Chapter 4:

EPISODE 1: 00000100:FOUR

EVERSTREAM01.ribbon


  Quil stepped from the shadows into the lights that illuminated the perimeter of the junkyard.
  "Seriously?" Trisha snapped quietly in a hiss.
  Quil raised an eyebrow as he looked at his watch. "It's nineteen-"
  "Nineteen-o-six, Quil. Nineteen-o-six." Her hiss became sharper. "What time did I tell you to be here at?"
  Quil shook his head, ignoring Trisha as he moved closer to where she was working.
  Trisha pushed him away aggressively. "I told you to be here at nineteen hundred hours sharp," her eyes narrowed, "sharp," she repeated the word with emphasis.
  Quil shrugged as he prepared to walk away.
  "No, wait." Trisha barked as she stumbled to her feet, grabbing the waist of his jacket. "Don't leave, dickhead."
  Quil turned around; his hollow gaze stared blankly at Trisha.
  "Come on, Quil," she pouted. "I want your help with this."
  Quil raised an eyebrow. "Want?"
  "Need, whatever," she corrected herself with exasperation. "Just friggin' help me, wouldya?"
  Eyebrow still fully cocked, Quil looked over at the fence where Trisha's bag and tools rested on the ground.
  Trisha grimaced. "Just -" she paused to stroke her brow, "come sit down next to me."
  He shrugged as he moved towards Trisha workspace, "aye-aye."
  Trisha waited until Quil sat down before continuing. She tapped her watch a few times to bring up a diagram to help her navigate the dense intricacies of the fence.
  "Let me borrow your goggles," she reached to Quil's head attempting to rip them off him.
  "No. Why?" He and his cowlicks lowered to avoid her reaching hand.
  "I can't see anything on this tiny screen. Since I sacrificed my goggles at the expense of your curiosity, I think you should at least let me sync my watch to your goggles so I can see what I am doing."
  Quil's eyebrows narrowed as he pulled the goggles down over his eyes. "I don't want you to break them."
  Trisha reeled forward with one quick strike, ripping the goggles off Quil's face, draping his cowlicks over his face.
  "Look, dickhead, I didn't just grab my goggles and start smashing them against a brick." She snapped the goggles on her head before pressing a few buttons on the side to sync them to her watch. "It was a casualty of a very short, but very violent battle between my mother and I. Casualties will happen in battle. It's just the way the universe works. It doesn't mean I was negligent."
  Quil's eyes were flat as he blew his hair out of his face. "Fine."
  Trisha shook her head as she tapped her watch a few times to get a closer look at the diagram she had of the fence. She stared closer, narrowing her gaze to concentrate harder on what she was reading. With an unsure hand, she moved her cutters closer to the fence and began to slowly squeeze, as the pressure of her hand against the grips of the cutter made her skin bleed with uncertainty.
  She shook her head, sighing, pulling the cutters away from the fence before making any decision she might regret. She reviewed the diagram, shaking her head slowly as she continued to look over it again, and again, her eyes as narrow as she could make them - perhaps beyond helping her concentrate now - only conveyed her frustration mixed with that heavy uncertainty of what she was attempting to do.
  "No," she put a finger to her chin. "That one is linked to the alarm." She paused looking over the diagram again, and again, and again, leaning in closer, and closer, and closer, "I think."
  She moved her unsure hands that still bled the same uncertainty towards a different link in the fence, squeezing a little tighter on the grips of the cutters. This time she actually made the blade of the cutter dig a little into the link of the fence, but still, the overwhelming feeling rushed back into her, making her hand ease off and back away so that she could look at the diagram yet again.
  "Dammit," she hissed under her breath as she reviewed the information on her watch more and more. Still she could not find any information to give her the resolve to commit to any cut.
  She shook her head. There wasn't much hope in finding any sort of certainty in the diagram. The best she could do was to take a wild guess at which link she could cut and hope it doesn't set off any alarms.
  She closed her eyes as she moved her still-very-uncertain hands to a link in the fence. Which link? She didn't know. She just hoped that luck was in her favor as she pressed the blades of the cutters tight against the link before finally deciding to cut it with one quick, solid "clip".
