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Grade
11

“It’s with great relief that I declare Embrum, son of Narin the one who has chosen to sacrifice himself to the water god, Zarp!”

What?! No, no, no, no this isn’t happening! thinks Embrum as the crowd cheers, their praises near deafening. The fact that Embrum got himself into this mess eludes him, and the last thing that he wanted was to waste his life on some god he’s never even heard of. It’s quite common for him to get into little skirmishes once every couple of weeks, but this…this was definitely not his thing.

 

One week, exactly, earlier:

The ground tilts beneath Embrum’s feet as he hobbles out of the pub on a crisp evening. Is it evening? Embrum shrugs, too intoxicated to care. It’s not like it was his fault for shattering half of the pub's glassware. All he wanted was to use the cup with the big squiggly lines, but instead, they had insisted upon him having the mundane glass, as all he could afford was the beer. It wasn’t his fault that the special cup was for tobdaf—ohh! Like he could pronounce the name of that fancy drink anyways. No doubt it tasted like the eye of the fish head from Planet IKOs’ seventh moon anyways. With that thought in mind, Embrum grins. The Akayo eye is the most disgusting food he’s ever tried, and although it was quite forced, he still is awed that there’s food out in the Tarsina Galaxy that he hadn’t enjoyed.

With his mind suddenly thrust into the pleasures of food, he misses the rise in the cobblestone sidewalks that are ubiquitous on Kaetoa, the small moon of Karakoto. Before he can fully grasp what’s going on with his drunken mind, he falls forward and barely has time to catch himself before he hits the ground. Immediately, the bite of the sharp pebbles ignites in his palms, trailing all the way up his wrist and to his elbows. Embrum lets out a surprised yelp at the sudden agony in his hands and knees as he pushes himself up off the sidewalk. Instead of standing and wiping his now bloody hands on his jeans and walking away as he should, a part of Embrum feels personally attacked by these recent turn of events. He turns his head back and gives the raised part of the sidewalk a menacing glare. Or what he would call a menacing glare, although, to anyone else, it probably looks nothing more than a look of a young drunk 30-year-old Talarius.

With that thought in mind, his gaze upon the cobblestone actually turns somewhat hard as his eyes tighten into two little slits. He’s always called Talaria home, up until last year when that accursed bird burned his home. He lets out an angry hmph! and spits upon the sidewalk before pushing himself up. His gaze flickers for a moment before somewhat steadying. Have there always been two different sidewalks right by each other? Again, Embrum can’t be completely sure.

It’s just then as he’s about to make his way back to the outer rims of Kaetoa where his ship and assistant await him, that his fate takes a turn. Unsurprisingly, all because of a girl.

The moment he sees her on the other side of the street, Embrum knows. He just knows. The weirdest sensation fills his body, and suddenly he wants to meet this girl that just so casually doesn’t acknowledge his existence from across the street.

Embrum unconsciously licks his lips. She looks human enough, and for him, that’s all he needs to make his way towards her. Before he even makes it halfway across the street though, the girl turns her head and looks Embrum straight in the eyes.

“If you even think about taking another step towards me, I know someone that’ll hang your head for it,” she warns. Embrum stumbles in his steps, suddenly uncertain.

“Is that the way a pretty girl such as yourself treats a man of such status?” he asks, his words coming out slurred. Embrum hiccups, and with the combination of his funny sounding words in his otherwise somewhat normal voice and the sudden noise of his hiccup causes Embrum to break out laughing for a minute.

“Your status?” The beautiful, distracting girl scoffs and crosses her arms. “That of a drunken Talarius, not to mention one that looks more human than Talarius?” Embrum frowns for a moment. Thoughts of how the pretty girl really wasn’t that pretty inside fill his mind. Then again… when has he ever cared about anything other than appearances?

With his renewed courage, he continues on towards the girl.

“I may be drunken and I may be on the lighter side of a blue Talarius, but that doesn’t mean I’m any less important than the next guy.” She doesn’t make any move to stop Embrum, giving him encouragement to finally stop within only a few feet from her. “What’s a guy gotta do to get your name?”

She thinks for a moment, giving Embrum some time to study her. She has the build of a human but the light purple tint to her skin clearly shows that she’s not a full-blooded Earthling. For a second, Embrum thinks she could be from Talaria also, but most if not all Talarius are fully one color or the next. To Embrum, she’s more Earthling than most nowadays.

“Ani, daughter of Zara, and you are?” Her name sends a shiver of familiarity running through his mind, but with his muffled thoughts, he can’t quite grasp where exactly he knows it from.

