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Dimension 9 – The Sooted Star Realm

April 3077. 10:05.

Sage spent the next hour meddling with the car and asking questions about Kiri’s world while sie attempted to answer them in a coherent way.


“I am not knowing what way exactly to describe my world,” nei said. “Aerth is quite like this one if I am honest. But with no technology like this? I believe so, at least.”


“Huh.” Sage wiped the sweat from her forehead. “I see. But I guess I like the fact that there isn’t such a huge power difference like we have here.”


“Power difference?”


Sage closed the hood of the car at last and nodded upward at Kiri as zei walked to the driver’s side. “Want to come in?”


Kiri hesitated. Zei watched as Sage opened the door. It slid upward rather than swinging out. Zei gasped. “This I have not seen…” zei said and trailed off.


Nei giggled. “How about you hop in? I think you’ll love it. It’ll definitely be less bumpy than your road cars.”


Zei opened the passenger’s door and looked fascinated as it smoothly moved out and up from its niche. Zei slid into the passenger’s seat and did huir seat belt. Zei had completely forgotten that zei was getting into a car with a complete stranger from an even more complete alien world. And yet when the thought briefly crossed huir mind, zei didn’t really care. This was much cooler than anything zei had thought was cool on huir planet, Aerth.


When both of them were settled, Sage started the car. It didn’t even need much preparation before lifting off the ground. Kiri’s mouth gaped open and zei held onto huir seat. Zei craned huir neck to see out the window.


“It… really flies!”


“Ay,” Sage said in an almost triumphant tone. “This is a hovercraft for ya.”


Kiri settled into huir seat, a little bit uncomfortable but more excited. “I guess my world really is so much less tech-oriented.”


“Lower tech?”


“Yes, that.”


“You did say you have devices called touch phones. Pretty ancient here, but I wouldn’t say it’s too far off.” Sage grinned.


Kiri looked allured at the scene out the window as Sage’s hovercraft gracefully and quietly ascended over the abandoned buildings. A view of the sea and the other islands revealed itself.


Sage continued, “You’re gonna see so much more when we get to Rokon.”


“Rokon…”


“Yeah. That’s my city.”


Kiri pointed to the large island that zei’d originally considered rowing towards. “That one?”


“Yup. That one. It’s also nicknamed ‘Hologram City.’ We have uh—a lot of tech compared to our enem—well, let’s just say it’s our counterpart, Risenen.”


Kiri tilted huir head. “You asked if I was from Risenen, I believe?”


“Ay, yeah. It is basically the opposite of Rokon. It doesn’t really need tech because people there have powers called ‘senergie.’ They can like, levitate things. Uh, control the elements. Be super strong or fast. Uh, things like that. All with their minds.” Sage tapped the side of huir head to emphasize huir point.


“So like, superpowers?”


Sage nodded. Didn’t say anything for a time as zei flew out above the open plains—or the sea, as it were. Kiri resumed gazing out the window. Under the water, the golden grass—exactly like the grass in huir own world—danced in a mesmerizing way with the current. Zei had always imagined the grass to be similar to a sea but had never thought it could be possible in real life.


Sage spoke again after a while and Kiri looked back at nem. “You see, maybe I really shouldn’t say this to a newcomer like you, but I feel like if you’re going to be here for a while, you should know.”


Kiri tilted huir head.


“Rokon and Risenen are kind of enemy islands, you see. There’s been a lot of tension between them ever since thousands of years ago when exergians… Uh, those are basically people like me without senergie. But yeah, ever since the exergians rebelled against the senergians from Risenen and moved to the island now called Rokon, there’s always some problem between us.


“Rokon is on more equal footing with Risenen because of our high tech, but still, like, some weird shit has been going on where the governments have been fighting over whether Rokon is free from this contract that has prevented Risenen from attacking Rokon as a subservient state. It’s a lot more complicated, of course, because there’s five entire planets and their territories involved. But that’s basically Sooted Star in a nutshell. We don’t know when the next war is going to start, but we all know it’s a precarious balance.”


As Sage concluded, Kiri only managed a nod and looked slightly nervous. Sage picked up on this. Attempted to laugh it off.


“Well, I totally get that no one wants to be dumped on some world on the brink of war. But don’t worry too much. I’ll get you back to your world. I actually have a genius friend who can probably work on something to help with that.”


Kiri looked fascinated. “Ah is that so?”


Along with the quiet humming of the car, a loud growl emerged. Kiri immediately hunched over and looked completely embarrassed.


Sage chuckled. “Oh wow! I totally forgot about food. Until we get you home, let’s get you fed.” Zei paused for a second. “Ah—wait. Actually, this is really important. We need to get you to a medical facility first. You need to be examined and probably vaccinated to make sure your presence isn’t a biohazard and vice versa.”


Kiri suddenly began to panic. “But—wait, what if my internal organization is different? And then they wish to experiment on me?”


Sage smiled reassuringly. “That won’t happen, Kiri. Don’t worry. Because there are actually other species similar to marrans like me on different planets who have different compositions, there are interdimensional laws against their unethical treatment. In fact, you’re protected by those laws even if you are a totally new species no one’s seen before. So long as you’re able to consent to a treatment that isn’t required, you can refuse consent to it.”


“But what is required then?”


“Basically, any treatments that protect us from fatal diseases spreading in a population. The most that may happen to you is you are in solitary confinement until you can go home.”


Kiri loosened slightly. Zei wasn’t quite convinced, but zei really had no choice at this point. All zei could think about was huir hunger. Zei simply nodded and looked lost in thought as they continued forward.

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