Chapter 3:

Reintegration Arc: Chapter 3

UNIVERSAL BOY


CHAPTER 3Bookmark here

(3 YEARS PRIOR)Bookmark here

A studio room full of people and cameras. A talk show. Bright lights beating down and a grand mixture of colors and shapes making up the set. A rectangular desk with rounded edges and chrome trim with an orange face and base. A live audience filled to the brim with different “greater” species of the Capitol Planet of Vishta. From the Vishtians themselves to Wrapthians and even the Glum, a species of slimes. The backdrop of the stage was a holographic display of space on a large VISOR screen. There were purple lights strung up like a Christmas decoration. The host was a Vishtian. A humanoid with light-blue skin, wearing a white suit with a purple tie.Bookmark here

“Good evening Vishta, and another glorious day in the universe!” The Vishtian Talk Show host bolstered as the audience clapped and cheered with vigor. “And of course I’m your host Thream, and we’re here with yet another back and forth here on and say it with me!”Bookmark here

PURPLE – NIGHT – LIGHTS!” The host yelled as the audience yelled alongside him.Bookmark here

“Thank you, thank you.” Thream said chuckling. “And our guest here today is foreign species rights activist and foreign species specialist Trisxel!” Thream said with aplomb as a few members of the audience clapped and cheered.Bookmark here

“It’s an honor to be here Thream.” Trisxel said, clad in a black and gray striped suit with a black tie. Trisxel being a member of the Pentagost race has light gray skin with blue-ish gray spots and stripes and a shark-like head with four fingers on each hand. And teeth much like that of a Maltraxian but not quite as jagged and unkempt. “And it’s an honor to meet the legendary host. I’ve been watching for a long time.” Trisxel said with a smile.Bookmark here

“Oh you, you’re gonna make me blush.” The Thream said before taking a sip of zellos. “Looks like somebody knows that flattery gets them more airtime.” Thream said as the audience laughed.Bookmark here

“Don’t you actually mean more space time?” Trisxel said as he leaned in to give a little nudge and wink as the audience laughed even harder than before.Bookmark here

“Okay, okay let’s settle down.” Thream said with a smile. “Unlike most of my shows we’re here to talk about a very serious issue today. So we co forgo the low brow humor for now.” Thream said as he leaned forward on his desk. Covering his mouth with his two hands clasped together, and elbows planted firmly on the table. He then acquired a deadpan look in his eyes. “We’re here to talk politics tonight aren’t we?”Bookmark here

“Yes sir. And to get the ball rolling I’ve brought along a bill that I’ve been meaning to propose to the federation. But first I’d figured I would get it out into the public eye.” As Trisxel was preparing to take the bill out of a folder in his briefcase Thream interrupted.Bookmark here

“First I’d like to read some questions from our audience members at home.” Thream said as his assistant came onto stage and handed him a computational VISOR, (A Vishtian Laptop essentially). “We’ve got a few questions on the screen here…” Thream said as he paused for a moment glancing through the questions to find some that are more appropriate for on air discussion.Bookmark here

“Sir don’t you think we should at least tell the public what the bill proposes first before we dive right into comments from an unsuspecting masses?” Trisxel pleaded.Bookmark here

“Oh please, everybody already knows why you’re here.” Thream stated, dismissing Trisxel outright. “Here we go… these ones are a little more equitable.”Bookmark here

“Right…” Trisxel said discouraged.Bookmark here

“One commenter asks how will allowing new species sanctuary on Vishta affect the housing market? As you likely know Vishta is already a smaller than average planet that is comprised of 72% freshwater lakes and freshwater oceans. What about the ever-growing population we already have and their kids? Trisxel, your response?” Thream asked.Bookmark here

“Well I think the answer lay in the question. As this person put these are creatures that need sanctuary, we clearly shouldn’t ignore their needs… and as for the space. Our society already has lots of tall housing structures tailor made for managing large populations.”Bookmark here

“Well isn’t that a little cruel to homeowners? What about folk who like living a little more luxuriously. Wide open front yards for their Zorfaks to run around? Or backyard parties and a place for their kids to play?” Thream asked as the crowd cheered.Bookmark here

