From the vast void of space, we arrived upon planet Farental. It was a goldmine for junkies or bounty hunters like us. With the market place of a lifetime in crowded streets. People called it the city of treasure and trash since there was just about anything one could find. Our ship was a crew of four, Peter, Riza, and captain Uzon. Then there was me, Val Lonel. I had one mission and one mission only. To find my brother. When I was young, there was a great war on my planet that separated us. I spent nearly 15 years looking for him, with the singular clue of his watch that he left me before we split. The watch had the words 'treasure and scrap' engraved in the back. That's why my hopes were high for this planet since it was known as a place you could find treasure and garbage.
Our space shuttle parked itself on the west spaceship docking area of the market. the double suns shined upon the rushed and busy streets of its capital city.
"Watch out for pit pockets," Uzon said as he walked down the ramp of our spaceship. "Does everyone know what they're looking for?"
I nodded, Peter jumped up and exclaimed, "for sure, cap!"
"Great. Meet back at the ship by dusk. And don't get into any trouble," Uzon flung his bag over his shoulders, "I'm looking at you, Riza."
She rolled her eyes and yawned, "Whateva, I'll be by the east, see ya!" She started walking down the ramp and towards the crowded road.
"I'm going with her," Peter started running after Riza who was already waiting to cross the street.
I looked at Uzon who put on his sunglasses and patted me on the back, "good luck, Val. I hope you find him."
I smiled. "It's the best shot I have."
The roads of Farental were as packed as a Sheep's pen. Aliens from all kinds of nations were there. I kept thinking back to my brother, where would he be?
"Wait a minute," I mumbled, staring up at a sign from a store above my head. The sign had alien writing all over it that I couldn't read. I had been walking alone for almost an hour, admiring the random things this place had for sale. What I didn't realize was that I had wandered away from the English dominated district and entered an unfamiliar area.
I began asking strangers who walked past me, asking if they could give me directions. They were all cold and ignored my questions. On a planet as big like that one, many people didn't like outsiders or tourists. The only safe place to explore was the English neighbourhood, where they expected tourists. But this, unknown area, definitely didn't like my black human skin and only two human eyes. Not a single human was around, there was only strange beings with triple eyes, eight arms, or robotic features.
Where was I?
After awhile, I gave up and wandered into a bar. It was dim, many strange eyes were on me as I made my way over to the bar. The bartender glared at me as he wiped bizarre slime from multiple glasses with his robotic arm.
"Excuse me?" He didn't look at me, "I'm looking for-"
"They won't understand you," someone said from two seats next to me. I turned my head to find- a human! "None of them will. Except me." She was old, about fifty, with crazy grey hair and a brown leather jacket. She was drinking scotch, rings decorated her wrinkled white fingers, and goggles hung from her neck.
"No way- you're human right?" I asked.
"You could say that."
"My name is Val," I introduced myself and held out my hand.
She took another sip of her drink before saying, "Names Poscra." She shook my hand firmly.
Poscra told me that she was a retired military pilot on Farental and now the bar's manager. She told me about the adventures she'd gone on and the places she'd been. I was so fascinated by all her stories and struggles of living on a planet as crazy as this one. We got along well, she was loud and a little drunk while I stayed silent and just listened to her tales.
"And you? What's your story?" She finally asked me a question instead of chattering.
"Well, I'm looking for my brother," I said.
"Did he disappear?"
"Kinda. I come from a war-torn planet, far from farental. During the war, me and my brother got separated. I've been trying to find him ever since, with the only clue of his watch that he gave me." I removed the leather watch and showed it to her.
"Treasure and scrap?" She asked, squinting to the back of the face.
"yeah, that's the clue. He always used to wear it, one time I asked what it meant and he told me that was his paradise. Somewhere I could find him. Alongside treasure and scrap."
Poscra frowned and we sat in silence for a moment. She then looked at me and said, "Val. Come to my office."
She sat up and nudged her head over to the side. I looked both ways and asked myself if I was willing to follow this stranger. My mother always told me not to trust them, but there was nowhere else I could go. I followed her.
We walked through a door by the back of the bar. Once I stepped through the exit, it felt like another reality. From the loud and busy streets of Farental, to a beautiful private runway. The landscape beyond was so vast, I could see the double suns almost setting across a valley. A mix between a spaceship and a military plane was parked on the runway. The ship had a propeller like planes had but also features that could take it to space. Next to the runway was a quaint garage- Poscra's office.
"This field and runway have been right next to those awful streets, all this time!?" I exclaimed.