  She sat tight with her eyes closed even tighter as she waited for something to happen, flinching at the mere thought of a forte of sirens beginning to swell, knowing it was the end of her adventure for the night. But nothing came.
  "What are you doing?" Quil spoke flatly.
  "Waiting for the sirens," she spoke as she kept her eyes closed tight.
  Quil leaned down, managing to squeeze one finger (quite painfully) through the fresh cut in the fence.
  Trisha opened her eyes to see Quil looking directly at her from the opposite side of the barrier between them. There was a brief moment for her to process that Quil had made it to the other side. She glanced back to where she last saw Quil. Then, her eyes darted back to where Quil stood now.
  "How did you -" her bewilderment was cut short by a single finger that Quil jabbed in a direction just right of Trisha.
  A tree hung draped over the fence - it was a bit precarious of an option for hopping the fence, but for those daring enough, it most certainly was a viable option.
  "Oh," Trisha's eyes went flat as she grabbed her stuff to move towards the tree.
  Quil walked alongside her from the opposing side of the barrier.
  She stopped in front of the tree to admire it - or, more realistically speaking, she took a moment to find her plan of action, running over the most effective way for her to climb this bridge that would bring her to the other side.
  She clutched her bag, realizing it would just get in the way of her attempt to climb the tree. She turned to Quil as she hurled the bag up into the air, "Catch."
  "I'm not going to catch that." Quil remarked flatly, his point being punctuated by the bag landing in front of his feet with a solid "flump".
  "Thanks, dickhead," she muttered under her breath as she began to mount the tree. She lifted herself a few branches at a time until she was high enough to shimmy across the one precarious branch that reached over the fence.
  Trisha smiled cunningly to herself as she looked down on her pray below her. "Catch," she shouted before leaping off of the branch. Just in time to see her descent towards Quil, but not with enough time to stop her collision. Her great fall knocked him to the ground, complete with dust cloud.
  "Just know," Trisha looked down at her Quil-cushioned seat, "if 'I wonder if I deserved that' is the thought going through your head right now, let me assure you; yes you did."
  "Great," Quil wheezed under her weight, "can you get off me now?"
  "Mhm," she leapt with a smile from her Quil-chair, turning around to extend a hand to aid her friend. "Here."
  He looked warily at her hand. "Unsurprisingly, I don't trust you."
  "Oh c'mon, what reason do you have to not trust me? Just take my stupid hand."
  Quil shook his head as he took her hand.
  She lifted him up about a quarter of the way before she let her vengeful nature take advantage of the moment, letting go of his hand to let him fall back to the ground complete with a second dust cloud.
  Quil managed a wince of pain though his aggravation. He pulled himself up from the ground, "And I deserved that, too?"
  "Hmm?" Trisha looked away, "What? No." She smiled to herself.
  Quil's eyes fell flat.
  "Grab the bag," Trisha commanded as she began leading the way.
  He sighed as he leaned down to grab the partially unzipped bag, unzipped just enough that he saw what looked like an uncooked piece of meat among other strange things packed in the bag.
  "Why?" Quil pulled out the uncooked piece of meat.
  "It's always wise to be prepared for anything when you illegally break into a junkyard." Her eyes lit up. "I also packed a spoon, a screw driver, obviously the cutters and some electrical gloves, I was assuming the fence might have been charged, still, it's better to have them than to need them, right?"
  Quil shook his head, not entirely convinced.
  Trisha began making her way into the body of junk, staying a few paces ahead of Quil as she confidently lead him onward. "You should see those gloves! They're huge!"
  His cowlicks sank as he shook his head. "Where is this shuttle?" Quil asked, looking around the junkyard at the various piles of scrap that formed a rather impressively neat grid, each block separated by a road - presumably for various vehicles to pass through to move the scrap.
  "No clue," she responded staccato.
  Quil rolled his eyes.
  Keeping her pace, she turned to look at Quil as she continued to lead, "It's not like they would just give exact locations of the ship online. The websites I looked at just said they had it; it didn't say where or how they were storing it," she turned back around to continue leading forward. "I assume they are probably storing it in some hangar or something," she shrugged, "It's not like this is a big place, we'll probably find it pretty quick."
  Quil jabbed a finger ahead of them towards a towering silhouette that rose above the blocks of junk.