“It’s not like I’m evicting those people from their houses. As for people in the future some of these existing properties will be available again. And if they want that sort of life so bad they can move to another planet. Like Wrapthia, the home world of the Wrapthians, or Dominus where the Domins reside. All very spacious places that won’t allow a so called “lesser” species to reside. But Vishtians? Domins, Wrapthians etc. It’s fair game.” A few muffled claps and cheers could be heard from the audience, most of which were Pentagost.Bookmark here

“And what about you Trisxel? Where do you live?”Bookmark here

“I’m glad you asked, an apartment.” Trisxel said with a smile as Thream grunted, feeling a bit embarrassed so he moved onto the next question in his computational VISOR.Bookmark here

“Well then how about this one? It’s been rumored that one of these species that will be proposed in your bill are Gwetzels. But aren’t Gwetzels notoriously violent creatures used for war? And don’t they have a history of turning on their Vishtian commanders?” Thream read out to Trisxel and the audience. “What do you have to say about that?”Bookmark here

“Well of course it does, if you’d just let me read the bill I cou-”Bookmark here

“Stick to the audience questions and concerns for now Trisxel if you’d please.” Thream interrupted, speaking in more of a demanding tone rather than a hopeful one. Trisxel holding back his anger put the bill back down in his lap.Bookmark here

“Humph fine. Honestly the argument about the aggressive nature of Gwetzels is moot. I mean if you were enslaved and forced to fight in a battle you didn’t want to take part in then honestly you might turn on your so called “superior officer” also. It doesn’t take a Plasmatic Propulsion Engineer to tell you that one.” Trisxel said, covering his clenched fist with his other hand.Bookmark here

“And what if your wrong? You unleash these Gwetzels into our everyday life and things get ugly. What then?” Thread asking a question to an impossible to prove scenario.Bookmark here

“Well IF that happens. Then I believe our very capable Vishtian Law Enforcement will do their jobs with great pride and honor.” Trisxel said gaining a little more favor from the people.Bookmark here

“Oh really? And how do you suppose unleashing more chaos for our Law Enforcement to deal with is the right move?”Bookmark here

“Well that’s a laugh.”Bookmark here

“How so Mr. Trisxel?” Thream said quite huffily.Bookmark here

“More people means more crimes too sure… but it will also mean more crime fighters when the other members of the new population inevitably enlist in Law Enforcement themselves. That being said, I think I can take care of myself.” Trisxel said that last part flexing his muscles through his suit, forcing Thream to cough up his zellos just as he took a drink.Bookmark here

“Now if you’d just let me read my bill to the public.”Bookmark here

“Ooh unfortunately it’s time to cut to commercial. But before we go a word from our sponsor.” Thream said as Trisxel angrily gripped the papers in his hand. “Calcilaw Cream is bringing you the tastiest cup of Zellos around with three new flavors! Officially releasing them this summer! One of which Puka Fruit I’m using right now!” Thream said holding up his cup.Bookmark here

“Explains why you coughed it up a second ago.” Trisxel murmured with a smirk right before it cut to commercial.Bookmark here

“Ha ha, quite hilarious.” Thream said after the broadcast was put on pause. “Why are you so set on ruining the lives of every Vishtian citizen alive?” Thream then asked.Bookmark here

“Ruin…” Trisxel chuckled. “On the contrary I’m not trying to ruin anybody’s life. I’m actually trying to make them better.”Bookmark here

“Really? How so? How’s dropping a bomb on the everyday life of Vishta making lives better?” Thream then asked.Bookmark here

It was in that moment that the cameraman with the help of the shows coproducer decided to put their conversation back on the air without their knowledge. There was a little pushback in the production booth but with the head producer who was a Vishtian conveniently on vacation there was little resistance from the studio employees. You see the coproducer, cameraman and a few other employees just happened to be Pentagost. The same race as Trisxel. And the thing about the Pentagost is that they understand what the “lesser” species of the galaxy had to go through.Bookmark here

