Chapter Two: Zarik

Do you know what one of the biggest benefits is to essentially being invisible?

You basically get to do what you want without getting into too much trouble for it.

The other big benefit?

People say things around you they normally wouldn’t because they don’t remember or notice that you’re there.

In my case, being invisible had its advantages before the Vengeance was destroyed. I used to collect things, things that most of the rest of the crew thought were unusual, disgusting, or downright weird.

And that was fine. I enjoyed my collection, and my solitude. It wasn’t like I had earned or deserved people’s attention.

Now, before the ship blew up, I was Zarik—second engineer. Rouhr had brought me on board and given me an opportunity to prove myself and regain my honor.

Another one of the benefits of no one ever paying attention to you was that you generally heard many things that wouldn’t normally be said while you were around.

Such as—today, when I had been walking behind General Rouhr, Strike Team Commander Karzin, Strike Team Commander Sk’lar, and two of the human guards, they were speaking of a woman that had come in earlier that day, distressed about her missing daughter.

Curious, I followed Karzin and Sk’lar as they headed out to the room where the woman was, ready to file a missing person report.

With a datapad in his hand, Karzin looked more bored than interested in the whole situation.

“Mind if I join you?” I asked them right before we stepped inside the cramped interrogation room. Sk’lar looked back at me over his shoulder, eyebrows shooting up as if only now he was realizing I had been following him, and exchanged a glance with Karzin before shrugging.

“Suit yourself,” he said. “This is probably nothing.”

Following him, I stepped inside the room and took a seat across from the middle-aged woman. She had deep wrinkles around her eyes, wrinkles that seemed even deeper in her distress, and a few streaks of white hair had already started to take over her brown hair. In a room that was nothing but three bare walls and a one-way mirror, she looked even smaller in stature than she really was.

“Finally,” she cried, nervously running her tongue over her lips. “I’ve been waiting here for almost an hour.”

“I’m sorry, ma’am,” Karzin said, his tone polite. “Busy day.”

“I understand that, but I’d like to see some effort being put into looking for my daughter.”

“Ma’am, I can assure you…the city officials are already doing the best they—”

“That’s bullshit,” she cut him short, her lips tightly pursed. “I know they haven’t even looked for her outside the city, or even in the ruins. That’s why I’ve come here. I need your help.”

“Very well,” Karzin sighed, flipping his pad open and readying for some notes. “What can you tell me about your daughters? And when was the last time you saw her?”

His stylus flew across the datapad quickly as the woman spoke, but just one glance at the pad and I could see he wasn’t taking notes of everything.

Just the basics, the outline.

That was unlike him.

Karzin had always prided himself on a job well done, so I never thought he’d be the kind of commander to do things in a lackadaisical manner.

“Right, I think we have everything we need,” he finally said when the woman was done with her story. “I’ll see what we can do about it, and we’ll be in touch.”

“Thank you,” she breathed out, looking more relieved now. As for me, my curiosity had turned into perplexity. The moment Karzin, Sk’lar, and I left the room, I couldn’t help but stop them.

“What was that about?”

“What do you mean?”

“You didn’t seem particularly concerned in there,” I replied, doing my best not to accuse them of negligence. “Almost as if you didn’t believe her.”

“It’s not that,” Karzin shrugged. “Do you have any idea how many missing reports I’ve had to file these past few weeks? Communication between cities is spotty at best, and the war has brought on mass migration. Most people have just up and left without telling their families about it.”

His jaw tightened. I knew, we all knew, how he felt about family. About losing family. This had be harder on him than I realized.

He took a deep breath and continued. “Some see it as an opportunity for a fresh start, or they just want to run away from it all. The way I see it, this woman’s daughter just got a new job somewhere and left to do it. I’ve noticed that many of these humans don’t even speak to their family for many days, even though they are in the same place. This girl has probably just gone off and forgotten to say something about it. We shouldn’t waste the resources.”

Sk’lar, surprisingly, had been inclined to agree with Karzin…not about the girl’s lack of compassion and common sense to speak to her mother, but about not wasting resources looking for her.

That wasn’t a huge surprise. K’ver in general were known for their logic. And Sk’lar, in particular, had a reputation for putting practical concerns first.

And last.

