Just to See You Smile
Akkeri rubbed at the sleep from the corners of her eyes as she tried to ignore the high pitched squealing coming from the grinding wheel in front of her. She didn't pull her deep green eyes away from it, always taking the chance to learn something, anything, that might help her get into a workshop. Hopefully this one, Enye's Energies, would hire her eventually. She'd been running for them for three years now, longer than any other runner currently operating for them. A swear came from the apprentice who was busy grinding away at the perfectly clear crystal, one the size of his hand. Akkeri watched as the crystal slowly shifted in color from clear to a light blue. The annoyed man held the crystal out to Akkeri, "Mind tossing that into the scraps? I gotta get these done before Master Jaya returns."
Akkeri smiled and nodded, "Of course."
She carried the barely charged crystal over to the many barrels of scraps on the wall. She matched it up in hue to the others, setting it on top, seeing just how full it was. A water crystal, a terribly weak one. Would eventually be ground down and mixed into cosmetics or other products that didn't require a lot of power. Returning back over to the grindstone, she saw the sweat forming on Kirm's brow. She pulled a rag from her pocket, wiping away the sweat as he focused on the grinding. She didn't need to say anything, nor him in reply, for they both knew what had accidentally charged the crystal.
Once he finished, he set the last crystal into a small crate, identical to the other two dozen or so he'd done, packing in some dried reeds and then draping a piece of leather over the top, before placing the fitted lid on top. "Okay, those should get the job done. We need these to be Tier B Wind and Tier S or higher Sun. If you can get them to us by midday tomorrow, I'm authorized to give you a 50% bonus, our buyer is an impatient one." He snorted in laughter, "Floaters, am I right?" Akkeri laughed along with him, for if there was one thing that seemed to unite the majority of Oasians, it was poking fun at those living on the Sky Islands. She smiled and nodded, "Well I must be going then to hit that deadline. It's a tight one, I doubt any of the other runners could get it." There was a look in her eye and she turned her shoulder, just enough to seem as though she were leaving in a hurry, but just soft enough to-- "Fine. I still don't know how you do it, but you've always come through for us. I'll get you a bigger bonus if you hit our mark."
She winked at him, "Thanks love. Get you a sweatband for in here. It's hard enough for us humans here."
She watched him blush in the instant before she turned away, stepping out onto the finely cobbled Korva Sanda't. She wished she had time to enjoy being in this neck of the city, but time was ticking. She was glad she got him to agree to that extra bit of bonus, for it was about to be spent. With a quick jog, she started down the long road, her pace making it obvious she was from one of the outer districts. She didn't care. She'd slow down when she could afford it. She dipped down an alley, navigating a quick maze of turns, having long since memorized the path. She ducked through a cloth flap, marching through a busy kitchen, with the staff not even acknowledging her presence. She tapped her wrist to the wall by the door before pushing through the beads. Now in another alley, she looked up and down it, searching. It was a typical alley between businesses, full of crates, carts, open windows, laundry lines. There were windows, some with candles unlit, others with small trinkets, and one with a bright orange flower that was open. She smirked, walking in that direction. Once she was across from it, she saw the stack of crates nearby and walked over to them, leaning against them, looking up and down the alley. No people, no eyes as far as she could tell.
And with that, she leaned backwards, turning and disappearing through the seemingly solid stone wall.
Once inside, she instantly raised her hands upward, as a Servant stepped forward. This one had an advanced array of crystals in its hands, and used them to scan her body. When it was finished, the crystal that was its face glowed green and it stepped to the side. Akkeri smiled, "Thanks Phil," and marched down the hall. She moved into a large, open room, one that authorities thought was a warehouse for dried fish manure, and Herran moved forward, greeting her. "Where you off to today, love?"
"The Fry Pan."
The woman nodded, "Hey, lemme know if you taste copper after going through it, we've gotten some complaints about that, but can't seem to pin down the pattern." Akkeri nodded, walking across the room to the crystal plinth that she always used for this particular journey. She held out her wrist, and the crystalline tattoo there flashed green, indicating a successful payment. The portal flared to life, powered by the crystals set in the floor there, and Akkeri stepped through. Stepping out into the warehouse in the Fry Pan, she hollered back through the portal, "Copper!" A brief, squeaky, "Than-" before the portal shut. Akkeri quickly made her way out of the warehouse, and down the alleys formed by the shacks and shanties here in the Fringes, stopping before a large pavilion. A red cloth hung down and so she took a deep breath and dipped inside. She set the crate of crystals down on a table, smiling at the man across the way, a goofy grin on his face as a hazy cloud circled around him obediently. She moved to talk, and he held up a hand, silencing her. "I'm too high for a fresh reading. Taking a morning scroll, on the house."
Akkeri, annoyed but professional, "Thanks. Enjoy the haze."
She moved over to his wall of scrolls, sorting through until she found the weather combination she needed. She flitted through the scrolls there, discarding some because they were too far, others because they were unreliable. She held one in disbelief, turning back to Foril, "You know this is right in the middle of a Norfa nest right?" The Envoy shrugged his shoulders, "My first love was from the Norfa. Great big antennae, really knew her way around my toes."