  "Yeah," Trisha raised her eyebrows, "that would probably be a good starting place." She picked up her pace, moving further ahead of Quil, "Come on."
  Quil picked up his pace for only moments until they reached the end of the block where the junk grid intersected.
  Both Trisha and Quil froze as they looked at the pointed ears perked at attention. The glistening eyes that beamed the reflections of light back at Quil and Trisha. A fierce looking creature that rested further down the intersecting path they were on.
  Trisha gripped Quil by the collar, "Go, stupid!"
  Quil choked as he was ripped from his standstill to Trisha's haste as one vicious bark began to break the silent junkyard, inviting more barks to chant around Trisha and Quil.
  "They already saw us." She snipped under her heavy breaths, "Standing there is just inviting them to eat you."
  Quil broke from Trisha's grip, allowing him to catch his own pace.
  The building they had saw moments ago closed in quickly, allowing them to make out the detail of the thin metal walls that dripped with rust stains and lined with an industrial looking frame to support it. Only a few more meters and they could be safe, but two legs can't compete with the four that was closing in on them as the sound of more and more trampling paws could be heard behind them.
  "The meat, Quil!" Trisha shouted "Throw the meat!"
  Quil nodded as he slowed his pace a little so that he could dig around the bag, pulling out the meat and throwing it towards the small pack of dogs that were gaining on them.
  The meat landed near the dogs with a nice satisfying squish, getting the dogs attention and making them quickly tackle the meat.
  Hope was that more time had been bought for them to get inside the building, but hope eluded Quil as he turned to catch up with Trisha, only to see another dog stand in the way of the building.
  He quickly shuffled through the bag as those trampling paws became louder and louder, encroaching on him with vicious snarls and growls.
  He could only think of one way of protecting himself. He shoved his hands into the thick electrical gloves just in time to block the leaping dog that latched its teeth into the thick rubber glove, giving Quil enough time to pull his hand out of the glove, rolling around the junkyard dog and making his way to the building. But, out of the fray, he was not as the barking continued and the sound of those trampling paws swelled.
  He had arrived on the far side of the building, away from any entry into the building, leaving him with one narrow path that lead around the building, and one glove left to protect him.
  Trisha was only a few meters ahead of him, heading around the right side of the building. Quil did not hesitate any more than he needed to as he followed the hangar wall towards Trisha, moving as quickly as he could over the scrap and junk that had rolled off the nearest junk block down onto the narrow path. He could hear the dogs closing in quicker and quicker.
  "C'mon-c'mon-c'mon!" Trisha waved her hands from behind the huge door to the hangar, encouraging Quil to pick up his pace as the rumble of the ferocious paws behind him became louder, louder, and louder.
  Quil stumbled as Trisha cried out his name out of fear as she watched the dog leap towards him.
  He grabbed onto the door about to pull himself in when he turned to see the dog leap towards him. Out of instinct, he lifted his hand with the glove to shield himself from the bite of the beast. The fangs sank deep into the gloves, puncturing the thick rubber padding causing Quil to cry out in pain.
  He gripped the door to pull his weight into the safety of the hangar. The teeth of the dog had gripped through his jacket and glove, as the sleeve of his clothing tried to leave with the glove with Quil's struggle.
  With the aid of Trisha, he managed to slide the glove off, leaving it with the dog along with a thin splatter of blood drawing a line to the short escape they had made, punctuated by the slam of the door to the building.
  The barking could still be heard from outside. While they may have escaped from the immediate threat, the excitement still loomed around the metal building accented by howls and barks of the vicious guards of the junkyard.
  Trisha leaned back against the door as she did her best to catch her breath through deep, audible gasps.
  Quil flopped to the ground as he held his bloodied sleeve that had been stretched under the stress of the encounter to obscure the wound.
  "I'm sorry." Trisha spoke in a heavy, breathy whisper, "this was a stupid idea."
  Quil remained silent, his cowlicks falling to the side of his head.
  Trisha leaned down to Quil, only noticing his one hand and the bloodied sleeve where his other hand should be. She shook her head as one thin gasp escaped her mouth before falling into a silent shock. She reached towards the sleeve with nervous hands. "I'm sorry," she squeaked out, "I'm so sorry," another barely audible whisper as a single tear rolled down the side of her cheek, "this was stupid," she repeated as she grabbed the bloodied sleeve and pulled it close to her.
