To Space!: Part Three
Deciding to think about anything else (deliberately not thinking about her impending trip to space), Brandi allowed her gaze to travel over the Endless Plains... not that she could see much. Snow was heavy on the ground and the sky was covered in thick dark clouds. The wind blew fiercely but Brandi was dressed warmly with a plush hat and thick wool coat and her hands never did get cold. Being there, on the plains, her mind thought about Adino, her best friend. He was a year older than her and was originally from the plains.
Brandi sighed. She had been best friends with the silver Lupe for years and that was all she knew about him. He knew everything about her. She had always understood that Adino was a taciturn individual. That didn't bother her.
The young Aisha had never thought about it before. Now, Brandi had come to the unsettling realization that all she knew of her best friend were things they had experienced together. They spoke only about memories they shared. Adino never volunteered information about himself. He did answer direct questions but Brandi had never pressed him for answers.
What would happen if Brandi did press Adino for answers? Would that ruin their friendship? She shuddered at the thought. No, she wouldn't threaten something so precious to her. She would let things remain as they were.
Brandi shook her head, once more changing track with her thoughts. Abacuc, her first best friend, hated the cold just as much as she did. However, the Nedler refused to stay in the carriage out of the weather. Brandi had him in her coat, his tentacles curled into tight spirals. If no one else could come to space with her, Brandi was glad that Abacuc could.
Once more, the Aisha's ever busy mind move to a new topic.
"I'd say this is close to Terror Mountain weather. Uncle Lofty and Aunt Sweet would love this," Brandi said, her words almost inaudible thanks to the wind.
The baby Yurble and jelly Shoyru had lived on the mountain for years. They had traveled Neopia but the mountain, with its snow and wind, would always be home to them. They were Brandi's favorite relatives. She saw them every few months or so, and they always had such fun! It reminded her of a snow Bori that lived on Terror Mountain.
The Bori was an amazing artist and could make anything out of snow. That wasn't all. If she happened to make a snow sculpture and attached her Abominable Snowball, the entire sculpture would come to life! Brandi never ceased of watching the Bori and looking at her work. Brandi wished she could be so talented.
Even if Brandi practiced with the snow she was currently surrounded by, she could never achieve what the snow Bori could. Brandi sighed. The time was passing by so slowly! So close and yet so far. The twelve year old clambered up the ghost Uni's side and flopped over his back, careful not to crush his folded wings or Abacuc.
That's when the orange Aisha saw her older sister standing in the snow, thin jacket open. The snow Gelert just stood there, hazel eyes closed, savage wind whipping her long brown hair into a frenzy. The twins had an inseparable bond, which Brandi understood and respected. What Brandi envied was Yekaterina's stillness. No matter how busy life got, Brandi could look at her oldest sibling and recharge on that stillness.
Brandi slid over the ghost Uni's back and landed in the deep snow. She walked over to her sister and stood beside her. It took Yekaterina only a moment to land her hazel gaze on her youngest sibling.
"How do you do it, Yekaterina?" Brandi asked.
Yekaterina smiled. "It is simple. You are fire and I am snow. It is the way we were born. We could never be each other, no matter how hard we try."
The sisters stood in silence for some time. Then, Brandi frowned.
"Everyone seems to be good at something, except me," Brandi said.
"Everyone has something they excel at, including you, Brandi. You excel at being you," Yekaterina said.
"I mean everyone has a talent. They have one passion or specialty that no one or very few can even come close to. I don't."
"Why would you want to have only one talent? That is the beauty of being you. You have so many interests and you know them all well. You can control fire, you can fly, you can speak like a pirate, track like a wild Lupe and, most important of all, you can befriend anyone! That, Brandi, is what I mean when I say you excel at being you."
Brandi took a few moments to mull over what her sister said. She thought of all the things she had done in her life. Then, she smiled. What her sister said was true! She could do all of those things.
"Now I'm going on a new adventure," Brandi said, blue eyes gleaming.
The orange Aisha felt energized but kept her heat low, knowing the proximity of her sister. She ran back to the ghost Uni and once more leaned against him. She passed the remaining time dreaming about what space would be like and what she would do when she was there.
"I'll make new friends and learn new things, that's what I'll do," Brandi said.
Abacuc reached a tentacle up to touch Brandi's chin. Then, she felt a light hand on her shoulder. She turned to see Yekaterina. The Gelert flicked her long ears. Brandi understood that it was finally time.
Brandi ran around the ghost Uni and walked beside Agneza. Her family walked behind them. A set of stairs went up to the entry of the shuttle. Brandi paused before climbing them. She turned to her family and hugged and kissed her parents.
"Do everything that Agneza tells you, Brandi," Father said.
"Enjoy yourself," Mother said.
"Yes, I'll do both," Brandi said in a reassuring tone.