“Embrum, son of Narin, at your service.” Embrum tries to do a bow but ends up nearly losing his balance again and staggers upright. When he looks back up at Ani, he thinks he notices her trying to hide a smirk. The sight brings a huge grin upon Embrum’s own face. “Don’t think I didn’t notice that—.” Ani’s face instantly becomes serious once more, a frown sitting comfortably upon her lips. Her lips… Embrum quickly shakes his head, dismissing the thought.

“You didn’t notice anything, and I thought I told you that if you were to come any closer, I know of someone who’ll hang your head for it.”

“You wouldn’t let that happen, now would you?” Embrum says before letting out a belch. His face instantly darkens from its normal blue color as Ani’s eyes widen. To make matters worse, he suddenly vomits all of his alcohol consumption over this enchanting girl right as he realizes why her name had sounded so familiar.

Please tell me I didn’t just puke all over the princess of the Tarsina Galaxy…

 

And that’s how Embrum got to where he is today. Shortly after being brought to prison, personally escorted by Her Highness herself, he was given two options: to be hanged or to introduce himself to Zarp. Whoever this Zarp was seemed important, and Embrum would much rather meet a very important someone than to be killed. So of course, he chose the latter.

It isn’t until this very moment that he realizes who exactly this important Zarp is. He looks around the large arena in search of the princess. The moment he spots her, he tries calling her name, telling her that he hadn’t known who she was in his rather very drunken state the week before. Of course, though, it’s useless. Her box in the arena’s too far and the crowd still too deafening. They start repeating his name so loud that Embrum can’t even hear his own thoughts.

Suddenly, the twisted morph man behind Embrum nudges him closer to the edge of the cliff overlooking a pit so deep that the water looks black as if it was oil. Looking down into the pits depths churns Embrum’s stomach. He heaves and would have thrown up had they fed him more than two slices of bread and a cup of dirty water each day for the past week.

Embrum hastily turns back to face the morph, expressionless as they all are.

“Is this really necessary? Why would a water god even need sacrificial offerings?” he says, desperate not to die in such a seemingly meaningless way. The only sign of annoyance the morph shows is his sudden scrunched eyebrows as if he can’t even believe the audacity of Embrum’s question. He grunts in response, shoving Embrum closer to his doom.

“Wait wait wait, can’t I at least say my last goodbyes?” Even as he says it, he knows there’s no one he would really say goodbye to. He’s never had a family after his father, Narin left him abandoned when he wasn’t even a year old, and he’s never been good at keeping up with friends. The very idea of ‘friends’ confuses Embrum, and it’s not like he’d even consider his assistant, who’s probably still on Kaetoa with his ship, a friend.

The morph just stares at the princess, waiting for the signal from her to proceed. It was worth a try, Embrum thinks as he turns back to the pit, trying to come to terms with what’s about to happen.

He looks up over at Princess Ani just as she raises her arm and brings it down fast. The signal. The moment Embrum feels the morph’s hand on his back, about to push him forward, the sexiest P.0.20 Space Jumper he’s ever seen zips in front of the edge of the cliff. With the top off he recognizes Chili, his assistant, her gaze fierce.

“Get in Sinister Prime!” she yells over the sudden confused roar of the crowd. He smirks, knowing that he’ll never get tired of hearing her call him that. He had threatened her just last year that should she stop, he’ll cut her pay in half. Not that he’s really paying her anyway…

Without a moment's hesitation, Embrum leaps from the ledge towards the open top of the Jumper.

“Perfect timing as per usual,” Chili says, smiling brightly at Embrum.

“Where’d you even get this?” Embrum asks, running his fingers across the dashboard.

“Oh, I traded your old piece of junk for it,” she says as she quickly takes off and out of the stadium. “Now seriously sir, it was hard enough finding someone who wanted it, but even harder to find a way to help you. I think it would be very wise if you stopped getting yourself into trouble.”

“YOU TRADED MY BABY FOR THIS?!” Chili flinches at his upraised tone.

“Well sir, the moment the Tarsinian officers took you, I knew I would need something fast and sleek, not bulky and rather trippy.” The amount of anger Embrum’s trying to hold at bay is immense, but he manages to take a breath and slow his racing heart enough to talk clearly.

“You’re officially off payroll for this, I hope you know.”

Chili murmurs something under her breath, but Embrum ignores it. And soon enough, they’re off of Karakoto, passing by the small moon that started this whole mess, and on their way to getting out of the Tarsina Galaxy before wanted transmissions are sent throughout the galaxy for him. Despite the fact that Embrum’s stuck with Chili and now without his most favorite ship, he finally relaxes a little, ignorant of the fact that another ship behind him has its missiles locked onto the P.0.20.

State
FL
Zip Code
33414