The Tornado Sojourns (2) – Chapter 02 – Shore Leave
Those going ashore to enjoy the delights of Candoran would travel into the city in the Stroller but not everyone was leaving the ship because unfortunately there was a large Legion Garrison outside the City and as Parse was still technically a Legionnaire of the Royal Guard of Gouveia, and he knew that there was a large detachment of Gouveian troops in that sector, some of whom might recognize him and inadvertently give away the Tornado’s location, so he had to stay aboard, and as they were a couple Merri chose to stay with him, in the hope that they might actually get a bit of “alone” time.
Similarly, the diminutive Princess Asti was confined to the ship as she was still a fugitive from her betrothed and with her short platinum hair, ivory skin and silver eyes, she was too easily recognised.
As Asti was grounded she was not about to let her six-foot-tall, broad and muscular, black haired, dark eyed boyfriend ashore on his own to be preyed upon by wanton women in the City’s fleshpots, not that she had any personal experience of fleshpots, but she had an imagination and that was quite enough for her.
But they weren’t the only ones remaining behind, although engineers Pulsat Rad and Vanzyl where not remaining for fear of being recognised or for reason of love, they had no significant others and their only love was the ships engines and all things mechanical, and it was the engineers who were the first to emerge onto the apron when the ramp was lowered.
The short heavy set Prinsloovian, Pulsat, was first down the ramp, he had a rough bony skull which raised up like a crown and then receded to give way to a Mahogany scaled brow, cheekbones and jawline which framed an ivory coloured face, and he had yellow eyes and his entire countenance betrayed his reptilian ancestry.
On reaching the apron proper he turned stiffly to address his companion Vanzyl, who was uttering a string of whirls whistles and clicks.
“I know it, I know it” Pulsat said to his Kesslerian friend, who also owed his origins to reptilian DNA but his slender and sleek form, scaly countenance and silver scaled skin, large opaque eyes, pursed lips, and gills clearly indicated that his kind evolved from fish.
Vanzyl whistled and clicked again and Pulsat snorted.
Pulsat was the only one of the crew who could understand every tone and toot Vanzyl uttered, as if it were in his own tongue, but that was common place for his species, there were very few races he had met on his travels that he couldn’t understand, although he couldn’t speak to them in their language, but he nonetheless understood every word that they spoke.
While they spoke Shiyne drove the Stroller down the front ramp and everyone followed in a group in her wake.
The Tornado’s APMTV, (All Purpose Multi Terrain Vehicle) was nicknamed the “Stroller” which was an ironic name because when Shiyne or Merri were behind the wheel it did anything but stroll.
The moment it came to a halt the remainder of the group climbed aboard, Zerrad, Malena and Bagg in the back and the Healer Terrell Vorton got in the passenger seat beside his lover Shiyne.
And as they departed Pulsat and Vanzyl were already engrossed in the job in hand which was to take advantage of the engines being offline to do some routine maintenance, while Merri and Parse and Asti and Lyris found other ways to pass the time.
Shiyne parked the Stroller as close to the City Centre as she could possible get, which still left them someway short of their destination, so after they decamped they walked towards the sound of chattering commerce and then got on the first Hover Tram that came along.
When the Tram arrived at the great market place Bagg said his farewells and got off and then entered the market and went in search of the herbs, spices and dried and desiccated fruits that he needed to replenish his depleted stocks.
He loved markets, even if he didn’t need provisions he would never give up an opportunity to stroll around among the abundance of food stuffs on offer and allow him to indulge his passion for the exotic foods, and his vocation in one fell swoop.
He was in his element as he wandered market, as the ships cook it was in his remit to get the best ingredients and as the Visitor his job was to go among the people, so what better way to achieve both, than at a market.
After Bagg left the Tram, the remaining four crew members continued aboard the Hover Tram, although both couples had very different plans for the day.