  She leaned forward to hug Quil, making the cloth of his hoodie pull back, lifting the sleeve she had pulled close to herself.
  The hug was cut short when the handless arm she held near her chest suddenly felt like a hand was touching her breast.
  "Ass," In one great forte - accented by the choir of dogs that remained vigilant outside of the hangar - she slapped Quil across the face, knocking him to the ground.
  Quil's eyes went sharp as he recovered from the collision, "you're the one who pulled my hand near your chest."
  She backed away a little. "Sorry, it's just become a habit."
  Quil pulled himself back up, his eyes flat. "I'm not even going to ask."
  She shook her head, taking cautious steps back towards Quil. "Still," she grabbed Quil's bloodied hand, "these wounds look pretty serious."
  "Its fine," he pushed Trisha's hands off of his. "You're just making it hurt more by holding my hand."
  She sat down. "You're going to lose your hand one day if you're not careful."
  "Unless you know a way to leave, there isn't much we can do about it right now," he spoke flatly as he checked over his wounded hand. "Just do what we came here to do," he ripped his goggles off of Trisha's head.
   "Yeah, yeah." Trisha lifted herself to her feet, grabbing a scrap rod of metal - complete with flaking rust. "At least this place was the right place," she said as she moved towards the center of the large (mostly empty) building where the shuttle rested.
  Once Trisha had moved around the far side of the ship, Quil, grabbing the bag, took it as his turn to move towards the ship, scanning the small vessel. Small enough to fit in the hangar, but large enough to hold some cargo, sensors and utilities for exploration and graphing, and possibly a four-person crew.
  From the looks of the design, it was a sponsored Federation ship, though, for it to be retired at a Lotus junkyard it most likely was independent research.
  Quil came around the side of the ship where the hatch door was. Ignoring Trisha as she struggled to pry some of the plating off the side of the ship with her rusty rod, he reached for the door, curious about what could be inside of the ship.
  BAM
- the door to the ship crashed to the ground making Trisha jump and sounding the junkyard dog alarm, still eagerly awaiting their captives outside of the hangar.
  Trisha swiftly turned around to look at Quil - slightly shaken from the scare she just had. "Quil!" She spoke sharply. "We need one," she jabbed a single finger up in the air speaking even sharper, "one thermal plate, not a whole door."
  Quil ignored her as he stepped inside of the shuttle - the space inside still clean aside from a few speckles of dust that rested here or there.
  Trisha stepped slowly in behind Quil, her eyes danced with amazement. "I wonder how recent this ship was retired. I had assumed it had been rotting in some bay somewhere for a long time before being shipped to the junkyard."
  Quil swept a finger across the console to inspect how thick the layer of dust was. It was hard to determine the length of time, but it at least had a pretty convincing layer denoting at least several months time.
  "What do you think?" Trisha came up closer behind him.
  His eyes shifted away from the dusty console as he wiped the dust from his finger. "The ship was closed tight, not a lot of dust could have entered. But the door was loose, maybe that allowed more in. Maybe the shipping crew that brought it here could have cleaned it, or possibly stirred some of the dust."
  Quil turned to look at Trisha, "Time isn't important, though. Do what we came here to do," he spoke his demand flatly as he turned to look further in the ship.
  Trisha simply shook her head in a sigh. No other words she felt necessary to say to him. Not that she didn't have any words to say - she had plenty of words. She just didn't feel like trying to say them. He was obviously lost in the ship, his fascination taking the better of him, pushing aside whatever remaining social skills he had left in favor of his curiosity.
  Quil pulled his goggles down over his head, tapping his watch to turn on the illumination so he could see inside of the darkened ship as he moved deeper inside of it. He pulled at a door just behind the cockpit - though it seemed pretty resistant to his prodding, eventually it did budge allowing him into the rear of the ship.
  It was small and seemed even smaller as the shadows enveloped the crevices that his goggles couldn't illuminate. There was room for a few beds that folded into the wall as well as a door leading to a small bathroom. The rear half of the room seemed to have been entirely dedicated to a pile of junk. It was hard to say if that was part of a previous mission or perhaps whatever team moved this ship to the junkyard also used the space for excess rubbish.
