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Cause [1.4.12]

It was a few hours or so into the journey when Mizar finally stopped staring at the black spot in the sky and moaned loudly.

“What’s gotten into you?” asked Fafnir.

“I feel so fucking powerless.” Mizar seethed. “Why has it played out like this?”

“Can we stop going on about it?” Fafnir said. “Please, Mizar. I don’t pretend to understand how you feel, the depths of your sadness, but we need you. You’re our leader now. Please… focus on our goal. There will be time for mourning later.”

Mizar glowered, but he knew that she was talking sense. “Ngh… I don’t know why this falls to me. But I suppose it can’t be helped.”

“Maybe we could take our minds off it. Any ideas, Lola?”

“Oh, um,” Lola stammered. “No, sorry.”

“No problem.” Mizar replied. “I suppose we could just talk, since we don’t know you that well. I didn’t get much information observing you, and you weren’t exactly forthcoming in our first few conversations.”

“I’m sure you can see why. Creepy alien guy claiming the universe was going to be destroyed.” Lola replied. Fafnir chuckled.

“Well, let’s start simply.” she said. “What was your home life all about?”

Lola blanched as she stared at the two questioning faces. Talking about herself was something she kept to a minimum, but with hours of travelling to go and nothing else to do, she felt compelled to do something. Remembering that she was outside of the universe and nothing really mattered anymore, she swallowed her fears and began to speak.

“Well, I lived on a council estate. That’s, uh, kinda like the poorer area of a town, I guess. My… my mum died when I was young, about 8. My sister, Lianne, is nine years older than me, and she brought me up, pretty much.”

“What’s your sister like?” Mizar asked. “I don’t have siblings.”

Lola thought about Lianne, envisioned her sister in her mind, and suddenly she was filled with an unquenchable sadness. Lianne, all alone – she wouldn’t know where Lola had gone. And if they didn’t save the universe… Lianne would perish.

“She’s… loving. So loving. She didn’t really have any idea how to raise me, and she was so young herself… but she tried so hard. She made sure I went to school every day, and-” Lola choked up for a moment. “She looked after me when I really needed her. I don’t know how many more positive things I can say about her, but when it came down to the wire, she always put me first, in front of everything.”

“That sounds lovely.” Mizar replied.

“Yeah. So, you grew up without a mother?” Fafnir asked.

“Pretty much.”

“A lot like us, then.” Mizar said, thinking about it. “We’re spontaneously generated by influxes of infinite energy, so we don’t have ‘parents’ either. We’re brought up by matrons in the school buildings around the place. It’s not as personal as a mother, of course.”

“That sounds like boarding school.” Lola replied.

Fafnir, fiddling with her wrist phone, looked up. “Yeah, I guess so! But that’s how all Zionids and Voidians are brought up. After that, we borrow a place to stay, move in with our friends, and begin living our lives.”

“…Wait, ‘borrow’?” Lola said. “So, what, you rent?”

“Ah, right.” Fafnir said. “That’s one major difference between our culture and Earth’s.”

“Yeah. We don’t have a currency here. Because we don’t have money, we just borrow what we need. You don’t run a shop to turn a profit in Zion, you run a shop because you want to. People grow food in lieu of something fun to do. People forge weapons because they enjoy doing it.” Mizar explained.

“That sounds exploitable.” Lola replied, unconvinced.

“There’s a social stigma attached to those without jobs. I do comedy, Rana trains people at the arena, and Saiph and Mizar don’t have jobs. Whenever there’s a shortage of food or materials or something, the King will issue a writ that commands that people have to start doing those jobs. They’re bad news, usually, so that’s why people try to get jobs they like.”

“Because I don’t have a job, I’d be first in line to get a writ. I’ve been pretty lucky so far, though. It’s a weird system, but it works.” Mizar said.

“I guess so.” Lola replied.

Fafnir had stopped fiddling with her wrist phone, and was now delving into the messenger bag she had. She gave an ‘ah’ of appreciation once she had found what she was looking for.

“Here it is! Wanna play cards, you guys?”

“Could do.” Mizar said. “Know any card games, Lola?”

“I’m afraid I’m not too familiar. I kinda know poker?” Lola said. Fafnir waved an airy hand.

“Right! Guess we’ll have to teach you how to play Voidian Bridge!”

She handed the deck to Mizar, who yawned and began to shuffle them. Fafnir’s eyes lit up with excitement.

“Mizar’s handy with a dick.” she said, as he placed the shuffled deck in her outstretched palm. “Oh, sorry, I meant deck.”

Lola laughed and Mizar sighed. “Faf, you’re a professional comedienne, how are you this bad at comedy?”

“Sheesh, someone’s grumpy.” Fafnir replied, dealing three hands of six cards. “Need more sleep, Miz.”

“Don’t we all.” Mizar said, staring at his hand, then at the dark spot in the sky. “Right, Lola, here’s how to play Voidian Bridge. First, take a card from the middle…”

Cause [1.4.11]
Cause [1.4.13]

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