Chapter 3: Voices of Freedom
Martian found it odd getting used to his newly upgraded house. First, the house, once a single story, now had two stories of empty rooms, including a basement for storage. Luckily, his room was located on the first story, but hadn't changed shape or placement. In fact, his room was the only room not touched by the construction crew. Sekret's room was placed next to his, with a large bathroom adjacent from their rooms. Martian took the extra steps to add a locking mechanism to the bathroom, just in case Sekret was using the room to prevent accidents or some form of interruption. The kitchen had also been upgraded, with a larger area to work in, a better stove and a dishwasher, and the fridge had multiple storage areas for frozen foods. In short, the new Extraspecie Hotel had replaced his tiny house near the end of Lubin City, yet he was troubled by a few things.
“How am I suppose to pay half the bills....?” He mumbled to himself, looking outside in the backyard. The construction crew was remolding his pool into a larger one, with a back patio for relaxing.
“I though the Director said he would take care of costs?” Sekret asked, walking into the living area. Her hair was wrapped in a towel, so Martian assumed she had taken a shower.
“He did, but does that apply to the bills like electricity and water? Or those it include food or utilities?” He asked. “See, I my have written two books, but that doesn't mean I have a lot of cash on hand.”
“If it's bothering you, why don't you walk up to the Peace Point and ask him?” She replied. “He also did say if you have any questions, you should go see him.”
“Yeah... Might as well...” He sighed. “You wanna come with me? The weather is a lot cooler than yesterday.”
“No thank you. I much rather wan tot read the new books I obtained yesterday. Besides, I'm not much of a fan of walking a long deserted street to the city for a few questions.” She replied.
“Are you always going to start making jokes about ho I should live in the city?” Martian asked with a chuckle. Sekret replied with a light chuckle, and shrugged.
“Well, maybe until you get the hint.” Sekret replied. Martian laughed alittle, then grabbed his shoes off the floor.
“Do you want me to get something from the city for dinner tonight?” Martian asked. Sekret sat on the new couch, which seem to support her weight. He felt sorry she had to sleep on his old couch, but was glad she broke the springs. The old couch was in much need to be thrown out, ASAP.
“Hm, now that you mention it, I have a craving for fish since our journey into the city.” She replied.
“I know a fishermen who could get me a deal by the docks. I'll ask.” Martian replied as he finished tying his shoes. “By the way, how was the shower? I haven't used it yet.”
“It was amazing, actually. We never had showers like human ones, only large bathing areas that were like hot springs here.” She replied. “Even though it was much different, it still felt peaceful.”
“Might need to try it after dinner then.” Marian replied. “I'll be back.”
The trip into the city was east. Not a lot of traffic but a simple cruise. He had once though of getting a license to operate a motorcycle, but the idea of him behind the wheel of a motorized vehicle haunted him. He though he soon get nightmares about motorcycles, which he felt was a pretty lame excuse to use. The Peace Point Tower was very large once you got to its entrance, with the tip of the tower touching the sky itself. The inside lobby was filled with a number of booths which held humans and Extraspecies, talking to another large set of humans and Extraspecies. Martian assumed that this is where Host families go to become Host families or have questions. In the center of the lobby was a large number of elevator shafts with tubes going up into the ceiling or down from the ceiling. Martain walked up to the first empty booth he saw, which held a woman with brown hair in a pony tail.
“Can I help you today, sir?” She asked.
“Yeah, I was wondering if I could speak to Gerald?” He asked. “Oh, I'm sorry I mean the Director. I'm a friend of his.”
“Is you're name Martian Williams?” She asked after looking down at a computer monitor.
“Well, you're in luck. The Director has stated many times that his tight schedule is always open for time with you.” She replied. “He's up in his office, most likely speaking to Extraspecie leaders or having a cup of tea.”
“Who knows with that guy. Can you take me to him? This is my first time here.” Martian asked, scratching the back of his head in confusion.
“Of course.” She replied with a nod, and stepped out of the booth, or more like slithered out, as her lower half was complete snake. The booth made it hard to tell her lower body was that of a black and white snake.