  Of course, curiosity had not left Quil as he stepped closer towards the pile of junk. Each step making the individual pieces of the pile more discernible from the rest. In truth, once he could discern a single piece, it became clear that single piece was what the entire pile was made out of - a pile of small cubes, intricately engraved.
  He kneeled down to inspect the small cuboids. Each one just a bit smaller than his palm, but pressed with such fine engravings that no hand could ever achieve the detail without years and years of practice and hours upon hours of time toiling over the engraving process for just a single cube, and yet; there were hundreds, possibly thousands of them.
  One side of the cube offset the perfect cube shape and the intricate engraving with a smooth dome. It felt like it gave in a little to Quil's touch, as if it was possibly a button. So, why not? He decided to squeeze the cube, depressing the dome despite the resistance of stubbornly lodged sediment. The mechanics of the cube split it into four separate parts as Quil depressed the dome further it released a dense red paste with a mild glow that made it only slightly more visible in the dark of the ship.
  Quil crinkled his nose in disgust as the viscous fluid oozed out of the cube, drooling off the button, down Quil's hand and eventually a gooey plop onto the dusty floor of the ship.
  Quil whipped his hand in the air to try to get the remaining paste off his hand, but as the air his hand moved brushed past his face, curiosity struck further - his hand stopping mid swing.
  He pulled his hand close to his face to sniff the trail left behind by the red goo. Something about its smell reminded him of that undercroft - the Sanction, as Trisha called it. A smell that seemed packed with those dense metal halls, metal pipes, and that solemn, heavy, cold air, and – oddly – oranges. All of that was packed into the smell of the trail left behind by that paste.
  Quil tossed the now-empty cube behind him, releasing the dome, making the four separate parts become one again.
  While he was uncertain of the cubes or the goo inside, the peculiarity of it struck his interest further as he shuffled through the pile of cubes, pulling a few more out just to depress the dome and watch the ooze drip out. On a couple cubes he depressed slowly to see if he could watch the mechanics of the cube work, on another occasion he depressed it quickly to see if he could jam the mechanics of the cube or maybe make the ooze fly out of the cube. Some cubes' mechanisms were locked with thick oxidized sediments that welded the mechanics of the cube shut. Others felt like they were well oiled. All very simple observations that eluded little information, but even a small amount is better than no information.
  Quil's compulsive desire to inspect the cubes was interrupted when he heard a loud metallic clang from outside followed by Trisha cursing. "There. Stupid-" she cursed, followed by another, even louder metallic clang from tossing her metal bar on the ground in celebration of the removal of that desired artifact they had come here for.
  Quil swept his arm across the pile, dumping a handful of the cubes into the bag to take home with him.
  Just as he was about to step out of the shuttle to check on Trisha, she popped her head into the ship, "Come on, dickhead. I got the thermal plate, let's get out of here."
  Quil raised an eyebrow, curious about her eagerness to leave.
  "Well, your majesty," her voice cut sharp through the hollow chambers of the shuttle, "if you would step out of your throne room to take a look I can show you my plan to get us out of here."
  Quil pushed Trisha aside, stepping out and looking around the hangar for her miracle plan of escape.
  Trisha walked over to where she had tossed her metal prying bar, picking it back up. "Right this way, your highness," she sharply gestured as they walked around the rear side of the shuttle where she stopped next to a small junkyard service vehicle.
  Quil's gaze remained flat and vacant. He mocked Trisha by pressing the pedal of the vehicle where it did all but roar to life - remaining quiet and uncaring to Quil's presence.
  Trisha rolled her eyes, pushing Quil out of her way before taking one vicious swing at the front of the vehicle with her metal prying bar that now granted life to the junkyard vehicle. The only fanfare came from the ringing metal rod and the lights of the vehicle coming on. Quil remained silent, rolling his eyes with a shrug.
  "Don't give me that look." Trisha snapped. "I found a way out. Who cares how? At least I did something," emphasis on 'something', "unlike you."
  Quil grimaced, shrugging as he moved towards the vehicle.
  Trisha tossed her new friend, the prying bar, to the side, letting it ring and clang as it slid across the empty, dusty floor of the hangar. She clapped her hands together to remove the rust and other pieces of crud that clung to her hands from all of her rummaging and prying before mounting the vehicle.