It took a lot of petitioning and political climate changes for the Pentagost to eventually be integrated into Vishtian society. They were a slowly advancing society, at one time seen in just as negative of a light as the Torvaks or the Gwetzels. Seen as brutes and used for labor. And although that was a long time ago, most Pentagost know how little time it was in the scheme of things. And that’s why they feel so strongly for the struggles of these creatures often sold into “servitude” and forced to work, and to fight among other things. So the Pentagost know. They know all too well.Bookmark here

“Picture it.” Trisxel said. “Your planets just been destroyed by Marauders.”Bookmark here

“Is there a point to this?”Bookmark here

“Just picture it.” Trisxel said. “You’ve just been sold to… let’s say a mining colony. How about LV-8980. You’ve lost everything and everyone you gave a damn about and now you’re being forced to work for a civilization that thing they’re above you. But they’re just using you make life cheaper and easier. Assaulting you with stun rods and laser restraints.”Bookmark here

And as Trisxel spoke these words to Thream in front of an audience of dozens of millions of Vishtian citizens from the Vishtians themselves to Wrapthians. Wrapthians with psychology majors like Greshit, whose wide eyes were glued to her VISOR. As the tides of change were slowly shifting. In another part of the galaxy Noah Graham, a restless worker of Mining Colony V-6720 lay curled up in his blanket. His eyes moist from all the tears. And as he thinks of home and of his situation he somehow finds the ability to cry even more tears. Close to his breaking point.Bookmark here

“You have zero reason to live. Zero opportunities. Not only treated like a Zorfak but a Zorfak with an abusive owner. But with this bill. With the Foreign Species Rights Bill you’ve been given another opportunity to live your life. Maybe even an opportunity to do some good in the world. Aid in curing diseases, join law enforcement, or join up to serve against the very Marauders that have terrified you and all of Vishta and its neighboring galaxies. Maybe infuse the positive aspects of your culture, bring us your food and music until it’s not just your culture… but our culture.” Trisxel proclaimed as he handed the now stumped Thream his bill, in the hopes that he’ll endorse it, live on air.Bookmark here

But funny thing. Thream’s endorsement wasn’t necessary. With a large majority of Vishta’s population watching live as Trisxel spoke he now had a whole gaggle of supporters. And with the full support of that many people and that much hype it wouldn’t take long for real change to happen. Only a little under two years to be precise. It was finally over. The Foreign Species Rights Bill had been passed, and Noah had been loaded up on a Vishtian ship along with the Gwetzels, the Torvaks, and the Blizvains, and they were then shipped off to Vishta, the Capitol Planet of the galaxy.Bookmark here

Noah stepped off that ship a free man. He then looked up in awe as he exited the ship. His eyes sparkled as he saw Vishta’s royal evening sky, in its glory from its deep purple color. That same night Trisxel toast with his friends and colleagues from their hotel ballroom they’d rented out. With curvy glasses that held a blue but bubbly alcoholic beverage.Bookmark here

“Thank you for all your support!” Trisxel’s boss Morpheus, a large, skinny Wrapthian man said. “But our job isn’t over just yet. In fact it’s quite the opposite. Isn’t that right Trisxel?”Bookmark here

“Yes sir.” Trisxel then cleared his throat. “As you know, tonight we made history. But keeping this incredible achievement in mind. We still have a lot of work to do. People in power already aren’t liking a lot of the reform that needs to be done for our new friends. I fear that they’re going to look for other ways to make our new friends feel oppressed. Forbidding them from certain housing structures, employers who refuse to hire them, laws not allowing them to marry into families like that of a Vishtian or a Maltraxian. So I would you all please raise your glass with me?” Trisxel said as they did as he asked.Bookmark here

“Now as they do on Purple Light Nights. “To Fighting Injustice” on three! One – Two – Three!” Trisxel said, winding them up.Bookmark here

“TO FIGHTING INJUSTICE!” The all said in tandem as they drank their beverages together and enjoyed each other’s company for the remainder of the evening. For after that night. They were heading off to political warfare…Bookmark here