“You're... a lamia?” He asked.
“Hm? Oh, yes I get that a lot from two legs like you.” She replied.
“Two legs, huh? I can see why lamias call humans that.” Martian replied as they walked up to an elevator. The lamia placed a key into the panel, and an elevator came down softly.
“The Director was right about you.” She remarked, looking at him. “You really don't care about appearances, do you?”
“Of a sense, we are all the same thing in our minds. Yeah, I don't care if you're a spider or a snake. I see Extarspecies as humans with amazing changes.”
“I wish many two legs like you existed...” She mumbled as the elevator shot upward quickly. Martian paid no attention to the number of floors they passed, but the view of the outside world through the large number of windows infront of them. By the time they reached the top floor, the elevator came to a complete stop, which startled him.
“We're here, Mr. Williams.” She said.
“Thanks, miss.” He replied. “By the way, what's you're name?”
“It's Amelia.” She replied. “I had a different name, but I like Amelia better.”
“I like it too. It fits you.” He said as he walked towards Gerald's office, which was blocked by two large doors with a elegant design. Martian assumed the odd monument on the doors were something from the Extarspecie Nation, but had no clue what. He knocked at the door, and jumped when a man opened the door, who was not Gerald. The man wore a tattered cowl over his head, and had dark skin. His eyes were a strange blood red, and had small horns sticking out of his unkempt hair.
“Ah, a visitor to the Director I assume?” He asked with a bizarre accent Martian couldn't put his finger on.
“Yeah, is he here?”
“Of course, dear friend. Otherwise my visit here makes no sense. Ah , where are my manners?” He replied sharply. “I am known as Cancer, but friends call me Clark.”
“I'm Martian. Why go with a name like Cancer?” He asked. Martian assumed the man had a ffew screws loose in his mind, but didn't point the fact out. Clark gave a puzzled look to Martian.
“You're unaware of my work, Martian?” He asked. “I'm the voice of Extraspecies Host Program, who encouraged other Extraspecies to see a world beyond their own.
“Yeah I'm not a big part of the Host Program. Gerald put my name under the family list in case he needed to set up a home for runaways.” He replied. “Sorry if I offend you.”
“Ah, not at all. Its sad, really, about runaways. They seek a new life, only to be rejected by the aliens of the New World. Ah, forgive my language there.” Before Martian could reply, Gerald appeared in the doorway, a tea cup in his hand.
“I was wondering if I was able to speak to my friend, Clark.” Gerald said with a chuckle.
“Ah, well, he's an interesting human. Limited with history of Extraspecies, yet he does show that spark you once had, Gerald.”
“You do know you'll be late for your flight back home, right?” Clark was silent for a few minutes, then nodded.
“Of course. Farewell, Martian, and I hope to speak to you again in the near future.” Clark said before disappearing in the closing doors of the elevator.
“He's an oddball.” Martian said.
“Yes, but a smart oddball, even for his kind.” Gerald replied.
“What kind of Extraspecie is he anyway?”
“He isn't. He's a mutant.” Gerald replied. “Born between a human and Extraspecie. Rejected by both kind, he became a voice for others like himself, and helped me form the peace treaty.”
“I had no idea about mutants.” Martian replied.
“Yes, well they're being classified as a subspecies of humans, so they're not well known like Extraspecies.” Gerald replied. “Currently, he's attempting to allow mutants into the Host Program, hopefully to get awareness for his people.”
“Huh, I like him already.” Martian said as Gerald led him into a medium sized office with a window to the right with the biggest view of the city, overlooking the ocean. On the far left was bookcase with various of books, two which looked like the spines of his own novels of Journey. A desk sat infront of the doorway, with two chairs set up to face the desk.
“So what can I help you with your untimely appearance?” Gerald asked, sitting down on his own chair behind the desk. Martian sat on the chair facing the desk.
“I'm concern about the bills with the hotel. Mostly towards utilities like water and electricity.” Martian explained. “I may have some money, but I don't want to run out running a hotel that size.”