“We have enough to deal with handling these anti-alien factions that are spreading their filth around the city and other towns. I say we send one or two people out to look for her for a day, then go back to dealing with what is right in front of our faces. If this is a problem, surely the human guards can take care of it.”

“Understood,” I agreed and merely nodded, already thinking.

Predictably, the general listened, but disagreed.

The two human guards, both lieutenants for the city if I read their rank insignia correctly, disagreed with one another. One of the them, the fat one, agreed with Karzin and Sk’lar. The other felt that it was our duty to investigate.

It was the other one that I agreed with.

And still, it wasn’t my place to say anything.

Yet.

I went down to my room and sat, hunched at my desk. Despite Tobias’ efforts to find me a proper chair, he had been unable to find one that allowed for my considerable height.

However, discomfort did not bother me.

It was merely something to be endured.

I quickly got into the database and began my search for the file that the city officials had undoubtedly created. As surly as Karzin still was, despite his connection to a human female, he was a stickler for files.

Even if he’d decided that there was little we could do, I was betting he’d have found the report by the city officials and attached it to his own.

He created and kept files about everything. And, as I’d suspected, there was a file about the missing woman.

Opening the file, I read the report, which was detailed, and wondered how he could simply throw this situation to the wayside.

Perhaps he’d found the report, but not bothered to read it. It was the only explanation.

The woman in question had strong ties to the city. She had been a volunteer in the cleanup process, as well as at one of the local food banks.

None of her neighbors, co-workers, or friends remembered anything about her saying that she would be leaving. According to statements taken by the city guard that had investigated, she had left the city only three times during her life, and one of those was during the invasion.

As a matter of fact, the last she had been seen by anyone was on Seyka Street heading to her work.

How could Karzin possibly feel that this woman had simply taken a new job somewhere, or had just gone somewhere without telling her mother or her friends?

They must have merely looked at the beginning of the file when the mother came in and assumed things.

Very well, if they were unwilling to look into this, then I would.

It wouldn’t be wasting valuable resources.

I wasn’t a resource. I was invisible. Unnoticed.

Most importantly, perhaps this would be a way for me to begin to restoring my honor.

And for that, I’d do anything.

Do you know what one of the biggest benefits is to essentially being invisible?

You basically get to do what you want without getting into too much trouble for it.

The other big benefit?

People say things around you they normally wouldn’t because they don’t remember or notice that you’re there.

In my case, being invisible had its advantages before the Vengeance was destroyed. I used to collect things, things that most of the rest of the crew thought were unusual, disgusting, or downright weird.

And that was fine. I enjoyed my collection, and my solitude. It wasn’t like I had earned or deserved people’s attention.

Now, before the ship blew up, I was Zairk—second engineer. Rouhr had brought me on board and given me an opportunity to prove myself and regain my honor.

Another one of the benefits of no one ever paying attention to you was that you generally heard many things that wouldn’t normally be said while you were around.

Such as—today, when I had been walking behind General Rouhr, Strike Team Commander Karzin, Strike Team Commander Sk’lar, and two of the human guards, they were speaking of a woman that had come in earlier that day, distressed about her missing daughter.

Curious, I followed Karzin and Sk’lar as they headed out to the room where the woman was, ready to file a missing person report.

With a datapad in his hand, Karzin looked more bored than interested on the whole situation.

“Mind if I join you?” I asked them right before we stepped inside the cramped interrogation room. Sk’lar looked back at me over his shoulder, eyebrows shooting up as if only now he was realizing I had been following him, and exchanged a glance with Karzin before shrugging.

“Suit yourself,” he said. “This is probably nothing.”

Following after him, I stepped inside the room and took a seat across the middle-aged woman. She had deep wrinkles around her eyes, wrinkles that seemed even deeper in her distress, and a few locks of white hair had already started to take over her brown hair. In a room that was nothing but three bare walls and a one-way mirror, she looked even smaller in stature than she really was.

“Finally,” she cried out, nervously running her tongue over her lips. “I’ve been waiting here for almost an hour.”

“I’m sorry, ma’am,” Karzin said, his tone polite. “Busy day.”

“I understand that, but I’d like to see some effort being put into looking for my daughter.”

