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Adventure Fiction Science Fiction

Kaia pushed her way through the shop’s door, letting it slam behind her as she stuck her hands into her pockets and headed back towards her car.


“Kaia, wait up!” Farryn was running up from behind, hands full of shopping bags. “So what’d she say?”


“A whole lot of nothing.” Kaia started kicking at the paved sidewalk beneath her. Complete waste of money, she thought to herself.


“That bad huh?”


“I could get a better reading from a fortune cookie,” Kaia replied.


“Well then let’s go,” Farryn looped her arm through Kaia’s and led her towards the eatery district. “Nova Chen's is just what you need.”


The eatery district was already teeming with life by the time they turned the corner. Both couples and families were piling onto the streets from every direction.


“I can’t believe people are willing to eat that,” Farryn said as they passed by the line forming outside Peiwei’s. "Don't they know what's in that?


In reality, neither of them actually knew what it was Peiwei's served but they both had heard the rumors of it being some kind of delicacy from a nearby galaxy that wasn't one of the most ethical options. However, nowadays the eatery district seemed to be filled with questionable choices.


The district was started by various Space Command refugees and ex-crew members who brought back exotic dishes from around the universe. The practice itself wasn't something unheard of, for generations crew members would gather various resources or items from different planets and either set up shop or sell them on the black market. Although, now it was becoming more and more common for these shops to use shady practices.


“Come on, we'd better hurry,” Farryn said, pulling Kaia towards Nova Chen’s.


The tarnished little bell above the door chimed as they walked in. “Farryn!” Bruno came rushing towards them with his arms wide. He was a burly man with a short structure and a hearty laugh that seemed to come straight from his round belly.


“Bruno! Tell me you saved us a seat at the front?” Farryn asked. “Of course, right this way.” Bruno led them over to a table next to the windows, before dashing away to get them their usual.


“Alright, tell me everything,” Farryn said.


"Honestly, most of what she said didn't even make sense." Kaia said, gazing out the window at the string of tealights lighting up the street beneath them.


"Come on Kaia," Farryn replied.


Kaia took a deep breath, "Okay fine. She said that I would have to choose between the love of my life and the love of life itself. Apparently, I'm going to be presented with a challenge that only I will be willing to accept. And then she said something about how even the council would be blinded to its importance."


Farryn looked at her stone-faced before suddenly bursting out into laughter.


Kaia was mortified, "Seriously Farryn?"


"I'm sorry. It's just that... I mean you don't believe her do you?"


"Of course not. She's just telling me what I want to hear, that I'm important and have a purpose in life and blah, blah, blah." Kaia replied meekly.


Farryn stopped laughing and reached across the table interlacing her hands with Kaia's.


"She really didn't say anything else?"


"No," Kaia replied defeated. She had gone to the Seer hoping to learn more about when she could expect to bump into Mr. Right. But instead, all she got was a pessimistic reading at best.


"How about we try another Seer tomorrow? Just because this one was a fraud doesn't mean they all are." Farryn offered.


"No, I don't want to waste any more money. Besides, I start the new job tomorrow."


"That's right! I still don't know how you managed to pull off an executive assistant role at DAT Mining of all places" Farryn said in disbelief.


"Got lucky I guess. Turns out the temp who was supposed to take the job had something come up and thanks to alphabetical order I was next in line." Kaia sighed.


Farryn could tell she was still bothered by the reading, "Hey, just forget about it okay? No one determines your future but you."


Kaia smiled warmly at her friend repeating her words in her mind, No one determines my future but me. She could feel a new wave of relief wash over her as she tried to push the Seer's reading out of her mind and enjoy the rest of her night.


The next morning Kaia found herself rushing inside DAT Mining’s tall glass building, kicking herself for being late on her first day.


She had spent more time than usual examining her face in the mirror and inspecting the new lines that etched across her once youthfully smooth skin. She was only 28, but she felt like life had aged her far beyond her years. And this morning she couldn't help but notice the appearance of dark circles that formed beneath her eyes thanks to a restless night's sleep.


She managed to forget about the Seer's reading for most of the night, but the minute she got home the thought began to resurface. Why would she have to choose between love and life, she thought, weren't they both one and the same?


The elevator door chimed and Kaia lept out, running right into her new boss, Aaron Feilding. She recognized him from the company's website. Not only was he her new boss but he was also the CEO of DAT Mining.


“Oh, Hi!” Kaia said in a pitch she never used before. What was that? She thought. “Hello,” Aaron replied, clearly confused by the encounter. That’s when Kaia realized she was fully aware of who he was, but her identity had eluded him entirely.


“Sorry, we haven’t met yet. I’m Kaia Archer.” Kaia reached out an open hand. Aaron shifted uneasily on his feet, unsure of how to respond to such forwardness. Normally, employees went out of their way to avoid him. However, he found something refreshing about his interaction with Kaia that he couldn’t quite put his finger on.