Zerrad and Malena were looking for food, drink and atmosphere, and intended to spend the day together at one of the many lakeshore café’s overlooking the calm still waters of Lake Candice.
But the other pair had different fish to fry as Terrell and Shiyne were headed for the cultural centre, where museums, art galleries, sculptures and antiquities would keep them enthralled, an activity to be made all the more enjoyable as they were doing it with each other.
“It’s a shame Merri and Lyris had to stay on the Tornado” Shiyne said
“I know” Malena agreed
“Well I’m quite relieved myself” Zerrad said
“Why?” Malena exclaimed
Lyris and Zerrad had flown Spider Hawk Fighters against the Legion in the Shaxson rebellion and although he had managed to compartmentalise his war time experiences, his brother hadn’t always managed to do the same, so as the city was crawling with off duty Legionnaires from the Garrison he thought it was best that Lyris stayed away.
Physically Zerrad and his brother were very similar only blonde hair and grey eyes distinguished Zerrad from his older dark-haired brother, and their temperaments, he was measured, quiet and thoughtful whereas Lyris was impulsive with a very short fuse.
“Too many Legionnaires about” he replied
“Do you mean his short fuse?” Malena asked
“Yes, there’s no way he would have been able to resist picking a fight with one of these soldier boys” he replied
“He’s been much better of late” Shiyne pointed out
“He has” Lyris agreed “I think that has a lot to do with Merri”
“Who’d have thought that the feisty redhead would have had such a calming influence” Malena said and they all laughed.
Shiyne and Terrell were getting off at the next stop
“This is us” Shiyne said excitedly and Terrell smiled
“We’ll meet back at the Stroller in four hours” he said
“Ok” Malena responded as they stood by the doors “Have fun”
As Malena watched them walk away hand in hand she thought love was a funny thing, but wonderful too.
They were both the same height but that was the only thing they had in common, he was older than her by 6 years and was stoutly built while she was slim, his skin was of chalk white and hers was cerise, his eyes were violet, Shiyne’s were purple and Terrell’s hair was midnight blue and she was bald.
The other difference was that he was very quiet and she would often chatter incessantly but Malena thought there was no doubt at all that they were in love, and she smiled at that thought.
She was still smiling when she turned to look at Zerrad and she found that he was looking at her and smiling too.
After reaching Lake Candice they disembarked from the Tram and walked for about 20 minutes until they found a suitable venue to meet there needs.
Bagg had a very fruitful expedition and found everything he was looking for plus a few things that he wasn’t.
There were far too many things for him to carry himself so he paid for them and took a chit in return and then after all his purchases were made he took his chits to the market office and arranged delivery, it was then up to them to collect everything he had purchased from the vendors and deliver it all to the ship in one consignment.
When his business was concluded he found he had more than an hour before the arranged meeting time by the Stroller so he had a quick look at his surroundings and after a minute or two he smiled to himself as he had spotted, looming high above the rooftops of the surrounding buildings, the spire of a Visitor church.
Visitors were a Christian sect who took to the stars with the first migrants to visit new worlds, spreading the word while seeking enlightenment, and they had established Visitor enclaves in every corner of the known universe, they even thrived in Mehreen space and they were the least spiritual beings to ever draw breath.
The difference between Visitors and the established Christian Church on earth was its spontaneity, they didn’t wait until Sunday to worship, they did it wherever and whenever it was desired and it didn’t need to happen in a church, Visitors worshipped everywhere, but that didn’t mean that they didn’t have churches.
For Shiyne and Terrell the time was passing by much too quickly and they doubted they would get to see all the places that they wanted to.
So, they decided to forgo lunch or refreshments, this was a tough call for Shiyne as she had an enormous appetite for such a small being.
But her appetite for culture and knowledge was even more voracious.
By skipping lunch, they managed to view all the exhibits on their list without having to rush and they were just walking towards the main thoroughfare where they alighted the Hover Tram when they heard a voice
“Terrell is that you?”