"Like two different worlds, I know."
We walked into her garage, it was filled with tools and mechanical parts. A messy desk sat by the end, with dozens of pictures hung up above. Files and papers were crumbled on top of each other alongside disorganized drawers that were hanging open.
I stared at the photos on top of the desk, "are these from your adventures?"
"Yes, every single one of them," she said as she grabbed a beer from her mini-fridge.
There were pictures of her cliff climbing, racing, accepting special awards. They all had a story to be told, however, one caught my attention. It was a photograph of Poscra hugging a young man next to a military plane. She had a leather jacket with the army's symbol. I only saw half of the man's face, Poscra's hair was covering the other half. But something about the man felt strange. Something familiar.
"What's this one?" I asked and pointed to the photo.
She came closer and smiled. "That's a picture we took right before I departed a planet I was serving on. It was back when I was in my fourties, I met this 16 year old boy who was new to piloting. I ended up by mentoring him, in fact, he was a local on that planet."
"So you trained him to fly?"
"Yep. I think he was an orphan or something. He didn't have any family, maybe the war killed his parents. But he was really good at flying, he ended up becoming a general." She chuckled as I continued staring at the man. "That ambitious Gale Lonel."
Gale? My heart skipped a beat as I heard those words. It felt as if time had stopped as I stared at the photo- at the man- at my brother. I suddenly remembered what he looked like. It was him.
"Gale? Lonel? Poscra!" I jumped up and grabbed her shoulders. "That's- that's my brother!"
Poscra put down her beer and gulped. "I knew you reminded me of someone!"
"You knew my brother?!"
"He's the man in the photo, we've known each other for years!"
"Why didn't you tell me!?"
"Well, you didn't tell me your brother was Gale! The Gale Lonel!"
"Where is he?" I asked with anticipation.
Poscra's eyes went wide. She looked like she had just received grim news or remembered something dark. "He's leaving!"
"He's a military pilot. The news this morning said that the soldiers were leaving at sunset to fight in another war across the galaxy!"
"What!?" I exclaimed and grabbed the photo off Poscra's wall. "Poscra. Please, can I take this for reference?"
"Reference for what?"
"For when I find him," I started running out of the garage. The sun hit my eyes as I jumped on the runway. My gaze turned to the valley beyond, the suns were setting with bright orange and pink colours. I was supposed to be back on our spaceship right then and there but I continued running- pursuing the one goal I've been after all these years. Gale was supposed to depart at sunset anyways, I had to go.
"Hold on!" Poscra jogged after me, "The military station is on the moon! You can't just walk up there and out of the atmosphere!"
"Well what do I do? My ship is over an hour walk away!"
Poscra stopped and thought for a minute, before snapping her fingers. "Bear with me," she put her goggles over her eyes and ran to the spaceship parked on the runway. "I haven't flew in years but-"
"Are you crazy?!" I yelled, chasing after her.
"It''s the only shot we have!" My mind thought back to when I said that before leaving on this journey. I shook my head and reminded myself, it was now or never.
"Shotgun!" I opened the door to the passenger seat and jumped in. The cockpit was as cluttered as her desk, with a hula girl figurine dancing on her flight panel. She started the engine. Loud sounds came from the back as smoke invaded my window from the outside. Suddenly, the ship blasted forward with a bang, as if we were in hyperdrive.
"Ahhhhhh, is this saaaaaafe?!" I asked as my seat vibrated. The end of the runway got closer and closer. "Wait! Didn't you just have a beer? And a scotch before that?!"
"And a whiskey for breakfast!"
"Poscraaaaa!" I started shaking like my seat until thankfully, we took off safely and the ship went a little slower. As we advanced towards the clouds, I looked down to find the streets of Farental. They were much smaller from up there, I spotted Uzon and the others on our ship. I hope they thought I was okay and not kidnapped or recklessly abandoned them.
We made it past the atmosphere and entered the dull void of space. The ship advanced toward the small moon. A military station rested on it, with grand spaceships parked together in a great terminal. Despite having no authentication, Poscra flew right up to the base.
Suddenly, grand lights shined from the main tower of the station onto our vehicle. "Unidentified aircraft," a voice spoke through a loud megaphone.
Poscra grunted and grabbed an amplifier to say, "It's Poscra Vanson!" Her voice echoed far enough for the station to hear.
The voice spoke after a moment, "docking runway 11."
Poscra smiled and slowly advanced towards the station. It became more impressive up close. I noticed Poscra start to tear up at the sight.
