Broken Promises

Tracking the Black Energem

As Chase skated away from Rerewai Place, Aurora and Kendall arrived outside. The two women, along with two children, sat outside the small shop. The outside was overrun with junk of all kind and the inside didn't look all that neat and tidy.

"You sure the energem is in there?" Aurora asked.

"That's where the signal was coming from," Kendall said. She couldn't understand how something so precious could end up in a place like this.

"Do you want me to come in with you?"

Kendall shook her head. It would be better if she did it herself, it was her responsibility to find the ten energems, and even though Aurora was now bonded to the crimson one, Kendall still knew more about them and their powers. Besides, Aurora had two children to contend with, Kendall didn't want to overpower her with responsibilities.

Getting out of the car, Kendall walked up the overloaded path and disappeared into the shop. Aurora could see her just through the small window. For a while she was stationary, probably talking to Wanda, before she moved out of the window's line of sight. Aurora sighed and tapped her fingers on the steering wheel.

"I'm hungry," Jenni said quietly from the back of the car.

Aurora glanced back at the two girls' and smiled. "I know. As soon as we finish here, we'll go get something to eat, OK? What do you feel like?"

"Pizza?" Chloe asked, eagerly.

"What do you say, Jenni?" Aurora asked. "Do you want pizza?"

"Yes, please," Jenni said, smiling.

Aurora smiled back and reached into the glove compartment for her cellphone. She sighed at the lock screen picture, having not changed it from the one of her and Philip in Zandar, and quickly unlocked it. She would change it later that evening. Scrolling her contacts, Aurora found her family's usual pizza place and hit call.

As the phone rang, Aurora glanced up at Wanda's shop. Kendall had yet to reappear. If she doesn't return in the next ten minutes, I'll go find her, Aurora thought returning her attention to the empty road ahead of her. It lead back into the main street of Auckland.

"Good afternoon, Hell's Pizza, can I take your order?"

"I'm placing an order to be picked up?" Aurora said.

"Sure, what would you like?"

Aurora glanced back at the two girls' in the back seat and said, "What pizza, guys?"

Jenni shrugged. In her previous home she usually ate whatever her parents had given her, and if she didn't like it then she went without. They rarely ever ordered out for food, and when they did it was rarely ever a pizza. As for Chloe, the situation was different, her family order pizza nearly every Friday evening; it was a traditional treat that she and Chase looked forward to every weekend.

"Envy," said Chloe. "Chase and I always have an envy pizza."

"One double envy," Aurora said, as Jenni looked away from Chloe and out of the window. She didn't know what to say and was starting to feel self-conscious. Aurora noticed her daughter's discomfort and sighed. "One double lust with extra Chorizo's and a child's 333 with ham and pineapple."

"It's usually one topping for the triple three, pineapple would cost extra."

"That's fine," said Aurora.

"OK. Anything else?"

"Two cheesecakes and a raspberry sorbet," Aurora said, alternating her checks between Jenni and Chloe, and the shop for any signs of Kendall. The museum owner was taking her sweet time in returning and Aurora was starting to worry that something had happened.

"That's $52.50."

"How long?"

"Fifteen minutes max?"

"That's great," Aurora said. "Thanks." She hung up and tossed the phone back into the glove compartment. "OK, guys, I have to go find Kendall," she said, glancing back at her sister and daughter. "I'm gonna lock the car so you're both safe, but I want you to promise that you won't move until I come back. Can you do that?"

Both Jenni and Chloe nodded. Aurora smiled and turned off the engine. She removed the keys from the car and got out of the driver's seat. The air was starting to grow cold and she had left her jacket at home.

The plan that morning had been simple: check the shipping on her car, pick Chloe up from school and spend the afternoon at the park before heading home. Aurora hadn't thought she would need a jacket and had left it at home.

"Kendall?" Aurora asked stepping into the shop. The place was a health and safety hazard. Racks upon racks of clothes, toys and ornaments lined all four walls, several windows were covered in curtains and boxed littered every space on the floor. Aurora drew her arms around herself as she walked further into the shop.

Kendall emerged from around the corner looking flustered. "What are you doing in here?" she asked.

