Grocery Shopping

Khaihraz stepped off the shuttle and took in a breath of satisfaction. He truly hated flying, hated the closed off compartments meant for people to sit in. The forced interaction with people around who smelled of filth was intolerable. But here, on this planet, everything felt much better.

It reminded him of his home, the powerful desert winds and intense, dry heat. Even the architecture was a gentle memory of where he came from, its stonework battered and broken in many places, yet still standing. Yes, this was much better than that disgusting shuttle, indeed.

The sounds of conversation in every which direction was a comfort as well. Bargaining merchants and customers, camel-like creatures chortling their annoying noises, children running and playing through the streets- all of it was loud and distracting enough that he knew no one would give his appearance, being a newcomer, a second thought.

He traveled along the busy crowd, dipping and weaving in what was like a dance with the natives to the planet. A smile rest at his face. Oh, how he loved the smell of the market. The cooking foods- (was that shawarma?), the strong spices, the perfumes and incense of jasmine were all overwhelmingly pleasant. He was almost jealous that he couldn’t live here, himself. But he knew what he was really there for, and it certainly wasn’t browsing for spices.

This planet held the key to his salvation. The key to his freedom. And no matter what it took, he would find her.

He found himself within the alley designated by his contact, then leaned against the wall, waiting. Of course, it didn’t take long for his presence to be noted, and soon a large, burly man approached. Dressed in neutral colours, a longer robe, the man’s hand outstretched. One chip was given in return for another, and then he was gone. It was the best kind of business, no words needing spoken. Khaihraz smiled, then plugged the data chip into the pad he kept in his pocket.

The words flashed on the screen clear as day.

Approx. 06:00-08:00, 18:00-19:00, days vary. Hover car from West.

His brow raised. From the West? A hover car? She couldn’t have been too far, if that were the case. He checked the time on his data pad.

18:23

He would never admit to anyone that his heart gave a jump. Would he actually see her? Khaihraz’s eyes scanned the crowd, searching aimlessly for her. It was a large market, but he knew her face. There was no way he’d miss her, provided she was actually there.

It felt like hours to the man, his methodical wanderings leading him to the places he knew were popular. Meats. Vegetables. Next, the spices.

And there she was.

He knew her form before she even turned to speak to the merchant. It was much more frail than he’d seen in the pictures, but he knew it was her. Clothing a vibrant orange colour, it hung loosely off her body. She certainly fit in with the other women here, that’s for sure. When she turned, he noticed her face looked as it always had; his heart pounded in his chest.

The man would not approach, of course. That was not part of the plan. No, he would wait. This was all he needed for now, anyway. And so, he began to turn to leave.

The moment he did, though, he paused, noting the man at Julianni’s side; he did not belong. Khaihraz watched carefully, taking in every detail of the man’s that he could; his face; his mannerisms; his treatment of Julianni; his hand at the small of her back. Khaihraz felt an anger brewing.

A significant other. “Most interesting,” he said to himself quietly.

The more he watched, the more he noted Julianni and the man begin looking around. He frowned. They were more perceptive than he realized. But it was no matter, he still had the information he needed. Without another thought, he turned down the market walkways.

Things would need to change, he knew. While they’d accounting for potential friends and acquaintances, they certainly hadn’t thought she’d be with someone. What if he stayed at the house? Khaihraz frowned, knowing full well he needed to figure out a way to fix this.

As he boarded that travel shuttle again, he pulled up his datapad to send a quick message to his contact.

Kredits for info on the man.