“Mikel and your mother intended to leave Earth. They died before they could accomplish that, but the message they sent summoning help was received. That’s why I was there, waiting for you.”
“How long did you plan to leave us stumbling around in the desert?” she asked bitterly.
“You were walking directly toward me, as though you had a map. It was decided to let you come to me, rather than the other way around. After all, you weren’t inclined to accept my help, even then. We were afraid you would run, drawing unwanted attention to all of us.”
“Why not come get us in the city?”
“And you would have calmly turned over yourselves without a qualm? Again, I think not. This way worked out the best, with the least fuss.” He stood. “It is time. Are you ready?”
She nodded. “Yeah. Let’s get this over.”
“Ah, but Abilene, it’s only the beginning.”
After bidding the twins goodbye, they walked down the purple lined hallway to the opposite end from the landing platform. There, they entered another glass bubble that shot straight up the outside of the structure, giving Abilene an unrestricted view. She had a hard time processing the things she saw. Clear glass tubes twisted like a mad knot of spaghetti in the center. Around them, arranged like towering pieces of pie, were buildings that soared higher than she could see. Islands of flowering plants and tall trees floated with no apparent support. Waterfalls and clouds and even the occasional rain shower appeared randomly.
She couldn’t imagine the actual size of a ship that accommodated such a place. As she gaped at the fantasy land around her, she saw dozens of the bubble vehicles zipping through the tubes.
“We are here, Abilene.”
She had no idea how long Jarius had been waiting. With a last glance, she took the hand he offered and walked down another long hall with him, noting this one had two deep green lines on the walls.
They stopped at a door with the letter Z on the door. Jarius placed his palm on the white circle and the door softly slid open. Inside, a male and a female sat at a table, waiting. Abilene fought the urge to stare at them in stunned fascination while Jarius seated her before sitting down next to her.
“Abilene, this is Counselor Tena LawGiver. She is Charmonan from Yandoyi. Her assistant is Counselor Barak LawKeeper from Ouslymot on Yandoyi.
“Nice to meet you.” Abilene met their twinkling, amused eyes, then quickly looked down at her folded hands, resting on the table. She could feel the embarrassed flush creeping up her cheeks. The female appeared to be some type of catwoman. Short silky tawny fur covered her from head to toe…at least it covered every bit of skin that wasn’t hidden by her formal uniform. She had hands with claw-tipped fingers. Each claw was painted and decorated with jewels, but that didn’t hide the fact they were potential weapons. She wore two small gold balls in the tips of her cat ears. And her eyes, a startling icy blue had the elongated feline pupils. She was a recognizable type, Abilene decided. To a reader of paranormal romances, she wasn’t even particularly shocking.
The male, well the male was something far, far out of the realm of her imagination. A steady diet of Star Wars and E.T. had done little to prepare her for this meeting. He was a plant? Maybe? The visible portions of his body resembled the rough bark of a tree. The backs of his “hands” were covered with a deep green mossy surface, just like his head, except for his face. There he almost resembled a human. Two dark chocolate eyes, a prominent hatchet nose, and wide mobile mouth that was currently smiling with gentle amusement.
“Strange old universe, isn’t it?” he asked.
“I’m so sorry for staring.” Abilene was so embarrassed she couldn’t meet his eyes.
She looked up at him in shock. “What?”
“You’re a lovely woman. I don’t recall ever seeing an Earthling with that particular shade of skin. Are there many of you on Earth? If so, I must see if I can arrange a visit.”
Fortunately, Jarius chose to intervene. “Earthlings have a broad range of skin colors and hair colors. Even their eyes are various hues. If you wish, I will send you some images from my time on Earth. For now, I’m sure your time is too valuable to spend it discussing anthropological issues. Perhaps we can address the issues from Mikel StarRunner’s will?”“Of course.”