  She gently steered the vehicle from around the backside of the shuttle towards the door they had entered from. There, she aligned the vehicle, taking aim at her target; the giant hangar door.
  "You probably want to hope for the best and hang on tight," she smiled. "I think the battery needs to be charged in this thing. And speaking of battery-" she laughed to herself as she jammed her foot all the way down on the pedal, launching the vehicle towards the door.
  Quil's eyes wide, his cowlicks standing on edge as he gripped the vehicle tight and ducked just before slamming headlong into the hangar door with a massively loud "BANG" followed shortly after by a more glorious celebration of the door's freedom from its hinges. The door fell free, collapsing to the ground, alerting the choir of dogs to join in the boisterous excitement, sprinting to parade with the lead vehicle of the party.
  As Quil recovered from the initial burst of excitement, he raised his head as his ears perked up to take in the departing party that sank behind them as they moved swiftly towards the barrier of the junkyard.
  Trisha gave her departure audience one final bit of celebration with a final ram through the barrier, knocking a chunk of the fence down and finally parking the vehicle. They wasted no time to depart the sirens and chorus of dogs and embark on their bikes.Bookmark here

   Trisha tapped her foot impatiently. "Come on, Quil." She moved her gaze from the vacant abyss of the night that hung over the gentle flow of the river below their 'usual spot'. A small quiet bridge in a suburb away from the dense city.
  "How can you be this late when we left the junkyard at the same time?" She lowered her arm to move her gaze back to that nighttime abyss. She shook her head, trying to resist the flow of all of those aggravating thoughts; like how she was the one who found the shuttle, planned the infiltration, made the apprehension, and finally managed the extraction from ground zero of her plan of operation. Yet Quil did nothing, and now the only reason she could manage to think of as to why he was absent at their rendezvous point was that he decided to bail, leaving her to wait until the crack of bloom over these cold waters that flowed below the bridge.
  Trisha sighed, her impatient foot resting as her muscles released her remaining hope for Quil to return. She checked up the street and down the street to see if maybe, just maybe, he might be pedaling up the road. When did she lose him, anyways? She had left the junkyard with him, and then – and then what? She paused to think.
  Between the adrenaline of their grand departure and the symphony of noise that swelled behind their escape, it really seemed difficult to remember what followed after. In fact, come to think of it, Trisha was finding it hard to remember just exactly how she got to the bridge. Everything had moved so quickly it seemed like one minute she had been making a daring escape and then next she was just there on the bridge, waiting.
  She retraced her steps to try to fill in the blanks that filled her mind; looking to her left to verify to herself she hadn't imagined where she had parked her bike. Sure enough, there it rested against the railing of the bridge. So what came before that? Well, she could remember riding up from the intersection just before the bridge where she dismounted her bike and walked it to the bridge where she rested it against the railing. And before that? What came before that? Obviously she had to of ridden up the road before making the turn onto the intersection where she would walk the bike to the bridge where she rested it against the railing, and yet she couldn't actually recall that portion of her ride.
  "Here." Quil's soft, melancholy voice snapped Trisha out of her moment of recollection. "Tart, like always." He handed her the black, canned drink.
  Trisha grabbed it from his hand, looking at the glistening condensation from the lamps of the bridge, noticing hints of red on one side of the can. "You're still bleeding," she said, as she lowered the can from her face to take a closer look at Quil's hand.
  "Good to see the bleeding has slowed," she said with a grimace as she turned Quil's hand around in her own, following the dried stream of blood that wrapped around his hand, "but it still is bleeding. It must be pretty deep," she shook her head, pulling a ribbon for her hair from her bag.
  His cowlicks lowered as he grimaced before the pain of the tightening of the ribbon-tourniquet set in, making him wince in pain.
  "You need to take care of this," she assured Quil in a cooing voice as she looked over his hand again to make sure she tied the ribbon correctly.
  Quil nodded, mostly just to reassure Trisha he was listening, as he turned to look over the flow of water and up towards the city that hung above them from the petals far above their heads. Between each petal there was a break where he could just barely make out a few twinkling stars - but with all of the city light, only the brightest stars could shine through the breaks between petals.