"What's wrong?" I asked.
She kept looking at the station. "You're reuniting with your brother, I'm reuniting with my memories."
I smiled and thought about how this journey had made both her and I happy. We finally landed on an empty runway. I put on a spare space suit and jumped out. The base had a special technology to make the gravity stronger so we could walk normally.
A general stepped up to us once we were parked. "Poscra Vanson?"
"Ray Uzon?" Poscra asked and went to hug him.
My head turned swiftly in surprise. Uzon? As in, another Uzon?
"How long has it been? Years?"
"Twenty, to be exact."
"Uzon?" I interrupted. He stared down at me and squinted. "Sorry general, sir. But do you- do you know a Marcus Uzon?"
The general opened his mouth in shock as his eyes widened. "That's my son. I haven't seen him since he was little."
"Really? Marcus Uzon is the captain of my ship!" I exclaimed.
"Marcus grew up to be a captain?"
"Yes, well we're a ship of four. But he still acts like a responsible parent. We gave him position of captain because of all the amazing decisions he's made and all the great things he's done for us."
"If I wouldn't know you I'd say you'd have a crush on him!" Poscra laughed loudly like a drunk woman- which she was.
My face went red, "C'mon! He's just a really good- good person."
Ray Uzon chuckled. "I'm glad he's important to you. I've been serving here so I haven't seen him in awhile."
"Val! Tell him why you're here!" Poscra interrupted.
"Oh yes!" I turned my head back to Uzon. "Do you know Gale Lonel!?"
He nodded. "Lonel is part of squadron five, he'll be leaving soon for his mission."
"Where is he?"
"He should be coming out here on deck anytime now."
As Uzon spoke, my focus was drawn towards a group of soldiers walking out of the base. They walked with pride and in a V formation. They had dignified special military suits and transparent helmets like mine. My attention caught onto one in the middle of the formation.
It was Gale. His chocolate skin, dark floppy hair, and tall height made him recognizable. He stared ahead and kept walking like a true leader. I began running towards him as fast as I could, Poscra and the general's heads turned to me as I ran. Gale's brown eyes suddenly opened up widely as he noticed who I was. He dropped the bag he was carrying and ran towards me.
"Val!?" He called.
We finally made it to each other and he picked me up in his arms, swinging me around. Our hug felt like it lasted for as long as the years we had been separated. I kept him close, so tight, not wanting for him to slip away again.
"Gale!" I started sobbing inside the helmet, "I found you!"
"Val, is it you, is it really you?!"
Gale had to continue on his mission, unfortunately. Before he departed for his duty, we talked with Poscra and Uzon. Poscra hugged Gale once they met again and caught up with each other. The four of us stood and talked until general Uzon eventually got mad and told me to say my goodbye to Gale. I walked with him to his ship and talked with him the whole time until he got in the driver's seat.
"Well. This is it," Gale said.
"Gale, I don't want to loose you again. I just found you! I can't let you leave me alone for god know's how long!" I started tearing up at the thought of him not returning.
He held me and said, "I'll come back. I promise. I'm not some kid anymore, I'll find my way back to you. It's only for two years."
I suddenly remembered the watch and took it off quickly. "Right! Your watch! Can you finally tell me what treasure and scrap really means?"
He giggled and said, "I remember that. It was dad's before he died. I engraved those words onto it because the watch was found in a scrapyard, but I treasured it since it was Dad's.
"Ohh, I thought- wait, you said it was your paradise."
"Yeah. I meant the watch was my paradise and you could find me alongside it. I named it treasure and scrap when we were kids."
I've been completely misunderstanding the message this whole time. "I thought you meant an actual location!" We laughed before I handed the watch back to him.
He looked at it and smiled. "Keep it."
General Uzon gave me a radio to call my ship. Marcus Uzon picked up and started yelling at me, saying how worried he'd been. I laughed and told him and others everything. The general got us a proper ship with a sober pilot to fly us down. Ray finally reunited with his son once we landed, they were both so happy to see each other. Poscra continued living on Farental. Ray offered her a better job at the station but she declined and said that she liked the quaint life.
Uzon and I ended up in a relationship, still traveling space for fun and going on countless adventures. I occasionally stayed in touch with Gale, whenever the military let him talk on the phone. After two years, I met up with him on a small farming planet. His left arm was gone, lost to the enemy, but I was just glad he was still alive.
I still keep that watch around my wrist at all times, remembering how it serves as my treasure and scrap.