Lightning illuminated the skies with flashes of intense radioactivity. The strength of the storm was dwindling, but still, it was beautiful. Zen’s frame shook with annoyance as she searched the fog for the elusive ship, not knowing whether it was coming by water or air. The negotiations that were being held tonight were far too important for errors on their part.
Groaning, she faced her twin brother. The Amargarita–Arrio family trait of curly mahogany and dark brown eyes wasn’t lost on them. Just as equally lithe, with hair tightly clipped to his neck, Isaias was a near copy of her. Zen wasn’t tiny but she wasn’t her brother either. Except he’s far taller than me. He’s half a head taller than the wooden post! The damn thing almost dwarfs me!
They stood under the only covering from the storm, a little shelter about a few meters from the harbor itself. It was dilapidated and rotting. Drops of rain dripped from the hole in the rooftop, and onto her head. It leaked to mix with the nervous sweat that had accumulated on her forehead and was slowly trickling down Zen’s neck.
She wiped her forehead. “If we get caught after curfew it’s the converter for a whole day.”
“Aw lighten up sis! We won’t get caught. This is an easy diplomacy mission. You’ve done these before,” replied Isaias smiling.
Her dark eyes seemed to pierce through the dark. “You better hope mama is too busy working still,” she groused, patting her head with a trembling finger.
“She should be,” said Isaias, flicking the scope of his rented gun.
Dark shadows hung their fingers over the foggy landscape. “Is it a spaceship or a sail’s craft? Give me that at least,” she said.
“A sailing craft I think,” he said.
She turned to him, arms crossed. “You think?”
“This would’ve been a lot easier with a picture Isaias! It feels like I’m looking for a ghost.”
Isaias scoffed. “Uncle said it was a weird boat ... you couldn’t mistake it for anyone else’s.” He lowered his gun scope and faced her. Say, for whatever reason, this guy never shows up. What then?”
Zen’glared back at him. “Then we leave, and you put in your resignation order to Uncle anyway, Isaias.”
“But…we need the cash I bring in,” he said shoulders drooping.
Zen rounded on him. “ How do you think mama is going to feel, when she finds out, her son is a gang member? Or that her daughter is helping in another possible drug scam? Especially when she has tried giving us a better life?”
“We need the money, Zen,” he argued lifting the gun scope to his eyesight.
Sighing, Zen raised her hand to her forehead, straining her vision for the boat. “I know that but we need a clean way to get it, Isa. This fog is impenetrable tonight. You should’ve brought the storm glasses uncle offered you at the boathouse.” As if to answer her, the booming of the storm got louder still.
Isaias looked through the special scope. “No need. These babies can look on for miles!”
Zen gritted her teeth and nudged her brother. “For me, pretty boy! I can’t see a thing in this fog!”
Isaias nudged back. “I am not a pretty boy, and you ’re doing just fine without ’em!”
Through the fog, something moved, and then she saw It.
As it got closer she blinked in shock. It was the strangest thing she’d ever seen. With a swan-like structure, the top and bottom were connected by the same slab of plastic that held the windows. A rectangular slab of glass hung partway showing on the left side of the ship. Six long rectangular windows were seen on the other side. On the bottom, there was a big globe that showed various computronics steering the ship. The sailing craft careened their way.
Isaias snorted. “U.G.L.Y. Ugly!”
Zen chuckled. “You think they have enough glass?”
“I don’t think they have enough taste in style, period!” said Isaias.
Zen nudged her brother and began straightening his brown blazer. “Remember, no theatrics Isaias I can handle this.”
“If he makes one wrong move hermanita…”
“I can fight him off! I brought my knives. We can’t risk this deal, Isa.”
“He would’ve seen me coming already, besides the muddy footprints beside you give me away.”
“Fine! Stay but no theatrics!”
Zen poked her hand out of the shelter. At least it stopped raining.
Her silk gown was a stunning blue found only on the tails of the now-extinct bird, the peacock. It whispered through her fingers, as she fixed the lapels of the jacket forcing herself to relax, as the boat neared the harbor. Marie Elena had given her the dress since everything she owned was as brown as her hair. The elite class was allowed bright colors and right now she was playing the part of an elitist diplomat. The engine quit and two glass doors opened from the back. She wiped some more sweat and stepped out of the shelter.
A gangly man dressed in a blood-red pinstripe suit and holding a golden cane came strolling down the boardwalk. He had an apple-shaped head and small eyes with a liquid stare that went down to your bones. His nose was long and bulbous with a broom mustache under it covering his grinning lips. The goons by his side weren’t the typical gun-toting he-men of this century. Both sported the blue hair and white eyes of the intergalactic species, known as Travelers. They were widely known for their teleportation skills and mental abilities. Isaias would have to be careful with these guards.
She almost rolled her eyes as Isaias glared at the two bodyguards. He also widened his stance slightly, and pet his gun. They simply sneered back and touched their foreheads..
Not very subtle, are they?
Zen stepped forward and gave a little welcome bow “Welcome to Puerto Nuevo, Don Vasquez. ″
The man tipped his wide-brimmed hat. “And to you, señorita. I assume negotiations are to take place by the water?”
She shook her head. “Don Arrio is waiting for you at the Familia boathouse. I will be your guide and am also the diplomatic liaison for this transaction between allies. My name is Zenaida Arrio, but please call me Zen, a pleasure to meet you.”
The man grinned showing off some golden teeth. His salt and pepper hair was parted directly through the middle and away from his wrinkled forehead.
“I half expected Don Arrio to send his garrison to meet me.”
Isaias grinned back. “He might have.”
She frowned at Isaias for breaking protocol. “What he means is we can handle ourselves well. Why have you come to Puerto Nuevo, Don Vasquez?”
Vasquez wagged a finger. “I think we should journey to the boathouse for that, Zen.”
Zens smiled curtly. “Of course, come, Don Arrio awaits.”
They began their walk to the boathouse with her slightly in front of Don Vasquez. Isaias pulled the rear. It was a sign of trust between the two allies, that she had turned her back on the two goons plodding slightly behind Vasquez. They trailed up the hill, into a jungle of synthetic trees. Humankind had cut most of them down ages ago.
Don Vasquez plodded beside her now. “So, tell me how one as young as you, is allowed to be the diplomatic liaison for such a big deal?”
Zen turned to face him, catching Isaias’s eyes before talking. “I am the best diplomat my Familia has. Therefore, I have a full license to be the negotiator for many transactions. Of course, many are unsettled by my age and so we have another negotiator, but tonight she is out on leave which leaves only me.”
Vasquez smiled. “Of course.”
Then she heard it. The cocking of a gun at her side.
She froze, as thunder raged overhead.