  He cracked open his can of soda while keeping his gaze fixed on the stars, taking a sip of his drink. Oddly enough, he didn't taste anything. He was too focused on what it would be like to be out there and when he might be out there. How would he get there? What would it be like out there? Where would he go? Whom would he meet? What if the pudding cups out there are stomp-proofed with reinforced plastic cups?
  Trisha couldn't help but stand by, watching Quil's gaze make him so distant. She shook her head, knowing what he was thinking about. He was so lost in his thoughts; it made him so far away from her he was probably already in space.
  She cracked her drink open while keeping her eyes fixed on Quil, taking a sip of the drink and - "pfffffft" She spit an explosion of sticky drink particles over the bridge. "Blegh, gross!" She turned the can around in her hand, noticing it was the sweet flavor. She looked at Quil's drink, pushing his thumb out of the way - snapping him out of his deep thought.
  "They really need a better design for their cans," seeing that single line of text that separated his can from hers. Quil's being that delicious, yummy tart flavor. She swapped the cans around. His only response to the whole situation was to take a sip of the replaced flavor-can to make sure Trisha was correct (and she was), then he turned back to his thoughts.
  With his eyes still on the stars, he took a heavy breath, catching Trisha's attention. "I don't want to go out there," he pointed up towards the lights above.
  "To the other petals?" Trisha tilter her head, teasing him with a smile.
  "No," his eyebrows went sharp for a second before returning relaxed, "the stars. I don't want to go there."
  Trisha scratched the back of her head. "That seems like a rather contradictory statement to the message you are broadcasting from our rocket."
  "It's the idea of a break in the mundane. This routine is a disease. Every day feels more and more difficult for me to continue this same boring existence here on the Lotus. I'm tired of it. I'm," a brief pause with a heavy exhale, "bored of it."
  "Routine is the saltine cracker of life." Trisha sipped her tart drink as she leaned over the railing of their bridge.
  Quil took a sip of his drink, moving his gaze down from the stars and city above to the river as he lowered his drink from his lips, lowered his eyebrows, and lowered his cowlicks as he watched the ripple of dancing lights flicker over the water. Only a faint whisper of the trickling stream could be heard between the two on the bridge.
  Trisha kept her eyes focused on him, shifting closer to him. "I said it before and I'll say it again," she spoke soft through her breath, "boredom is probably one of life's epidemics that you should be happy to have."
  Quil shook his head as he lowered his chin onto the rail, his cowlicks sinking even lower.
  "You know, you should look around. You'd be surprised at how much variety there is," she leaned in nudging him a little.
  Keeping his head on the rails of the bridge, he looked up at Trisha with one cocked eyebrow as she took a hearty sip from her drink before crushing the can with her hand.
  Quil picked his head up for a minute so that he could reach into his bag to pull out another drink (making sure to double check the label this time) to hand to Trisha. "And you should drink less," he stated before continuing to enable her addiction.
  "It was a rough night," she smiled weakly. "Having a little extra sugar and caffeine before bed is worth taking the edge off."
  Quil lowered his chin back to the railing. "You won't get drunk from soda," he spoke, his voice muffled by the arms he rested his head on.
  "Shh," she hissed, nudging him again. "It's the comfort of a favorite taste that takes the edge off."
  Quil rolled his eyes as he lifted his head to turn away and take a sip of his own drink.
  Trisha held a hand up to reach towards that small crack between petals that let the stars shine through. When she closed one eye, it almost seemed to make that crack seem to be within arm's reach. She laughed a little to herself. "You know what is funny?" She kept her focus on her hand as her fingers nearly wrapped around the seam between the petals.
  Quil rolled his head on his arms, one cowlick perked up, as he looked at Trisha - keeping his head resting on the rail, of course.
  "There's a part of me that actually hopes that the one-in-a-bajillion chance that our little broadcasted messages reaches someone, and, just maybe we can," emphasis on 'can', "live these dreams we have."
  The other cowlick perked up alongside his cocked eyebrow.
  "Yeah, yeah," she lowered her reaching arm so that she could cover her face. "I guess part of me does look up to your ambition."
  Quil lowered his head even lower into his arms to hide more of his face.
  Trisha gave a big smile, lowering herself next to Quil. "Don't stop dreaming."Bookmark here

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