Chapter 2- First Contact

”Scars! You have a package to Chandelier, ” the twins Sam and Dennis say in unison.

”Are you **in kidding me? I just returned from a five-hour drop. I am sweaty and tired. I swear if you play another prank on me I will drop kick you in the chest. ”

”We learned our lessons the first time, Scars, ” they reply.

”You learned your lesson at the worst time. I am just saying, the last time you said those words after a drop; I spent half my day drenched in a sewer with diarrhea seeping into my high tops. ”

”And you dropped kicked us in the chest. Not only that, you managed to contain the worst stank on your shoes so when you kicked us; it splattered everywhere. ”

”Serves you the dog damned rights. You better make sure that that package is to Chandelier. If you prank me again, I will curse to the Gods that they remove your eyes. No! I will shove them out myself. I mean, that it will give me the greatest pleasure to gouge my thumbs into your eye sockets. I will relish in it and sigh in pleasure. ”

”We got it Scars. It does not change the fact that you have a package to Chandelier, ” the twins replied in dull monotone used to her threats.

Despite her scarred appearance and threats, she could be quite timid. Scars never understood how they could speak so perfectly in unison. She knew as half-blood psychics they could communicate mentally but why speak in unison? She never had the nerve to ask and had grown used to it over the two years they had been working for Courier Express.

”It better not, ” she replied, ”give it to me. ”

The twins did not try to place the package in her palm, instead, they slid it across the table.

”Come on guys, it only happens when men with romantic interest touch my skin, ” Scars said, referring to the strange phenomena which occurred when any man with sexual desires for her touched her skin or hair. Their muscles would freeze for about an hour which rendered the man completely immobile. It was a great defense mechanism against unwanted attention, now if she could only switch it off.

”Nuh-uh, ” they said, ”We saw what happened to George when he pulled your braid. We even moved him to the steam room. Stiff as a board he was. Whatever Beyond blood runs in your veins, it sure packs a punch. ”

”Think how I feel. I didn ask for it, I can kiss a man without him turning into a piece of ice. Just keep those naughty thoughts out of your mind and you will be fine. ”

”We are men, we can help it. Besides, your scars are your most charming feature. Even us men who like men wonder what its like. We are just being careful now. ”

Scars self-consciously placed her hand to her forehead.

The scars were not actually scars at all, it was more of a marking like a tattoo. Mauveine in color, an elongated diamond shape sat in the center of her forehead with crescent-shaped lines fanning out above her eyebrows. It looked like an abstract flower.

Not to mention her eyes were the same hue and had a slight glow to them, they could be seen in complete darkness. She had yet to see any creature with hair as long as hers, her braids nearly brushed the floor. Every time she had taken a pair of scissors to her hair she would blackout. When she paid someone to cut it for her, they sawed away with a knife to no effect, her hair could not be cut.

There was no denying the fact she was half-blooded, it was not so uncommon especially in the lower levels of Pendulum. Most of the half-bloods were the daughters of Dryads but rarely traveled past the Orchard Bio-domes; which made sense since they were daughters of the forest.

Scars had seen all types during her travels as a courier; cyclops, medusas, hounds and dryads but she had yet to see one whose markings resembled hers.

There had to be a being on Pendulum who could not touch the opposite sex for fear of rendering them immobile. There had to be someone like her and she had to find them. It was the reason she became a courier, they had access to parts of Pendulum which would normally require special passes and permits which were quite out of her credit range. As long as she had her courier pass and a package, she would not be questioned about her whereabouts.

”Whatever blood runs in my veins, I wish I did not have it. ”

”With a curse, there is always a blessing. ”

”Let me know when you find it, ” she replied, standing from the table as she did so. ”Well it is a long ride up to Chandelier best be off now if I want to get some decent sleep. ”

”Do you have your bow? ”

She pointed to her right hip where her mechanical mana bow lay retracted. ”Do you think I would travel through Bandit Boarder without it? I am not that crazy. ”

Though being a courier had many benefits there were also many downfalls; one being, a courier can be carrying a valuable package which makes them a target for bandits and all other sorts of mischief-makers.

As a general rule, all couriers were also well-trained fighters, they had to be or they would not last long.

Usually, couriers worked in pairs, but her partner left under mysterious circumstances; even his apartment was empty. It would not have bothered her too much because there was always a new courier who could not withstand the danger, but Joe had been a very punctual and by the book man.

Leaving without telling anyone was just not his way. Maybe he found a special someone and wanted to settle down. Thats what usually happens in the end, they end up settling down.

It made her sad that she could not do the same. Something was preventing her from being intimate with anyone and she had to know what it was and how to stop it.

The companionship of women did not seem to trigger whatever magic she possessed, but it wasn much to her liking and she did it solely from the need of being touched by another person. She could close her eyes and imagine that it was someone who loved her. In the end, she only fooled herself and was always left with a terrible aching emptiness.

Scars made her way over to her locker to don her coat and grab her pack. She hoped that the whole ordeal would not take any longer than four hours. Though there was no day or night in this all mechanical city, there were still regular work hours.

The Courier Express never closed and kept on call all of their employees, but they were never allowed to run more than three packages during a twenty-four hour time period.

Donald Donovan may have been a strewed man bent only on making money but he treated his employees well; he even gave them housing.

In all fairness, housing his couriers insured that they were never late to work, or called in sick because he could simply check up on them himself. He had a terrible habit of mothering any sick person to the point where they felt well enough to work after all. He made sure the money cow was always being milked.

Before she walked out of the building, Donovan waved her down.

Today, he wore simple black slacks and dress shirt that accentuated the grassy glow of the mana stone he wore about his neck. As usual, his salt and pepper hair stuck out at random angles like he had electrocuted himself. She walked over to him pulling her braids out from underneath her coat. She wrapped the coils around her head a few times before tucking the ends into the weave.

Walnut eyes wrinkled when he smiled in her direction.

”Yes Mr. Donovan. ”

”Are you heading out already? ”

”Yes Sir, I have to take a package to Chandelier. ”

”If you would tarry a moment. ”

”Sir? ”

”I hired a new courier and I am going to make him your partner. He should be here soon. ”

”Is that so? You know that I am perfectly capable in defending myself. ”

”I do, but that does not change the fact that couriers work in pairs and you have been solo for far too long. ”

”I seem to be doing fine. Time is money or so you like to remind us. I think you lost about fifty credits. ”

”Scars, you
e being difficult. ”

”I know. I don like waiting around for someone when I have packages to deliver. Why can I meet him tomorrow? It is already late and I want some sleep before the clock strikes twenty-four. Better yet, if he is really determined, he can meet me at Chandelier. ”

”I would be happy to, but you haven left yet, ” a soft, slumbering voice intoned from behind. ”Since we are both here, why not go together? ”

Scars spun around and almost smacked her head into the chest of the man standing before her. Years of carefully honed instinct of avoiding human contact allowed her to quickly dodge.

The man put his hands out to steady her, she quickly ducked and yelled, ”Don touch me, ” and spun like and loose cog out of the way from his hands.

”Im sorry, ” he replied, voice mournful and somber as if her outburst had stabbed him in the gut.

Scars glared at Donovan and asked, ”Did you fill him in on the situation? ”

Donovan had the decorousness to look sheepish, he scratched the back of his head and replied, ”Uh, not yet. ”

”Well, maybe you should do that first before the poor man ends up dead in a steam bath. I am going to deliver this package. I do not want him near me until he knows what hes pairing up with. ”

With that said, she carefully stood, maneuvered around the two men and was out the door before anyone could stop her.

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