(PRESENT DAY)Bookmark here

Noah looked at the suited Pentagost known as Trisxel as the bus drove onward. He then noticed a masked/hooded figure sitting in one of the buses’ front seats near the door. He then looked back at the Trisxel. Trisxel stood there with wide smirk as he fixed the cuffs of his shirt and fastened his tie. Noah was deafly confused by this interaction. What does he want with me? Noah curiously thought.Bookmark here

“So. I assume I wasn’t supposed to get off this bus then?” Noah asked.Bookmark here

“Wow you’re quite the detective aren’t you.” Trisxel snobbishly declared. “But no. At least not yet. Not until you’ve heard what I have to say.”Bookmark here

“Why couldn’t you just talk to me like a normal person then!?” Noah snarled.Bookmark here

“A normal person huh?” Trisxel said. “That’s funny coming from you.”Bookmark here

“What are you trying to say?”Bookmark here

Trisxel tilted his head and body as he reached into his pocket and pulled out a pair of blue reading glasses. He slipped them on his face and then pulled his briefcase up off the ground, then set it down on one of the bus seats. From it he pulled out a file. On the file written in Vishtian was the name Noah Graham (Human). Noah’s eyes widened at the sight of his file.Bookmark here

“Hey where’d you get that!?” A confused and angry Noah asked.Bookmark here

“We’ll get to that Mr. Graham. First we have a little bit of business to discuss.”Bookmark here

“Business?” Noah asked as Trisxel crumpled up a flyer and threw it at him at a fairly high speed. Noah caught the flyer pretty easily as Trisxel’s wide smirk somehow grew wider.Bookmark here

“Nice catch, at least you have good reflexes.” Trisxel said.Bookmark here

Noah uncrumpled the flyer and then took a good long look at it. On it was a sketch of two species fighting it out, a Vishtian and a Blizvain. Blizvains being a feline race, adopting both the traits of a humanoid race and that of a cats. The flyer also read ONE’S VANITY on it. The name of a sporting event where under a loose set of rules different species battle it out in hand to claw combat. Noah looked at the flyer in confusion, not certain as to how it related to him.Bookmark here

“What? inviting me to a sporting event? Please.” Noah said, recrumpling the flyer.Bookmark here

“Something like that.” Trisxel noted while picking his teeth. “You see Noah I’d actually like you to participate in this competition.” Trisxel said.Bookmark here

“What?! You’re insane.” Said Noah. “What possible reason could you have for thinking I would go along with this? Not to mention what makes you think I’d even be able to participate in something like this?” Noah asked as Trisxel pulled out his file.Bookmark here

“Well let’s see.” Trisxel said as he cleared his throat. “I was on my way home when they tried to rob me. I gave them what I had but I guess it wasn’t good enough for the Maltraxian Church.” As Trisxel read from the file Noah’s eyes widened.Bookmark here

“W-what ar-are you doing?” Noah nervously asked.Bookmark here

So after already having hit me once, they hit me again and stole my wallet along with the Ven I’d already given them. So… I took back what was mine.” Trisxel continued to read from the file as Noah’s nervous tendencies turned to frustration.Bookmark here

“Cut that out!”Bookmark here

“How about now I read Mrs. Greshit’s note in regards to the matter. Mr. Graham may be becoming unhinged. This act of aggression lines up with his previous statements regarding Vishtians citizens both old and new.” Trisxel read as he licked his thumb to flip the page.Bookmark here

“Screw this. I’ll just open the bus door on my own and jump out!” Noah said as he made his way back towards the front of the bus.Bookmark here

“I love the commitment, but I can’t allow you to leave just yet.” Trisxel then said as he snapped his finger, and the hooded figure jumped out in front of Noah. Bookmark here

“Get out of the way!” Noah threw a fist at the hooded figure but was immediately thwarted. The figure grabbed his wrist and twisted his arm. Then using his momentum to throw him to the ground and held his arm up against his back as he lay face down on the bus.Bookmark here

“L-let go of me!” Noah stuttered and pleaded.Bookmark here

“Listening now Noah?” Trisxel asked.Bookmark here

Noah struggled for a moment before giving in and remaining restrained. Although he was practically licking the dirty and dusty floor of that bus, but resisting didn’t seem to do much. The figure holding him down was clearly both stronger and much more skilled than he was. He was now willing to comply. But there were still a few questions Noah had of his own.Bookmark here