She was an attractive woman with curly auburn hair and a slender figure. But even Aaron had to admit that she wasn't someone he would normally pick out of a crowd. She was something of a natural beauty, pretty yet plain. Whereas Aaron normally was much more drawn to the flashy types, the kind of women that would turn heads just by walking into a room. Yet he couldn't help but feel an energetic pull between them.


“Hi Kaia, I’m Aaron. I’m assuming you’re new here?” He said, clasping her small hand inside his.


“Yes actually, I’m your new executive assistant.” Kaia beamed, impressed by her own level of confidence. Normally she was much more soft-spoken but it felt like something had taken over her entire being.


“Well, welcome. I don't recall seeing you around, is today your first day?” Aaron asked.


“Yes. And I probably shouldn’t tell you of all people but I happen to be running late.” Kaia says, blushing profusely at her own boldness.


“I won’t tell if you don’t,” Aaron winked, taken aback by his own cheeky reply. Kaia giggled at him as she turned an even darker shade of red.


“Oh good, you’re finally here. Hi Mr. Feilding how are you today?” A woman asked running up from behind Aaron. Kaia was immediately intimated by her beauty. She was much more fashionable than her, wearing a pencil skirt and a sleeveless blouse that showed just enough cleavage to get her attention but not enough to get her in trouble. She had beautifully tanned skin and long dark hair that curled in all the right places. And Kaia could sense from the way the woman looked at Aaron there was more going on than an innocent working relationship. Of course, she thought to herself dismissing the idea that Aaron could have actually been flirting with her.


“Ah, Wynne. Good to see you this morning. What are you doing here so early?” Aaron smiled at her.


“I’m here to show around your new assistant.” Wynne replied cooly.


“Wynne you know what, why don’t you let me do that. I know you have a lot on your plate with the EV10 project and my day is surprisingly free.” Aaron said, briefly locking eyes with Kaia before giving his full attention back to Wynne.


“Mr. Feilding I can assure you I have more than enough time to show Kaia around.” Wynne protested.


“No, no. I would rather you gave all your attention to the EV10 project. We need to make sure those Pings go through smoothly and there’s no one I trust more to get the job done.” He said gently placing his hand on her shoulder. Wynne visibly relaxed and nodded, “Of course." She turned back to Kaia, "And welcome to DAT Mining."


“Nice to meet you,” Kaia called as Wynne walked away.


“Well, shall we?” Aaron said, sweeping his arm forward. Kaia smiled as she walked past him, noticing the hints of aftershave that hung in the air. It had been so long since such a smell excited her.


Aaron escorted Kaia to a long row of desks, lining the outside of his corner office. “This is you.”


“Thanks,” Kaia said in that same new tone. She could feel herself becoming someone else when she was around him, someone better, bolder.


“So where are you from Miss Archer?” Aaron sat on the desk, one leg propping him up and the other bent at the knee. Everything about him breathed superiority and status.


“The Thurlant District ,” Kaia said looking down. Even though it wasn’t the slums the Thurlant District was still considered low class.


“Ahh, I’m from Golview.” He reassured her, “Us third-classers got to stick together right.” He said with a wink. Is he flirting? Kaia thought. Either way, she smiled in reply, relieved to know that he was a new-age thinker.


“Alright we better get started. You are going to lead one of our Ping Teams.”


“Ping Team?” Kaia had never heard the term before today.


“Sorry, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me explain. Our primary goal here at DAT Mining is to provide the Council with the resources needed to communicate and share information with the entire universe. And believe it or not, that is not an easy task even with how advanced our technology is. So what we’ve done to help us communicate with faraway galaxies is assign each planet a number of hosts. Some of the more advanced planets are aware of who the hosts are and what is happening, while the more primitive one’s view these hosts as… well I guess the best comparison would be to our own Seer’s. Which means, depending on the civilization, sometimes our messages are taken seriously and other times they aren’t. Either way our job is to just make sure they get the information that the council wants them to get.”


“So what exactly do I do?” She said. Aaron could sense her confusion and sank into the chair next to her.


“Here, I’ll show you.” He leaned over her, smelling the remnants of her soap from her morning shower. It had been so long since a smell had excited him.


He began to touch the screens in front of them, showing Kaia how to open the files, read the requests, and which departments to send them to.


“Alright, here’s a good example of a dismissal.” He opened a file that read AST-47. “Anything titled AST stands for asteroid. About 10 years ago the council decided it was our duty to warn distant galaxies of asteroids that could be catastrophic to an intelligent society. However, over the years the council realized that if the civilization didn’t have the technology necessary to deter or destroy the asteroid than the warning did more harm than good. These are called dismissals.”


Kaia could feel a sense of uneasiness begin to reverberate throughout her entire body. "So wait, we just let the planet get destroyed then?"


