Ch. 5 *Elian*
Maybe if I hadn't been raised on a planet full of outcasts, I'd be more extroverted. Public places made me uncomfortable, especially ones full of drunken humans who could get violent at any given moment. If it weren't for my mother granting me my ghost abilities, I'd be a complete loss for a son. Life would become unbearable.
I gripped the door handle and pushed it forward, walking into an intoxicated awkwardness. My eyes couldn't stray from the huge men surrounding me. I felt like I was drowning in overstretched muscles, symbolic tattoos and beer.
I slipped past some spilt liquor and managed to find an empty seat near the back of the bar. Glancing around, I realized that this tiny mission might be a bit more difficult than Azaiah had initially explained. I was in a bar full of hunters . Humans with guns. Everyone would have a weapon on their person.
"Afternoon, sweetums. Can I getcha anything to drink?" a busty red-haired waitress asked, her twangy accent very prominent.
"Water is all, thank you," I muttered shyly.
"Sure thing," she smiled before spinning around to make her way back to the kitchen.
While waiting for my drink, I scanned around the area. The blue tag lay limp in my shaky hand, taunting me. I figured if anyone knew about the LYS, which didn't seem unlikely, it'd be best to put the small tag away to prolong what little safety I had. I tried to calm my nerves to make me look more natural, but lots of hunters could tell a meek, scrawny 19 year old didn't really belong in a bar-like atmosphere. I was a target.
As the water lingered to reach my table, I took the chance to get up and use the restroom. But it seemed that as soon as I rose to my feet, I drew attention to myself. A taller, shady looking man slid out from the table to the right of me and popped my personal space bubble. We were quickly glaring at each other, inches from one another’s faces.
“Lookin’ for this, rookie?” he smirked, holding a jagged blade up to my left cheek. Though I couldn’t quite see it, I could feel some substance dripping from the metal.
Without hesitation, I vanished from his sight and slid underneath the floorboards of the bar. It probably wasn’t the best idea to fade into my ghost form in plain sight, especially in a bar full of drunken hunters, but I didn’t really care. I had to get out of danger somehow.
Once I sensed the man’s panic, I rose from underneath the floor and began to translucently hover behind him. Grasping my human form back, I snatched the knife from his hands and backed away from his attack range. He turned around to identify me with a befuddled expression frozen on his face.
“Thank you for your cooperation. You made this rather simple.” I gave an awkward smile before vanishing once more.
I could tell these hunters knew a lot about ghosts. They can’t pass lines of salt, they can’t fade through iron gates or walls. They could be weak if you cornered them correctly.
But what they didn’t know how to deal with were human ghost hybrids. I was something all new to them, and it was amusing as to how much it irritated them. I hovered in the corner for a moment, invisible to the naked eye. Hunters surrounding the tall man were all laughing at him. He sulked back to his seat in humiliation. I almost felt bad for him, if it weren’t for the fact that he had tried to stab me with some odd looking knife.
I zapped out of the bar and back out onto the streets. I found a secluded corner before I phased back into a full human once more. Glancing down, I inspected the blade I had just stolen, wondering what its purposes were. It zig-zagged in an inconsistent pattern, and was dripping with some sort of blood. A small engraving was etched onto the handle that seemed to be written in a foreign language. Whatever kind of knife it was, it seemed important, so I decided against washing it off or messing with it. All that needed to be done now was to return it to the LYS and pick up a new blue tag.
I covered my shaggy white hair with my hood as I headed down the street, back towards the LYS. Hunters made me nervous, of course, but even normal humans did too. I never grew up around them, and they reeked of gasoline and greasy foods. Some females had pungent perfumes that made me uncomfortable. I tried to avoid as many of them as I could, but city streets were always bustling.
The glass doors opened as my ID was scanned. I smiled at the receptionist, Claire, before taking the elevator up to my chief’s office.
“Please select a destination,” the computerized female voice spoke.
“Elevate to floor five,” I replied.
“Elevating to floor five.”
I stepped out into the office room, seeing that someone was already deep in conversation with the chief.
“I have 2 witnesses and a blood sample to back me up! You can’t dismiss this just because I’m only bronze ranked!”