“Fine… but answer me this. Why hijack me for this proposal?”Bookmark here

“That’s a fair question. I’ve got plans for you at this fight. And after seeing you fight those Maltraxian’s I know you’ve got what it takes to win in a fight. As for this little stunt… well to put it simply nobody can see us speaking with you prior to the fight.” Trisxel told him.Bookmark here

“Oh yeah? And why is that?”Bookmark here

“Because I’m a well-known political activist, and I have it on good authority that there are some shady dealings going on behind the scenes in the ONE’S VANITY fighting tournament. And we need you to get us backstage.” Trisxel said as Noah looked back up at the hooded and masked figure holding him down.Bookmark here

“I don’t understand… this persons clearly a great fighter. Why not use them?”Bookmark here

“Well… that was the plan. But if I can get you into the semi-finals, that’ll allow her to participate in a far more important job.” Trisxel said, as Noah thought Her? Looking up at the figure as a few strands of silky black hair fell from her hood.Bookmark here

“Fay… Faytana?” Noah said as the figure removed their mask and put down her hood.Bookmark here

“I’m sorry Noah…” Faytana sighed.Bookmark here

“Oh you know each other?”Bookmark here

“Yes sir. I scoped him out before the proposal.” Faytana said to Trisxel.Bookmark here

“Scoped… me out…” Noah said as he positioned his gaze to the floor.Bookmark here

“Anyways as I was saying. The public can’t know that we are associated. They’ll know I’m on to them at ONE’S VANITY and skip town with their fighters. Fighters that I have it on good authority may be unreleased slaves.” Trisxel told him.Bookmark here

“Slaves?! But what about the Foreign Species Rights Bill?” Noah asked.Bookmark here

“Well needless to say not everybody is too keen on following the law. Especially if it puts a dent in their profits. That’s why when you make it to the semi-finals, Faytana who will be acting as your manager can slip away to find the charter containing all the fighter’s legal names. Then we can cross reverence that with the names and birth dates of all the legal citizens of Vishta and prove that they’re using illegal non-citizens as competitors.”Bookmark here

And just as Noah was going to ask a follow up question the bus came to a sudden stop. Noah heard the door open, and his jaw dropped when hidden in a seat halfway down the bus between him, and Trisxel a Glum slithered out of it. The Glum green, slimy, and about one foot tall and 1 foot in diameter slowly crawled down the aisle of the bus. Noah watched as it slowly slimed past him and then out of the bus.Bookmark here

“What the hell? You said no one could know you and I were in contact!” Noah yelled.Bookmark here

“Oh him? Don’t worry about him, he’s a fellow coworker we were just giving him a ride. See you later Rimuru!” Trisxel said as he yelled goodbye.Bookmark here

“What!?” Noah yelled. That slimy Glum’s name is really Rimuru? Like from that anime series! Noah then thought to himself amazed and confused. The bus then closed up and began moving again.Bookmark here

“So what do you say?” Noah then looked back at Trisxel. “You going to work with us?”Bookmark here

Putting that weird potential pop culture reference out of his mind. Noah wasn’t sure if he was up for the task. He wasn’t sure he wanted to be up for the task. Noah thought back to the look of fear in Greshit’s eyes when he snapped on her. And he didn’t want to turn back into that. And he knew that if he got in the ring with those other species to battle it out that it was only a matter of time before his hatred grew. But rather than admit to that side of himself, he decided to bluff his way out.Bookmark here

“I… I don’t know.” Noah said. “I don’t think I have it in me to fight in this tournament.”Bookmark here

“Don’t have it in you huh? Right, that’s why you savaged those two Maltraxian thugs.” Trisxel said as he pulled Noah’s file back up. “And that’s why during your sessions you said that idiot news anchor, which let me point out I agree with you on Mr. Graham.” Tresxel interjected with before continuing. “That idiot news anchor was talking about the Foreign Species Rights Bill, and I found myself feeling less melancholy and more rage.” Trisxel recited.Bookmark here