Aaron shifted hesitantly in his seat, "Unfortunately yes."


Kaia remained silent for a moment trying to process what she had just learned. "And what about the planets that aren't considered dismissals, what do we do with those?"


"Well, it depends on the planet and the situation but normally the first thing we do is Ping the hosts and let them know what's going on. We do this by transmitting the information we have through a telepathic link. Then depending on what is needed next, we may or may not send a Space Command crew to assist."


"So why don't we just send crews to the dismissed planets?" Kaia asked.


Aaron sighed, he had heard this question more often than he'd like to admit. "The problem with that is that most of these civilizations are still so primitive that instead of working with our crew to find a solution, they would first try to kill or capture them."


Kaia mulled over Aaron's response. She knew he was right, she had heard the stories of crews who would travel to distant galaxies never to return. Some of the time it was due to unforeseen accidents, other times they were intercepted.


"Why don't we just Ping the hosts with the information on how to create the technology themselves?" Kaia asked.


“Unfortunately, most of these planets are still so young that even with the blueprints it would be a few millenias before they would be able to find and configure the equipment necessary. Besides most of the society would probably dismiss the host as crazy or disillusioned.”


Kaia thought for a moment about the Seer she saw yesterday. She was quick to dismiss her as a fraud but what if…


“I know this is a lot to learn in one day. How about we take a break and I'll show you around the rest of the office?”


“Sure,” Kaia said, forcing a smile.


“Oh, I almost forgot. I need you to sign this non-disclosure quick.” Aaron grabbed a piece of paper out of the desk and handed it to Kaia. She grabbed it hesitantly.


“Honestly, it’s just a formality. Basically it says that you won’t share the details of the Ping program with anyone outside of DAT Mining. Unfortunately, not everyone is as levelheaded as us and there are those out there who wouldn’t understand the balance we have to keep here.” Aaron said.


She wasn’t quite sure why but everything in her body was telling her to stop as she signed her name along the bottom of the document.


“Perfect.” Aaron grabbed the paper off the desk and got to his feet ready to finish the tour.


Before leaving for the day Aaron had asked Kaia to dinner later that evening. He reassured her that it was strictly business but she couldn't help but feel that maybe there was something more. She accepted but insisted that she stopped home to change first. They planned to meet later that evening at Peiwei's at Aaron's request.


As Kaia raced into her apartment she barely noticed the smell of Jasmine lurking at her door.


She raced in quickly, dropping her things in the hallway, when all of a sudden she was startled by small figure standing in her living room. Kaia flicked on the light to see the frail, old woman from the shop standing in front of her.


“What are you doing here.” Kaia asked, ready to run.


“The time has come. You must make your choice. Their future is more important than the council knows” The old woman said walking forward and placing a hand on Kaia’s arm.


Instantly, Kaia found herself standing in the middle of a forest. It was completely dark except for the stars shining above her. Kaia was mesmerized by the sight, she had never seen so many stars before. Then all of a sudden fire shot through the sky and without warning everything was engulfed in flames. She could hear the screams coming from the life all around her as everything began to burn. She covered her ears trying to stop the agony of noise. And when she felt like she couldn't take anymore she was thrusted back into her living room.


Her entire body was shaking as she dropped her hands to her side and slowly opened her eyes. The Seer was gone.


She couldn’t explain it but she somehow knew what it was she had to do. Kaia grabbed her things and headed back to DAT Mining.


Once she was at her desk she started up her system and pulled up the AST-47 file. Kaia moved the file out of dismissals and started the Ping process herself. Everyone was gone for the evening but she couldn’t help but worry that she may be interrupted at any moment.


“Kaia?” Wynne appeared behind her. “What are you doing here after hours?”


Kaia took a deep breath, unsure of how much Wynne saw.

“I forgot my phone and realized I forgot to shut down my station,” Kaia replied.


Wynne looked at her suspiciously for a moment before flashing a warm smile. “I appreciate your work ethic. Come on I’ll walk you out.”


Kaia got to her feet and walked with Wynne towards the elevator.


On the other side of the universe a host was jolted awake. “What is it? Did you have another vision?” his wife asked.


“I think so.” He replied, clutching his chest as he tried to catch his breath. "I was standing in the middle of a forest, with nothing but stars above to guide me. Then suddenly a streak of fire shot across the sky and the entire world was covered in flames. I could hear children crying and feel the pain of the forest as the entire Earth burned."


" When does it happen?"


"Not for a millennia."


"Nostradamus you have to tell someone." The woman pleaded.


“I fear no one will believe me.” He replied.


June 18, 2021 18:17

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3 comments

Mellanie Crouell
23:35 Jun 23, 2021

Great story!

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Annette Schmidt
14:19 Jun 24, 2021

Thanks!!

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Annette Schmidt
14:19 Jun 24, 2021

Thanks!!

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