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They dock in some trade port by the the name of Banker, which apparently doesn’t mean the same thing in the native language as it does in good ‘ol English but which Chiela still find ironic, regardless. Or is it just appropriate? To be honest, Chiela’s not really clear on what constitutes irony and what doesn’t.

Nikolao and Chiela volunteer to make the supplies run in to the market, which doesn’t so much involve them volunteering as it does Nikolao not trusting anyone else to do it right, Terasu being incapable of civility around him, Venka insisting she won’t leave the ship, and Pipra being the sort that would draw too much of the wrong kind of attention - although, Chiela supposes any kind of attention would be bad, seeing as three of the five of them are members of a species that’s nearly extinct and on whose heads the Xenomorphs have put a hefty price - and Chiela being the only one left over to accompany him. And so: volunteered.


Chiela and Nikolao are standing in the middle of the market, at a stall that Nikolao claims isn’t selling jewelry, though Chiela can’t think of another use for all that dangling glass and polished metal and glittering jewels - she’s 95% certain he’s trying to buy something for Pipra; the other 5% is trying to figure out whether Nikolao’s the kind of guy who wears jewelry when no one’s looking - hemmed in by the crowds and hot under the beating of twin suns. The whole place smells of sweat and strange spices, which honestly isn’t the best of combinations - Chiela’s got this constant itching in her nose like she needs to sneeze, but can’t.

They’re surrounded by a staggering number of - well, species Chiela guesses, instead of the races in which she’s accustomed to thinking. On Chiela’s left there’s a woman with four eyes, fingering a bolt of intricately woven cloth, blue and green and gold, that’s not nearly as colorful as she is. Chiela can tell because she’s not wearing clothes. On her right there’s a squat little man with two heads, one of which is arguing furiously with the other over the price of a polished copper bowl. And two stalls away - well, Chiela’s pretty sure that’s a dog chatting up the vendor. The funny part of this is that everyone keeps staring at Nikolao, like he’s completely out of place. They’ll whisper among themselves when they see him coming, then, once he looks at them,, turn their heads quickly to one side in a move that really just makes it more obvious that they were staring. Chiela couldn’t figured out why - hell, he looks more normal to her than anyone else here - until she remembered that, oh, yeah, Nikolao’s whole species nearly got wiped out. Probably, even on as densely populated a planet as this one, and in as thriving a trade center as this city is, they don’t see many Amorhpii. Or any.

Frankly, the whole situation’s starting to make Chiela feel a little uneasy. She not usually a suspicious kind of person, but now everyone’s acting suspiciously, to her. The stall vendor keeps breaking away from looking at Nikolao, to look at an anonymous something over his shoulder - Chiela’s tried to figure out what that something is, but every time she turns to try to identify it, all she sees are the same stalls and the same people going about their business.

Chiela hadn't thought that Nikolao had noticed, at first, intent as he was upon the stall's contents (fingering a smooth-polished stone pendant in one hand and eyeing another jade-stoned something on a leather thong and, yes, he's totally buying something for Pipra, that settles it) until she heard him muttering under his breath - and hopefully for her ears only - that, "We're being followed."

Chiela whips her head around to stare at him, before thinking, that, wow, that was not in any way subtle - she's even caught the vendor's attention who's now giving her an assessing look from under her eyelashes. At another time Chiela might have taken a moment to appreciate that kind of look, rivalling, as it did, the similar looks that Terasu would give her right before something really awesome happened - awesome for Chiela, at least, though the last time Nikolao had seen that look he certainly hadn't been pleased with the end result. Granted he’d also walked in on something he'd have done best not seeing.

Nikolao makes a little disbelieving sort of noise, and, if he were the sort, Chiela imagines she'd be getting her intelligence called into question right about now. And probably - no, definitely - her subtlety. As it is, Nikolao just turns his attention to a glass-beaded bracelet that even Chiela has to admit is pretty - not that she'd wear it, mind, she's just not that unobservant - and mutters, "Three stalls over. Beside the carpet vendor."

When Chiela goes to look, though, she doesn't see anything - or anyone - that looks particularly out of place. Or, well, more particularly out of place than everyone does to Chiela. Probably Nikolao has a better eye for these things, being that he's accustomed to scattered worlds and their people and run into more species than Chiela knows exists. Probably, the colorful lady and her four eyes and her nakedness didn't catch his attention at all. Probably neither did the man with the two heads. Chiela reserving judgement on the talking dog. Seriously, that has to be weird, even to someone who's traveled from planet to planet and galaxy to galaxy. There must be some kind of limit to the unvierse's strangeness.

On second glance though, Chiela does see someone that - well, again, everyone looks suspicious to her but this guys a little eerie looking. He's got blunt, blocky features, stands a good head taller than anyone surrounding him, has skin so pale it's practically translucents and pale green eyes that remind Chiela of the day in that orchard, watching Terasu turn to her as the lightning split the trees around them, her eyes glowing and her body levitating off the ground.

"Xenomorph," Nikolao mutters, again, and Chiela's not sure what that means but she's going to take it as a bad sign that whoever that is fits the description of whatever that is. Can't be good, anyways, if the guy is following them, Chiela knows that much. Apparently, Nikolao can sense the cluelessness on her because he frowns and at rubs the bridge of his nose and then at his temples as if this were the sort of trial to give a person a headache - which Chiela thinks is a little dramatic, honestly. She's not that bad. She thinks she's doing pretty well for someone who a) crashed to Earth on a comet, b) lost all traces of her memory c) started turning into a dragon against her own will, and d) totally got kidnapped from earth and forced to join a bunch of space flunkies on their quest to save what remained of their people. Well, not Venka's people. Honestly, Chiale's not sure what Venka's looking to save and doesn’t so much care, just as long as she doesn't end up selling them out or something, which the part of Chiela’s mind that doesn't think soap operas are that bad is totally expecting to happen. Hell, if anyone deserves to be fending off a headache at this point, it's Chiela and not Nikolao.

Nikolao pickes up the colorful glass-beaded bracelet and makes motions at the vendor like he wants to buy it. The problem with intergalactic trading ports is, apparently, that fewer people speak a shared language than you'd expect. Probably, she got a bit babied on Earth, being that everyone around her spoke at least stilted English, even if they spent a lot of time tittering at her in Spanish - seriousy, she still doesn't see what they found so funny about the way she ordered food in that restaurant, excepting, of course, her terrible accent, and, well maybe that was it after all. Still, you'd think someone would have been bright enough to come up with an intergalactic language that'd make this all just a little bit easier.

The vendor keeps making elaborate gestures with both her hands, which Chiela can't make heads or tails but which Nikolao, apparently, can interpret just fine because he's digging a few heavy copper coans out of his pocket and handing them over to her. The smile that crosses the vendor's face, at that, make Chiela think that Nikolao just got totally ripped off. Either he doesn't notice or he doesn't care, because he's tucking the bracelet away on his person (seriously, if that doesn't end up on Pipra's wrist, Chiela will eat her own shoes), turning away from the stall, and walking in the opposite direction of the ship. Chiela hastens to keep up with him, which isn't as easy as you might think because Nikolao’s in some kind of rush and the crowd seems to open up for him only to shut in his wake, so that Chiela's having to dance around and shove past people, which even she finds a little bit rude.

"Jesus," Chiela says, "Slow down, would you? And where the hell are you going?"

Nikolao shots her a disbelieving look - seriously, she's not that bad - and says, "Away from the ship," as if that should be plainly apparent, which, okay, it kind of is, but that doesn't really answer the question of where they're going to end up. Lost, if the way d Nikolao keeps picking directions at as random as they seem to be.

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