“Well that… I-”Bookmark here

“Therapists note. The patient seems to detach himself from the persuasion of other citizens of Vishta, and I believe him to harbor feelings of hatred for them. That sound like a correct assessment Noah?” Trisxel asked.Bookmark here

“Yeah…” Noah said feeling morally defeated.Bookmark here

“Listen kid.” Trisxel said as he walked forward and knelt down to talk to Noah. “I can’t help you sort this part of yourself out, but I’ll leave you with this. We’re not doing this for profit. So everything you make as a fighter you can keep. And trust me it’ll be a heck of a lot more than you’ll make in three whole years at that meat packing plant. On top of that you’ll be doing something good. So you can sit there and try to deny that darker part of yourself… or you can put it to good use. What do you say?” Trisxel asked him as he held his hand out pull Noah from up off the ground.Bookmark here

Faytana then let go of Noah and backed away. Noah not having moved a muscle looked up at Trisxel’s hand, and after a little bit of deliberation he grabbed it and was hoisted off the ground. The bus then stopped in its place and Noah looked out the window. He was at the bus stop near his apartment complex.Bookmark here

“I’ll think about it.” Noah said with his head down.Bookmark here

“Fair enough. But think about it fast. We only have a few months and some change to get you trained. Here, take my number.” Trisxel then gave Noah his business card and Noah slipped it into his pocket. “If you think yes, then give me a call.”Bookmark here

“Like I said. I’ll think on it.” Noah said as he exited the bus.Bookmark here

“Noah wait…” Faytana said as he stood at the base of the bus.Bookmark here

“What you want to scope me out some more?” Noah groaned.Bookmark here

“Look I didn’t scope you out as a part of my job or anything. I don’t know why but I just wanted to meet you. Please don’t feel like there was any sort of ulterior motive.” Faytana wished of him.Bookmark here

“I’ll think on it.” Bookmark here

Noah left her with that as he put his hands in his pockets and started walking away, with his head once again facing the ground. Faytana stepped back fully into the bus as the door shut and began driving away. She put her right hand up against the glass and observed him until he was no longer in sight. Feeling a small sense of guilt settling in her gut as they drove away. And in a small way, Noah felt that same guilt.Bookmark here

As Noah walked his posture was poor. His walk was sloppy, and he was barely paying any attention to where he was going. His medium length blonde hair, normally vibrant and was well kept had remained disheveled from time spent on the floor of that bus. He not paying any mind to it and making no attempt to fix it. As Noah stumbled in front of his apartment door he pulled his keycard from his wallet and flashed it by the handle of his door, unlocking it. He then entered the room.Bookmark here

The lights were off as he stood there in the center of the doorway looking in. Apart from a few key details it just looked like any other apartment back on Earth, specifically the United States. But instead of a coffee maker, a zellos brewer. Instead of a Television, a holographic VISOR. And the couch… well it was still just essentially a couch. Maybe a slightly misshapen couch. Actually by Torvak standards it was a love seat. But to him it was just as much a couch as any other. Noah kicked his shoes across the room and headed toward that love seat.Bookmark here

How different are we really? Noah had thought for probably the hundredth time. But unlike all the other times, this may have been the first one that wasn’t entirely sub-conscious. As Noah entered his apartment he opted not to turn on any of the lights. Hoping not to catch a glimpse of his pathetic reflection. And as he plopped down on that Torvakian love seat he sunk right into it. He then held his hands up into the air. And even with nothing but darkness filling that space and his wounds healed he could still make out the bruises and cuts in his hands from his previous altercation with those Maltraxians. Like a phantom memory of them.Bookmark here

He lay there thinking. He thought about the offer given to him by Trisxel. He thought about Faytana’s silky hair and fair complexion. He thought about the struggles of V-6720. And then he thought about his mother. His mother Loretta was a kind and loving woman. He remembered her distinctly for her beautiful blonde hair. And even as the memory of her face became extorted there was always that one reminder. A reminder he lived with every time a piece of or a couple of strands of his fell out onto the counter or into the shower. He always envisions her as an oil painting. Always looking out into the distance, face concealed, body a blur as her back remained in frame, and her gorgeous locks flowed in the wind.Bookmark here

