After few more drinks, and a few more close calls with patrons of the bar trying to snag her for their own, she called it a night.  Leaving alone, Lanie sauntered towards the doorway. Many eyes followed The Ice Queen, thinking they would be the one to thaw her someday.  Once out in the street, she noticed the broken glass was still scattered around, but no sign of Lanpel. Breathing a sigh of relief, she started home.

Lanie lay in her bed staring at the ceiling.  She would be embarking on yet another page of her journey tomorrow.  Her sleep was fitful, she tossed and turned, in and out of a dream state the visions were the same.  How in the world, rather the universe, had she ended up here?

The only way Lanie knew it was time to rise was by the alarm she had set the night before.  Natural light couldn't permeate the intense level of pollution that surrounded this planet, and artificial light was saved for inside buildings, some spilling into the street.  The glow of signs advertising a business lighted your way along the streets.  Day and night were relative, it made no difference.  The alarm she set consisted of no sound, but a slow lighting of the room.  It was one of her first purchases on this planet. Lanie bought it because it reminded her of a sunrise on Earth, although her life on Earth itself held nothing for her, she always enjoyed the sunrise.

Rubbing her eyes, she looked into the mirror, "Ugh."  She would have to hurry, being anxious to start her job, she splashed water on her face, dressed quickly, and left.  Her ship was fully equipped, and she could take some time later to  freshen up.

Ku was waiting for her, she had been around him long enough to know when he was annoyed. Maybe it was the way his antennae eyes drooped, maybe the tenseness of his mouth, she wasn't sure, but she knew.

"What's up?" Lanie said cheerfully.

"Indeed." Ku glared at her. "Come with me."

"Have I done something to upset you?"

"I heard about your activity last night.  I wasn't sure you would make it today."

Lanie threw her arms out to the side, "Yet, here I am."

Ku humphed and slid along the hall expecting her to follow.  She picked her way behind him avoid the thin slime trail he left.

He shooed her into a room and then spoke in a low voice, "Your ship has been loaded.  The coordinates set.  You are to land, the load will be removed, and another will be loaded.  Speak as little as possible to anyone, scout out the planet if you must, but your time is limited there.  Wear a helmet, don't let them see your face."

"Really? Why?"

"They are hostile to humans."

"They have been to Earth too?"

He flung an appendage into the air and waved it, "Oh everybody has, it's entertaining"


"Yes, as with the planet you are going to , they consider you..." Ku considered a moment "like wild animals."

Lanie was the one becoming annoyed now, "Oh really?"

"Those abductions the people of Earth are always scratching their heads about?  These are the ones that take them."  He laughed.


"Oh dear, I've upset you.  Sorry Lanie, I shouldn't have told you.  I'm sorry to tell you that those people become slaves, they work in a mine."

"Oh my God!"  Lanie yelled out.  This was shocking news to her.  She staggered back to the wall to support herself.

"After what you have told me about them, why should you care?  Don't get any stupid ideas, Lanie.  Do your job and come back, don't get caught!"

The revelation had hit her like brick wall, but what he said made sense. She slowed her breathing and put things into perspective.  Lanie realized whatever she was capable of doing wouldn't be enough.  For that matter, what could all of Earth do about it?  They were the infants of the universe.  Survival of the fittest, in this case she lucked out and jumped ship, literally.

"You're right, its just...I didn't know...

"You're a smart girl, Lanie. I knew I was right about you."

Lanie smiled weakly and then followed Ku to the space port.

"Good luck, we'll see you in a few days." Ku said and then left her standing by her ship.

Watching him slide away for a moment, she then turned to her ship.  Mounting the few steps to the entrance she stopped and admired the artwork bearing her name on the side of the ship, and was filled with pride.  Feeling her new found confidence once more,she continued on into the ship.

When the engines started up, she noticed a difference in sound, attributing it to the upgrade the ship received.  It was quieter, smoother, and as she taxied to the air lock, even the vibrations had smoothed out.

Once she was in space there was very little for her to do.  Ku gave her a book to read but when she opened it she found she was unable to read it.  Lanie hoped they had some kind of a translator for eyes, she loved to read.  Putting the book aside, she stared for a moment into space outside the window.  With a sigh she checked  the gauges to make sure everything was functioning properly, and it was.

After a few more moments, she found herself wondering about her cargo.  What could it be? Lanie rose from her seat and looked for a way to reach the cargo hold.  Knowing she should leave it alone only drove her to look harder. In a ship as small as this, she was sure all she had to do was remove a few panels.  Looking in the obvious places first, she was disappointed several times.  Lanie tried random stabs in the dark, and that didn't work either.  When she felt herself starting to get angry, she quit looking.  Deciding a nap was in order she threw herself across her bunk.

"Hey Cupcake!"

Lanie was startled awake, rolling to the floor, she looked around the cabin.

"Cupcake! You there?"

Realizing the voice came from her communicator, she was awake enough to know there was only one person who called her Cupcake.

"Damn it, Hootie! I asked you not to call me that!"

"Hey! There's my favorite earthling!"

Lanie had to laugh, "What do you want?"

"I wanted to make sure you were okay.  I saw your ship and thought I 'd say Hi is all.  What are you doing out this way?"

"I have a job!  I'm making a delivery.  Wait...you can see me?  Where are you?" Lanie looked up and then out the window of her spacecraft.  A small ship about the size of hers swung into view.

"Howdy Ma'am!"  Hootie laughed.


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