"Looking for you," Aurora said. "It's been nearly 30 minutes, how long does it usually take to get one crystal?"

"She doesn't have it," Kendall said.

"What do you mean she doesn't? The signal said here, didn't it?"

Kendall nodded. "She did have a black energem, but she gave it away," she explained.

Aurora frowned and looked at Wanda. "Can you remember who you gave it too?" she asked.

"Some kid," Wanda said. "He saved my Tabitha and I rewarded him with the crystal." She reached out to pet an orange tabby cat on the front counter. Aurora hadn't realised the feline was real; in fact she thought it was just another ornament.

"Do you have a name?" Aurora asked.

"I think it's Chad or Chase, I can't be sure," Wanda said. She shrugged and looked to Kendall. "Was it important?"

Kendall sighed and pinched the bridge of her nose. "Something like that," she grumbled. She then shook her head and started to leave the store.

"Where are you going?" Aurora asked.

"I have to find the black energem," Kendall said. "If it's in the hands of some teenager... who knows what he's going to do with it. I need my laptop." She disappeared out into the night.

Aurora sighed and turned to Wanda. "Thanks," she said, leaving after Kendall. "If you want my help, I'll help," she said, catching up with the scientist. "But I have to pick up food for the girls' and drop them back off at home. You're welcome to join before you continuing the search."

"Um..." Kendall hesitated.

"I mean, you can't hunt energems on an empty stomach, can you?"

Kendall stared at Aurora from across the roof of the car. She should've guessed that the brunette would've locked the car, especially with two young children still inside. "Why are you doing this?" she asked.

"Doing what?"

"You don't even know me," Kendall said.

"I know you need help," Aurora said, "and that's what I do. I help people. Besides, a lot of people start off as nobodies and end up being good friends, and something tells me you haven't had a good friend in a long time." She opened the car and got back in.

Kendall lowered her gaze and then got back into the gate. She had never had many friends throughout school or college and all her life people, including her own parents, had said she had been married to her work, and Kendall had to agree with them. Her work meant everything to her, but being married to her work meant that she closed herself off to such things as friendships.

Once she had settled herself into the passenger's seat, Kendall reached for her laptop back at her feet and pulled out her PDA. It was linked to her computer, meaning that the same software she used on her laptop was ready to use on her PDA. She logged in using her username and password and instantly starting looking for the black energem signature. It was moving along a neighboring street in Auckland.

"The kid's probably heading home," Kendall said, her eyes never leaving the screen. "If we wait for the signal to stop moving, I can probably get the address from Google Maps."

"OK," Aurora said. "Listen, I meant what I said about joining us for food. I've ordered enough pizza for everyone, but I can call back and order you something different if you'd prefer."

"No, it's OK," Kendall said. "I like pizza."

"Who doesn't like pizza?" Chloe asked, leaning forward.

Aurora smiled and lightly pushed her sister back into her seat. Chloe landed back with a soft thump and turned her head to look out of the window. In the seat beside her, Jenni's eyes drooped sleepily in the silence.

"Not long now, sweet pea," Aurora said, reaching over and shaking her daughter awake. "Can you stay awake for pizza and then I'll put you to bed?"

"Bath?" Jenni asked.

"Not tonight," Aurora said. She usually bathed Jenni every night, but if the child was too tired to stay awake she would break the routine and pick it up again tomorrow.

Jenni nodded and yawned, resting her little ahead against the back seat.

Aurora withdrew and glanced at Kendall. "Has it stopped yet?" she asked.

"No," Kendall said. "It's still going."

"Well, I have to pick up food now, they said fifteen minutes," Aurora said. "You can keep checking the signal as we go, if it's still moving when we arrive at mine, we'll eat and then go and investigate."

"If it is still moving," said Kendall, "what are the chances that it's been tossed?"

Aurora shrugged. "It depends on where it's been tossed," she said. "I mean, if the kid's just left it laying around the streets it wouldn't be moving, would it? Unless of course he's passed it on to another kid. But we'll find it, Kendall," she added, reassuringly as she started the car. "Don't worry."

Kendall sighed and looked back at her PDA. Not worrying was easier said than done.


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