He thought of the example she had always set. Her ability to acknowledge her fears and face them head on. Her ability to admit her own faults. Offering her money or assistance to strangers in need. Always giving someone a chance regardless of their race or creed. And her ability to forgive those who’ve wronged her. She was they type of person that Noah had wished to become. But her footsteps walked a difficult path. She was someone whose shoes seemed impossible to fill. But he didn’t need to fill them he felt. What I wouldn’t give just to remember her face… Noah wished.Bookmark here

As Noah lay there he squirmed in place. Unable to sleep because of all that was on the full plate of his and conscious. All his bad thoughts from his fears and hatred. From his dead-end life that could hardly even be considered his life. He had always pictured himself going to school to be an engineer, or even a teacher. Settling down and having a family by his age. He was 24 and on the fast track to nowhere. And as his mind raced Noah knew there wasn’t anyway he could get to sleep. So he threw himself off the couch and back onto the floor that he was so familiar with.Bookmark here

The moment he hit the ground he was already doing pushups. Going hard and fast as his arms ached. But to his surprise they were fairly easy to perform. He had been doing them almost every night since his fight with those Maltraxian thugs. He thought back to them. He thought back to how he handled them with ease. What is there to be so afraid of?! He thought intently. All while continuing to do those pushups. Beginning to sweat he kept at it, looking at the floor as he did them. But then as he sweat, and his muscles tightened he decided to look forward. As he did his expression grew plain and his eye glistened like a babe in the woods.Bookmark here

Before him were his shoes he’d slung across the floor. His oddly colored sneakers were made specially for human feet by a Vishtian tailor. They were nothing like a pair of sneakers from back on Earth. The odd meshes and fabrics that made them up were literally unearthly and bore a different texture and pattern, the mesh appearing almost triangular as opposed to hexagonal or an overlapping diamond shaped mesh. The color was an odd lightly shaded red, almost orange. And the shoestrings were an entirely different material from what was conventional.Bookmark here

But almost as if his mind had reclaimed a piece of the puzzle, a piece of the image of his mother was then filled in his mind. Her white summer shoes with an eloquently bowed lace on top. It was cathartic to think of. It was a small detail, but it motivated him. And as he continued his pushups he saw it. Laying on the ground. Trisxel’s card containing his number. It was in that moment that Noah had his answer.Bookmark here

“Well… why not?” Noah asked as he grabbed that card and set it next to his communications device.Bookmark here

The next day, on the last day of Noah’s weekend he called Trisxel. Here goes something… Noah’s mind echoed as the device rang. Trisxel answered on the other end. And for a brief moment Noah wanted to pretend not to speak Vishtian in another language or even better just to hang up but alas he managed to stay on the line long enough for Trisxel to speak.Bookmark here

“Foreign Species Activist Trisxel speaking. Noah?” He said professionally.Bookmark here

“Hey how’d you know it was me?!” Noah said frantically losing his ability to play dumb.Bookmark here

“Ah come on! Earth wasn’t prehistoric. Didn’t you have caller ID?” Trisxel said dropping his professional tone of voice he’d started with.Bookmark here

“Well yeah! Earth wasn’t that far behind Vishta you know? Hell TV was much better, ever heard of streaming services on this planet?! I mean there’s only so many late-night news broadcasts and bad alien soap operas a guy can handle!” Noah passionately ranted before being interrupted by Trisxel.Bookmark here

“Yeah, yeah kid. Anyways isn’t there something more important you’re calling about?”Bookmark here

“Er uh… yeah sorry. I was hoping to take you up on your offer.”Bookmark here

“Oh yeah!” Trisxel said with a twinkling smile as he sat back in an office chair. “You sure you aren’t scared? I mean I did read your file.” He then followed with.Bookmark here

“Ignoring that confession of grossly invading my privacy and choosing not to ask how you even got that file-”Bookmark here