“I said don't worry about the prices. I paid the bills for you, Martian.” Gerald replied. “I'm well aware of your concerns, but I believe there' more to your visit.”
“Well, there's also the question about food or other products. Does your whole 'paying the bills' fit that too?”
“Martian, are you anger with being forced to work a Extraspecie hotel?” Gerald asked with a concern look.
“No, I'm just... Ok, I'll admit I'm somewhat angry, but that's only because you keep doing that thing where you assume the answer and force these things onto me.” Martian explained. “I get you're trying to help me out, but, I wish you would give some forewarning about this.”
“Yes, I realize this...” Gerald mumbled. “To be honest, you were living a rather destructive lifestyle, isolating yourself from everyone else, having reacquiring nightmares about Julia's death, and keeping your problems to yourself. I didn't want you to destroy yourself.” Martian sighed loudly, and nodded.
“I don't know how you got over her death so quickly...” He mumbled.
“Like you, I distracted myself. I took a tour to the Extarspecie Nation, and found myself the Director of the whole operation. You, however, began to write the story of my sister, one that brought you fame from two different species of intelligence. But unlike you, I was around people, while you were cooped up in your house. I knew a roommate could help you, but I didn't know how to help you.”
“But then Sekret came along, looking for a home.” Martian replied.
“And since she enjoyed your story, it was a twist of fate.” Gerald replied. “But in the end, everything worked out perfectly, right?” Martian nodded, then took a deep breath.
“Yeah, I guess. Sorry, I had to get that out of me.” Martian replied. “So, about the food?”
“That part I also forgot yesterday.” Gerald replied as he fished into his desk and pulled a strange credit card out.
“What's this?” Martian asked, taking the silver and blue card from Gerald's hand.
“That is a Host Family Supply Card, used for buying food or other products from any Lubin City store. The costs are cut in half, or more in the case the family is making less money than others.” He replied. “Use this for whatever is planned for dinner, or for those nasty messes needed cleaning.”
“Please never say that again to me.” Martian said as he slid the card into his back pocket.
“Ah, forgive me, it was something I though of a few weeks ago. Saying it out loud seemed silly compared to saying it in my mind.” Gerald replied. “Well, is there anything else you need?”
“Na, that's about all I had to ask. I need to get going anyway. I need to pick up some fish for dinner tonight.”
“Fish? Ah, for Sekret?”
“Yeah, she had a craving for it since yesterday. Why do you ask?”
“Some species of spiders eat fish, so an Arachne like Sekret might also eat fish.” Gerald explained. “I figured you knew.”
“I did, but you have that look like an evil idea came to mind.” Martian said. Gerald chuckled, sat up and opened the far door.
“Oh, I do, but I'll let you guess it later on.” He replied. “Just remember, Martian, to trust your heart and follow your force.”
“My force? Ok, now whose the smart oddball; you or Clark?” Gerald chuckled loudly.
Once he left the Peace Point, he quickly headed towards the docks in order to collect the fish for dinner. He planned to purchase salmon, since he knew how to cook salmon, and was the only type of seafood he ate. Oddly, despite living by the coast, Martian never liked seafood. It puzzled him. Once he reached the docking areas, he turned to the only boat he bough fish from; The Wolfsmen, a boat owned by a man he called Silver, who had white hair, yet looked young for his age. However, once arriving at the boat, he saw Silver working the crane, but had issues rising the net from the sea.
“Need a hand?” Martian asked. Silver looked behind him, and gave a sigh.
“Please do. I think I caught something heavy this time around.” He remarked.
“Or you're getting old.” Martian joked.
“Hey, I'm not that old. Get over here and help. We might be able to lift it. If not, I might cut the net and lose potential cut.”
“Don't worry, but I am here to buy some salmon from you.” Martian replied, grabbing the rope to aid Silver.
“I don't get salmon Martian. But I do know a guy.” He said. “Ready? On three. One... Two... Three!” As the two of them pulled the netting slowly raised, but a shock came to them both once they got the heavy load on the boat. Caught inside the netting, was a girl with the lower body of a crab.