” I’d done the impossible. Nobody could tell me what I could and couldn’t do now!