“Easy, I stole it.” Trisxel bluntly said.Bookmark here

“And choosing to ignore that-”Bookmark here

“Well I actually had a colleague steal it but zellos zellas am I right?”Bookmark here

“You mean tomato tomahto?” A now frustrated Noah asked.Bookmark here

“Tomato, tomah-what?” Trisxel asked.Bookmark here

“Never mind that! What I was trying to say is I’m not afraid okay! Geez you piss me off, just message me the details and we’ll get this started right away alright!?” Noah said as he aggressively hung up, Trisxel laughing on the other line.Bookmark here

“Sure, you got it kid. Tomato tomahto.” Trisxel said as he sat back in his chair in his office looking out at the bustling city before him. A city rife with the winds of change he felt. One step at a time.Bookmark here

The following day Noah stopped into work. But he wasn’t there for another shift. He passed by his locker, not changing into his work clothes, and continuing to wear his casual attire. He walked past his empty station as it remained empty. He walked up the steps to his boss’s office. And has he stood there by the door to his office he took a deep breath and strengthened his resolve. Preparing for the fishy tongue lashing he was sure to receive as he then walked in without knocking.Bookmark here

“No-Noah!?” His boss said flustered as his chubby, slimy fish-like body soaking in a vat of water, with fish gills puckering on his gut. “What are you doing in here? I mean for the love of peace the sign says knock first right?” The boss said in his underwear as he rushed to throw on some clothes.Bookmark here

“Well maybe. It’s written in Filopod though.” Noah said as the boss froze in place.Bookmark here

“Oh yeah… I guess it is. Anyways why aren’t you in uniform?” He asked as he coughed from the sudden gust of dry air.Bookmark here

“I’m quitting. No notice. But I felt I should at least tell you.” Noah then said.Bookmark here

“What!?” Noah’s boss then said as he started to grow angry, just as Noah as Noah had expected. But in a twist of events the tongue lashing never came. The boss’s face softened, becoming almost sad in expression. This caught Noah off guard a little bit.Bookmark here

“W-wait Noah…” The boss asked rationally. “This isn’t because of me is it?”Bookmark here

“No sir. You’ve never asked more of me than that I do my job.” Noah said as his boss sighed a sigh of relief. “Good. You know sometimes the oxygen down there on the floor. And I guess it goes to my head and I get… well I get a little heated.”Bookmark here

“I know. Anyway sir, thank you for hiring me.”Bookmark here

“Well it was a government placement…” His boss admitted.Bookmark here

“Yeah at first, but you kept me. Well, I’ll see you later.” Noah then said as he started to exit his office.Bookmark here

“Please wait… one more time. For me?” He pleaded.Bookmark here

“Sir?”Bookmark here

“I don’t know why you’re leaving us so abruptly. But I gotta imagine it has something to do with your recent attitude. I understand that in many ways for all of us the… well the oxygen can go to our heads. I just want you to know that that’s okay. That’s okay and that… well if you’re ever looking for a job. My doors always unlocked… just please knock first.” The boss said with a chuckle. His pale fishlike eyes looking more human than ever.Bookmark here

“You’d still have after leaving like this?” Noah asked in surprise.Bookmark here

“Well sure. I bust tests sometimes, but the truth is… you’re a ¾ half the size of those most of those half wits out there but your work ethic still puts them to shame.” The boss said as he held out his elbow. “What do ya say?”Bookmark here

“It’d be an honor sir.” Noah said as he rubbed elbows with his now old boss.Bookmark here

“I wish you luck in whatever boy.”Bookmark here

And a that was that. Noah had left his job and walked out the door after clearing out his locker. Not having to deal with a tongue lashing from his boss. But perhaps a warm send off from a friend. Other coworkers he hadn’t spoken with much doing the same. And as he walked a new path opened up to him. Leaving that place behind.Bookmark here

After he’d left the boss threw on the rest of his clothes and looked out the window of his office. Down at the empty workstation, begging to be filled. He walked down to the floor. He kept walking as he made it to Noah’s old locker. But rather than remove the sticker with his name on it he instead decided to cover it up. In the hope that he’d one day see that human again. Only hoping that he could be a better boss for him when he returned.Bookmark here

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