“Ma’am, I can assure you…the city officials are already doing the best they—”

“That’s bullshit,” she cut him short, her lips tightly pursed. “I know they haven’t even looked for her outside the city, or even in the ruins. That’s why I’ve come here. I need your help.”

“Very well,” Karzin sighed, flipping his padd open and readying for some notes. “What can you tell me about your daughters? And when was the last time you saw her?”

His pen flew across the paper quickly as the woman spoke, but just one glance at the padd and I could see he wasn’t taking notes of everything.

Just the basics, the outline.

That was unlike him.

Karzin had always prided himself on a job well done, so I never thought he’d be the kind of commander to do things in a lackadaisical manner.

“Right, I think we have everything we need,” he finally said when the woman was done with her story. “I’ll see what we can do about it, and we’ll be in touch.”

“Thank you,” she breathed out, looking more relieved now. As for me, my curiosity had turned into perplexity. The moment Karzin, Sk’lar and I left the room, I couldn’t help but stop them.

“What was that about?”

“What do you mean?”

“You didn’t seem particularly concerned in there,” I replied, doing my best not to accuse them of negligence. “Almost as if you didn’t believe her.”

“It’s not that,” Karzin shrugged. “Do you have any idea how many missing reports I’ve had to file these past few weeks? Communication between cities is spotty at best, and the war has brought on mass migration. Most people have just up and left without telling their families about it.”

His jaw tightened. I knew, we all knew, how he felt about family. About losing family. This had be be harder on him than I realized.

He took a deep breath and continued. “Some see it as an opportunity for a fresh start, or they just want to run away from it all. The way I see it, this woman’s daughter just got a new job somewhere and left to do it. I’ve noticed that many of these humans don’t even speak to their family for many days, even though they are in the same place. This girl has probably just gone off and forgotten to say something about it. We shouldn’t waste the resources.”

Sk’lar, surprisingly, had been inclined to agree with Karzin…not about the girl’s lack of compassion and common sense to speak to her mother, but about not wasting resources looking for her.

That wasn’t a huge surprise. K’ver in general were known for their logic. And Sk’lar in particular had a reputation for putting practical concerns first.

And last.

“We have enough to deal with with these anti-alien factions that are spreading their filth around the city and other towns. I say we send one or two people out to look for her for a day, then go back to dealing with what is right in front of our faces. If this is a problem, surely the human guards can take care of it.”

“Understood,” I merely nodded, already thinking.

Predictably, the General listened, but disagreed.

The two human guards, both Lieutenants for the city if I read their rankings correctly, disagreed with one another. One of the them, the fat one, agreed with Karzin and Sk’lar. The other felt that it was our duty to investigate.

It was the other one that I agreed with.

And still, it wasn’t my place to say anything.

Yet.

I went down to my room and sat, hunched at my desk. Despite Tobias’ efforts find me a proper chair, he had been unable to find one that allowed for my considerable height.

However, discomfort did not bother me.

It was merely something to be endured.

 I quickly got into the database and began my search for the file that the city officials had undoubtedly created. As surly as Karzin still was, despite his connection to a human female, he was a stickler for files.

Even if he’d decided that there was little we could do, I was betting he’d have found the report by the city officials, attached it to his own.

He created and kept files about everything. And, as suspected, there was a file about the missing woman.

Opening the file, I read the report, which was detailed, and wondered how he could simply throw this situation to the wayside.

Perhaps he’d found the report, but not bothered to read it. It was the only explanation.

The woman in question had strong ties to the city. She had been a volunteer in the cleanup process as well as at one of the local food banks.

None of her neighbors, co-workers, or friends remembered anything about her saying that she would be leaving. According to statements taken by the city guard that had investigated, she had left the city only three times during her life, and one of those was during the invasion.

As a matter of fact, the last she had been seen by anyone was on Seyka Street heading to her work.

How Karzin could possibly feel that this woman had simply taken a new job somewhere, or had simply gone somewhere without telling her mother or her friends?

They must have simply looked at the beginnings of the file when the mother came in and assumed things.

Very well, if they were unwilling to look into this, then I would.

It wouldn’t be wasting valuable resources.

I wasn’t a resource. I was invisible. Unnoticed.

Most importantly, perhaps this would be a way for me to begin to restoring my honor.

And for that, I’d do anything.

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