I blinked, watching this darker female yell at the chief. Her hair was a vibrant gold, and she wore glowing rings around her wrists. From the looks of it, I assumed she was a wizard.
“Has this said blood sample been genetically tested?” the chief asked, glaring at the girl with tired eyes.
“Well… no. That takes time, obviously. But my two partners can back me up anyways! I’m not kidding!” she said irritably.
“Uma, I’m not going to waste my time with this. Eye witnesses are not hard evidence. Everyone makes mistakes, and our eyes can play tricks on us. Until you can get this blood result back, this discussion is dismissed,” chief halted the conversation and sat back down in his chair.
“You’re going to regret ignoring me. I’ll prove this to the whole LYS community. Just wait…” Uma muttered before turning away from him. She glanced up at me and turned red in the face. She quickly brushed by me without saying another word.
Awkwardly, I walked down to the chief’s desk and tapped him on the shoulder.
“Um, I finished my first quest tag, like you had asked,” I said.
He looked up at me, a bit confused.
“You finished your first tag already?” he asked as suspicion tainted his voice.
“Yes,” I reiterated, placing the bloody blade on his desk.
“Oh… um.” He glanced at the knife, surprised by my apparent ease with completing my task. “Thank you. Take your blue tag and place it into the side slot of the computers on floor 18. It will tell you how to register rank points. After that, I suppose that means you’re done for the day. You were assigned a dorm, correct?”
I nodded, feeling the dorm key in my jean pocket.
“You can rest up, or take on another mission if you feel like it. That’s basically the drill, kid. Training, at least for the majority of us, takes place on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Feel free to join in if you’d like.”
A faint smile lingered on my face before I turned around. “I’ll think about it,” I replied, before walking back to the elevator and rising up to the 18th floor.
I stepped back into the lounge, seeing that Azaiah had left, and no one else was present in the room. I walked over to the large computers across the room and entered in my blue tag.
“Thank you for completion. Please scan your L.Y.S. Identification on the scanner to the right to receive your ranking point,” the same female generated voice instructed.
After doing what I was told, 50 bars formed a circle on screen, and one of them changed from aqua to navy, indicating that I had completed my first mission.
“Have a nice day,” the voice spoke once more before the screen shut off automatically. I stared blankly at it, realizing that as time progressed, this process would soon become my daily, mundane life. I’d perform simple tasks to protect a lazy race, and receive benefits from a company founded by supernatural aliens.
I was basically a typical human adult, now. I had a stable job, and a dorm I could live in until I saved up for a place of my own. Now all I needed was a mate, and you could basically call me a full ape, just like the rest of them.
I slid back into the elevator and traveled down to the thirteenth floor. Pulling out my key, I unlocked room 1309 and stepped inside. The curtains were up, and the sunlight sprinkled in through the clear window. I lay down on my bed and exhaled dramatically. Before I could close my eyes, I shifted my body to take a glance at my closet.
The lights had been turned on, which was rather strange. Unwillingly, I sat up and approached the closet doors. Opening the left door was a big mistake, as it unleashed a mountain of clothing. Shirts and shorts toppled onto the floor, along with a mysterious package on top of it all. I bent down to take a look at it.
-To: Elian Kyo-
My eyelids nearly shut over my pupils in suspicion. I looked around the room, seeing that nothing else had been tampered with as far as I could tell. I stared back at the package for a long moment before opening it.
Inside was a note, but underneath it was a blast from my past. I pulled out my fragile frog blanket that had been carefully folded inside the box, handled with extreme care. The fabric immediately brushed up against my face, and my nose gleamed in the nostalgic scents of home. But where did this even come from?
Putting the blanket down, I picked up the note and read it over.
~You’re probably wondering why your childhood blanket has been encased and delivered to you on such a random occasion. If you’d like to understand, please meet me at the pub near the outskirts of the city tomorrow, June 7th, at 2pm. I look forward to your arrival.
I folded the note and warily placed it in my pocket.
Mom could not come to Earth. She couldn’t travel anywhere. She belonged to the spirits in the sky. Whoever this was must not have known too much about my childhood to have been so careless with their signature. And whoever this was would soon feel the lash of my tongue upon our first encounter.