Part One - 03 - Kala

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"Log entry 98, day 275 since arrival on R-607. Leader Hammond Silvain speaking. This planet is like nothing we expected. The work we will have to provide to even begin to understand the symbiosis of the elements producing such energy and chaos is incredible. We are barely scratching the surface. I fear it will be the work of a lifetime and not just a couple of years as expected by our superiors. Today, we also learned something that slightly complicates our situation here. One of our scientists, Sarah Acker, is five months pregnant. The conditions on this planet are very different from any of the colonies. The gravity, the magnetic poles, and all the other factors we came here to study might have dreadful impacts on the fetus' development. I am worried about what this will imply for the health of the child to come if it survives. Log entry over."

Kala was reading a book in the living area when the captain's voice resonated in the ship's speakers: "Listen up kids, we're arriving on Zhangdar. Docking in 20 minutes. Get ready by then. As usual, the other grown-up and I are going to do business, the rest of you can roam the city as much as you want, but be sure to be back in six hours or we are leaving without you."

Kala dropped her book and ran to the cockpit. She wanted to see everything, the planet, the docking, the city.

"Hey princess, this isn't a playground," said Allan when he saw her barge in.

"Oh please, I want to see."

He sighed loudly but let her stay nonetheless. The Capricieuse pierced the clouds. Then the view took Kala's breath away. That was a city? It was bigger than she ever imagined. It spread like a huge scar on the side of the blue planet. She felt like she was falling toward it.

"This is the biggest city in the Armora System,15 million people live here," said the captain, taking her flying mind back to the cockpit. "Which represents more than 99 percent of the planet's population. They all cram themselves together. It's suffocating if you ask me. But their black market is quite lucrative." Her brain could not even start to comprehend those facts, but he went on, "We are deep in Europan territory, but the other two nationalities are tolerated here, as long as it's not any military presence. Do you know your nationality by the way?" he asked.

"My family was from Europa," she answered shyly.

"Your family, but not you?"

"I was born on R-607. I am from nowhere."

"Good answer," he said with one of his bright smiles. "As long as you are on my ship, you don't belong to any of the three nations. Everyone on board left behind their political quarrels and patriotism. That's rule number one on the Capricieuse."

"What are the other rules?"

The captain started to open his mouth, but then Jessie, who had been focused on the docking so far, interrupted him, "Don't worry, he will make sure to rub every rule one by one on your face every time he gets the chance. So, don't encourage him yet."

"Rule number eight," he said loudly. "Do not distract the pilot while she is doing important maneuvers. Even if you are yourself the pilot. Now dock my ship without a delay please, dear Jessie."

She stuck out her tongue.

"That weird tongue habit looks very immature on a 20-ish years old lady like you. You should be a better role model for the kid here."

The pilot scoffed openly. Then she successfully docked the ship to one of Zhangdar's many open docks without breaking a sweat while the two others watched.

The captain stood up. "You," he pointed at Kala, "You are coming with me. We can't let a stray puppy like you roam the streets alone."

She nodded and skipped behind him. She had first expected him to tell her to stay on the ship with Jessie. She was so eager to go outside and see the city.

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