Monday, September 2, 2013

Prompt: Bringing home a friend

Naj flew with laser focus through the asteroid belt, hands loose, fingers tapping the controls with borrowed muscle memory. He inhaled deeply and forced a slow exhale, counting the seconds as his small flyer drifted back and forth through the maze in a seemingly careless pattern.

Finally, he was through, with only clear space between him and Ziandra’s outer moons. He brushed the back of his hand across the charm at his neck. “Thanks, brother,” he said in a voice no one living could have heard.

The asteroid belt was the last barrier on his journey. He sailed into orbit around the third moon and landed at the southern port stations. Teeming with locals, the entire station seemed to follow his every move as he climbed out of his little flyer and locked it down. He didn’t mind the scrutiny if it kept attention off the more unusual features of the machine. And as long as he wasn’t hindered in his quest.

Shouldering his pack, Naj followed the smell of roasting meat to a small stall in the middle of the station center plaza. He reached up to the charm, tied to a leather thong around his neck. His tongue stumbled on the borrowed memories of a glottal language.

“Well met, honored father,” he bowed to the vendor. The old man’s eyes widened as Naj addressed him, and he backed away in apprehension.

Naj held out his free hand, palm down, then rotated it up. “I beg your pardon father. I ask a simple boon.”

Naj winced. It wasn’t in his nature to ask for favors. But the old man seemed to relax at his use of the formal address, He smiled slyly and held out his own hand, palm up, rotating it down over Naj’s. “If it is within my power, son, I will grant your boon,” he replied with formal courtesy.

Naj bared his teeth in his own grin, and the old man stepped back again. “I seek the Roarden’s Tower,” he said.

“My son,” the old man sputtered, as he pulled up his cart blocks and shouldered the long handles. “I will not hold you to such a boon, when you can see the Tower from here.” He pointed east, and without another word, he pushed the cart away, leaving Naj looking above the city to the blood-red tower that filled the horizon.
His feral grin widened. “Thank you, old man,” he said in his own gruff tongue, with none to hear. He swung the pack back on his shoulder and strode east, keeping the tower in sight, as well as the shadowy figure following close behind.

Time writing:
 ~35 ninutes
September word count:
 440 words

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