Akkeri blanched. Envoys were such a strange bunch, but they had their uses. She plucked a scroll out that suited her needs, and left. She hired out a wind skiff, and soon, her and the captain were speeding across the sands, carried on by the power of a wind crystal mounted behind the sail. The trip went through the entirety of the night, though in the season of the sun, there was no darkness. Akkeri was nervous the entire trip, for having spent much time watching the craftsmen work, she'd seen the crack in the crystal. But it didn't fracture before they reached their destination, "I'll be back in about four hours, is that good?" The man gave a toothless smile and a nod, and she hiked along the dunes, the crate of uncharged crystals in hand. The winds whipped at her robes, necessary protection from the sun as a human. Cresting the tallest of the dunes, she closed her eyes, feeling and calculating the winds, a combination of intuition and math. She groaned. The winds here were able to reach Tier B, but it was less consistent. Still, she didn't have time to go to another spot, she'd have to make this work.
She set the crate down, pulling the top off of it. She pulled back the leather cover, letting the crystals start to absorb the morning sunlight. She kept her eyes closed, one hand out, feeling the winds. When it was just right, she grabbed the first crystal, brought it out, and held it up. She felt the winds swirling past her finger tips, being sucked into the hungry crystal. She counted off in her head, and when it was filled, she stuck it back in the box. Grabbing another. She kept this up, having to stagger them out, as the wind fluctuated up and down. As the last crystal was charged, she covered them back up, them giving off a pale yellow glow, with their innards swirling about. Perfect. The top was back on the crate and she hiked back to catch her ride.
And she repeated the trip back to Enye's, coming in with just an hour to spare, her eyes clearly tired from having been awake and working for the last twenty four hours or more. Kirm huffed over, opening the crate, pulling a crystal out, holding it up, peering into it with one of his inspection lenses. "This will do. Definitely will. Saved our asses, again." Akkeri smiled, "Juri leave to open his own shop yet?" Kirm snickered, "Not yet. He messed up a cooling array last week, so his confidence isn't exactly high right now." Then Kirm's face went a bit sympathetic, "I'm sure a spot will open for you soon. You've clearly got a knack for it. And you've been nothing but loyal and patient."
Akkeri nodded, keeping the exasperated sigh tucked within her chest. "You'll know when I know. Us humans gotta watch out for each other," the craftsmen said with a soft smile. He then saw Akkeri standing there, seemingly unwilling to leave, "Oh right, payment." He spoke into his own wrist marking now, "Akkeri Goresha payment plus 75%." His wrist glowed red, and hers glowed green. "There you are love. I'll put in another good word." Akkeri smiled, "Thanks." And she turned to head home, when Kirm caught up with her again, appearing at her side, "Feel free to take any of the scraps, we're overloaded right now."
Akkeri nodded, grabbing several of the dull crystals before stepping out into the street, stopping to grab a Kira Kebab and then catching a Brema to carry her home. She napped on the journey, rocked to sleep by the great beast used as public transportation. Her wrist chimed softly in her ear as they reached her stop. She hopped down the steps of her Brema stop, and began the hour walk home. She kept her knives in hand, in her pockets as she did, but it seemed that the fighting between the Hylir and the Forik had slowed down. Maybe they'd stopped, she was not really in the loop on the news of the gangs, hoping she could get out of the Fringes before the conflict exploded.
Akkeri slipped into her family pavilion, seeing her father there, asleep in his cushion, a bundle in his arms, fidgeting about. Akkeri smiled broadly, reaching down to pluck her baby from his arms, careful to not disturb the sleeping man. She opened the cloth and saw her own eyes staring back at her, "Hey there lovebug. I got you something." She reached into her pocket, grabbing one of the larger water crystals, holding it out to the child. It reached out, grabbing it, and began to suck on it happily, drawing the water out of the crystal. Akkeri kissed the child's forehead, moving over to sit down on her own cushion. As she did, she was running the numbers in her head. A few more months of this, and she could afford a place next to the road in the Outer District. They could be happy, they could be safe.
And with that, Akkeri fell asleep.
1. Akkeri - Human, Female, Single Mother, lives with father. Currently a Runner/resource collector for Enye's Energies, a crystal workshop. Currently lives with father in the Fringes, aspires to work for the workshop, and move into a safer neighborhood.
2. Kirm - Human, male, works as an apprentice in Enye's Energies. Fondness for Akkeri.
3. Juri - Unlisted, male, works as a potential master in Enye's Energies. Likely soon to open own shop.
4. Master Jaya - Unlisted, Unlisted, Master of Enye's Energies.
5. Phil the Servant - A Servant, works for an illegal portal business. Specializes in detailed scanning.
6. Herran - Unlisted, female, Works for an illegal portal business, primary warehouse.
7. Foril - Unlisted, Male, Envoy that uses his creature contacts to give accurate weather forecasts. Enjoys Haze. Operates in the Fry Pan.
1. Enye's Energies - A crystal workshop in the Inner District, run by Master Jaya. Employs Kirm, an apprentice, and Juri, a potential master. Likely others. Located on Korva Sanda't.
2. The Fry Pan - a neighborhood in the Fringes.
1. Floaters - Slang for people who live on the Sky Islands. Largely used in areas outside of the Sky Islands and Central Districts, but restricted to within Oasis.
1. Norfa - Insectoid, dangerous, has territories known as nests.
2. Brema - Some large creature used as public transport in Oasis
1. How blank crystals and such work, loosely. Include the Tiers of Energies.
1a. Why are cracked crystals dangerous?
2. Illegal portals / how portal industry works.
3. Crystal Activation and the Flower
4. Why a portal may cause a copper taste
5. Haze - A drug, smoked.
6. Wind Skiffs - Small 2 person sailboat like structures for traversing the desert quickly
7. Cooling Array - Wind and Ice Crystals built into a home to produce air conditioning.
8. The Wrist Crstalline Tattoos - The system of payment/knowledge/identity/time management
9. Kira Kebab - Street food
10. The Hylir & Forik Gangs and conflict