Brandi knew that her parents must trust Agneza a lot, a non-family member, to take their youngest child to space. She also knew that her parents trusted and loved her quite a lot to let her go. It made her feel really good to know that. She turned to her siblings, hugging them both. Then, she took a deep breath and ran up the stairs into the shuttle after Agneza.
They took their seats, strapping themselves in. Brandi stifled a cry of disappointment. Agneza picked up on it anyway.
"I know. No windows. Not that there is much to see. You may as well get some sleep. It's going to be a long trip," Agneza said.
The lack of windows deflated Brandi's enthusiasm and she took Agneza's advice. She opened her coat to give Abacuc his freedom and promptly fell asleep. Always a heavy dreamer, she continued to think about everything she would do in space. Agneza sat watching the younger Aisha sleeping. When Brandi smiled in her sleep, Agneza knew that she had made the right decision.
A hand on Brandi's shoulder woke her. She blinked open her eyes and then jerked as she recalled where she was. The straps still held her securely. She quickly unbuckled them. Once more, she followed Agneza.
"Are you ready, Brandi?" Agneza asked, pausing before opening the door.
Brandi's hands were fisted in front of her and she nodded enthusiastically, "More than!"
The alien Aisha opened the door and stepped aside. Abacuc raced out first, giving a cry of delight. He landed on the gray dust of Kreludor, snuffling around eagerly. Brandi followed and immediately felt the difference. She gave an experimental bounce and felt weightless.
The orange Aisha picked up this new locomotion quickly and hopped like a Cybunny.
"Brandi, don't go too far," Agneza called.
Brandi came hopping back, "Wow! This is so amazing and so much fun!"
"Yes, I know."
Brandi stopped bouncing but she was beaming. Abacuc looked up at the two Aishas.
"Grab your bags. We'll drop our things off at the hotel. Then, if you're up to it, we'll explore," Agneza said.
Brandi picked up her bag and followed Agneza. She led the way to Hotel Kreludor. It was igloo-like in shape but made out of Kreludor rock with small craters (that were actually windows) here and there.
"It's an abandoned mine," Agneza explained as they stepped through the entrance.
"Whoa! A mine? Cool," Brandi exclaimed, looking around with wide eyes.
A glowing Grundo bellhop took their bags and led the way to their room unlocking the door for them. He smiled warmly at them.
"There you go. If there's anything you need, someone is always available at the front desk. Enjoy your stay," the bellhop said.
"Thank you," Agneza and Brandi said.
The Grundo clicked the door shut, after handing the key to Agneza. Brandi let out a cry of delight. She had already dumped her bag on one of the two Grundo Inspired Beds in the room.
"This room is completely orange," Brandi exclaimed, throwing her hands in the air and spinning around.
Agneza laughed, "Yes, it is. Each room in Hotel Kreludor has a Grundo color for its theme. I specifically requested the orange room. I'm glad you like it."
"While I like the room, we won't be spending much time in here, I hope."
"No, not really. Come on. I believe a meal is in order."
Brandi's stomach growled and the two Aishas laughed. Along with Abacuc, they trekked across Kreludor in leaps and bounds. They entered Café Kreludor and Brandi smiled at the orange Grundo chef.
"That's what I love about Kreludor. Orange is in," Brandi said, leaning against the counter.
"Orange is a great color. What may I serve you?" the orange Grundo said with a smile, waving one hand at the display case.
"We'll have three orders of Fruity Star Juice, Squeezable Tigersquash and Dropped Grilled Cheese," Agneza said.
"Coming right up."
It took only a moment for their order to be ready. They took their food to a nearby table. Abacuc dug into his meal immediately. Agneza too, began to eat with relish. Brandi, however, looked doubtful.
The Fruity Star Juice and Squeezable Tigersquash looked just fine. The Dropped Grilled Cheese, however...
"I thought only children, very young children, ate things off the floor," Brandi said with a grimace.
Agneza shook her head. "Resources here are very precious. Just because it fell on the floor doesn't make it inedible."
Brandi gulped and took a bite of her grilled cheese. The texture was definitely off but the strong cheese taste really helped. Brandi also took healthy swigs of her juice. The familiar taste of the Tigersquash was even more welcome. She sat back, waiting for Agneza to finish.
"Have you planned our entire trip or do we just play it by ear?" Brandi asked.
Agneza took the last sip of her juice. "Some things I do have planned. Everything else is open to negotiation. Is there anything in particular you wanted to do, Brandi?"
"There is so much I want to do! Just no particular order I want to do it in. Do you know what I mean?"
"Yes, I do know."
The Aishas rose to their feet and put the remains of their meal in the garbage. Then, they headed out. Agneza put a hand into the pouch on her belt. She looked at Brandi.
To be continued...