CHAPTER SIX

part I

Mars. City of Aeris. 2188. 308.03.15.

“So, yeah,” Roe shrugged, her cheeks full, leaning against Ilona’s bun cart, “She’s talking to her--people--now, and then it’s... to the Temple.”

No,” Ilona stared at her dumbstruck while simultaneously handing a customer a box of buns.

“Yep,” Roe said off her look. “But that was pretty much my reaction too.”

“Wow,” Ilona exclaimed through the bustle of the packed street behind them before quickly shaking her head as if to brush off the shock. “I was a little confused when you came and picked up the hauler and didn’t say anything after you’d run after those guys, but all that... wow.”

“Yeah,” Roe sighed staring at the mangled bun in her hand before diving back in for another bite.

“So I guess you’re it then, huh?”

Her mouth full, Roe raised her eyebrows unsure of what she was referring to.

“The chosen person--the prophecy one--you know, that you said she was going on about,” Ilona shrugged while unconsciously folding and tossing buns into the billowing steamer.

No,” Roe quickly scoffed, wiping her mouth, “There’s...” She trailed off and scoffed, “I’m just gonna go so they can see that they’re wrong and stop bothering me.”

Ilona raised an eyebrow, “That’s your plan?”

Roe gave a single, confident nod in return, “That’s my plan.”

“If you think--”

“Shhhh!” Roe suddenly bolted upright, spotting W0RM gliding over the bustling stream of people up the block, “She’s coming. Don’t tell her I told you.”

“Okay--”

“--And don’t tell anyone.”

Ilona raised her hands to calm her, “I promise.”

Roe cleared her throat and tried to look as nonchalant as possible to awkward effect. She quickly leaned towards Ilona and spoke in hushed tones out of the side of her mouth, “‘Cause she may or may not wipe your mind…”

What--

“--Hey!” Roe cut in over Ilona’s panicked rebuttal, grinning oddly, as Ari joined them, W0RM having just landed on her shoulder.

“Hi...” Ari replied, concerned at Roe’s uncharacteristic grin, “Are… you okay?”

“Oh yeah, just--”

“--Too many buns,” Ilona interjected rolling her eyes and subtly winking to Roe.

“Yeah,” Roe said, straining her smile, “Just fighting off a bit of a stomach ache.”

“Oh,” Ari frowned, “I’m sorry.”

“It happens more often than you’d think,” Ilona winked to Ari, as she handed her a fresh bun out of the steamer.

With a greedy grin, Ari tucked in. “Seriously, Ilona,” she mumbled through a mouthful, “These are literally the best steamed buns I’ve ever had. Just amazing.”

Ilona smiled, “Thank you, Ari,” then looked to Roe, “I knew I liked her.”

Roe nodded, stifling a groan.

“Seems like he’s taken a liking to you,” Ilona motioned to the chirping W0RM on Ari’s shoulder.

Ari happily nodded, “Yeah, he’s a real sweetheart.” But her expression shifted, “And a great lookout.” She looked to Roe. “I just talked to--the Church, and there’s been a change of plans.”


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